FEATURE: The New American Dream: Overcoming Hurdles and the Importance of Fulfilling Ambitions



The New American Dream


 ALL PHOTOS: Unsplash 

Overcoming Hurdles and the Importance of Fulfilling Ambitions


I have been sending emails out to various people…


with regards a project I am working on. I have talked about a music T.V. show and how important it is to get it out on the screens. I have also discussed the importance of keeping dreams alive and not being deterred by any obstacles. That second point, invariably, comes back to mind. I have been affected, like many, by the death of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. Not that this should be a blanket excuse for confession or a re-evaluation but it seems, when a great musician passes, there is a wake-up call and moment you have to look around. Whilst my challenge to transition to Manchester – moving areas and getting a job up there – is ongoing and (slowly) moving forward; music, inevitably, takes focus and keeps me moving in the right direction. A music T.V. show is not the only idea I want to get out there and make a reality. One of the reasons I have been revitalised to fulfil an ambition is an email back from D.J. Chris Hawkins – he presents a weekly early-morning show on BBC Radio 6 Music. I pitched the idea and wondered if he knew anyone (production companies or the BBC) would be interested in it. It is in the concept/early stages but the idea is simple: a show that harks back to The Old Grey Whistle Test and modernises it; keeping the performance element strong and featuring the best and most essential artists of the moment.


The response I got back was positive: to try the BBC – get them to pay for it – as they have commissioning rounds and it is the best place for it. The exchange was brief but it gave me hope that one of the biggest names in radio felt my idea was worth pursuing. I have been questioning the validity and strength of it as, when I pitch to production companies and gauge feedback; they want financing and do not look at unsolicited ideas without all the expense being raised. BBC is different in that they would finance it themselves – getting it commissioning, ironically, usually needs a production company behind it! It might be harder than going directly to the BBC but it seems, in terms of the weight of the idea, it holds plenty of scope and future. I am now determined to see it through to the end and make sure it gets a commission – even if I do not know what the title is of it yet! It got me thinking about other people in the industry that are deterred and deflated at the moment. Mortality and tragedy affect everyone but I think, more and more, the pressure and weight of expectation elevate desire and gets us all thinking loftily. I am seeing many revise their plans and downgrade their ambitions.


It is not the case that only established musicians and radio personnel, for instance, can get things done and make a difference in the world. It is harder for those with less clout/money but it is never lost. We all have to burden a certain stress and self-doubt and it can be hard seeing things through or thinking we are going to make it. What I am noticing is more and more people giving things up and doubting that they are capable of. I think now, in music, ideas and inspiration are needed more than ever. We have a lot of work to do and one is always looking for breakthrough and guidance. Among the plans I have heard from others are businesses to subsidise and keep venues open; a mental-health charity for musicians – some exist but one that is actively going out and helping those in need – and various other schemes. I am always impressed seeing musicians and creative people look beyond what they do and resolve to change things. I, for my sins, are hugely ambitious and want things to happen right away. I have, in the past, aimed to get a music café set up and a music website – which I am still keen on – in addition to a charity and a label. They are all quite lofty and expensive but the reason I wanted/want them to succeed is the gaps in the market.


A music T.V. show ties all of that together in its way and would fulfil all the other dreams. It has focused my mind and, regardless of cost and size, I want to take it step-by-step and keeping on top of it. I am aware other people might be working on similar ideas – just my luck I will get beaten to the punch – but the fact there is clear demand and need has spurred me to reach out and see what can happen. It is important not to abandon ideas and dreams because they seem too hard and appear far-fetched. I have often been downbeat and disheartened by rejection emails or big budgets; people saying it will not happen or there is a narrow market. I will, I hope, realise all the ambitions I have ever had when the ball starts rolling. I know what my first outing is going to be and would give a message to other creatives out there: if you have something in your head, do your research and keep a level head. It can be easy running forward and imagining how things will be and how good it is all going to look. When you do strike a nerve and have that realisation; you want it to be fulfilled and happen right away. I am in that same boat: I have learned to give it time and have faith a good idea will realise itself.


There are some big problems in the music industry and big holes that need filling. It would take a dedicated team to decide all the tangles and formalise improvements to make music stronger and more inspirational. From tackling mental-health issues and providing financial support to artists; I have heard of ideas and plans (from other artists) to do something about it and push things forward. I want to see so many things happen but understand why some people lose a bit of faith when things get rejected or shut down. We are told the American dream is reaching a Promised Land and having opportunities and a wonderful life. We know, in 2018, that fantasy is complete bullsh*t: America is ruled by a dictator and its desirability is debatable and waning. Gone are the days of getting a job and being able to do anything you want to do in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I can apply that to music and the dream that used to arrive into our ears through T.V. and print: you can be famous and make a big name for yourself in the industry. Maybe modern-day reality/talent T.V. shows propagate a modern-day version of that ideal. There is something toxic and misleading promising artists fame and fortune is they put their mind to it – some people can achieve that but most do not.


The biggest lesson we should be teaching is that everyone can make a difference; those smaller and personal ambitions are important and should not be downplayed. I have all these heady goals but something like a music T.V. show is quite modest. It will take time and compromise but I am eager to get it all shaking and have things happening. Others, who are doubtful of their chances, are scrapping ideas and feel they cannot make a success of things. The same goes for many musicians out there. There are those who want to get onto the big stages and get into the mainstream but feel the weight of competition and options out there mean they will never get there. Things take time and an instant gratification and realisation does not equate to failure and hopelessness.  There is a need out there and, if something feels right and promising, it is worth taking up and seeing how far you can get. Even if you are unable to realise an ambition or personal goal then set a new one and start from scratch. Things are hard but perseverance and tenacity are vital commodities. Not being defeated by the first slap of reality is a crucial discipline that can get you a long way. I will keep going with my T.V. show dream and will keep everyone abreast of its progress. To anyone out there who has any doubts and feels they cannot get where they want then take a lesson from me. I am one of those people who can feel a bit hopeless when someone says I cannot do it or an idea I have it too ambitious. Now, as I focus my mind, those doubts are still there – I will not let them dominate and influence my course. Keep a resolve and strong head because, even if you do not realise it now, the music industry sorely needs…


YOUR dreams and desires.