Today I was listening to the audiobook of Ari Herstand’s book How To Make It in the New Music Business and I almost jumped out of my chair at a quote he had from Ben Folds. Actually… no I did jump out of my chair, except I was driving and the chair had a steering wheel in front of me and…. well anyways here’s the quote:
FUCKING NAILS IT. Book after book, page after page, trying to figure out a trend between the groups of people that progress toward their dreams, and those that don’t, and this is a key element. Doesn’t matter if you’re a band, a photographer, a comedian, an entrepreneur, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, in the beginning we all have to pass through the fire of self-promotion, until you gain enough traction to responsibly hand off the reigns, or your efforts begin to promote themselves.
Don’t be fooled though, there is no end point, there’s no point where you can stop. You may have more momentum behind each action, as your popularity or notoriety grows, but you will ALWAYS have to self promote. That’s what marketing is, even the biggest companies in the world have to self-promote, but at some point it stops being called self-promotion and people just call it marketing.
If you are trying to make something of yourself, go ahead and do the research, but I’d be willing to bet the deeper you dig, the more you will see this trend. Everyone who made something of themselves, had to self promote. Steve Jobs did it, Skrillex did it, Elon Musk did it, Allen Stone did it, Lady Gaga did it. Yes yes, there are exceptions which we could call luck, but you know what made that happen? Self promotion.
Keep fighting that fight, it’ll pan out. Plan for the long term, and power through, trust me there’s light at the end of the tunnel. If you think otherwise, I’d love to see your results to the contrary. Sure, you’ll be uncomfortable with it at first, but it’ll get easier, with every email sent, every person you network with, every gig you take, and every action you perform to get toward your bigger goals. Then, once the momentum is high enough and you’ve garnered enough leverage, people can start to handle those tasks for you. You might be able to pick up a marketing team for your ideas or projects, THEN you will be able to focus even more on what you love when you’ve handed it off. Always maintain control of it, be the guiding hand, but let others do the work they’re best at, while you do yours. Don’t be afraid to pay those dues, it’s unavoidable anyways. Otherwise….. stay in your fucking basement.