Insights

How Badly Do You Want It 

Nowadays, it’s not difficult to encounter individuals who seem to carry an aura of entitlement. I’m pretty sure you’d say it’s not you. However, you can’t speak for the person next to you. 

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with a fellow artist, who’s identity I will conceal to keep his privacy. So for this story’s sake, I’ll just refer to him as HBOM.  

HBOM is an award winning Rap artist, who made it big in the Philippines. At the turn of the millennium, he decided to pack up his bags to move to Vegas and live a quiet life. However, once an artist... always an artist. So whenever an OPM act would come to Vegas, HBOM would front for them and this would get him pretty pumped up. And honestly, it really does get you pumped up... the screaming fans, the lights... they add to the allure of fame or pseudo fame or both. 

While we were having brunch before our show in South Orange County, HBOM and I had an opportunity to talk about the financial cost of maintaining a passion such as ours, which was creating and performing live music in front of an audience. 

HBOM carried a day job and he stated that he stood to lose money rather than gain because his weekly paycheck was far more greater than his current talent fee. And this is so true! People who carry a day job can attest to the fact that once you’re paid time off (PTO) has been used, any time off you request is covered by your own dime. I told him that, because I also had a day job, we were in the same position. And because my band had been doing a lot of weekend shows in the states and Canada, there have been a lot of Fridays and Mondays that I’ve had to call in for work. And so today, I’m through with my PTO or paid time off or vacation hours. But I digress. 

HBOM told me that every time he is offered an opportunity to perform, he doesn’t ask “how much will you pay me?” Instead, he would dig deep inside his heart to honestly asks himself “how badly do I want this?” 

We often find excuses NOT to pursue what we want. We tend to get creative with our excuses. At the first sign of conflict, we fold. We pack it up and go home. “How bad do you really want it?”  

Being in a band is a commitment. Being in a touring band carries even more commitment. Being in a touring band on the weekends and having a regular job during the week is an even bigger commitment. What about being in a touring band and carrying a day job and being a husband and a dad? That’s also an even bigger commitment.  

Somewhere in the above paragraph, anybody can make the most creative excuse. But how bad do you really want to achieve your passion’s full potential? 

Only you can answer that.  Leave a comment =)

And as long as your head stays where it is and doesn’t get in the way... you should be good to go!

 

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You Must Be Willing To Walk Away 

You must find the courage to leave the table, if respect is no longer being served” - Tene Edwards 

Just like you, there have been times when I’ve asked myself why I’m still around some people who don’t deserve my time and attention. But I’ve found it hard to walk away. A tiny voice in my gut would scream telling me to stop scraping for an “opportunity” because while wasting my time on it, the “big one” might be hovering past me. 

And that’s true! Why do we spend precious time with people who don’t appreciate what we have to offer? 

This is one of the major reasons of break ups, whether in a personal relationship, in a corporate setting and even in being in a band. 

The truth is, each person’s time has the same value. But sometimes, this is being disregarded. What then should you do? 

 

Here are 5 ways you can develop the habit of valuing yourself. 

 

RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE’S TIME & OPINION 

I’m not trying to be counter intuitive when I say this. But it’s plain and simple. When you respect other people’s time and opinion, you are also subconsciously telling yourself that others must respect yours too. That, to me, is the beginning of mutual respect. 

LEARN TO SAY “NO” 

You’re not trying to be rude. On the contrary, the ability to say “no” to others will make others respect you even more. Why? Because you’re not giving others empty promises. Again, this boils down to a foundation of respect.  

 

CREATE A PERSONAL BOUNDARY AND PROTECT IT 

If you value yourself as much as you do others, you should define your boundaries and protect it. You should never compromise it. In it is where your peace and solace is found. It’s your zen place. And anybody who disrespects your boundary doesn’t respect you. 

 

LEARN TO GIVE AND TAKE 

When we compromise, we lose a part of us in the process. We are then left feeling less than how we felt “coming to the table”. The alternative is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, which is to think “win/win”. When we give, and give willingly, we take in the feeling of fulfillment. And it’s way better than losing a part of you all the time. 

 

BE PREPARED TO WALK AWAY 

At the beginning of every relationship, always be willing to walk away when the relationship gets too toxic to repair. Don’t waste your time on someone or something that is pulling you down. Disclaimer... this is always a last resort. Most of the time, things do get resolved before it gets to this. 

