Part of being a musician entails thinking like a musician, and—equally important—learning to identify yourself as a musician. When someone asks what you do, don’t tell them you’re a plumber, tell them you’re a musician; even if you’re a musician who “daylights” 50 hours a week shoving snakes down pipes and unclogging drains, and whose livelihood subsists entirely for that reason. That “side-gig” is simply subsidizing your music career.
Reflect upon your latest writings the next time you’re in the shower, consider which outlets are prime targets for your new demo tape the next time you saunter down to the corner liquor store. And think about your band even when you’re pulling up gooey hairballs and indefinable organic matter from the depths of Mrs. Hallstrom’s kitchen plumbing.
Of course, if you aren’t a plumber, but work in a music store or for a club or a label (a topic I plan to address in a future posting), your job already gives you a head-start in keeping your thoughts attune to your budding music career. But there a few simple tricks you can practice otherwise. For instance, subscribe to your favorite music magazines. Many of these, such as TapeOp and Mix are free in exchange for some demographical information. This is especially true with online media, where you’ll be reminded of your commitment to the music profession every time you receive an electronic issue, newsletter or news feed, which can be nearly as often as you check your email.
Another useful creative practice—at least for me—is to keep easy access to thoughts and ideas concerning your band and its music. Always keep music-related documents open when you’re on your computer, leave notebooks open around the house to jot down lyrics in-progress, or just scratch out some musical musings. These, too, are constant reminders that you’re a musician. Also remember, inspiration is often lost as quickly as it strikes, so you’ll do well to have a pen and paper, recording templates for your DAW or a micro cassette recorder nearby when the magic moment arrives.