I answered 847 emails in 12 hours today. That's an average of 51 seconds each. But the single most common request I got was, “Take a listen to my music and let me know what I should do.”
Those emails took the longest. I never know what to do with that request.
Most of the time, the music is good. Not the best or worst thing you've ever heard, but good.
So I could critique someone's songwriting, vocals, or production, but then what? Would they actually go change their music just to meet my tastes? That'd be unwise. I'm just a musician that listens mostly to traditional Persian music and trip-hop. I built a website that musicians use, but I was never known for my taste in music.
The music itself usually doesn't make it clear what someone should do.
What if I was in a different industry and people said:
“I'm trying to find a spouse. Look at my photo and tell me what I should do.”
“I want to be a millionaire. Look at my bank account and tell me what I should do.”
The real answer is “it depends...”
- What are your goals? Why are you making music?
- What have you done so far? What's worked? What hasn't?
- What is your reaction to criticism or setbacks?
- Are you future-focused or present-focused?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your habits? Are you growing or coasting?
- How do you measure success? Fame? Money? Emotional response?
- What's your timeline? 1 year? 3 years? 30 years?
- ... and 50 other questions that would make this article too long.
It'd take many hours of conversation to get enough information to responsibly tell someone what to do. But since I only have a few minutes, I point people to the advice I've already written and the books that have inspired me, then hope they know how it will apply to their unique situation.
I always feel a little disappointed that I can't be more helpful, but that's what coaching is about, so I better get that going soon.
P.S. If this interests you, see a related article: “Let me know what you think”.