Soooo... NOW WHAT?
Recently, my wife and daughter decided that it was time for the family to get a second dog. So now we have a new puppy named Sir Duke Ellington! This little guy has already brought so much joy to the household. I love playing with dogs; especially the bigger ones that can handle a living-room wrestling match. And Duke, loves this! Every night we play a fun little game called “Now What.” The rules are simple... we wrestle and I try to trap him. Once he’s locked within my playful grip, I say, “Now What?" Then he tries to escape. When he gets out, he always comes running back for more!
This got me thinking... I believe our musician lives are just like this game. For most of us, after we complete a big project, come home from tour, or even just getting off a stage, there is a void left in us... and it's saying “now what?" You’ve done the gig, your goal was achieved... So why are you left in such a funk? Well, thinking back to a time when I hosted a clinic with iconic session guitar ace, Paul Jackson Jr. who said, “Every time I finish a season with American Idol, I’m just an unemployed guitarist again.” We all laughed at the comment because if you don’t know who Paul is… Then you know he is one of the most accomplished session guitarists in Hollywood history! And even he has experienced this downer mentality.
What I’m trying to convey here is that it’s perfectly normal to have these peaks and valleys, it’s what makes us human. The fact is, after any gig or session that I do, I feel depressed, thinking “Whelp, I’m unemployed once again... Now what?" Which only solidifies the fact that as independent contractors, it’s our responsibility to find the work! This can be daunting and discouraging. But it's important to remember that your inner discouragement is only an illusion! It's pretty scientific really. It's only a chemical imbalance that takes place in our brains whenever an exciting venture or process comes to an end. This is a natural process in all humans; as all of your endorphins from the excitement have now been depleted. But all that means is... now it’s time to replenish! Yay!
Just remember this TCM age-old quote from the Podcast, "Your value is NOT determined by the gig!" You are the same talented individual before, during, and after any gig or project that you’re a part of. It’s important to recognize this feeling and dig deep, getting yourself back in the groove of your daily routine. Procrastination is the enemy of progress. Therefore you must push forward and stay on course! Which means even if you don't have a music job lined up at the moment. Then this is a blessing in disguise. It's an opportunity to be working on your own personal project, because your intellectual property could be making some serious money if you put it to work (e.g. sync licensing, etc.)!
After the pandemic, we ALL fell off course in some way, shape or form. But as the world has come back to life, we must continue on our path to success. This is where the concept of wearing different hats comes into play. As the artist, we must perform and get the job done to the best of our abilities. But if we step aside from that role and now embrace the role of being our own manager, then we can tell the artist, it’s ok to take a break. Relax, decompress, and take time to reflect on your victories while assessing your next moves. Don’t let those feelings of defeat or worthlessness creep in and steal your joy. Do this by acknowledging your accomplishments. You did it! "Now take 5!"