A few months back, I was talking to a fellow songwriter. She was describing a networking/educational group she was part of and said it was cool, there were lots of great people involved, it was a supportive atmosphere, she enjoyed it – and it was weird that she enjoyed it, she said, because “these people are my competition!”
And I thought, “Competition for what?” Gigs? Media attention? Fans? Merchandise or music sales? What could they possibly take from her? Especially if she’s rockin’ her own biz?
She simply couldn’t wrap her head around a cooperative musical situation. That surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it did.
What IS competition really?
Obviously, if you are actually entered in a formal contest with prizes, etc., that’s a different story. But in our everyday, build-our-indie-career lives, are we really in nearly constant competition with each other – to write the best songs, to snag the best exposure opps – only coming together occasionally to cooperate on certain projects? I don’t think so.
Here’s the thing. Competition implies a scarcity mindset. There’s only so much to go around and we all have to fight each other for it. There are only so many fans with limited budgets for music, so many paying gigs, only so many big exposure opportunities and if we miss one, our careers can potentially be ruined or stalled. If a blogger or columnist is covering someone else, they’re not covering me. If a club books Janet for a night, they’re not booking me.
I don’t think that way. I just come from a completely different mindset. I see the world as being full of opportunities. And not just any old opportunities, but ones that are absolutely perfect for me.
Just because I do well – at booking gigs, at meeting people, at creating opportunities for myself, heck, even at winning contests (if I were in to that) – that doesn’t mean that you can’t also do the same. At the same time, if YOU do well in your career, that in no way stops ME from being the best I can possibly be.
Actually, any of us living life to the fullest helps everyone around us do the same!
Let’s try something completely new!
I’m going to propose a radical idea here. I think a competitive mindset is – for the most part – a remnant of the old-school music biz model. It’s outdated thinking and won’t get you far in today’s environment. I know there are many people out there who agree with me, but it’s a very new and foreign idea to others.
Do you realize that we can eliminate competition from the picture completely by creating a true, authentic, unique personal brand? (More on that later!)
You might be a competitive person by nature. Comparing yourself to others and trying to beat them may spur you to greater achievements. If that’s your deal and it works for you then great! I would never try to change you. But for me, it never has. My only measuring stick has always been to look at myself and do better.
So if you are out there, thinking like me that you’d like a different lens to look at the world, try cooperation on for size, for real. Try cheering a friend on truly, without jealousy, without comparison, and then turn your focus back onto what you gotta do to get where you wanna go.
I find this mindset to be incredibly freeing – it lets me be creative without ever worrying what everyone else is doing. My wish is that it does the same for you!