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The Invisible Common Denominator.

I’m known in the music industry for doing thorough research. Some of my research projects have spanned more than a thousand hours each. This particular journey led me to discover something I call vice watch. Let me explain.

A lot of my research began while I myself was being mentored and apprenticed by some of the most admired names in the music industry; Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Phil Ramone, Steve Lillywhite and more.

There is a definite common denominator that has been practiced by all of my mentors. That common denominator when I tell you may sound wrong, or too trite and simple at first glance to even mention.

So often it seems that the actual power of truth is made invisible by the effective mask called simplicity.

I’ve grown enough wisdom over the years to learn something fascinating. The more simple a truth, the harder it is to see. And yet when discovered and applied it becomes life changing.

The Simple Truth

The common denominator of all my mentors was not just that they NEVER GAVE UP, it was HOW THEY NEVER GAVE UP.

“Don’t give up.” I know, you’ve heard it a million times before. No need to write another article about it. Right?

Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe this article shines a new light on a trite subject that could help save your career.

I took that simple truth, “Don’t give up,” and researched the hell out of it until I could deliver to my students a WAY of never giving up that worked every single time it was applied.

Like most discoveries, I found it when I needed it most (necessity IS the mother of invention after all). Vice watch.

There was a time in my career (actually TIMES) I felt totally overwhelmed. I felt I could NOT keep going with my home studio, that I could not keep going with my music career. Too many challenges and problems all happening at one time. I call these times in my life my “Trial & Terror” days. (Months is more like it).

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Challenges and Problems

See if you can relate to any of these challenges and problems which can, when added up, create the feeling of overwhelm. Especially when you sit down to work on that one thing that should be giving you complete joy in your home studio: music!

  • Computer Frustrations
  • Financial Stress
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Relationship Drama and Family Stress
  • Certain People in Your Life Pulling You Down
  • Contrary & Confusing Tutorials, Lessons and Courses on Music Production
  • Not Enough Time to Learn Enough About Your DAW
  • Not Enough Time to Make Your Recordings Sound Polished
  • Lack of Confidence In Your Ear
  • Lack of Confidence In Yourself as an Artist, Musician, Producer, Engineer
  • Lack of Confidence in Yourself as a Person
  • Stress from Your Day Job
  • Not Having Enough Good Contacts
  • Not Getting Any Breaks in Your Career
  • Too Much Time Needed for Social Media Promotion and Distribution
  • Too Many Distractions on the Internet and Social Media
  • Health Problems Arising from All of the Above

How & Why I Never Gave Up With My Home Studio

I’m going to save you time by getting straight to the bottom line. One thing I know for sure: If you are still reading this article you don’t have time to waste.

Over the years, I developed a way of mentoring and apprenticing as a Life Coach that always works for my students when followed.

From my direct observation, this approach parallels HOW my mentors kept going. HOW they never gave up.

It has to do with character and responsibility.

Vice Watch – A Step-By-Step Approach to “Self-Serve” Life Coaching

You can do this on your own. If you have trouble mustering up enough discipline to maintain this approach — collaborate with someone and help each other through.

This approach to Life Coaching is called “Vice Watch,” so named by one of my students, Robin Kaye of Australia, after he found success by following it.

STEP ONE:

Make a list of all the conceivable vices in which humans could engage on this planet.

Definition of Vice:

A Vice is a practice, behaviour, or habit generally considered wrong, immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, a vice can refer to a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, or a bad or unhealthy habit.

This is a very personal step. Everyone’s list will be different.

Divide the list into two categories: ACTION and INACTION.

Important Note: Pay close heed to the definition of Inaction: Lack of action where action is expected or appropriate.

Here are a few of many possible examples:

A List of All Possible Human ACTION VICES
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Taking Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Gambling in Life (Taking Stupid Risks and Knowing It)
  • Putting Oneself Down
  • Stealing
  • Cheating
  • Lying
  • Being Rude to Others
  • Bad Sportsmanship
  • Eating Junk Foods
  • Eating Too Much
  • Releasing Music Knowing It’s Not Done Yet
  • Excessive Time On Social Media
  • Excessive Time Playing Video Games
  • Using Cracked Software and Plug-Ins
  • Etc., etc., etc.
All Possible Human INACTION VICES
  • Ignoring One’s Children, Spouse, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Family, etc.
  • Neglecting Needed Paperwork (Taxes, Licensing Contracts, etc.)
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding One’s DAW
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding Music Theory
  • Not Educating Oneself Daily Regarding (Fill In The Blank)
  • Not Exercising
  • Not Sleeping Enough
  • Procrastinating (List Specific Areas of Life)
  • Giving Up on One’s Dreams
  • Etc., etc., etc.

STEP TWO:

Look over your list of ACTION VICES and INACTION VICES in Step One above.

Place a checkmark next to the vices that you consider apply to you. Be as honest as possible.

STEP THREE:

Rate each vice that you have checked off using the following system:

The lowest Minus 10 up to the highest Plus 11.

Keep your list and your ratings written down and updated on a weekly basis.

