What's A Picture Worth?
This picture changed my life. It was taken with the webcam in late 2007. As soon as it appeared on the screen I loved it. Instantly, the title, "Where I Went Wrong" popped into my head.
I wasn't doing well when I took it and though people have pointed out how bad I looked I love the picture. It really captures a period of my life.
In my right hand I have an airplane bottle of Redrum. I only drank Redrum because it's murder backwards and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony always rapped about it. I could drink the little bottles I called cupcakes without a chaser. They were fairly cheap and I'd drink a few a day as treats. Hence the nickname, cupcakes.
This photo sparked an idea. It caused that title, "Where I Went Wrong" to plant itself in my brain and that little seed grew for 6 years until I actually had an album with the title "Where I Went Wrong" in my hands.
I started on this new idea instantly and though I'd been tinkering with beats and drum machines, recording people, etc for years but I never had a real title for a real body of work.
I was late to the computer home recording game, but had a dell that was maxed out with songs Mark and I made with whoever was around at the time. One of many problems were that not one song was actually finished. We had hundreds of pieces of songs but not one complete song.
In the middle of nowhere and without youtube there's really no one to teach a guy how to do things simply. Every little piece of unfinished music came the hardest way possible. I was individually loading drum sounds for 15 mins before I could even start and spent a fortune on D batteries because the keyboard I used had a broken power supply. A couple summers I filled a small trashcan with used up D batteries.
Once I moved to Wichita and my head was clearer I started slugging out songs and actually finishing them. They were terrible but I had an A team, B team and C team. Each team was a playlist and I started knocking old stuff out for newer, better material.
In early 2010 I saved up about $1300, which I referred to as my "cd money", but used it to buy a car. That kept me from moving forward with a project that wasn't there.
Mixing, producing and recording an album from scratch was harder than I thought so I switched gears and made the "Mind of A MadMan Mixtape". The beats were known songs and it was easier to make.
"MOAMMM" was a total failure so I decided to lease beats and make a few torelease a EP called "One Day At A Time". I had less skin in the game and it felt safer. I used the picture planned for WIWW and just put it out. No one really listened of course and it wasn't that good but it gave me the confidence to really go after the WIWW idea.
Meeting Scott Martz made the WIWW idea come to fruition and he was irreplaceable. We were roommates and he was a brilliant musician and guitar player. We made a plethora of ideas (most of which I ruined) but he added the much needed musical experience I just didn't have.
A lot of people contributed to it and it was a work in progress for years before it sold like 78 copies on iTunes. (which was a let down and big deal at the same time) My brother contributed a lot as did a slew of other people who were extremely patient with me.
My point is that ideas have to grow. An album, "Where I Went Wrong" didn't just materialize because of a cool picture. It was a process and it had to grow and develop. These creative adventures take twice as long and cost twice as much but I've learned to be patient with it.
Brandon Mills helped me put it out. At one point it was slashed to a preview EP and later almost a double disc "Where I Went Wrong" and "When I Went Right".
These things seem to say, "I'm done" and that was that. The rest wasn't history because no one really listened but that didn't matter. 6 years prior it was just a picture and an idea from some drunk idiot in front of a webcam.
Earl Nightingale defines success as "the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal." Judging the projects success or failure along those lines it was a smashing success.
People still enjoy WIWW, the videos are still getting played and I still make $20 a year from royalties. Sometimes someone will try and joke with me or attempt to poke fun at me, "remember where I went wrong?". I just smile and play it off because they can't fathom how failure it took to get there.
I got out of WIWW exactly what I put in it. Nothing less, nothing more and it pays in ways that don't show up on view counts or royalty statements. It can't be measured in popularity or money. The experience is a tool I apply all the time.
Everyone has some sort of boulder they're carrying up a mountain and that's the whole point. The journey is the reward. The struggle, not the destination.
So pick up your damn boulder. Once you get to the top it sucks anyway so head back down and grab a bigger one.