For most of April and May, I was involved in a singer-songwriter competition called DemoTape. Thirteen of us came together every Monday for five weeks to perform one original and one cover, and in the end the winner was chosen by audience participation and level of singing, playing, and writing ability. The much-deserved prize of $1000 went to Jennifer Vazquez, and though I didn't walk away with any cash, I came away with valuable lessons I will never forget:
Owning who you are is one of the most attractive qualities in a musician (or a person).
Being a musician requires resilience. You have to be able to take criticism and learn from it, get over your bruised ego, and bounce back from it. Master the craft of the personal pep talk.
Art isn't playing only the songs that mean something to you. Art is learning to mean the songs that the audience wants to hear.
It doesn't matter how good you are or how many friends you have-- being a sore loser doesn't reflect well on anybody.
Failure is not a setback. Failure is a chance to learn lessons that will continue to propel you forward.
An industry that caters to teenage pop stars is missing out on the real talent. A true artist needs time to develop, pay her dues, and come back to conquer the world before she can show you something truly beautiful. Art that is consistently worked at only gets better with time.
In one way or another, the good guys always win.