We had the good fortune of connecting with Dani Blau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dani, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
Risk is the backbone of my career.
You risk being turned down, over and over again, even if your work is amazing.
You risk investing all of your time and having no significant income for years and years.
You risk not fitting in sometimes, or never being truly understood by your traditional friends or family, because you choose the path less traveled.
You risk any sort of protective layer between your soul and the outer world, because if you don’t embrace vulnerability, the writing might suffer.
As in most careers and life paths, we risk so many things every day. But once we make the decision to take on the risk, it somehow makes the will to achieve much much stronger.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I didn’t get into music the traditional way. When I was 13, I had a severe horseback riding accident that left me unconscious. Horses were my life, so as soon as I recovered, the only thing I wanted was to get back to my equestrian lifestyle and compete again, but out of fear, my parents sold my horses and I fell into a profound state of depression. At some point I was forced to audition for a musical, and the vocal coach begged my mom to let me enroll in singing lessons. Music basically became my escape, the only way I felt comfortable letting my feelings out, and no joke, it saved my life.
Many years later I left Costa Rica (my home country) and started college in the US. I majored in Architecture and then switched to Nutrition Pre-Med, so my studies had nothing to do with music (my parents wanted me to have a “Plan B”). One day, I bought an acoustic guitar and looked up how to play basic chords so I could sing songs I liked. I sounded terrible and sung the wrong notes a million times, and eventually realized I could make up my own melodies. It was such a “Eureka!” moment.
Anyway, I started writing my own music, and a friend from Berklee College of Music heard what I was doing and decided to put a team together and help me record my first songs. Two of those songs won BMI Foundation Awards, which gave me enough resources to finish recording the EP.
However, from there on, the road was every easy.
I knew nothing about the music industry, or about songwriting for that matter, except the ideas I heard in my head… but they felt right, so I kept following my gut. The circumstances were also difficult because that was the exact moment when music started streaming digitally and no one knew what that meant or how to handle it. No new artists were being signed, labels were downsizing or shutting down, and everyone was just trying to get by while playing it safe. Thankfully, doors started opening up for me on the songwriting side, so I ended up taking that route.
Fast-forward 10 years, I am now a full time songwriter, but despite my successes and how much I’ve grown professionally, this career is never a walk in the park.
The great majority of songwriters are heavily underpaid, if paid at all, sometimes for many years, and the ones who aren’t in that situation today were probably struggling at some point. Many sign crappy publishing deals just to get an advance and make ends meet, etc.
Being a female in the industry is another challenge (only 12.5% of songwriters and 3% of music producers are female). More often than not, sessions and rooms are filled with all-male teams… so it’s constantly having to prove yourself and pushing for those opportunities.
Last but not least, there are crazy talented people, so competition is real, but the silver lining is that I’m lucky to be part of an industry that values and thrives on teamwork. There’s no better feeling than reaching milestones with your teammates, because after being in the studio every day, many of them really do become family.
All in all, I’m extremely blessed to be able to do what I love every day and call it my job. I don’t think some people realize how rare that is.
Some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Surround yourself not only with talented people you admire, but also with good people you love.
No matter how many obstacles, passion is what keeps you going.
What would you do if you had all the free time you wanted? That thing that makes the world around you disappear and the hours fly. MAKE time for yourself to do that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day 1 – Walk around different areas of LA (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills) Day 2 – Walk around different areas of LA (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills)
Day 3 – Cool Hike + Malibu
Day 4 – Joshua Tree
Day 5 – Sequoia National Park
Day 6 – Yosemite National Park
Day 7 – Yosemite National Park
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Gale (Artist) gale_oficial
She’s my insanely talented and magical ride-or-die cowriter and we’re also working on her music project right now, which is awesome.