Why do we love it when politicians talk about themselves? Why do we love hearing them stump on the campaign trail talking about how great they are?
Well maybe we don’t love it, but we accept it. And vote for them.
But we hate musicians who talk about themselves.
In the hip hop community it’s more accepted. But outside hip hop, it’s shunned.
I’ve been labeled a “shameless self promoter.” And many other less flattering names.
But so was James Brown. Until he was the “hardest working man in show business.”
And so has nearly every band who’s ever made it. Especially in the last 10 years.
You don’t make it by hiding out in your basement recording amazing songs. Well, even if you do, in the Owl City case, he did so by promoting the fuck out of his music on Myspace. He didn’t do it on the streets with posters and flyers. He did it behind a computer.
It’s a different era we live in.
Self promotion is, unfortunately, a necessary component to any musician’s career. But it’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant. Endearing and distasteful. Persistent and annoying.
So how do you know when you’re crossing that line? I know I have many times in my career. I don’t like being a self promoter. Despite what thousands of show posters might claim otherwise.
I do it because I believe my music can affect people. That my music can be therapy for others – like how it was therapy for me.
I do it because I am hopelessly addicted to the feeling I get when I play a packed show.
I do it because I’m madly in love with creating and sharing music and want people to reciprocate that love.
I do it because I don’t want to play empty shows.
I do it because I don’t want my album to fizzle out.
I do it because it’s what it takes to succeed in the modern age as an independent musician.
Before you have a team around you to do it for you, you are going to have to share your music. If you don’t, who will?
But there are classy ways to go about it that don’t involve spamming.
Before you do any sort of self promoting, do the gut check. How would you feel if a friend of yours hit you with the same message? Remember, 10 personal conversations are more effective than 1000 Facebook invites. Or 1000 flyers left around coffee shops.
When you’re self promoting stay humble, but confident.
Set your pride aside and remember the feeling you get when you succeed. When your music touches people. When you connect.
There are brilliant musicians who refuse to network and self promote. They never make it out of their local club. There are mediocre musicians who become superstars.
Be a leader.
You wonder why politicians can amass millions of followers behind just words? It’s their confidence, humility and message.
If you can connect and inspire. You can affect millions.
Photo by Chris Pan from my record release show at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.