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Andy Othling - My Story

I want to be honest with you guys. One of the big tenants of everything I do with music is transparency; I’m not interested in keeping secrets from you. I’m happy to be open about the things I do in the hopes that you’ll then be open with me.

So in the name of transparency, I’d like to tell you my story and tell you why I’m doing this blog.

I recently quit a very well paying, stable job that I know many people would consider a dream job.

I have a degree in computer science and was working at a very large company here in Albuquerque doing computer security programming. The truth is that I was very unhappy there. I couldn’t shake my desire to pursue music as a full-time endeavor, and the work I was doing was not fulfilling me.

So right now I’m in one of the scariest and most exciting times of my life.

But let me back up a bit and tell the full story.

I started playing guitar in 5th grade. I took lessons for many years, but it wasn’t until high school that I really dove in deep. It was then that I decided that I wanted to do something with music as a career.

I was still on the safe route though. I entered college and started pursuing my degree in computer science. Even though I wanted it,

I didn’t really believe that I could do anything with music that would support me.

Despite that, I found comfort in telling myself and friends that “I want to get this degree and then never use it.”

During college my thoughts about music shifted. I’d been playing guitar for years, and I wanted more. I wanted to be a musician, not just a guitarist. I wanted to take the ideas and feelings inside me and pour them into song.

I just wanted to write songs. So I tried.

I got to a point where I knew what kind of music I wanted to make, but I couldn’t do it.

I got stuck. I couldn’t finish anything.

My computer was filled with half-finished ideas that I didn’t know how to fit together. I felt like I was playing the same things over and over and couldn’t get out of my ruts.

It was really one of the most frustrating times of my life. I felt so strongly about the music that I wanted to make, but I was just lost in all the possibilities. Multi-track recording allowed me to layer parts upon parts, and virtual instruments allowed me to add nearly any instrument I could think of to a song. I felt like there were so many possibilities flying around that I couldn’t grab onto any of them.

I decided to put some limits on myself and see what I could do.

I had the idea to make YouTube videos. The goal was to see what I could do live in one take, in YouTube’s 10 minute time limit (at the time), with just my guitar and pedals. As it turns out this is just what I needed. Instead of endless possibilities flying around in my head, I just had to focus on my guitar, my pedals, and coming up with something as interesting as possible.

From the YouTube videos, I was able to extract ideas I came up with and start applying them in my songwriting. The songs started to come together, and eventually I was able to finish a 9-song album called Seafront.

I did it. It felt great to have reached the goal of finishing a complete set of songs. But then something else came up that I didn’t really expect. Once I finished that first album, I wanted people to hear it.

And not just my family and friends. I wanted everyone to hear it.

So I started experimenting.

I used the meager following I’d developed on YouTube to start promoting the album. I looked around to see what other services could offer to help me promote it. I saw some people using a new thing called “Bandcamp”. So I tried that. I really enjoyed the fact that I was able to manage so much promotion by myself, and I especially enjoyed discovering what were the most effective ways to do it.

It was really fulfilling to have people I didn’t even know from across the world listen to my music. I loved hearing how it was affecting them and what they thought about it.

I learned lots of things over a few years of experimenting. A few albums later, my hobby of making music became financially self-sufficient. With the money I earned I was able to purchase some sweet pieces of guitar and recording gear.

At this point I started to get a lot of questions.

People noticed the exposure that my music was getting and wanted to know how I had managed to do that on my own. At first I didn’t really know how to answer them. I didn’t really think I was doing anything special or out of the ordinary.

But because of the questions I got and because of some of the failed techniques I saw in other artists, I realized that I was doing things that many other musicians were not. And these things seemed to be working. Not only did my songwriting improve, but I was growing and maintaining a solid fan base as well. People, every day, began to email trying to tap into this knowledge that I didn’t even realize was that unique.

Here are the questions I continue to get consistently from other artists:

  • How do I get my music “out there”?
  • How do I get more people to find my music?
  • What do I need to make good recordings of my own songs?
  • I recorded an album I’m really happy with. Now what?
  • How do I create and maintain a killer website for my band?

To begin answering these questions I started my own personal blog at andyothling.com. It also became a platform for me to post case studies of the different music experiments I tried.

Now of course, the inevitable question is why?

Why spend the time and energy to share this information?

Because I know the pain of being stuck with songwriting. And I know the pain of not getting the audience you desire for your music. But I also know that there has never been more opportunities for independent artists like you and I. I hate the idea of your music going unheard, or even going uncreated when we are surrounded by vast amounts of opportunities and tools to help us.

I look forward to what is to come.

In November 2012, I got to the point where I had to choose between my full-time job as a computer programmer and my passion for music. I chose the music. But my passion does not just include my own music, it includes yours too! I want to help you be as excited as I am about the fact that we can write, record, and promote music all on our own.

Here’s what I want you to do now.

If you have a moment, I’d love for you scroll down to the comments and give me a glimpse of your story as well. Don’t feel pressured to produce a novel, I just want to get to know you a bit. Also, I would love to know what ideal outcome you’d like me to help bring into your life with regards to creating and promoting your music?

I’m glad that you’re here, and I look forward to our time together.

Warm regards,



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  • Eric Schumacher

    Similar story… I’ve struggled for years with interesting riffs and sounds but not being able to form them into something that felt like a whole song or a cohesive piece of music. Recently I’ve made some progress and (combined with finally owning Logic and some decent mics) actually have probably 6 or 7 tracks that I’d call semi-finished… the trouble is getting to a place where I feel like anyone else would want to hear them :)

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Dude, congrats on getting past the songwriting hump! That’s awesome. Now the key is to get it completely finished and do the whole thing over again! :)

  • Thomas

    Dear Andy, my name is Thomas and I m from Greece. I just read your story and it was quiet astonishing. I m really glad things finally worked out for you, because your music is aunique. As far as I am concerned, I would never give up Med School to purse a career. as a guitar player,so I m really glad there are people out there taking risks for their dreams. I hope that finally your music career pays better than your old job.

  • g

    Very similar story. My day job is IT. It pays the bills but I want to quit my job and make a living through my true passion, being an artist/musician (not just being a guitarist). I’ve a band, I’ve recorded a few EPs, and a ton of different kinds of songs– Making music is ALL I DO. I just have no idea how to get noticed, or to even get shows. I’m not good at maintaining professional relationships, or doing anything other than just creating.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Man, I totally understand. Hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas from previous blog posts… and I think there will be a lot of good stuff for you in the near future! Keep at it!

  • Nathan Schatzer

    I am baffled by how similar our stories are.

    I started playing when I was 13, and just recently jumped into the deep end. I’ve been writing and writing, and I know what music I want to make. By myself I play ambient post rock much like yourself, and then I’m also the front man for a punk rock group in Oklahoma. Either one of these making any form of progress would make me the happiest man on earth, but my real passion lies with my ambient stuff because of the fact that I can just sit in my room, and just let it flow.

    I too have a military degree in computer networking, and I did work with it for about a year, and decided to get out of the military and pursue music. I’m young, and maybe I got out too early to be self sufficient, but I love the music I write. And I would give anything to have people hear it and appreciate it. You actually inspired me to build my own pedal collection, and these emails and blogs have helped me understand how you did it, and how I might be able to. Any other advice is more than welcome. Thank you for what you do Andy.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Wow, that’s amazing! Well, hopefully you are encouraged, and hopefully we’ll be able to get that music of yours to some new ears!

  • Dan Leader

    I started playing guitar in the hope of starting a band while in school but due to a lack of people interested in pursuing it that never happened so i just played at home for fun. In the last few years I’ve decided to pick up a couple of other instruments and learn how to record my own stuff (still haven’t really ‘learnt’). After making a bunch of terrible ideas i finally found my ‘sound’ and have been doing that for a couple of years now. So far I’ve released a bunch of albums online and had some posts on various blogs but it’d be nice to be able to have it grow more, It just seems to be difficult to find the right place to get people to really take a lasting interest.

  • ruud wagenaar

    Dear Andy,

    Ruud here from Veldhoven, the Netherlands. I really appreciate your open and honest story and it is so recognizable for me. I see that you follow your heart and that you use you internal intrinsic competences and talents to make a living with your passion with making music and more!. I also have a lot of respect for the guts you have to decide to quite your job which does not fulfill your needs since the music attracks! How many people are there who dare to do this? Making music and songwriting is also my passion, and I really love to read your open story. This year I’m reaching the age of 50 and I set the goal to create an album of my own music and I must say that I do follow your work since 2009 which really inspires me.

    All the best, and I love to keep in touch with your inspirational stuff!

    best regards

  • http://www.facebook.com/tightship Owen Innes

    Hey Andy,

    Very happy you decided to share your story here for all of us. Very inspiring for us all.
    All through High school I played guitar with getting lessons etc and then started getting drum lessons as well. I went to college to do music however it wasnt fulfilling my need to simply just create music rather than being told how to create it.
    I left college at age 18 and started to work in a call centre. Around this time I was playing in various bands on guitar but eventually ended up being invited to join a band on drums. This led to a couple of little tours around the UK (I live in Scotland). After recording our first album together we were invited to play a Cornerstone festival in Bushnell, IL. So we came over and did a 2 week US tour East coast to West. The following year I was made to choose between my job and touring again in the states. I decided to tour the states for 2 months playing over 40 shows all over the country. Unfortunatly my story ends with us coming back to Scotland, with absolutely no money but only the memories of such a fantastic experience.

    Nowadays I just sit with my guitar and play around until I have something to record. Firstly Mogwai and then your music put me onto the “Ambient” and “post-rock” music which has been a great turn of events for me. I try to create good and relaxing music however I am useless at promoting myself. I find your blog very helpful as your so full of ways and ideas that can help the average Joe out in these situations.

    Thanks again for your blog and I’m sorry if this post is very dis-jointed.

    Take care

  • Anonymous

    Like the couple of guys that posted before me, my story is similar to yours. But I think I’m getting a head start on changing direction toward the music.

    Unlike your story, I’ve always felt I had a knack for songwriting, and I’ve been consistently making my own music in various styles since I first started learning to play the guitar. I’ve loved music for all that time and wished I could do it for a living, but like you, I never really believed it could support me. After I graduated high school, I went to a liberal arts college for a year and then quit to work at a restaurant full-time for another year, doing a ton of work on my music all the while, but I was slowly realizing that I couldn’t really be happy without music in my life center-stage. So at the end of 2012 I finally made the decision to quit my job and move to a new town where I could attend a music technology/sound recording program at a local college. Today was literally my first day of the program so I’m still in a transition state, but I’m really excited and I hope that this will be the first step for me toward getting more involved in music as a career way of life.

    As far as what I’d like to hear from you: I’d like more info on how you get your recordings to sound so professional and solid, and I’d also like to learn more about how I can help my music find its way to the right audience.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      That’s awesome! It sounds like you’re on the right track. I’ll definitely be talking about recording more in the future. So stay tuned!

  • Jason

    I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16 (now 30) w/ the last few years being out of the band/music scene. I tried writing/recording on my own but failed to complete anything during the 3 year hiatus from being in a band. I did not finish a college degree until I was almost 28, was in community college off and on out of high-school while focusing mainly on playing in bands/playing shows/recording, etc. I have started a new project since moving to Seattle, WA from Austin, TX and am really excited about it. I feel that this new band has the sound and style I have wanted to be a part of for a long time, and the potential to write some amazing music. I am inspired now to really give music another shot, even though I am an old man now.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Sounds awesome Jason! Good luck… I love Seattle!

  • Eli Schweyer

    Wow. This is really encouraging.
    I currently relate to this so much. I’m at the “computer full of song intros and too many options” stage… But this is helping me see. I’ve devoted over a decade of my time and resources and I’m still not finishing anything. It’s been a long time since I’ve JUST played guitar. No MIDI controllers or drum loops etc. Like the old days.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Sometimes that’s what it takes… strip some things away and get back to what made you want to do music in the first place!

  • Andrew Elmore

    That’s almost exactly what happened to me as well, except I never went anywhere with music until recently, when I had a brief opportunity to do some recording on legitimate gear. In four days, I arranged, recorded, mixed, mastered, and designed art for a small EP of hymns that I created for the sole purpose of explaining my vision to my new bandmates. Now that I have an iPhone though, I may start recording some ambient pedalboard loops of my own. ;)

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      I love it Andrew!

      • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.m.elmore Andrew Elmore

        I was trying to type quickly because I was using my thumbs, and looking back, I feel like my wording was super pretentious, but hopefully I’ll start doing some more video content that doesn’t suck, and I’ll re-do the abysmal vocal tracks on my EP. :-)

  • http://stanmanx.com Matt Smyczynski

    I started playing guitar when I was 11 and worked really hard to improve my skills with my instrument and as a songwriter until I was 18, when I started college. I didn’t get a whole lot of encouragement to pursue music, so I took random classes until an English degree took shape. I stopped working so hard on the music.

    I got married right after I graduated, and it was over two years before my wife knew that I had actually been passionate about music at one point — my guitars spent most of their time in the closet, and I had only recorded a handful of things since we’d met. I had a terrible job at the time, and it wore me down hard, to the point where I told her I either needed to make music a priority, or get rid of all my gear, because keeping everything around and not using it only made things worse.

    She made me record something, then told me I wasn’t allowed to quit because it would be bad for everyone if I stopped making music. She’s a huge fan of everything I do, and while I suspect there may be some bias in play, it’s extremely encouraging.

    I did eventually get a better job at a wonderful company (I’m a programmer by day), but I understand the feeling of being in someone else’s dream job. I’ve been working a lot harder for the last couple of years (I’m 28 now) and trying to figure out what, exactly, I’d like to do with music. I like singing and playing guitar, but I also like messing around with synthesizers and doing instrumental stuff. Not sure if I want to start a band or try to compose video game soundtracks. Perhaps both someday. :)

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Having the support of your spouse is the greatest thing. I wouldn’t have been able to do all of this without my wife’s support. I’m glad she got you to keep going, I hope I can help you do that as well!

  • Sam Lewin

    I’m at the beginning of a similar situation to you. I’m finishing up my last semester of college with a degree in Psychology. Growing up people told me that music was too unstable to pursue, so I kept switching between “stable” options. Recently, I started a little side-project called ‘see lions’ and made a tumblr page for it, but I frequently get discouraged because I don’t really have the funds to buy any real recording equipment to make my first real album. Nevertheless, I’ve been trying to make do with what I have, and maybe one day, I’ll get to use music to reach out to other people the way others have reached out to me through music.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      I know the feeling. Like I said, it took me a while to realize that music really IS an option for making a living. I think it’s becoming more and more a viable option for regular guys like us in this industry. It takes lots of work, but I think you can do it!

  • Greg Jaimes

    Andy, im writing you from Mexico City, at this moment im in the point of not enjoy the job and became stressfull for not be in the music. All your words, post, guides have been the key for return to it again.


