Musicians, Business, and The Music Business

Money, glitz, and glamour have never been a good substitute for actual talent and class. Never. It’s possible to sink a lot of money into promotion and distribution, and a lot of acts get a short ride, but I’ve never seen a music business alchemist who can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

I played my first paying gig in 1972, the summer I turned 16. Back then it really was all about the music. In those few years after Woodstock and before Watergate, the Age of Aquarius was peaking. Musicians and producers and engineers and promoters had developed some wonderful technologies that made some great things possible: Stadium tours, 16-track recording, synthesizers and electronic music, and an array of new brands of instruments that were greatly improved over the ones that had been available in the ‘60s.

Looking back, I see that the people I looked up to were interested in artistry. Sure, there were some who were only in it for the money—but they were easily recognized. The early ‘70s were still very much about sharing, working together, improving standards, and mutual respect. Another great thing about those times was that musical genres didn’t have to remain separate. It was common to see concerts that included folk, pop, and rock acts all on the same bill. You didn’t go to hear one type of music; you went to hear good musicians playing good music, and playing it expertly.

Fast-forward to the ‘90s. Things changed. A lot. The world grew up, and technology was zooming along, the Space Age having given way to the Information Age. Technology and economies began to influence music and the music business in new ways. Not only was it possible for millions of people to start recording at home; it was also possible for most of them to market their products on their own. Although an abundance of mediocre music began to circulate, some great musicians, notably Ani DiFranco, began successful careers as do-it-yourselfers.

Since that time, information technology and the economy continued to influence musicians, but in an interesting way. There has never been a more important time to be self-sufficient and knowledgeable about business. Along with that truism it is also a fact that it’s relatively easy to promote and distribute just about any idea, information, or product using the internet. There is a small number of great musicians who are doing just that, in conventional and unconventional ways. The flipside of this terrific coin is that when success happens, the formula is transparent—very easy to see, and hundreds of musicians will attempt to duplicate it.

When the copycats start doing their thing, music suffers because they’ve put their focus on selling, earning, and fame. That’s not music, and that’s not art.

I hear lots of musicians promoting themselves these days, but their conversation is littered with talk about markets and demographics and statistics. They talk about who they want to sound like and sell to. They seem to be knowledgeable about business. What they talk much less about is the emotion behind the music. The life experience that connects with their musical experience. The music itself. They sound much more like executives rather than talented people who have something to say.

Note that these musicians are not “selling out.” Selling out, by definition, happens after a musician or group has become hugely successful. Selling out is merely duplicating a formula for the purpose of earning another boatload of money. Selling out isn’t hard to do—but initial success is impossible to predict and no professional knows when or even if they will ever get to the Big Time.

There’s another problem with approaching the music business while putting the Music in the back seat. Money, glitz, and glamour have never been a good substitute for actual talent and class. Never. It’s possible to sink a lot of money into promotion and distribution, and a lot of acts get a short ride, but I’ve never seen a music business alchemist who can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

And as long as I’m on a roll, let me be one of the very few who will denounce Open Mic Nights for what they really are: a huge rip-off of musicians. Open mic nights can be hugely popular and successful, but if we’re measuring success in terms of money, who gets paid? The proprietors. They provide space (notice I don’t say “stage”), a sound system, and sometimes even a producer. The musicians provide whatever talent they bring, plus paying customers. The performing musicians even buy their own food and drink. Let me ask you again: Who gets paid on open mic night? Or more to the point, who’s working for free?

The Music Business in the 2000s has cut to the chase: how many butts can you put on barstools? Most of the bookers and promoters I meet aren’t interested in musicians and music. That doesn’t surprise me, but it’s disappointing to see it at the local level. I would expect that from concert hall and stadium promoters. In my own community, that kind of selfish, faceless treatment is a bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t know where the Music Business will end up years from now. But just as surely as cream can rise, mediocrity fails. Money will continue to pour in from marginally talented players, and thousands of sincere, talented artists will go unnoticed by the masses. It reminds me of the old joke: “How do you become a millionaire in the music business? Start with two million.”

Can Anyone Be Hypnotized?

It is important to note that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Clients go into hypnosis using the power of their own minds. The best subjects are people who are intelligent and imaginative.

This is one of my favorite questions. Every week someone tells me, with conviction, that they can’t be hypnotized. They really believe they can’t be hypnotized—but they’re usually reacting to what they think hypnosis is. In just about every case, they are unfamiliar with what hypnosis is or what it can be used for.

Sometimes people are fearful because they think they will be giving up control of their minds. In other cases, a person might have difficulty relaxing because of current physical pain or emotional trauma. And some people simply doubt the power of suggestion, believing that only weak minds can react to hypnotic suggestions.

