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How Avicii Transformed Music Through Passion

For Avicii..

It saddens me to be referring to what could have been. Indeed, it saddens me to write about Avicii, the musical genius, in the past tense. I wanted to write this article to both celebrate Avicii and his accomplishments, as well as illustrate how allowing your business to run you, rather than you running your business is a recipe for disaster, particularly as it relates to ones’ health.

The Evolution of Avicii

Starting out, Tim Bergling (also known as Avicii) was a young kid trying to get his name to be synonymous with euphoric music. He was very proactive in both his musical as well as business endeavors, even at a young age. Having created a song, he would essentially “leak” his tracks on various music forums and blogs with the hope of getting additional exposure that would have possibly propelled him to stardom. He further consistently followed those same blogs and forums in an effort to draw inspiration for his own music. Countless “leaks” later and driven by his own persistence, he was discovered by his eventual manager, Ash Pournouri, who reached out to him through Facebook suggesting he had some ideas to collaborate on.

Meanwhile, fellow DJ Pete Tong came across Avicii when he won a music talent competition by a landslide for his entry titled “Manman.” He signed him to his label shortly thereafter, but regretted only not signing him for longer. Things took off for Avicii from there.

Ash was able to get Avicii in front of the right people within his network, helping to obtain gigs for him, which helped with putting him on the map. Avicii’s first real DJ gig was played in Miami in a club called Louis, in which Avicii was the opening set. He mentioned that there was likely around 10 people listening to him that day, and of course he had been very nervous. However, little did anyone know that the person they were watching would eventually become a global superstar.

In fact, he decided on the name Avicii as a result of a conversation he had with a friend of his; whilst he was trying to create a myspace name. All of the names he was trying including Avici were taken,  so he added a letter and went with Avicii. The rest is history.

 

A musical transformation

Drawing inspiration from Folk, Gospel and Country music, Avicii was an extremely versatile producer and musician. In 2011, he blew up on to the scene with his melodic and simply transformational song, “Levels.” The song would go on to be played in festivals, sporting events, clubs, parties and everywhere in between. In fact, his songs would go on to be streamed over a billion times on Spotify.

However, the acclaim that he received as a result of that track didn’t make him stagnant. He was always looking to improve and change the status quo. That’s what implored him to release his next album “True,” which was filled with inspiration from other genres, outside of EDM (Electronic Dance Music). It was an album really true to himself and his roots.

He premiered many of the songs from “True” prior to its’ official release, at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Unfortunately, there was substantial criticism of the tunes, particularly because they were so different from his usual melodies and the fact that he brought out a live band and singers at the festival; something no one was accustomed to when it came to EDM. Though he took the criticism hard, he continued to push forward with his new experiment.

Perhaps people needed a little bit of time to truly understand and appreciate Avicii’s mastery, because shortly after Ultra, one of his singles from “True”, called “Wake Me Up” truly woke everybody up! It dominated all music charts across the globe, and propelled Avicii into an iconic figure in the realm of EDM and music in general. The song went on to become the most streamed song ever on Spotify.

He would eventually go on to collaborate with the likes of Coldplay, Madonna, Aloe Blacc, his EDM peers and other iconic producers and musicians.

The Ugly side of the Music Business

Though he was on top of the world, as it related to fame and financial security, Avicii was evidently unable to cope with all of the attention he was receiving. With the evolution of EDM as a leading genre of music in the world; partying, drugs and alcohol were rampant and unfortunately, Avicii wasn’t able to escape it.

Sometimes, he would do a show late at night, only to continue partying afterwards, consuming an unprecedented amount of alcohol in the process. Essentially, that alcohol became a dependency for him, because it was, in essence an escape. It was an escape from the realities of his high flying and yet difficult lifestyle.

As a prominent DJ, he would need to travel over 300 times a year and frankly, that would take a toll on anybody; let alone a 20-something year old, that was doing this, since he was around 16! Eventually, the schedule, alcohol and partying took an enormous toll on Avicii, leading him to collapse at a show.

Following this experience, as well as the advise of doctors, Avicii ended up having his gallbladder as well as appendix removed, whilst in the meantime deciding to retire from touring, so he could focus on his well being. Unfortunately, by that point, it was likely too late.

His health had been deteriorating quickly, and many of those close to him believed he was in really bad shape, some even suggesting he would pass away soon. In 2017 however, he still returned to music, at least to his studio, releasing what is now his last EP, featuring songs with Rita Ora among others. This showed his dedication and love for music, as well as desire to give give his fans something to truly remember him by.

Fast forward to 2018 when Avicii had been in Oman, a country in the Middle East. It appeared he was vacationing there and seemed to have been enjoying himself, based on several selfies that had been taken with fans a few days prior to April 20th.

Then, the heartbreaking news came: Avicii had passed away.

