In an industry like this, it’s been hard to balance the passion + growth of my craft, personal developmental bullshiiiit, with modern day living (making da money.) BIG SURPRISE, RIGHT?
So, of course, the past few weeks I’ve questioned the direction of my career in music (detailed oriented things that are irrelevant - but somehow hold back my thought process), just like we all secretly do. I have huge goals, both musically & personally, but there are always different ways to go about pursuing them.
Anyone who says they don’t question their direction in life / career is 100% bullshitting. (even the people you stalk on IG.)
I know millionaires who are miserable. I also know near-homeless visual artists who couldn't be more thrilled about what they're doing. Be ecstatic of where you’re at right now and show yourself compassion. Most of all, remind yourself of why you're pursuing music. Keep reminding yourself, whether you’ve played 1 show, wrote 1 song, or have learned how to play 1 chord - you’re lucky to be doing this at all. At one point, you weren't doing it. You’ll look back on yourself a year from today and think you were awesome. Even though you will most likely be more advanced at what you're doing.
This morning, I opened up a back-up of my old iPhone. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. Pictures of playing shows, working in a bunch of different studios, traveling around America with my beautiful girlfriend Shirah, hanging out with my best friends both here in Charlotte & visiting them far away, spending time with my incredible parents. All the while - I was doing music ALL the time. A dream that I once had. I truly forgot how far I've come.
The reason you need to remind yourself of 'WHY' in Music is because 'WHAT' doesn't matter without it. Music is all emotion. There is very little logic in what we do.
"So Mark, why are you pursuing music? Are you bullshitting me for an uplifting post and then you can get another subscriber? NICE TRY YOU WANNA-BE TONY ROBBINS."
JOKES ON YOU BECAUSE I ALWAYS FORGET TO SEND OUT TO MY EMAIL LIST. LOL.
Why am I pursing music?? Because Music makes me feel like I belong. I was one of 3 Jews in a High School 'out in the sticks' of Charlotte NC. Charlotte does not have a big Jewish community. In fact there are only 3 Temples in a population nearing 3 million. If you do the math, that's about 1 temple per 1 million people. (Despite going to conservatory, I totally still got my Math Skillz, ayeeee.) We lived around a 40-minute drive from the nearest Temple. Before living in Charlotte, I had always lived in a city with a thriving Jewish Population. It was strange as hell moving to Charlotte. My parents knew it & I knew it. But we didn't talk too much about it. We tried our very best to make the best of it, as any parents should do when talking to their child.
I was absolutely the minority of minorities in my school.
Long story short, I got harassed both verbally & physically a fuck ton. From peers, occasionally side-swipes from teachers, etc. Swastikas drawn into my locker & desks. Hate mail. Called a Kike. Pictures of the holocaust thrown on my desk. Notes left on my car windshield telling me to "go back where you came from." I'd rather not even talk about the bus in 9th grade.
I experienced more anti-semitism than a majority of the Jews I've met in my life. The worst part? All of my Jewish Family & Friends lived in NYC, Chicago & Israel. They truly were baffled by the stories I told them. They had no idea what to say. I was more alone than ever.
I had been playing drums & piano for a while, but until then - it was just for fun. My mom has always been in the industry, but she never *pressured* me to pursue it full time. However, things shifted. At this point - Music absolutely became my safety net. When I played, I was in the zone. It was therapy for me. It was somewhere where I didn't have to think about the bullshit 'jew-jokes' that were made that day. It was the one thing that I could do to re-create my own identity to peers. Instead of being called 'the jew' which quickly became my identity. I became 'the drummer,' 'the producer.' etc. Instead of some parents not wanting their daughters to date me because I was a jew, I became the cool guy in bands & studios - YOU COULD SAY CHUR BOI WAS DOWNRIGHT IRRESISTIBLE NOW.
CUE: HEARTBREAKER BY PAT BENATAR.
This re-creation of my identity is still with me today. I honor music because it helped me create myself into who I wanted to be, and instead of being known as "what I was," I was now known for "what I do." I was in control. Nobody else. Music made me proud of who I am. It made me embrace things I was nearly convinced to hate.. It changed who I was for the better. A few years later, I even got homecoming king.
In fact, this relentlessness to 'be in control' is most likely the very reason I've never had an actual job. I've only done music professionally. I really went from no friends, insecure, depressed, etc. To having confidence, a bunch of friends, and gaining an insatiable hunger for life.
I think Social Media is honestly poison. However, my income is made through it - so I'm sort of in a catch 22. I owe a majority of my career / good friends / network to Facebook & Instagram (as well as my rent & food.) However, I hate that we are all attached to it. Looking at what other people are doing can EASILY make you question what you're doing and WHY you're doing it - for me? It's (at times) made me forget why I fell into this.
Chances are, what you're doing when you're in the zone is exactly where you should be. And if you're in the arts in some way shape or form, you're doing it out of therapy. Re-realize why you're doing it, and HONOR that reason. Honor the very thing that saved you. I Guaran-fucking-tee you you'll be right back to tip-top shape in your creativity and hustle.
OKAY PLAYAZ. ACTIVITY TIME.
- Put your phone on Airplane mode for an hour.
- Deep Breathe / Pray / Meditate (I meditate using the app Headspace.)
- Get a piece of paper and a pencil.
- Make 2 columns.
- Column 1 should say "Why I'm pursuing music." Be honest. In fact, be vain. I encourage it. If you want to make a million dollars - then say it. Don't disguise it as 'starting a movement.' Just be honest, dude.
- Column 2 should say "Why I started making music." For me, it was very clear. I was an outcast - and it was therapy for me. My only goal at the time was being able to do music as much as I could - so I could avoid bullying etc.
Chances are if the answers you wrote in both columns have little to do with one another, you have some reconsidering to do. It will for sure put things back into perspective.