 

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day, we can only speak for ourselves. As long as we aren’t stepping on anybody’s toes, we shouldn’t have to feel guilty about thinking of ourselves. Everybody has goals and dreams. Yours is no less than theirs. If you’re with someone who doesn’t value who you are or what you can offer, talk it through. And if you find yourself in a deadlock, be ready to get up and move on. Time is of the essence. 

 

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INTRoVOYS On The Hollywood Wishbus 

 

People walking along the street of Hollywood blvd had no idea we were getting on the Hollywood Wishbus on Tuesday night, Oct 9. It was our first time to play on the Wishbus, which is hosted by talented musician, Robin Nievera. 

Me, Jonathan, Jj and Vic had a great time on Tuesday night. And I do hope they bring us back.

Here is a little TV interview for you guys!

Thanks to Martin Nievera for popping in! What truly makes him a great artist is his down to earth attitude. 

 

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You Gotta Drive 

REMEMBERING WHY YOU WANTED TO DO IT

Remember that moment when you decided you wanted to make a career of playing music? How did it go in your head? Did you say “I’m gonna play the drums for 8 hours a day until I become so good, I’m gonna play for Sting!” Or did you say “I’m gonna play drums for 8 hours a day and maybe, just maybe, someone’s gonna take notice and offer me a job as a drummer.” 

I’m pretty sure, yours was similar to the former or the latter. And that’s okay as long as you’re okay with what you get at the end. If you find yourself at a 5 star hotel in Europe, headlining a show and wondering how you got there, I hope you’ve saved enough money because you can lose it all the next day. However, if you find yourself at a motel somewhere in New Mexico, after a pumped up show at the local bar, yet excited about the next gig because you know where you are is part of a journey that you’re about to reach, then good for you! You’re the driver of your own music career journey. 

When I was 12 years old, I called up my childhood friend, Jonathan Buencamino, and told him that we were gonna start a band when I was old enough to do so. He took my word and three years later, we formed INTRoVOYS. And when we did, we took it very seriously. We knew what we wanted and we always talked about how we could achieve our goals. 

We never left anything to chance. As a band, we all had roles to play and agreed to assign one of us as the “designated driver”. Of course, being the designated driver didn’t mean he could boss the rest of the band around. It just meant that he was going to be the one doing the driving based on the collective decision of where all the members wanted to go. 

We struggled for 5 years. But they were good years for learning. We got rejected because we were asking for something we wanted. We got booked because we asked if we could audition to play at that certain place. We became a regular fixture on Monday night primetime television because we asked for it. We, as INTRoVOYS, didn’t ride shotgun. We drove our own music career. 

 

PEDAL TO THE METAL

When the opportunity came for us get signed by WEA records, we asked to be signed by WEA records. They denied us the opportunity because they felt we were not yet ready. Instead, they asked us if we wanted a compilation album release that featured us and 4 other bands. We agreed. This was “10 Of Another Kind”, a hit album that has stood the test of time. We were promised that if the album made it big, we would get our album deal. At some point, we knew that it wasn’t gonna come. We shook hands, said goodbye and signed up with Dyna Records. 

We released our first album, Back to the Roots. 

We hired our manager, Tommy Tanchanco. 

We assembled our road crew. 

We wrote our own songs. 

We created our own tour. 

We didn’t wait for anybody to do this for us. And neither should you… UNLESS, your image and likeness is manufactured by the label or the studio. In that case, you really are a “passenger”. Just enjoy the ride.

 

NOT ON CRUISE CONTROL BUT STILL IN CONTROL

Today, 32 years since we started the band, we’re still together. And we’re still performing. And we’re still in control of our music career decisions. 

Just like any business endeavor, your music career is yours and yours alone. Even today, as a band, Jonathan, Vic, Jj and I have a mutual respect and admiration of what we have given to our music. And we also acknowledge our capacities as individuals, in charge of our own destiny. 

This being said, I would like to encourage all my colleagues in the music industry to take the time to study the business we’re in. In this age of DIY, why aren’t there a lot more of us? Let’s not wait any longer. 

If you haven’t been given the “wheel” of your music career, now is a good time to take it back. Yes, you may crash. But that’s okay. We all will at some point. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that your destiny isn’t in the hands of another person, who wasn’t there when first day dreamed of being a big star one day? 

Make it a great day! 

