A fellow musician recently asked to pick my brain about how I’ve been promoting myself, achieving some modicum of success on YouTube and keeping a busy tour schedule going.
I think they are looking for a technique that they can add on to what they currently do rather than change what they do from the inside out.
There are a million gurus out there who are teaching techniques and social media techniques, but I will tell you something that’s maybe scarier.
There is no one magic bullet, no one activity that will be a “fix it” add on for music career success. The reality is that the answer you seek comes from the inside, not the outside.
People have to like what it is you do (your music), and you can’t buy that. Once you have a viable “product” (again, your music) that people honestly and truly LOVE yes it makes sense to pay for PR, promo – but first you must see if what you have is actually working, and be honest with yourself.
- At a certain point around 2006 I realized that what I was doing musically was not working spiritually, musically and financially. This was frightening, but at least it was honest.
- I got quiet and did some “zero based thinking.” Meaning, I said “if I could clear the table and start over, what would I do or not do?”
- I have gotten totally honest with myself about music that I love to listen to and love play, regardless of who approves of my choices (this is a biggie and it could change your entire social circle, relationships and life!)
- I’ve gotten quiet regularly and listened to my intuition and gut.
- From the silence, I have allowed new creative ideas to come to me rather than force ideas.
- When I tossed the first videos up on Youtube, I paid attention to what people liked. I did nothing crafty to make videos “get hits” – it just happened.
- I constantly pay attention to what people like in general – not that I copy or do it, but I watch people, take notes.
- An audience is 2% musicians, 98% regular folks, so I stopped caring what musicians thought of me.
- I pay attention to and seek out the perfect intersection of my personal integrity and what people like.
- I play from the heart and am committed 100% to it, but I pay attention to my world inside AND the world outside like a martial artist.
- Like Thomas Edison, who failed over and over and over with the invention of the light bulb, I’ve kept trying different things until I see what works – as opposed to forcing one thing that does not work.
- I am ready to adapt at any moment.
People who honestly love what I do has contributed more to the touring, magazine articles, etc than anything I could do one a technical level to “promote myself.”
This being said, I’ve now “tested the waters” and made sure that what I do is worthy of some PR, which I plan to do on the upcoming CD release of “I REMEMBER MICHAEL” – my Michael Jackson Guitar Tribute.
PR is expensive, but that’s how you get more eyeballs. That comes after you’ve tested the “product” – not before.
Doing PR for something people don’t like could be financial suicide, so test, test, test and first make sure that you and your audience love what you do. If a restaurant has sucky food, all the advertising in the world won’t make people love the menu! So – audience first….test…then, PR.
Do people really and truly love what you do? Be honest! You may need to “clear the table” and start over rather than persist in something that does not work.
Yes it is scary and yes it takes guts.