Conquering your fears
Overcoming anxiety of releasing your art - now what?
Note: This article reflects particularly towards myself releasing music and my own experience, but this can be portrayed into any form and doesn’t need to be specifically aimed towards musicians. We’re all artists and we all struggle the same at one point or another.
In any form of art, amongst other things, we tend to feel anxiety when the time comes to release it to the world. The fear of putting yourself out there, baring all your emotions and your inner dialogue, for the world to criticize can become overwhelming.
Myself, like many others dealt with the near crippling feeling of putting my work out there because it was an extension of who I am and how I truly felt and the vulnerability of having that available to others was devastating mentally. So, instead of facing that, I made my music and kept it sheltered in files on my computer, hidden from the raw, unforgiving world like an overbearing parent.
Feeling insecure about my art, specifically my vocals, I had convinced myself that I was not a vocalist. I refused to sing under any circumstance and used exceptional excuses for not advancing like “I need to find a singer before I can do anything with my music”. This was a good hiding spot for me emotional because as long as I could say that, I knew that I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying on further than I had.
This sort of thinking was also the very downfall of my music creation and my musical journey. For years I carried on this charade of life altering lies, consistently blaming my lack of finding a vocalist for my inability to be a musician. I was dependent on other people to project me further.
While searching for ways to multi-track record my songs, I stumbled on an app by Bandlab (Not Sponsored), a Singapore-based company that develops a free mobile and online DAW (Digital Audio Workspace). A couple hours of tinkering and I fell in love. Here I had in the palm of my hand, an entire mobile recording software that I was able to record multiple parts for the best possible quality. After researching the company, I had learned that they also make a series of interfaces to plug your instruments directly into so I set out to find the best one for me.
I found and purchased one called the “Link Analog” which is a palm sized interface made specifically for mobile use only. I was nothing short of enthusiastic.
So there I was, able to create the best, highest quality music to my ability and still I was short of vocals because I couldn’t get over that hump. Then, amidst conversations, I had stated I can’t sing and I don’t, when I was asked a simple question.
“Have you ever been told you can’t sing?”
to which of course I replied “no, I haven't”
At that point I was hit with a question that I couldn’t answer.
“If you haven’t been told you can’t then how do you know?”
I took a long pause, a moment to think and when I couldn’t come up with a response, I knew in that moment that I had been fooling myself. Not to say I’m this unreal, legendary vocalist, but instead, somebody that has led myself to believe I’m not good based on my own opinion. That conversation carried on in a capacity that I was not prepared for. With questions like:
“How can you know if your music is good or bad if you never release it”
“You’ll never know if you don't try”
and of course the life altering statement:
“Do you want to look back 10 years from now talking about how you wanted to be a musician when you never tried?”
Point taken. Why keep talking about my music, boasting it with so much pride and yet I do nothing with it other than that.
It was that very moment that I knew all my fears were just MY fears. I had been complimented on the music I made, but never been told anything regarding my vocals because I had never even tried to show them to anyone.
That weekend I set out to do something I never thought I would. I recorded the vocals to a song and hands shaking, full of anxiety, I posted it to Soundcloud. This isn’t some kind of triumphant “and overnight I blew up and my dreams came true” story, but I did receive some lovely feedback and a fair amount of plays. From there, I reluctantly recorded the vocals to another song and posted that one.
With each song I posted, the more confident I got and with the growing confidence I was able to step out of the comfort zone vocally and work on any flaws I had. Song after song, I kept going, happier with each song until one day I sat there realizing that I had completed an album worth of songs and on January 1st, 2021, my debut album “Fast & Folky”, completely written, recorded, performed and mastered by myself was released to Spotify and all streaming sites.
I always wanted to make an album, but never thought I would or even could and realistically I wouldn’t have if I kept using the same excuses that previously plagued my mind. It’s easier to say something than to actually do it, I get that, but what this journey has taught me is this: the fears you have are just that.. YOUR fears. Those fears will continue to haunt you and hold you back if you allow them to. If you spend your whole life afraid to cross the street, you’ll miss what’s on the other side.
Take a deep breath, close your eyes and take that step. It may not be as bad as you feared, it may be exactly what you feared, but either way, not knowing is worse.
“Take a deep breath, close your eyes and take that step.”