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Rob Ash

What does it mean to succeed?

88 posts in this topic

When I was 16, I wanted nothing more in life than to join a band. It was easy... in matter of fact it was a thing of crystal purity... to consider the possibility of succeeding as a rock star. I knew what it looked like. I knew, in as far as television and magazines could relate, how a rock start lived. I knew how one performed. How they dressed. In many cases, even what drugs they took.

 

That last bit was on the cheeky side so I take it back, Still, when I was a young man, it was very, very easy to create an image, and from that image, a path you could follow in an attempt to try and achieve success as a professional musician. Grow your hair long and free. Wear a lot of leather. Walk and talk with swagger. Join a band. Play shows. LOTS of shows. Play more shows. Get a chance to sit in an office or talk to a guy who happens to be at one of your shows. Talk your ass off. Get a chance. Squeeze that chance for all it's worth.

 

After that, just hold on tight.

 

All of this may sound either innocent or just plain silly to you, reading it now. But, in 1985 it was a blueprint for becoming a rock star. A REAL path to try and make it to the top. And a LOT of young men and women took that very path and gave it their all. A few made it all the way. Most did not.

 

I was one of the "also rans"... Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. Except... I might allow myself to have that one great, fool's chance... which I never got.

 

I am pretty sure that that clarity of vision no longer exists. There are innumerable reasons for this being so. The rise of piracy and the death of the main stream music industry as it existed for almost a century... the rise of the independent artist and the ever increasing ability to tailor design one's image to suit one's strengths... the .99 cent download and the ability to pick what you, as an individual listen to, ala cart. However, when we look on the television, we still see mega stars. We see, all the time, those who seem to have achieved everything, in terms of success, that the older generation rock stars achieved in their day. How did they do it? Was it some special set of abilities and traits only they, and a small handful possess? Was it blind luck? Was it the industry picking them, according to some alchemical, medieval set of parameters, whereupon untold amounts of money and support were put into making these individuals the stars they now are?

 

So, my questions are as follows:

 

How has the vision of success as a professional musician, and/or the road one might take towards achieving that success, changed since, say... 2000?

 

Do you have a personal vision of what success represents? If so, please share it.

 

How do you think stars make it to the top today?

 

 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

 

Edited by RobAsh15
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25 minutes ago, RobAsh15 said:

How has the vision of success as a professional musician, and/or the road one might take towards achieving that success, changed since, say... 2000?

 

 

Having never been a musician, let alone a professional one, I find this a hard question to answer, but I think having THE LOOK and CHARM is still something that a musician needs to be successful. Some of the most successful, probably aren't the best, but there is something about them. Jagger isn't a great singer, but he has the attitude and swagger. Bowie again wasn't the greatest singer, but he was a chameleon and people were drawn to that. I'm not a fan of Heavy Rock or Metal, but there is something about those bands, the attitude, the couldn't give a f@@@, that makes them appealing even if their music is not the best thing about them.

 

For me, I look at the likes of U2 - before Live Aid, they were a decent band who wrote some really good songs. After Live Aid, Bono thought he was the Messiah, their music started to become secondary to the ego and I don't think they have done anything decent since Achtung Baby. But, they are still regarded as one of the biggest bands in the world, with sell-out concerts.

 

To succeed, you need the attitude and even though the musical horizon is further away for most bands now, the one that will get noticed, will be the one with one or a couple of the members who have that ego.

 

25 minutes ago, RobAsh15 said:

 

Do you have a personal vision of what success represents? If so, please share it.

 

 

I think success must be measured in what you want out of a life in music. If you are happy creating songs that you like - is that a success, because it is what you set out to do?

 

I've mentioned before, I have no interest in playing live gigs, but I would like to release an EP or two and then an album into the wild, just to see if anyone liked it enough to buy. If I got good reviews and a few people bought it, then I would see that as a success, as I feel I am too old to play the music game.

 

25 minutes ago, RobAsh15 said:

 

How do you think stars make it to the top today?

 

Sign with Simon Cowell.. go on reality TV programmes and sing the same pish as everybody else in the charts........ that is a sad reflection on where we are at the moment in the music world.

