by Kat Davis
More than ever before, we look for instant gratification. What’s on the news? There it is at your fingertips. Forgot milk at the back of the store? There it is in the cooler by the check-out counter. Love that song? Welcome to streaming.
A colleague recently asked me, “What happened to artists building fan bases? Too often we pluck an artist out of their community, insert multiple voices into their craft, spend money to put them on a tour bus and put them in front of as many people as possible and hope that they have a sustainable career.” At first, this criticism seemed harsh, as in some instances, part of the music industry has adopted this philosophy. Yet after spending some time considering his perspective, I realized though his criticism was hard to hear, it had a lot of validity to it.
Going from zero to ninety mph in seven seconds can be fun if you’re driving a Maserati, but is it the best thing if what you’re looking for is a sustainable career? By going from zero to ninety, you end up skipping out on the experiences in between and losing necessary experiences that will build your character. Having strong character is crucial to your ability to ward off the narcissistic temptations that come with having an influential platform.
While recently celebrating an exciting milestone for one of my clients, they shared, “You know, if this would have happened to me ten years ago, I would have cared way too much about it. I’m glad it didn’t happen then and is happening now.” This really resonated with me, as it takes years of hard knocks to get to a place where you’re best equipped for the spotlight. These hard knocks include being the artist who misses out on a sound check because everyone playing after you is running late, visits the radio station who forgot you were coming, breaks down in a van on the side of the road with no air conditioning in Texas, and the list goes on. Even after these trials, as humans, we’re never immune to the temptations that taunt our ego.
So if you feel like things aren’t happening in your career as fast as you would prefer, here are some suggestions to remind you to be patient, and let time and experience do their work in your life and career:
1. Don’t care too much about what others think. Wise counsel is important, but be balanced with how much you’re concerned about the opinions of others. Comparing yourself to the Joneses isn’t going to get you anywhere other than jealous, insecure and unfocused.
2. Let time do her work. Nothing heals like time. Nothing teaches like time. Nothing can speed up the work that only time can do. We are each constantly evolving as people and as professionals in our field. Letting impatience tempt you to the fast track will eventually leave you at a deficit.
3. Put people around you who are honest with you, even when what they say might be hard to hear. Having a great support community around you is essential for keeping your feet on the ground, especially in times of great duress or great success. Having consistency and objectivity during the highs and lows is priceless.
4. Keep your eye on the ball. Revisit your goals and priorities regularly, and clearly communicate those with the people supporting you in your career. As life evolves, priorities change. Be intentional to articulate where you’re going and how you want to get there. Distractions will come, especially as notoriety increases.
5. Put your phone down. Have face-to-face conversations. Learn from those more experienced than you. Seek wisdom from those wiser than you. Relationship is tantamount to a successful career. Interacting with people on social media isn’t the same as in-person, intentional conversation. It has its place, but don’t let it replace.
6. Listen. You learn best from listening, not talking. By listening to others, you can learn countless bits of information that can inform your perspective.
One of the mottos that I constantly repeat to my team is, “Slow and steady.” Patience, consistency, discipline, integrity and hard work are all in the equation for experience and success. None of those things can be learned quickly. Rather, let them do their work, and as they grow in you, let those experiences shape the art you create. Don’t be a paper match, easy to catch flame and burn out, rather go through the process to be a hot burning ember, emitting light and heat. Leave a legacy. Even better, leave lives changed for the better by how you steward your gifts.
Industry veteran Kat Davis has gleaned experience from a two-decade career spanning various aspects of the music business, including music retail, on-air radio, concert promotion, radio promotion, grass-roots marketing, online and relationship marketing, artist development, booking and artist management. Kat founded The Brown Book Agency, Inc. in 2009 with a desire to focus all of those skills toward an elite roster of clients which includes Grammy-nominated artists/songwriters Matt Maher and Margaret Becker, worship artist Meredith Andrews, and critically acclaimed artist John Tibbs. Kat has authored TheDailyVerse.com, a free, online daily devotional since 1999, and self-published the first printed volume of The Daily Verse in 2010. Kat is passionate about people and seeing human potential realized. Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Kat now lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the daughter of the late James D. Davis, US SEAL TEAM II, and Fran Davis. Her wonderful family also consists of a younger sister, a nephew and a beagle, Molly Pigg, who gets her name from her constant snorting. Kat’s an avid fan of the US Navy Blue Angels and aspires to fly with plane #7 one day.