Anaïs Nin said We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” As Music Artists, we become a conduit between worlds expressing the emotions for a generation and more often than not, loaning our voice to those without one. As Music Artists, we interlace memories for humanity by creating their soundtracks. As the story tellers for our age, it is quite ironic that one of the hardest things you can ever be asked, as a Music Artist, is “Who are you?”. Traditionally a Manager or Record Label would decide for you. Now, in the age of Independence, empowering ourselves as Artists to craft our own story is key.

The very alchemical process of creating music originates in an unconscious human need to understand and express who we are. As we sew lyric and melody together, we drip feed threads of our story to the world while often not truly understanding how to weave it together to see our own story clearly.

When it is time to bring our inner and outer worlds together on a stage, or a track release, and the marketing machine is brought in to do its job, we tend to shy away from being able to articulate the very thing that drives us as artists. Our story.

Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth noted “Shakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image. The inner world is the world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That’s where you are. You’ve got to keep both going. As Novalis said, ‘The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet.”

So when you get to the point where it is time for you to market your music, stop. Take a deep breath. Move yourself outside. Allow yourself to tune into your reflection in the nature around you through the external mirror of the world. Feel the universe flow through you until you become part of the landscape.

Collect the first seven items that you feel drawn to. Don’t question. Note the order in which you collect them.

Describe each item with as much detail as you can. Record into your phone or write in a notebook.

Then sit with each item, one by one, and ask it for a message. What does it tell you about your life right now? What wisdom does it give you about who you are and what your story is? What significance does this item have in your story at this moment?

Sit with each item and allow the words to pour through you until you have a message from each of the seven items. Allow each emotion to have a voice regardless of your judgement. Allow each thought to have a place regardless of your self-censorship.

Photo by Pepe Reyes on Unsplash

The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, classified life experience into seven areas thus originating the science of Axiology — the theory of value. What we value is often an unconscious driver in our story. These seven items give us a clue about our unconscious values with each item relating to each one of the seven areas of life eg. Currency, Creation, Resource, Connection, Service, Influence and Story. Once you understand your values, the horizon for your Artist Story begins to clear.

Aristotle noted how our perceptions of our nature was a reflection of the nature all around us and the value structures we put into place and subsequent behaviours that followed were based on this hermetic principle. As without so within. As above so below.

We can google anything. Information about all the how to’s of business, marketing, finance, relationship, community, education, health and belief structures is freely available for all. We can craft a vision of what we desire in our lives and set up the fantasy of this vision with access to every single action step that is required to make that fantasy a reality. Yet time and time again, the oscillation of unconscious old behavioural patterns strategically buried so deep, continue to trip us up.

Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey leads us to believe that some higher power in us expertly creates external circumstances to offer opportunity to rewrite these old stories, face dragons, cross thresholds and follow calls to action. Yet how can you truly understand your story when you seem to be stuck in Maslow’s survival part of the pyramid when your health or finances are less than solid. So we often get stuck in the victim part of the cycle. We quest for the love to’s while being stuck in the have to’s until we realise that they are one and the same, simply separated ultimately by our perception.

As Music Artists, perception is a prime appliance in our tool kit. Part of our job is to write biographies and press releases and relentlessly create content for our Social Media. We have to be interviewed, write blogs, speak in podcasts, run competitions and MC our shows. Music is not thought. It is felt. It anchors the experience we are having at the same time into a memory. Without clarity on our story, fans will feel the disconnect.

Measure your reflection. Look behind your camouflage and start to collect the crumbs you scattered behind as clues. Allow your story to find you.

It will.

Nichola Burton
Nichola Burton

Nichola Burton is the CEO of The Pushworth Group, Coach and Program Manager for Music Means Business, Event Manager and Producer, Artist Manager, Podcaster, Author, Musician and Vocalist in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia with over 30 years experience working with Musicians, Performers, developing Artists and coaching them through Marketing, Branding, Show and Business Management. She holds qualifications in Business and Front Line Management, Training and Workshop Delivery, Music Business Management and Piano and Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

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