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February 17, 2013

Step 2: Create something remarkable

Elves won the Florida Lottery ... Dispute Over...

(Photo credit: marsmet461)

All men dream, but not equally. 

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds,

wake in the day to find that it was vanity; 

but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, 

for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, 

to make them possible.

- T E Lawrence

If you create something that other people think is OK then you will join the swelling ranks of people who have created something OK. There is nothing wrong with that. That's what most people do.

But if being OK isn't part of your vision then you need other people to talk about you and your work, so you must create something that is different somehow. Catchy, throwaway pop might do that for a while but will not sustain a career for long. Obscure, highly technical guitar music might change the way the instrument is played by a few but may not have sufficiently broad appeal to make you a living. Again, if that's what you want, that's OK ... just be clear about it.

In this age of almost-infinite music supply, the key to viral success is to create what politicians call "water-cooler conversation". You want people to talk to their friends about you and your music. This doesn't always have to be positive - but the stronger the effect, the better. No matter what you do, haters gonna hate ...

Say what you like about me - just spell my name right
- Gene Simmons

REALITY CHECK #2: Go back to your Vision Statement. 
What do you want to be known for? 
If people are not talking about what you want them to talk about, 
you need to work harder on making your life's work remarkable.

So, think about

  • What do people like about your music or act?
  • What do people tell their friends about it ...
    ... they they don't say about anyone else?

Step 2 Exercises

Think of 5 musicians who you love/admire. Make a list of their 10 songs you love most. Write down:

  • What you love most about their music
  • What makes it different from everyone else's music?

Think about how their careers have developed and the other things they've done - causes supported, tips and tricks shared, times you've hung out together and felt good, that sort of thing. Write down:

  • What do you most respect about who they are?
  • What do you most respect about what they stand for?
  • What do you most respect about their careers?

If you had one sentence to tell a friend how great they are - what would you say?

Exercises to take home:

  1. Poll your friends and fans: what do they like about your music/show/person? Listen carefully to what they're saying and write down as many answers as you can. Your friends and fans will say all sorts of things that they think will make you feel good but that doesn't help. You need a smoke detector. For example, if someone comes up after a show and tells you they love your new album, say "Hey, thanks! What's your favourite track?" If they can't tell you, they're blowing smoke. If they pick one or even a couple, say "Cool. What you you like best about that one [them]?"

    Sort through these responses and find the most consistent remarks people make. THAT is what's remarkable and - WARNING - you might find that it's nothing about your music ... they just like you because you're you. That should give you a warm inner glow, but it's not going to help you reach your career goals (unless being very likeable is how you want to be remembered).

  2. Write a list of the things that motivate you to write and perform music. This is deeply personal. Could be that you enjoy jamming with friends. Could be that you love that moment when the crowd recognises the song and screams the words back at you. Could be that you have something political to say that will make the world a better place. Could be a lot of things - list them all.

Compare your reasons for making music with your Vision and with what friends and fans say. If they don't align then, sorry, but you've got competing whys and people are not getting you. Reconsider what you're doing and how you're going about it.

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Posted by DrHuge at February 17, 2013 10:33 AM

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