I recently had a conversation with a young performer. This performer has a college education in music, but still feels a strong conflict about how he is valuable as a musician. I wrote him this letter:
Thank you for reaching out!
We all feel confused sometimes as to why art or music is valuable. Think back to the time in your life when music was obviously valuable to you. Revisit that magical feeling often! The people who don't study music and play on stage - they feel that magical feeling about music still. They are not conflicted. They love it and they will make time in the their lives for it and pay you to give it to them.
You’ve studied music at a very high level and that is exceptional in this world. Many thousands of people in New York City alone would love to have the skills you possess.
As artists living and or working in a place like Bushwick - it’s easy for us to forget that there are so many walks of life. Those walks of life need music! Recorded music to be the soundtrack to their lives, live music to inspire them, and music teachers to guide them.
You seem like a dude that likes to rock. Rockers are often contrarian, I know I am. Consider this: The recent history of recorded music will have you believe that fame and poverty are the only available artist lifestyles. The media have reenforced this narrative because it is a profitable story to sell. It is bullshit. There are millions of community minded people in this world (like yourself) who focus on their music daily but are not famous, and are also not broke.
Joining this group is first a mindset. You must be honest with yourself about EXACTLY how you want to be valued by the community of people you want to support your art. Write it down and keep it in you mind daily. Mine is: “A piano rock concert where the people sing along beautifully”. I want my community to know me first and foremost as a dude who makes concerts where the people sing along beautifully. I have only achieved this on a small scale, but since it is aligned with my passion I feel no conflict. It is a solid place to grow from. They are getting exactly what I want to give.
We are all similar in this way. So tell me: EXACTLY how do you want to be valued in your community of people who support your drumming?