How the Rating System Breaks Down

Minus 10 means the particular vice in question is literally ruining your life. Regardless of how things look on the outside to others, you know honestly that that Vice is literally ruining your life. Left unchecked, other areas of your life will get worse.

As you improve each vice that you checked off, the numbers will move closer towards zero. Minus 10, minus 9, minus 8, etc.

Zero = Vice conquered.

A Zero means the vice in question is no longer a problem in your life – at all. Period. Gone. Vanquished. This is a big deal and can take some time to accomplish. The point is to work on this vice watch daily, and to note down your ratings weekly. Some people go so far as to note down their ratings daily.

Collaborations

When collaborating (which is a great way to hold yourself and another accountable) there is no need or pressure to share what your vices are. Simply assign each vice a letter, such as A, B, C, D – and a number. All you have to do is let your collaborator know the letter of your vice and the number rating for the week. Some people are OK with sharing what their vices are, some are not. I found that even if one keeps their vices to themselves and shares only letters, this approach still works just as well.

What the Positive Numbers Mean

During my initial research, I set up this approach to life coaching where conquering one’s vice was the final goal and the end of the game.

And then I discovered something that changed my life.

Once you reach zero (vice conquered), it’s now time to help OTHERS conquer THEIR vices. Therefore, a Plus One means you have conquered your vice and are now actively helping one other person conquer that same vice.

Plus Two means you are actively helping two other people conquer that same vice, and so on (Plus Three, Plus Four, Plus Five, etc.) Once you get to Plus Ten (meaning you are actively helping ten other people conquer that same vice), there is one more level up you can achieve: Plus Eleven.

The Goal

Plus Eleven means you are actively helping more than ten other people conquer that same vice.

What is the goal of this approach to Life Coaching?

The Goal is to improve your “numbers” until you achieve an eleven on each of your vices.

Why does this work so well?

I learned from my Mentors that life is a group activity. One cannot be an island and truly achieve one’s potential. You need a team.

Just improving yourself IS NOT ENOUGH.

However, you can’t just “build a team” either, you’ve got to work on yourself as well. You see the balance here?

In my online course The Lucrative Home Studio, I lay out exactly how to build your team by hiring interns, and how to help them achieve their goals and dreams – by being PART OF A TEAM.

Besides the legendary mentors I listed earlier, I was also very lucky to apprentice under the team that supports 25 Time Grammy Award Winning Legendary Musician Chick Corea (Nominated 51 Times!). For two years I learned an incredible amount of wisdom about how to run a business in the music industry and how to organize your personal life and professional life. One reference shared with me, which has helped me successfully apprentice many musicians around the world, is a common sense guide to morals called The Way To Happiness.

The Results

The results are nothing short of life changing and mind-blowing. What this does to someone’s music career can only be described as miraculous. That is all I can say. Here is one of many testimonials I recently received:

“Gary, as important as everything you have taught me about music and music production truly is, I NEVER thought this seemingly unrelated and counterintuitive approach to shattering the “glass ceiling” of my career would result in achieving not only my goals in the music industry (including making more money!), but going way above and beyond what even I believed my potential for success was! I was ready to GIVE UP FOR GOOD. In fact, I had already started packing up my studio. Thank you is not enough! I’m giving back by working hard on a daily basis to get my Vice Watch “numbers” up to eleven!”

Summary

I found that when people give up on their home studios and/or their music careers, it’s usually the result of not working hard enough at strengthening themselves, followed by not building up a team for real. The secret is to work on both at the same time. That’s how you achieve success you can bank on.

When people work on both at the same time, their lives achieve a much better balance, and they become what I call “magnets for miracles.” And many of those miracles show up in the form of unexpected music career successes.

You can see the results of not addressing your vices show up in the following ways; distractions pulling your focus away from what you are doing, feeling exhausted, repeating the same mistakes over and over, not able to persist on an action until it’s truly done, allowing others to pull you down, and ultimately — giving up.

The Vice Watch approach to Self-Serve Life Coaching is an amazingly simple and effective insurance plan against giving up.

The bottom line is this — give it a try. Do it. And let me know how it goes. You might be pleasantly surprised. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help along the way.

I’m always here to listen and to help.

I do believe this article is the most important article I will probably ever write. I am, in essence, working right now on getting my Vice Watch “numbers” up to eleven by helping you!

My personal mission statement is simple. “To create a Renaissance in the entertainment industry which will then create a Renaissance in the world culture.”

Here’s to a balanced life which leads to a productive and successful music career for you!

That’s what we are trying to do at the New Artist Model.

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Written by Gary Gray creator of The Lucrative Home Studio. Out of his one bedroom home studio, he’s completed major projects for The Disney Music Group and 20th Century Fox, CBS Daytime Television, A&E, Megatrax, EMI Production Music London, and others. 

Check out Gary's free Mastering Music for Licensing and Streaming webinar

Check out Gary’s free “Mastering Music for Licensing and Streaming” Webinar

For more information regarding revolutionary approaches to life and music production for the home studio developed by Gary, check out The Lucrative Home Studio.

If you want to work directly with Gary, sign up to get one of your songs critiqued.

A version of this post was also published on the Tunecore blog.