Laptop Speakers

I was in the Nike store the other day and overheard someone saying how they were buying a full set of gear and new shoes because they were going to start jogging.

Jogging is one of the most inexpensive forms of exercise.  You just need a pair of shoes.  Most people already have some kind of shorts or jogging pants.  It certainly isn’t like playing goalie in hockey where you have to buy skates, pads, helmet and more.

But people, such as this guy in the Nike store will spend a few hundred bucks on jogging gear even though he isn’t a jogger.

I see this all the time in the music business.

People will spend thousands of dollars on studio equipment.  If you have the money – great, it will certainly make the music sound better if you know what you are doing with it.  Because if you don’t know how to use or maximize the use of the equipment it may not make that significant of a change.

But the biggest tragedy comes when you don’t start something because you don’t have the equipment.

The jogger doesn’t start running because he doesn’t have $200 Nikes.

The musician doesn’t start making music because he doesn’t have the right microphone or mixing software.

Musicians pride themselves on getting the best mix they can get.

We wish that consumers would listen to music in ideal settings.  With great speakers or monitors, with top of the line headphones, and course without distractions.

But this rarely happens.

Most people listen to music on there laptop speakers.

Or their phone speaker.

That’s why when I’m listening to a mix of a song that a producer has sent me I won’t only listen to it on my studio monitors I’ll play it on my laptop speakers.  If it doesn’t sound right there, then I know it needs more work.

In the early 2000’s I remember thinking I needed 20,000 to record an album.  However, I had recorded an album for nothing in 1999.  Before home computer studios became trendy I recorded an album on a cheap mic on a old laptop using Cool Edit Pro.

My friends couldn’t tell the difference.

Equipment is meant to enhance, it isn’t meant to do the job.

Sometimes when we think we need better equipment its just an excuse.

It’s about the art, not the tools.

 

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The Big Rocks

Somethings you just remember.

I remember in grade 12 when I took an entrepreneurship class and the teacher played a video of a talk from Stephen Covey.  It was so long ago that the video was played on a VHS tape on a 26 inchish screen on a cart that was dragged class to class – no fancy smart boards like my kids have today.  More importantly, I remember the lesson that Covey was illustrating when he talked about how you need to put first things first.

It’s a powerful lesson about procrastination and priorities.

In the demonstration, an audience member has to put rocks into a big jar and then fill it with sand.  The person puts them in randomly and then adds the sand but there is a problem – they have trouble filling it up.  There is still big rocks that didn’t make it into the jar.

Then Covey asks another audience member to fill up the jar, but this time he encourages them to put the biggest rocks in first.  This time all the rocks go in.  The sand fits in smoothly around the rocks.

The message: start with the biggest tasks and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s a lesson that I’ve applied to business.

When I start my day I look to take on the biggest, most important task.  Not just the small urgent one.

I find that when I do the most important task I create momentum that can take me through the workday.

But when I settle for the small inconsequential tasks I may feel good about crossing a few things off my to-do list, but I know that I’m not doing the things I need to be doing.

It’s all about the big rocks.

Can I ask you a question?

If there is anything that makes me cringe more than the saying “We should talk” it is “Can I ask you a question?”

Go ahead ask it.

Don’t ask me for permission.  You are already asking a question by saying that you want to ask a question.

It’s an unnecessary step.  “Sure, shoot” is my response.  Now I have to wait until you ask that question.

Now a conversation that could have been a 1 minute interaction gets spread out over the course of a couple of days – for nothing.

Of course there are times where it is perfectly good and normal to ask a question.

These times are when someone provides some context.  More background.  Maybe explaining what is going on in their situation, or life, or business.  That adds content and value.  Of course that means its more work, but then it makes the other person want to give a response longer than one line.

But when your message is just asking if you should a question…

Then maybe you shouldn’t ask it at all.

 

Libra Scale

I’m a Libra.  I’m not completely into astrology but for me the idea of the libra scale – the concept of balance – is something that has always resonated with me.

I like when my life is in balance.  Sometimes you have your highs and sometimes you have your lows, but you work to find a common ground.

But this thinking was challenged when I was listening to a talk from Dan Martell and he was saying how Balance is BS.

My first response was to disagree.

I’m someone that believes balance is essential… especially as you get older and your responsibilities increase.

Maybe when I was in high school I would say that I didn’t need to balance my life, I didn’t have as many responsibilities.   But now things have changed.  I’m a self employed rapper and speaker, I’m a father, I’m a husbandm we are home owners – we have a lot on our plate.  Not to mention that with a full plate, and older age, health also becomes more important.  Oftentimes when I’m at the gym I find myself thinking…wow if I worked out like this when I was 20?  Man. 

Now I have to put in three times the work to get that same result.  Not to mention that I can’t do those late night runs out for fast food anymore.

But Dan’s message is also misleading.  He’s not saying that you shouldn’t have balance, but he is encouraging people to realize that you can’t do everything all the time.

