Monday, January 06, 2020

How Real Change Begins

“A new day begins when I wake up, not at midnight. Midnight means nothing to me. It’s not a turning point. Nothing changes at that moment. A new year begins when there’s a memorable change in my life. Not January 1st. Nothing changes on January 1st.” - Derek Sivers

As we look out on a new year (and a new decade!) it is usually a time to think about change. What are your goals for this year? What things have you wanted to do in your life and 2020 is the time you want to go after them?

I read a good blog post recently from Derek Sivers (and you should be reading his blog and listening to his short podcasts.) And in it he says that change doesn’t begin on January 1, it begins when we start something new. Change begins when we pursue a new project, learn a new craft, move towards an experience that will grow us.

“Your year really begins when you move to a new home, start school, quit a job, have a big breakup, have a baby, quit a bad habit, start a new project, or whatever else. Those are the real memorable turning points — where one day is very different than the day before. Those are the meaningful markers of time. Those are your real new years.” - Derek Sivers

Change Your Life with a New Project

Sometimes the best way to live your dream is to dive right into it. Find someone who can lead you through a new creative project, whether it’s building something, creating a new piece of art, or recording and marketing a new single or group of songs. Just going through the process can bring about great change and learning in your craft. It can lead to an entirely new life and body of work.

Often, we wait for years to finally step out and into the life we always wanted. In order to really make a change this year, start a new project.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” - Pablo Picasso

Change Begins with Learning

Maybe you are more interested in learning an artistic or creative skill. Perhaps you want to learn to play piano or keyboards for your local church, or write music, or learn more about sound or theory. You are never too old to learn new things. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pursue a degree in music or art, but it could. The more likely way is to find a teacher who can help you learn what YOU need to learn.

An important point here is to learn what will be useful in your daily creative life, and what will grow you. In order to make a change this year, consider lessons and learning from someone better than you.

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” - Julius Caesar

Change with New Experiences

Both of the things above can lead to new experiences that you never had before, were never offered before, or just maybe never thought could happen to you. What if you were invited to Nashville to work on your music? What if you had a seasoned producer or composer or arranger or player who wanted to help bring out the music in you? What if you had a teacher or mentor that would work with you weekly, wherever you are, to help you move into uncharted territory creatively? Something that doesn’t exist around your local area?

These are the things that really start a new change in your life. Not some “resolution” that you’ll never keep. But truly getting started on something new.

Have a great year, and I hope it’s full of creative change and betterment!

EC

John Eric Copeland is a composer, author, arranger, and lots of other things. This year he is looking for creative projects and commissions in music (from jazz to classical to gospel), and offering individual weekly music and creative lessons for all ages.

Find out more about music projects here: CreativeSoulOnline.com

Find out more about music lessons here: EricCopelandMusic.com

Monday, December 02, 2019

Embrace the Unique YOU!

"The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique."- Walt Disney
I listened to a great podcast recently that I will reference in the comments below. But the mantra was “Don’t be better, be different...because different is better than better.”

I thought this was genius.

One of the most common mistakes people make is tying to be like an artist that already exists, then wondering why the world doesn’t react to another version of that artist?

We need to quit trying to outdo the next person at what we are trying to do, and do something different. Do that voodoo that only YOU do so well. Be weird. Be unique. Be YOU.
"Different is almost always better than better. In any field—business, academia, athletics—the individuals and organizations who stand out are those brave enough to pave their own way. To go in a direction few have gone before and wait for the world to catch up."- Jeff Goins
Recently I have seen this again pop up in a class I’ve been taking on orchestration. I was trying my best to just be “musical and classical” and do what the instructions said. I got the homework done but it was pretty much what was expected, and nothing to speak of (and the grades were...meh.)

But I realized that I was not attacking these assignments like I would creative tasks I have in my business and personal projects. So, I started to think outside the box and be the silly, off-kilter, outside the lines arranger I usually am. And guess what...the pieces not only became something better, they became something I was passionate about and proud of.

