The Peak of Mt. Stupid is an Important Stop Along The Path to Success
In today's post I am going to encourage you to keep going towards your goal by illustrating the natural ups and downs of the growth/learning process.
Chasing your dream requires persistence. In our fast paced world we easily give up as soon as we run into a rut or face a major difficulty. We have a dream and we want it to work out within a year or at most three. Some things take longer to learn. I read that nowadays, with all the competition, it takes up to ten years to break through in some vocations! Ten! No matter how long it takes to get a dream going, there is a learning curve that is common to every dream. By knowing how the learning curve works and at what stage you are along it, you can have more patience with yourself in the future. So let's dig in!
I hope your summer was as sunny and fun as mine was. The greatest part of our vacation was having all of our kids (now adults here at home for a week). Being a parent hasn't always been fun but it is now! There were many ups and downs along the road to being a good parent. And with each problem I faced I had to grow in my understanding of how to deal with each new challenge. There is a similarity when it comes to music creation - the learning curve of each new area of knowledge on the way to the goal, (making music, parenting, whatever).
Here is a diagram of the famous Dunning-Kruger Effect
It explains the learning curve in any new area. As a parent I felt this and as a music producer I experience myself somewhere along it every single day.
My music creation curve
Until 2015 I knew nothing, nada, about music creation. I had songs that I had recorded onto cassettes and had written down the lyrics but I had no idea where to go with them. At the time, I was a lousy songwriter with a few well written songs but I had no idea what to do with them. I sent a few songs to a producer and he started making sense out of one of my songs. This gave me hope.
I was ordered to spend three months creating a market analysis of the music industry and how it works, by my employment coach and I started studying digital music creation (mixing) when I wasn't looking for work. I made a business plan and found out that I would probably never be able to make ends meet in the music industry even if I was successful. It was sad news. It is a tough branch to succeed in. Some said that 1000 fans was all I needed to make it work. I had but a handful. The Unemployment office took my results and refused to help me start a business based on the findings in the market analysis and business plans.
I was at the base of Mt. Stupid
Should I continue anyway? My husband cheered me on. I continued to learn but I still felt inadequate. But, I found that the more I worked at learning recording, arrangement and singing skills, the better things were sounding. That helped me continue. We moved so we could afford living on one income, I took the dive to stop looking for work and I committed my self to getting an album done. I was focused on the goal but I was still at the beginning of my learning process.
During the later part of 2015 and all through 2016 I traversed along a steep learning curve... I learned how to record my songs better and the producer helped me get a few of them done well. I liked what he did but it wasn't what I heard in my head so I decided to push myself to know how to mix and produce music all by myself. I sat for months learning new stuff and pushing myself to make mixes even though I didn't really know exactly how to do it. Things started sounding better so I posted teasers on SoundCloud and Reverbnation. In addition, I was working social media so hard that I was ranked #1 Christian rock artist in Sweden at Reverb Nation in early 2016. That got me an invitation to Nashville to audition for a tour.
In a rush, I sent my meh-arranged/mixed, but well recorded songs to a robot for mastering because it was cheaper than a real mastering studio. I placed them together with the songs the other producer had mixed and mastered and the result was an uneven CD that I sent to the jury.
I flew to Nashville in 2017, auditioned two of my songs before a professional jury and got politely sawed into pieces. I didn't cut it, but they cut me. I was told or they insinuated that I was too old, that I had no stage presence, my outfit made me look like short, my rented guitar was too big and my songs needed a massive amount of polish and fixing. Although I did get some credit for great texts on some songs and a believable story (of my life), I came back to Sweden feeling rejected and dejected. "All this work for nothing?" When I was home again, I listened to my songs and compared them to industry standard and understood that I had reached the highest "Peak of Mt. Stupid" in my career as a music creator.
The other day I listened to a diary recording from that time. I said that I was tempted to end my musical endeavours right then and there - I was staring back at the peak of Mount Stupid from the Valley of Despair. Somehow, despite the Nashville punch in my gut, I believed that these songs could help a lot of people find peace of mind so I kept on going on.
I turned around, stop looking at the peak of Mt. Stupid and left the valley of despair behind me. Every day I had to make that conscious decision to move on for months. I had days and weeks where I rolled back down the hill into the valley of despair again and cried. But then someone would send an encouraging comment on one of my songs and the mixing process started working the more I learned.
The more I learned the ropes of music editing and arrangements, the more I could make the music I had submitted sound like a commercial song and the more the song sounded like that perfect version in my head.
I watched YouTube videos, I finished my mixing course, I spoke with other music creators, I networked. The more I learned the more everything made sense.
The Slope of Enlightenment
Today I am somewhere along the Slope of Enlightenment. Now, I have a realistic view of where I am headed and what I can achieve before i croak. I know that I don't know everything and never will fully grasp music creation because the subject matter is unending, the production is subjective, and the industry is ever changing. I am still fighting an upward battle towards sustainability but I see the progress behind me and that cheers me up. I try to keep my eyes fixed on my hope that I will drop this album and it will encourage many to leave a mindset of stress and find the rest that comes from God's unconditional love.
I want to say thank you to all of you who have encouraged me along the path to making great music and I want to encourage you to be aware that making, doing or learning something great takes a long time to do. Please be patient with yourself! The results will come if you are persistent, humble and goal oriented.
Until next time....
P.s. I just added a subscription button on the main page for those who would like to support what I do on a regular basis. (I create music, book, videos and podcasts to encourage your soul.) Let me know if you want another amount than those listed. Thanks for being a part of what I do and thanks for all the prayers! God bless! D.s.