Sunstrike Piano started off as a morbid experiment that quickly grew out of control. After checking out the online mastering program LANDR, I just wanted to see how cheaply I could conceivably release an album using equipment I had lying around in my garage office. Next thing I knew, I was putting together a website, setting up social media accounts, working out a content strategy, and experimenting with Facebook ads.
I blew a lot of money. “A lot” is relative. Compared to the first album I released under my own name back in 2011, I still pretty much have spent nothing. I did learn a bit in the process, though. The music marketing course I purchased had a strategy that I’ve come to believe did more harm than good. Admittedly, I didn’t follow it all the way through, but there came a certain point where I just questioned the importance of what it calls a key metric. (Total Likes.) If I had the money I spent, I would have targeted my Facebook ads very differently.
Yet… I still have to acknowledge that in experiments, you have to find out what works, what doesn’t, and – more importantly – why. I have the honor of being taught by some of the world’s finest teachers while pursuing both my music degrees. They’re amazing and I considering them lifelong friends and mentors today. I think they would even agree with me that failure is the best teacher. The bigger and more painful the belly flop, the more you learn. The key is to be focused and strategic… provided that you understand enough about what you are dealing with.
Learning curves. Fun, aren’t they?
After getting started, I let Sunstrike Piano sit for two years while I focused on – well – my work. That was a mistake. If I had spent that time still tending to it and figuring things out while releasing from time to time, I could have learned quite a bit more before I got fired in the middle of a pandemic. (For clarity’s sake: My firing had nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with a manipulative employer who did not value me personally.) Big ol’ belly flop with all sorts of missed opportunities.
Shit happens. And yes, that can be part of the learning curve, too.
The same mindset I had when I started – that of curiosity and experimentation – is the same that I intend to have as I go forward, tweaking my strategy as I learn more. Until I learn what works, how it works, and why it works, I really can’t predict the outcome. I do know that I intend to get better at it.
Is there something you are burning to do? Or to learn? Or to build? Don’t wait for the right time. Start right now. Invest the time. Invest the money. (Be reasonable about it, though. Feed your babies and keep your house.) The perfect time will never come. I spent enough of my life waiting for certain conditions to be met to give myself permission to do whatever only to see lots of wasted years. Even if you only go at a creep, it is well worth every move. Figure it out, even if you have to carve two hours out late at night.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved my work. I believed – and still believe – in the mission. I got a lot done. It satisfied a creative itch. I worked with some amazing people. I’ve seen people find healing, fulfillment, and growth in ways that surprised even them. By that measure, it was time well-spent… and one man took it away just to show he was boss.
Do your work… but don’t forget to work on your own castle. You never know when you’ll have to start living in it.