An outpouring of love, support and condolences from all over the world came in, and it further shows what a lasting impact he truly left on all of those who knew him; his family, friends, fans and peers alike. In fact, in some ways, it felt like I knew him personally too, thanks to his glowing personality and euphoric music, which kept me happy and begging for more every time I heard a rumor a new track would be released.

Now, all we have to go off of is his legacy and his music will live on forever. R.I.P. Tim.

Music to Business Connection

One of the essential reasons for me to write this article, as previously mentioned, was because I wanted to showcase how much of a toll ones’ profession can take on them, if not handled properly. In addition, I wanted to truly showcase what an entrepreneur and trailblazer Avicii truly was.

Here are some examples of what I’m referring to:

  • Avicii constantly posted on various blogs and forums, in hopes of getting his opportunity to showcase his talent.
    • This is what myself as well as thousands of other aspiring entrepreneurs attempt to do as well, with their business endeavors. Things like requesting to guest post on another peer or internet marketers’ blog, with the hopes of gaining extra exposure; or joining facebook groups in hopes to connect with likeminded people that are going through the same thing you are; or even reaching out to people in hopes of mentorship, in hopes of getting that big break that would finally put us over the edge.
  • Avicii started out small, with his first real “gig” really playing for around 10 people; not knowing what his future would hold but wagering on it.
    • How many of us do this exact same thing in our own lives or business? We try to start small, ordering that first product; writing that first blog post or recording that first video. We have no idea what the future will hold, but hope that, if we try and persist, something will come of it. We’re taking a risk, and as did he.
  • Though he experienced tremendous success, Avicii never settled. He strived to be better and remain true to his roots. His album “True” was the epitome of that.
    • This is what many of us do, or aspire to do in our professional careers and lives. We hope we can achieve our dreams, while ensuring to remain humble and passionate for our craft. We’re constantly trying new things or new business models; developing new connections and partnerships; and attempting to find the next big thing that will catapult us to where we want to be.
  • Despite his unparalleled success and fame, Avicii felt lonely too. There were ample times he felt depressed, and resorted to alcohol as one of his “retreats,” so to speak.
    • Many of us experience the same thing. We are often in a place of despair, particularly when we’re not seeing success as quickly as we would hope; or we feel as though the rain keeps falling. Perhaps the investment we made wasn’t profitable, or the person we met turned out to be someone entirely different at the core. Maybe we got laid off and feel incomplete, or feel alone with seemingly no one to guide us. Yes, all of this is true and absolutely not uncommon!

My hope and key takeaways

If you’ve learned anything from this post, I hope that you take away that money, fame or even both isn’t everything. Health and living in the moment is number one. We are all Avicii. We are all human, and we only have one life to live.

Be persistent in your aspirations, like Avicii.

Stay true to your roots, like Avicii.

Never settle, like Avicii.

Remain humble, like Avicii.

Build relationships, like Avicii.

Create your own journey, like Avicii.

Leave a legacy, like Avicii.

Live life to the fullest, like Avicii.

 

Please remember that you are not alone. Please know that although things may seem hard at a certain point, they will get better. Please don’t take life for granted. Please don’t abuse anything, particularly your health or body. Please prioritize your health and that of your loved ones’ above all else. Please remember that business is a means to a lifestyle, but it cannot replace your health. Please don’t resort to deadly sins that can have an irreversible impact on your life and that of your loved ones. Please don’t ever forget where you came from and appreciate the journey to get there.

Avicii’s passing hit me hard, as he was my favorite DJ, essentially since he came on to the scene. I’ve always loved progressive house, and the melody that comes with it. I enjoy lyricism and the meaning behind lyrics, and surely Avicii’s songs all had incredibly powerful meaning attached to them. I treat most music like a story, and that’s why when I hear and truly feel a powerful storyteller, I’m instantly hooked.

I had the fortune of seeing Avicii perform live three times; the first one being at a club called Glo in Long Island in 2011; then again at the Identity festival at Jones Beach in 2011; and finally in the Barclays Center in New York in 2014. I would have seen him at Ultra Music Festival in Miami as well, but at the time, he had canceled his show due to illness, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see him then.

Here’s my ticket stub from the first show at GLO: 

Here’s the one from the Barclay’s Center: 

 

It’s truly incredible to see the disparity in price from 2011 to 2014, as Avicii started truly blowing up on the scene as one of the greatest DJ’s. I am truly happy I was able to see him when he was starting out, to the point he was a worldwide sensation! Notice how I used the word “truly” multiple times! Perhaps an ode to his True Tour!

Here’s an amateur clip (not my own) of Avicii’s performance from that day at Identity in 2011:

Here’s a great interview with Avicii:

Here’s a great biographical article written by the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-43845137 

Here are some of my favorite songs from Avicii himself, that are simply timeless: 

 

AND SO MANY MORE!!!!!

Iv’e heard that if the world knows you simply by your first name, even if it is a stage name, then you’ve made it.. Well Avicii… You’ve definitely made it.

To all of you, live life to the fullest.

R.I.P. Avicii…

Give the gift of knowledge
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