Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Created For a Purpose

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week’s blog is pretty short and sweet, but perhaps one of the most important.

You were created for a purpose. You are God’s unique design, that He created to do things only YOU can do.

It may not feel that way all the time, but there are things that only you can do. You have something different, something that for whatever reason, whatever life has thrown at you, where you are from, or what particular skills you have, it makes you special.

And that specialness, that uniqueness, that particular thing you do is why you here on this earth.

You know what it is. You know the thing that you do, that you can’t help doing. That talent, that creative or natural skill. It is just what you do.

It’s not chance. It’s not happenstance, or coincidence.

You were put here for a reason. So whether you believe in God, the universe, or the freakin’ Force, it’s time to quit denying it, putting it off, or not making the time.

“I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you're a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation.” - Joel Osteen
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Have a great week!


For the Creative Soul is written for the creative artist inside all of us. How will YOU be creative this week? For more creative articles like this one, go to http://www.FortheCreativeSoul.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Living a Part-time (Full-time) Creative Life


"Being a rock n' roll star ain't a part-time gig." - Steven Van Zandt
So, you’ve decided that either your job is too lucrative to quit for the paltry income an arts career may provide. Or, you’ve just chosen to keep creative talent special and not your main job, even though it may be fun (basically my last article scared you off the idea!)

Well, I’m here to tell you that 90% of the music artists and songwriters I’ve worked with over the last 30 years are just like you. They are folks who have regular jobs, or are stay at home moms or dads, or just enjoy the outlet that their artistic calling gives them in the nooks and crannies of their life. 

Now with that said, it’s important to note that not all 90% of people who do something creative part-time treat it lightly. In fact, half of those people, and indeed half of the people I have worked with who create art, music, write, or whatever, are completely driven by it, even if they have a full-time job doing something else.

I call this a part-time (full-time) creative life. I did it for years when I worked other jobs besides music, and in many ways, I still do it! 

Even as I go about being a busy big picture guy and executive producer for artists and songwriters, I have MY music, writing, and other brands that I am very serious about it. Just like you, it occupies my every waking thought and is what I let my mind dream about. I plan what I’m going to do with my different personal artistic brands, and I work full-time on them in my mind, even though I am also working full-time for others.

How does this work? How do you keep a full-time artistic life going while also working full-time? Well, here’s how I do it.

Lists, Lists, Lists
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." - Paul J. Meyer
I often say if it wasn’t for Evernote, I'd have no idea how I would do everything I do. Really any note program, or even a hard copy journal or notebook that you always keep with you will do. What I like about Evernote is that it’s with me no matter what device I’m working on or where I am. Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, it doesn’t matter. Likely one of those devices is going to be with me wherever I might be. That way as an idea comes along randomly for a new song, story, production process, blog post, business idea, or just something that I want to add to one of those, I am able to jot it down.

I keep lists on everything. From my To Do list where I keep everything I need to do for clients, songlists of each client, new song, blog, or business ideas, to my own personal To Do lists for each music or business brand I am trying to work on of my own.

When I am bored, or wanting to be creative, I go to my lists and edit. They remind me what I need to be doing with my time. I pick the one that interests me most at that moment, and I get to it. 
"I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down 15 things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten." - Mary Roach
Pick Your Spots

Where in your schedule can you carve out a few hours to work on your craft? Is it early in the morning before everyone gets up? Is it an hour after everyone goes to bed? Is it a few hours at a bright and sunny coffee shop where you can sit alone with some headphones on, tune out the world and focus on your creative goals and ideas? It is a lunch break where you can sit under a tree and add to or edit your lists? This can can let you see progress as you cross out things you’ve done towards your goals.

It’s absolutely crucial to have these times you can focus. Maybe that time needs to be spent actually creating and not tending to lists. Maybe you have times set aside for both. But with a busy full-time day job, and especially if you also have a family to be there for, it is absolutely imperative that you have this time set aside.
"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." - Charles Buxton
Don’t Forget to Create

It is pretty easy to get all wrapped up in planning and never get to the creating. Lists can help, because they remind you of that creative thing you need to do. But the DOING can be the real problem, and it doesn't matter where you are or when it is.
"They can put me in a jungle. Still, I can create." - M. F. Husain
Maybe it’s a selfie video of a new cover song. Maybe it’s to sit down and finish that chapter or section of your book that is holding up your novel? Whatever it is, you need to get to it. It’s too easy to live wanting to do something creative, planning to do something, and never get anything done because life happens. I regret all the years I ignored my music and writing because I was working too much or being distracted by other things.

