Finding Your Special Success in Music: The Secret Sauce

Finding your meaningful niche in music (and earn income)

“I’m in marketing.” (image source)

Humans of New York are amazing.

They are photos of people from the streets of New York.

I am in love with the stories embedded in those photos.

The photographer, Brandon Stanton, is now an NYT best-selling photographer.

Once in a while, doppelgängers meet each other through the enigmatic photos. Some personas keep returning.

In particular, this type of story strikes my insides:

Finding your meaningful niche in music (and earn income)

“When I was 20, I made a plan to get a good job and be secure. Now I’m 35, and I need a plan to be happy.”

She is financially secure, trying to figure out how to be happy; I don’t want her to be a projection of me. Except, I’m not photogenic.

From teaching music in public schools, moving the party to my own studio, to becoming a graphic designer in functional design, I’ve stayed away from the I need a better life moment.

I’m terrified. I don’t want people to desert me because I stopped doing music everyday, especially when I’m stumped, or when my team is stabbing angry pencils at each other.

But I’ve found something special and I’d love to share it.

Finding your special success

Success is related to happiness. And the quality of your thoughts. When you discover what makes you happy, and shift your mindset accordingly, you’ll open the door to be successful.

Grace Miles Graphic Design - Tamara Logo Sketches

My sketches for Tamara’s logo design.

I’m an easy-going person; I see the big picture quickly and I like helping people.

Designing is a good task for me because new projects keep coming up: I research new fields, invent a million concepts, be creative.

I don’t like robotic tasks. When I was an indie teacher, I kept records and collected tuition. My classes overflowed with students, but those things wore me down; I didn’t want to manage a music school.

People commented that I was “young and successful.”

I didn’t feel successful. I was tired and the studio wasn’t perfect; an awkward, too-tall table hugged the wall and the chairs didn’t match.

I had a busy studio in North America’s most expensive city and I should’ve been proud. Everyone thought I was successful, except myself.

You will not be happy if you cannot come to peace with your progress. The success does not feel real if you cannot be happy, even if you reach a goal.

Grace Miles Graphic Design - Tamara Logo

Tamara’s final logo design.

To me, designing is meaningful. I help people look good and earn a higher income, while being creative.

The key is to find your niche of meaningful work. Carve it out, and move into it.

Your idea of meaningful is not the same as someone else’s.

Music is a broad industry. Performing solo music is only meaningful for some people. There is stress and doubt from the practice room to the stage, although it can feel amazing to showcase your passion.

Few people are naturally comfortable onstage, but if performing is meaningful to you, then you should work at it.

If not, you can teach music. Or make an app that teaches music. Evan has a nice sight reading service. The mainstream music apps section is lacking. You don’t even need to code; just get an idea and gather people to develop for you.

Most people get stuck when they practice too much or practice the wrong way. Stop practicing if you’re stuck. Taking a break means you’ll return with new ideas; staying stuck means you’ll get frustrated.

If all else fails, find good friends and spend time with your family. Studies find that being in a close circle makes you happier, and this study says that happy people make better decisions.

It starts with a choice.

Doing it right: finding your secret sauce

When you do things that feel meaningful, the prospect of failure has a smaller impact on your mindset, so you’ll brave more challenges.

Have you ever wondered why 90% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years?

The truth is, all businesses struggle in their first 5 years. Even big companies, like Apple, struggled in the beginning. You just have to get through that. If the work is not meaningful, then you will let something fold the business.

Top performers are mostly at the top of their game because they’ve found meaningful work.

We get happiness from the way we view the world and whether we feel meaningful in our everyday lives– if we feel that we make a difference.

If you’re doing something meaningful, and you’re smart about it, your income will increase.

This is about finding success and happiness, and braving uncertainty.

People are often confused about money and happiness. Money gives possibilities, not direct happiness. You can buy a candied apple (stuff your face) or go to the gym (get in shape). Live a good life.

If you are confused, let’s find something meaningful to do.

6 Comments

Want more of this?

Get fresh life stories, music tips, and leadership inspiration in your inbox each week, by joining below!

  • Wil April 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Hello. My father says that he have 10, 000$ to spend for a business, and is asking me what kind of business I would like to do. But I have no idea what would be good, I don’t even know what I like… We are currently running a general store.

    • Grace Miles April 3, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Hey, Wil. Thanks for the comment. Here are a few things to think on for starting a business and getting a business idea:

      a) What are you passionate about? What are you good at? I would start there. I’ve created 4 businesses and I loved each at a certain point in time because they were either based on a passion or expertise. Of course, starting a business (getting it off the ground) and maintaining a growing business is two different things, and you might like to think about your role in the business according to the type of business you’d like.

      b) Product or service?

      c) Location: where you live, what type of business is strong in that area (e.g. Tech startups? Finance?), and whether you’d join them or provide something different. As in, they are thriving for a reason; your business will be affected by these giants. If you’re thinking of an internet business, location would not matter as much, in general.

      Does that help?

      • Wil April 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm

        Thank you for the reply. That’s what I’m troubled about I have no idea what I’m passionate about nor I have any idea what business do well (I live in Panama if that gives you an idea).

        I’m almost a shut-in. working on a general store is really time consuming… And I don’t really like to socialize, and I have 0 knowledge in life and business.

        In one of your articles you posted a site to a personality test. I’m an ISFP if that gives you some sort of idea of how I am.

        My father is currently looking up locals that are on sale. And he is mostly looking jobs that are succesful among my other family members. Well just hardware store. And the others are cellphone stores, cybercafe and computer store.

        I don’t know… Could you please give me some suggestions? I don’t think a ‘whatever-store’ is fit with my personality…

        • Grace Miles April 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

          Hi Wil! Why don’t you take some time to explore a few interests first? It sounds like you might need to get to know yourself a bit better before you jump into an industry or business idea. Business is stressful in itself– being in a business you don’t love, is worst.

          I can already think of a business idea from this. If you go travel around your city exploring, and document all this on a blog (to find your interests), you’ll get into the travel industry in the end.

          ISFPs are, in general, quite spontaneous and enjoy change. If you’re an ISFP, it’s likely stifling to be shut in at a general store. (Or, you’ve identified a part of the general store as an ‘ultimate goal’, and you’re putting all your energy into this.)

          ISFPs are creative, free-spirits, so you’ll find it helpful to be in business with a partner. Rather than running a whatever-store, you’ll likely enjoy a type of hub or shared-workspace setting more. An internet business would likely be enjoyable for you as well. A place where the rules are not as limiting and people are free to do as they please.

          • Wil April 8, 2014 at 5:51 am

            Thank you, Grace. I will look into it. Sorry for wasting your time.

        • Grace Miles April 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

          Hey Wil, you’re welcome. And please don’t think of it that way– feel free to reach out if you need anything else. I’ll be happy to see what I can do. In fact, I’d love to hear about it when you find a hobby or passion! :)