    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      That’s awesome Greg! All the best to you!

  • Josiah

    Hi Andy,

    My name is Josiah and Im from Nova Scotia, Canada and have played in a youth band at my church for about 7 years, and until about 6 months ago have not been able to get anything together to record. Finally the lead guitarist/vocalist from this band and I have begun to work together to write, map out, and record the music that is purely a reflection of who we are and what has just flowed out. We are just finishing up our first recorded song and very stoked about it. Some times it feels like you’re just pumped for people to hear it, and others you feel like you’ve accomplished enough to be satisfied with just listening yourself.



  • Antoine Michaud

    No one should be afraid to do music-related things for a living, because there are so many things you can do in the music business ! I am a 19 years old french canadian who lives in Montreal and I entered college in electric jazz guitar three years ago without really knowing where I could get with that… I just knew that I loved playing guitar. And I found a passion in something I would’nt have expected at all: music theory. I thought it would be painful to attend all the 4 music theory classes, but I found I had a natural talent at understanding, reading and hearing music. And I really liked to help the people outside of my classes that had difficulties understanding music theory. What I liked the most was to see that those people I helped could improve themselves with my pieces of advice. I think Andy knows this feeling: it’s so fulfilling to see that you really helped someone. So now I’m attending university in music theory and writing/composing and I am very happy with that, because I will be able to carry on my passion in music and in helping people at the same time and I will likely have a good stable job by teaching in college or university. As many of you, I just like playing with my guitars, pedals, writing songs and playing with bands. But I’m ok with the fact that this is just one part of my musicial experience and that there are many other things I can do in the music world, for my living or not.

    Try anything you can in music: play alone, play with bands, record, learn music theory, learn other instruments than your main, sing in a choir, write reviews of cds, organize concerts, write music for someone else or in a style you’re not familiar with, read about music history, teach, hand write your music, or with programs, rearrange songs… so many possibilities and a bunch of those can actually be really good options for full time jobs if you’re really serious and dedicated about it !

    Thank you Andy for you music, for you blog and for your inspiration ! I hope I will meet you in person someday to thank you in real life.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      I love this Antoine! It’s so true! There are so many facets of music that you can be involved in. For me, it looks like this:
      -Creating music on my own
      -Playing in a band setting
      -Making YouTube videos
      -Writing blogs to help other musicians
      As you said, there are so many options to fit anyone’s passion. You just gotta dive in!

  • http://twitter.com/niclake Nic Lake

    Also at the beginning. Just graduated with my MIS degree in May, on my 2nd job since then, and unhappy there. It’s not a job where I feel at all fulfilled.

    I’ve been playing music since I was 4. Piano, drums, bass, and guitar. Even started at university as a music ed major. I’ve had the itch for 20 years now, and it’s something that’s not going away.

    One of the hardest things for me is writing. I’ve got a couple licks, some chord structures that I enjoy, and a few settings on my pedal that I think are neat. For now, I’m working on recording some of those ideas and releasing a 5 song EP, mostly to figure out how to get the sounds I enjoy down for others to enjoy. After that? Who knows. Maybe I’ll follow a similar path as you.

    I do want to say that following your progression has been one of the inspirations that has galvanized me to shut up and start making music, and I really appreciate that. This blog series that you’re doing is extremely insightful and helpful, so thank you for those as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robbieplaysgibson Robbie Austin

    I’m kinda in that “stuck in a rut” area right now. I’m in a few different “bands” but none of them are going anywhere. My favorite (and the oldest) of them is called One4All. It started with just me making the music with virtual drum plugins and a low quality DAW to record my guitars and bass and a buddy of mine doing vocals. We’ve got some stuff recorded that we’re really really proud of, but no one hears it. We suck at promoting I suppose, haha! But we finally got a band together and are training up to start doing shows. So that’s exciting.

    But I feel like my songwriting isn’t going anywhere. I keep chunking out the same old stuff.

    However, I too have wrestled with the idea of trying to make a living with a music degree. But last semester, I finally decided to go for it. I’m finishing my A.A this semester and going to a 4-year university in the fall to pursue a degree in music. And I think God’s got a plan for me there. The worship leader in my church just offered me an internship working on behind-the-scenes stuff with him and has said that he wants me to start leading on Sunday mornings for our church of over 1000.

    So I suppose the best thing I can do is keep pursuing my passion and honoring God with it and trust that He’s got something out there that for which a music degree will be helpful.

  • Jeremy Yap

    I grew up in a musical family, my mom was a music teacher and still is, sister is an aspiring opera singer, and there’s me. I’ve just always felt a love for experimenting with sound, the way it shapes our thoughts, our emotions. I’m a sophomore in college now studying to be a worship leader. I started off as graphic design and I made the realization that I just couldn’t see myself not doing something with music for the rest of my life as a career. I’ve been experimenting this past semester with a lot of ambient stuff after finding you on youtube. It really means a lot that you’re willing to be transparent, it’s a really honorable quality and a breathe of fresh air. We met briefly about a month ago in rolling meadows. I’d just like to say thank you Andy for all that you do, for all the knowledge you’re willing to share and just the passion you have for what you love to do. Just keep doing what you’re doing and follow your dreams.

  • Tristan Hopperton

    Like you, I started learning how to play guitar when I was 11 years old, and after about 2 months of lessons and practice, I was able to play through a 4-chord church song, and I have been hooked ever since. I am now 22 years old, and these past 5 years of my life have been consumed with the dream of being a full time musician. I have been in multiple bands that have lasted anywhere from 9 months to 2 years, but the music wasn’t always what I had in mind as far as the creativity I needed to get out there.
    In May of 2011, I literally sold all i had(excluding some music equipment) and moved from Grand Rapids MN to Phoenix AZ with the drummer of my previous band to start a new band with his older brother. I was excited to move halfway across the country, and experience a new surrounding with new opportunities! Sadly, in the year I lived in Phoenix, my band mates and I never collectively wrote any music together, which was very frustrating and caused me to consider the thought of writing my own music… And that’s when I found Lowercase Noises on Last.fm radio! I searched you on Youtube and was shocked to find that it was only you producing this music, and as far as I was concerned, you were “making it”.
    After seeing that a solo project was very possible, I decided to move back to MN to pursue writing my own music, around the people that influenced me the most. I have tried forming one more band since returning to MN, but again I realized how difficult it is to find people with the same goals in mind.
    You are a wonderful inspiration to me, and I appreciate the time you take to give people like me advice, and share your own experiences and creativity with us.
    Thank you for all that you do, Andy!

  • Michael Tardibono

    Hi Andy! I find your story very inspiring! I am a young kid just two years away from starting college! The thing that is troubling me is the fact that today, it is a little bit harder to get a “big break” in music. I have such a strong passion for guitar and writing, but thinking about trying to make a living off of it scares me, honestly. But your story gives me hope. Thank you! It truly has made a difference! Btw, I met you on the FoF Advent Tour in Tulsa! It was great to see you live! Can’t wait to support you in your career in the future!
    God bless!
    Michael Tardibono

  • Brent Gnecco

    Great post, Andy! It’s just what I needed really… I grew up in a non-musical family and it was always a really hard thing to discuss with my family the idea of supporting myself as a musician. It can be discouraging when the people closest to you just don’t understand the desire to do something like that. I have many musical friends, but they have “normal” jobs and treat music as just a hobby. I want something more than that. I play bass at a church nearly every week, and I love it, it’s a great musical outlet from a performing perspective. It’s a free gig though but I don’t mind, but I really want to make a living doing what I love. When it came to music at home, I felt like I was constantly in a rut. I know the kind of music I love and want to make (Ambient), but it’s always such a struggle. Just like you mentioned in your blog, I had (and still have) many ideas, recorded ones, but that’s all they were, Ideas. I couldn’t figure out how to make these ideas into full songs! I am making progress though. I’m learning not to get overwhelmed by all the options that come with recording. I’m setting limits on myself and trying not to be so deadly serious about if it sounds perfect. Everything you have been sharing in your blogs has been a huge help. I’m trying to follow your example, weither it be producing content on youtube, or taking the advice you give through your blogs and I feel it’s really helping. My dream is to be able to share my music with everyone and support myself with it. I still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. There are days I still get discouraged, but it is so comforting to know that even artists who I respect and admire go through the same troubles as me. Thanks for being a cool dude, Andy. Thanks for going out of your way to help others with this crazy music thing. I look forward to more blogs and music from you!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      That’s awesome Brent! I still think that the biggest key to songwriting (for me anyway) is limits. There’s no way I’d be able to get anything done unless there are limits to make the creative space more manageable. Keep working hard man, it will pay off!

  • Jeffrey Slape

    My musical journey started at a very young age. In elementary school I took piano lessons and sang in various musicals and productions at the church my family and I attended. Around middle school, I quit taking piano lessons and took up the guitar. My dad taught himself to play years earlier, so, I asked him to teach my a few chords. I practiced and played every spare moment I had. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I really dedicated myself to the instrument. That summer I broke my leg and I began to play twice as much as before. Through out my high school career I played in bands and discovered my passion for writing songs. By the time I graduated, I had decided I was not going to college, but, instead, going to pursue music full time. Six months later, in January 2012, I moved to Nashville, TN, where I now live and work. I am in the beginning stages of recording my second EP, which will be released around August of this year and working to make music my sole occupation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matheus.buscariolo Matheus Arrebôla Buscariolo

    i am stucked, hahah, i must a adimit it!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/antonswardhagen Anton Swärdhagen

    Thanks for sharing, Andy!
    I studied to become a sound engineer to have something beyond my music to pay the bills but I don’t get enough work so I’m also part time in the home care service. The constant struggle between “I should get a proper full time job so I can pay for better gear/promotion” and “it’s great to have some days off to write” is always a hard one.
    I’m looking forward to more interesting discussions!

  • Rob Lewis

    Hey Andy, thank you so much for being willing to share your hopes and dreams, they are seriously an encouragement to so many of us! I have been struggling with this exact problem. I am in school for theology which I love and I plan to be a professor one day but I feel the powerful desire to mate theology and art. I am a musician and have been a worship leader for around 8 years now. I work as a CNC machinist and process specialist for an aerospace company but I am not fulfilled there. I am now only working part time 32 hours a week so that I could have more time for music and ministry as well as school. I was talking with my wife last night about all of this because I also attended Berklee for studio production and I want to try to make a living playing music as well as recording it. We put together a game plan for the next six months to help me try to make those dreams come true. Yesterday I had the conversation with my band mates and we ended up watching the following video as we talked about risking it all to follow God and make a living as artists. Thanks again, and I hope this video inspires you as it has me! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

  • Alex Wilson

    Wow! my story so far seems to fit with yours, I’m kinda stuck in my playing a bit. I have been playing guitar for 11 years now and I just don’t seem to be getting much further, however I would like to pursue it as a career, I just don’t know how to get all my inspiration and ideas out into a decent song as well as improving upon my playing.

  • Pic

    I’m at the frustrating point of your post. I’ve got riffs, ideas, even half of a song done but it still baffles me that I can’t seem to complete anything, its like writers block for musicians. I have support from all areas of my life and i know i can do it but the frustration sets in and i just feel like giving up. I’m really inspired by your story and everything you create and it helps me to push forward.

    So thanks Andy for all you are doing and putting out there. God Bless

    • http://stanmanx.com Matt Smyczynski

      One thing that helps me with blockage is giving myself permission to suck. It comes from understanding and accepting that the first draft of everything is crap, and that it’s a lot easier to fix up a terrible song (or story, or drawing) than it is to create perfection in a single attempt.

      For example, maybe take your half song and play it twice onto tape (since two halves = one whole). Listen to it a few times. You’ll hate it, but since you’ll have something tangible to focus on, you’ll be able to describe why you hate it (“that riff sounds cool the first time you hear it, but kind of tired the second time” or “this phrase actually makes more sense toward the end, I should tweak the beginning”).

      Whatever you do, don’t give up! :)

  • Richard Smart

    I started playing guitar at about 14 but quit playing when i was about 18. I got frustrated with my playing, with my inability to compose or write songs. I went to college and got a degree in fine arts and went into graphic design. When i was 27 I was rooming with a friend who was a guitarist and in a band, and was hanging out with other musicians and i decided to pick up a guitar again. I was influenced by my friends style – he had created his own tunings and told me he developed his ear by sitting for hours with his guitar plucking the strings, listening, and tuning. I did the very same thing and have been tinkering with my sound, with my voicings, chord progressions and the like. It’s been 7 years and I’ve accumulated some more gear and have come along by leaps in bounds in my ability to just sit down and improvise / compose. Back when i was 18 i felt i couldn’t make a living doing music so i pursued graphic art and illustration – but now I love playing so much that I think there has to be something else in it for me. I’m still not thinking I can cash in on my talent overnight and think even if by the time I’m 50 I can play music and support myself financially it will be worth it. For years I’ve traded in hours in front of the TV for hours with my guitar and for every night that I play for 2 or 3 hours straight I feel more confident that music is what I want to do. I have a wife and a 5 mo. old baby girl and while it’s harder to find the time to play now, I’ve gotten more energy and determination to create a legacy in music for my family. (and also to teach my daughter when she is old enough to hold a guitar!) Andy – I really love your playing style and appreciate all you publish on the matter. I tend to be very hands off in areas of recording myself and publishing myself – when I get my act more solidified I may publish and promote a little, but I’ve always had this weird fascination with the idea of being an artist that only performs live and plays only spontaneous / improvised music with improvised lyrics. It’s probably the hardest thing an artist could imagine doing – but that’s my dream. If I spent a year writing an album and had to play the same songs over and over It would drive me crazy. I think there is room out there for an artist who is 100% live with his sound and you go to the show to see a really good show, not to just hear the songs on your favorite album played live. You’d be giving your audience more than a performance, you’d be giving them a unique and (hopefully) powerful experience. Since there is an ability for your fans to promote you, record you live and share it – if an artist brings a considerable amount to the table performance wise he could presumably trail blaze a completely different path and only focus on live performance. It’s easy to doubt this approach (I’ve doubted it for years) but I honestly believe that music can have a transcendent and powerful quality and if you put in enough time, energy, love, and devotion into your craft you can’t lose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ckalinec Clint Kalinec

    Hey Andy, Seriously thanks so much for this post! It spoke to me on so many levels. I didn’t start playing guitar until I graduated High School. I was in band all through JH and HS and loved music. I picked up the guitar with no desire to make a living with it, just wanted to continue playing music in some way. I picked it up extremely fast and started to get the desire to play for a living over time. It was until about 3-4 months ago I realized that I wanted to do this full time. I will be graduated college with a degree in Mathematics this May. I could honestly find a great job that pays extremely well like you had but just like you said I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t have any joy in doing so. When I graduate I’ll be pursuing a career in music. I don’t know what all that actually means quite yet but I know it’s extremely exciting and extremely nerve racking at the same time. Not only will I be graduating and moving on to the “real world” but I’ll also be getting married 3 weeks after graduation. I know I have a duty to provide for my wife. I don’t know what type of job I’ll be getting after college but I know it probably won’t be a “career” type job because I know how much time that will consume and take away from my possibilities in music.