Another grad student has his own unique style, and also infused it in his final arrangement. It was weird, and sometimes not strictly “classical”, but it was very cool, and very HIM. It stood out.

You may not be the singer, or songwriter, or artist you admire. And most likely, you will likely never be better than them. But you can be something they will never be: You. The unique, one of a kind, different thing God made you.

This next year, make a vow to do YOU.

Be as different as you can and whatever God made you. This will always be the key to your success.

It has been for me.
"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary." - Cecil Beaton
Have a great week!

EC

John Eric Copeland is a composer, arranger, and producer and you can find out more about his creative projects, thoughts, and companies at cre8iv.com

To hear the newest music creations (including the arrangement mentioned above, go to EricCopelandMusic.com

Ready to start a unique Christian music brand, contact us at CreativeSoulOnline.com

Do another kind of music like Jazz, Classical, World, or something else?
We can help you start a new project and brand that’s unique, different, and you! Contact us at CreativeSoulLegacy.com and let’s build your unique creative brand and leave your mark on this world!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Ones Who Will

“Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.” - Pauline Kael

Whether it’s with artists, creators (composers, songwriters, authors, etc), clients of any kind, those finishing degrees, or volunteers at churches and other places in music, I see the same thing. There are ones who will (do their creative thing with a passion and focus as I do), and those who...might.

Here’s a few examples:

The Happy Volunteer Creative

These are people who help at church or other places, give of their time because they can play an instrument or sing, and are happy doing only that. They have no delusions of grandeur, or are smart enough to know better. They enjoy playing or singing as a part-time hobby, and enjoy being part of a group. These could be anything from worship band members to a few doctors and lawyers who get together to jam in a garage. They do it because it’s fun, they love it, and don’t expect much more from it besides the occasional gig or Sunday service. I have no problem with this and actually depend on people like this every week.

The “Oh That Would Cool” Creative

This person honestly thinks a life as a creative would be very cool. Perhaps their parents or spouse are nudging them to find something, anything to do with their lives and this person has shown interest in being creative, or have been creative. These folks go through the motions in school, or at church, or in life looking at creative degrees, or creative possibilities. It seems...fun, I guess. But eventually it is no more than a temporary pursuit. Maybe they do pursue a job or degree in a creative area, but eventually it gets hard to find work, and they just get a real job doing something else because it pays and they move on.

The Creative Who Dabbles

I’ve written a whole post on this one. This is the true creative who in their spare time works on a creative thing. They write some songs, or draw, or paint, or act, or dance. They have the talent to do well, but they either do a little of everything and never focus their energies on anything serious, or they just dabble when the mood strikes. There’s no harm in this, but it really never leads to anything.

The Creative With No Proof

I often I meet people who say they are singers, songwriters, authors, photographers, or other types of creatives. They tell me how they long to sing, get published, get work, and live a creative life. Then I ask: Do you have any recordings or a portfolio I could hear or see? No. Are you singing or performing anywhere or else wise doing anything related to your creative craft that I could see? No. Do you have a website, or is your work on Instagram, YouTube, or at least Facebook? No. Then how exactly is the world supposed to know you have this creative talent, buy your art, experience what you are doing?

The True Creative Who Would If...

These are creatives who work hard on a daily or weekly basis on their craft. They may have sung any gig that came along, or written a few to a hundred songs, or painted or wrote stories, but it’s always been about “if”. If the right person heard them they would put all their energies into it. If someone came along and funded them they could really take off. If someone would finally recognize their genius they could and would really focus on their craft.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” - Walt Disney

The True Creative Who WILL

These are the people who are like me. And to be honest, at some point they (and I) have been one or more of the people above. But the ones who will are the ones who DO. They don’t just happily volunteer only. They don’t think it would be cool and give it a try halfheartedly because someone prods them to at least do something. They don’t just dabble when the mood strikes. They get a Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube and start putting work up immediately to get feedback and build an audience. They don’t wait for the money, or the time, or to be told they can.