 

Adele wins her 900th (yeah, I'm joking) Grammy for a poor album, but it is deemed the best of the year. The Grammy;s show what is wrong with the music industry and the Brits will show the exact same problem when it's on.

 

I heard the new Elbow song on the Graham Norton Show the other night and it is a really nice song. I've never heard it on the radio!!! Now, Elbow are kind of held in high regard, but obviously not that much, as their song cant get airplay over the same 10 bloody songs that seem to be on repeat!!!

 

Thnk god for someone like Rag'n'Bone Man. He brought out what to me is probably the best song this year so far in 'Human' and his album sounds really good. His voice is fantastic and he doesn't come over as your typical star material.

 

Apologies, I went off on a little rant again ;)

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2 hours ago, RobAsh15 said:

How do you think stars make it to the top today?

 

Talk shite on YouTube like you've had too much speed and like everything little thing is 'awesome'? I think that works a treat. 

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51 minutes ago, MonoStone said:

 

Talk shite on YouTube like you've had too much speed and like everything little thing is 'awesome'? I think that works a treat.

 

I accept this as your real opinion, my brother. We are all free top believe what we will. But I am curious...

 

Is that real contempt I sense in your words, or just you having fun with the topic? If the contempt is real, where, exactly are you aiming it?

 

Oh, and can I have some of what you are drinking?

 

 

Edited by RobAsh15

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1 minute ago, RobAsh15 said:

 

I accept this as your real opinion, my brother. We are all free top believe what we will. But I am curious...

 

Is that real contempt I sense in your words, or just you having fun with the topic? If the contempt is real, where, exactly are you aiming it?

 

Oh, and can I have some of what you are drinking?

 

It was part just kidding at being irritated by such things, part observation, part real irritation... part down to a conversation I had recently with a mate who's been in the music biz a while, about how our kids are so into YouTube... they know the names of YouTubers and value them as much if not more than pop stars...radio and music on tv doesn't get their attention, YouTube does...and some YouTubers also play music so they're pop stars too. And we also talked about how our kids and others in their class either have or want to have a YouTube channel and instinctively turn on the same 'awesome' kind of personality. So that's what my comment was all about :)  The kids know where it's at... 

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So, Dek hasn't been the one drinking.  He's puking because kids are drinking the Youtube Kool Aid.  Understandable.

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3 hours ago, HoboSage said:

 

So, Dek hasn't been the one drinking.  He's puking because kids are drinking the Youtube Kool Aid.  Understandable.

 

 

Come now, David. Fresh minds... new ideas. We must be tolerant.

 

And yes, I DID just quote Capt. Kirk to you.

 

 

Edited by RobAsh15
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Like you, I was a rocker who wanted to be in a successful band (with albums in the stores, etc.). I was in my first rock band in high school and kept at it for quite a few years. I had some limited success as a guitarist and studio musician, and even toured in a band for a few years. At the time, I looked at this as success because I was doing what I loved, and making money doing it.  Back in the 1990s bands still looked for that big record deal but the emergence of indie studios made producing records much less costly. In fact, most bands initially got distribution deals where the studio might or might not remaster the song(s). I was involved with a few records; none ever made it 'big' but I loved every minute of it.

 

Fast forward to now. I am no longer banking dollars as a "pro" but I still consider myself successful because I am able to persue my art and make a living (I teach now for money). I was never into it for the fame thing; I just wanted to be able to do what I loved and live comfortably. If I had my way, I woulda been one of those behind the scenes musicians who were well known and respected among their peers, made crazy money, but could walk down the street without anyone having a clue who they were. The only thing I do miss is playing in front of big audiences.

 

1. The definition of success varies from person to person. In terms of realistic goals, no, nothing has changed. You work hard at it, and hope for a few shots of luck along the way. Rarely is talent enough.

 

2. My personal definition has been met. I live comfortably and am able to persue my art. I have played on the road extensively, and I am having a ball learning everything I can about studio production while I record my tunes. It would be great to have a band again but it is not my focus anymore.

 

3. Let's face it, there is a diminishing number of "stars" now. I have been out of the mainstream industry too long to do much more than theorize about how stars become stars in today's industry. One thing is certain and some things never change: youth is prized, and in popular music you hit it big fairly early on or not at all.

