Has waiting become a thing of the past? An old-fashioned ideal that we're all bored of? Do we no longer need to spend years perfecting our craft, becoming good at something, even great at it, before ramming it down peoples throats?
It seems that if there's a faster, easier way to do something, these days we'll generally do it. We like easy and fast. Less effort, more reward. How can we make as much money as possible, by doing as little as possible? How can we trick people into respecting us for something we've spent almost no time working on?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and the subject keeps popping up, so I wanted to write about it. I wrote songs for almost 10 years before I released my first album. I wanted to be good at it, but I wasn't, so I waited. Thankfully, there was no YouTube, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no iTunes or whatever where I could share my laughable attempts at songs with the world, because I probably would have. It's bad enough hearing my first album out and about, let alone the shit I was doing 10 years ago.
There is a point to this probably pretentious-sounding post. I get a lot of emails from people (thank you), asking me for advice on how to "break out" into the singer-songwriter scene; "How do I make people listen?", "How do I get noticed?" "How do I get a record deal?", "How do write songs?".
I'm honoured that these people think my advice is worth something, but I have no idea either. I'm still trying to figure those things out myself. I do however want to try and answer their questions with as much honestly as possible:
Be good at what you're doing. Don't pick up the guitar and post the first song you write on YouTube. Master your craft. You aren't going to nail it first time, and that's okay. I've been doing this for 10 years and I still think I'm shit most of the time. Impress yourself before you try and impress other people. It's not easy, nor should it be. Trust me, I look back at my earliest YouTube videos and want to throw up. I should've waited even longer than I did, and gotten a haircut. But if you come out of the gates writing/playing average music, you're going to turn people off, and when you actually get good at it, which you will, they won't care.
Be good at what you're doing, and care about it. Don't do it because you think it's an easy option, because it isn't.