The ability to stay focused in an industry created to catch your eye can be relentless. Danny de Reybekill unpicks a way to track your progress in times of stress.
When I started my first foray into the music industry while at university myself, I was aware of a few things; I knew I loved music, I knew I loved free and I wanted my name to be on something. In order to achieve these things, I was going to have to do a lot of work for free, I knew I’d eventually wreck my body and I would have to do a lot of reading. These were all okay in my mind because it would eventually lead to happiness and fulfilment on the other side (once I was an established and approved adult).
Along the way, at every stage, I sought feedback; I wanted advice from peers, friends, colleagues, partners. I needed reassurance the path I was taking was the right one given the options. This became something I did periodically when I lost my head, or lost traction.
After one particular rejection, I was left high and dry feeling frustrated. I signed onto what was Job Seekers (now Universal Credit), feeling dejected and at a loss of which way to turn. My advisor saw I had contacts and opportunities coming out of my ears. She told me to come in each week with a list of ways I could advance myself in the music industry; whether it be an email enquiry or music write up, but I was to make a note of what I did each day. (This was a valued adjustment to the criteria at the time to simply list as many job applications as possible as proof of benefit.)
I spent my time meeting people like Nick Owen who has anchored Midlands Today for more years than I’ve been alive, and arranging bar jobs at places I actually enjoyed the music of, not just the best paid. Every time I met my advisor, I felt more confident about a direction I wanted to go, and her advice helped to gently direct me. To be honest it may have absolutely no bearing on the particular direction, but it was a direction nonetheless and that had value.
This small bit of assistance pushed me to submit written music journalism pieces which later got me head-hunted and offered an internship with RAM Records (though I politely declined their six month un-paid internship based in London) giving me the confidence to blog for other magazines and further develop my brand in the city.
You see it is this branding which really matters. Whether you’re pushing the journalist slant, or forging a career as a musician, what is key is that you give you and your brand time and space. Be honest with who you know you are and allow yourself to project that naturally.
Part of the problem is that as humans, we’re not meant to be able to handle obnoxious amounts of stress; because well, if we did, we’d have at least figured out how to bin Brexit. Being able to set time aside each day or week and take stock of what you’ve done to progress is a brilliant way to track and map those big or small steps.