 

Peace,

TC

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8 hours ago, MonoStone said:

 

It was part just kidding at being irritated by such things, part observation, part real irritation... part down to a conversation I had recently with a mate who's been in the music biz a while, about how our kids are so into YouTube... they know the names of YouTubers and value them as much if not more than pop stars...radio and music on tv doesn't get their attention, YouTube does...and some YouTubers also play music so they're pop stars too. And we also talked about how our kids and others in their class either have or want to have a YouTube channel and instinctively turn on the same 'awesome' kind of personality. So that's what my comment was all about :)  The kids know where it's at... 

 

I can side with Derek on this one, given that my daughters would rather watch some spotty faced kid ('who is making millions) on YouTube, than watch a video or listen to a song from a band....

 

YouTube could be a useful tool for a band or musician, if it wasn't full of such utter crap - aww look at the cute little kitten trying to climb, now pay me millions through advertising - mwhhhaaaa mwhhhaaaa mwhhhaaaa...

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3 hours ago, Richard Tracey said:

YouTube could be a useful tool for a band or musician, if it wasn't full of such utter crap - aww look at the cute little kitten trying to climb, now pay me millions through advertising - mwhhhaaaa mwhhhaaaa mwhhhaaaa...

 

Uhm... shouldn't that be; - "meeoowww meeoowww meeoowww".......?

 

Jus' sayin'...

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I think kids these days who want a career in the music business start YouTube channels, work their asses off to get subscribers, and publish new music there all the time. I'm not exactly sure what the end game is, but getting fans on YouTube is a good way to start I think. Not everyone can be a big YouTube star like PewDiePie, but I think there is room for folks to make some decent money on the platform.

 

Like this young man Colin Burke, who I just discovered. Putting out great, well produced and recorded demos. He just topped 1000 subscribers. Since he's young, talented, and not bad looking he might have a shot in the business. 

 

 

 

Edited by chumpy

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41 minutes ago, chumpy said:

Like this young man Colin Burke, who I just discovered. Putting out great, well produced and recorded demos. He just topped 1000 subscribers. Since he's young, talented, and not bad looking he might have a shot in the business.

 

 

What's interesting to me is a lot of his songs don't have many views. But, some do and a bigger but, he has A LOT of videos posted. I'd be curious to know what kind of cash he's pulling in. Back in the earlier days I was making some money from doing Thomas the Train Youtube videos with my son. In total we've probably made about $2500 over 2.5 years. But since Youtube got bought by Google my revenue has dropped to nearly nothing. 

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2 minutes ago, Just1L said:

But since Youtube got bought by Google my revenue has dropped to nearly nothing. 

 

I reckon active subscribers, people who comment, essentially 'fans' = Revenue ... one way or another. If you can get many thousands of views and several hundred positive comments on each video...then you've got an audience. And then you can direct them to other places where it might be easier to make money. Plus if you're making music, and have a couple of hundred thousand views on a song, lots of likes and comments, lots of subscribers (I don't know what number means success)... then you look more appealing to labels too. One way or another, it's worth doing. It's all about building a following... getting real fans... I think... and then finding other avenues for revenue plus whatever you make on YouTube. It's the new equivalent of being on tv all the time isn't it?

 

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1 hour ago, Just1L said:

 

What's interesting to me is a lot of his songs don't have many views. But, some do and a bigger but, he has A LOT of videos posted. I'd be curious to know what kind of cash he's pulling in. Back in the earlier days I was making some money from doing Thomas the Train Youtube videos with my son. In total we've probably made about $2500 over 2.5 years. But since Youtube got bought by Google my revenue has dropped to nearly nothing. 

 

Yeah, he really doesn't have that many views, and it's views that are monetized on YouBoobTube, not subscribers.

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I think he has one video with 50k views, and the rest are all pretty small, I doubt he's making any money at all. I really like arrangement of the song I posted, he's got kind of a Ben Folds vibe going on too. I posted him as an example because he's like a modern version of what Rob Ash was talking about his opening remarks. Even if you don't make any money, YouTube is great for building an audience, and like somebody else mentioned, that's valuable in itself.

 

 

 

 

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The funny thing about success is the people who are seen as successful usually don't feel successful, yet some people who aren't seen as successful are.

Living in the now, happy with our state in life is a better form of success.

 

No matter how far a person goes, some never feel they went far enough. Creators have trouble letting since the act of creating is control of ones environment in one way or another. Flowing always works better,makes less friction. The key is to create and flow at the same time.

 

 

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22 hours ago, RobAsh15 said:

Do you have a personal vision of what success represents? If so, please share it.

 

To me success is: Setting a goal, and then reaching it. I don't think there is one real "success", there are many. Each one attained one at a time (sometimes together as well.) I think it's natural for anyone that actually has the gumption to make a goal and try to reach it, that they then make a new goal once the previous one is reached. I believe a lot of times a person's goal is too high to achieve by simply jumping from point A to point Z. It's points B through Y that count. It's good to have high goals, but it's very, very helpful to create smaller short term goals that are easily attainable that help continue your journey to the big goal. Basically, a to-do list. Thinking in terms of short, attainable goals can help in keeping yourself on task to the bigger goal without getting discouraged. Recognize the goals, and go after them. Then be pleased with each goal you attain, knowing it's one step closer to where you want to be. 

 

To quote Jack White "Be like the squirrel."

Edited by Just1L
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Every day in which i manage to squeeze in an hour of playing/writing/recording is a successful day to me.

 

I do wish for people to listen and enjoy my music, but I try to think of that as the cream.

 

Wouldnt mind having an income from my music (so i could buy more instruments and spend more time on music) but that is not my goal.

 

Cheerio

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4 hours ago, starise said:

The funny thing about success is the people who are seen as successful usually don't feel successful, yet some people who aren't seen as successful are.

Living in the now, happy with our state in life is a better form of success.

 

No matter how far a person goes, some never feel they went far enough. Creators have trouble letting since the act of creating is control of ones environment in one way or another. Flowing always works better,makes less friction. The key is to create and flow at the same time.

 

 

 

Lots of solid truth here, my brother.

 

Across all my websites, I have perhaps 4000 fans all told. A few of my vids have been seen a few hundred times. A couple of my songs have been heard 400 or 500 times. Every view or listen I get is a huge pleasure for me.

 

Then there's the rest of my life;;; my wife and I are 10 years into our life together and still insanely happy. We are best friends, can talk all day long driving in the car, make each other laugh every day. Our worst fights are little spats that pass in a few minutes or less. We have a small but growing 401K we are hugely proud to have squirreled away. We are buying our first home. To me, my life is not just all I would have hoped for, it is so much more, because of all the little intangibles I never knew to ask for, that life has seen fit to give to me anyway.

 

What price tag would one put on such things? To me they are precious.

 

 

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The cold hard truth is that no one cares really cares about my music, or ever has or ever will - including me. 

 

 

 

Edited by HoboSage

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1 minute ago, HoboSage said:

 

The cold hard truth is that no one cares really cares about my music - including me. 

Not true. Listened to your music yesterday :)

Peggy

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Another cold hard truth:  The only people who genuinely think of music as art are musical artists.  For the rest of the world, music is just entertainment and/or just a commodity.

 

 

 

Edited by HoboSage

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2 hours ago, HoboSage said:

Another cold hard truth:  The only people who genuinely think of music as art are musical artists.  For the rest of the world, music is just entertainment and/or just a commodity.

 

Such words, coming from anyone who is known to the one who hears them, are frightening. I do not know why you say such things, David. I do not know if you mean to incite fear. From what I know of you, gleaned only from your words here, I would assume that you would reject pity. Likewise, self pity, no matter how many times I have encountered it, whether in myself or in another, that could be another reason you might be writing as you are, almost never serves any worthwhile purpose.

 

So I wonder why you write as you do.

