I’m a big fan of Louis C.K. I think he’s a fantastic comedian and great guy. I know he’s not probably everyone’s cup of tea, but I admire him for his honesty, and his great insight. There was a great interview he did recently for The New York Times. The interviewer was asking about how he had coined a great idea by selling all of his tour tickets, merchandise, and both the video and audio of his shows on his website. He completely cut out the middle man and decided to give his work directly to his fans for a reasonable price. I won’t be surprised if more people jump on this bandwagon.
After that, the interviewer mentioned how he now has a platform and the recognition to say what he wants, and have people pay attention. Louis replied with “So why do I have the platform and the recognition?”
The interviewer replied with, “Because you’ve put in the time.”
This is the quote I mentioned earlier, it was his response to the interviewer.
“There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.”
This response made me stop reading and think about what he said. About how there are so many musicians and bands that get thrust into the spotlight so early on in their careers. Especially in this digital age where we can get anything in an instant, about how we almost expect everything to come to us quickly and how we want instant gratification. I do think this is reasonable to a certain degree, but when it comes to work, and especially creative work, I’m left wondering if it’s good for us to expect it all immediately. Instead of putting in those long, and probably very lean, years where we have failure after failure and question why we do this, and then we bounce back from it, and become better for it. How those years, that seem enormously long and so frustrating from those failures, about how it helps us become better at our craft. About how we go so long without an audience and how we have to become our own biggest support for what we do. About how it hammers perseverance into us, and allows us that lifeline to continue with our passion for our craft, and eventually we start to get an audience that may grow slowly, but when we finally get people to listen that success tastes sweeter than anything we’ve ever tasted before in our lives.
While it may seem horrible, and seem like I’m telling people that they should suffer for their work, I’m not trying to say that by any means. I’m only trying to show how that failure and frustration forces us to evaluate what we do, and how we can become better at it. How we can build it, and change the shape of it through experimentation.
The best thing a musician can do is that. Experiment, and work with different people. Try different recording techniques and different genres. Never getting too comfortable with one way of working. Explore creative outlets, and have more access to that creativity. I am a firm believer that all creativity stems from the same place in everyone. It just comes out in different ways, and sometimes the way we’re used to working with it isn’t the way that we can get people to notice what we have to say.
Sometimes painters become writers, and writers become musicians, and musicians that play rock end up playing around with folk, or synths, or influences that change the way they write harmonies and lyrics. In order to say what we need to say, we need to try as much as we can, and do as much as we can. Sometimes this process does take years, and it’s a matter of us learning that just because this one way doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that another won’t.
We all want a platform and recognition, like Louis has, but we have to know that we have to work hard, educate ourselves, and grow from those bad experiences and failures, and remember that time will eventually make things work out. It always does. It just takes perseverance to do it.
Perseverance to be successful, however you define success, always takes time. It never happens immediately. So remember that you must always persevere through life. In the end, that’s all we can do.
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