I deliberately chose a broader wording in the title. It could have been “What Genre of Songs Should I be Releasing” or something like but I want this to be broader. This thinking (oh no not thinking) applies no matter whether you are writing music, books, vlogs on Star Wars figurines…
We are all worrying about how to get eyes & ears on our content. Even more so in how to get that fame & coin flowing in. Initially this seems like a good business strategy. Especially if you have been clever and decided to follow a selection of Marketing Podcasts, Vlogs & Blogs – those ones that tell you all about how to kill-it in your scene.
Does that last bit give you a clue? This is where you have to make a major decision:
- You are here to make money in which case you need to simply find people who like to give money away for nothing. Direct: Your whole thing is about fame & money so focus purely on that. Some people have done well with that.
- You have something that you need to say or do. It is your thing and your thing alone. It is unique and there is no compromise that could ever be worth it if it takes you off-message. Direct: your message is the whole thing and you need to keep it as pure as you can. Some people have done well with that.
It is very much primarily an either/or situation. The moment you start thinking you will be clever and do a bit of both, you are probably setting yourself on a path that fails for both of those options. No no one wins.
It isn’t long before you are more worried about Slayful Marketing Stuff than you are about any actual reason for doing what you are doing. – OR – It isn’t long before you are more worried about staying hard-core over some Genre Trope than you are about any deliverable thing that people could take home. No one wins.
So which of those paths did you choose? If it was the former, Fame, Money, Likes… great, I am happy for you. Read on by all means as I may well say something useful but I’m not the guy for you.
If you started out in the Blog, Music, Vlog-sphere because you had an obsession – something you needed to say – then I am your guy.
I will admit that sometimes (or often) it is hard to know what that thing really is. We tend to be more concerned with “fitting in” or saying things the way everyone else does, that we lose sight of why we started in the first place. Then we obsess over tiny things that actually get in the way of our actual message.
Let’s look at an example – purely hypothetical: Gena Green is into saving the planet. She sings songs about loving trees, taking your own coffee cup to the Barista (to avoid using Styrofoam or cardboard), how avocado is good for your skin tone. Last year Gena became so incensed with the lack of planetary saving that she spent the whole winter strapped to a tree outside of a chemical factory owned by a certain political leader with magnificent hair. Gena got a couple of spots on TV for her stunt. She got a lot of Likes on Social Media.
Is Gena on-message? I’m going to say no. Gena thinks she is, some of her fans will say she is. The Likes & TV appearances seem to say so. I’m still saying no, Gena is off-message. By the end of winter Gena was in hospital and hadn’t released a single song for 6 months. Further, it was going to to take another six months for her to recover enough to sing again.
You see Gena’s real message is about being kind to ourselves and talking together. The planet stuff was someone else’s message she picked up because it seemed an easy way to get seen and apparently say the same message. But in the end it wasn’t Gena’s message at all. The wrong path led her into a conflict situation. The complete opposite of her togetherness message. Sure there was some notoriety but largely the TV shows were laughing at her and the Likes were from people who were serving their own need to show off to their Social Media connections than a sign of understanding & affirmation of Gena’s real message of finding togetherness in our apparent differences.
Just as Gena was about to ship off to be tied to the tree, she got an offer to join a pianist in a duo where they would sing love songs. Gena declined this offer because it seemed to her that it was lame singing love songs when the planet needed saving one chemical factory (and one grandly coiffed politician) at a time. That pianist was about to play in front of someone with influence. If Gena had been there singing a sweet love song, he would have put them on a TV show which would have gotten a lot of exposure. People would have felt truly touched by Gena’s song & singing. Gena would have brought people just a little closer together as she made the world feel a nicer place*.
Now Gena can’t be blamed for not know what she couldn’t know (even the pianist didn’t know this future fact). But if she had stayed on her true message, and taken the path that the Universe had ready, she would have truly made it. Instead, she is now at least a year behind. I’m sure the Universe will swing around and give her another go but the lure of the anger in the “planet saving” (separateness) business may also be so strong that Gena never lets herself get back on-message.
Zero Bars (Mr. Smith)
Adam Smith spoke of the folly of trying to control every aspect of our economies as the required level of vision, wisdom & control is well beyond any faculty of mankind. Therefore it is best left to the “Invisible Hand” – which we could well call God, Life or the Universe.
It isn’t about being religious in any way. It is common sense. Life (or God) moves in mysterious ways. That is not in any debate. Life is clever. It somehow manages to create puzzle pieces that ultimately fit together if allowed to fall as they will. It doesn’t matter at all if you are Goddist, Atheist, Destinyist, or Evolutionist, the Laws of Nature do what they do with a grace far exceeding that of even the smartest of people. Even Chuck Norris can’t out-manage life!
We as humans have free will which we can use to express the purpose that we, as discreet individuals, have. Or we can be stubborn and do like Gena and take ourselves off-purpose and wonder why it is so hard.
Paths of Paradise
What is my path? I’ll be honest and say I don’t know that I can say that clearly. I do know that I am driven in some sort of obsessional way to create and help others create. That seems to me to mostly be in music so it looks like being a Composer & Record Producer.
Until I know more, I will do exactly that.
What I have realized I should not do is what people say I should do because “that is the way you do it”. Sure there are times when doing things a bit differently could be helpful, like wearing pants in public. But all too often I just know that when people say to me that I should do it the way everyone else is doing it, that it is not for me.
I could write shorter articles, make shorter videos with better lighting & a fancier looking studio setting, write Retrowave or whatever is en-vogue today instead of what I do. But I also know I can’t. It isn’t me. I don’t seem to win with it anyway. Somehow I know it isn’t my path. Maybe I am like Gena and being stubborn somehow. If I am I’d love to see it.
If you know that you have a larger message then stay on-message as being the same as everyone else may bring some short-term wins but I can guarantee that life doesn’t reward people who refuse to be true to their actual purpose. It may take longer but at lest you know you are on-message.
*As an aside to back my example story above, if we could measure it, I bet we would find that the music of the Eagles has done more to promote world peace than Greenpeace & the United Nations put together.