The Official Bio, Edited and Updated (2011)
Written by EIY’s Founder, Sarah Saturday
“Earn It Yourself” is the idea that one must earn one’s successes in life the right way, without compromising his/her integrity, ignoring his/her instincts, or going against his/her values. One must earn every dollar in his pocket by means of his mind and his will — not by means of others’ pity for him, by begging for alms, or by being dishonest. It is not a philosophy for those who make “fame” or “fortune” their goals; rather, this is a philosophy for those whose goals are tangible, and have substance and meaning. This is a philosophy for those who want to contribute goodness to the world, and build a career — and a life — that is full of joy, purpose, and truth.
The basic tenets of the philosophy are as follows:
(1) You don’t have to cheat, lie, steal, or compromise with evil in order to reach your goals. There is another, alternative route. It may take a bit longer, but your conscience will be clean, and therefore the things you earn will be rightfully yours, and will bring you true joy. Aim to reach your goals by being honest, truthful, hardworking, and steadfast
(2) Always be developing a clear idea of what you believe, and what you stand for, by constantly asking yourself why you want the things you want, do the things you do, think the things you think, etc. Continue to ask yourself “why?” for each answer you give yourself, until you can’t answer “why?” anymore. These “end of the line” answers are, in essence, your “values.”
(3) Never go against your “values” in the face of temptation, or in order to get something you think you want. If you do go against your values in order to skip a step, you will not have truly earned the thing, and therefore you will lose it (because it was never really yours), or you will only receive unhappiness and a feeling of “unsettled-ness” from it.
(4) Strive to bring meaning to whatever you do, in your daily effort to achieve your goals. At the end of your life, the most important thing is that you were honest in your attempts (your means) to reach your goals — NOT whether or not you reached the goals (the end). The end does not justify the means; the means justify the end.
The goal for the EIY movement is to show by application in the world of independent music that the “earn it yourself” philosophy is the right way to live your life, and the best way to be truly happy in your life.
THE BIG BANG:
I have been practicing the Earn It Yourself philosophy since the days when I was in a band in rural Wisconsin (1996-2004). I dropped out of college and quit my job in order to focus all my time and energy on booking and managing my band. I had been in bands for six years before that, but it wasn’t until I was in a position where I was completely responsible for the business side of my band that I realized the value of earning my success, one phone call and one basement show at a time.
I came up with the name “Earn It Yourself” (E.I.Y.) in 2003, in answer (and homage) to the “Do It Yourself” or D.I.Y. movement thirty years ago in the punk scene. I had been practicing D.I.Y. since the start of my last band: booking all our shows myself, releasing all our albums with our own money, distributing our CDs online and by touring, handling all the management of the band, and even screen printing our band t-shirts by hand. We were heavily involved in our local D.I.Y. punk scene, and had a reputation for being the hardest-working band in the region.
As time went on, my band started to gain a following. We began touring, and lots of people started hearing our music. We were getting asked to headline regional shows, and were offered guarantees to play. Suddenly, we were winning contests on the radio, getting reviewed, and landing opening spots for national acts. All my hard work was finally paying off, and I was able to pay my bills and the band’s bills. I was proud and excited, but surprised to find that the many people who had befriended and supported us in the beginning were now proclaiming that we were “selling out.” At first I was crushed. I couldn’t understand how it was OK to work hard using the D.I.Y. work ethic, but not OK to reap the benefits of all my hard work. I spent several months trying to understand how such a contradiction could exist.
The answer was E.I.Y. — an all-encompassing philosophy that promotes setting your own goals and reaching whatever level of success you desire, so long as you achieve that success by working hard, being honest, doing what is right, resisting the temptation to take the easy way out, acting on your values even in the face of temptation to cut corners, never cheating or buying your way into the spotlight, earning the respect of your peers, supporting the community to which you belong, choosing your goals for the right reasons, applying the do-it-yourself approach to build your career, working your way up, and never compromising your integrity.
At the beginning of 2004, I had reached a crossroad. I was frustrated with the lack of progression in my band, and trying to decide what to do with my life. I called one of my mentors, Kevin Lyman (founder of the Warped Tour) for advice. As it turns out, that was one of the most important calls I would make in my life. Kevin had been looking for a new person to work full-time in his office, and he offered me the position in California. Three weeks later I was moving into my first L.A. apartment — I was 23, broke, terrified, and exhilarated.
