Review: Gilli Moon's Just Get Out There
(ShackMan | Posted 2011-01-10)
It's nothing new to see that books on music or the music industry or succeeding in music (whatever that means) are often laughed at or brushed off like something beneath our intelligence as artists. We artists, whether musical, visual, etc., are a fiercely independent lot, an independence that often comes with a great fear that outside sources may somehow rob us of our creativity and leave us without inspiration, boxed into a set of rules that govern songwriting and theory that keeps us from writing anything but the most basic chord structures.
The people who are getting good quickly are the people who are gathering a lot of information quickly.
So many times I hear (and it's just how this book starts out) that artists want to get into the “business,” but have no idea just where to start. Others think (and some of them do) they understand the music industry fairly well already and therefore “don't need any of that self-help stuff.” But I'm not talking about self-help. I'm talking about another tool that can help get you right where you need to be, quicker, and “Just Get Out There: Achieving Abundance, Self-Empowerment, and Professional Success,” the second book by artist/songwriter/mentor Gilli Moon is a 300-page codex of tips, tricks, traps, warnings, and straight-ahead facts about a rapidly-changing industry where it's getting harder and harder to get noticed.
I found respect for Gilli's book straight away in the opening chapter, because she wrote a real self-help book. Meaning that you have to apply the knowledge in this book yourself to get anywhere. She doesn't try to give you any deep emotional reactions or build up your self-confidence with cheesy dramatic talk about dreams and “an artist's struggle.” The title explains itself: “Just Get Out There.” And that's exactly what this book shows you how to do (and more!).
Gilli does this with simple information backed up by hard-earned experience. The book is peppered with stories from her tour journals, real encounters with the producer and manager kind, and excerpts from her life as an artist mentor and guide that range from the hilarious to the eye-opening. Above all, Gilli shows a need for the artist to be business-savvy, self-contained, and have a business plan, but be ready to take risks at every turn. Gilli takes you step-by-step through those plans and gets you organized along the way. I felt good about taking my time with the book and only doing a chapter or two at a time, taking notes, and allowing the information to fully sink in before moving on, like taking a 12-week class just through reading.
At the end of most chapters, Gilli throws in an exercise for you in the form of a journal entry or an experiment with a song to help you realize just whom you want to be as an artist as compared to who you currently are. Again, I respect the fact that she doesn't beat around the bush and asks tough questions to help you get to know your own relationship with your art. And in art, just like in G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle (yeah, I said it...). In all seriousness, the exercises alone are worth their weight in stretching your creativity and exercising your thought process. Consider it an investment. The more creative and thoughtful and unique you are, the more people will be interested in you, and that equation means money.
While the information she's giving us as artists is incredibly helpful, I really would have appreciated other resources beyond her own websites to be cited in the book, even a simple “For more information on X, go to Y.com and click on Z.” I would especially like to see this when she gets on to a topic I find interesting but drops out in the interest of brevity and moving on, whether it's a citation for what she sets down as fact in the book, or an invitation to explore. As it is, many of these passages simply end in an advertisement for her own website or Warrior Girl Music, her publishing company. I respect her ability to advertise her own gigs, but for a book that constantly talks about ways to explore my options and “Just Get Out There,” it seemed like there were a few missed opportunities.
I both enjoyed and at times grew tired of her font choices. I realize that sounds incredibly nit-picky right now, but realize that throughout the book there are words in the middle of the text that are in all caps, different fonts, different font sizes, phrases set off on their own lines away from the text... It lent the book a journalistic or blog-type feel that I enjoyed for the more relaxed and conversational parts of the book, but when topics grew more serious or there was a very business-like tone I felt like it wasn't necessary. This is simply because the words themselves had enough power as they were. Gilli is a good writer, don't get me wrong, and I very much enjoyed the book overall, but it felt overzealous to see it emphasized in sporadic bolding and funky fonts as much as she did.
That said, Gilli Moon is a good writer, at home with both conversational tones, supportive advice without being condescending, sharing helpful stories, as well as business-talk, flat facts, and the realities of the music industry while keeping the reader interested through both sections. Her word choice and sentences are straight and to the point, just the same as the book they create, with little unnecessary fluff (unless it's entertaining, of course). Her book is one of the best “guides” to the arts (and not just music, either!) industry that I have yet come across.
James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook.
Got questions? Comments? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at James.Rushin@MusicGearReview.com.