It is a myth that people lose the power of their own will when hypnotized, or that hypnosis is a way of finding out someone’s secrets. The truth is that hypnosis is a wonderful, powerful modality for attaining clarity and making important decisions. Through hypnosis, we can identify what’s most important to us and find out how to obtain and maintain those things.

So, what kind of person can be hypnotized? Anyone who has an IQ of at least 70, and is willing try it. That’s it. Of course, some people can go into trance more easily than others, and it’s possible to block or stop the process.

In the state of hypnosis, clarity of thought and hyper-awareness are achieved easily, so that change can occur right there during the session. I’ve seen this happen many times. Clients come into my office stressed and confused, and leave an hour later—calmer, clearer, and with a renewed sense of direction. When that happens we know that it was the client’s powerful mind that achieved their success.

Here’s another fact: Hypnosis is science. It has nothing to do with belief or spirituality or physical conditioning. Using the proper technique according to the individual, hypnosis is achieved easily. When a person is hypnotized repeatedly, the induction becomes easier each time.

The fact that you are reading this article to the end indicates that you are open to being hypnotized and that you would be a good subject. You can learn to use self-hypnosis to improve your condition and become happier and more contented in life. The art and science of hypnosis are advancing rapidly, and a qualified hypnotist can help you change your mind—literally.

Hypertension? Hypnosis Works!

You can’t achieve wellness unless your mind works on it—but it’s the part of your mind that works in the background, without you having to concentrate on the issue.

It’s true—hypnosis can be used to help correct high blood pressure.

Here’s how hypnosis works:

The brain is in charge of the body, and it runs all the systems. The mind learns many lessons over a lifetime, and the lessons turn into automatic behaviors such as how to walk and how we behave in relationships. The subconscious remembers everything and acts upon the lessons in order to make sure we survive.

Your subconscious wants to maintain the status quo at all times, so it’s also in charge of healing. When you catch cold, your mind begins to make all the systems of your body work together to bring your body back into balance. You can’t achieve wellness unless your mind works on it—but it’s the part of your mind that works in the background, without you having to concentrate on the issue.

Of course, hypnosis is not a panacea for wellness. With regard to medical conditions, it is not and never can be a substitute for expert medical or psychiatric care. No responsible hypnotherapist should work with an ill client without the agreement of the primary care physician. The hypnotist provides adjunct care as part of a team of wellness practitioners.

If there is a medical issue, it’s possible that the mind has forgotten how to relieve that condition over time. Hypnosis is simply a way of changing your mind so that your subconscious mind can re-learn wellness and balance, and learn to work in a different way.

Clinical applications of hypnosis are effective for an astonishing variety of physical problems, and the subconscious mind seems unlimited in its power to heal the body.

Suggestibility and Affirmations

Think of your subconscious as a child of about 10 years old. Even a stubborn child can be motivated—it’s all in your presentation. If you let a child think they came up with an idea on their own, they’ll probably jump all over it.

“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” You might recognize this affirmation, originated by Émile Coué almost a century ago.

Affirmations are ideas packaged into neat phrases that are used for the purpose of self-improvement. They are typically used as meditations just before sleeping or immediately upon awakening. The theory is that the idea will act upon the subconscious, causing desired changes. This effect has been produced and replicated hundreds of times in clinical studies.

But what if your affirmation isn’t working? It might be because the exact wording doesn’t match your suggestibility. Suggestibility varies greatly among all of us, so when it comes to affirmations, one size does not fit all. Not even close.

Are you the type of person who bristles when being told what to do? If so, it’s possible that your subconscious will reject a direct suggestion. However, even if your subconscious resists authority, there’s a way that you can present it with new ideas that it will accept readily.

Think of your subconscious as a child of about 10 years old. Even a stubborn child can be motivated—it’s all in your presentation. If you let a child think they came up with an idea on their own, they’ll probably jump all over it. Keep in mind that approximately half the population is very OK with authoritarian affirmations (direct suggestions), and can accept them at face value and get results, no problem.

How can you determine your own suggestibility? That part isn’t so simple for the uninitiated, but it’s possible. If you are highly empathetic or sympathetic, if you can easily imagine physical sensations in your body, and if you are usually outgoing and eager to converse, it’s likely that you will respond to direct suggestions. Conversely, if your emotions don’t translate quickly into physical sensations, or if you tend to have difficulty connecting immediately with someone else’s emotional state, it’s likely that you’ll have more success with indirect suggestions.

Coué’s affirmation above is a direct suggestion. If you don’t have success with it, change it to an indirect suggestion and try it again for a week or so. Here are some examples: “Every day, I can get better…” or “It’s possible that every day, I am getting better…” Does your subconscious require a super indirect suggestion? Here you go: “Every day, in every way, I can give myself permission to allow myself to consider that I am getting better and better.”

Remember, your subconscious mind doesn’t analyze or evaluate, it just does what you tell it to do when you’re speaking its language. So try your affirmations as both direct and indirect suggestions, and see which one works better!