There is no reliable way to measure how many musicians there are in the world, but tens of millions is a safe bet. Everyone feels they are “the one” that has the right stuff, is more talented and more likely to become a household name than their peers. But when you take a good hard look at your music, your brand, your marketing, is it really undeniable? Are a million other artists doing the exact same thing? Is the level of musicianship world class?
Be honest with yourself. How much do you practice? Do you study with someone who is on a much higher level than you are? How powerful is your brand and marketing? Having your friends and family tell you that you are the second coming won’t help you. You need feedback from real fans who have never heard your music or encountered you online or in the clubs. Being unrealistic with your goals and expectations is a sure way to fail. Start by knowing exactly what you need to work on both musically and as an entrepreneur. Make a list of the areas that need work and attention. Don’t kid yourself or get wrapped up in your ego, it will take you down. At least a few times a week I hear, “I know my music is better than anybody’s out there, I just need the right person to hear it” Oy…It makes me tired. How can we delude ourselves that way?
Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and look at other artists as collaborators, not competition. There will always be someone better than you. Accept it. Art is subjective and you need to find the people that connect with your music. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Reframe the picture and start thinking in a more creative way. What is it about you and your music that makes you unique? Why should I care?
I love this thought from Indie Music:
“I’m a True Artist”
This is a true poison. If you’re an honest, true artist, I congratulate you. In my view, you’re a wonderful thing for this world. However, just BE an honest artist. Don’t THINK you are one. It will get in your way, trust me. It’s the same as the man on the path to enlightenment who thinks “I’m a great yogi”. He won’t achieve his goal. Thinking “I’m a true artist” tends to solidify subconscious beliefs about lack of success, “the Man”, and the army of commercial sods out there that you’re up against. It can make you feel alone in a music industry that sometimes seems to be a more dangerous environment than the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Don’t let yourself get polarized. The Doors are considered by many to be true artists, and yet they also had the business drive to make it. They called in to Los Angeles radio requesting “Break on Through” to get their foot in the door. They didn’t expect anyone to find them because of their unique gifts.
If you are an artist then be innovative! I love this group, Well Strung. One Direction step aside, there’s a new kind of boy band on the circuit. The all-male string quartet Well-Strung features classical musicians who sing putting their own spin on the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Rihanna, Adele, Lady Gaga, and more! Their debut show sold-out Joe’s Pub on May 1st, 2012 in New York after being workshopped at Ars Nova NYC in February.
Well-Strung stars first violinist Edmund Bagnell, second violinist Christopher Marchant, cellist Daniel Shevlin and violist Trevor Wadleigh. Well-Strung’s debut show is directed and co-written by Donna Drake and playing all summer in Provincetown, MA at The Art House. The quartet was formed by producer/manager Mark Cortale and Christopher Marchant.
Great article about them in the New York Times:
Muscles, Mozart and marketing: following the strippers’ dictum from “Gypsy,” “You Gotta Have a Gimmick,” the four stars of “Well-Strung: The Singing String Quartet” present themselves as a buff, gay, pop-classical hybrid of juicy boy band and staid chamber group with a vocal component.
Incredibly unique, innovative and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Getting reviewed in The Times is no small feat!
So, what you YOU doing to set yourself apart and connect with your fans? And…Is it genuine?
If you make up some hokey brand that has nothing to do with who you are, your music or your mission statement, people will never connect with it. Fans can smell a fake a mile away. Being over the top if you are a reserved singer/songwriter who enjoys nature and reading won’t come across as sincere at all. By the same token, for those of you with an outrageous stage show and screaming metal vocals don’t try to fit into a calm little lamb image. No one will buy it.
Are you as turned off as I am by blog posts or opening lines from people who say they “are super-excited to announce…..” It just seems so inauthentic and, to be honest, lazy that, even if they ARE that excited, they couldn’t think of a more honest way to articulate it?
Being sincere through your personal brand doesn’t mean exposing everything all the time either. The adage “less is more” rings true here as I’m not suggesting you suddenly share everything about yourself, just the bits that matter and count towards whatever your personal branding goals are. This is a matter of being confident and comfortable in who you are as a person and an artist.
Microsoft Blogger Mel Carson writes:
There are confident people and there are insecure people out there. Confident people who are very sure of themselves and insecure people who constantly question their value. The trouble is, many of the insecure people actually come across as confident because they over-compensate for their insecurity and feel that they have to bluster their way in and out of conversations as they risk being “found out” or labeled as incompetent if they don’t. Often, the confident people are also a little over-bearing too. They feel the need to get their point across in a robust way which alienates the insecure people who come out fighting and the circle starts again.
My point is that having “True Confidence” means you exhibit and exude (love that word!) an ability to perform whatever it is you want to do – job, sport, parenting etc – to the best of your knowledge and no further, AND that you are continuously trying to improve because you recognize you DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING!
Why is this important for your Personal Brand?
It’s my opinion you will win more friends and influence people if you attempt to excel in your field and demonstrate the need and willingness to learn more and be better. Letting people know you don’t have all the answers is better than bluffing them with overconfidence and BS because in the long run you will be found out.
How do you develop your own unique sound?
If musicians notice that you’re playing or songwriting is something that they can’t pigeonhole or sounds like something they have never heard before, then you have something special. Something that sets you apart. Every note you play, every line you write is a reflection of the hardships you had to go through or the decisions you have made that not only form you as a person, but also as an expressive musician. Those trials and tribulations will further your creative abilities uniquely. Next, if you truly worry about how unique or “different” you sound from another musician, then your head is in the wrong place! Try to always remember that the true meaning of music is for self-expression. Worrying about somebody else’s playing will only hinder your own. Important to note however, that there is a big difference between wanting to learn and evolve as a musician and getting upset at sounding like a certain musician and then changing for that reason. Changing because some of your licks sound like another person’s is what will waste your time and only hinder your growth.
Next week I will go into developing a unique stage show and undeniable live performance. Again, this has to be a genuine representation of who you really are as an artist. You can enhance, exaggerate and exploit your uniqueness, but don’t pretend to be something you are not. Your fans will know and it will never stick.
I follow Melanie McClaine and I love her list of fascinating artists to watch for in 2013. This is part two. Take a look and maybe then, look harder at your own game. Time to step it up; there are millions in front of you.