Making music and being a professional musician are two different skills. Well, really, it's about 100 different skills, but there's a skills divide between those two categories.
Making great music requires authenticity, passion and courage. It also requires some study or at least the drive to keep working at it until the music is as good as (or better than) what you intended.
Being a professional musician means you have to be a hustler. You have to tell everyone and their grandma about your music. You have to create and sell merch, book and promote shows and tours, record and distribute your music to anyone and everyone AND do hundreds, if not thousands, of flawless performances night after night for years.
It is exhausting.
I've never wanted the hustle, but I did it for years. I sold overpriced tickets for shows in venues far from anywhere that my friends lived. I made my own posters and spent hours walking around cities putting them up. I played every bar, festival and cafe I could. I worked at dawn doing physically and emotionally demanding work all day and then went out and performed all night till the bars closed, slept a handful of hours (if I was lucky) and did it all again the next day.
I did this for years while working through layers upon layers of old and new traumas. Every performance lead to another and would end with enthusiastic love from strangers, all in awe of the gift that I gave them; my soul.
I kept going because night after night, the audiences were amazed and made sure I knew it. They would compliment me, try to sleep with me, tell me about all of their pains and joys; losses and celebrations. Sometimes I was energized by this. Often I was drained by this. They saw in me some sort of salvation and seemed to look to me for an answer to some unarticulated question.
I didn't believe that I could possibly receive these responses and NOT succeed.
So, I kept going. Even after my marriage fell apart. Even after I narrowly survived 2 life-saving emergency surgeries. Even after I lost my musical partner. Even after I moved to a new city alone and without any musical connections. Even after I lost my band just as we were gaining momentum in that new city.
I'm tired and worn out and taking time to rest. Yet, even in that rest, I am still going. I am still recording, albeit with a slower pace, and I am still learning.
But I don't want to be a hustler anymore.
I will be heard by some. Maybe the universe will meet me in the middle. It's been a wild ride, and I hope it's not over. I hope this is simply that moment where I've reached the summit after a long hike through rich and beautiful lands before grabbing a wing and gliding over the world.