10 Simple Ways to Fame and Glory
The internet is rife with lists promising easy ways to success. I realize that this is an SEO (search engine optimization) trick and also a way to get people to read your blog posts, but I feel that the value of the content is diminished by the over-ambitious title.
Here are some recent examples of titles claiming to help musicians further their career:
- · Want a record deal? Here is what you need to do. (Become famous and successful on your own first. This means doing for yourself everything a record label traditionally does so that they can make money off of you once you’ve made it.)
- · Call to Action! 10 Ways To Grow One Gigantic Mailing List (Be desirable and exclusive. Oh, yeah, and give all your stuff away for free. You’ll need to devote all of your time to this. You’ll even be super popular, albeit broke. And there’s no guarantee that anyone will actually read your emails either, unless you’re just naturally engaging.)
- · 9 SEO Tips For Musicians - Simple Steps That Drive Traffic To Your Site (Learn the ins and outs of the web and figure out how to make people land on your website. Also build an attractive website in the first place. Then regularly update and keep things fresh. Like, every day.)
These and other similar articles are probably written by well-intentioned people, but the message they are sending is scary and a little depressing. Essentially, in order to make it as a musician, you need to spend all of your time marketing yourself (no eating, sleeping, socializing, or – God forbid – actually working on your music).
One problem is that this leaves musicians burnt out as they devote more and more of their energy to things they are generally not interested in, not motivated to do, and often not very good at. Although many people think of musicians as egotists, the reality is that, most of the time, they are bad at selling themselves. But they try, because lists tell them it’s an easy thing to do. They push themselves and their music until they collapse, exhausted. Making music loses its glow and the excitement disappears.
And then all those voices come back, the ones that said you would never make it as a musician. You start to think maybe they were right, maybe you should make a change in your life. It’s too complicated, too difficult to sustain. You can’t be a manager, agent, promoter, web designer, tour organizer, performer, and composer all bundled into one, especially with so many others competing for the same ground.
With so much pressure and so many shoes to fill at once, it’s no wonder why musicians have a reputation for being moody and emotional. Add in the fact that most people won’t even pay $5 to download an album or to see an indie artist play (although they will pay up to $300 to see somebody famous), and you have a recipe for disaster.
These “Easy Ways to…” lists are promoting the idea to fans too. If you haven’t made it, it’s because you’re making stupid mistakes, you’re not doing these “easy” things. As much as the writers might be hoping to help out and encourage musicians, they are really only devaluing music even further.
At the end of the day, I believe that most musicians would simply like to have someone acknowledge that achieving success is hard. Advice is all well and good, as long as it’s useful, but golden promises of easy fame and glory are insulting and demeaning to any serious musician out there.