The original version of this post, along with on-going revisions, can be read on UnstarvingMusician.com/Articles
Lynz Crichton of My Music Marketing Method has challenged me (and others) to dig into our "why." That is why we make, play and perform music. The question of why we do what we do is said to be the lynch pin to finding success in what we do. Yet it's a question I've never really dug into.
The fact that I've never done this proves that I'm still not the expert. But that's one of the reasons I work with Lynz and interview independent musicians and industry professionals for the Unstarving Musician podcast. So now I endeavor to discover and articulate my "why."
This is a work in progress that I shared with a private Music Marketing Method group. They are an encouraging and inspiring lot. They've even inspired me to share my progress with you, readers of the Unstarving Musician. And without further adieu...
Why do I do what I do (music)?
My older brothers loved rock music and exposed me to the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones. Then one day, I saw the Rolling Stones on TV. It was a moment that changed my life. I soon began an ever expanding consumption of music (on vinyl).
Somewhere in between the experience of seeing the Stones on TV and hearing Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin, I was gifted something glorious–a snare drum and a ride cymbal. Not long after, my mum gave me my first drum set, a blue sparkle Rogers trap set. It didn’t take long to find like-minded friends who wanted to replicate the sounds of our favorite bands. But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I began playing professionally and it was a pair of younger guys that pulled me into that world. I would meet lots of cute girls along the way and eventually my wife of more than 25 years.
But why do I play? Is it the electricity I feel when things are going just right, when the band is clicking? Or is it the satisfaction of doing something at a level of personal best? The praise is very reinforcing. Yet I struggle with desire for something near perfection. I even feel disrespected when working with others who don’t approach their music with the same level of commitment. Like Joss Stone says, “I like working with people who play like they mean it.”
I don’t play music just to play. I don’t play it for money, but I like being paid for playing. I don’t play to get attention. I never played to get girls, although that part wasn’t so bad. I play to express and share my given talents. I play as a form of self expression and share and bare my soul.
I play to reach a higher place of self fulfillment and euphoria that only music has given me. It’s like a form of self-care and nurture for my soul, the purpose of which is to project all that I can into this world. This is part of spiritual me. It’s also the selfish side of me that provides the kind of gratification that I can only get through artistic expression, practice and performance.
I play to make people smile and sometimes dance. The love of making others smile feels innate to my core being. When someone smiles with me, they’re expressing happiness and appreciation, both of which are values and expressions that I absolutely love. Those expressions of happiness and appreciation give me a subconscious shot of love. I also find it a rewarding way to express my love and appreciation for others. To play music and make people smile is my gift of love.
I play to inspire others. I find fewer things more exciting than inspiration, especially when it comes from another person. This is in fact so special to me, that I dream of and even yearn to inspire others. I suppose the very idea of inspiring others is linked to my personal sense of purpose. Inspiring others to do something that matters, something enriching, something for the good of others, something artistic or in support of the arts. That is the dent I wish to make in this universe.
I play to reach higher levels of achievement. Stretching comes a great sense of reward, and there are fewer forms of expression that allow one to demonstrate their commitment to reaching a little higher through music. As musicians, we can reach higher levels of achievement through our lyrical prose, technical abilities, musicality and even mentorship. Seeing and hearing other music artists do this gives me goosebumps. I get that same feeling anytime I achieve something a bit greater and higher than was previously within my grasp. This is the way I want to honor those who came before me, to honor my peers, and to honor my supporters, friends and family. This is all to honor myself by living up to my potential.