Behind the Music
Success as a concept has always felt daunting and difficult to me. It's been something I've tried not to dig too deep into while simultaneously trying to attain it. But how does one attain something when they don't really know what it is, especially something so subjective and ever changing? So I challenged myself to define what success looks like to myself.
I started out with the thought process of filling in the blank with the sentence: When I reach _____, I'll consider myself a success. However, that blank changes with every little part of my life. That's when I broadened my view a bit and expanded success into categories. For me, I currently have 3 types of success I strive for. Each of those types also has different tiers of success as well. The first one I strive for is financial success. The second is personal success. The third is professional success. There is overlap, of course, but that is to be expected.
For financial success, I feel like the base is financial stability. I define this one as having all needs and expenses met. It can feel like anything but successful when you are living paycheck to paycheck with little to no wiggle room. But it is, in my opinion, a success to get to the point where your bills are paid one way or another even if it feels minor when you look around and it seems others have more or better. But if you're staying above water in a system designed to drown you, I feel like that's pretty successful. The step above financial stability that is what I'll call financial flexibility. I personally define this as having expenses all covered with a little bit of a safety net to fall back on in the event of an emergency without pay. I will strive to keep 1-3 months of enough savings to cover my monthly expenses. I feel like this is typical to strive for, but it is difficult to attain and then to maintain once reached. So congrats on that level of success if you got it! The final level of financial success is one I'll call financial generosity, where you have enough to take care of yourself, both needs and wants, and you have enough left over to give back to those around you and society in general. I often criticize those in the 1% because I cannot wrap my mind around the thought of that much money being at anyone's disposal. But that brought on the personal question: how much money would I consider too much? I won't go into much detail on this one because I don't know if I'll ever see my success in this area. But it would be nice to reach it and be able to just tip servers 100%+ or just fill up the gas tank of the person who pulls into the pump beside me or fill my cousin's fridge while he's getting through college or any number of other good things to just help the people around me without jeopardizing my own financial well being. Obviously the exact number would change as different budgets take place, but it's definitely something to think about in terms of putting a definition to success in terms of financials.
Personal success seems much easier to define on the surface, but it's actually the one that's been most difficult for me to put into measurable terms. It pretty much just asks what it is you want from life. That is usually answered with things like happiness, peace, love, etc. How do you measure those, though? They're so flexible. Does one moment of happiness mean you reached success but failed at maintaining it the minute the happiness fades? For some people, that might work into their thought process. For me, though, that just seems like one heck of a roller coaster. So I moved away from general emotions and other concepts to define the concept of personal success. I came to the conclusion that, at least as of right now, what I want from life is to be remembered. It goes beyond that in many ways, but that's the ultimate goal for me that will tell me I've reached personal success. As a storyteller, I want people to remember not only the stories I told but the emotions they felt when encountering the stories. As a songwriter and musician, I want people to listen to the melodies long after I'm gone and know that I'm still rooting for them. And just as a human, I want my loved ones to remember all the times we've gone through and to think of me when creating new memories. These things aren't really all that measurable to me. For one, they rely on others and I can't control how others interact with me. For two, I am talking more about leaving a legacy so that means thinking forward to a time where I'm not here. I can't keep track of things if I'm not around. So for right now, I'm coming to terms that I may never truly even know if I'll reach my personal success.
For the final type, professional success is proving to still stump me a bit. It has the most overlap with the other two. Professional aspirations, in the current society I live in, is how you make money. So it heavily ties into financial success. Regarding my day job, if I make enough money to be a financial success then it is arguable that I'm successful professionally as well. However, in terms of personal success, my day job is severely lacking. Nothing I do is memorable. I am nothing but a body to the people around me and the company I work for. Therefore, I struggle to call that successful. My "career" in entertainment, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. I make things that have been called memorable and fulfilling. That in itself is a massive success to me personally. But financially, it is not lucrative. Does it have the potential to be someday? I suppose. But that's why I call it a "career" because it is entirely just potential energy with no guarantee of anything beyond giving me meaningful connections and heartfelt expression. So anything I can see as a professional success would ideally meet both the financial and personal definitions or at least progress them.