In the six years I lived in Los Angeles and worked on the business side of music, I met and worked with hundreds, if not thousands of bands, both big and small. I worked with almost every record label, booking agency, marketing company, management firm, ad agency, and production company, and gained a perspective on the music industry that I never dreamed I would have. I now have the kinds of contacts in the industry that I would have killed for, once upon a time. But I also have a new understanding about the reality of the industry, and how it is more important than ever that individuals have a philosophy behind what they are doing if they want to build a career out of whatever their passion may be. My experiences only strengthened my point of view and ignited my desire to teach the next generation how to earn their success the right way. It’s more than just being in a band; it’s a way of living your life so that you can die knowing you spent every single day working towards something that you deserved.
Since the beginning of 2010, I have been back on the creative side of music. I spent a year on the road, with my stuff in storage, sleeping on friends’ and family’s couches between tours, living my life from the point of view of the very people I’m talking to and trying to reach through the EIY movement. I am not a rich business exec in an office trying to capitalize on whatever knowledge or influence I have gained in the music industry; I am another starving artist, someone who can barely pay her bills but has committed her life to turning her true passion and calling into a sustainable career. I have a part-time job, I pay for everything I do out of my own pocket and with the help of my supportive friends and family, and I am doing what I love on a daily basis. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Over the years, I’ve had so many amazing friends contribute time, work, and energy to making E.I.Y. more than just an idea in my head. The website started out as a print zine that I distributed through my personal website, SarahSaturday.com, in 2005. My friend Wyatt Glodell built and managed that site for me until we teamed up with Ernst Schoen-Rene in 2006 to build the full-fledged EarnItYourself.com. Over the years, people like Dean Suko, Alex Mohler, John Oakes, and Kevin Scoles have lent countless hours and resources to helping build, develop, publicize, or promote the EIY website. Dean even co-hosted the EIY Talk Radio weekly podcast with me in 2009, and continues to help manage the site on a daily basis. In 2011, we welcomed German Rivera and his team of programmers on-board to help us take the website to new heights.
The most amazing part about all of this is that everyone who has worked on EIY has done so for free, even at a cost to themselves. This is a not-for-profit venture, and no one has ever made a penny off of the website. We don’t have investors, we don’t sell ads, and we pay for all the hard costs ourselves. The people who have been involved with the website have all had an intimate understanding of the struggle to survive and succeed. In our own ways, each of us has applied the E.I.Y. philosophy to our lives, whether or not we had a name for it at the time. We all believe that people who have a morally-sound philosophy that guides their actions will be the ones who save not only music, the world. It goes without saying that the EIY movement would be nothing today without the help of these people, and of so many people along the way.
BY THE WAY, WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?
A quick tutorial: A philosophy is a comprehensive system of ideas about human nature and the nature of the reality we live in. It is a guide for living, because the issues it addresses are basic and pervasive, determining the course we take in life and how we treat other people (It’s not about WHAT you do, it’s about WHY you do it.) The word “Philosophy” comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία [philosophia], which literally means “love of wisdom.” You gain wisdom by living consciously, being aware of the consequences of your decisions, paying attention to the causes and effects of your actions, and trying to become a better person in all areas of your life.
Everyone who lives by the E.I.Y. philosophy wants to see good music — and good people — thrive and succeed. We want them to be rewarded for their integrity. We want people who feel isolated from their fame-and-money-driven peers to find sanctuary here, among other people who know who they are, what they believe, and why they do what they do. We want to support and promote people who live their lives by the code of values they have set for themselves and who do not compromise those values or their integrity for the sake of anything that is not earned rightfully and honestly.
Earn It Yourself is for those of us who don’t enjoy being handed things for free, or as a favor, but prefer to get what we want by proving that we deserve it. It’s for those of us who refuse to beg, refuse to bow down, refuse to cheat, and refuse to steal. Earn It Yourself is a philosophy that empowers people to take their dreams into their own hands, to take control of their own destiny and purpose in life, and to achieve their goals with a clean conscience and absolute conviction that they deserve every penny and every success they earn along the way.
It’s not just the journey, it’s the HONEST journey. It’s not just the destination, it’s the MEANINGFUL destination.