    My dream and my desire is to play with a band or 2 and do a lot of session recording. I would also like to be able to record/mix/produce at some point in time. I’m not sure how you can help me any more than your website already has, I know that there’s a lot of this journey that’s up to me. You can’t put me in the situation I need to be in, You can’t make me a better guitar player, You can’t make me have the correct personality and be easy to work with. That’s up to me. However, You’re website has been a huge help and I love reading your blog posts. I always get a lot out of them. I’ve actually started up a YouTube channel mainly to keep myself accountable to trying to write and continue to get better at my craft.

    Thanks a lot for what you do man!


    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Hey Clint! That actually sounds pretty similar to my story… I got married weeks after graduating college as well. It sounds like you’ve got the right attitude, hopefully I can help you along the way!

  • Walter Andrews

    Great post.

    Ive been playing guitar for about 10 years now and I am just realizing how important that a music career is to my happiness. I haven’t finished my degree yet (i’m 25 with an AS) but i’m working to help my wife through school (married 6 months), and I question the reasons i’d go back to school myself. Like you Andy One of my passions is playing, but in all honesty my creative bone is broken and ive recently found more enjoyment in recording. I think my calling may be Audio Production, but even that is a difficult field to find yourself in with the overwhelming responsibility of being head of a family now.
    Responsibility is the only reason I haven’t given up everything to be in the music industry…that and that it is difficult to make contacts. Audio production is all about who you now,and I know some people, unfortunately they are unable to assist me at this time. So on I go recording in my home with a mic and a cheap interface. (too your advice on equipment several posts ago) Right now im trying to build a decent home studio, but need more room.

    Your posts are encouraging, don’t stop!
    Thank you for being true to yourself and your music.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Thanks for sharing your story Walt! I understand the pressure of needing to provide for a family… I’ve got a wife and (almost) three kids myself! Keep working hard, I know it will pay off.

  • That1GuitrGuy

    As a High School Junior, this post gives me a lot of hope for my future as a musician. I have had similar thoughts, that my musical passion would be an aside to my eventual career (as yet to be determined). And yet, partially thanks to your advice over the past year or so, my band and I are about to record our first album, which is simultaneously exhilarating and nerve-racking. Thank you, Andy, for your advice and your inspiration. Keep it up; I know I will be.

  • Josh

    I’ve always felt there is music within me. I’m always had a hard time finding the time to sit a turn it into something tangible and sharable. Thanks for sharing your story. It may help me to create my own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndersRoss Andrew Ross

    Gosh, I’m in the boat right now. Not too sure how to promote myself. I’m 23, I’ve been writing since I was 15. I took piano lessons at the age of 9 and then learned how to play the guitar. Since I started writing, I knew music was something I’ve wanted to pursue as my career, not just a hobby. I’ve never raised enough money to be able to record or buy the equipment I need to record on my own, though, I’ve been producing crappy demos since I started writing. I had some major health problems, making it impossible to work.

    However, within the last year, I’ve changed my diet, started working out and have been regaining my health. So I’m on the road to trying to record now, again, and trying to make enough money to be able to record, as well, as support myself. It’s been a very winding road and has taken patience. I have a ton of material that I’m ready to record so I can release proper recordings of it. Most notably, I participated in 7in7, which is a community of songwriters, who all sign up to buckle down for a week to write, record and post a song a day, for that one week.

    I found out a lot about myself as a musician during that time and have walked away from it being much more confident in my musicianship. I also love that you’re so willing to help others. I’m not only passionate about my music, I promote my favorite bands to people all the time. I’m not paid for it, but if I find great music, I tell people. Why keep that a secret when it is so good? I’m always showing people my favorite stuff, the stuff that has touched me the most or influenced me greatly.

    Thanks for even being interested in doing this. Not a lot of people are this interested in helping fellow musicians out. I have a friend who’s worked with quite a few big name bands, doing strings for them and whatnot, and he said that the only way he has made a living is because of being hired for strings. It was a little discouraging to hear, because I would love to make a living doing something that I love, it just doesn’t seem feasible most of the time. So again, thanks for this post. I definitely need it.

  • Dee

    “I got stuck. I couldn’t finish anything.”

    “I decided to put some limits on myself and see what I could do.”
    I think you just helped me have an “aha” moment. Thank you so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matreames Mathew Garrett Reames

    My story is different than yours. I was poor as a child and could never afford to have an instrument. I only picked up the guitar a few years ago because while I loved music I felt captivated since all I could do was sing it and not create. But my life is the calling of a missionary. I live in Lawrence, KS where I helped to plant a church, but I travel all over the world preaching and sometimes singing the story of Jesus.

    Now a days, music has become a personal passion more than a professional pursuit, but I want to use my musical talent to share my heart with others, and make money to fund the missions.

    I know that people do not naturally want to give, they want to get, so if I can produce music that people like, then they will buy it and I can use the profit to pay for plane tickets and building materials, and resources for the churches and pastors there. the problem is that I don’t have the gear needed to do a decent recording, so pray for me. I have dreams, and thoughts, and plans, but more than that I want to be honest and obedient to the Calling of God.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Coffie Christoffer Franzén

    I started playing guitar when I was 16, so I was pretty late in the game. Eventually got a band together, wrote some stuff and got semi-big on the internet with a million youtube views and we got to play infront of 10.000 people and meet the cast of the twilight films in this big event that we opened. Got offered a management deal in LA to go there and do showcase gigs, only thing was that the management and producers wanted rights to change the music, something I refused to sign. I left the band, they went to L.A, now doing something that I couldnt stand behind. I found myself alone with all this creativity and thought, “What could I do by myself?” Started learning how to record music, how to mix, how NOT to mix and I picked up all these different instruments that I felt I wanted in my productions.
    Posted a few songs on soundcloud for friends and family to hear but I had nothing more in mind then that really. Stuff started to move just like for you, and I was amazed by the response. I named my project Lights & Motion and as of now, about 17 months later, I am signed to U.S label Deep Elm Records, among many others NBC have used my music in a nationwide trailer for their new huge tv-show “The New Normal” and I am releasing my self-produced/engineered/mixed album worldwide on January 16th. Never thought that this little project born on lonely insomniac nights in the winter of 2011 would have reached so far, if yet still humble. Music in the universal language my friend. Also a play a tele 72 deluxe, which I have noticed that you do as well. best guitar.

    Take care
    Lights & Motion


    • Tracey Chattaway

      Wow, just checked out your music! Love your sound Chris

    • Mike C

      That’s awesome – my cousin is actually with Deep Elm Records as well (Accents)!

    • Andrew

      Wow man! Your story is unbelievably similar to mine. It’s really encouraging to hear that things have worked out well for you. I was in a band that was starting to get a lot of momentum going, we signed a publishing deal with an LA company who also was doing some booking for us on the side. We were driving out to LA a couple times a month and playing showcases and parties and stuff. Meanwhile, I was having personal struggles with the music and feeling like my bandmates didn’t care about making good art as much as being successful and reaping all of the cliche benefits of being in a cool band. I also couldn’t stand how fake the scene that we were starting to get into felt. So I ended up leaving the band right as things were taking off, and I just spent the whole summer working and sitting in my basement studio writing music all by myself. It’s been a lonely time but I finally am starting to finish some tracks and I’m working on getting a new band together. Stories like yours give me hope dude.


  • Hugo

    Really interesting and inspiring story.

    I am kind of in the same situation you were before. I’ve got a lot of tools to use, but no real source of inspiration anymore. I haven’t finished a song in several months, I just keep making half-finished ones and in most cases never get back to them.

  • gerald

    The thing i find amazing about you is that you are able to put yourself out there. Knowing that there is a good chance people will make fun of you or not like what you do. I think the scariest thing for me is failure because music is so intimate and the way you put yourself and your life for all to see is inspiring. At least for me it brings hope to hear that your doing well with your music. maybe just maybe there is hope for me?

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      The way I approach music is that I make it for myself and then share it with others. If I made it for others, then “failure” would be them not liking it. But when I make the music I want to make, it’s never a failure, even if no one likes it.

      Make the music that you want to make, and even if you do get some negative responses, it will be much easier to handle because you’ll be proud of what you’ve done.

      • gerald

        This helped more than you know. Thanks.

  • Simon

    Thank you for sharing Andy, you are a really generous person!
    you know when you say “..felt like there were so many possibilities flying around that I couldn’t grab onto any of them.” This is how I feel… I left everything for doing music and I’m really lucky I don’t have anything to stop me…. except too many possibilities! I mean, I have acces to quality equipment, i have a bunch of pedals, lots of real instruments that I know how to play, I know how to create sounds that I want, I even got a huge grant for making an album, so now even money’s not a problem! But I’m stuck.. stuck with thousand pieces of ideas around (and really great ideas…!) I try to put some limits, but i’m never satisfied.

    I need an advice!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Yep, I think that’s a really common problem in our day since technology has given us so many options. Limitations are the key! Get rid of some of those possibilities so that you can focus on just a few.

  • Brendon

    As always, great post and thanks for sharing.

    –Started playing guitar.
    I started out on guitar around 13 (36 now), my parents bought me a cheap guitar/amp kit and my brother a basic drumkit for Christmas (which was a pretty big deal because we weren’t all that well off). Had some low-key lessons once a week learning how to play Credence songs with bar chords and just taught myself along the way. Around 15/16 I was listening to a lot of Hendirx and The Doors when everyone else was listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, I managed to skip that whole era of the 90s music and not unhappy about it.

    Living in Australia there was a very big music scene in the mid-late 90s and a lot of rock bands were making good music. One band in particular that I was heavily into and drew a lot of inspiration from was Magic Dirt. The music was loud and emotional, Adalita’s vocals were raw and passionate, the guitars were filthy and it felt like real music.

    –Intro into recording.
    At around 18/19yrs I bought myself a Tascam tape 4-track. Probably the best purchase of my life. Entering the world of multi-track recording was mind blowing! Learning everything from the very basics (clipping and how to manage it) to mixing, stereo panning and effects. It was a very exciting time in my musical life where everything was new and it genuinely felt like there were no limits. I had to get very creative with the gear that was available to me in order to make the music that was in my head. I had a guitar/amp and a few cheap pedals, my brother’s drumkit, an old bass that was lying around of my dad’s, my sister’s Yamaha keyboard and some cheap ‘n’ nasty mics. None of the gear was really of any great quality, but being able to record anything at all was a massive buzz.

    –Intro into computer recording and band life.
    About 12 years ago I moved away from my home town and a couple of years later a mate and I started a band. I’d record us using mics into the 4-track’s inputs and the stereo output into a computer’s line input, then record in Cool Edit. That was about as comfortable with computer based recording as I felt. Did the job though. A few years later, I got onto a Moto 828 MkII Firewire device and a Behringer 8 channel mic pre-amp from a friend and used some Cakewalk program to record. I had 10 inputs going into my computer at once.. Mind blown, again.

    A few years on and the band had gone through some sound changes and we decided to record an album based on me being able to record and mix it all at home, bypassing expensive and restrictive studio options. I’d got the hang of computer recording and was getting some good results. I’d managed to get a little collection of mics and other bits and pieces by then as well. The process took a few months and the songs were often heavily layered, but we got the album recorded, spent some time mixing it, got it mastered and it came out pretty well.

    Couple of years later and the band had broken, though my collection of music gear was not decreasing.

    –Guitar life now.
    A little over a year ago I discovered two YouTubers tubescreamer (Andy) and GravityRoom (Ted Forbes) and was introduced to a different world of guitar sounds. It was not long after that I decided to I overhaul my amps and effects. Having some spare cash (the joys of single life) I spent hours browsing http://www.deluxeguitars.com.au. Started off with a few pedals, then got a couple more and eventually had the guys at Deluxe Guitars put together a PT board for me.

    Christmas time of 2011 I wanted to get a new amp, was previously using a Fender Deville 410 from the band days and a Laney VC30, an amp I’ve owned for a while. Love the darkness of the Laney but it’d stopped working and the Fender was waaaaaay too loud and I was over the sound of it. Off to Deluxe Guitars with a guitar to try some. Played a Two-Rock Studio 22 head/cab, wow. Beautiful clean tones and so responsive, I was in love. Then I played a Suhr Badger 18, I was in love again, could have played it for hours and lost track of how long I was playing it for. These amps were amazing and I didn’t know which one to get, so I bought them both.

    Current day and I’m still in love with my gear, though the pedal board has downsized from a PT3 to a PT Mini. This Christmas I treated myself to a new guitar – brand spanking ’65 Jazzmaster reissue and for the first time ever it feels like I have found “my guitar”.

    My recording setup has changed a little – Replaced the Motu with an RME Fireface UC a couple of years ago, now using Reaper as my program of choice of software, got an M-Audio USB keyboard and just recently put everything together on some shelves in a permanent set up in the small space I have in my bedroom.

    –Recording an album?
    “I got stuck. I couldn’t finish anything”
    Talk about hitting the nail on the head! That whole paragraph sums up my song writing life. This year I’m hoping to follow your advice of imposing limitations and releasing an EP – funnily enough this morning before I read this I was taking some notes on time frames and planning.

    In April last year I recorded an ambient guitar session and forgot about it. In December I found it, gave it another listen and thought it’d split up nicely into an album. I split it up into 8 tracks, gave the tracks names, made some cover art from a friend’s facebook photos (he’s pretty good at photography), made an artist Bandcamp account and uploaded everything. Within an afternoon I had made an album out of it. It felt rushed and not very well thought out, but it fell into place and felt finalised. To actually release something, regardless of how little work/effort it was, is a very good feeling and an achievement that I will try and reach again with my next release. The album is freely available at http://stormsseventy.bandcamp.com/ for anyone interested.

    Thanks again for sharing, Andy. You’re certainly an inspiration when it comes to making music.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Thanks for your story Brendon! Good luck on your next endeavor!

  • John Severa

    Hi, I’m 24 years old and live in California. I graduated college almost two years ago with a computer science and engineering degree but I’m currently employed at an art center. I find it extremely difficult to pursue employment in the computer science field even though I have a degree in it due to my lack of interest in it as well as confidence. I really just want to pursue music. I’ve been playing for years on worship teams at my church but the kind of music I want to make is ambient styled music and shoegaze. Right now I really want to focus on how I can get record and mix songs myself. I know I’ll have to save up and invest in a lot of expensive equipment but I want to stop thinking about and just actually do it. By the way, you have no idea how insanely jealous I am that you can be a full-time musician.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      It’s crazy to me how many other CS majors have come out of the woodwork through this! Keep at it man, soon you’ll be making recordings you’ll be super proud of.


    this is all extremely helpful insight. thank you for your time and openness!

