Sunday, March 22, 2015

Living as a Musician OUTSIDE of the Mainstream

Believe it or not, I found inspiration for continuing on this path from one of the most unlikely people.  When I was in my early 20's, I was a part of a group called Serenade.  We were an R&B quartet who liked to sing love songs in Autotune (before it was cool).  Our lead singer wanted to be Sisqo, the lead singer of Dru Hill, and secretly, so did I.

We actually never got a chance to perform outside of his livingroom, but we would often frequent local clubs and dance in unison, like in the music videos.  We loved the attention of drawing a crowd of ladies as we tried to seduce them with our sexual dance moves, and comical antics.  Guys were mostly annoyed and jealous of us.  We'd just say, "Who comes to the club to stand around with other dudes?!"

Anyway,  back to Sisqo.  He was HUGE!  he was on the radio all the time, and on TV too.  He could dance okay, and that's what we liked about him.  Not a lot of guys promoted dance during the late 90's.  It was mostly gangsta rap.  He was one of my major inspirations in my early music career.  Then one day, he just disappeared, like he never existed.  The only time you would even hear about him was if someone was accusing him of being gay or making fun of his blonde hair (which is weird cuz that stuff would make you more popular these days).

 I recently decided to see what he was up to because I hadn't heard from him in such a long time.  It turns out that Sisqo has been playing sold out venues for the last 15 years!  Not only that, but he's also released 3 more albums since we last heard of him, back in 1999.  In an interview with The Breakfast Club, he talks about how he got a bad wrap in the industry because he was ignorant to the politics of that world,, which lead to him being blacklisted altogether! You can watch the video of the Sisqo's interview here:

I found the story to be very enlightening and inspirational because he's been thriving all this time, under the radar!  Think about it this way.  If he were an indie band who had never made it to mainstream, we'd say he was at the cusp of success!  We'd praise his efforts and ability to sell out venues without the support of the mainstream.  Today, what many people would see as a has-been, is infact a perfect example of a musician who can leverage his assets and resources.  Due to his prior exploits, he now carries a name that opens doors for him all over the world 15 years after his peak of success.

I think that if this kind of career success is possible OUTSIDE the mainstream, then this is the lifestyle that musicians need to be seeking in this crumbling music economy.  The way of the Record Label is long-past, and we need to find new ways to survive.  In the age of the internet, it is no longer necessary to conform to the image of what mainstream media tells us who to be.  It IS possible.  We just need to know WHERE to look and WHO to study.

So, what your thoughts are on the idea of living outside the mainstream, and the mindset that comes with it.  How do you set goals outside of Mainstream? What are some of the best ways to leverage your assets and resources? Please leave a comment in the space below, and help me to continue the conversation.


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