Yesterday Benedict Roff-Marsh (B) and I began quite the in depth conversation about the similarities in musical and bookish artists and their journey. What we’ve unleashed has been shocking! So much so that we’ve extended the conversation into a two day segment! Exciting, right?! Yesterday Benedict finished off with a lingering question about what has been done differently… This is what I (D) have to say about it:
B- Final question from yesterday: “You appear to have had some success getting nice feedback on your books. Can you try to help us understand what you did differently from those who get nowhere?”
D: To be honest, this conversation is blowing me away with the similarities between music and literature production/distribution. I never would have guessed that two completely different worlds could be so alike. I wish I could offer a straightforward answer to this questions, but yet again my thinker seems to be peeling back layer after layer of complexities.
I feel like there are so many artists with the same potential of greatness as Zeppelin and Cash, and even Skynyrd out there just waiting to be discovered. The problem is digging themselves out of the masses. Clearly, quality mixed in equal portions with originality is a must for success. Period! No matter what route one climbs to get to the top, they absolutely must have a product worth reading/listening to!
But, what next? Once one’s work of art is master crafted, what can be done that’s different, that stands out? My main approach has been finding balance between all options available. Building my own platform in the blogging community as well as social media is a big step. I personally strive for honest and real communication. I don’t see other authors as competition, I see them as peers to work hand in hand with and to learn from.
I support others in the same fashion as I’d like to be supported. I don’t just put my work out there and use some random sense of false entitlement in expecting people to read it because I’m me. That logic seems a little silly to me, naive and egotistical. If you want others to support you, then you need to support them too. Kind of like the, ‘it takes a good friend to have good friends’ approach. Person-ability is huge, and eventually you’ll be noticed in the right places by the right people. Make a big enough splash in the right body of water, and you’ll attract the bigger fish.
I still have so much further to go, and so much more work ahead. Luckily for me… personal drive, consistency, and the dedication to continue learning is on my side. I’ve done something different with each book I’ve produced. Some experiences were positive and some were negative, but ultimately they’ve all be learning ones! In the words of Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
So, what about you? What have you done different to stand out, and to think outside of the box in your mission to bring something worthy of a platinum record to the masses? What resources do you recommend to that artist out there with the potential of being the next GAGA, aside from wearing an outfit made of raw meat?
B: Well you just resoundingly smacked the wood holding device on the head!
Yes, it is shocking how many people feel they deserve accolades for just showing up. And only “just” in so many of those cases. I guess it is part of the silent revolution the world is going through where each individual now has the freedom to do what they will (and hopefully intend no harm). With Freedom comes Responsibility.
Because it is so easy to make a record it means that those records (or books) aren’t well conceived. They go chugga, chugga, chugg and think they made music. Noise isn’t music, isn’t Art.
It isn’t Art so no one is really moved enough to engage – to be moved by it to buy, comment…
Responsibility is hard work, but without hard work you can’t make anything outstanding. Steve Jobs of Apple fame worked super hard to make computers, iPods, iPhones, iPads etc magical devices to use and changed the world that way. Other providers put out devices that may have been technically better but Apple changed the world we live in as they did the hard work that engaged people in their feeling bone.
What have I done: oh geez that is a hard one, as for years I simply stopped really trying. I made my music and did what I could to make it better and better. Album finished I popped it on Bandcamp and my website and moved on to the next project. Interestingly I saw sales appear to be inversely proportional to what I perceived as the musical improvement of the project. Either I got lost in technical ecstasy or audiences didn’t key into more melodic work.
I decided many decades ago that I wasn’t fitting anyone’s definition of what I should be, so I would strive to be as uniquely me as I could. The reasoning I had was that at least I would be happy with my records and maybe some time in the future there would be a few other people who would get what I was doing and appreciate that.
Lately, I feel that there is a glimmer of an onrushing train. Maybe there are a few fans in the carriages as it is my take that there are people now actively searching for something that is real and genuinely human as opposed to the Lady Gargle/Trailer Swift prefab we have been spoon-fed for the last few decades.
Advice I have been pouring forth in my Tutorial section for years now is actually exactly what you said: make great Art, present it well, build connections with peers and be a decent person with everyone you deal with. Past that is not yours to control – yet oddly the less you try to control the more life seems to help out on your behalf.
As for resources, I think that so many have forgotten the greatest resource we have available which is other people. The Internet really siloed each of us as individuals. It let us be islands but the greats were always a team effort. There can be frustrations in working with others whereas the Digital Audio Workstation, Word Processor, YouTube etc. software is always under our total control. That feels great but also doesn’t push us to the extra leap of greatness that having someone else in the process can. This is why records had Producers and books had Editors. I think acts would be well served finding ways to either pay good people to take these roles or at least bounce things off each other to allow the challenges to be given and overcome. “Yeah that song has potential but…”
I think creators working together (as we currently are) is a great part of the way forward in the new post-Publisher landscape. Matter of fact my next article (in Draft form) is about exactly that.
D: Benedict, you’re an inspiration! I hope that more artists out there will strive to authenticity-of-self as you have, for all of our sakes. Same goes for books. I can’t wait to see the deserving and truly talented writers step up and stand out in originality! The cookie cutter stories out there are swarming, and everytime an excellent story that stands above the rest is presented it truly is a breath of fresh air!
Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me! It’s been a pleasure!
B: Thank you to you too Didi. It is always nice to feel less alone, less siloed, in this world of creation in which we have found ourselves.