  • Justin Seawell

    I created an instrumental album at noisetrade.com/holdonholdon
    I’ve been thrilled at the response and publicity, but for my future releases, is there a way to receive both publicity as well as monetary compensation? I feel like it’s usually one or the other…

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Keep doing what you’re doing, and I think as time goes on you’ll see both increase.

  • Seb Osborne

    Hey, I’m now 23 and married with a HND (UK) in Computing, Worship Leader, Graphic Designer. For me, about 3 years ago, I’d finished my education, had no interest in pursuing an actual job in the field of Computing. I personally (I know to some this will sound weird) but felt a strong calling, stronger than any “feeling” that I had ever had, that I should begin to work for my Church, wit the aim of taking hold of the day to day running of things such as the websites, designs for events as well as song-writing. Our goal as a Church has always been to one day produce an album that we could be proud of, get it out there and available for purchase. This is still a work in progress, we have new songs coming through regularly but in my opinion, I feel that we do not have the necessary means to record something of a great sound quality at this point. So, I began thinking of what could I bring to a project, that I feel that we could do now, using equipment that we have etc, so I approached a fellow guitarist, pitched the idea of what we’re calling at the moment ‘The Selah Project’, an album that will have no lyrics or vocals, but using our passion for the ambient sound, create an album that we can be proud of and that would encourage people in our locality and beyond to take a moment out of their hectic lifestyles and just be.

    We have set deadlines and so on and at the moment are about to head into recording the central piece of the album and are really excited with how things are going at the moment. We are both huge fans of your music, but what has been most inspirational to us, is how you’ve shared your knowledge and your journey for instance; when you list the kinds of equipment that you had and so on, that has given us incredible hope that we CAN get it done with what we have and that you don’t have to hold back everything on account of finances! Hey, maybe one day a collaboration would be something we’d love but as of now, the more insights into these kinds of projects that you can give, the better off we are for it! We are well on our way, and would maybe love to be able to have you listen to some tracks before we release and tell us what you think? I know you’re busy and understand if that wouldn’t be possible, but if you would be able to, and give us an honest critique, then that would help us so much!

    Thanks again,


  • Vegard Riise

    I too want to work with music, but my problem is that I don’t know of any ways to record all of my ideas and work. With my tiny budget I can’t really record music in any High-end home studio. How did you record the Seafront EP??

    • Glenn Thompson

      There is free recording software available from several companies. FruitLoops, Audacity (beta version), and the one I find a little easier to understand is Studio One by Presonus…they now have a free version, go to their website to download it. Hopefully Andy will have some answers to your questions too. Good luck!

  • Glenn Thompson

    I’ve been playing music for a long time. I was fortunate enough to earn a living gigging and teaching music. Through the 1980′s there were some well paid gigs… by 1989 they seemed to dissapear. Club owners started taking on young bands who were actually willing to pay to play. Most of these players had full time day jobs and probably didn’t realize they were taking work away from full time musicians. Also dj’s started to become more popular in the city’s music scene. That’s when I landed a full time job as a music educator for an organization taking care of “wayward teens”. So for the next 10 years I got to carry my guitar to work teaching music at high schools. I found teaching to be a niche that was really suited to me. I love(ed) it. I had no degree but a lot of experience dealing with teens. Of course the inevitable cutbacks came and the 1st thing to go were art and music.
    Now I find myself teaching privately, which pays the rent. I was giging Saturday nights for the last few years, but the pay barely covers expenses. I was earning 4 times as much 30 years ago! I’m also trying to learn how to use a DAW. I had a lot of recordings done on tape, all of which I lost in a flood. So it’s kind of like starting all over again. I need all the help I can muster in the digital domain. I’m hoping this older dog can learn new tricks.:0) I’ve been listening to ambient music since early Brian Eno, Terje Rypdal et al… and it’s always been an influence on and a part of my original repertoire.
    I really respect what you’re doing Andy, both musically and what you are sharing with words.

  • Timothy Anderson

    Thank you, Andy. I related to a lot of what you said here. Where I’m at could be summed up best when you said, “I got stuck. I couldn’t finish anything.” There are a hand-ful of songs (about 8 or 9 – all unfinished of course) that have meant a lot to me of there past 5 years. Bits and pieces of songs that sort of just happened during very pivotal points in life. Every time I sit down to work on them, I get stuck. I can’t just make it work, so I just tinker around for a while and decide to give up. I’ve thought pretty seriously a few times over the past year about just selling all of my music stuff (guitar, amp, lots of pedals, drums) and moving on. About 6 months ago, I got used to telling people that I “used to be a musician.” It makes me sad, but I’m happy to know that I’m not alone and that maybe it takes time, determination, and a lot of hard work to make things happen sometimes.

    The music I wish to finish means a lot to me. I realize a lot of people have said similar things but perhaps you have something for me also. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Fabianreynas Fabian Elias Reyna

    As always, I really enjoy your blog. I have been writing music since I was 17. Im 21 now and so far I’ve put out an independent album on Bandcamp and Itunes. I haven’t really promoted it too much so only friends and family have picked it up. Im not sure that Im the type of person to promote myself. Im really just a song writer/musician so Im thinking about asking someone else to help manage my music.

    May your hammer be mighty,

  • http://www.facebook.com/jinya.mizuno Jinya Mizuno

    One of the things that I find quite overwhelmed by is all the terminology and jargon that comes with making music on a computer… software like Logic and pretty much all DAWs are so big and complex, it seems unfathomable from the outset.

    How did you ever overcome this seeming Everest of a an obstacle?

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      I definitely know that feeling. Really I just forced myself to dive in. Don’t start of expecting to lay down an awesome song when you first start, but just play around. See what you can figure out by just pressing buttons and turning knobs. I bet you’ll find it to be more intuitive than you expected.

  • Philippe Anderson

    I had an itch to play music as a young child but never had the discipline to practice. I only started playing guitar when I entered university and have been enjoying the personal healing and therapy from listening, playing and writing music. Over the past 2 years, I have been taking steps to “get out there” at open mics and have been getting some good responses from my stuff. Most of it is acoustic guitar but I have recently come to looping my voice and putting a delay on the guitar. I’m really enjoying the soundscape. Your stuff has also been super inspiring for my own creations but also as a play for another guy doing swells and stuff. Part of me wants to be a rockstar and another part of me is not so sure about playing nights and weekends. I’m not sure how I would balance my family life. It is hard enough as it is. I’m also a bit scared of recording because I’ve heard recording can steal a bit of the passion and I’m not really a perfectionist. Though I do appreciate others’ quality work and craft.

    For now, I just try to sneak time at night to play with my headphones on and have a couple outlets to play and create. Life is good.

    I really appreciate what you’re doing here, Andy. You have a great positive attitude toward people and their music. Keep it up.

  • Trey Nettuno

    Heres my story…….. I started playing guitar when I was in 2nd grade only with a dream of being a “rock star”. I didn’t really start working towards the career aspect until 6th grade when I joined a youth band in my church. At first my style of playing revolved around 70′s rock and thats it. As 8th grade approached, I began researching tone and started experimenting with different pedals, amps, and guitars till I found something. I then discovered all of these youtube videos of people with large scale pedalboards. I stayed up almost every night watching these videos and reading forums in a quest to expand my knowledge of guitar and music. Today, I play with a network of different churches and I just started working with a same band project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.griffithtwomey Karl David Griffith-Twomey

    Hey Andy,

    When I have more time I will share with you my current “story” . HA ….. well I laugh, but maybe it’ll mean something to someone.

    I can’t say enough how encouraging, inspiring, and motivating that this blog post is. I felt that I was able to see beyond the more “Tech Savvy” Andy, and into the heart of Andy and what really, truly motivates and inspires you.

    I can relate to so much of your story, THANK YOU FOR THIS. IT IS AMAZING.


    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Haha, thanks Karl! I’m happy to inspire!

  • Aaron Hanson

    Andy, First off, thank you for your work. I can tell it’s all from the heart that you are working to inspire so many people in situations similar to yours. I’m 33, was in local bands in Minneapolis for about a decade, got a recording degree, and now I’m a Music Director at a church (think rock band not choir and organ) and a Music student at the U of M pursuing a career in Ethnomusicology(Essentially, anthropology of Music). I’m also married and we hope to have a child soon. What struck me is how you described music needing to come out of you. I have been struggling with that for a while. There’s SO much I want to do that when I sit down to work on it I get overwhelmed and frustrated because of the pace of life. I make small strides here and there but finishing a song seems impossible. Thanks for related your similar problems to us! It’s very motivating to see you out there doing it, and so well! I wanted to ask you about the dynamics of being a father, congratulations by the way, a husband and a dedicated musician. That has to be a juggling act and as I try to pursue my passion for music and intention to continue writing for personal reasons, it seems like an uphill battle given the dedication it takes to being a husband and a father. How do you do it? What advice might you have? Again, I’m truly grateful to have found this community and I wish you all the best moving ahead with your courageous new pursuits!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Yeah, I think a lot of creative people can relate to the idea of needing to get their creativity out. If I go too long without doing something creative, I just feel like something is wrong.

      And yes, being a husband, father, and a musician is hard. Time management is the biggest thing. I need to give my family time and also carve out time for music. So a lot of the time that means sacrificing something else. When I had a full time it was a lot of evenings after the kids went to sleep, early mornings and weekends.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/projet19 projet19

    Hi Andy and your community !
    my story is a little different from yours, in the sense that I am not a musician but just a music lover.
    I found a way to integrate your universe and those of other talented musicians by doing video editing.

    so far I’ve only done two tributes to your music, but reading your personal story, I really want to continue this adventure with you.
    here is the playlist : http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW4sJQnuz1rQAkAKei8G4DRpoorCHLLVb

    thanks for sharing your passion.

    from France with love !
    paul / projet19

  • http://twitter.com/MatthewWooton Matthew Paul Wooton

    For me, my story is very much unfinished. I began playing guitar when I got myself one for my 17th birthday and I began trying my absolute hardest to be like Alex Turner, lead singer of Arctic Monkeys! But after a year of playing other peoples songs in my bedroom, I realised I was missing something. I wanted to be able to write music in a band, but a band that was doing something different to everyone else. At this point, I was alone but gone about my research into solo guitarists and their methods of writing music.

    That’s when I came across Lowercase Noises on youtube and was immediately blown away by how one person can write something so beautiful, so layered and so mesmerizing. You opened me up to a new style of guitar playing: ambience. Gentle volume swells and a hell of a lot of reverb and I was making sounds I genuinely didn’t know were possible at the time.

    After practice, pedal purchasing and tone mastering I have found myself playing with a friend and we are now practising with a full band. Our sound (so far) is a unique blend of ambience, riffs and beautiful unique vocals. I can’t wait to start getting our music out there.

    I started playing guitar because of Alex Turner, I became a unique guitarist because of Andy Othling. Thank you very much my friend, never stop inspiring and never stop helping. You’re truly an inspiration.


  • http://twitter.com/skyflyingby sky flying by

    like so many here, my story is quite similar to yours. i started playing music as a very young child, playing drums. grew up in the punk/hardcore/straight edge scene. learned to play guitar, played in bands, did some touring, some recording. went to college, was in a band (drums) recorded some. after college got a job in start ups (mid 90′s) and started doing the solo thing. years went by, was growing my career and music was just this thing i did here and there. mostly just collecting some random pieces of gear and recording unfinished post-hardcore instrumental songs.

    time went on and i started posting my unfinished train wrecks for a small group of friends to hear. did that for a couple years, then i decided to really started to do something. started making more fully baked compositions, instrumental things, still 100% drums/guitar/bass driven. it was about this time i adopted a name for this thing, and have stuck with it. it was also this time that i had to start dealing with all sorts of real issues in my life. being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and asperger’s syndrome, years upon years of therapy to get to that point. was put on meds to ease crisis but it was then as my last relationship was falling apart that i needed something to look forward to. that’s when i had the bright idea of doing actual releases. why not try it. so i did and oddly enough it worked. after a year of working on a release (which was rubbish) i noticed i didn’t need the meds so much so i weened myself off them.

    then i started actually letting other people into this creative yet completely isolated bubble of mine, working out of a studio and caring about how these records sounded has just taken my music to places i didn’t even know existed. yeah there isn’t a big audience, i believe that a large audience is not in the cards for this thing i do (sort of like how i’ll never walk on the moon, or have a family) it’s just the reality of it, and i’m okay with it. it’s doing its job. i don’t have to take meds, major depressive disorder has only been a minor annoyance for the last couple years and i finally have a way to express things i feel… us aspies are not really good at verbalizing such things. and like i always say, some people like to play golf, i just like to make records.

  • Kat

    I’m primarily a vocalist, but I also play trumpet, banjo, and piano. I’m a college student studying music, and I would really love to be a composer/songwriter someday. I have a lot of knowledge about music, but I have trouble piecing it together to make songs. I have a notebook and an iphone full of little melodies and riffs that I make up, ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes long, but I don’t know what to do with them. I think my biggest problem is finding time to work on composing in the midst of classes and homework. Hopefully someday I will be able to turn all my little ideas into songs! :)

  • Eric Rosario

    At 18 I had the mindset of going to college and never using my degree. First being Bible College and the most recent being Full Sail. Now at 21 I have been to those 2 different colleges and have quit. I had dreamt of being a touring guitar player since I picked up the guitar at 12 years old so what the heck was I doing at these schools? While at school I always asked myself if it was what I really wanted to do, it cycled through my head daily. I knew that if I worked a 9-5 I would be a miserable person. After moving back this last time which was in early 2011, I decided to take a hiatus from music, losing all passion and desire to play. When January of 2012 hit I had a choice to make “Either I’m going to make this dream come true or forever be a 9-5 kind of guy” After miraculously finding my first love (music) again I practiced harder than ever and pretty much fell in love with the music at an even deeper level. I’m going to wrap this up in a nutshell but I think you will get the idea. One night I stayed up to write a bit and by the time I looked back at my clock it was 3 a.m. I get on my Mac and randomly find this girls website who happens to be a singer not too far from me. Jokingly I messaged her to see if she needed a guitarist thinking she probably wouldn’t message me back. But to my surprise she did need a guitarist! We set up the audition time, I went in and did my thing and got hired on the spot! I have been with her ever since and I am truly grateful to God for opening such a big door in my life. Sure, it’s pop music but I get to tour, have fun, and best of all meet some of the coolest people that I never thought I would have met.

    I guess this story is for the person out there who feels like giving up or that they’re not good enough. There is always a way in, it’s just a matter of place and time. Chase your dream, and someday it will end up finding you.