The true creatives, the ones who WILL be seen/heard, and WILL find an audience...these people get out there and get it going. They continually focus and point themselves in a direction to get their life’s work seen and/or heard. They seek out like-minded partners, mentors, consultants, producers, musicians, and people who they can work with to get where they want to go. And they never, ever quit. Repeat: They don't quit...because for reasons beyond their control or knowledge, they just can't stop!

Some creatives WILL by pursuing a music degree that can set them up to teach, or build relationships for future performance or composition opportunity. Some creatives WILL by finding that person who can help them reach the next level in whatever creative industry or audience they are focusing their art towards. Some creatives WILL by making their own brand and working it with nothing but YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

But true creatives who find success simple WILL where other’s won’t.

Will you?

“Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” - George Herbert

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is a full-time creator who creates his own work and WILL get every composition, idea, and project in his head out to the public in his lifetime. He is also available to help any creative who WILL through his Cre8iv Entertainment Companies like Creative Soul Records, Positive Spin Songs, and other brands. Find out more at Cre8iv.com

Monday, August 05, 2019

Making vs. Marketing

How do you balance being creative, with the business of marketing your creations? It’s especially difficult when marketing your art can be just as creative and artistic (not to mention as frustrating, time consuming, and expensive) a process as making it.

When do you know when to do one, and when to do the other? Can they be done simultaneously? And how in the world do you find and cultivate an audience for your art when you’d really rather be making it?

The reason this occurred to me is that not only have my creative clients dealt with this, but as a busy creative I deal with this too every day. I’ve been in a heavy marketing phase for months now, but see a creative phase coming. Does that mean I stop marketing and building audiences?

How in the world does this work? Let’s break it down.

Making

This is the fun part, right? The art. The creating. Writing the song, painting, playing, inventing, writing…these are all things that drive artistic people like us.

It comes naturally, if not all the time. But it does come.

If we are smart, we will make time for it each day, or each week. Purposely putting time away to create. Sometimes these creative times last for weeks or months. Maybe it’s in the writing and production phases of a music project or book. Sometimes it’s just time in your particular studio (recording, dance, art) to play, move, think, draw, or type.

Whatever the time, this is when the magic part of you comes alive and creation happens. Then another thing is birthed that will hopefully outlast you; a work to send out into the world; part of your legacy, right?

But in order to get it to the world…

Marketing

This is the hard part, and potentially the most devastating to our creative hearts and souls for several reasons.

Some artists are born showoffs. These people were born to take a stage be it open mic, record a live video talking to the world, or share everything online with the world. But many of us do not find sharing our art (or especially trying to sell it) to the world that easy, and those who do may have trouble finding stages to get on these days.

Even if we do want to get the art out there, it’s getting harder and harder to use the tools we always have in the past, even relatively new ones like social media.

The other way it can be damaging is if we put it out there and there is little response. Usually the reason for this is that we have not taken the time to build an audience for our artistic creations, or we are depending on friends and family to like it, or for it to go "viral" or magically make it big!

But marketing is more than people “liking” something. It’s actually getting our art in front of strangers and convincing them to become an audience for it…which takes money and time.

Large companies like Disney and Universal spend millions if not hundreds of millions getting their brands in front of audiences, from online ads, to Burger King cups, to billboards, to theme parks, to movies, to endless TV commercials. Most of us don’t even consider ANY budget to do marketing. We may spend to make a product (an album, a book), but we don’t spend anything to market it, then wonder why no one is hearing or reacting to our art.

Yes, social media once made it easy to share your music, your art, your dance videos, your books to the world for free. But the rest of the world has caught on and now EVERYBODY is doing it, and the social networks now know how much they can hold you over a barrel to let you serve your "friends". It’s a war of who is shouting the loudest. You know who is shouting the loudest? Marvel, Sony, Star Wars, Sports, News, TV, Netflix, Hulu…and you know this because you likely consume these brands all the time.

Now, I’m not saying you have to spend millions…although if you had millions you know you would, and guess what, you’d reach millions!