As a final thought on this subject, I still find success as a concept daunting. But I am working to put measurable definitions to it to make it at least somewhat attainable since it's such a big thing we seem to strive for. Am I successful? Am I going to be successful? Will I keep that success? All of these remain to be seen.
What does success look like to you?
Been a while, but I'm here! There's a lot going on, though, and I'm here to touch on projects in progress. Despite being radio silent, I've been busy working on new things with the hopes of being able to share them. And friends, it's just about time to share. With that, I'm just going to give a short heads up of some things to come!
First, another acoustic album is starting production this month! This will also be 8 tracks like the last one. It will feature all new material. I am not sure of a release date just yet because scheduling is a pain, but my goal is to have it ready by this Fall.
Second, the full production album is also moving forward! 6 more songs are just about done with the mixing and mastering process. That leaves 2 more to record then it'll be on to the release preparation, including artwork and publishing. Again, no set release date for this just yet. My best prediction is Spring 2023.
Third, my YouTube channel is about to grow a bit as well! I will be posting acoustic sessions to my channel. They will release monthly. That will likely begin either the end of this month or beginning of next. I was hoping to do cover songs for this, but licensing issues make covers a bit complicated and I'm really wanting to make sure I get the proper licenses because copyright infringement is theft and theft is wrong. So tune in to see my acoustic sessions and how I get creative with those by putting new spins on my own songs!
Lastly for this update, I've restarted a mailing list! I'll be posting updates to here, of course, but far less regularly from this point on. My mailing list will receive updates monthly or bi-monthly depending on what is going on and how soon I can figure out how to work Mailchimp. This area of my website is going to be given maybe quarterly updates while having a focus on more blog-like posts such as my song story posts (and I'm coming up with more so keep your eye on that). But that means that updates will be given via email. To sign up for that mailing list, there is a submission form for it on this website's home page. Fill that out and hit submit. For times that have less productivity (let's be honest, we all hit those times), the emails may be short and sweet with a fun meme on it. For other times, you'll receive notices of upcoming projects, project statuses, show schedules, and more.
Thank you, friends, for all your support and patience as I am still figuring out this whole thing called life. Here's to the future! ✌️
I've been really pushing my song "Last One Standing" since it released and I haven't given much background on it or what made me write it. Part of my reason for that is because I believe music is just as subjective as it is objective. By that, I mean every song is different for every person even though it may have been written with one single message or meaning by the author. So I like to wait on sharing any back stories for music from my point of view because I like to hear others' takes on it. So now that you've heard the song and have had some time to put your own feelings into it, I'd like to share where the song truly came from and the meaning it has for me.
I have a very strong bond with all my friends. We have a close knit group that tries to stick together as best as possible. One of those friends and I started dating a while back. I wanted to do something very special for him and I couldn't think of a better way to tell him how I felt. So I used music. "Last One Standing" was his Christmas/birthday present. It started out as a love song.
But it has since taken on a different meaning as well. About a week after recording L.O.S., he and I decided to end the relationship. Our friendship has proven to be stronger and we have remained friends. I still mean every word I wrote for him, but I now realize that I wrote that for not just him but all my dearest friends. After all, they've been there for me through thick and thin and I don't think anything could change my loyalty to them. So in reality, I really wouldn't mind being the last one standing with any of them. It would be my honor after all we've been through.
So now that you know my story behind "Last One Standing," what is your story for it? Who do you think of when you hear the song?
I am so excited to be on this journey. I've been doing music for a long time, but now it's time to step up my game. So I got the site going and am recording my music now. None of this would be possible without the support of every one of you, my friends.
This new website will be your all-access pass to my musical endeavors. Believe me, there will be a lot coming. My social media accounts will be up-to-date as well so feel free to follow them for more on-the-go updates. I am always up to something, and keeping you guys in the loop is a top priority of mine.
Also, happy new year! I have a feeling 2018 will bring lots of excitement for us all!