    I have to say Andy you truly inspire me and I really dig all of the music that you put out. If there’s an ambient tone I’m looking for, you best believe I try to sculpt the tone around something that you have in one of your videos. Thank you for everything you do and keep up the good work!

    Here’s a link to her website:


  • Jay

    My story is similar to yours and many others on here. I have played guitar since I was around 10. So almost 11 years. When I first started I practiced around 4 hours a day and I was so excited about my music. Over the past 5 or 6 years I have picked up several new instruments, but have been kind of frustrated because I just have not been able to get anywhere on them. Even my guitar has been sort of frustrating because as I have heard you say I sometimes hate what I am playing. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I started roughly recording my ideas and kind of trying to develop my particular sound. The style you play is very similar to the type of music that I love. I just started my own window cleaning business. I believe this will bring in the money I need to do what ever I want with music. So that is the plan. I REALLY appreciate you helping us and am very excited to see what happens! Thanks so much!

  • M. Hough

    Enjoy your music and your gear reviews. Even though we’re two very different musicians, I’ve found nothing inspiration from your channel man. Thanks!

    I started playing guitar when I turned fourteen. My Dad practically forced me into it and I took lessons from several teachers. I quickly discovered that music was my calling and for the next seven years I spent the majority of my time in a small room practicing my instrument. I finished college with a B.M. in Jazz from the University of North Texas in 2012 and have recently been accepted as Rusty Cooley’s 2nd guitarist in Day Of Reckoning.

    Although I’ve had some success I still find myself struggling financially as well and have a difficult time finding people who are, not only willing, but capable of playing my music. I’m not sure what my “nich” is. It seems that the less “mainstream” (whatever that means) you are the smaller the audience. My goals this year are to find willing musicians (and money to pay them) to create some sort of demo that I can work with.

    Thanks for your channel and your willingness to communicate/inspire. Best Wishes.
    -M. Hough

  • Chris

    Really encouraged by this man.
    I’ve been playing since I was 12.. And I feel like I tend to get stuck in the same place With Each new project I start. It does get a little better each time, but after a little while I still hit that spot where everything seems like its going to fall apart… And then it does. I’m at that point in my life where I need to make the decision between my curent job as a computer tech, and pursuing my passion for music. I recently joined a band called Kadesh. (We actually opened for FOF in Orlando about a month ago). Things have been a little shaky as far as promoting and trying to get a new record out. I feel like I’m at that point where I seem to get stuck at with almost every other project that I’ve worked on. But I’m really determined to see this through and take it all the way. I don’t know if you remember seeing us when we opened for you. But man, I would love to hear what you think. Some constructive criticism.

  • Andrew Tasselmyer

    Hey Andy, I’ve been slowly catching up on my blog roll reading and am glad I found this post. It is very inspiring to read about someone doing what they love (successfully). This is the proverbial “kick in the pants” I’ve been waiting for to get me energized again. I’m currently working a very stable and well-paying corporate job, but am growing steadily more unfulfilled. I’m a musician at heart, not a businessman, having played a variety of instruments for many years now. I am trying hard to learn the art of recording and sound engineering and become capable enough to turn what I do with The Sound Of Rescue into a somewhat viable career…even if it isn’t solely with TSOR, I know that I want music to be a bigger part of my life.

    Thanks again and keep doing what you do. All the best with the impending addition of little Othling #3.

    -Andrew Tasselmyer

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Hey Andrew! Yeah man, I know exactly how you feel. I think you’ve got an awesome foundation to grow from with TSOR. Glad I could be a little bit of inspiration… it is possible!! :)

  • gerald

    I have a question. Why Dont You write lyrics to your songs? And if you do Why dont you record them on your albums?

  • David

    Dear Andy,

    I just stumbled upon your music, I like it a lot. I don’t know you personally, but judging by your website and your Youtube comments it seems like you are a really nice guy. Keep up the good work.

    Kind regards


  • Nwmusic

    Thank you for inspiring me to dive back into music.

    I had dreams of being a professional drummer since I was in 5th grade. My parents bought me a drum set, and I started to learn on my own, practicing 4 hours a day minimum. Not being from a very musical family, they were very understanding and didn’t complain. During the same period, I taught myself guitar. I began studio drumming on various small projects, and at 23 was in a band, sponsored by a custom drum company, and signed to an indie label with distribution through universal republic. I even got a job at the recording studio the label owned, and marketed for the studio, was a runner, and eventually got to sit in on sessions. I had accomplished my dream.

    In short, the “Dream” wasn’t everything I thought it would be. I was locked into a contract that stated I could not record for anyone under another label, and even when recording for someone at the indie my split was only 11% – A far cry from the $150 per track I was making as an independent. The contract also limited the band to what they could record, when they could perform, how much money could be made from performances, etc. The label recorded the album and shelved it. They did not schedule any shows for us, and we were not allowed to schedule our own. We literally had to wait out the contract to be able to enjoy our music again. It was a long 18 months. I could have started going to college at this point, but had given all my time to my dream. At the time it seemed like a sure thing, I was signed, right?

    18 months later, the band’s morale was way down. No cd was ever released, and we split. I was extremely disappointed. My drums sat in their touring cases for 7 months in my house and I had no desire to even look at them. I kept playing guitar, though. I moved to an apartment a few months later and sold the drums, and used the money for more recording gear. I really don’t think I would want to join a band again and tour around. Especially with my wife going through chemotherapy. I’ve been making music for myself for a while now, and recently gave a CD to a few family members and friends. They are all adamant that i publish it, so I will be putting it up on itunes soon (Through TuneCore). I’ve sold some here as custom tracks for web videos for around $400 each, but those projects are few and far between.

    You have inspired me to jump into this full-force and try to make a sustainable living out of it. I have been working at a bank for years and hate the job. Every day is a motivational struggle to get out of bed and go to work. Your story has given me hope. Thank you!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Wow, what a story! Thanks so much for sharing man. Stories like yours really help solidify my thinking that things are shifting away from the traditional “label” story, because it seems end poorly in so many cases. We’ve got such a freedom in this day and age to do it all on our own! I’m so glad you’re inspired and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of it!

  • Allyse


    My name is Allyse and a friend pointed me to your blog after I told him that I am going to try to stop working a 9-5 office job. I have been playing music all my life, and recently started writing songs. Im really serious about it, and for the first time in my life I know what its like to feel a passion for something. ITS CRAZY! So yea, Im on the grind as they say to make this a reality. My goal is to not be working this office job in 2014. My goal now is to have a 5 song EP out by May 2013. Thanks for taking time to write this blog. Really encouraged and ready to start!!!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      First off, tell your friend I said thanks for pointing you my way! :) But yes, I know exactly how you feel. I love your goals, and I hope I can help you reach them!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.j.eber Michael J. Eber

    Andy — hope you remember me, we spoke via email. I read your story and it is interesting because I, too, am a software engineer. Unlike you, though, I do love the work (most of the time) mostly because it is an artistic outlet. A few years ago I wanted to get another electric guitar after not playing for years. Way too many years. My first was a 70′s Fender that I sold and got an acoustic when I entered college.

    My music only spanned the breadth of other artists but I always added my own twists or approach to performing them. Playing a rock song on acoustic and keeping an audience happy is a trick. :)

    I graduated college and found that the neck to my guitar needed straightening. But it warped so badly it would break if I fixed it. It was a Gibson and would be worth thousands today but it went to a guy in the shop for $50 and that was the end of my guitar days.

    Years later and now I’m back. Your music gave me a direction that these older fingers could more easily handle and now I”m working on getting my callouses back. I just got my reverb peddle yesterday and this weekend I begin on the work for my six-song work. I’m sure that it will be hard and I’ll get stuck but I have the internet and poeple like you and Mark to inspire me. I doubt I’ll make much in the way of income, but if I ever do, the first thing I’m doing is opening an effects pedal account for my blue sky peddle. Yeehaw.

    I just hope I don’t drive you nuts with questions down the road. :)

  • Mel Minter

    Andy, Michael Mucklow turned me on to your music, which I have been enjoying online. I write a music column every month for Albuquerque The Magazine. I’d like to include you in the April issue. Please contact me to discuss.

  • Magnetic

    Hey…So, here is my story. I started out playing piano at a very young age. Eventually, I felt guitar was cooler and made the switch. When my first band couldn’t find a bass player, I decided to switch. I played bass in many bands over the years. They were mostly power pop/ punk bands and one even came close to a record deal with a major label. After that, life took over and I moved away from music for awhile and even sold off most of my gear. However, I kept writing and playing on my own. I eventually discovered that I could use my computer to record music. After fumbling around and getting the basics, I started recording some ambient inspired post rock music under the name Magnetic. My original idea was to record strictly ambient synth music, like Brian Eno. However, my roots in rock always seemed to take over and the music became more structured and made use of more typical rock instrumentation. However, everything was still synth/ sample based. When ever I tried recording live instruments, I was never satisfied with the results. So, now I am at a cross roads. I want to start bringing live instruments back into my creations so I am looking to expand my skills and learn to play better and capture my sounds better.

  • http://twitter.com/aj_mcquay A.J. McQuay

    I just stumbled across this post and find it pretty relatable. I too am in IT but don’t necessarily call it my passion, although I’ve only recently started to get more “serious” about music and dipped my toes in the world of recording. Wild that we’re both in Albuquerque, too!

  • http://twitter.com/aj_mcquay A.J. McQuay

    It seems my comment disappeared! Your story definitely resonates with me, as I too am in IT but don’t really consider it my “passion”.

    I’ve been playing guitar for about 13 years now, but didn’t take my first lesson until last year. It was astonishing how quickly some foundational theory accelerated my playing – it makes me wish I’d started them years ago. Playing live with talented musicians and a few studio sessions have been very enlightening, as well.

    I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog, and maybe I’ll run into you somewhere since we’re both in Albuquerque!

  • Stefano

    I’m a young ambient producer since almost like 1 years and some months, your story is similar to mine when you sad that at the beginning it was difficult writing music, for me the same but continues to be cause i’m just 18 years old so i have a lot to learn about writing music ! i’m in the high school in italy and between 1 year i must start university or working and this scare me because i think that i haven’t enough time for music !


    this is my soundcloud page ! please tell me some suggestions about my tracks that can help me to going on whit ambint song writing

    thank you Andy !

  • tendwayi

    well we are all similar l guess cut form the same cloth , l am currently studying graphic design and this is my second year in my degree and l always had a desire to be a guitarist and a musician and since l could remember l have heard sounds and melodies in my head and l have always wanted to be able to translate them into reality.

    l went to Australia 2 years ago and had an internship at Citipointe church brisbane and got to see some of things they do when recording and how they run their worship and l got to live and work with full time musicians and then l knew that graphic design wasn’t the career for me, now two years down the line l stumble across the little gems that you have been dropping and l played a few big gigs and l want more l wanna bring out the sounds i have in my head l wanna finish my music l wanna be true to what l feel god put in my hands.

    p.s it’s strange how we all wanna work with computers and software.

  • Zach Long

    Bro I feel like an amateur, which I am, but I have a question. What is the deal with these delays and reverbs, and all of these other pedals and how they can be “stereo” and whatever else? I have a vox AC30 and am wondering what exactly to do with my eventide timefactor at the moment. I also have a mxr carbon copy and of course some overdrives. But please clarify about an effects loop or whatever other recommendations you have for my pedalboard. Thanks Andy.

  • Greg Frantz

    My Story like most other guitar players is one of growth, change, and finding who you are musically. I’ve been playing since I was about 14. Started to heavily get into not just knowing technique but everything guitar has in general. Over the past two years been building my gear collection. Like most things though building has been costing alot of Presidential flash cards. It’s well worth it though. Really trying to build my gear as much as I can before I take the plunge and go to the Hillsong International Leadership College in about a year and half for Worship music. Not sure what all that will have for me there but I know it’s all part of God’s plan. You’re a awesome inspiration though Andy and have given a lot of valuable insight. I’m very thankful and blessed. Thank you.

  • Pj Dorsey

    I just came across your site and I also share many of the same feelings and frustrations you experienced early on. Played for years, grew frustrated. Quit for 10 years. Picked it up again and now trying to get it all to gel. So many options but so hard to get finished
    cohererent work. I am hoping you can help. This track was one of the first I have done that sounded decent because i bought a good microphone. recording seems so difficult to me sadly.
    This seems like a bit of a godsend. I am glad your here to help

  • http://www.facebook.com/pj.dorsey Pj Dorsey

    I am glad I found your site. I experience many of the same frustrations as you did early on. Played for years, got frustrated, quit playing for a decade and now starting again. Have real issues recording my stuff. Always fragmented. Many mistakes. Always eats away at my confidence. I am hoping you can give me some ideas how to move things forward. Not trying to make a living at it, just want to get my music heard. I would like to think I have something useful to share. Paul

  • Jane Wang

    After reading this encouraging post two months, I’ve finally gotten to writing my comment! The fact that I’m writing my comment so late kinda shows how my music has been going, but hopefully that will change!

    I’ve been playing piano and guitar since I was in middle school, but my skills have just plateaued and I know more practice is essential. Music has always been such an important part of my life and I love writing songs and singing. After going to school for film and spending some time in that area, I’ve realized that playing and writing music is where I feel most alive. Now that my film internship has ended, I’ve decided to live the “starving artist” life of working a part time job while working on my music. While I have some songs already written, I am completely new to recording, promoting, and performing (aside from a few open mics) my music. I know I have a long way to go and a lot of new people to connect with and that is my main fear, that I don’t have what it takes to collaborate with other people. It’s also hard for me to see myself promoting my music without feeling arrogant (which I know shouldn’t be the case). While I know I have the talent, I must be disciplined and work on it more. I often feel insecure, but I hope to one day to have the confidence and discipline to share my music with others. It has been my dream for a while and I’m ready to go for it, despite my fears and insecurities.

    Thank you for your willingness to share your experience and involve others. I am really grateful and encouraged.