Above ALL creating is the most important thing you can do if this is your calling. So without endangering your family, your health, or job, it’s probably your next important thing in life. 
"A creative person has to create. It doesn't really matter what you create. If such a dancer wanted to go out and build the cactus gardens where he could, in Mexico, let him do that, but something that is creative has to go on." -  Katherine Dunham
Share Your Talent
"Oh, how miserable it is to have no one to share your sorrows and joys, and, when your heart is heavy, to have no soul to whom you can pour out your woes." - Frederic Chopin
Even though I was ignoring my own music and writing during some years, I still was working hard for other artists and songwriters. I don’t feel that time was wasted as I was sharing the creative talents God gave me. Maybe some of you reading this use your talents in church or education for others. But there is also sharing with others your talents from YOU. And that is something we all are usually somewhat reticent to do. It’s not easy to shine a spotlight on yourself. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But we have to do it.

It’s not about being a “star” or quitting your job to pursue this full-time like we talked about last time. It’s about sharing the talents God gave you publicly. Now this can be done in your church, or even via video now via Facebook or YouTube. It doesn’t have to be a solo thing. But finding ways for people too consume your talents in some way is key. 

If it’s your own work it may be difficult to share in your church or school for many reasons. The internet provides many options for authors, singers, songwriters, artists, and more to the world. There are even ways to make part-time income using your creative talents on services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Thumbtack.

Yes, your full-time, part-time creative life can make you some money too. And in fact it should! But it doesn’t have to. You could choose to give everything you create away for free, and there are some reasons you should think about that. But that too...is another post.

Have a great week, Creatives!

--

You can live whichever creative life suits you, full-time or part-time, just do one! For more creative blog posts like this one, go to FortheCreativeSoul.com

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Making a Living, Making Art

You know the feeling.

You are consumed by the music, writing, painting, poetry, dancing, whatever it is you make. How it makes you feel. There’s really nothing like it in the world. It consumes your every thought even when you are not doing it. Many times when I am not working on a song, story, or some other creative project, I am thinking about it. Planning it out in my head. Sometimes jotting down new ideas to implement later.

If it’s music, it’s the chords, melody, or lyrics. The way it sounds when you hit that final note. The peace it brings you to know you made that. If you’re a writer, it’s getting those words out on paper, or getting feedback on what you wrote in a blog or book. If you are painter, it’s about the finished piece hanging up in front of you. The satisfaction that it is done. A thing made.

Sometimes other people feel those same things about your art, but that doesn’t always matter as much as just how good it feels to make it.

If only there was a way to make money at this. Whether that means you find someone to pay you to make art all day, or you just do it on your own and find a way to sell your art. It really doesn’t matter. You just want to to make a living doing it.

Then comes the hard decision. Does it become the way you make your money to pay your bills and live? Should it? Can it?

The Case Against

Going full time making art is not easy. It requires very low expectations of income. If you have a spouse making income enough to cover bills, and your family can live on that, it’s another story. But if you are the chief bread winner for yourself or your family, being a full-time artist is more than challenging.

Selling your art, whether in person in live concerts, showings, or other live events, or online sales requires supreme focus on events, new product, and sales, sales, sales. If you are hoping to support your family by being a performing artist of any kind, it means that booking yourself is as important as performing or even making new art.

I think the real issue is that your “art” can become work, and that is a problem. Then the thing you love becomes this thing that has so much pressure on it to make money, that it ceases to be that thing you even want to think about. It’s just work. And that is no way to think about the thing which used to excite you and keep you dreaming about it all the time.

This is especially the case if you work for other people doing your art. It can become very easy to be doing “their” art and not your own. They may even limit your artistic addition or ideas in favor of their own. This can be very irritating, if not downright soul-crushing at times. We jokingly call it “living the dream”, but it can become a nightmare over the years. People will say you are so lucky, but you will find yourself wondering why you aren’t following your muse like you used to.

The Case For

OK, if you aren’t completely depressed by now, let’s talk about some reasons to focus every bit of creative energy you can, and how to make a living doing it.

