Monday, November 2, 2009

Small Steps

Hello world, how have you been? I apologize for going AWOL the past couple of months. I've been working on some new projects, including co-teaching a music business class at L.A. Music Academy with my old friend, Chris Juergensen. Once again, Chris has set a great example and inspired me to redouble my own self-promotional efforts.

When I first decided to release a solo album, Chris told me that selling it wouldn't be too difficult. All I would have to do is commit to spending an hour a day working on promotion. Sounds easy, I thought. Naturally, when the CD first came out, I was filled with enthusiasm and made a respectable initial promotional push. But after a few months, my attention drifted and the salesman in me started slacking off. CD sales reflected my efforts, and I realized that this promotional stuff would require the same kind of long-term commitment that I have for playing my instrument.

I think most of the important things in life are that way, actually. Whether it's the pursuit of art, money, relationships, social reform, health, etc., all that anybody can do in one day is take a very small step forward. Neil Armstrong's first footprint on the moon really wasn't a giant leap. It was just the finish line at the end of a very long trail of small, incremental steps that led us there. There are no giant leaps, only small daily steps. And life is short, so if you want to cover some real ground, you can't afford to miss many days.

Here's an example you can probably relate to. If you practice a musical instrument for one hour per day, six days per week without fail for 40 years, that will still only amount to about 12,500 hours of total practice time over the course of a career. Not bad, but supposing you miss a day here and there? Or get busy with a day job and can't practice at all for several months? In fact, an hour a day is a pretty big commitment to make in the long run, and a lifetime's effort can easily be whittled down to very little progress if the commitment isn't really maintained.

Of course, priorities do change along the way, and we all have to choose between competing goals in our lives. But for the moment, I'm recommitting to direct more of my own small steps toward music promotion. Where are your steps heading?


Me Me said...

Thanks for this reminder, both about practicing, promotion, and the power of a small daily discipline. I think the hardest thing is choosing when you have multiple responsibilities and disciplines (parenthood, money-making, gigging, exercise, practicing, promotion, etc). How to choose how to divide up your limited time so that it makes the most sense is where I struggle. Maybe a future post? And best of luck with your new release! Keep on plugging it!

Doug Ross said...

You're right, Alexa! A recent epiphany I have had is that most of the REALLY important things in life are never urgent, so they get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. My solution: do the non-urgent, important tasks FIRST each day. The urgent stuff will take care of itself because it HAS to get done.

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