  • Steven Rodriguez

    I started playing piano in 5th grade when my parents forced me into lessons. I hated it. I told them that I wanted to play guitar and they told me they’d buy me one upon completing a certain amount of piano lessons. They bought me a guitar a few months later and I took lessons for the for about 2 months but it didn’t go anywhere. I wasn’t ready to play at this time in my life. A few years later, around the end of 7th grade, I learned “The Song of Storms” from the Legend of Zelda by watching youtube tutorials and continued to learn tons of video game, r&b, and hip-hop songs. In High School, I immediately wanted to play keyboard in a band. I met my lead guitarist and best friend in the first Jazz Band meeting of the year and asked if he was down to play together. He told me he wanted me to learn to play rhythm guitar and I picked it up rather quickly, being ready to play a cover of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer in the next month. Our band would take many transformations from there and we finally got our dream set of members. Had 4 wonderfully talented musicians and a great singer and we wrote some pretty cool songs under the name Animolia(you can hear our old stuff at http://www.reverbnation.com/animolia). I had fallen in love with guitar and decided to start another band as a lead guitarist, writing most of the music myself. Eventually Alex quit Animolia after a few years of working together due to the problems any band will bring forth. I cried for the whole day after that, heartbroken. It was then that I took on the role of lead guitarist in Animolia and really got put out front doing a lot of difficult things that I wasn’t used to. It was a really good experience for me, but it didn’t last long. Adam, our lead singer, quit the band a few months later and we disbanded as a whole. However, this was really what got us all in the music world, our commitment and determination to make music we loved. 3 of us are studying music in college and Adam is creating a following writing and producing his own music as a solo act. I am currently working on 2 EPs (One more experimental, the other more ambient rock like Andy’s) and a collaboration album(which will hopefully be up under my name “Partying On Other Planets” in the next few months). I got obsessed with pedals due to my influences: Alex from the band, Andy Othling, John Frusciante of RHCP, and Radiohead. I wanted to be crazy good at guitar, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that I wanted to ditch virtuosity and focus on writing songs that expressed my emotions and were produced well. I’m getting better with every recording, but I still feel unsatisfied with the majority of those recordings. My song writing has advanced so far and I’ve also taken up singing, getting into UCSC’s University Concert Choir was a big step for me in that direction. I hope one day to be able to go on tour around the world and have people listen that want to hear my music and the message in it. I want people to know the meaning behind music.

  • http://leaflog.bandcamp.com/ Padraig Daly

    Hi Andy, and everyone.

    Im 27, from SW Ireland and ive been playing music in some form or another since I was 10. Guitar is my main instrument but I also play a bit of piano and bass.

    I first started taking music seriously about 5 years ago when I realized that I wasn’t limited to just playing, that I could create something that didnt exist before. It was like something clicked inside me. Im sure most of you undertand what I mean. The process of writing was very liberating for me, I felt happier than I had ever been. I started a band (instrumental post rock) we got up and running quite fast, started gigging and recorded an EP in the first year. Around that time I decided to quit my job and take a course in music theory/management/production.

    The two years of studying had the opposite effect on me than I thought it would however. I felt overwhelmed by the industry. My writing became clinical. I found I made creative decisions looking through “record company glasses”, thinking only about target markets and marketability. After college the band fell apart and I was unemployed, broke and at a loss. Continuing as a musician seemed impossible.

    To cut a long story short my writing gradually started coming back into focus. I conditioned myself to write only as a release again, to forget about making it a viable future (catch 22 I know).

    It was around then I discovered your story Andy. It was comforting to hear you talk so openly about your life. It helped me to see that pursuing music is something I can do. How exactly is something im still unsure about, but thats kind of exciting.

    Thanks for sharing your story Andy, your story has rekindled something in me that I thought had died.


  • http://twitter.com/Matt_NovaScotia Matt Mullen

    For the past couple of years, i have been in love with ambient music and post-rock. But the band i was in had no interest in playing in that style. I had planned to launch my own solo project but i really didn’t know where to begin. Last month i was rather unceremoniously kicked from my band so now i have the creative time to put into my own music. First thing i did was purchase an audio interface and some recording software, now i just need to put what i hear in my head down onto the tracks. Music is always a career i wanted but from three years in that band i realise that the industry (especially in the UK is pretty toxic). I feel that going at it alone may well be my best bet. Yourself and Christoffer Franzen of lights & motion have inspired me to just go ahead and do it.

  • Paulrick

    Hey Andy,

    I find your story very inspiring and appreciate each and every video, blog post, tip, etc. that you post.

    I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 19 yrs old but as soon as I got to where I felt like i was educated enough to pursue a career in music (after many sleepless nights & calluses)…my plan was to tour the world doing what I love and “living the dream”.

    Now, as a 26 yr old husband & father of 1 soon to be 2 two baby girls, working full time, w/ bills a plenty… I find it very hard to even sit down for 20 minutes a day to focus on my music. Even if I get a chance to pick up my guitar, I feel like I’m being selfish as there’s a million other things I could be doing to help out. I’m sure this is something everyone on here has dealt w/ at some point. I am grateful for the various opportunities I have on a regular basis to play/lead worship locally. I find your decisions for you & your family very inspiring and enjoy reading about how you manage your time and resources. Keep doing what you’re doing! Tis much appreciated! Now it’s off to the spare bedroom to record some stuff while baby is asleep!

  • andymac

    Yet another Andrew/Andy here :) I’m a Church/Worship guitarist, rather than an aspiring artist. I signed up for this because the whole art of structuring/composing and recording fascinates me. And I

    I started playing guitar at 16, back then my main influence was the Edge, so from the very start I was addicted to delay units and pedals. Then I was 18, a friend played me Shine On… from A Delicate Sound of Thunder, and when I heard Gilmours ethereal strings bending over that synth pad, I heard what a guitar should sound like, the sound I’d always had in my head.

    So you can see where my love of ambient guitar comes from. I found Andy/Lowercase Noises on You Tube, along with Karl Verkade/Passenger95, and have spent a small fortune replacing my Boss ME50 with a PT2 and various niceties.

    I’m looking forward to continuing with you all along this journey, with Andy at the helm :)

  • Chris

    Thankyou so much for this post, it is very encouraging and honest!!

    Since I was young i’ve had a passion to pursue a career in music, and up until now I’ve just finished high school last year and am really thinking harder about what I am going to do with my life. I have a stable income in childrens education which i don’t mind, but my real passion is to pursue music. I also have a serious relationship that is looking like marriage in a few years. I am just really not sure how I can pursue music full-time and also be able to support a family in the future? how are you finding the financial situation? Is it do-able?


  • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.taylor.94043 Jordan Taylor

    Well…not a long story short…in third grade I started taking piano lessons, did that for 3 years and everyone who ever heard me kept saying I was a prodigy, that I had a big future in music. I quit piano right before Jr. High so I could take up playing football…like all of my really “cool-kid” friends. Soon after I started playing football my dad (a long time drummer) offered to start up some family drum lessons. So we grabbed a drum set and spent 5 years running through snare and drum set theory…we eventually ran out of time and resources to really keep moving forward once I got into High School (Jr. High was actually 6-8 grade.) In 8th grade, I quit playing football for my homeschool cover group so I could try out guitar lessons. My first lesson was an ACDC chord chart on an acoustic guitar that one of my friend’s older brothers had on him at the time. We sat down and he taught me four chords. Em, G, A, and D…I picked up those four chords and started taking from a local guitar player. After a year of learning licks, blues scales, standard scales, and all kinds of songs, my instructor felt called to move to Finland. Once he left, I spent a year exhausting all of GuitarTricks.com’s resources, took a 6 month break to just learn songs by using tabs.
    Then one of my best friends told me he was taking lessons from a head guitar guy at our church…and that he was looking for another student. So I signed up at the end of my 9th grade year. I’ve been taking lessons from the guitar guy for almost an entire year now (since I’m coming up on my senior year in high school). Writing songs has always come naturally…I just doodle on an instrument and stuff starts to happen. Recently I’ve started using GarageBand on my iPad to record songs…and now I want some real quality recording gear so I can get better dynamics and allow me to put together a song with more than just 7 total tracks. I hope to graduate college with a degree in Business Administration so I can begin working with churches in the US and UK, while managing the production of my own music.

  • Farhad

    I’m currently in med school and it is awful!! I have this idea living in the back of my head that I need to follow what I’m feeling but I just can’t seem to get my music to really come out and flow. I have the tools but I feel like I’m unable to focus on the direction and form it is suppose to take. Kind of like when you limited your self to the timing of the YouTube videos. I would like to follow the same path you took and find stability in my hobby and passion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reno.wesley Reno Wesley

    Well Andy,

    I can truly say that we both share a passion for music. I really love your story and find it to be fascinating while yet encouraging. Truth is I have had many opportunities to work with celebrities like P Diddy and the list goes on. I have also been very fortunate to land some jingles for Dodge Durango and Kmart, making up to 30k in 30 seconds. I have an 11 year old son of whom I care for deeply and I stopped a high pursuit of the music business to spend quality time with him to ensure that he is reared properly.

    I chose to be a Father instead of completely going after my dreams. However, songwriting is still a very deep passion of mine of which I still wish to pursue faithfully but only this time I want to be more strategic about doing it. I have stories of driving to New York City from Detroit, Michigan through blizzards to meet with A&R reps only to stay in New York for that day as my finances would not allow me to grab a hotel. I truly know what it means to be a “starving artist”.

    I have a great catalogue of music that needs to be heard and like yourself I want to benefit financially from it. I don’t have cameras to make Youtube videos and I can not afford to pay anyone to film me at this time. I will ask if you have any suggestions at this point as to how I can began building my fan base and getting the music out there? I noticed in your toolkit there was a section about kickstart and I would like to know more about that. Well have a good one Andy and I hope to hear from you soon!

  • Grant Keel

    Between you and James Duke, I have learned a lot about creating a nice atmospheric ambience. I am not a very good singer, and as a guitar player I want to create my own music. For a while I thought that if I could not sing I really couldn’t create my own music, but with your music I have realized my guitar and the grace of God is all I need to make the music I want to make. The music I want the world to hear. Thank you for being transparent and just being real. Thank you for sharing your music and wanting to see others succeed. I truly appreciate it.

  • Guest

    Oh, how could I forget! Here’s my Soundcloud music!


  • Paul Mehlhaff

    I have been creating and recording music since high school. After I got out of college in 1993, I was ready to be a part of the Techno Rave and Space Music scenes, unfortunately, where I lived in Montana, there was really not actual “scene.” Disappointed, I became a musical scatter-brain, dabbling with classical, rock, blues, and folk guitar, continuing electronic space music and dance music, and even trying retro 80′s music. Very similar to your experiences, I couldn’t seem to focus on any one of them to create a whole project and I didn’t have the confidence to perform or release anything. I felt like I wasn’t good enough at any of these music styles to make anything out of it. Distraught in my 30′s, I thought of packing it all away for good, until I discovered that I could take the best elements out of all of these experiences and put them together into something bigger! Now, I am 42 years old, and I no longer feel too old to play. I am focusing now more on bringing some of my favorite elements together for ambient music with varying shades of space music, groove, and solo instrumental. I have been breaking out of my shell and performing with my guitar, most recently for an Alzheimers/Memory Care facility. I’m discovering that the music I create is worthwhile, and I have an obligation to myself and others to share it! I am also currently working on a long-time dream of performing a live multi-keyboard ambient show, something almost unheard of where I live, and I’m very close now to having it ready, with some great interest from the community for it. Also, I’ve been inspired to release my first album, which I’m planning to finish by the end of the year, with several other album projects in mind. Music is still a hobby, but I love the idea that I can share it, and people are enjoying it. I can’t wait to see where it leads.

    One of the things that helped me gain so much confidence and inspiration was finding a wonderful online community called “Relaxed Machinery.” It is a social networking site that is open to the general public and centered around ambient music. I’ve met so many inspiring musicians and mentors that show how positive a love for music can be, and how great it is to share it.
    Check it out sometime: http://www.relaxedmachinery.ning.com

    Thanks Andy! Your site is very inspiring as well! Good to see it here!

  • daiku

    Hey Andy, first of all, thanks for the care and attention you put toward the things we enjoy. I spent twenty years in the software integration business, and now I am focusing on music and woodworking. While I made a good living, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I would like. I always wanted to get better at guitar and play for enjoyment, and now I have the time to do it. It also helps me with my severe chronic back pain, which is the primary reason I guess my life changed as far as work. Music is a healing power.

    Keep up the good work, and the best to you. Say hello to my friends at Habitat for Humanity down in Belen. I spent a couple months working on some homes there, but that’s another story.

  • Jeff Miller

    Hi Andy,

    Cool stuff here. I make music for a living, and have for a while. My main struggle now is that I spend so much more time booking shows rather than working on creative endeavors (namely songwriting and recording, but also potential online resources that help with promotion).

    I also have had the lifelong issue of not being able to work on songs when I know other people are in the house and can hear me at work. I have put out 4 albums, but my most productive time was during my first two album-making stints, when a friend gave me a copy of the key to his place, and I would go there 3-5 days a week just to work on songs. I wish I could find a way to do something like that, while still getting booking work done.

    I’m also a fellow Boomerang user, and happened upon your site via your YouTube page Boomerang III reviews. I still use a +, and am not sold on the differences in the newest iteration of the pedal.


  • John Koelling

    Andy – Your story was genuinely inspiring. Though I’m certain that a lot of people would (like to) identify with your story, I doubt that very many appreciate the courage it took to do what you did. It may not have felt that way to you, but it was courage nonetheless. Thanks for a “real” story about following your passion and dream. I’ve learned (later than I wanted) to do the same thing. I am enjoying creating, writing and playing with several very talented friends. We are just beginning the recording process and your story and wisdom will be great resources. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

  • Lloyd

    Hi Andy,

    I’ve played music off and on for several years – more off than on until about a year ago when I picked up a bass again. I’m in a job right now that doesn’t satisfy me creatively at all, and is only barely worth sticking with financially.

    I’ve always been drawn to ambient music, but never took the chance to try and play anything like it. My little experience has been playing with other people, never concentrating on my own creation for my own enjoyment. Seeing what you’ve done inspires me to take the chance to pursue the music I enjoy, for myself, and for my closest friends and family.

    Thank you for being a resource for others.

  • Alex Hing

    Dear Andy Othling,

    An encouraging reminder to a gracious and humble approach to something that a lot of us reading can relate to, even more so that you are transparent and honest. Bless!

    I have just discovered your youtube channel and blog. A little late but rather that than never.

    I have just finished an EP with a mate of mine of South Africa. Three years, five tracks, two cities. It’s done! A rad achievement. But now, I am stuck on my own material.

    I am fortunate enough to earn money by my day job to afford some gear that I have always gawked at from afar. A little stifled in the corporate environment of advertising/marketing as a video edit assist/audio/video technician, it’s all within reach.

    I feel the well of creativity build within. fumbling around with ideas and old songs. I need to get the old ones out to get on with new material. Closure.

    I know these things can’t be forced but time is moving along and I’m producing ever so slowly. None the less, there are sounds coning out.

    Anyway, I thought I’d take a moment to salute you and your efforts!




  • Mark Ridout

    Hi Andy, great post. I loved how openly you write.Your music is sublime also :) Im Mark and Im a Londoner living in Australia. A singer/songwriter, and after about 6 years of gigging around…I have come to the point in my musical story now where i am really applying myself to how i can get my music to peoples ears in a more professional way. so this is a timely blog of yours! I have been outlining a plan to focus on the areas which i feel most passionately about also those which i need to educate myself on which are necessary for example the legal side, and being more consistent in my promotion of my music. I have a job as a disability care worker and a music therapist, which i do enjoy so I am happily doing both at the moment. But i would certainly love to get to the point whereby the selling and licensing of recordings would provide a wide enough income to concentrate on music entirely. I have given up work in the past in an attempt to boldly dive into the unknown and live off my music and creativity but it was unsustainable at the time. Thanks for your generosity to others and il be following your music.. enjoying the vibes :) cheers, mark
    if you wanna put a sound to a name:

  • Marco Michelotti

    Awesome, I couldn’t think that you can earn something by amateur. What you do is amazing, sometimes I prefer music you do or music I do, instead post rock music like Mogwai or This Will Destroy You, it depends anyway.
    Keep play for your life.

