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Outside the Jukebox by Scott Bradlee

I finally got around to the memoir by Scott Bradlee that first interested me in Postmodern Jukebox. Outside the Jukebox is worthy both an autobiography and self-help book. It doesn’t reach the peaks of Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up, but it has the same self-awareness and authenticity. Bradlee has many creative years ahead of him. What is next for the artist? When does the original work come? That is sadly unanswered.

Meanwhile the advice is still good:

…Having the correct image of yourself is really key here; you have to think of yourself as the thing you want to be long before other people think of you as that.

…You are whatever you do repeatedly.

…While motivation to put in the hours comes from being confident in your ability to eventually master and contribute to a craft, arriving at that confidence to begin with often requires putting in many, many hours of practice.

…You see, in all those years that I’d seen music as my future, I’d been terrified of releasing anything less than stellar, lest it harm the reputation I had built for myself in my mind. As a result, I never released anything, too paralyzed by worry to permit myself to engage with that fundamental building block of creativity: risk.

…If there’s one lesson you take away from this story of my unexpected YouTube stardom, I hope it’s this: You will never feel “ready” or “comfortable with” putting your work out there. It is so important to make peace with and internalize this idea. If you’re a musician and you’ve just written a song that you’re on the fence about, the best time to record it is right now. If you’re a filmmaker and you want to make a movie but don’t have the best equipment, the best time to begin making it is right now, with whatever equipment you can get your hands on. If you’re reading this and have a feeling that this might apply to you, set my book aside, get up, and go do whatever creative project you’ve been putting off—you guessed it—right now.

The ins and outs of the career themselves gives fans background stories on some of the supporting (but crucial) cast in PMJ, and the steps that got him there. YouTube sensations still need managers, even if they don’t need record deals.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, several of his professional advances came from things I was already an enormous fan of: Bioshock, and the play Sleep No More!

Martin ends his autobiography with an early peak: his character/dance of King Tut. The mechanics of professional entertainment life, and his managerial advice, are less interesting than how a professional artist became one. Outside has ample amounts of both sides, but is never the less a treat the whole way through.

Three Stars.

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