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Friday, July 13, 2007 

How Do You Get THERE When You Don't Know What THERE Is?

by Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar So you want to be a multi-platinum selling rock star making millions. Woo hoo! Great goal! But these days DIY (You-It-Yourself) has become mainstream, a way of life for many independent artists. So those dreams of getting signed to a major label are so far beyond the horizon it is really not an option anymore. So what now?

You want to get THERE but what is THERE?

Many people I talk to equate success and getting THERE to making music full-time, getting their songs into film and TV, going on the road and selling enough CDs and merchandise to support themselves financially. That is awesome. But unfortunately some indie artists have no clue as to what they really want. They are tired of their day job and want to make a change. They dream about the day they can quit and do music full-time. They dream but don't act.

So how do you get there?
You must act!

Ahh, that is the hard part for many. How do you act? What does it take? I suggest spending time really thinking about your wants and needs. And don't be vague! Don't say I want to be a rock star so I can earn millions. Get out some paper and write down what THERE is to you. Aim high. But step back and look at the big picture. Be realistic. What do you need to do now to get onto the road to getting THERE?

Make an action plan then stick to it. If you want something badly enough you will do what it takes. You will do the work.

Oh yes, you heard me right. That nasty word that too many people can't handle: work. That is the bottom line. You have to work it. You can't sit back and coast. Well you can, but will that lead you to THERE? Doubtful.

I can think of several indie artists that work extremely hard. Here is what they all have in common:

*They persist.
*They network.
*They take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. No excuses!
*They don't complain. If things don't go their way, they move on to the next one.

Do what it takes to get yourself THERE? Get committed! Make a plan. Take action. Do the work. Be a DO-ER! You will see results.

Copyright © 2007 Madalyn Sklar, IndieMusicCoach

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach, consultant and author. She founded IndieMusicCoach and has spent over 11 years working with a wide range of independent musicians all over the world - U.S., Canada and Japan thus far. Her goal is to help indie artists achieve greater success in the music business by working smarter not harder. She is also the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians, with a vision of bringing together and empowering musicians from around the world.

Madalyn is available for one-on-one consulting and coaching at affordable prices. Check out http://www.indiemusiccoach.com/ for more info. Plus for a limited time, you can get a FREE 2007 Musician's Atlas on select consulting/coaching plans!

I don't care to tell you this.I'm just downright stupid sometimes. I told Madalyn I would definitely comment on this topic since the universe has been on my case about it lately and is starting to lose patience with me. I mean, you can only be given so many opportunities to do what you say you want to do before things get ugly.

Dreams are great but they can be overwhelming, and most of us musicians have a bad habit of dreaming so big we psych ourselves out. But too many things have happened to me lately (within this vein of figuring out where "there" is) to ignore.

So, I'm going to tell you why I can admit to being stupid lately, and why I know I need Madalyn as my coach, and why I decided to come back to her with my tail tucked between my legs when doing it "my way" proved disastrous.

You have to be willing to humble yourself to find your greatness. Seriously. That's the simple truth, but it's the secret to becoming the person or performer you are meant to be.

If you have ever worked with Madalyn, you know that she has an uncanny way of getting someone "unstuck". And I get stuck all the time. I seem to repeatedly find and write about the exact thing I need to be doing, but ironically I never read what I've written. Instead, I sit around and ask myself "what am I going to do?" or "how will I ever figure out how to make this work?" I get completely bogged down and immobilized with the "what ifs" and "hows". I start doubting myself and manage to lose track of that little, but very intuitive, voice inside my head. When I pay attention to that voice and follow it's advance, I find I can accomplish anything. But I sometimes wait until I am desparate to ask for help. I would not recommend waiting as long as I did this last time. Seriously. (I'll be happy to give you the gory details if you would like them. Just email me)

I have tortured myself for almost a year because everything seemed to crash down on me. I'll admit I've always been someone who needed to be in control. I've prided myself on being able to handle anything. But that ego and stubborness caused me to make choices that I never believed I was ever capable of making. I'm embarrassed at how I handled myself last year when presented with some major crises. I thought I was strong and would be able to handle anything. So that assumption was put to the test. I discovered that the way I have always handled life literally held me back from getting what I really wanted. And suprisingly, I worked really hard to get nowhere - because I never truly defined where I wanted to go. It was always a really fuzzy concept anchored in a lot of fear.

I'll just say this -If you think you can manage feeling like a complete idiot when Madalyn comes in and simply points out the obvious, then working with her is the absolute cure for the Artist Quicksand Disease!!! You shouldn't be afraid to ask for help - it doesn't mean you are helpless or don't have fantastic ideas. You might just need someone, who isn't drowning in the emotion of pursuing your dream, to help clarify what you actually want. You might need help clarifying what "reaching your dream" actually means for you.

You have to drop the ego for a minute to get some answers. Do you really know what you want? Will you know when you get it? Seems like something obvious we should know since we are working so hard to make it there, but most of us just don't.

You really shouldn't feel bad about that. We just aren't taught the process for making our dreams come true. I don't remember having any classes in that. We work our butts off to write songs, and we play our hearts out to have our words heard. But then what? How do we jump that massive canyon filled with fear and confusion to get "there"? What if you end up jumping the wrong canyon? Are you going to actually want to be where you end up? I mean, I was a psychologist in my former life, for God's sake. I'm now making that big jump (sometimes big free-fall) to pursue this music thing full time. And I'll be the first to admit I've jumped the wrong canyons before. And the trip back to find the right way for me has been downright crappy and very ungraceful. But I'm still here and I'll try again. This time, I'm taking a map.....and maybe some flying lessons.