 

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It's Okay To Press Pause 

You’re on a roll. Momentum is on your side. Life is on the up and up. You’ve got gigs coming at you from both sides and you’ve got leverage. You’ve worked extremely hard for this and they want you! And now, you get to choose which gig to accept. Kudos! Don’t stop! 

Or should you? 

This is the dilemma we face as artists, in charge of our own destiny. As someone who’ve tasted success, I know how fleeting can be. When I “rested” from making music to get my feet back planted on the ground, I discovered that what I had worked hard for was suddenly gone! So, today, I’m at the crossroad of whether to pause for a moment or to just keep on going. 

Then my wife suggested we go out of town for the weekend and spend time with each other, our children and our friends. I reminded her that we only had a weekend of rest and confirmed if she really wanted to go out of town? Didn’t she want to just spend time at home? Then she said that this wasn’t for her but for me. And it wasn’t to put me back at ease physically but mentally. And she was right! 

And so I hit the pause button again. No band stuff. No music business stuff. The weekend was purely for personal stuff… the one that mattered most! I had an itinerary that consisted of “grill the ribeye steak”, “get floaties for the kiddos”, “buy chips and juice drinks for the road”, etc. 

I had so much fun being with my loved ones! I totally forgot all about the stress that went on with running a band.  And with the fun weekend behind me, I became more relaxed and open minded about how I am going to face my challenges head on. You see, the challenges that had presented themselves hadn’t changed. However, my attitude toward them did. And it did because I pressed “pause”. 

Here are 6 ways you can press the pause button of your music career. 

Disconnect From Technology 
This is very hard to do. Emails, texts, and phone calls have made it easy for other people to get a hold of us. Which is why we get anxious when someone dares us to disconnect from technology. What if the phone rings and it’s the “one” call we’ve been waiting for? There are a lot of “What ifs” in our heads that have caused us to exchange our freedom of enjoying our surroundings just for waiting for a phone call that may never even come. If it really was the “one” call you’ve been waiting on for your entire career, the person or people at the other end of the line will find a way to get to you again… and again. 

Spend Time With Family And Friends 
Artists can be self absorbed with their work. Oftentimes, I would go inside my little studio and begin to work on a project while thinking my wife and kids should understand that I’m busy creating art. News flash… they don’t think your “art” is more important than spending quality time with them. Don’t get me wrong. My family has been very supportive of my music career. However, I’ve realized that my wife and kids are simply tolerant of my passion because they LOVE me. 

I noticed that the more I spend time with my wife and kids, the more I am inspired to work on my music and I always end up being more productive. I’ve learned to put my family and my family’s needs first. Because when you put them first, they tend to follow your lead and put you first too! 

Give Thanks 
A great reason to press the pause button is to give thanks. As a Christian, I have made it a priority to give thanks to God. Mostly, in the morning while everyone is asleep. But wherever you are and whatever time it is, when you take a moment to go into a sabbatical to just reflect on how you got to where you are today, it is always good practice to give thanks. This keeps you grounded. It also redefines how much your current work or project means to you. It also relieves you of your current stress because pausing to give thanks makes you appreciate what you currently have and ignore what you currently don’t have. 

Pick Up a Sport and Actively Pursue It 
It was later in life when I decided I was gonna take basketball seriously. I suck at it! And that’s okay. I wasn’t aspiring to join the NBA anyway. But pressing the pause button on music to focus on something else that I wasn’t good at piqued my competitive edge. It also made me appreciate what I was good at and it humbled me. 

My good friend, Perf De Castro, who is one of the best guitar players of his generation, pressed the pause button on rock music for awhile. It was sad because he was very good at it. But he took a hiatus. Instead, he focused on playing with his 10 string classical guitar music and on mountain biking. He did this for awhile and had a whole lotta fun doing it. One day, after being on pause from rock music for over a year, he picked up his electric guitar again and today, he’s been gigging more than ever! And he’s having a lot of fun on a different mind and artistic level. 

Hike And Spend Time In Nature 
Get lost in the wilderness. And I don’t mean for you to take that seriously. But pause and make time to go on a hike. Invite friends or family to go with you or do this alone. When your trying to lead the charge of a band or its members. Or when you’re trying to get better with your instrument or at your craft and you feel you’re stagnating, stop for a moment and let it go. 

Camping and hiking are good ways to press the pause button. It’s a beautiful planet and a lot of new found inspiration can come out of it. 

