Unpopular Opinion

This is one way to describe the climate of todays media environment. Musicians used to compete with other musicians for attention, now musicians compete with every distraction, curiosity, time-waster, etc. that you can think. The cute fluffily kittens are winning. Second to the kittens is every other type of animal. Goats singing, cats auto-tuned, dogs with first person voice overs by their owners, farm animals playing on a bouncy slide thingy.

Musicians you are so screwed. Your thoughtful, introspective, tuneful craft of expressing those things that are so highly personal yet aim to connect with others will never be as interesting, palatable, brief, amusing, or fun as what is being circulated by the people formally known as music fans on Facebook, twitter and youtube.

Everyone is a media channel, a reporter, a real-time autobiographer, a social commentator (look at me), and everyone would rather get attention than give attention. There used to be people who didn’t want attention, they preferred to consume not participate. But social media made it possible to participate without actually taking any risks or putting yourself “out there.” Now people participate in their under-wear from the comfort of their homes (or some other place with their smart phone. Mostly with pants on). This has lead to a new phenomenon. The people who formerly avoided attention have gotten a taste of virtual attention and now they want more. How much? It appears their is no limit.

When you post songs, thoughts, pics, videos, it feels great when people like, comment and share. You definitely are getting some attention. But once the thread dries up its over. Its forgotten. The new attention people compete so vigorously for is pretty shallow (sometimes meaningless). But we don’t care we want more of it any way.

Back to musicians. What are you going to do to win back the attention you deserve? Being head explodingly awesome is one thing. Having a relentless promo grind is another. But probably the biggest factor is time. Michael League, band leader of grammy winners Snarky Puppy, made the point that “terrible bands succeed all the time.” The flip side of that is great bands/artists quit all the time too. It’s all about time. Your social media posts will have an extremely short shelf life, but your entire career (along with its momentum and trajectory) needs to be long term. How long? Just keep going. There is no stopping. Stopping is failure. Continuing is momentum. Add time to the commitment-to-continue (and all the effort that goes with that decision) and that’s all you need. According to Michael League (and confirmed by 95% of successful mainstream music) you don’t even need talent. Just the determination to continue working indefinitely.

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