Today is Groundhog Day, which got me thinking about the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray.
The plot is something like this:
A weather man is reluctantly sent to cover Groundhog Day for the fourth time. He's not happy about it and makes no effort to hide his frustration.
He wakes up the "following" day to discover that it's Groundhog Day again. The "next" day, the same thing happens. And it happens again, and again, and again.
He finally comes the realisation that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.
Here is a quick trailer:
Are you living a similar script?
The date on your calendar may be different today than yesterday, but that doesn't mean you're progressing. Have you "been in the business for ___ years" or are you repeating the same year again and again?
The big lesson for Bill Murray's character is that, although he was watching people around him repeat the same things, he didn't have to repeat the same things.
There is a saying in the music business that "you should only sell out a venue one time."
What this means is that, if you've sold out a venue, the next show you book should be at a bigger venue. You should always be moving forward.
If your career is starting to feel a bit stale, and all the goals you've set for yourself, such as going fulltime or selling a certain number of albums, have been met, it may be time to go deeper.
You can certainly live "Groundhog Day" again and again. Plenty of musicians do, because it's comfortable and you know what to expect.
But does living the same day again and again respect the artist inside you? I'd argue that it doesn't.
You didn't get into this business to play it safe. You got into this business because you have something to say.
There are a lot of lessons in this movie. For one, the only way to get off auto-pilot is to take the wheel and start driving yourself. I think the biggest lesson though, which applies to all musicians, is that you can screw up pretty bad and things will still be ok.
Again, you didn't get into this business to play it safe. So have fun with that.
I encourage you to go a little bigger with what you're doing, to the point where it's a bit uncomfortable. See how far you can take things -- book a venue that holds more people, press 2000 CDs instead of 1000, or sublet your apartment and hit the road.
The worst that will happen is that you don't fill the venue, you have a bunch of CDs in your closet, or you don't have a place to stay.
Already experiencing those things? Ironically, that's probably because you're not playing big enough.
So get on it!