Brett Randell – artist, writer, musician, and gypsy weighs in on the creative process
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
CBN: You are a musician, an entrepreneur and a writer. What drives you?
Ah… I think anyone pursuing entrepreneurship or art is continuously (and forever) trying to “make it work” — whether they’re new to the game or if they won a grammy or just raised $50 million in funding.
That said, I attribute “making the process work” to three things: discipline, deep research, and hard work.
The only way a creative or entrepreneurial life seems to work is with a ‘secret sauce’ of these three ingredients:
Massive discipline and structure: (for me: daily 1.5-2hr morning routine, a wild and complex Google calendar, working disciplined 8:30-4:30pm even though I can technically “work my own hours and from wherever”, and creating organized chunks of time for work and creativity).
Endless deep research on how others have done it and how to be better at your craft
(for me: reading biographies of great artists and entrepreneurs, reading art craft and business strategy books daily, reading how to make a freelance business life + writing/music life work). Also, courses, trainings, and finding mentors (both in creativity and business). I take copywriting/business strategy courses and I go to the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop for fiction in Denver.
Hard, hard work. It could be easy to be “lazy” and do nothing when you have no boss, but you are your work engine. As any great motivational coach or speaker says, the key to success is “hunger”. Whether you’re trying to create a tech startup, paint the best painting, or write the next great american novel… the thing that “makes it work” and “keeps you going” through the chaos is hunger to move forward—through the mistakes, the failures, and the successes.
CBN: I’ve experienced your music. It’s mind blowing, yet soothing. What is your process for creating music and words — and how is it related or distinct from your business life?
Ah, thank you! My process for creating music is a flowy ongoing process of travel, humming melodies, and writing down lyrical ideas at every chance. It’s definitely not linear. Whether I’m hiking in Colorado, playing at a yoga festival in Europe, or just chilling in my bedroom—I let the tone of the chords/music dictate the feel of the song which then moves into the lyrics.
I usually write the first verse and chorus in like 20-30minutes… and then it can take me years to truly finish a song. Occasionally a song gets knocked out in a couple hours. Sometimes, like my song “Rise” it can take 4 years to complete.
With fiction writing… it’s just “butt in chair” and “pen to page” every day as I continue to work on the draft of my novel.
With business… it’s the endless task of “being focused” and minimizing distractions to creative productivity (which is tough in this social media-distracted world), constantly educating myself on new (and traditional) business disciplines and marketing strategies, and most importantly… doing great work for clients.
CBN: You’re currently writing a fiction book in addition to traveling the world, playing guitar in hot yoga studios and generally being a gypsy. How did you know this was your calling? What was your a-ha moment? where are your goals and your vision?
I come from a very artsy and travely family so it’s always been in my DNA. My family traveled to the Amazon Rainforest in Venezuela when I was 11 and that really cracked open my travel guts. We continued to travel around South America throughout my teens and then from 20-30 years old I just solo-traveled all around the world with my guitar in hand, playing music and meeting all the amazing humans of this planet.
My brother and sister are also both musical and creative. My grandmother was a semi-famous child blues singer in NYC in the 20s and 30s so it’s all just wrapped in our DNA.
The A-Ha moment —> when I graduated college and was about to pursue a life of business in NYC… I went with my gut, packed my bags, and moved to Austin to be a musician. I always follow my intuition (mixed with heavy research and deep work) to navigate what moves I should take next. So that’s what got me from gypsy traveling musician to remote-working entrepreneur to now a more “settled” fiction writer.
Right now, everything in my gut leads towards the novel, so I’ve settled more and am focusing on that. The gypsy days are winding down and the fiction writing days are expanding.
Most entrepreneurs and startups struggle with the fear of failure. How has this impacted your career? How have you managed it?
The journey always continues. Now I’m just obsessed and swimming in the wild entrepreneurial life so I’m all about that startup mantra of, “Fail. Fail again. Fail some more. Oh, and while you’re at it… Fail.”
I shifted my view on the fear of failure back in 2009 when I decided to move away from the “comfortable life” of working in business in Manhattan… and packed up to move to Austin to be a musician and where I got my first job working in the Sexy section of a costume shop.
Failure is just a natural process of both business and art. Fail. Pivot. Learn. Re-flect. Re-Implement. Failing again. And then some days you realize “Woah, there are a bunch of successes in there!”
CBN: Why are the creative industries, like music, important on a global scale? what is the impact?
I truly believe art is everything. Life is quite chaotic and wild and full of suffering and any form of art (writing, painting, sculpture, film, etc) gives us a pause and powerful emotional experience throughout that wild thing called life.
Whether you’re a king or a pauper—everyone needs art. It’s why you have the old poor guy slinging blues tunes on the street of New Orleans OR you have the richest people in the world constantly searching to put the best, most emotive art in their penthouses.
Kings come and go. But to this day, people still travel across the world to go to a museum and see what that king had lining the walls of his palace.
Art (and creation) is what is most important to humanity.
CBN: You are in a unique position to have a positive impact on the world (and individual people) with your music and your words and your story. What can startups learn from your experience?
Thanks for sharing that. When you’re in the daily grind, you’re never sure of what you’re doing or what impact you’re making.
I believe startups can learn to proactively blend both creativity and business. It’s kind of my mission to prove that you can be a successful business person and a successful artist. You can be “business-focused” and still be wildly artistic and creative. You can be a “weird and creative artist” and still be grounded in business strategy and marketing.
Both are vital, blend into one another, and are important to a stable growth of business and art.
I guess just go soak in more art and continue to learn business!
CBN: What is your advice to creatives wanting to start businesses? It’s a challenge to raise funding when you consider yourself a creative. how do we overcome that perception?
For creatives to start a business: Make sure you dive deep into learning the basics of business. Or, if you’ve got a solid foundation of business, continue to study, immerse yourself, and grow. Go deep into marketing (digital and traditional), basic finance and accounting, general sales strategy, etc.
There’s been this historical stigma and story that artists/creatives should “just be creative (and poor)” but every artist and creative had a team of business people around them to promote and market their creations.
I was super lucky to study business for undergrad and then go massively deep into art right after.
In regard to funding — everything in life is mindset and story. If you think it’s going to be a negative challenge, it will be. If you shift your mindset to “I’m gonna go raise some damn money” – you’ll make it happen.
I raised $12,000 for my music kickstarter in 2015 (and worked hard and studied crowdfunding strategy for 2 years leading up to it) and I know plenty of musicians who raised $15,000-20,000+ and important note… they did that all with a smart business strategy and mindset backing their passion.
It’s all about the balance.
About the Author
Brett Randell is a soulful singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur based out of Denver, CO. He recently released his 3rd CD “Rise” and has toured across Europe, the US, and Central America. For the full experience here’s a video of Brett’s music from a song called Rise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDAfvtQHXvQ