That extra something

That extra something


There is no good or bad art because it can’t be defined. It can’t be measured. Nothing is more subjective than art. What makes art good? What makes it bad? Who decides? No one decides. If you think you need to improve, then improve. That doesn’t mean your “art” is bad. And if you improve, then maybe it won’t be as good. There’s nothing wrong with being idealistic, but mix in some realistic too. Your “art” has very little to do with how much success you have. The grind is where you make it. The sacrifice. The constant plowing forward. Any band can be successful. Any. Any band. Any musician has the potential to be successful. And I’m not talking rock star. I’m talking just making a living. But very few are willing to fully commit to the grind to get there. The sacrifice is real. There are 7.5 billion people on earth. You have an audience somewhere. How hard are you willing to grind to find them? How much will you give up, and for how long, to meet your goals? That’s what you need to work on. Or…just try to get lucky. There are lots of shit acts that just got lucky. That’s all just to get there riding on your “art”.

Or…become a great musician and do session work. Be a hired gun. That’s probably a more realistic and attainable career choice for a musician. You can still do your art, but pay the bills by playing someone else’s art better than they can.

Sorry, I screwed up the quote function. I don’t know how to do the separate quote thing at this weird message board.


Yeah for the quote function I find what works best is to highlight the text in the original post that you want to quote, and a little “quote” pop-up will appear that you can click on. You can do it as many times as you want to quote multiple things.

My point about the basketball player wasn’t that every tall athletic guy has to be a basketball player. It’s just an obvious example to use when pointing out that different people are born with different strengths. Surely you can agree that if a healthy tall guy with great athletic genes worked his butt off to get good at basketball, and at the same time a short guy with severe scoliosis did the same, that the tall guy would have a better chance of making it into the NBA? People are born with different potentials in different areas. I think it makes sense to play to one’s strengths. To me that is being realistic.

The question of whether or not there is such a thing as good and bad art is interesting. It’s almost a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type situation. If you say, “yes, there is such a thing as good and bad art,” then you’re right, there are these questions that don’t really have answers. Like, “what makes it bad? Who decides?” But then look at it the other way. If there is no such thing, then can you honestly say that a finger-painting done by a 2 year old is just as good as a master painter’s greatest work? If there’s no such thing, then what’s the deal with museums? What’s the deal with art classes? Why are there so many people out there looking to get better at art if there’s no such thing?

I think that it’s practical to say that there is good and bad art. Think about it like this: there are so-called objective things, like math and science. However… one can argue that as human beings, our senses are severely limited. I love this particular example of looking at a rectangle. You may be looking at a rectangle, and say, “it’s a rectangle.” And someone nearby is looking at the same thing and says, “no, it’s a circle!” All along, it was a cylinder, and you were each looking at it from a different perspective. Who’s to say that the things we observe are really as we observe them? Well, we do experiments in order to test it out and gain confidence. “If gravity exists as I say it does, then a pebble will fall at the same rate as a bowling ball.” “If eating lots of saturated fats leads to heart disease, then the dieters in this study who eat more saturated fats will have more heart disease.” Math is a good example, too. It’s all abstract. Yet it has utterly useful real-world applications. All of these things are considered to be objective, and yet… they’re really just things that we’ve experimented with and gotten consistent enough outcomes to call facts. If one day some new outcome emerged that made a well-known fact impossible, well then the fact would have to change.

Now back to art. I would argue that we can apply this same sort of experimentation to art. There’s this story about the Beatles (I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it doesn’t really matter,) where they used to play live shows all the time before they were famous, and they’d experiment on stage to try and get people to come into the club. What sort of music draws people in? “I think that if we play faster more people will come through the door.” That can be tested. And throughout the history of mankind’s art making, certain guidelines have emerged that give people clues about how to make better art. About how to get more people to say, “oh it’s beautiful!” or “I love this song!” or, “this is the best novel I’ve ever read!” It isn’t as clear-cut science, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant.

Oh, and about success. I would think about this along the same lines. Instead of assuming that a “shirt act” got lucky, ask yourself what people like about them, and find out the facts of how they became successful. If you dismiss it as luck, then you’re leaving a lot of clues on the table. If a lot of people like something, then there’s something good about it. Find out what it is.

Anyway, I know it’s a bit off topic but I found it a very interesting thing to think about!


I’m a little late coming into this one, but I did read though everyones response.

Cristina - at a base genetic level I see no area in which you lack the physiological or mental capacity to work in this trade. Its pretty clear to me that you were born with a sufficient tool kit to create music that’s interesting enough for people to pay attention to.