Do Not Pick Up Your Instrument 
This seems a bit counter intuitive but allow me to talk further. When you are able to “ignore” your instrument… at will. You’ve just defined who’s in control. And when you’re in control, there is no surmounting pressure. And when you’re at this state, it becomes easy to see different ways to play your instrument. It sparks creativity. 

As a drummer, going back to the drums after ignoring it for a short period of time and messing with different drum configurations and cymbal stacks to generate a new sound, help inspired me to create a new beat, which led to me writing a new song. But I had to stop myself from picking up my instrument for a short period of time just to miss the drums a bit. 

Conclusion 
There are definitely many different things you can do to put your music career on “pause”. Should you? It depends. Maybe, not now. But at some point, I believe that we all need to take a moment to stop whatever it is we are doing so we can get back to basics. Periodically, we need to take a breather to remind ourselves why we are actually doing music in the first place. And to see if we are still aligned to our goals and dreams.

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Write For the Trash Can 

The first phrase. The first chord. The first beat. They can all be very scary. And sometimes, the first step can be the only step because most of us are very critical of our own work. That's okay but it really isn't helpful at all if we are to write something or create something for ourselves or for other artists.

We need to write for the trash can.

Simply put, we need to write like it's nothing. This is to help us eliminate that critical mindset that we have as artists. Here are 6 ideas on how we can eliminate having a critical mindset.

Scribble 
Whether it's on a napkin or a piece of paper, when an idea comes to mind, don't ignore it. Keep on scribbling. You'll never know if that idea could be the start of something big. I remember scribbling the lyrics to INTRoVOYS' "Calling All Nations" on a table napkin. I didn't know what to make of it at that time but I held on to the line "Calling all nations... hear my plea for peace" only because there was a coup de etat happening in Manila at the time. 

And when I got home, I decided to write some lyrics to support the line I scribbled earlier on. Thank God I did because I was able to write the rest of the lyrics to "Calling All Nations", which became a Top 10 hit on RX93.1 FM.

Write and Write and Write
Carry a notebook and keep it on hand. When inspiration comes, make sure that your notebook is within reach so that you can write what comes to mind when it comes. Again, don't criticize your work. Just write and keep on writing. Edit it later. Edit it never. Let it marinade. I hope you're getting what I'm trying to say. Write and keep on writing. You'll be surprised a week, a month or even years later that you were able to write whatever it was you wrote. Okay, enough of that.

It's Okay If It Doesn't Rhyme
Slime rhymes with Dime. Carrots rhyme with carats. Dog doesn't rhyme with cat but that's okay if the message is clear. Sometimes, we get caught up in the rhyme that we fail to focus on the message of the song. NEWS FLASH... it doesn't have to rhyme all the time. And sometimes, when we do it on purpose, phrases that do not rhyme delivers more appeal. "Kamukha mo is Paraluman. Nung tayo ay bata pa". You know what I'm saying.

The Hook Will Present Itself
If you feel that the song isn't taking off, that's fine. Just keep at it. You'll never know because the more you keep at it, you'd be surprise that the hook will come out. Yes, it will present itself. If you set it aside, you're ignoring the possibility of the song growing by itself. Be patient. Allow it to take a life on its own. Believe me. You'd be surprise. 

Jj Buencamino and I experienced this while writing the song, "However Whichway". We just let the song come alive on its own. We didn't think it was gonna be a hit. And almost 3 decades later, it's still a hit!

Inspiration From Left Field
Keep you heart open. Inspiration does come from left field from time to time. What can seem mundane to you or to people around you can inspire the next person. As a creator, your role is also to inspire others with your work. And you'd be surprise how you can be inspired even more by their reaction to your work. So don't be shy in letting your close friends or random strangers hear your first draft. Listen to their feedback. It should help you with your first rewrite.

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure
Collaborate with other artists. What may be "meh" to them may be "wow" to you... and vice versa. Sometimes, collaborations can be a good thing. Anybody ever hear of songs from "Lennon McCartney"? When I'm in a rut and I feel that song I'm working on is headed for the trash can, I phone a friend to help me see what I can't see about the song I'm creating. Or sometimes, he or shel will tell me to go ahead and throw it away because it really is trash. LOL. But do collaborate. You'd be amazed at some of the wonderful outcomes of collaborations.

In the end, we can all benefit from the process of creating art as we know it. If you're a songwriter, keep on writing. And if you're a potter, keep working on those clay sculptures. In the end, others will see the beauty in what we do. And it can be an amazing thing. And if no one takes notice, remember, we created it for the trash can.