GLM’s Back-to-School series features several independent musicians answering questions that are usually associated with the end of summer and consideration of lessons learned as students prepare for the fall. Today, eleven artists share the biggest personal lesson learned about their music career this year. Once again, connect and share your thoughts in the comments below using your Facebook, G+, or WordPress login.

Shawn Magill Ebonsoul PhotosShawn Nelson Magill * Dallas, TX * Piano, vocals in Home by Hovercraft * @homexhovercraft *

“I realized the tremendous amount of work involved in producing quality artistic works and then promoting them to get the story out and let people know about you. You can’t just create and go on down the road to create more – you have to do that AND promote your creations, and work a day job, and be a parent and this can leave you feeling like you are working multiple full time jobs all the time.

Also you have to challenge yourself to find new ways of creating… for example now I am collaborating on collage art pieces with several fashion photographers, and really loving the new avenues opening up to me as a visual artist with my stop motion films and theatre design work (sound design and projection design). ”

JamesRosebyDmitryKosovJames Rose * London, UK * a cappella storytella * @vivevocals *

“Sometimes life will steer you in new directions, often suddenly, and embracing those changes is the best thing to do. Life is full of musical outlets and ways of composing, you should embrace every one of them! Never feel like you are ‘this’ kind of musician or ‘that’ kind of composer, be free and open!”

JodyQuineJody Quine * Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada * folktronic/ambient pop * @jodyquine *

“Releasing outcome has been the big one! I went into this year with that as goal so I could just focus on the creating and being my authentic self.
Now that Seven has been released it’s almost too hard not to check in on stats etc but when I do it’s with business in mind and not self worth or expectation on my artist.I”

BluRum13BluRum13 * Baltimore, MD * Hip hop * @bluRum13 *

“You can;t work musically with everyone, and everyone has a different growth rate. I tried to venture into a project with my brother whom i usually have no problem creating with. We constantly collided creatively, and only ended up with two and a half tracks in six months. It was a costly lesson. He and I don’t even speak.”

UniversalYouUniversal You * UK * dance/rock * @universalyou *

“That my husband and I are the absolute core of Universal You. We have tried to work more closely with other people and bring them into our Circle of Trust (I like that phrase!), on a musical and collaborative basis but it hasn’t worked because of a variety of reasons. Sometimes people don’t share our vision, take time to understand it, or our expected work ethic, or they have other commitments, or sometimes they are just plain greedy or lazy. It has to be said. For example we have tried other producers but no-one else gets the best out of me in the studio like my husband. There he is my manager, not my husband, and he knows what is needed as he is the one who promotes the record and the band around so he knows better than most what standard is required, especially from the outside looking in. He pisses me off some days with his orders but in the end we drive home as husband and wife, dissect the days work, feed the kids, and go to bed tired but laughing about the antics of our alter egos. On the songs that feature in our releases in 2013 Paul and Graeme Young from Chamber Studios in Edinburgh worked really well together because they both understood each other’s strengths and Graeme had a good handle on where we wanted the songs as a package to sound like and therefore he didn’t take over, or take half measures. Graeme fits into the UniYou model where others didn’t. Sometimes you have to try other people and ideas to see if they will improve you or your business and in our case we finally realized this year that it is down to us to achieve what we actually want. Others can come in and be a strong part of what we are of course like Mark our guitarist-of-choice who always gives us exactly what we need. We do also have a team of people around us doing many things, but the core of Universal You is just two people who also happen to be married. We think that is a strength that other artists can learn from insofar as recognizing who the key people are and why, not that you always need to marry the people in your band to make good records!”

GabrielaPepinoGabriela Pepino * Brazil * singer/songwriter * @pepinogabriela *

“The biggest personal lesson that I’ve had is that you need to trust your instincts. At the end of the day, you are the artist, and if you don’t feel confertable with a situation, you should stop, and regroup. Follow your natural instincts. If deep inside, you feel that something isn’t right, don’t go for it.”

BrianLarneybyGracePisanoBrian Larney * Bridgeport, CT * PowerPop/Rock * @brianlarney *

“One of the things I’ve learned is to accept the help of others and allow them to bring what they do to the party. I enjoy doing the same for other people s immensely. So it should come as no surprise that they are willing to do the same for me and for that I am really grateful. In the past I had done so much work on my own, especially when recording. Playing all the instruments, singing all the parts, etc. It all tends to get a little stale. It all starts to sound like “All Brian all the time”. This year I’m attempting something new for me and it’s all about enlisting the help of others. My new record is produced by David Mayfield and it is the first record I’ve done that isn’t self produced. There are a bunch of excellent musicians who played on it too. The result? I think I ended up with a record that is fresh sounding and one that really brings to life what I set out to do initially. Funny how that happens. The same holds true in the live department. I ‘m trying to be far less dictatorial with the other guys than I have been in the past. Allowing them to bring their ideas and interpretations to the songs seems to be really working. When we play there is a fairly organic thing that happens that didn’t seem to used to happen. There’s great sense of fun now that wasn’t there before. I’m pretty sure the audience can pick up on it!”

Ester NicholsonEster Nicholson * Nashville, TN * Soul music for healing addictions * @estersoul *

“To be disciplined about the work behind the scenes. Get a lot of rest and take care of myself so that I can give my best when I’m in front of an audience”

zainLodhiaZain Lodhia * Chicago, IL * Acoustic Pop/Rock * @zainMusic *

“No matter what happens, you have to continue to believe in yourself and keep going. Nobody said pursuing your passions and dreams would be easy, but putting in the work will always bring a worthwhile reward.”

JeffStrakerJeffrey Michael Straker * Canada * piano pop/rock * @jeffreystraker *

“I think there are a few main lessons: 1) Hiring an assistant was something I thought I couldn’t afford, but with the extra capacity she created, it has opened so many doors. This was the best thing I’ve done in recent years in terms of managing an independent business. I’d thought about it for years and wish I’d done it ages ago now that we’ve got it going. 2) Co-writing is such invaluable as a writing tool. You might get songs you like. You might get songs you hate. But you’ll certainly tap into different parts of your writing psyche and come out of it a much better writer even when you write on your own”

CandiceRussellCandice Russell * Portland, OR * Pop! * @candicerussell *

“This year I have learned that not everyone is going to like or understand what you do. Some people absolutely love my music, some people don’t. But if you really believe in what you’re doing, you have to keep pushing and never give up! I’m learning to stay positive and rejoice in the little victories along the way.”

4 thoughts on “Back-to-School Q&A 2013: This year’s biggest lesson learned about your music career

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