How I Innovate: Off the Main Road

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Today we are honored to have up-and-coming musician Voli share his experiences as an artistic innovator.  His thoughts on the challenges and value of pushing boundaries in both music and in life are below. 

The human element is an overbearingly social one. Our notions of societal expectations drive our decisions, consciously or subconsciously. I know, I know. Sounds like the beginning of an unmemorable attempt at a term paper on sociological theory.  Granted, those long university nights filled with Dominos Pizza and collegial procrastination led to some pretty horrible essays. Still, those central theses collectively amount to an everlasting truth: positive change comes with the acknowledgment of social norms and the initiative to think and move outside the realm of those norms.

If I were in my right mind, I wouldn’t be spending time as a struggling artist playing catch-up with monthly bills. I wouldn’t have left my job as a behavior therapist for children to pursue what many would call a pipe dream. My route, however, has been a belligerent veering off the main road of conventionalism. Staying the course most traveled would have involved getting a second degree, saving up for a house, maintaining a cushy career with benefits, and starting a family. I know that no family member or friend of mind would have disagreed with that life layout had I chose it.

Instead, my passion for music has led me down an atypical road of passion and heartache. As a recording artist, one has to comprehend the seemingly insurmountable odds of failing before you even get your foot in the door. I personally know more incredibly talented artists that haven’t attained notoriety than I care to count. I admit, the thought of my fate being the same has snuck in my mind once or twice.

Many alumni that I’ve reunited with over the years, some of which have fervently attended my shows, currently work prestigious jobs with substantial salaries.  Luckily, they’ve been supportive under the notion that my talent is worth fighting for. But, if so many skilled musicians have gone unnoticed, how do I make my mark within this industry? With music being over-saturated with radio-friendly singles, pop culture, and simplistic content, my only choice is to innovate.

The same personal life issue of choosing passion over doing what was more socially acceptable ironically applies to the music itself. And what have I done in a medley of catchy hooks and mediocre chord progressions? I’ve littered my tracks with instrumental interludes, abstract lyricism, and self-reflective content. Butting my head against a wall is what I do best.

voli-wallsamplerAll jokes aside, I’m not doing this on purpose. Music is art. Art is meant to be visceral and evoke a variety of emotions. In other words, it’s what I feel. And as long as that feeling remains, I can tolerate the politics of it all. With social media at the forefront of the current and previous generations, a voice like mine can be heard more clearly than ever, with these feelings unfiltered.

With these technological outlets aligning with mainstream pop culture on an international level (ie Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) a new wave of artistry has emerged as well. Artists override the slowly decaying business models of the past by releasing commercially successful records without promoting a proven radio single prior. Independent labels are selling units well past the majors that once monopolized the music industry. Joint ventures between musicians and companies are expanding in ways never before possible. Because these creative people have more control over their branding and music, the work itself has yielded more innovation.

I’m concluding that these artists that have attained success did so by understanding the climate surrounding them and manipulating it with innovative strategy. Studio recording sessions are too expensive? Well then, I’ll build my own studio and audio engineer myself. I can’t distribute my album physically? OK, I’ll put it online for free download and recoup by touring. Labels won’t give me a second look? Fine, I’ll make awesome music videos on a budget and accrue so many views that executives won’t have a choice but to call me.

These are all strategies I’m in the process of implementing myself and they’ve presented me with opportunities to work with creative people I greatly admire. Ultimately, my master innovation is making the music that connects. I express my struggles as human being and artist lyrically in my own unique manner hoping to relate to the next man/woman. My objective is to inspire. If you can connect with me through this medium, maybe I can inspire you to do something outside the norm. Something passionate, daring, and unexpected. This revolves to a full circle, because if my plan succeeds, I will have inspired a whole generation to follow their dreams in a world where dreams tend to only last till morning. How’s that for innovation.

Thank you Voli!  If you want to hear what innovation sounds like for Voli, check out the video below.

Have a great weekend everyone and maybe take a few moments to think about how you can channel your passion for education to do something passionate, daring, and unexpected.

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Categories: Innovation Series

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