Excuses are like assholes – everybody has one. Some are valid, some not so much. The bottom line is – there’s no boss for you to explain your excuses to. You are your own boss.
Examples of excuses that aren’t valid:
I was tired last night
I didn’t have anything to work on
Examples of excuses that are “valid”:
Family member sick or passes away
Loss of job or problems at work
Problems with girl/boyfriend or spouse
Do you know what the difference between valid and non-valid excuses are? NOTHING! They both lead to the same result. There’s only one question to ask at the end of the day: Did you accomplish your goals?
If the answer is no, then the reasons why don’t matter. Nobody is going to turn around when you’re forty and not a musician and say “oh, well you were going through a really difficult time. Okay, you’re a musician now”. Doesn’t work that way. Either you became a musician or you didn’t.
Ever wonder why so many successful artists have compelling stories (drug addict parent, loss of close friend at a young age, homeless while discovered)? Those are the people who were able to channel their concentration and overcome those setbacks. They turned those negatives into positives. Converted their obstacles into opportunities. They didn’t use those difficulties as excuses not to accomplish a goal.
Listen, I’m 34 and have lost both my parents in the past 5 years. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. For over a year after my mother passed, I didn’t do anything creative. So if an artist comes to me and says they’re mother is sick, I completely sympathize. Bottom line, there are things that can be much more important than music. And there are times when you need to pull yourself away and handle real life situations.
But if you choose to put music to the side to handle a real life situation, realize that your opportunities are not going to put themselves on pause.
If you’re a good worker at your day job, and suddenly you’re faced with a personal tragedy, usually your boss and co-workers will understand because you have a proven track record and this situation is an anomaly. But if you constantly have “tragedies” impeding your progress, then the tragedy is probably your work ethic. If every two months, something comes up to slow your progress, then it’s time to look in the mirror – regardless of how legitimate these situations seem
If you’re having problems with your spouse and it’s affecting your work, eventually your job will be in jeopardy. Everybody goes through difficulties in life. It’s how you deal with these difficulties that define your success. When it affects your work and puts undo pressure on your coworkers, or leads to you making mistakes, then it becomes a problem. You simply can’t not show up for work for three weeks because your wife went to live with her mother. If you do that, you will lose your job. Music is the same thing. You can’t just put music to the side every time your landlord is threatening to evict you. The same way you have to show up for work regardless of what’s going on in your mind, you have to show up to your music job. You have to find time, regardless of how difficult it might be.
That is, if you really want to be a professional musician and not just do music as a hobby.
While working on Sorry I’m Late, I can’t count the number of times John wouldn’t meet a music deadline because of something that went on in his personal life. But every morning, he made it to work. He didn’t let his personal situation affect his job, but he did let it affect his music.
Do I sound harsh? Yes. But that’s because it’s an incredibly harsh business. Hey – nobody told you to pick the single most difficult industry in the world for your career path. There are great benefits if you are one of the lucky few to break into the industry. But it’s going to take a LOT of work. Everybody would love to be a doctor or a lawyer. High profile jobs, great pay. But it takes years and years of constant study and schooling. The most difficult, underpaid internships. All that before you get to where you want to be. And once you’re there, the work doesn’t stop. You’re constantly studying new medical procedures, learning new laws. It’s never ending.
Don’t expect music to be any different. It’s constant work. Only, instead of ten years of college with countless hours of homework and research each night, it’s hands-on training; building and marketing yourself and your brand. If you’re not ready to sacrifice your free time and social life for the next several years, then find another dream. You need to be making progress every single day, regardless of the obstacles you face in life.