Over Memorial Day weekend I spent some time on the Appalachian Trail (AT) with friends and loved ones. We covered approximately 26 miles in the 2.5 days that we were out. It was one of the best outdoor experiences I have had, and I walked away feeling renewed (mentally and spiritually, because physically I was dead tired) and ready to tackle obstacles that are between me and the goal of moving forward in a music career.
So how does the Appalachian Trail equal the music business? Well I drew a couple of parallels from the AT experience:
1. The right tools: When you walk into an REI or another Outfitter’s store you are confronted with the harsh reality that there is a plethora of options available to you. But there is no way on earth that you can fit everything into a pack that you would lug on your back into the great outdoors. It’s not practical. (Though it is exciting to make a gigantic wish list of all the toys you want in the future)
The same is true of the music industry: there are so many tools that are available for you to use (most free) that can enable you to accomplish your goals, but there is no way that you can carry all those tools effectively. Better to master a few than teeter under the weight of trying to keep up with 50 different profiles, blogs, etc. If you try to carry too many tools you’re more likely to end up on your rear end exhausted from the effort more quickly than if you select a few good tools and run with them.
2. Wisdom of those who know: Had I tried to prepare for this trip on my own, I would have been desperately lost. I would have packed large amounts of unnecessary things and ended up not using more than half of what I packed. But with the guidance of those that have done this many times before, I began to understand what is truly necessary.
The same is true for the music industry. I can learn a lot from the people that are out there doing it now. Those who are in the trenches fighting the battles and learning how to operate in this new music economy. Are you connecting with people who are on the front lines doing this everyday?
3. Pacing: When we started out everyone felt fresh and full of life. We could conquer this Trail and walk away like champs with our heads held high. But our lead would make us stop , take a break, drink water, and grab some food. I was ready to go, but thankful at the same time for the breaks. Without this pacing, the AT would have eaten me for lunch. (And I’m sure it wouldn’t have liked what three days without a proper shower tasted like)
A music career is a long-haul commitment, not a flash-in-the-frying-pan proposition. Are you pacing yourself; taking breaks, refreshing, refueling, and looking at what lies ahead of you?
These may seem like simple, common sense things to you, but it was a privilege for me to see the music industry from a different angle this past weekend.