  • Luis Montejo

    I love pedals, and I love making ambient stuff. I youtube’d it and fell in love with absolutely everything you put out. Didn’t want to give you my whole testimony but I feel that my transparency with you will be appreciated. Thanks for what you do.

  • Javier

    I got a music degree, but never actually tried to make a living out of music, even if I know it’s the best thing I do.

    I have been working in different things 3 years from now, and I just quit my job as an audio technician for a play in a theater here in Mexico, I am just starting to see how am I going to sell my work as a composer and develop my composing skills, so my songs don’t keep ending up as you said, just spread ideas in my computer… I need to start finishing them and spending more time polishing my skills and marketing my music.

    I like your music, a lot. The tip videos are very useful, as a guitarist I appreciate them a lot, thank you.

  • Nikita Merzlyakov

    Hi, Andy!
    My story is also something like yours! =)
    I play music since my early childhood. I also had full-time job which wasn’t music at all. But in November 2012 (what a coincidence!) I have also quit it. While I don’t get enough money from music even to cover production and promotion costs. But I’ve found that I can get enough money for living from repairing and reselling used synthesizers (as I am into synths for more than 10 years already). It is better than office job 5 days a week anyway. Now I spend most of my time on establishing sales of my music to start cover its costs first and then probably earn some money from it finally.
    Thanks to your great articles and free ebook!
    All the best,

  • RalPhot Romero

    Great story, Andy! Like a few here who had an eerie (in a nice way) connection to your experience, I too can say that i have a very similar trajectory – started playing young, developed in high school, graduated to playing in bands while juggling the reality called “having a 9-5 job”. Sharing an affinity for post-rock/ambient music is an icing on the cake.

    Even during my band days, I never was confident enough with my own songwriting skills that I never bothered to write anything. I was happy with being just a guitarist. Like you, there would be ideas floating in my head but I seem to never make something out of them. Half-baked even.

    And then just recently I decided to start with the basics – stitch a few chords, arrange verse-chorus-verse and see what works, then add other instrumentations. I guess having Garageband helped flesh out these ideas. Whenever I think I came up with something remotely interesting (in my book), i just whip out my iPad and ht record.

    Fast forward to today and I’ve actually written close to 6 songs already, 2 of which I’ve given to my band and we’re all excited about the direction we’re taking with my songs.

  • Sameer Kumar

    Hi Andy!
    I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old. But I had been playing the bongos since I was 3 years old. I’m 15 now and hope to get my band out into the world. We gig regularly and have somewhat of a fan base. Any tips?

  • GlassApple

    My life has been much like yours inasmuch as I have so many first chapters & no novel (as you mentioned about your earlier endeavors, when you were still in your old job, & before your first album)… It seems I have too many areas of art (& spiritualty, also) to dig into & never seem to have the time or space, even, to realize anything in a complete sense. I have well over 40 complete songs (& most with lyrics) written, but I only have a handful recorded, let alone recorded well. When it comes to recordings, I have about as many usable recordings that I could publish, but would have to learn (&/or replace lost equipment) in order to reproduce…. I have ideas for books, film, paintings, mixed art/music projects, poems, songs, installations, light sculptures, grandiose installation ideas that take way more money than I have to invest… I greatly appreciate your advice to start smaller & work up to more complex publishing. One other problem I’ve encountered is having pieces with no completed structure, & wanting to be sure they are incorporated in the best possible way — so I never end up being satisfied enough to commit them to a piece (but I guess that part works itself out on its own terms, just gotta trust my artistic sense, & inspiration – it’ll fit when it fits, & there will be no question when it does).

    I always wanted to start in top gear, to make a huge impression & get an immediate following that builds itself… maybe that’s not as important as just getting out there (or realistic). I think I can do that, and still accomplish my original goal by publishing under several similar/related names, and reveal my combined identity as I approach my intended level, hence making the grand impact I intend to. I always held that most bands I like have made the best music (songs/song-writing/expression) on their debut album. Seems to be the trend I’ve noticed. I guess I’ve allowed this perceived pattern become a detrimental guideline, hence a hindrance for me. Guess I’ll sweep out my head a little & just get to it. THANKS! YOU ROCK, ANDY!!!

  • GlassApple

    **2nd sentence: “as many recordings” meaning on the fly/off the cuff instrumental recordings

  • Dk

    Hey Andy! I’m really inspired by your story! I was just wondering if you have any tips for being a better musician. I want to be versatile and adapt to any instruments, as well as expand my creativity, but I don’t know why it’s been hard lately. It’s frustrating. I know what I want to make, but don’t know if I could. It’s like trying to say something, but can’t find the right words to say. I’ve also been wondering if you have any tips for an acoustic rig (if it’s needed). I have a taylor 314ce, and was wondering if they are any acoustic rigs out there. Been striving so hard to become a better musician. Thanks!

  • http://planetcorey.com/music Corey Koehler

    From one musician and music blogger to another… I really like your blog man. Good job.

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      Thank you Corey!

  • http://adelineymusic.blogspot.com/ Adeline Yeo

    Hi Andy, thanks for sharing this article. It’s great to see another potential indie artist succeed. I’m a newbie in music, I started music out of passion just like you. Although I’m not a professional musician, but I also tried ways and means to promote my piano music to my fans. It really wasn’t easy, there were tons of competitions around the internet in the music industry.

    Only some of the ways did get some exposure for my music. Maintain and updates posts regularly on social networking sites like facebook, twitter etc… write and release press release to free and paid press release sites, giveaway free music demos or one song track to fans and listeners and collect emails. Create videos on youtube put itunes link on description and get views for our video does works.

    You’re just like another indie artist, called David Nevue. He started his music release career in the 90′s. At first, he only sold 2 CDs to his fans. Now, he is one of the successful musician on the internet.

  • CL Parton

    I started playing when I was in high school, playing in metal bands with friends and whatnot.
    I went on to college and then to work and started a family and now, at 43, I still have the urge to create my own music.
    I’m happy I found you online, as you’ve inspiried me to pick up my guitar seriously, again.
    Although, I love metal and hard rock, I also grew up on old country and bluegrass that my parents listened to. I am drawn to ambient music to, partly because of the great vibes I get from the sound, but also to feed my interest in gear (haha).

    Keep up the great work, I really enjoy your site and videos, not to mention your music!


  • Clark Winter

    Hey Andy,
    My name is Clark Winter and I’m seventeen. I’m a junior in high school in Gainesville, Florida. I’ve been playing guitar for about 5 years now and I am the lead guitar player for The Rock of Gainesville, a fairly large church here. I stumbled upon your youtube videos and checked out your story. I love what you’re doing here; you’ve made a home for a bunch of really cool people with really cool ideas that don’t know exactly what to do with them. Over the years, I have recorded on albums for The Rock and I have had the opportunities to play at huge conferences with big names in the industry. But now that I am getting older I am writing more of my own stuff. I have to say that I’ve never been more exited and more scared at the same time. Music is not a hobby; it is who I am. So… Hey. I’m Clark. Thanks for having me.

  • David Parnell

    This is a great testimony Andy! I’m deeply inspired by your drive and ambition and as I’m reading your posts here today i’m listening to your music and can’t help but be amazed with the internal voice that comes up from within the various melodic changes and the sweeps and swells of articulation and emotion! I’ve played guitar since I was maybe 15. In the last few years I have improved tremendously and continue to strive for the greatest. I have a very strong ear and that’s what I rely on when I do play. I can sit down and put a solo under my fingers from a famous band in no time. I know how to read music and know notation because I also play the trumpet and have since 6th grade. I don’t know notes on the guitar neck and am grieved by this because that right there is a wall that is holding me back from the potential I have welled within me. So I continue to play the same things and fall into that rut just as you did. I’ve written numerous riffs that I play and fine tune just the parts I’ve written or remembered off hand. It wasn’t maybe 3 years ago that I dove into the ambient post rock genre when a friend from work showed me the band Hammock. I fell in love instantly and would get lost in the music and do nothing but wish I could produce such a feat. Your Youtube videos and blogs have made that feat attainable by revealing just how easy it is to obtain this ability. I look forward to your advancement in your career and the information you provide so others may learn to do the same!! May God bless you in your future Andy!!

    • http://www.andyothling.com/ Andy Othling

      This is so great David! Looking forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future… thanks for sharing your story!

  • Elliott

    Hi Andy,
    I was watching some of your youtube videos and are awesome. I see that the Eventide Space pedal is fairly new to your rig. I loved the sound of one of your videos when you where using the space pedal with a memory man delay and a compressor. I am deciding if i need to get a micro pog to add it for ambience swells, which the micro pog is a unique pedal for that matter, I own a Eventide Space and as you know it has a lot of knobs to make a big sound and I think you can even get some octave sounds out of it. Since you own both pedals, do you think i can get a close octave generator sound from the Eventide Space or do you think that is worth of spending some extra bucks to get a pog to get a better swell?
    I am trying to decide if its worth or if its even needed to get a pot since a own the Eventide space pedal, any advice will be greatly appreciative.

  • Matt Smith

    I just happened across one of your YouTube videos while watching a Future of Forestry one. I saw “ambient guitar” and thought, “Hey, I love playing stuff like that!” And after watching all 5 of your videos on ambient guitar here I am commenting on your blog! Quite the awesome story you have my friend. Similar to mine in some ways.

    For me, I began playing guitar when I was 14, I’m 25 now, and really love the atmospheric/ambient/spacey electric guitar sounds. I’m kind of a music nerd, not in the classically trained way, but in the loving to pick apart music and analyze how it’s put together way. I’m self-taught aside from a music theory class in college.

    Some of my bigger personal influences guitar-wise are Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Future of Forestry, Something Like Silas, Sigur Ros, but I’m also a bit of a metalhead so I usually run higher gain than the average guy. However, most of the music I play is acoustic stuff since I’m part of a smaller church and I don’t have a full band or musician community to write/play with. This lack of creative outlet of where I naturally resonate, coupled with my ear being better than my hands and some perfectionist tendencies, leads me to develop one-off riffs and licks that really speak to me, but just sit there. When I try to add something to them to get a complete song going, nothing really makes the cut.

    I have my degree in business/marketing so I have fundamentals of the promotional side of things. I’d like to learn how to record my ideas well, aka, not obviously done in a bedroom. I’d like to learn some techniques to be able to build off of riffs and concepts I have in ways that accent the root structures, voicings and moods of the music, and learn what software/tools make for creating easy but quality songs on my own since I don’t have a 6-piece band to write with.

  • http://planetcorey.com/music Corey Koehler

    Andy, I really like your content and am considering purchasing your song creation walk-through. I am a musician and blogger as well and throught it might be cool to do work through it as a series on my blog (Musicgoat.com). I have a lot of stuff recorded but have been paying studio time (which has been totally worth it BUT this could help me move towards self sufficiency). I was wondering if you have an affiliate program?

  • Matteo

    Hi Andy,

    my name is Matteo and I’m from Italy.
    I’ve been following your YouTube channel for quite a long time (mine is ‘EnragedSlash’), still remember when your use ID was ‘tubescreamer’!
    Eventually I got to subscribe to your blog: I’m carefully reading every post backwards, from page 11 up to the most recent entry. Your tips and stories are very catching and interesting!

    Right now they make me want to record something and start a music journey following your footprint.
    The only problem is I am stuck with writing: I mean I can’t get to write anything that might sound interesting. Even when I pick up my guitar, all I come up with is just noodling around with the same licks and chords over and over.

    Let me tell you something about me…
    I’ve been playing for 7-maybe 8 years now, but my progress has always been really really slow.
    I told myself this was because I was still at high school, and for obvious reasons most of my time was dedicated to homework and school-related activities. Guitar was just a hobby.
    After finishing school, I decided to attend Electronics Engineering at university.
    At first it was fine, but after a few months I figured out that I was doing something I didn’t like at all, and studying was getting harder and harder. I kept thinking “hold on, it will get easier, it’s just a temporary situation”.
    What was happening is that I couldn’t accept the fact that I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I forced myself to keep up also because my parents were paying my university fees, which were pretty high too, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.
    I quit university after 7 months, and after a period of really strong depression I decided to take the road of music, my biggest passion.
    I started studying it seriously. I passed the admission test to study Jazz guitar at the Conservatorium (which are the traditional music academies here in Europe.. like Berklee College in USA).
    I can’t explain how good I feel now. My hopes are to finish my studies, get the degree and
    find a job in the music biz. No dreams of being a millionaire, just to live with my work and my music… As soon as I manage to write some :-)

    Sorry for being long boring. Hope the message went through despite my bad English.
    Keep up with your work and your music, you’re a one-of-a-kind inspiration!
    I’ll wait for any blog. Hope to hear from you soon!


  • Eddie Stuckey

    I have no idea about grades, because I come from England, but I started playing in year 4, which is 8-9. I’m only 15 now, but I have an okay band (the people are great though, which is all I need at the moment), and an okay guitar playing skill. There are people my age more talented than me, but the way I play is atleast unique to me, and that makes me happy.
    I definately want to keep music in my life as much as possible, but at the moment that looks like it is going to prove difficult, and I am thinking of going into counselling. From my short experience of counselling, I’ve found counsellors to be very nice, friendly people, who are genuinly interested in what I am doing, and do whatever they can to make you feel better, and that’s something I’d like to do. Especially as I can see being able to keep music very prevelant in my life, possible involving it with my job.
    Wow. That’s a lot. Sorry haha. Anyway, I have my whole life ahead of me and I am genuinly excited, so I suppose that is good. My only real issue is my band at the moment. We all listen to different stuff. I mean, I listen to almost every genre, but one of the few that I don’t listen (pop punky kinda stuff) is what seem to be what everyone else likes haha. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll get past this. Great blog by the way, you really inspire me. Must be strange hearing that haha.

  • Eric Kelso

    I’ll try to keep this as short as possible so you can still read it without having to cancel half a day’s worth of studio time. Haha.

    I just found your (fantastic) music and website this week. I’ve never knew I (apparently, like a few others here) had such a similar story to you. But, the difference is, I’m basically just starting out. No where near being able to support my family with what I do. But, with your help and fantastic information, I will get there.