I’ll start off by saying, if you can get to a point where most or even a portion of your bills are covered by doing creative things YOU love to do, there is no greater feeling. Even if that just means being able to treat your family to a dinner based on artistic earnings. Pretty cool.

It may take years of trial and error, it may take being laser-focused on hard work, but you can make a living doing ONLY what you want. But you have to want it more than anyone else, and you have to MAKE it happen. Daily. I know a music ministry that has supported a family of eight traveling across the US in an RV for years now. But that would never happen without full time attention to not only performing, but also booking, planning, social media updating, tons of emailing, and living a life like no one else. But guess what, that’s what it takes.

I sound like Dave Ramsey. You will live (sacrificing and working all the time) like no one else so you can live (as a creative full-time) like no one else. You’ll work 60 hour weeks and not think about it. Because it won’t feel like work. If you do it right, it will be fun and relaxing to do, and the hours you spend doing it will fly by.

The biggest plus? You can leave the artistic legacy on this world that God put you here for (which you can also do if you don’t do it full time by the way).

Now, what if you want to just do this part time? How do you do that along side your job? Well, that is another blog...maybe next week?

Have a great week Creatives!

EC
--
Eric Copeland makes his whole living off making art for others by others, and his by him. As president of Creative Soul Records, he helps other build brands to make art and a few work to make that a living. He is still working on making his own art his living....

Read more about Eric's plight to make a living making art at EricCopelandMusic.com and more about Creative Soul at CreativeSoulOnline.com. Read more blog posts like this at FortheCreativeSoul.com

Monday, March 12, 2018

Free Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a blog post specifically to people involved in music called “What If We Gave It Away?” It was met with one part celebration, one part scorn and ridicule, and one part...huh?

Recently I have started giving away some of my excess CD products at a local thrift store. Not giving it to them to sell, but offering it in the front of the store, completely free. Besides freeing up some space in my garage, and a write off if I really want to since it is a charity thrift store, it just feels good that the music is getting to people’s hands...and hopefully ears.

What if there was a way to disseminate our art to thousands or hundreds of thousands. For free. What if we just gave away physical product to those who value a CD, or a small MP3 player with headphones, or a book we wrote or containing our art. Or T-Shirts? Or DVDs with our videos or short films?

Not Online, But in Person

In the previous post I suggested we give it away online. But perhaps I had it backwards. We keep all our art for sale online. We still sell CDs and merch at shows. Let people still support us there as they do now and buy it at whatever price we think is fair. 

But if they discover us by other means (a thrift store, a gift at a hospital, or in a retirement community, or at a table at a fair, college or trade show) it could lead to more of the long tail of sales and discovery we need as marketing.

What if we found a way to distribute thousands or tens of thousands, or even more to people for free and let them just absorb it. Fall in love with something they took because it was free. What does it hurt if someone across the country (or down the street) that doesn’t know you takes a free CD, or book home from someplace and discovers your art?

Last year we started a non-profit side called Creative Heart with A.C.T. International. We have offered it to artists to use to raise money, but that hasn’t seemed very popular so far. Maybe putting it on artists to raise money for their efforts is not the right model.

But what if we found people that would give monthly to see art distributed around the country and the world? Perhaps at some point we could even find the donations to make the art as well as distribute it. Creators could still be free to sell their art if they wanted to, online and in person. But the real goal of Creative Heart would be making our art available for free out in the real world where people live. (These would likely be compilations not full artist CDs unless artists wanted us to distribute their full album as well.)

The Future of a Radical Price

In his book “Free” which I am re-reading right now, author Chris Anderson talks about how brands as well known and venerable as Jell-O and Gillette got their start by actually giving away things for free to get national recognition. Jell-O came up with a free cookbook that salesman gave away to show what you could do with Jell-O. Gillette gave away disposable razors by the millions to encourage sales of disposable razor blades, it’s true product. Both are now 100 year old brands because of this method.

Perhaps as a label and artists we need to find a way to give away products or songs by the thousands or tens of thousands to let people realize the quality of our brands, then they can go search online and find ways to buy, download, or stream our work. Or perhaps encourage then to contact us and bring our creative talents to them?