 

I was in love with drawing for many years before I was able to pursue my love of music, David. When I eventually settled into a professional career, it was in commercial art that I found my success, not music. You can see a small part of my professional work here: http://darkmir.deviantart.com/  I did a lot of different kinds of work in commercial art, in design (signs of all kinds, billboards, corporate identity and displays, etc.), and in illustration. I eventually became a world class t-shirt artist and separations specialist. I say world class because I created popular illustrations for licensed merchandise lines for a multitude of commercial licenses, for companies like Anheuser Busch, Disney, Apple Licensing Worldwide, Metallica, Megadeth, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Monkees, Anthrax, Accept, Mother's Finest, Cheap Trick, The NBA, The NFL, almost every major theme park in the US and many around the world. I was an art director for several of the largest screen print operations in North America, and Creative Director for a couple of World Class companies. For fifteen years, when I did a design, the company I worked for would bring in shirts by the semi-tractor trailer load, and the design would print 3 shifts, 24 hours, on 7 or 8 presses, for two, three, sometimes four days non stop. Some designs I did sold a million dollars in gross sales over the course of a season, Some designs I did sold millions of shirts.

 

I tell you all this because I want you to know that by 2005, I was so burnt out as an artist, and so jaded because of the crap I had endured carving out a career as a commercial artist, that I almost couldn't draw at all anymore. If my health hadn't forced me to retire in 2009, I would have been out of the game in a year or so anyway. Everything I had ever thought I loved about being an illustrator was dead.

 

Almost immediately I turned to music. I went from keeping my toe in the water to jumping back into playing in bands almost full time. I started learning from a friend how to record at home and mix my songs on the computer. From the second I opened that spigot, my love for music burned hot and bright. It still does now. I will almost certainly never make a serious buck with my music. I don't give a damn. If the powers that run this lunatic asylum we call life let me know tomorrow that I was never going to make any kind of dent with my music I would still love it, and love making it.

 

It took a twenty seven year career in commercial art, most of which I actually hated, to make me realize how genuinely and honestly I love music. I don't have to be as good at it as many of my friends and fellow players are. So many talented players on here, like yourself, and others, like CapM, or my ex old best friend Tim. So talented it's scary. Not me. I'm good... but not great. Not like you. Not like them.

 

I don't have to be, David. I love my music anyway. I don't have to get noticed, or make a hundred grand, or get on TV. None of those things would change how I feel about music at all. Except that, if even a fraction of what I have read and heard is true, achieving those things might actually hurt my love of music.

 

So I say again, my friend, I do not know why you write as you do, but I can feel your bitterness. To understand your feelings, I'd have to know what it is that you don't have that you think you deserve. I'd like to say here and now that if I could, I'd wish it to be so, for you. But I am not sure that saying such would be the truth. Not because I would deny you, or anyone, what they think is their heart's desire.

 

I'm just not sure you'd be better off if you got everything you think you want.

 

So instead I'll wish, on your behalf, that you are able to remember how it felt to make music when you were pretty well convinced you might never make anything of it, and didn't care, because all you could ever think of doing, money be damned, fame be damned..,. was make music. My guess is you were happier then, bro.

 

I hope you find a way back to that place.

 

People here think the world of you, David. I know. I'm one of those people. We may not be a multitude, but what we think of you, and your music, is the real deal.

 

 

Edited by RobAsh15

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6 hours ago, HoboSage said:

 

The cold hard truth is that no one cares really cares about my music, or ever has or ever will - including me. 

 

 

 

 

Now, that is definitely not true - I for one enjoyed listening to your songs and wish you would do something with them.

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Given that, from my perspective, the replies made to my two previous assertions of cold hard truths reflect a clear failure to appreciate what I actually said and why I may have said it, l feel justified in positing a third cold hard truth: No one really gets me.  I"ll leave it at that, and allow this thread to return you to your regular programming. :)

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11 hours ago, HoboSage said:

The cold hard truth is that no one cares really cares about my music, or ever has or ever will - including me.

 

 I think you're amazingly talented David. I like much of what you've done! I care about it, but I'll admit I haven't had much time to listen. I plan to change that. I know I'm only one person, But I know I'm not the only one.

 

I think what it boils down to are basically two classes of listener. This website caters to musicians.

 

Those who frequent the songs areas are what I would call  supportive listeners.

 

Similar to a group of plumbers( or any group)who look at and comment on each others work. They probably wouldn't buy it because they have their own music that they hope to maybe sell. It would be like using a plumbers service when you're a plumber yourself. These are the guys who can help  hone the craft, but let's face it, we're a small group. Getting that kind of support can be invaluable though.

