As a musician, I’ve spent most of my life writing, recording and playing music. Early on in my career, that was all I needed to do. And because my band was signed to a major record label, we had spin doctors doing all the marketing and publicity necessary to get my band, INTRoVOYS, noticed. The label was very successful in doing so.
In a few short months, INTRoVOYS became a household name. Our songs were blasting through the airwaves once or twice every hour in almost all pop radio stations across the Philippine archipelago. It was a blast. It was surreal. It was amazing! And it was over.
Years passed and we parted way with the major label and their spin doctors and we were on our own. Now, we had to do our own marketing. Now, we had to do our own spin. Now, we had to wear the artist and marketing hat. It became a whole new world for us.
Back in 1991, I watched Ariel Rivera in concert at the Music Museum. During this period, he was the “hottest” artist. His album, self titled “Ariel Rivera” was number one in the Philippines and in major parts of South East Asia, but I digress. So, at his concert, during one of his spiels, he said something that I will never forget. He said “It’s good to be recognized today. I read about myself in the papers. However, I have to be very careful because the moment I believe my own hype is the moment my career has ended.”
That was powerful to me because he understood the spin and who it was meant for. And he was smart enough to use it where it mattered most. Of course, credit would have to go to Boy Abunda and the people at Backroom, who were quite the genius behind the artist.
Today, most artists, if not signed to a label, must wear different hats if they want their careers to take off. One of the most important component is the skill of selling yourself and your work. How can you create a buzz that’s both organic and interesting and, though self serving, also gives your audience something to take back with them. Doing something like that takes practice. We will make mistakes along the way. And sometimes, we may even get caught up in our own web.
Here are 4 tips on how you can avoid getting caught up in your own web.
There is no reason so promote something that isn’t real. Nowadays, audience are savvy. Most of the time, they know if something is manufactured or organic. I heard that Bieber was manufactured. If this is true, he had great spin doctors. But what happened when he became a huge star? He got into a lot of trouble. In the end, he had to press the “reset” button. It was wise on his part to come clean and be authentic. And today, he is able to continue with his career.
It takes guts to come to terms with the person you look at in the mirror every morning. Courage kills our natural habit of denial. Courage allows us to face our shortcomings. Courage allows us to thrive in whatever endeavor we do. When we are courageous, we can accept failures easily and can maneuver our careers to safer grounds. Our lack of courage compels us to embrace the lies we tell ourselves. It also makes us believe that the tooth fairy will come and put a $20.00 bill under our pillow. Our lack of courage will eventually make us lose all hope in whatever it is we’re doing.
When you’re trying to build your brand as an artist, you can spend all your time trying to discover who you really are, making sure you’re both authentic and courageous to the point that you’re actually missing the whole point of being an artist in the first place. Now you’ve become a dog running after his own tale, creating his own spin. You gotta be practical!
Ask other people, preferably your audience, to give you honest feedback. If you’re promoting an album, ask for feedback and let them know that you’ll be using their testimony as promotion for your music. Hint hint... it takes courage and authenticity to approach somebody to ask for an honest testimonial.
Success can easily go to your head. Remember that the people you meet on the way up are the same people you will me on the way down. You determine the relationship and the outcome you will build with the people along the way. Be humble and you may never have to put your head down on the way down because people who care will always be there to lift you up. But when you aren’t humble, you will fall faster than it took you to rise. And no amount of spin can get you out of the web you just created.
Admit it or not, we all want to feel significant. It’s human nature. Other people simply do what they do without fanfare and and up being recognized by their peers and by their community. Others will have to work harder to achieve the same thing. In the end, what really matters is that you, yes you, are having fun doing what you love doing. And I will guarantee you that if you consistently better yourself in relation to your craft, you will get the recognition you deserve without having to spin your own web.
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