The journey of a great artist

longdarkroadIt’s funny how our musical journey can take us around the word in a search of where we belong. I often see young bands, eager to fight the good fight. They believe with every cell in their body that they are going to make it! The truth is, statistically it is very unlikely they will… I have been there, many times. The reason why I am still here, is that after what ever setback knocked the project to the ground, unlike the other members who opted for the safety of a “regular job”, I got up and started again.

To think that the band you are in when you’re 17 years of age, is the “one”, is naive. But at the same time, if you look at it from the “practical” perspective, you’d give up straight away 😀 So you need to be naive and believe you’re going to make it. You need to fight, put in the hours of rehearsing required to get to the top. I know the concept of ten thousand hours is not new, but I believe In music it is more relevant than anywhere else. I know you can practice more effectively, but still there is no shortcuts in becoming a truly great artist.

And before someone jumps out and points out all the young pop starts, let me just say this. You can learn choreographed show, not just dance moves, but to the detail of every step you take on the stage, every word you speak between the songs, every pre calculated spot where you will look at the audience… And the thing is, these pop stars are thought theses skills from someone who somewhere along the way did the ten thousand hours.

Here is the hurtful bit… I really am not trying to take away from you the magic of your favourite pop star, but when the songs were chosen for them by their record label, or a manager, written by someone else, produced and played by top producers and session musicians, who auto-tuned and edited their voice to perfection, how much of that is the “real artist”?

So let me spell out even more facts here 😉 The way songs are used these days is very much outsourced process. Often songwriters pitch a fully produced song (that the songwriter paid to produce) to a record labels. If the record label thinks it could be a hit, they buy the song, replace the vocals by their artist and we are good to go…

No! that is not what I mean by great artist. By great artist I mean musicians who write their own songs, craft them from ground up. Often tour the songs for a long time before they go to actually record the song. These artists did not sign a million dollar contract before their first ever show, they played night after night in a one dive bar after another. They spent endless hours on a long dark and lonely road. They might or might not never make it to the big stage, but are fully content on the medium size one. They played in a band after a band, had their dreams crushed a million times. They were told you will never make it as “your voice is not strong enough”, or “your playing is not up to scratch”. But instead of giving up, they worked harder at it. They took the criticism aboard, but did not let is deflate them.

So don’t worry if your band does not make it, it is all part of your musical journey. If you have the strength to get up and start over again, then you have already substantially moved the odds to your favour.


The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE