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7 Stages of Making a Music Video

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So last week, my new video for my new song, "Gotta Get Out," made its debut on MTV's blog, Act (big THANK YOU to MTV for their review -- you guys are awesome!) before it hit my YouTube channel.

And, I have to say, I'm going through all kinds of emotions right now and I have been since the beginning.

You know how people talk about the seven stages of grief that you go through when you lose a loved one?

Yeah, it's a lot like that because it is definitely a rollercoaster ride, and you never know from one day to the next (or one minute to the next), how you'll feel.

Here's what I mean:

Last fall, I got off the road from my school tour for Don't Just Stand There: the anti-bullying presentation I gave to middle/high schools across the country. Then, it was time to go back into the studio and work with the amazingly talented Vincent Covello to pick out my next song.

(Quick detour: On the road, I met a lot of kids who felt trapped in their towns, and had little hope that they would ever be able to truly break free and be who they want to be. "Gotta Get Out" was a song that Vincent had written about his own experiences growing up in a small town and seemed like a perfect fit for what was on my mind, so we decided to record it.)

Okay, back to the story.

At that point, the only thing I was feeling was excitement. It was just so awesome to be starting a new project with a great message and people that are amazing to work with, and I couldn't wait to get started.

But once you get into that room, and you're all alone behind a wall of glass with the cans on your ears and the mic in front of you, things... change.

That's when another stage enters into the picture: STRESS.

Here, all kinds of self-doubt kick in as I do take after take after take for the producers.

What if I mess up and then I mess up again and then they all start to think that I'm a terrible person and then everyone hates me and nobody wants to work with me ever again??.
Sometimes I got a little carried away and over-dramatic...

The roller coaster ride continues, usually late at night when it's quiet and everyone's asleep. That's when the fear stage kicks in, and I panic that nobody is going to like the song and the video.

Because as much as I love living my life on the Internet, it can be terrifying to put something new out there for all the world to see and pick apart.

The more I think about the message behind the song and all of the hard work that goes into the recording process, it gets hard to ignore the fact that there will be some people who hate on what I've done. That usually happens because they don't take the time to try to understand the story behind it and prefer instead to leave a nasty comment just to get attention.

And when I think about that, I move out of fear and into Stage 4: anger.

I mean, why bother with all of the hard work if haters are just gonna keep hating, you know what I mean?

But I'm a pretty positive person, and if there's one thing that has helped me survive the past year and a half, it's been my determination to not let things get me down for too long.

So it's usually a quick jump for me from the anger stage into acceptance.

I mean, at the end of the day, whatever will be, will be. People will love the song or hate it. People will respect what you're doing or try to take you down.

And that's okay.

Because ultimately, what matters is the message in the song, and the fact that it's out there.

And that's what I tell myself the night before the song releases and the video goes live, and I'm excited again.

Days pass.

The reviews come in from MTV, and it's all good (YAY!).

But there are also comments on my Facebook and YouTube, and some people don't like it. And that makes me sad.

But hey! Look! More comments are coming in, and there's so much love and encouragement and positive feedback from people all over the world.

And I'm hearing from kids who really get the message of the song, and already they're telling me that it's changed their outlook.

And I'm so happy! Because that right there? That's why I worked my butt off in the first place!

* * *

See what I mean?

ROLLERCOASTER.

But guess what? When I think of all the amazing people I get to work with, and all the kids from around the world that I get to meet, I know that it's totally worth the ride.

And that brings up one more stage (the eighth one, but who's counting?)

Hope.

Hope that every single person who is meant to hear the song and its message will hear it.

Hope that the message will sink in, and take root, and inspire that person to take action.

Hope that, 10 or 20 or 30 years down the road, long after "Gotta Get Out" has had its final "spin" on the radio, the people that did hear it are in a really great place, and exactly where they want to be.

For me? It's that hope that keeps me going, rollercoaster and all.

It's a wild ride, but somebody's gotta do it!