I came to a somewhat embarrassing epiphany last year, coming off my first international tour and debut at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. Maybe I was mature enough, or had performed enough, or had finally met the right people to show me, but I came to the conclusion that music is for the listener, not the musician.
I say the epiphany was embarrassing because it’s wrapped in the very obvious cliché that giving is receiving. However, in our self-made, internally focused society, this cliché has actually become more of a secret.
From day one my goal was to be a voice for others through my music and to spark the “human connection.” I had no intention of ever losing this focus. But I became so ingrained with “making it,” and obsessing over what I could improve, that I lost focus on my listeners, the very purpose I pursued my craft in the first place.
I am so thankful and humbled by my listeners. From Daiichi, who rode 40 hours round trip on bus from Hiroshima to Tokyo just to see me play, to the insightful Sanal, who listened closely enough to inspire me on how to finish a brand new half-song I whimsically showcased one night. Then there’s the eager camping group who kept begging for “one more" under the most gorgeous, starry Austin sky, to Johnny of El Ceviche Grill, who believed in me so much that he asked me to play at what he dubbed as “my house" every night I was in town for SXSW.
Those are only a few of the beautiful souls I’ve met throughout my journey that have truly touched me. They are all one-by-one molding me into a better songwriter, performer, listener, and most importantly, human being. They are sharpening the tools I need to be most aptly equipped for my calling.
Are you serving with your craft or are you missing out? Are you allowing yourself to be sharpened and molded by others? If we all focused on each other rather than ourselves, how much more effective and successful would we be?
A book is written for its readers, a movie for its viewers. Our crafts, our talents, no matter what they are, are not for our benefit, but to serve others.
Go spread the secret.