I remember when I lived in LA and fully felt the numbers of people trying to ‘make it’ in the industry. It was so overwhelming I actually took ten years off because the idea of it became distasteful to me. You couldn’t even stop at a gas station in LA without someone pitching their act to you. Parties were nothing more than networking events that left you feeling lonely amongst the glut of those looking for luck.
I have noticed how fleeting a connection might be with a potential fan today. People even refer to their exposure to my music in the past tense - ‘that was great’ ‘I enjoyed listening’ - kind of intimating it was like a roadstop along the way and they’re likely never to come back because there is so much more to explore.
So I changed the way I was thinking about that personally. If I owned a roadstop where people were always enroute somewhere else, the type of business I would like to operate would be one where people enjoy themselves while they’re here. I’d want to learn a little bit about where they came from and where they’re going, I’d want to leave a good impression, I’d want to be the kind of place they might tell someone else about, but I wouldn’t mind if they never came back, because that would be the nature of the business.
And that is the nature of the music business today. I am a busker in the midst of millions of other people who are studying and applying numerous ways to get followers on the internet, numerous ways to build a fan base, ‘get 10,000 followers’ is an ad that haunts the side of my facebook page.
When it really comes down to it, it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the experience your potential fans have when they DO stop by. If that were always the first goal, you’d be feeling pretty lucky to have customers stop by to listen for a while. After all, there is virtual feast of music out there, why would you want or expect someone to park themselves at your picnic table when all you’re serving is coleslaw?
Musicians should be revelling in the fact that people have turned off mainstream radio and are exploring again. But, and here’s the caveat, just because people are exploring doesn’t mean you’re owed a living and it doesn’t mean if you’re lucky you’ll ‘make it’ – personally I don’t believe ‘it’ exists any more and I don't buy into the idea, because I think it takes away from your experience of being an artist. If you can think of yourself as a potter who loves to work on their craft but has an ‘open’ sign at the end of their laneway for those interested passersby, you might just enjoy those stops even more and be grateful that someone did stop by for a chat and a peruse. That is the life of an artist, and as I see it that is the way it’s meant to be, if you’re lucky enough to get it.
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your visit and I hope you enjoy the coleslaw!
Wishing you a week of tremendous creativity, may all of your connections be meaningful ones.