Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letter to Myself


  An honor of the gig is being asked questions like this from a younger musician named Anthony, posted on my World Domination Guitar Academy Facebook page:

I consider myself a guitarist but i know i can improve far more than I am. I am asking if you could give me tips, music, anything to further my guitar skills. I want to be a great guitarist. I wanna be known. I have started a small band that isn't coming together well. No drummer and members are at each others throats. Any tips, info, or words of advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time if you read this.

Anthony!  Thank you for the question!  I'm sorry it's taken me a minute to get back to you.  

OK, first bit of advice - never take advice too seriously.  Even when I'm playing the arena circuit (and I'm not exactly there yet, but working hard at it!) my opinion should be taken with many grains of salt.  However, I do love talking about this stuff, and it sounds like your situation is very similar to the way mine was.  So, here's a few ideas for you.  I hope they prove helpful!

One of the coolest ideas that I've come across for musicians actually comes from the investing book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  In it, the author states "Mind your own business."  

This doesn't mean "go away, dude."  Nope, it means develop your own business, brand, and sound that's truly yours, and not dependent on anyone else.  Bands are totally awesome, but I think it's a great idea to always have your brand, too.  

For me, if I could write a letter to myself at a younger age, I would have done these things:

Dear Josh,

  Believe it or not, someday you're gonna cut your hair.  In the meantime, enjoy the wolfman look.  However, short hair can rock, too.  As an older version of yourself, here's a few things I could recommend.  

1.  Learn to sing ASAP!  It's a ton of fun, and this way, solo gigs are much easier! 

2.  Start writing songs right away.  It's a skill that's great to practice, just like alternate picking.

3.  Build a side project, complete with a Facebook page, SoundCloud account, etc, that's either just you, or the Josh Urban band.  That way, you'll always have something that you're moving forward, regardless of what band you're in.  

4.  Practice what you're interested in.  Listen to your teachers, but if you'd rather shred than play jazz, do that.  

5.  Get really good at people skills and salesmanship.  Not only are they fun, but very helpful with the business side of music.  Speaking of the business side...

6.  Jump into the business side!  Learn how to book gigs, start building connections with everyone you can (providing they're cool people), and do cool stuff with your music that's a bit out of the ordinary.  

7.  Record all the time!

8.  When you meet music people, do radio interviews, etc, make sure you develop a personal connection with the people, and don't rely on your manager or band leader.  You want to know them yourself.  

9.  Have a blast.  It's music.  You're living the dream, buddy!  

By the way, remember not to fry your hearing, young Josh, and watch out, there's lots of cops in Front Royal, VA.  Your Camaro is awesome, but slow down, son.

Yours truly,
Your older self Josh  

Anthony, best of luck to you, comrade!  Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to what is sure to be a brilliant career.  

Rock on!
- Josh

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