    I’m a computer technician and, while I don’t have a degree, I’ve been working at a college and a high school for the past 3 years or so. The only problem is, I’ve only been able to work part-time — as a student worker for the college, I was only able to work 10 hours a week while I attended school there. And we all know 10 hours a week isn’t near enough to support a family. I started working at a high-school temporarily a bout 2 months ago and, while I was getting paid well and I worked a lot for a couple of weeks, they just didn’t have the budget to hire me full time. So, basically, I’m basically jobless with a new house and car payment and, to top it off, a baby coming in a few days.

    I’ve been a musician since I was about 12 and, even thought I don’t have near as nice equipment as you, I do basically the same thing you do. Home studio produce/record myself with guitars, pianos, and virtual instruments. If you want to hear some rough demos of stuff I’m working on, head to soundcloud.com/acrossexistence. I also threw together a rough worship EP this year at erickelso.bandcamp.com.

    I know I have the creative ability to make really extraordinary things and support my family doing what I love. I know that with your wisdom and help, you can provide me with the means to succeed just like you. I look forward to interacting with you, your music, and resources here.

    Don’t stop being the independent artist’s hero!
    Thanks for being awesome!

    - Eric

  • Jonathon Hartsfield

    Hi Andy, I just want to first of all say that I’m inspired by your music and now your story as well.

    I am 15 years old and play multiple instruments- guitar, drums, keys, banjo… The list goes on. I’m primarily a lead guitarist and drummer. I have been playing for 5 years, mostly self taught just using YouTube and observing other musicians. I am learning to read sheet music now. My main focus is worship music. I play a lot of standard CCM but I love so many styles and do play outside of church too. Clapton is one of my main influences. I play with a few local bands, and occasionally have the pleasure of playing with Frankie Lombardi who is the drummer for Dickey Betts and Great Southern. I definitely want a music career. I just have a passion for playing. When I’m not in school I’m either playing in church, with a local band, or practicing at home. I love hearing stories like yours because it gives me hope. It shows what music can really mean to people.

  • Eddy Smith

    Hi Andy.

    I love reading your posts, it’s a great feeling to know that others have been through what I am going through now.

    I am a recent University graduate, I majored in Music Technology and it was obvious to me from the start that I could see myself doing nothing else, other than making a living from songwriting, whether I be on the stage or off it, I wanted to write music. So over my three years at university that’s exactly what I did, and I loved it.

    Upon graduating however, I decided to apply for full time Studio work, knowing full well that with this I would not be able to give my music the attention it needed, I’m not sure if it was my keen enthusiasm for production that drove me to look for work or if it was the pressure put upon graduates by society to find a job, but after months of luckless job searching I decided to pick my guitar back up and give music a go for a while.

    With this time I was able to mix and master my debut album, complete with artwork, have it distributed to online stores, have CD’s made and create my website, not to mention the live gigs I was able to obtain.

    All this was great for a while, but when my friends started getting jobs, (most of them as barmen, waiters, shop assistants etc) there was something in me that said “I need to do the same”. no matter what I do now, it seems my music goes no further than the ears of my friends and family, it’s almost like there is this invisible barrier that I can’t break down, and of course there is this “time bomb” ticking away reminding me that sooner or later, I am going to need to start supporting myself financially, but it would crush me to now start a 9-5 job after the freedom I have experienced as a musician.

    I guess the answer is to keep plugging away no matter what.. Thanks again for a very inspirational article Andy, I look forward to more posts.


  • Marshall

    This is crazy how similar your story is to mine. I am just about graduate college, and the part about having all these have done ideas filling your computer is spot on for what I’m dealing with. You are awesome man, good to know awesome musicians have gone through similar experiences.

  • Michael J Eber

    So I began learning clarinet in .school. They had to buy new sheet music for me because I was the only one in the band to end up in 5th rank 1st chair (lower than the lowest place in the orchestra). In high school I got a guitar (a cheep guitar from a downtown store) and taught myself how to play. I never learned music theory or took lessons though I wish I did now. I learned to play by ear and when I auditioned for a band I got in by playing Eric Claptons’ Crossroads note-for-note for the full 15 minute song.

    In college I couldn’t get the money to get a bigger amp to play on stage so I went to acoustic. With electric I was told I could make a guitar cry with emotion. With acoustic I was told I made unique impressions of rock songs toned down to the acoustic college coffee houses.

    After college I went without any instrument until recently where I bought my entire electric guitar rig and pedals — often amazed at how things changed (and grew in cost) over the since the 70′s. I have a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Applied Analytical Mathematics and I am a heavy metal programmer writing new technology on a nearly weekly basis. I tried to figure out where I wanted to go with my music and finally settled on Ambient Guitar after listening to this weirdly-named guy on YouTube named Lowercase Noises. Not only did the music touch me but this guy was quite friendly as well. He was the first guy who I wrote to as a compliment and he actually wrote back. (yeh, talking about you Andy) :)

    So I have some thoughts on my direction and a huge wish list on Amazon for recording my stuff. And I’m eating up all of the Ambient Guitar tips like a dry sponge in an ocean. I find alternative hardware quite a bit, but also take note of what you say so that I can adjust my thinking and help isolate what piece of hardware I want. Thanks Andy.

    By the way –> I got a Raven R60 amplifier to act as both a good practice amp that can crank it up for stage play. And I’m looking at getting a second one with a ton of path cables to move to stereo output.

  • anthony

    hello andy, I was wondering how old are you? You sound really young!
    I just turned 26 and I am learning ambient guitar thanks to your tips! Am I too late in the game to start an ambient band?

  • Dan

    I record using vst’s and it’s limited me from going live, limited on money I bought a vox ac30 and a strymon el capistan to start out. Hopefully when I get a board together, I can finish songs and play them live all in one piece. It seems I rarely finish songs cause in the studio I never know where to go with the songs. Playing live and winging it just seems to bring out a deeper form of creativity. Of course if I happened to record it I could then make what I have done in the moment into a song.

    Kinda wonder if you wing your songs on YouTube. They are really well played, I can’t wait till I get my pedal board set up!

    I like that your songs are a similar style of music but don’t sound the same. There is another guy on YouTube named Jon something, but every song he plays has the same sound, so it’s like “nice effects but this again?” Haha
    Yours all have a unique vibe, really really hope I can do something similar in my own way soon!

  • gregory belle

    Just turned 30, I’ve toured nationally and internationally with a small band. Now I have 4 kids and it feels like I stuck in a rut. I know what I want to do (record an album, play lead guitar for someone else) but I’m just not sure how. I’ve been playing since 12.

  • Jacob Born

    Wow Andy, you’re so encouraging!
    This is my story on how i started guitar.

    In year 5 i learnt a couple of chords here and there but never really had a passion for music or guitar or anything. For 3 years this was my experience until I went to a youth ministry which i became involved in after they helped me overcome my suicidal contemplation’s.
    One Friday night, one of the guitarists at the youth ministry failed to show up and the band was freaking out a little. They asked me if I knew how to play guitar as they had a spare guitar in the store room. I ignorantly said “Yeah, I can play guitar, i’ll help you out”, and long story short…I did far from help them out haha, but it was fun.
    I decided that although it was a shocker of a night, I wanted to learn guitar properly so I’ve dedicated myself to this band and am now the lead guitarist after years of improving.

    I’ve just started building my pedal board after years of using a second hand
    BOSS ME-50 guitar pedal and i’m trying to find the money to expand.
    I’ve been writing songs slowly but surely with your help.

    Hopefully i’ll learn to record songs and get my music out there soon too.
    Thanks heaps Andy, you’ve been such an inspiration to me personally and have definitely encouraged me to pursue my true passion.

  • Shane Lewis

    I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old after my Mom gave me one of those cheap Squier start up packages with the amp included haha!
    I was so scared to play at first because I wanted to be good at playing the instrument so bad but was afraid of being awful at. I started playing little by little and funny enough my guitar teacher at my high school actually wanted me to teach the class for a few weeks which I did!

    7 years later Im still playing full-time in a band called In Visions, we have released our own EP and are about to release a full-length album. Its been a long journey full of some ups and downs but as a guitar player I continue to progress in my playing and experimentation.

  • Benny Peek

    Thanks for doing this! The catchy writing style of the blog reminds me of some of my favorite books and zines from insiders like Mark Atkins. I’ve been drawn to your music for a while now and, while the styles we play in are worlds apart, the story remains in swing. I started taking lessons and playing in an orchestra age 11, and picked up the guitar not long after. Punk and emo music influenced my playing style straight away, and I entertained my early play style covering punk and protest songs. I started writing at age 16, and toward the end of High School became interested in putting out original music; busking, gigging, and occasionally recording.
    Two years later I put out my first release. I’ll admit, after my first studio EP was released, I put it on bandcamp, played a big show, got laid, and was contented. I then got a fixed income working as a Social Security Dependent trainer downtown. I started changing after a few months work. I don’t know if it was the slow fade of the gratification I gathered when the EP first came out, or that I had no downtime to write or record new songs. After almost a year at that job, spending 40+ hours a weak training the developmentally disabled, doing the same thing everyday and having the same conversations, and being away from all friends and family, I think I started to lose it. I wanted to scrap all of the work I had done and start fresh, thinking another spike of success would make everything better, but my ideas and riffs went nowhere and my lyrics started making less and less sense. I put another release out, but hated it, as did whoever else listened to it. The songs were runny and the lyrics were distant, convoluted, and even violent. That 3 track EP has since been scrapped, even the original copy. I wanted to give up completely and almost did.
    I serendipitously lost the job when I got arrested and one night and then put in jail for driving under a suspended license and carrying two IDs. Not long after serving my respective sentences, I’ve since had a lot of time to reflect, and the music I’m making now has the same character, at least to me, and I’m happy with it. I have a new job that I’m not stapled to anymore, and I can’t at all complain about the time I have to experiment with music once again. I feel more purposeful.
    I’m still young, and a very much dependent and indecisive millennial. I just want to continue making the noise I want to make, and hopefully put together a tour or two now that I feel like my old self once again. I’m uncertain about the future and the opportunity costs for getting to gigs and buying gear will very likely NEVER break even, but I’m happy doing it all the same.

    Thanks again for giving your time to other independent musicians. Hope this wasn’t too long of a read.

    P.S. Listening to Passage while typing this put me in a very bubbly mood :)

  • Ariel Gustavo Kaplan

    Hi Andy. Mi name is Ariel and it’s my first time writing in your blog. I’ve discorved it last week from a post in TRR.
    It’s great to learn about you and your expirience wich gives others (like me) the posibility to know that we aren’t alone, and our difficulties aren’t only ours, haha.
    I’m a musician since 2003, now I’m 24 years old and I’ll start my full-time music job.
    I’ve studied with many teachers including a degree in music (that includes instrumentation and composition studies, music production studies and singing studies) but, until now, I have two jobs: private music lesson and in my parent’s shop.
    Finally, I’ve decided to go deep and start this crazy way of being a full-time musician.
    I will write a blog and youtube videos teaching about electric bass, composition and music technology (those in spanish cause I’m from Argentina).
    Also I do compositions and arrangements for other musicians, music production in my home studio plus my soloist project where I compose, sing and play bass; a rock/pop project.
    Thanks for encouraging me to do this step too. It’s really helpful to know that it’s possible (further the differences in our countries and societies).
    Grettings from Argentina!!


    PS: Sorry if my english isn’t very good!

  • Edgardo de Dios

    Hi Andy, reading your story inspired me a lot. I stumbled upon you while I was researching about guitar pedals because I wanted to create something that utilizes them. I am not very familiar with the “ambient” genre but I know some guitarists out there are doing interesting stuff using electronics. I am mainly a classical guitarist and is full time in teaching in a music school in our country. Although, I deal with classical music mainly, I have always been interested with all sorts of musical styles ever since I played my first guitar chord at age of 11. At present, I am 41 and married with 2 boys. My wife is a full time piano teacher in a university. My youngest son is learning cello and my eldest plays the guitar too and he has a very eclectic taste in music. It was no joke to raise a family with just me and my wife (we never had any house help). We had to sacrifice our practicing, concertizing, etc to raise our boys but it was really fulfilling as parents. Now that my boys are a bit grown up, I have time to think about my own music and how to present it to the public. I have started to study and get back to practicing again and hopefully create something I have no idea yet. :D So, that’s my brief story. I’d like to thank you for sending me the free ebooks. I’m sure they’ll come in handy. All the best to you, Andy.
    Regards, Edgardo de Dios

  • matt128

    I started playing guitar during my teens. It was a great way for me to escape the rut of daily life. I’m now in my late 30′s and have yet to get my music out to any audience. I started playing rock, Joe Satriani covers, etc. I have come to love ambient music. When I first discovered Hammock, I was like WOW! how did a guitarist do that? Then I stumbled on your youtube channel. My problem is that I have tons of unfinished music. I work alone so it’s hard to finish a song sometimes. So as you described I’ve been in a creative rut for 11 years. Over time I was so frustrated that I started selling my gear piece by piece. Only now am I finally waking up my creative side. It it hard trying to balance your time. I’m a nurse working a swing shift. My wife and I try to have some time to spend together so music has taken a back seat. But now your blog and cheaper technology has sparked my writting back to life. I now have the ability to start to record my songs that I have left unfinished for years. Thank you for all the information that you put out there.

  • Jeff Lennan

    Hey man, my name is Jeff Lennan and i’m a Christian recording producer in Roswell NM, we are somewhat neighbors! got my degree at South Plains College in Sound Tech. Been recording for about 20yrs, all started as a hobby for my singing and songwriting. Just bought a Fender Deluxe reverb amp and working on a rock worship album, pretty new at electric so very excited! I play the guitar upside down, meaning lefthanded but its a righthanded guitar. Thick E on bottom for me. Just learning lots on how to layer electric parts and sit them in the mix properly. i have a good ear for sounds, layering etc.. and producing music, that’s what got me involved in the whole process of recording. but i dont know lots of chords so i just go with what comes in my head and i find the shapes. many times just making stuff up as i go and i seem to come up with stuff! Do you have anymore videos on shapes, of course your shapes would be very different for me. haha also very interested in swells for much of the modern worship we hear today. jeffman88201@yahoo.com

  • Neuromancer

    dude, I just turned 40 a few days ago & have been that same bout since 1988. I went to Full Sail for 2 degrees: audio engineering & digital media from 95-97. so been busy doing 3d animation & a little audio stuff for the medical field (teaching DVD’s that accompany books, etc) Now I’ve got more free time to focus, & happened upon your site after looking at the Mobius vids on youtube. So thanks for taking the step to helping us get our crap tg! ;)

  • Paulo

    Hello Andy, I’m from Brazil and have watched several videos her, I really like your music, friend’m having problem with signal loss because I use my guitar pedals that are all true bypass, I know this case is to use a good buffer pedal to enhance / restore the guitar tone. What buffer pedal you can show me? What’s the best you ever saw? I’m asking you because I know you use multiple pedals and your tone is practically pure.

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