The other day I was on Twitter and came across a post by one of my favorite songwriters talking about how we need to get the right things in place to help artists get back on their feet after all of this (insert 2020 life-altering occurrence). What struck me was a response from a person saying that music should be “a hobby after honest work is done.” My whole early life was spent hearing something similar from people; “you’re good at music. It’s too bad that it’s not a realistic career,” “that was good (after playing a show), what do you really want to do with your life though?” I understand that mentality, though; few have been raised being told that music is a viable career option and so when I was young, I bought the line.
These days I know better. Every career you set out to pursue—no matter what it may be—takes the same two ingredients to see it come to life: work hard and don’t be a dick. If you have something you want to do, you find a way, any way, all ways, to do it. Make goals and meet them.
My first time playing live after having not done so in an exceptionally long time as well as after having finally found who I was as a musician was a bit nerve-racking. I had written an album and had only played the songs in the studio (some of them I had only played through once or twice) and now here I was surrounded by wonderful musical talent, in a dimly lit room at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on a dark and cool night in early September minutes from vulnerability. I came alone with a goal; if people hate it, this is the first and last show, if people like it, or even love it, then It’s just the beginning. I’ve enjoyed every step of the journey since that night—even the crappy parts (actually, especially those) because they make you a better person and musician.
Playing those songs that night in early September I realized that there was nothing else I could do better, nothing else I would work harder for. This was my honest work—the most honest.
I wanted to end this by saying that I couldn’t imagine back then where I’d be now—and in some ways that’s true—but I think that, even then, I actually could see what my goals and hard work could bring me to—some things have surprised me, but some I expected of myself. And that’s the thing about honest, hard work, it always leads to something good.
Ben Harold is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and multi-instrumentalist from Milwaukee. Ben tours with his extremely talented band, “The Rising,” and lives for putting on shows that are filled with energy, passion and connection with the audience. Ben Harold & The Rising is a 2020 WAMI nominee for New Artist of the Year.
You can see his music here
Ben is also Community Experience Orchestrator at Wisconsin Music Ventures managing the Patron Program and being an all around sarcastic, yet fun-loving, troll to the rest of the team.