If you make music, know what kind of flower you’re growing. If you sell music, know what kind of flower you’re selling.
Posted on | December 13, 2008 | No CommentsOne of the hardest things to do as a musician is to see yourself and your music as strangers see it. (Let’s face it, your friends love you. So they’re inclined to support you no matter what. It’s great to have them there. But it’s foolish to read too much into their reactions.)
Processing audience reaction is a very tricky game. On the one hand, most people who think of themselves as artists are not comfortable with the idea of pandering to the masses. They want their music to be their own personal creative expression, audience be damned. But the audience is not irrelevant. And feedback from an audience is crucial, especially if you hope to make money from your music.
Here’s why: You may see yourself as a rose. But if your chosen audience sees you as a sunflower, you will encounter difficulty, especially if that audience doesn’t like sunflowers
So strive for some clarity here. Try not to get mad. Avoid a state of denial. Instead, figure out the most productive way to proceed. Maybe you need to do a better job showing people why you are a rose. And maybe with more exposure people will see that while you initially seemed like a sunflower, you are actually a rose. You just happen to be a yellow one.
Or maybe you will decide that the people in question don’t really know the difference between a rose and a sunflower, so why worry (although I would caution against using this approach too often, as it can slide into denial pretty quickly). Or maybe you’ll realize that the people in question only see something as a rose if it is red. And since you are a yellow rose, they see you as a sunflower, because they see all yellow flowers as sunflowers.
Or maybe you’ll take a hard look at yourself and realize that you were actually wrong about yourself. You were trying to be a yellow rose, but in fact you are a sunflower. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So maybe it wouldn’t hurt to look around and see if you can find the people who are fans of the sunflower. Because as much as you want those rose lovers to love you, they just don’t seem interested right now.
But who knows, maybe they’ll eventually come around, once they see how much the sunflower lovers seem to enjoy you.
The same observations apply to selling music. If you own a label, booking agency, management company or other music-related business, be clear about what you are selling. That doesn’t mean you should have a closed mind. But you should be able to tell the difference between a rose and a sunflower. And you should make it your business to know where the best places are to sell each kind of flower.