How I Learned to be HUMBLE. As an Indie Artist05 / 10 / 2017
Although I’m not famous and haven’t made much profit as a musician (yet), my career has been pretty cool so far. I’ve worked extremely hard for every opportunity I’ve had and I remain grateful for every triumph, large or small.
Being a musician is a hard path to be on and naturally I get discouraged at times. I’m not motivated by outsider validation or money which is probably why I’ve never once thought about quitting. Even after all these years of working my ass off and seeing very little external results, I’m in this for life. What continues to drive me after all these years is the strong core belief that I was put here on earth to be an artist. I’ve always known exactly what I want to spend my life doing.
The overnight success story is rare and is almost never the recipe for longevity. There are no guarantees in this industry and a “big break” won’t sustain a whole career. We’ve seen time and again that artists looking to make a quick buck by hopping on a trend never create music that stands the test of time. Those who have built a legacy are the ones who created timeless music and had their finger on the pulse of something original and fresh. Even that is never a guarantee because guarantees simply don’t exist in this industry.
I know that it doesn’t matter how hard I work or how talented I am, I learned a long time ago that nobody owes me shit. It may sound harsh but learning that lesson early on has kept my expectations realistic and given me an incredible amount of self reliance and humility. I’ve worked alongside plenty of artists who had some level of success early on and have gone on to having to be in the trenches with the rest of us who have never caught a big break. I admire their humility (sometimes, at least) but it’s gotta be hard to sleep on floors once you’ve slept in a hotel room. As crazy as it sounds, I think my slow burn has kept me from getting used to any special treatment. When I do get to sleep in a hotel room or am given anything other than well drinks and PBR, I’m thrilled!
We’re not doctors, teachers or lawyers. There is no surefire credential or internship that will land us in a prestigious position. You can’t google the standard salary for a musician and then walk into a job interview and ask for it. We don’t get raises after a probationary period and we damn sure don’t get health insurance or a 401k. For most of us, our success is all about luck, determination and timing. We could spend the whole arc of our careers chasing fame and fortune and never attain it. This is a real fear for almost all of us and it’s not an unfounded one. We are quite literally gambling years of our lives. Because of the high risk involved, it is especially important that we don’t take the small things for granted our put our lives on pause while we wait for something to happen. That is the most dangerous gamble of all: missing out on experiencing our careers entirely while waiting for the phone to ring.
Like most young singers, I spent my early days hoping I would get discovered, sign a record deal and make millions of dollars. Instead of my fancy record record deal, I went to college. After receiving a degree in music I had a long series of career opportunities that didn’t pan out. I spent my early 20s becoming anorexic and then spending years battling with it and recovering from it. I got into a toxic relationship, and then another one. In my mid 20s I moved to New York City spent four years leading a funk a band that didn’t go anywhere before I finally found some direction. My point is, life happens, shit takes time and even then it often doesn’t work out. Some of us take longer to learn our lessons and find our groove than others. I always knew I had a unique voice and it took me years to develop my signature sound. By the time I decided to reinvent myself as an indie solo artist named Corina Corina, I was already in my 30s. In pop culture years for a woman, that’s ancient.
So there I was, finally writing honest songs that were very true to who I was, pulling from the soul, hip-hop, blues and pop influences that had inspired me throughout my life. Perhaps it was my age or the fact that I had been through so much, but once I arrived to the place I was searching for, I knew I didn’t have time to waste. I was hungry. I was tired of making excuses and getting distracted like I had in my 20s. It was my time.
My debut album, The Eargasm was a great first effort. I felt like my whole life had lead up to this moment, I put everything I had into it’s release and after a few positive blog reviews and a hugely successful release show in Brooklyn, everyone else moved on. I was devastated. I had been waiting for this moment my whole life and I thought everyone else was waiting as well. It quickly became apparent that they weren’t. Even my closest friends and family may not have listened to the album more than once. I wasn’t picked up by a record label or “discovered.”
I didn’t have what I thought I’d always wanted. What I did have was my own album. Every song was written by me and the artwork and packaging were beautiful. Once in awhile someone would download my album or sing along to a song at a live show. If I had hit the big time my first time out, these may have felt like little things. But for me, there were no little things. Now, as I gear up to complete my third album and begin my life over again in NYC, I vow to you all, my ride or dies, that no matter what happens in my career, I will never miss the little things.