 

The second group are music consumers. They don't care how you made the music, These are the people who would buy the music if they really like it. I haven't really reached out to the second group. Many of you have and have been rewarded.

 

If you want the community support of some musicians you'll get that here and you have offered help to lots people yourself.

 

One "cold hard truth" as you put it, is that to listen and comment on another's music isn't something that comes naturally for many musicians. Their main motive in coming here was to see how their music goes over. In that sense, yes I agree, many don't really care. It's a small miracle that there are such a dedicated team here that help out. It is really a thankless endeavor when you consider that if you're in the market, you are helping your competition :) Soundcloud is similar IMHO. If I took away all the "mutually, communally supportive" listeners I would be at 10% of the total. Only a handful show up there to actually listen to music as their main agenda.

 

Think of it like this:  I have a plumbing job that's really kicking my butt ( If I were a plumber). I need to pull away from this time consuming project which might hurt my bottom line, so that I can go over and help another plumber friend get his job done.This is commendable in every way that a person would sacrifice family time and his or her own musical development/deadlines to help someone else.

 

What is more likely is this- We have a networking cross promotion scheme going. The only problem with that idea is it amounts to huge numbers of people who aren't buyinh music and instead are feeding large online corporations free material. I want to be able to honestly comment and listen as a support when I have the time. 

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Sounds like you're at Stage 9 of the aspiring songwriter Dave … self pity. I was stuck between there and Stage 10 August - November last year. It sucked.

 

I'm making this up as I go along so feel free to alter.

 

Stage1 - Desire

Stage 2 - False Hopes (stays with you until you reach stage 11)

Stage 3 - Determination

Stage 4 - Excitement

Stage 5 - Anticipation

Stage 6 - Quasi-fullfillment

Stage 7 - Emptiness

Stage 8 - Self Doubt

Stage 9 - Self Pity

Stage 10 - Depression (most eventually go from here, back to stage 1)

Stage 11 - Determination Part 2 "Takin it to the next level"

Edited by Just1L

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So, only by solving the mystery of David will anyone prove their righteousness and true understanding.

 

Sorry, bro. What you describe and seem to seek is the jurisdiction of lovers and life long friends. I cannot claim to be your life long friend, and my wife is my only lover.

 

So, I don't get it... don't get you.

 

Okay. I wasn't trying to offer support on that deep a level anyway. Just the simple empathy one musician can claim with another. That is, I guess, unless one of them is in the grips of a fugue so profound that to them it becomes a thing of singular significance.

 

As I said before, I hope you rediscover your happy place, David. For you and/or your music to get lost in the grips of whatever it is that bedevils you would be a profound shame.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Just1L said:

Sounds like you're at Stage 9 of the aspiring songwriter Dave … self pity. I was stuck between there and Stage 10 August - November last year. It sucked.

 

I'm making this up as I go along so feel free to alter.

 

Stage1 - Desire

Stage 2 - False Hopes (stays with you until you reach stage 11)

Stage 3 - Determination

Stage 4 - Excitement

Stage 5 - Anticipation

Stage 6 - Quasi-fullfillment

Stage 7 - Emptiness

Stage 8 - Self Doubt

Stage 9 - Self Pity

Stage 10 - Depression (most eventually go from here, back to stage 1)

Stage 11 - Determination Part 2 "Takin it to the next level"

 

Stage 1:  Boredom

Stage 2: Do something musically because it's something to do

Stage 3:  Finish or otherwise stop doing it

Stage 4: Apathy towards result

Stage 5, et seq.: Repeat Stages 1-4 ad infinitum

 

 

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24 minutes ago, HoboSage said:

Stage 1:  Boredom

Stage 2: Do something musically because it's something to do

Stage 3:  Finish or otherwise stop doing it

Stage 4: Apathy towards result

Stage 5, et seq.: Repeat Stages 1-4 ad infinitum

 

Stage 4.5: Cry into Pillow

Stage 4.6: Go on the internet

Stage 4.7: Say something … anything

Stage 4.8: Understand your attitude gets you nowhere

Stage 4.9: Realize you don't care

Stage 5: et seq.: Repeat Stages 1-4.9 ad infinitum

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