When to Do What

I have always found that the seasons for making and marketing will come naturally. Making season leads to marketing season, which wears you out and leads you back to making season. But likely there should be some of each happening all the time. If you work on your new opus for two years (or six!), you may lose the audience you built marketing your last creation.

There are whole books written on marketing, and though I could probably write one, I think I feel a creative phase coming on…

Have a great week!

EC
-
Eric Copeland is currently wrapping up the marketing phase of creative products for PlayerAJazz and Positive Spin Songs, with new classical, piano, jazz, and other works including novels and non-fiction books on their way. Find out more at cre8iv.com

Monday, July 01, 2019

The Simple Things

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” - Laura Ingalls Wilder

As creatives we can have a tendency to go big or home. The big album. The big art show. The big dance number. The big sprawling novel. Certainly, there will be times when these kinds of larger, encompassing artistic displays are necessary.

But I think we can be just as fulfilled working on more bite-sized chunks of creativity as well. Instead of a big album stuffed to the gills with 12 or more songs, we can do music singles. Love it or hate it, this has actually become somewhat of the way of the music industry of late. Artist are releasing songs one at a time, then down the road releasing them together as playlists or albums.

A painter actually does usually work on one piece at a time but can sometimes have many going. What if you just focused on that one piece of art, and then pushed it out to your audience, store, or showed it at your studio, church, or school?

Dancers dream of touring with companies, getting in a big production with many numbers, or a big recital. But what if you just set your iPhone up and shot one routine you had choreographed, then post it on your YouTube channel. Push people there with Facebook, Twitter, and put it on Instagram. Get your dancing and choreography work seen!

I find the short story (or these blog posts) to be rewarding and certainly more able to be consumed by a larger audience quickly. It promotes your author brand and before you know it, like the music artist, you could have an anthology of stories to publish on Smashwords, iBooks, Amazon, and more.

“Think simple as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

Our artistic pursuits can be complicated, large ideas, but don’t have to be. We don’t have to have think through a long tome about time travel, but tell a good interesting story about a person and their life. We don’t have to write a symphony that will be lauded by the professors at a prestigious place of higher learning, but instead create a simple melody that will make someone smile.

Concentrate on releasing to the world the simple messages and creations you have and quit holding off on sharing your work because it’s not the huge masterpiece that will impress or bring you millions.

It’s just that simple.

Take this simple message with you today as you plan, write, or release your next creative endeavor.

“Deep and simple are far, far more important than shallow and complicated and fancy.” - Fred Rogers

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is an author, composer, and creative who helps other artistic people find their way and build creative lives.

His book “How to Live a Creative Life” is available now exclusively at Amazon Kindle. Find out more here.

Here is a new video about Simple Things from 88Upright, an Upright Bass and Piano duo featuring Pat Gallo on bass and composer John Eric Copeland on piano.


Monday, May 13, 2019

The Tension of Time

“To be a human being is to be in a state of tension between your appetites and your dreams, and the social realities around you and your obligations to your fellow man.” - John Updike
In listening to a recent podcast I heard someone mentioned “the tension of time”. We know we only have so much time (in our life, in our week, in our day) to accomplish all that we want to. With all the things we MUST do for work, for family, for church, for health, we often don’t take the all important time for ourselves. And for creatives that means taking time to create.

Do you feel that tension? That anxiety that you aren’t getting everything done with your music, or your art that you looked to get accomplished in this life? Does it worry you that you may not be on the right road to leaving your creative imprint on this world that you always felt you would?

Well it does me. But I see each new day as a chance to rectify that. Each coming day, week, or year is a new chance to get to all the songs, ideas, and other creative things I want to get out into the world. To realize all my dreams though, I’m going to have to bust it. This tension of time is good as it motivates me to get things in gear, make plans, and let that pressure be the engine that pushes me forward.

As I wrote in an earlier blog called “Such Little Time” one part of the tension can be that we know we only have so much time on the earth to create. Even our bodies and minds can betray us and take away the desire and the means to create.

