I bought "Ignore Everybody" by Hugh MacLeod the very day it was recommended by Derek Sivers on his blog.
I love it so far. Don't bother to read it if you are offended by an occasional swear word. Author Hugh MacLeod let's it all hang out. He's got some hilarious stories about his journey of becoming a successful cartoonist by scrawling funny remarks and sketches on the back of business cards - sitting at a bar after-hours from his job as a copywriter for an advertising agency. Though Hugh is a cartoonist, he provides some pithy tips to those of us making our living through our music. I'm going to share a series of blogs as I work my way through the book looking for those tips and applications for musicians.
Key One: "Ignore Everybody"
Hugh's basic premise is that you really don't know if your idea is any good the moment it's created. Nobody else does either, so keep it hush-hush til you've let it rattle around inside you a while, and you've tweaked and developed it some. He also says "the more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you." because "Great ideas alter the power balance in relationships. That's why great ideas are initially resisted."
This insight gives a deeper understanding of what Julia Cameron preaches in "The Artist's Way" about drawing a circle around your self and work, and keeping your energy inside that circle, focused entirely on the work. Protecting it from well-meaning friends, family or business associates. One raised eyebrow, one lukewarm remark can potentially derail fresh but vulnerable confidence.
Hugh's observation about altering the balance of power in relationships is very helpful in understanding why things get awkward with others when you share your new ideas or songs. It helps us understand what motivates resistance from others.
Sometimes, I do feel the urge to share a brand new song as soon as I've stirred all main ingredients together. But I'm usually aware of how uncomfortable sharing prematurely made me feel in the past. If I don't let the song simmer and stew for a while, it's probably not going to be as satisfying as I initially imagined. I'm more likely to abandon it before it even had a chance to develop it's full flavor and aroma from a number of taste, season, and simmer cycles.
Ignore everybody? How do we do that with the artist-direct-to-fan music business model now firmly established? There is an increased demand for quick and total access to the artist and product. It is going to require the artist's confidence and discipline to maintain a level of privacy around him/her self and the work. We are having to learn to be more business minded and deliberate about how and when we share what. The artist will know when it is the right time to share. Otherwise, musicians may sacrifice quality for quantity.
To be continued on Key Two