In theory, being on your ‘A’ game everyday with business, family, and health sounds great.  In reality, its much more difficult.

Dan thinks you should focus on 2 out of the 3 each quarter.  Not to say that your family falls by the wayside, but there are times when you don’t take the family vacation.  Maybe its the time that the hours at work are a little longer.  But to get that balance back, when you are on your vacation you aren’t “balanced” by being on your laptop all day doing work.

As a touring musician, I’ve found this to be true when it comes to health.

When I’m at home it’s easy for me to stay on my routine of eating clean and training four to six times a week.  There will be three month stretches that I work myself into solid shape.

But there are also times when I’m on the road for a couple month stretch and find it difficult to get a workout in.  Where I find it tough to eat well.  That’s not to say I don’t do it, but I don’t do it at the extent that I was doing it when it was a priority.

I like Dan’s concept.  We tend to be hard on ourselves thinking that we aren’t working at our peak because a part of our life is off balance.  It doesn’t mean that its off balance, it can be a signal that it is something to work on soon.

 

 

Projections

I was at an industry event and this guy told me that it was time to give up.

“Your never going to make it,” he said.

“Come on, its a young mans game – we’re old now,” he continued.

He was – he is – someone I respect, but I wasn’t that phased.

We’d both been drinking – him a lot more than me, and I knew that part of his argument was fueled by alcohol.

He ended up apologizing the next day.

It’s funny when people tell you what you should be doing.

Funny because many times they do notw know the full story.

In this case, the guy knew me from being at industry events “no one can schmooze better than you” he says.  I’m good at networking.

But he doesn’t know about the 100 shows I do a year.

He doesn’t know that everyday I perform and have kids ask for my autograph.

As an artist gets older many make the transition into management.

I’ve managed artists.  The problem was I wasn’t making any money from him it.

My biggest artist was and is myself.

So I should give up my top money earning stream and the thing I enjoy doing because I won’tmake it”?

In fairness, he had some good points.  And most people do when they are giving advice.

I may not make it to Superstardom – and even may not could be a stretch as the chances get lower the older I get.

But that’s no longer my goal.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I make a living from it.

So it made me dig deeper.

I realized that his advice was also about projecting.

People often project their experiences onto others.

He gave up his career as a musician and thinks that I should as well because he sees similarities in our lives.

It goes back to another common saying in the music industry – critics and music business people are failed musicians.

I don’t agree with that statement, I think its too simplistic and to general. What I do think is that you need to be aware of someones advice.  Need to take it for what it is – advice – not authority.

And most of all you just need to do you.

 

 

 

I Will Not Lose

I think one of the reasons that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers is because alot of his music is motivational.  It is based in business and competition.

It’s perfect workout music.  And the gym or jogging is where I listen to music the most.

Some people workout to heavy metal or hard rock because of the aggressive sound.

I love hip-hop because of the aggressive rhymes… the aggressive words.

Jay-Z’s mantra is “I Will Not Lose”.

It’s not “I will win”.

The thought of losing is more urgent and important than the satisfaction of winning.

To me it speaks of perseverance.  Of hanging in there.  Even when the going gets tough not giving up.

Jay-Z didn’t give up when labels didn’t sign him.  He created an independent label with his partners.

When the conventional rules of the music business didn’t fit, he wrote his own rules.

Case in point – when CD sales continued to dwindle because of new media forms, he forged a partnership with Samsung for his album which resulted in him going “platinum” overnight.

He hit the top of the charts, made money and his fans were able to access his music.

In the end he won.

By choosing not to lose.

 

One Hour Job

I finished my show at the school and the teacher said to me, “Where are you headed to this afternoon?”

I replied that it was the only show I had today.

He responded, “Must be nice, all done work for the day!”

Well, not really.  I planned on stopping by the music store to pick up a new mic cable, then respond to a few booking requests, update my blog, work on a new website, write a song, do some accounting work, and the list goes on.

I was just getting started.

Hearing this is nothing new.  I heard it often from the time I was a child.  Not about me, but about my dad.

He was a minister.  As a minister, people assumed he only worked one hour a week.

After all, church was an hour.

But growing up my dad was always working.  There was preparation for the sermon, there was hospital visits, or funerals, or meetings, the list went on.  I knew there was a lot more to it.

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris.  I’ve read all of his books and listen to his podcast.  He’s been successful at branding his “4 Hour” concept.  The first book was the 4 hour workweek which talked about how importance of outsourcing and that you could be successful working just 4 hours a week.  He went on to write the 4 Hour body and chef on the same concept – minimal time to achieve maximum results.

I agree with Tim.  I think that when you implement systems or improve your learning techniques you can improve efficiency.

But I also know that to be successful you have to put the work in.  There is no way around it.

People often look at the finished product, but don’t realize the hard work.

Leadership is about what you do when no one is watching.