You’re standing at the bottom of a Mountain, looking up. You want to climb it. You’ve never climbed a Mountain before, so you decide you’ll learn how. You begin to understand it will take some discipline, education, planning, and patience - but you know deep down that you want to climb this Mountain. You will climb it.
When you begin the climb, you notice that some days it all seems to flow. Other days it drags. Sometimes you consider giving up like some of the climbers you see on the other Mountains all around you, but you know better. You know the fog covering the top of the Mountain is only an illusion - the top is still there waiting for you, today was just a foggier day. You know this fact, and you remind yourself when you forget it.
Your Mountain is tailor-made for you. You picked this one, and you chose the pathways up - no one else had a say in this matter. When you stepped back and looked up, you felt peace and excitement. During your climb, you close your eyes from time to time to see that big picture again. You know that your climb up will not be a discouraging, dangerous, guessing game like some of those descending climbers played. You know what to do and how to get there, you trust in the process.
You start to learn more about yourself, this vehicle taking you up your Mountain. You notice that your thoughts have an effect on your body’s ability to climb. You pay attention closely, curiously, and test out some new thoughts. You ask your brain kindly to see those “drag” days for what they are: still progress up the Mountain. Your brain likes that simple thought and after a while it thinks more thoughts like it on its own - you’re training it well. Your body also becomes stronger as this happens, and you notice.
Your Mountain is your Music Career, and this is all in your head - hasn’t anyone told you yet?
In Step 1, you step back and look at the big picture of what’s driving your desire for a music career. Why do you want to climb this Mountain? It’s the most important question to start with, because it foreshadows how the entire climb will go. Will you make it to the top? Is there a top for you to climb to? If not, will you climb sideways for a very long, discouraging time? Have you chosen a Mountain that endlessly reaches to the sky a little too much?
Why do you want to climb this Mountain? If it’s because you have a Music World you want to live in, and invite others into, then that is the strongest foundation of a Mountain you could ask for. A Music World is like the thickest slab of highest quality concrete as the steadfast base for this structure. It will serve you well forever as an endless source of sustainable energy, and warm, patient, undeniable arms to welcome you back home in your foggiest days, reminding you of your big picture purpose.
Your Music World is already inside you, completely unique to you, and no one can describe it but you for that reason: it’s the musical reflection of your unique eyes in this human experience. You probably get glimpses of the World’s pieces regularly, and with a little self-awareness you can step outside of yourself completely and see it all - or at least the sketched lines of its structure. You’ll spend your whole life exploring your World, whether you gather the business means to create a career of it or not. Being a musician in this way is a truly purposeful and artistic way to spend your life, learning about yourself.
Your Music World is made of 4 components: The Music, The Gestalt, The Vehicle, and The Belief.
The Music itself exists before the recorded or live performance versions of it. Music is art, so it cannot be easily defined - but we know it is a combination of sound and feeling. This is created systematically by combining theory and noise, or organically within a musician as she/he lives a life that incorporates musical influences with her/his own hero's tale. This sounds abstract, but one way of looking at it is through studying origin stories. Here are some that show how music brews inside the musician for a long time before it comes out in polished product:
Elton John's childhood living in a hostile household fueled a unique combination of soul and classical music in his savant brain to one day create unforgettable pop. Jay-Z's mom bought him a boom box for his birthday because he often woke up his brothers drumming on the kitchen table, and he was known as "Jazzy" freestyling around the neighborhood, one day writing lyrics directly about his experiences with drug dealing and gang violence. Alicia Keys' mom squeezed a piano into their tiny 1-bedroom apartment and insisted her daughter take lessons no matter the cost; later on, this inspiration and determination would be reflected back not only in her music, but also her fight with the record label when pressured to change her physical appearance.
Your music has a purpose, and it sounds a certain way, and it doesn’t sound other ways. It is riffs that play over in your head, demos recorded on your phone, an overall attitude that comes to life in the studio, your style of the songwriting process, or something else. Artists have an instinct about this.
The Music itself exists in your Music World before you record or perform it.
The Gestalt is the feeling of the World you’re inviting people into. Gestalt is a German word for “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts,” like how when you walk into a doctor’s office, or into Times Square, you know both of those carry totally different overall feelings through all the five senses. It is this Gestalt that we crave as listeners when we choose our music.
As an example, some people could go from binging on Billie Eilish, to Aretha Franklin, to the Foo Fighters all during the course of one day. All of these have different Gestalts that are desired in different moods. It’s a fluid concept, because musicians’ catalogues range emotions, but overall, listeners seek feeling and know how to get it by pressing play on a specific artist or song. Understanding and exploring the Gestalt of your world allows you to lean into it and let it unfold to its most effortless, strongest peak. Since humans have endless cravings for nuances of moods and novelties of feelings, there is a market for every type of Music World Gestalt.
The Gestalt is the feeling of the World you’re inviting people into.
The Human Vehicle
Your human body is The Vehicle that connects the distance between the Music World in your mind with the invitations to welcome people into it. Without your body’s ability to play, perform, market, and represent your music, your Music World would stay exclusively inside you. For this reason, a body’s health factors into a successful music career - because as a broken-down or gas-empty car cannot take you to your destination, a hurting or sick body cannot take you to the places that allow you to invite people into your Music World.
Your human body is The Vehicle that brings your Music World out of your mind.
No one who believes it’s impossible to have a music career ends up with a music career. The Belief of the Music World is what powers the lights in the world to stay on. It is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, and a generator of energy - if The Belief hums at a negative doubting level, the World dims and the energy is drained out.
Belief is the foundation of this foundation.
Your Music World does not need to be completed in order to create a music career - it will develop and evolve throughout your career. This Step 1 is about acknowledging that the Music World exists so you can see it for what it is. Not having a Music World doesn't mean you can't have a music career, but it does mean you will face different hardships along the way that diminish your potential and longevity. Continue to Step 2, here.