I know when I write these blog posts many of you sit there reading going, “Yeah, I can see that!” Or, “Yeah, right. Easy for you to say Bub!” But I create my own art just like you do. As I look at the finite amount of years left on this earth, I want as many people in the world to hear, read, and watch the creations I am making. If perhaps someone enjoys the music, writings, or visual media I create, and it touches them as much as one of my favorite bands, authors, or filmmakers does for me, then I will feel I achieved what God put me here for.

Can I hear an amen?

It's Just Marketing Folks

We let radio play (actually we pay THEM to play) our music for free hoping people will hear it and want to buy it, or at least be blessed by it. We put our paintings in (or pay to be in) galleries for free hoping people will buy our art. We do all sorts of free things online or contests we pay for, or let Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Vimeo, and the like play our music hoping for some pieces of pennies. All so our music will be heard.

We have to think of this as a radical, guerrilla type of marketing. Go find the real people in our country, or other countries. The ones who still listen to CDs, read books, and love art. Let them see, hear, and fall in love with our creative songs and albums, then build a demand for our music in a more authentic, grassroots way than just hoping someone finds us online and discovers our genius.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Would you be willing to give away hard product to local thrift stores, hospitals, retirement communities, or have your art given away for free at fairs, colleges, and trade shows? What if we had a system to give thousands or tens of thousands of pieces away? Would you want to be part of it?

I know I would.

Have a great week!

EC
Eric Copeland is giving his music and books away where he can to get people listening and reading, and also selling and licensing it online. For more about his creations go to EricCopelandMusic.com, or for more writings like this one go to FortheCreativeSoul.com

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Prepared Beforehand

“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above--spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” - EPHESIANS‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

This verse just got me one day: Prepared Beforehand. Did you read that? God literally set your path as a creative, as His workmanship to do good works. That HAS to be make you feel nothing but good. Even if you feel nothing has happened with your artwork, or your songs, or whatever creative things you have made. Read the verse again.

This is one of those verses that really needs no blog post. No cheer leading from me needed. No other pithy quotes that should inspire you more.

Just read that verse a couple of times.

OK, one more quote, and this one hit me hard inspiring a whole new project coming up.
“Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
God prepared us to live as creative beings and deal with these things. Even if God isn’t your cup of tea, read the MLK quote and marvel over its significance to our creative lives.

OK, that’s all I got for you. If those two don’t inspire you today, you’re on your own. But I hope they do, and you write a great poem, book, song, or otherwise make awesome stuff this week!

EC
Eric Copeland is composer, author, and does other creative things. It just depends on the moment. To see his creative things go to EricCopelandMusic.com 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Magic Beans

We all have wished we could find that "one person", that company, A&R, or publisher who would hear our songs or see our art, and recognize our genius. Then, like the magic beans that grew into a beanstalk, we could sit safely on the side while all our dreams came true and the songs/music/art got out there, and money flowed in. However, there is one big flaw in this plan: It almost never works like that.

I took magic beans with me to Nashville a dozen times in my teens and 20s. Even 30s. Hoping that the person I was going to meet, be it a songwriter, a producer, a person at a label, or whoever, would see and hear in my music what I did: that it needed to be shared with the world. But each time, I met rejection, disinterest, or a hearty slap on the back. 

“I really can’t help you.”

“This really isn’t for us”

“Keep trying, kid!”


Beans planted. No beanstalk. No golden goose.

Dang.

You probably know the story from here. I built my own beanstalk. I am the giant, but I’m a friendly giant. And everyone can have the golden goose, as long as they work as hard as I do.

Work, not Beans
“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” – Calvin Coolidge
It wasn’t the magic beans that made the story, it was Jack’s determination, talents, and attitude. That’s what also makes the difference for creatives trying to navigate through the music industry. It’s not a contest at IMMERSE or So You Think You Can Dance, it’s not a showcase or art show where the “right” person sees you. It’s a never quit mindset where you aren’t focused on today, or what someone says about you, but about what legacy you leave on this earth as an artist.

To establish a creative life that means something, that will leave a lasting impression on this earth long after you are gone, means going ahead and putting the magic beans in a nice chili one night. While that is cooking up, make a list of what needs to be done now, next week, next month, and next year to further your creative career

What are the steps, the work, you need to do to make your creative career go?

Use Evernote, or some program to keep on your phone and computers, and refer to that when you are bored or in your quiet time, instead of endlessly scrolling on Facebook or Instagram. Keeping your goals and action steps in front of you is paramount in getting them done. Doing this for a creative career can be the difference between someone who has talent and is never heard, to a career that is remembered and art that is cherished by others.

