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Victims do not accomplish their goals; they make excuses. Empowered artists are agents who take it upon themselves to define, develop and sustain their art as well as their careers.

THE FIRST WEAKEND PLANNER OF ANOTHER LONG, HOT SUMMER

While Je-C Is on His Honeymoon, J.J. and Barrett Helpfully Hold Down the Fort
CALENDAR
Fri. June 22nd
8 p.m.
Boyz II Men @ House of Blues Sunset

Sparta @ Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

Yellowcard @ Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH

9 p.m.
Fiction Plane @ Viper Room, West Hollywood

Poison and Ratt @ Bay City River Roar, Bay City, MI

Sat. June 23rd
8 p.m.
Fall Out Boy, + 44, Paul Wall and more @ The Forum, L.A.

The Police w/ Foo Fighters @ Dodger Stadium

9 p.m.
Too Short @ House of Blues Sunset

Grant Lee Phillips @ Largo, L.A.

Kids in the Hall @ UCLA

The Polyphonic Spree @ The Granda Theater, Dallas

Saliva @ Town Ballroom, Buffalo

10 p.m.
Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes @ B.B. Kings, N.Y.

Ian Hunter @ The Highline Ballroom, N.Y.

JoAnna Conner @ Kingston Mines, Chicago

Tommy Tutone @ Cans Music Stage, Chicago

Sun. June 24th
8 p.m.
Fair to Midland @ House of Blues Chicago

9 p.m.
Skinny Puppy @ House of Blues Anaheim

ARTIST EMPOWERMENT IN THE NEW MUSIC INDUSTRY
The Victim and the Agent
By Barrett Yeretsian

Victim n:
1. Somebody who experiences misfortune and feels helpless to do anything about it.
2. Somebody who is tricked or taken advantage of.

Agent n:
1. The means by which an effect or result is produced.
2. One who has the means to accomplish one's objectives.

If you had to guess, which of the two do you think the typical musician identifies with?

Last week, we delved into the more obvious, often conflicting assumptions that artists have: the goals of sharing their music with others, feeling accepted, making money in the music industry and perpetuating the artist's mystique. We can only map out our course once we know the terrain. Today, our terrain is a bit more abstract.

Life on earth is an interesting phenomenon. Each of us inhabits our own physical place on a rock that is flying through an infinitely expanding space. In our own heads, we create and imagine our own reality in which we play a number of roles, usually the roles we are most comfortable playing. We can be victims, agents, villains, saints, heroes or anything we choose. Often, the roles we play in our own mental motion pictures have absolutely nothing to do with reality and the forces that actually affect the real world.

One characteristic that is prevalent in an overwhelming majority of artists with whom I have come in contact is a sense of victimhood. For many, the world is a dangerous place where nothing pans out as it should. These people are passive bystanders watching the events of a perplexing world unfold before their unassuming eyes. The world acts upon them and they are in survival mode. They take comfort in thinking of themselves as victims, for they have no responsibility for their actions or inactions when they have no capacity to influence the world.

An agent, on the other hand, sees himself or herself as an active participant in the world and assumes responsibility for the way things are. Agents see the world as place of endless opportunity and believe that they have the ability to influence it. In their minds, they aren't victims, they are accountable for their results and find ways to achieve their goals. Agents are often realistic individuals who know their strengths and work hard to improve upon their weaknesses. By doing so, they are constantly learning from their mistakes, moving forward and making an impact on the world.

The record companies blame illegal downloads as the cause of their failing business model, and artists blame record companies for why they aren't advancing in the music industry. Everyone blames everyone else, as the circular patterns of victimhood repeat. In either camp, there are only a handful of visionaries with enough clairvoyance and foresight to see themselves as agents who can affect positive change.

True, the times are tough and we are charting unknown waters, but the visionaries are already hard at work imagining new, better ways to achieve their objectives. Everyone else will react a few months too late and yet again become the victims of a new, unfamiliar, cruel world. Victims do not accomplish their goals; they make excuses. Empowered artists are agents who take it upon themselves to define, develop and sustain their art as well as their careers.

Once we expose the remaining assumptions and characteristics of artists in the coming weeks, we can begin the process of uncovering how to break free from an artist's self-imposed chains. In next week's column, "The Mythical Battle of the Right Brain vs. the Left Brain," we will dispel a common misconception and reveal the artist's very narrow comfort zone.

Barrett is currently producing several very talented artists, composing for film and television, performing with and writing songs for several of his own projects and teaching the drums at all levels. He welcomes and encourages any and all feedback relating to his column. You can email him at: [email protected]

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