There are two distinct tears of ‘extra something’. Extraordinary vs the average Joe, extraordinary vs other professionals. You don’t need to excel in the second area to sell music to the audience in the first!

The best advice I can give is to test your market at the semi-pro level before backing out of your job and committing to going pro because the transition is much easier.

This takes strategic planning. If you’re serious about making a career out of this, you need to identify your sources of revenue before even attempting to make the switch. Remember that artists don’t sell CD/downloads these days as much as they sell services and information exchange.

I would get a feel for what it takes to deal with live gig procurement also. Dealing with the booking and scheduling process is the deal breaker for some artists deciding not to turn pro.


This is true, since they played live in Hamburg, Germany clubs for several years working some ridiculous hours, before they got famous. I think they’d usually play 6 sets a day (afternoon/evening) or something like that. The pay wasn’t great, but they had some really interesting times and probably got free drinks. :grin: I think that may have been where the song “Hard Days Night” came from.

They were playing covers in those days, whatever the crowd wanted. Working so much under diverse circumstances really honed their chops and help build toward when they actually did become the Fab Four. They became very tight musically and developed their stage presence as well. I know I read a book about that, and I think they did experiment with the crowd a lot to keep things interesting and from getting bored playing so much. They probably also got paid from door fees or drinks sold, so it was certainly in their interest to figure these things out.


Ha ok I’ll give it a shot. Thanks.

I agree. But still, basketball is something that can be quantified. More points, more assists, faster breaks, shooting accuracy, steals, blocks, all that stuff is measurable. Art, or a song, is not. Basketball is objective, art is subjective

I wouldn’t say a two year old’s finger painting is art at all. They’re not old enough to understand the concept of creating art. They’re just smearing paint around. Museums? Large closets to store antiquities. Art classes? Taking money from people’s insecurities. There’s nothing wrong with self improvement for your own benefit. I’d like to be a better cook. I’d like to be a better drummer. I’d like to be better at throwing a 12-6 curve ball. None of that means anything. It’s just getting better at something you are interested in. No big deal. Getting better at whatever one considers art is no different. There’s no inherent honor in being an artist - good or bad. It is very much a damned if you, damned if you don’t situation. You do it because you love it. If you do it for any other reason you’re compromising your own art and self. If it connects with someone, great. If it doesn’t, so fucking what?

None of that has anything to do with art. Math and science and physics rely on hard fast rules that can be proven and measured and quantified. Art does not. Your rectangle vs cylinder example is exactly why it’s pointless to judge art. It’s both, it’s neither, no one is right, no one is wrong, so it simply can’t be anything other than “whatever”.

First off, IMO nothing about the Beatles is relevant anymore. They were in a place and time that was vastly different from the landscape now. I know, I know, how dare anyone slag off the Beatles. But let’s be real. It’s not like that anymore. Life is not like that anymore. The musical world was an open book back then. Look at how much innovation happened between 1955 and 1970…and not just by the Beatles. We are all standing on all of those people’s shoulders. And now it’s all formulation. Apply that same 15 yr time span to now. 2003-2018. What big musical movement or innovation has happened in those 15 years? Nothing, really. Home recording has allowed everyone to flood the universe with mediocrity. That’s not innovation. We’ve actually gone backwards.

Our disagreements/discussions on this topic are largely philosophical and don’t really matter. But this comment here, I have a huge problem with. It is ground zero for my disgust with people trying to judge art, and allowing people to judge art. If you open yourself to be judged by outsiders then you have made that choice and you can let others tell you what is good and/or bad. I don’t live that way and I encourage anyone to give up that defeatist mindset and be their own person. You make your art the way you want to make it. It’s yours. It’s not up to anyone else to decide if it’s good or bad…unless you let them…and by then you’ve given up all control.

I’d argue that most of the time, when people in large groups agree on something, then it’s probably not actually good. It’s salable. It’s carefully controlled to be digestible. Especially in music, people like what they’re told to like. I can bring up The Beatles again. I’m not saying they’re not good, but people like them because they’re supposed to. No one ever just comes out says “fuck The Beatles”. Well, I do, but I don’t care. Most regular every day people are happy to profess their love for what they think they’re supposed to like and just go along with it. But I also think that we as musicians are not in the best position to judge things like that. We are too close to our own art. We are too close to the process. We have a skill set that makes us much better equipped to dissect and analyze something like music, but we also can’t help but look at everything through our own filters. A lot of guitarists like songs just for the guitar playing. Drummers like the drumming. Forget the song. They just like one little piece of it. And that’s okay. Anyone can like whatever they want to like. But regular non-musical people don’t listen than way. So I think it could go either way. Maybe musical dummies are the great deciders of what is good or bad music. It has been that way all along. I don’t accept it though. You can’t tell me that modern bro country is good music just because people like it. I do not accept that at all.

