Most independent musicians have something in common; we’re all struggling. What we’re struggling with may differ; but whether it’s the music, the marketing, the management or the money aspects of being a musician, we are dead in the water without MOTIVATION.
When things get tough or seem unresolvable, when you are stretched to your limits both physically and financially, or when the critiques of your music aren’t in your favor, or your official fan list is starting at zero, what drives you to keep going?
“What motivates you?”
This is the first question you should ask yourself as an independent musician. Many of us are uncertain of what motivates us, so some self-exploration is required. Once you realize what motivates you, you can then use that information to push through obstacles and reach your full potential.
The first step in defining your personal Motivation is to identify its two aspects: the Object and the Desire.
Be very specific; keep asking yourself what it is you want until you get the simplest answer, the root, the source, or what we’ll call the True Motivator. “I want (X).”
For example: “I want a cookie.”
A 3 year old sees chocolate cookies in jar on counter. Mommy says no, and counter is high, but cookie is awesomely delicious. The 3 year old wants a cookie (Object) because it is delicious (True Motivator). Delicious is the True Motivator, the cookie is the Object of Desire.
If the cookie is the Object, the pleasure of it’s delicious taste is most likely the True Motivator.
If Money is the Object, the Pain of paying bills is probably the True Motivator. However, it’s often better to focus on the positive – the Pleasure of financial security is a better Motivator.
If Fame is the Object, the Pleasure of being liked and accepted is the True Motivator.
So once you’ve identified what it is you want, you need to ask yourself why you want it.
“I want to build a bigger fan base” …Really? Why?
“Because money is not the objective, I just want people to like and share my music.” Recognition is the True Motivator.
“I want a bigger fan base because I want to increase my passive revenue stream (i.e., financial security).” Money is the True Motivator.
Of course, money and recognition (or, in a larger aspect, fame) are not mutually exclusive; in fact most of the time it goes hand in hand as a musician. But more often than not, one motivates you more than another. If both motivate you, then you have twice the work!
Once you have successfully identified your true motivator, you could just start planning out X, Y and Z to obtain the object of desire. But what you are lacking is the desire, or what most musicians would call their “passion”. What are you willing to do to meet this objective?
Desire is all about commitment. How bad do you want X? You have to want X so much that you are willing to sacrifice other things – time, money, effort, emotion, ego.
Again, how bad do you want X? Are the risks worth the reward?
You need to be able to tell yourself that you are willing to make sacrifices because you are committed to getting X. Desire is your willingness to do what ever it takes in order to get what you want. It is the integral part of motivation that pushes past risk in order to gain reward.
For example; “I am going to get that cookie”
3 year old resolves / commits to climb counter and covertly extract cookie from jar, despite risk of falling, or meeting mommy’s disapproving glare.
“I’m going to get that cookie, despite the fact I might fall or get in trouble with mommy.”
“I am going to earn that money, despite the fact I need to risk the money that I have, the time it takes to do this, all the effort that I have to put in, and the possibility that I may fail at any point.”
“I am going to earn fame, despite the fact that I might say something to offend someone, or might push some people away, or make a fool of myself, and possible hurt my reputation.”
Being honest about what motivates you is extremely important. If money or fame are the reason you are truly motivated, then embrace it because recognizing these objects of desire will allow you to target your goal and stay focused, despite adversity.