Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

Lessons from Macklemore's 1 year look at The Heist

Macklemore's 1 year anniversary look

A few days ago, Macklemore posted a 1 year look back at the release of The Heist. He talks about the process, the anticipation, the decision to go indie, the self doubt, fear, and the acceptance.  Most importantly he shares how much of himself he put into the album along with Ryan Lewis, and what the success has meant to them both. 

On Recording The Heist:

"To say the process of making an album is tedious would be a drastic understatement, especially for the two of us.  We scrutinized every kick drum.  Every snare.  Every bar."

Recording an album is never an easy process. This was also not his first time. 3 EPs, and another full album preceded The Heist. When you plan your album it's important to keep realistic goals and remember why you're doing this. For him, it's always been about reaching his audience. What's your motivation? Keep that, write it down, stick it to the top of your monitor or inside your guitar case. 

On Putting in the Time:

"I’ve spent over half of my time on this earth, studying my craft in front of audiences of 20 people, 35 people, 100 people. I learned the art of performance in venues where nobody knew or cared who I was. Where they would rather drink at the bar and socialize than hear what I had to say.  I worked for their attention. "

If you've ever performed live, you probably know what it's like to play to small crowds, half-filled venues, and disinterested crowds.  Macklemore knows exactly what that's like too.  As the performer, it's your job to pull your audience into your world. Let them escape the daily drudgery of their lives, their jobs, their problems.  Reach them emotionally and show them your vision. Where are you taking your audience tonight? Maybe they bought tickets to see you, maybe they came for another act, maybe they're just here for a pint before they trudge home. This performance right here is your chance to capture their attention, and speak directly to them. Where are you taking them tonight? This is your craft. If you can get 15 uninterested people drinking at a bar listening to your every word, then you will be that more effective at enthralling a crowd of people who start out excited to see you. 

On the Critics:

"To many skeptics, I was immediately casted as a “one hit wonder,” the new Vanilla Ice, “just another white kid appropriating a culture”.  Despite my self-assuredness, it began to wear on me. The fear crept into my psyche: what if I’m only known as the ‘Thrift Shop guy’ for the rest of my life? What if they never hear the other songs I’ve written?"

Many of us could only dream of being a 1-hit wonder. Once you have success like that, the next biggest fear is losing it. No matter how hard you work at something, there will always be nay-sayers, critics and other decrying your work from the sidelines. They aren't the ones on stage putting their heart and soul on the line. Be careful listening to closely to the critics, they won't help you build the confidence you need to be a performer. When you find yourself in a wash of self-doubt, remember that every great performer has been there too. Find what you need to move on and remember that. That's what you should keep close, not whatever the critics say that may get stuck in your head. 

On Dealing With Fame:

"I was that person waiting outside of the venue at one point in my life.  And those people are the ones that have made this experience what it is.  I always try to remember that, have patience and show gratitude."

Fans. Macklemore tells us how clearly he remembers his roots. He uses every chance he gets to connect with them on an individual level, especially off the stage. Nothing is worse than meeting your hero and being disappointed in who they are as a person. Use every chance you get to make a great impression with everyone at your shows. Remember you are a performer. 

What lessons have you learned from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? What spoke to you? Share with us below.