But whatever. I’ve devoted way more time to this than I originally wanted to. I certainly wish you the best and I hope that you can find your own way while staying absolutely true to yourself.


I think maybe the root of the problem here is that “good” and “bad” can only exist within a context. Otherwise you can just say “there’s no such thing as good and bad,” whether it’s art, cooking, cell phones, pajamas, etc. Taken to that extreme, of course there’s no good or bad art, because there’s no good or bad in general. Just people’s opinions. That’s certainly one way to look at it. I just don’t think it’s a practical perspective. Nice for meditation though. :slight_smile:

I don’t see myself ever completely writing off what other people think of my art. To me, art is essentially a way of communicating. And knowing that my audience is connecting with the music is important to me. I think that it will always be important to me. That doesn’t mean that I’m a leaf on the winds of other people’s opinions. It just means that I care enough to listen before I decide what to do about what I hear. And it means that I’m not just making art for myself.


Liked for the self-awareness of the potential for naive millennial idealistic ideas. There are studies that show that telling people to “find their passion” is often counter-productive and leads people to be less satisfied and have fewer interests. Instead, we should be told to “develop our passion”.

That being said, I’ve taken a pragmatic approach and work as a software engineer because it’s a more stable way of paying the bills. But I am able to derive satisfaction out of a job well done, and be passionate about it. However, that doesn’t mean that this is what I would be doing if I was independently wealthy. I’d probably tutoring, making music, and playing strategy games.


I swear you’re like the 3rd or 4th person in this thread that said they’re also a software engineer. I’ve found throughout my career (and in college for that matter) that so many of us are super into music. What’s with software engineers and music! Maybe that’s another topic, haha.


I teach computer science at the high-school level. It does seem to be that a lot of us have that connection.


I’m a wanna be software engineer if that counts!! Still learning to write code… C# to be specific. Can’t do a whole lot with it yet. And still working through tutorials on Udemy. I was doing pretty good then put it down for about 6 months… never picked it back up but I’m wanting to start moving forward with it again though.

I think FluteCafe/Michelle was. And Redworks - M24 - Patrick Talbot - And Boz too obviously. I know we have a few in here that are also into graphics/design, I.T., or a range of computer science related vocations :slight_smile: Yay for technology!


I’m a hardware engineer, who moved to software engineering.


Guilty as well… :slightly_smiling_face:




I did hardware, as in ship engines, for about five years. Then did software engineering for 10 years, both industrial automation and office automation (sigh) - and large systems management.
I now work as a reporter in a rural community and the money in this work SUCKS, but you get this amazing connection to the community, most of the time it’s good, but it also has challenges. Going to fatal car crashes and fires among them… but you get this amazing depth connection to the people around you, and you get to meet a variety of interesting people you’d never meet otherwise. Plus you get in at all events and shows for free…
Sitting isolated and writing code day in and day out is not that fun. I liked the industrial work better, though, it was like playing with a massive toy train set…
The only thing I miss about coding is the money.



Cristina, let me get to a computer so I don’t make a fool of myself typing typos on this phone and I’ll give you some in depth insight on this. I’m an Indy artist with two worldwide released albums with my 3rd nearly complete. I’ve toured all over and make my money solely from music, first and foremost as an artist and a record/mix/master guy second. The “second” job is the job that floats me a little extra cash. The artist part pays my bills.

You have so many ways to make money in music. Publishing, selling songs, works for hire, jingles, commercials, short films, radio commercials…you get the idea. Stuff like that gets you even more bread while you pursue the dream of finding where your secret sauce may be used best. Or, maybe the stuff I talked about can BE where you want or need to be.

I can say this though, the more involved you get, the harder it is on you. Deadlines, record companies, handling your affairs so you don’t get screwed, affording attorney’s, learning to trust attorney’s, and most importantly, knowing as much as you can about the music business before you even move on from your day gig.

The other side of the coin is, branding your idea of “extra something”. There are many roads you can take but you have to choose the right one for what you want to do, and make sure it’s right. I look back now and it’s all a job. When you do it on your own without people up your butt with deadlines and stress, you love it. When you bring those things into the equation, you just may find out that the greener grass you THINK you may see, is actually just a puddle of mud.

