Que Sera Om Shanti

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by Robin Munsonyoga icons

Like Doris Day so famously once said, “Que sera sera.” (Well, Doris sang the lyrics. But  Ray Evans wrote them. It’s like thinking that Barry Manilow wrote “I Write The Songs”.  He didn’t.  Bruce Johnston did.  I’m a lyricist so . . . but I digress!)

Some time ago when Art and I got our BMI statement, it was (by our standards, anyway), a huge stack of pages, the amount paid to us had gone down by a goodly percentage from the previous quarter. It was puzzling — until we learned that the rules had changed yet again. And of course, not to our advantage. (sigh)

When I took the yoga teacher training I was introduced to the concept of kriya yoga.  This, far from being “woo-woo” is a highly pragmatic take on how to effectively create change in your life with the minimal degree of suffering.  It entails three stages (“kriyas”):  Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Isvara Pranidhana.

Tapas means, literally, heat – but also, “contrary action”.  In other words, if you want change you have to do something different than what you have been doing before.  Svadhyaya means “self-reflection” – often with the help of a counselor, a friend, or a teacher.  So although svadhyaya is usually mentioned as the second kriya, I quite agree with my teacher that svadhyaya should probably come before tapas. (Think before you act.)  Finally, the last stage:  Isvara Pranidhana.  This can be translated as “surrendering it to The Universe – or some Higher Power”.  In other words:  First, think about what you want to achieve.  Second, take action.  Third, Let Go..

The third step, in my experience, is the hardest.

What has all this got to do with your PRO statement, you may wonder?

Well, here we are.  We’ve invested heavily in the first two stages.  We have given endless thought to where we would like to take our musical career.  We have consulted with colleagues.  We have studied the market for production music.  That’s “svadhyaya”.  We have spent countless hours in our studios creating the best music we possibly could.  We have invested hard-earned money in the equipment we need to create the music. We have taken the time to create metadata for each piece and scrupulously submitted it according to the stipulations of each music library.  It has been an enormous effort and not without sacrifice. We now turn to the third step.

“But wait!”, I can hear you thinking, “Shouldn’t there be something else?  Before I turn this over to some nebulous Universe that can capriciously squelch all my dreams?!”  To that I would say this:  If there is something else you *can* do, by all means, do that!  If you think you can influence the PROs by calling or petitioning, of course! Do that.  If you think you can send more of your work out to new libraries, by all means!  But at some point, you will realize that you have done all of the “tapas” you can possibly do.  Ready for Step 3?

So what does it mean to “surrender to The Universe – or whatever you personally conceive of as something more powerful than yourself?  It does not mean giving up on your dreams.  It just means that you allow that higher power to take over when you have exhausted all of your resources.  It requires faith.  It requires trusting that somehow, this will all work out in the best possible way.  You will need to be prepared to find out that all your hard work didn’t take you exactly where you had hoped it would.  You will need to be prepared to accept that — and move on, whether to your next cue, your next library, or your next career.  It sounds so simple, and yet I know it’s extremely challenging.  But what is the alternative?

If you hang on to your disappointment, frustration, anger or depression you are bound to suffer.  If you can say to yourself, on the other hand:  “I did my very best and I’m proud of my work.  I can’t control what others may do.” – then you have the opportunity to move forward without the millstone of  suffering hanging around your neck.  Maybe your experience will prompt you to make some changes.  Maybe it will inspire you to try a new musical direction.  Maybe it will strengthen your resolve.  Maybe it will be a catalyst for a change you never could have imagined six months ago.  Maybe you will look back twenty years from now and say, “That was the turning point. . . ”  And maybe you will smile.

“The future’s not ours to see/Que Sera Sera!” Om Shanti. And by the way, “Happy New Year!”

17 Replies to “Que Sera Om Shanti”

  1. There was an old Doritos tagline that went “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.” I often think about that line when reading theses threads. I think that is a good attitude to have as a composer in this business.

    Having said that, I do this full time and average about two tracks per week, just bouncing around from assignment to assignment. Some of those are custom/paid and some are general genre calls, and then of course very rarely I will do a for-the-hell-of-it-purely-from-inspiration track. Some weeks are more and some are less; but I think if I cranked out, say, one per day for a sustained amount of time, the quality would take a nosedive. It is not necessarily that it takes more than a day to come up with a track, but the revisiting of it many times with fresh ears over a period of at least days while making little adjustments and crossing off notes which has been key for me. YMMV

  2. While I am not a person in an addiction recovery, having done addictions counseling, I’ve come to appreciate AA’s 12 steps and the wisdom in them, even as words to live by , regardless whether or not you are in recovery. Wisdom in handing over your illusion of power and control , taking the right steps, and letting the universe/your higher power/ God take the reins.

