April 1, 2020 by Jason Phillips
When i was 25 i decided to start making music and stop being a door to door salesman.
My friend sat me down and said your too old to start now.
I thought fuck it let’s go. Nothing motivates me like someone telling me i cant.
He was probably right.
Im 43 now. And I have nothing. Im broke. blagging my way along in life. nothing to show for my efforts.
but what effort? Let’s break it down.
Dont get me wrong. ive had a great time, an amazing wonky journey of friendships and enemies and chaos and adventure.
almost 9 years of Sicknote, traipsing over the UK and Europe touring the punk rave circus and building an army of party heads. Was a great time.
DJed all over too. And now Clusterfuck just put out their third album, a much darker project, born from anger at the loss of old times, old friends and previous ways of life. And now morphing into a slamming dark surreal show all of its own.
Sober now and still plugging away I was reminded recently of Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ where he talks of the 10000 hour rule. I think he nicked it off someone else, not sure who so cant credit the original source. In Outliers he uses the Beatles as one of his examples.. Talking of all the hours of jamming and playing live, mainly drug fuelled, in their Hamburg days. They snorted bucket loads of cheap speed to help them through their regular 3 hour performences, sometimes much longer, usually 3 times a day. For years. No one in the world was playing this much. They became EXPERTS in their field in a few short years. And this is what the 10k hour rules argues. In order to become a success, a true pro, you need to put in 10,000 focussed hours of deep work.
It got me thinking why i hadn’t seen much success, although on some levels I had a taste of success, none of it has been financial and in the grand scheme of things my projects were tiny and overall unheard of. ie underground. not to say i want to be the next beyonce, and not to discredit anything i done with my old projects, as i loved them just as they were. But everyone wants to at least make a living from their work and we barely scraped that even in the heights of our popularity. Why was this? Surely i had worked my ass off and where was the results!?
I installed an app on my computer years ago called Time Track Pro.. and even though my computer has changed several times and is now a hybrid of about 5 different machines all at least 8 years old.. (hence being called Mr Tusk), i must have used the same operating system somehow as covertly the app has been tracking my every move for 6 years plus.
So i have very accurate figures as to how much time ive spent in my production software in the last few years. I dont have any figures before that, and i think i tend to go through phazes of crazy hours then zero hours of creativity. so very hard to say. But i started making music in November 2001. I was 25.. Its now 2020. Im 43. Wasted life? Dunno…. lets look at how hard i’ve actually worked.
here are the figures…
31/3/14 – 31/3/15: 201 hours
31/3/15 – 31/3/16: 145 hours
31/3/16 – 31/3/17 165 hours
31/3/17 – 31/3/18: 167 hours
31/3/18 – 31/3/19: 0 hours
31/3/19 – 31/3/20: 182 hours
this comes in at 860 hours for 6 years. not sure what the fuck i was doing in 2018 but seems like i had some kind of meltdown… and a complete year off.
so in 6 years 860 hours = 806/6 = 143.3 hours per Year Average!
divided by 12 = 11.9 hours per month average.
Divided by 4 = 3 hours a week.
Divided by 5 = 36 minutes a day (with weekends off).
Yes the massive commitment i made at aged 26 weighs in at a hugely disappointing working day of 36 minutes per day for 18 years. How can i expect to make as success at this with this measly effort? What the fuck have i been doing!?
Now this has been my average work rate since this app has been tracking me. Im sure i was working harder when i first started making music as i was so excited back in the day.. and full of youthful vigour!… but lets run with the figures we have and assume ive always worked the same.
Approximately 18 years i been at it. And assuming this has always been my approximate work rate then….
18 years x 143.3 hours = so far a total of 2579 hours. Just over a quarter of the way to the Gold Standard for success and expertise… A QUARTER OF THE WAY!!!!! and im 43! oh shit. so at this rate i will get to where i want to go when? oh lets see.
At my current / past work rate of average of 143.3 hours per year. Hours left to hit 10k = 7421. So 7421/143.3 = 52 years! there we go i’ll finally hit where i need to be just as im hitting my 95th birthday. yay. then, at last, i’ll be the producer i’ve always wanted to be.
this is why i am a loser.
imagine where i’d be if i worked like a job. 40 hours per week or some shit.
Thanks to Andrew Weatherall RIP… i have been inspired to take the music serious and treat it as a job. A word i and we all must hate… but he says it worked for him over the years. after i delved into loads of his interviews on the news of his untimely death. A true hero…… and so, ive decided to do just this. Creative work is very tiring so there’s no need to be scheduling 10 hours a day and setting myself up for failure. i’ve decided to commit to a Monday – Friday regime, of 3 hours a day…. This is a vast jump from my lifetime average of the pathetic 36 minute a day average i currently hold.
i’ve been testing out the 3 hours a day new part time job over the last month, and it’s producing some epic results, already the music is improving ten fold and the income is increasing with all the new releases. New projects, new directions, new albums seem to be writing themselves. The answer to success seems to be in the momentum..
On this new regime how long will it take for me to hit Pro level? World class level? well, there’s still a hefty 7421 hours to go…. i realise the 10k is approximate and not exact theory… but running with it:
15 hours per week x 52 = 780. 7432/780 = 9.5 years. wow . still another fucking decade. Im nowhere near where i need to be. Ive been a lazy cunt, and convinced myself i was working hard. I wasnt. The level of work required to be Great at something is huge. And ive only just begun!
on this mew regime Ill be 52 when i finally can say im an expert. 52! fackinell. wish i started when i was 12. And committed. Ah well, what can i do?
WORK MY BALLS OFF!!!!! NOW!
Since launching the new job, 3 hours a day 5 days a week, i have released more music and made more money from it than i have in years. My previous best month on record was when i produced Dear Mortal, Clusrterfuck’s debut album in 2015, racking up a 48 hour work month, pretty slim by any working persons standards. a 12 hours work week? and thats my best on record. w t a f . Ive just broke that in March 2020 with a 60 hour work month. My new standard! Im on it and the results are beginning to show for themselves.
dO. THE. WORk.
dont wait for inspiration…
GET TO WORK
most days i dont want to go and sit in the studio, in front of the computer. Im never in the mood to start. I can think of so many other things id rather do. But since commiting to the ‘job’… i do it anyway. sometimes sitting there with the software open and zero inspiration. Just sat there listening to previous projects. Then something will click after a while and ill start tweaking and fiddling and then im in….. and most days the 3 hours flys by. somedays it drags and i only just scrape over the 3 hours. but i must do the 3 hours every single day.
Or be A LOSER.
check out my music here