Tension Moves Us
“Tension is the cornerstone of any good story.” - Eric Nylund
In movies or books, the tension the director or author creates keeps us bound to the story. It motivates us to keep watching or reading. We want to see how the story turns out, how the protagonist wins.

With the tension of time, the creative is the protagonist, and we win by creating, and distributing our creations.

How many stories in cinema or literature have you read where the artist comes to the end of his life regretting not creating their masterpiece, or not sharing their art to the world?

The Tension of the Misstep
“There is always tension between the possibilities we aspire to and our wounded memories and past mistakes.” - Sean Brady
We all feel if we had only made the right step at some point, we could have been a better version of ourselves. If we had done more in high school, or majored in something creative in college, or toured with that band in our twenties, or not made the decision to leave our art behind for the day job, or because we had kids.

That seemingly wrong decision or misstep in life is also a tension of time. We feel our chance to be an artist was wasted, and the stress of all that time misused can keep us from pursuing our greatest dreams.

This is similar to how it feels about saving money or investing. Why start now if you haven’t done anything up until this point? But that is the tension talking.

Using the Tension

Instead of worrying about how little time you have, use the tension to MAKE time. Instead of lamenting about how things aren’t happening quickly enough, we have to MAKE things happen, or find someone to help us make things happen.

I find I am using that tension and the uncertainty that it creates to push me towards more creative projects, creative time, and proliferation of art out to peoples ears and eyes. I think we can use that worry, that uncertainty, that restlessness to get us off our butts and get to work!
“There's a constant tension in climbing, and really all exploration, between pushing yourself into the unknown but trying not to push too far. The best any of us can do is to tread that line carefully.” - Alex Honnold
Have a great week!

~

For the Creative Soul is brought to you by Cre8iv Entertainment, Inc., a multi-media company that creates and distributes art, and walks alongside artists of all kinds. If you need help with your music, or any creative thing that you feel you have wasted enough time NOT doing, we would love to hear from you. 

Find out more at cre8iv.com

Our new book, "How to Live a Creative Life" is now available for free at Kindle Unlimited, or just $5.99 at amazon. Be, work, and live more creative. Find out more here.

Monday, March 11, 2019

What Is Your Vision?

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” - Woodrow Wilson
Are you missing the vision of your life? Are you so busy making a living, watching TV, or playing around that you are not seeking the grander vision God has for you?

Think about what you would like to experience in your life - the goals, the aspirations, and your heart's desire. Isn't it time in your life to make that vision a reality?

You can you know? You can stop dreaming. You can stop mindlessly walking through life working and waking and working again.

What are you waiting for?
Vision encompasses vast vistas outside the realm of the predictable, the safe, the expected.” - Charles Swindoll
It’s not easy to take the creative thing God has given you and attempt to move it to the next level, but anyone who has realized their dreams in music, art, acting, dancing, or anything has done so by taking the first step. They auditioned, they went out for the team, they made that phone call or sent that email. They got started.

Then and only then can the vision that God has given you, or perhaps a prophecy or vision someone else has had for you, come to fruition. That recording will never get made, that performance will never happen, that life out there that could be changed by you, that peace your creativity may bring someone...none of that will matter if you don’t step out in faith and take action.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” - Joel A. Barker
I’ve seen artists change actual lives, both theirs, their families, and the people they touch with their art. They come with a vision, they find a way to put that vision into a step by step plan, then they find help to make it happen.

Maybe this week, instead of just more TV watching, more Instagram or Facebook scrolling, more mindless work days, you take real action toward the vision for your creative talents. What could your artistic talent be if you put a grand plan in action? 

You are unique and God only made one of you with your specific talents, ideas, drives, and focus. Isn’t it time to fully realize everything you could do if you put all your energies toward that?
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” - Neil Gaiman
Have a great week!


For the Creative Soul is a free service of Cre8iv Entertainment, Inc. If you’d like more information on how to pursue your creative passion in a larger more effective way, please contact us at cre8iv.com

About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com