Finding Someone to Help You Get Work Done
"No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." - Alfred North Whitehead
Building your team to accomplish your action steps is the next most important thing. In almost any artistic career, the first thing to be doing is finding the right people in the genre you plan to attack. Research producers who can help you make music. Find the right programs you can study with for your particular craft. Who does work you like? Who looks easy to work with? Can you find contact information for them? Research the companies or online sites that can help you market your art once you make it. Can you contact them? Is it even time to contact them? Do you have quality works, the right branding for your stuff to even approach those people yet? (If not go back to Work, not Beans)

Sometimes you can start these relationship at events in your industry. Sometimes it’s a reach out on Facebook, or LinkedIn. Sometimes you know someone who can introduce you.

The main thing to remember is don’t count on magic beans to work. We have come full circle now. If I had relied only on an introduction and then waiting for that person to make my career go, I would have no career, and you wouldn’t be reading this now.

It’s not about beans. Beans are for Mexican food and gas. It’s about hard work. It always is. In any business. The entertainment business is no different.

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and other creative things that he does often times right before or after eating beans, since they are in his diet! If you’d like to get help with what you are trying to do creatively, check out all the creative things he does at cre8iv.com or his personal site at EricCopelandMusic.com

Monday, January 01, 2018

A Positive New Beginning

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Each year at this time we make resolutions, or think about making resolutions, and as I’ve written in the past its actually more important to be resolute. In truth, I prefer to think of this time of year as a chance for new positive beginnings.

After the holidays while it’s quiet, and everyone is hiding inside away from the cold, is a great time to begin anew getting your creative brand out there. It’s the optimal season for figuring out new ways to make positive moves into new things, or maybe old things.

We all know the gnawings and cravings of our creative soul calling us to get back to the thing that drives us. The music, the writing, the art, the ideas, the unfinished works; these are the things we can run from when we know we need to make money, but we can’t get very far from them. They are the things that define us, that make us different, that when people experience them they are agog with wonder that we can do that.

This time of year is my favorite time to not make resolutions that I “have” to do these things, but to actually begin making changes in my daily routine and my life so that I “will” do these things. That may mean some serious changes that you’ve not been prepared to make in the past. Maybe you were afraid of the sacrifice. Maybe it was easier to stay the course and make sure you didn’t make waves. Maybe you weren’t willing to make changes to your career, your sleep patterns, or your schedule.
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” – Jack Canfield
Instead of resolutions, what about just deciding on a new beginning. Taking positive steps toward being what God made you to be. Accepting the call, taking a leap, putting away the things that may have been hindrances all this time (even things that seemed like good ways to spend your time). These are the hardest to do.

Yes, I can teach, but is THAT why God put me here? Yes, I could start a business doing this or that, but is THAT why God put me here? Yes, I could work for others my whole life helping them achieve their goals and dreams, but is THAT my true purpose, or simply something God has blessed while He patiently waits for me to remember why He put me here.

In this reflective time, it’s easier said than done. Bills must be paid, food and shelter attained, and responsibilities met. But there comes a time in our life when we begin to look at the time we have left on this earth to achieve what He gave us to achieve. The recent passing of my creative mother (church organist for 43 years, piano teacher for decades, and in the past few years an avid painter) has made me see that we all have a limited amount of time to create here in this life.

The time is now to get to the creative projects, songs, films, paintings, routines, sculptures, books, poems, and whatever other artistic leanings we have. The projects we have left unfinished. The ideas we have left unattended. The goals we set for ourselves long ago that we let lapse as we worked to make a living, a family, or build a business.

This is the time of year to think positive again not just about the “dream”, but the call, the works, and maybe most important, the legacy. What will we leave behind for this world? What positive, lasting change can we make with the gifts God has given us?

I wish you good luck finding these answers, as I also seek them. Be positive, no matter how hard it seems. You can do it, and you’ll be glad you did.
“Every revolution seems impossible at the beginning, and after it happens, it was inevitable.” – Bill Ayers
I hope you have a great new year, filled with creating, achievement, and fulfillment.

EC

Eric Copeland is a composer, author, pianist, short film maker, and graphic artist. Find out more about his creative things at cre8iv.com, and EricCopelandMusic.com

About the Author

My photo
Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com