    1. Amen, Chuck. There is a lot of wisdom in the 12-step programs! And by the way, I highly recommend the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I went through it twice before I realized that it was, in fact, a 12-step program for us creative types. I don’t know if that was her deliberate intention, but in any case – for anyone who has ever had a creative idea – which means everyone – a great book.

  3. Great article, Robin. So basically, royalties are going down, libraries are wanting exclusives more and more, and there are barely any sync fees given anymore. Doesn’t sound so good for the young composer.

    1. Well, from a practical standpoint, it’s hard. On the other hand, I’ve been around the block once or twice, and I don’t remember it ever being easy. Just hard in a different way. I think you have to really love the work in order to persevere. Lord knows, the money is probably not going to be a compelling argument to stick with it. There is no “minimum wage” for composers. (Although it’s good to remember there *are* some composers who do very well and that possibility always exists.)

      1. “(Although it’s good to remember there *are* some composers who do very well and that possibility always exists.)”

        That’s the same principle that keeps people putting quarters in slot machines and buying lottery tickets.

        If you’re in this for the money, there easier ways to make a lot more money.

        If you’re in this to make music, there are more satisfying ways to make music, unless of course you actually like the kind of music editors favor…today. But, if you don’t, it can be torture. Imagine having to write music that doesn’t interest you day in and day out. (one reason that I never got in to jingles).

        “There is no “minimum wage” for composers.”

        In other words, there is no bottom. Technology has democratized the “profession.” As a result, everybody’s in the game, and music has become commodified, which has destroyed it value.

        1. I would add, Tyler, that if you’re young, like in your 20’s, and have few responsibilities, now is the time to go for it.

        2. “That’s the same principle that keeps people putting quarters in slot machines and buying lottery tickets.”

          Very true, Michael. And that helps explain why there are so many young girls out there trying to “make it” as singers, etc. Still, I added that as an aside because I don’t think it’s necessarily a hopeless situation. A few people, for whatever reason – quality of the work being only one of the necessary-but-not-sufficient ones – historically have managed to make a good living from their music. But I do take your meaning. Bottom line – If you love doing this, go into it armed with as much information as you can gather, knowing that in all likelihood it won’t make you rich and famous. But happiness, that’s something else again.

  4. [If you can say to yourself, on the other hand: “I did my very best and I’m proud of my work. I can’t control what others may do.” – then you have the opportunity to move forward without the millstone of suffering hanging around your neck.]

    ——-

    Words to live by!

  5. “It requires faith. It requires trusting that somehow, this will all work out in the best possible way. You will need to be prepared to find out that all your hard work didn’t take you exactly where you had hoped it would. You will need to be prepared to accept that — and move on, whether to your next cue, your next library, or your next career.”

    Very well said Robin. One definitely needs to be prepared for a response that might not be what you expected, or hoped for.

      1. Robin, I’m convinced that there’s a basic Universal purpose for why we don’t know at 20 the things we do when we get older. Nothing would get done!

        When I was in law school I quickly learned that there is a prejudice against hiring older law school grads. At first, I didn’t understand why. We were more mature. Our work was equal to the younger students.

        The answer was pretty simple. The older grads may be less likely to accept law firm culture, of working “young” associates for 80 hour weeks. We could potentially see beyond the “partner” carrot, and perhaps less likely to buy into the dream.

        If I understood the music business at 20, the way I do now, I probably would have done something else. But, at 20,we’re still full of the dreams that keeps us going.

        I’m very comfortable with whatever door the Universe opens.

  6. Nicely put Robin, handing it over to whatever “higher power” you believe in is one of those lessons I learned later in life. Maybe we all do IDK.
    I do remember Art saying something here that really resonated to me, something like “in this business the next gig is literally in the next email or a phone call” I paraphrase of course but that is the reality really, waiting for your PRO statement is very excruciating but a reality in this biz, for me the handing it over is trusting the next one will be better.

    1. Thanks, Denis. Yes, it took me a long, long time to realize that maybe my mother wasn’t right when she said, “You can do anything if you just work hard enough”. Now I know that I can do a lot if I’m willing to work hard at it, but there are limits. I welcome that notion! Wouldn’t it be exhausting to have limitless potential? I would feel morally obligated to work every second of every day! So instead, I do my best, put it out into the Universe, and then trust that somehow, things will work out, even if it doesn’t seem that they will in the moment.

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