Jante's Law is defined as a pattern of group behavior that discourages any person's individual success and achievement within a community. The law can be broken down into ten rules:
1. Don't think you're anything special 2. Don't think you're as good as us 3. Don't think you're smarter than us 4. Don't convince yourself that you're better than us 5. Don't think you know more than us 6. Don't think you are more important than us 7. Don't think you are good at anything 8. Don't laugh at us 9. Don't think anyone cares about you 10. Don't think you can teach us anything
Oh and there's also this cheery unwritten one:
11. Don't think there aren't a few things we know about you
I definitely know some people who follow these rules to a T. Do you?
Whether or not they even realize it, many folks subscribe to this philosophy in usually one of two ways: They have either developed a fear of rising above their peers and consequently being cut down or they are just a jealous prick.
If you haven't already noticed, this fear-based mentality crops up a lot in local music scenes everywhere. A jaded old-timer rambles off why the music industry is a trap to an enthusiastic newcomer who didn't ask for his opinion. "It's all about the money," he wheezes. Hmmm...
Tell me one industry that isn't about the money or one industry that isn't corrupt. If you're looking for a place you can do work that every single person will love and want to pay you for out of total fairness, you're on the wrong planet.
These "well-meaning" characters also seem to be the ones complaining about the down economy, job security, music these days, kids these days and well, you get the point. They are emotional vampires and will suck every last bit of life out of anyone who sticks around long enough to hear about their crappy life. If you get only one thing from this post, let it be this: you need to sweep that garbage to the curb.
What a lot of folks don't realize is that there are many ways to make a living in the music biz, no matter how big or small. You can find a whole community of professional musicians especially in popular US music industry cities like Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville. They wear many "hats" when it comes to making a living as a guitarist, bassist, drummer, etc. Since they are actually the ones in the industry, wouldn't it make sense to ask them for advice?
We've all heard the stories of bands and artists getting ripped off by their record company or dropped three weeks after they're signed. These are the stories that permeate our culture and scare us into thinking we should stick with a "safe" or respectable career and do music on the side. Hey, don't get me - some folks have different aspirations outside of music and that's cool. What isn't cool is people's propensity for giving me advice on why a career in music is unrealistic.
But hey, that's people. If anything, their efforts to discourage or criticize me are boring and predictable. Actually, it seems like the only way to achieve success anywhere involves others getting in their shot at you while you continue to put out new music, play shows or even write a blog entry.
It's like a bucket of crabs: if one crab tries to escape, the other crabs pull it back down. That's called crab mentality but it's not just reserved for crabs as you can witness almost every other day. When you encounter Jante's Law, or Janteloven (its Scandinavian translation), realize that the only reason others are trying to bring you down is because you are already above them.
Janteloven is simply a set of rules that others expect you to follow. And screw that. It's time to create your own "Musicloven", a set of rules that you subscribe to in your musical journey. Try these:
1. I am special 2. I am as good as anybody else 3. I am smarter than others think I am 4. I am going to do better than expected of me 5. I know more than others think I do 6. I am the only person who can do exactly what I do 7. I am good at what I do 8. I can laugh at my own mistakes 9. Others do want me to succeed 10. Others can learn something from me (and I from them) 11. I will surprise others
So where do you stand in all this? Are you proactive in building a foundation for a career in music and have your own Musicloven rule to add below?
Or are you pulling everyone back down with you?
[For more great tips, tricks and a veritable think-tank of information for your musical journey, head on over to Cool Drifter Music Motel.]