If you’re upset about the election of Donald Trump, then write a song about it.
If you’re worried about an unstable political or financial environment going forward, then go to your practice space. And practice your set. Practice your scales, keeping working on building your 10,000 hours.
Don’t let this stall your career. Go harder. If you think America is perilously divided and on the brink of civil unrest, then go plan a tour and see America firsthand. It will make your music better in the long run.
Katy Perry cancelled a multi-million dollar concert in China after Hillary lost. Don’t do that. Get out of Brooklyn, and keep building your audience. And don’t forget to pack your merch.
The point is this: endlessly lamenting about the election of Donald J. Trump isn’t helping your art. It will hurt your career, and slow your momentum. You’re wasting time and ultimately, lowering your chances of success.
Go out and play for people who are in the dumps. Forget about the politics, just play them some music. That’s called practicing and busking and making money, all at the same time.
There’s only so much you can control.
This publication is all about building musical careers and the broader music industry that supports those careers. It’s okay if artists are reacting strongly to the election of Donald Trump. But not if they’re at the point of being dysfunctional.
Ari Herstand broke down, physically, multiple times after Election Day. Then, he sat down and wrote a song about it. It was a pretty good song. Because it was based on his authentic emotions about the election.
You should do that.
Stop lamenting. And don’t give up your career because things are unstable and more difficult now. If a Trump-created Chinese trade war plunges the US economy into disarray, it’s not going to matter that you saved $1,000 and played it safe. Don’t quit your full-time job, but don’t think it’s going to be there tomorrow, either.
Or, maybe the worst doesn’t happen. Maybe things will be fine. Warren Buffett is among the optimists. But nobody really knows.
Last week, I wrote a piece on why artists shouldn’t be political. But I realized I was talking about the biggest artists. Like Beyonce, Aerosmith, Coldplay, and Katy Perry. Now, I realize it’s a case-by-case thing.
If 99% of your audience is anti-Trump, go ahead, write a rap song called ‘F*$k Donald Trump’. If most of your audience is from the Rust Belt, that might not be the best idea.
If your anger is strong, use your music to do something real about it. That’s not smashing stuff for no reason. It IS organizing politically. There’s already a big-time rapper getting behind Calexit. And there’s a decent chance a different party on the left will also emerge. That’s how things change.
“Being a musician is a full-time job.”
That said, you should go make money. And survive as an artist. So I think politics is tricky against that goal. Just think about it. And be strategic. Maybe your audience really wants to escape in your music, and get away from politics.
But you have to make that music, and perfect it. You don’t have time to be distracted by every political showdown, Trump tweet, sinister message from China, and protest update. Limit your time on that.
Being a musician is a full-time job. But while you’re first trying to make it, you probably have a ‘real’ full-time job. Which means you’re squeezing the intense work of developing an entire musical career into your off time. After 6:30 pm M-F, on weekends, on rare days off.
You don’t have time to be endlessly distracted. Careers can take off quickly. You can go from being another band to having a Jeep ad and a hit song (like X-Ambassadors). They did the work, they strategized properly to make those lucky accidents possible. They kept pushing.
Stop moping. Stop crying. And keep building your career.
It’s the only way to win.
Image by Anders Ljungberg, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).