There's something about this process that makes the best of us almost lose our minds. You have to have complete faith in yourself and be able to take some hard falls. Take it from me, no one can keep up the work that takes without some support. And not just support from anyone - you have to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about and has no ulterior motives for offering help. You know that's not easy to find within this industry. In protecting what we have worked so hard for, we sometimes push away what people we actually need.

For years, I have literally told client after client the same thing that Mad is saying in this blog. People want to "change" and feel "better" or think they will be much "happier" when they get "there". But more often than not, they have never really defined what any of those things mean to them. Happy for me might be different than your happy place. Even more embarrassing for me than the work I've done so long with helping patients define their goals, is the paper I wrote a very short time ago for parents navigating the special ed system. It was actually called - "How do we get there when we don't know where there is?". Jesus Christ.

So, I read Madalyns words and don't even remember how much I've written about this for other people - because I have NEVER fully applied it to myself. And here's something else - Mad turned me on recently to www.tut.com This is a very cool site where you can sign up for daily motivational messages. And they have all been bizzarely relevant for us lately. My life has massively changed this year, but it didnt take much to make me forget everything I thought I believed in. It took some very obvious shoves from the universe to make me remember who I am and what I believe in. I've talked the talk of Manifest Frequency for a while, but I've done a poor job of walking the walk. And you don't want to piss of the universe with this. So, getting inspirational messages each day gives me a little jolt of reality and helps me remember what I believe. Todays messages says -

Today, we're going to make manifesting dreams really, really easy, Dawn.


I start thinking about this and while I am working on defining "There" for Madalyn (so we can get to working on helping me reach that goal) I take a break to visit my myspace profile. And right there in the first line of my bio is this:

After a life-changing year in 2006, MFQ is full steam ahead madness! Knowing "what" you want to do is the thing. The universe will take care of the "how". Dawn coined name, Manifest Frequency, based on principles from Quantum Physics/ String Theory, and from her absolute belief in the healing power of connecting with others. The philosophy of MFQ seeks to prove that when "like-frequencies" attract, the results are only what you dream about.

The moral of the story? Don't be dense like Dawn. It's much harder than just getting some help with this goal defining thing. It will work if you give it a try. Just figure out what you want and ask for it.


Wow, Dawn. Thanks for the nice note, well novel. ;-)

I think if everyone takes the time to think about this topic it will do wonders for your music career.

Rock on!

Hey All,
Wow, strangely relevant to read that today!
After a run of great shows and feeling SO good....I realized I was stuck. I've been trying to make a second album for four years and for some reason, obstacle after obstacle keep arising.
Oh, I've tried alright, and bled for it... but I haven't set a clear goal yet.
And I think thats been the problem. I was waiting for a producer to tell me what the direction of the album should be...I was waiting and waiting, and asking and listening...and the only person I wasn't listening to was myself.
So, goal for me: find out what I really want, define it and take action.

Thanks Madalyn for the awesome blog, and thanks Dawn for sharing that response too.
Honesty is a beautiful thing sometimes....

Keep rocking girls, keep believing in yourselves!!!

rachel platten


POP SUPERHERO SAYS: MADADLYN IS ALWAYS RIGHT! *smile* Speaking of having a "PLAN," most cities have a "Women's Business Center" that will help you write your Business Plan for FREE!

Yes, you DO need a Business Plan. Yes, it should have a "Mission Statement," and YES, you should refer to your M.S. every month to be certain that your music career is still on track!


Once you have your business plan in place, you can hire Madalyn for monthly consultations to keep your music career on track!


Reading or listening to information like what Madalyn can give has been invaluable to my goals as a musician and business woman. I promise it is worth the money and time to invest in this. Setting and writing down goals not only makes them real, but it empowers you to continue working towards them. If you can write them, you can do them. And anytime I doubt this, I think about my favorite artists and wonder how many times people, or more importantly, they told themselves, that their dreams couldn't be reached. And yet, they kept on believing that it could. Though, I sincerely doubt anyone who has achieved their dreams has done it without the help of someone that believes in them. I am blessed to have a fantastic partner who pushes me to empower myself,and other friends, including a great agent, who has no doubt what my potential is.
I have an internal dialogue going on at times that seems to have the voice a beloved, yet fearful, parent who told me long ago that this kind of life would be too hard and too full of sacrifices, and that I shouldn't want to be a performer. Well, of course it's hard and full of sacrifices! It wouldn't be worth it if it wasn't. BUT, if you are in line with the universe, doing what you were born to do, feeling validated by your connections with people through your talents, and not afraid to 'jump down the rabbithole' not worrying about what may come, the sacrifices will seem insignificant in the long run. You will be at peace and get "there", wherever "there" ends up being for you.
Wishing you all peace in your life,

It's important to know what you want, why you want it, and then understand the steps you take to get there.

I really liked the short video interview with that A&R woman from california, she said something that made a lot of sense.

Understand the music business but you must focus on your creativity first.

Sometimes people get caught up and self-absorbed in themselves. And measure success as being famous rock gods, and create music for that sole purpose.

I know because I have been there. But all you end of doing is neglecting your creative force, and forget what's really important....for me it's having fun playing music, and having fun with the craft of the creative songwriting process. What is it for you?

And when you do it because you really just love it, it shows through, people see that. reporters and the press take notice, and for my band, it's worked in our favor.

So my advice would be, understand the music business, network (this includes seeking people in the industry out, and just simply asking them for help with advice, for example: 'What is the best way to get national press?'). You would be surprised at how willing some people are to help you. I have gotten some invaluable advice from some of the most experienced people in the business.

If anyone would like any advice on what me and my band do for networking just e-mail me.

Those are my two cents on "getting there"

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

    Madalyn's Sites:
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    contact: madalynsklar(at)gmail.com


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