Art, in my opinion cannot be rushed. And there are times when you are rushed, end up incomplete and feeling like crap because of it. I’m not saying that’s the case for me totally, but it’s been really brutal on me at times. So much so I’ve considered working for someone else numerous times and calling it a day. I’m so sick.of late night hours and dedication to something that may not go as planned or ever love me back. These are some my thoughts at times. Other times, I look up and thank Jesus for helping me to get where I am.

In closing, I’m not saying anything to deter your dreams, but you really do want to think about this before you change your world. Have some serious savings and a back up plan because you will probably starve like I did for a few years until you learn your way around and find yourself; while coming up with ways to market properly.

My advice to you? Keep that day job for as long as you can and when your income from music rivals what you make there or exceeds it, then make the move. Right now in this world if we have a job with consistent income, it’s best not to make waves unless you have all your ducks in a row. Think about music as a slot machine. Sometimes you hit sometimes you fail. Another way to look at it realistically is this.

Look at it like loaning money to a friend. When you loan money, you do so accepting you may never get that money back. You don’t do the loan if you don’t have the money to lose. Music is like that. You don’t take the chance if you can’t afford a total loss. Now if you got you a sugar momma, by all means go for it. Lol! I say that because I do. Haha!

My fiance is thankfully in a great situation. She keeps pestering me to close my studios and just do the artist thing. In that situation, I could take the chance but honestly, I’m happy with my life right now and the fact that I make more than her. LMAO! (It is nice to know she would have my back though as I would have hers if she wanted to try a business) I’m not a big star or any star at all. I’ve done better than quite a few, have seen the world a bit, made money, paid billls and feel blessed to be in the situation I’m in. Any bigger and I really think I’d not be happy. More later…forgive any typos.



Thanks Danny; I appreciate you sharing your experience. I don’t have it in me to “go for broke.” When I quit my job it will be because we have a lot of savings, and because my wife’s income can support us. I’ve always been frugal–we’ll have our house paid off in a few months and have no other debt. I don’t see myself making significant income from music for a number of years. I think like you said, there’s an entire world of business that I have yet to explore and it’ll take me a good while. I don’t have a lot of energy to spend on it right now because I’m working, but the little steps still add up.


I used to teach classes at ITT Tech!


I think puts you in a position that is better than 95% of the population to be able to do this. I saved up enough cash to be able to survive for a year if I didn’t make any money. We never had to dip into it, but we cut back our expenses pretty sharply in order to do so.

Being smart with money is a huuuuuge advantage. It’s good to have a little bit of pressure so you don’t just meander around, but too much pressure gets stressful really fast.


The way you’re talking Cristina, you’ll be absolutely fine. That’s the way to think of it. I’m frugal myself. Thankfully I’ve had a little success, but I never take any of it for granted. My fiance yells at me and says “you don’t go for ice water in the summer” or “you’re so tight, you squeak when you walk”. Lol! I can’t help it, I just understand the value of money as well as how hard I’ve worked for it. I’ve been so poor I’ve pooped in the woods, and well off enough to light money on fire. I wouldn’t trade the experience of being horribly poor for anything. It improved who and what I am as a human being and made me understand life while I lived so much more. Now I’m “comfortable” and wouldn’t change a thing.

My fiance’s argument is “you can’t take it with you” and she’s totally right. This coming from a woman who has never asked me for a thing, has her own money and doesn’t need me or my money. She’s never asked for anything other than to love her unconditionally.( I didn’t want to make her out to be materialistic.) She just feels if we got it, enjoy it because tomorrow is promised to no one. A few health scares for me this year and I’m starting to agree with her. But that said, I think being frugal is good unless it’s something major you need to take care of that you neglect. Then it becomes procrastination. Lol!

Question just to get into your head a bit…(and I know a decent amount about you and your music/life due to that awesome video series you shared with your songs, writing and life from the beginning to present. I freaking loved it!!! Thanks for sharing that! It sucks because I feel know you better than you know me haha)

Back to the question(s) What do you think your special something is, and how would you implement it? Like, what is your target audience or what exactly would you like to do with your music? What would the ideal situation be? I hope the above questions aren’t too nosey or out of line. I’m really curious to know your feelings as well as what your expectations are “at the end of the day”?


OMG! It totally does. That’s huge. And having a dual-income marriage - that’s also a big advantage. Sounds like timing is coming together for you Cristina!!

Just to put the bug in your ear - remember that if you were to run across a person who was a real good fit and comfortable to work with, you probably could record and produce them for side income - as your time and energy would allow for :slight_smile: