Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sharing is Bad, Apparently

Still working on the next song. Unfortunately it's somewhat vocally ambitious for me; at one point it calls for a three-part harmony/canon. I predict many, many vocal takes and a lot of cutting and pasting. But I refuse to dumb the song down; if I'm not going to try to stretch my limits, I might as well stop now. Hopefully it won't be too painful to listen to.

In the meantime, I've come across a couple interesting items I thought I'd share. I enjoy checking out TED talks, as they have some pretty neat topics and speakers. I recently watched one from Derek Sivers, web entrepaneur and founder of independent music-focused services CD Baby and MuckWork. According to research, those who share their goals with others are less likely to reach them, as acknowledgement and recognition received can create a false sense of accomplishment.

The second is an article shared by Sivers on Twitter (yes, I'm now on Twitter, though truthfully I mainly just treat it as a news aggregator) that recaps a clinic at Berklee given by Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist John Mayer. In it he urges the audience of music majors to "manage the temptation of publishing yourself". He cites that not only does it detract from time spent on one's craft, it can end up acting as a replacement creative outlet - or rather non-creative outlet - that dulls your creative ability.

Do I agree with the arguments? Despite that fact that I'm sitting here writing this post, I actually do. I can appreciate the psychology behind the mind confusing saying with doing. I seem to have escaped that so far.  Part of that is likely due to the rather vague aims I've shared, and part of it is that despite the praise and pats on the back I've gotten so far, I've still managed to retain my perspective on how incredibly little I've come and how incredibly far I still have to go.

I also agree with Mayer's suggestion that the desire to promote oneself needs to be managed.  Emphasis on "managed", not discarded. While someone who does want their music out there does need to find an outlet to do so (as we aren't all Grammy-winners with major labels shelling out thousands/millions to promote us), when the temptation of the outlet starts to trump the temptation of the content, you've got a problem.

I also understand where he's coming from with putting stuff out there before it's ready. This approach can definitely work for some, but when you're someone who will never feel like their work is truly ready, it can be paralyzing. Some people can rely on a producer to help make that call for them. In my case, I have to act as my own producer (and I'm fully willing to admit I'm terrible at it).

So, while I'll definitely keep those articles in the back of my mind, I don't think I'm going to change things at the moment. I haven't broadcast any specific goals and I'll keep it that way, though that doesn't mean I won't share progress or minor targets.  I don't think this blog is chewing up too much of my time or having an adverse impact, but I'll keep an eye on myself.

One final article, before I go. Jonathan Coulton shared an article written by David Lowrey (founder of alt-rock band Camper Van Beethoven) that goes back to the topic of unpredictability in the music business discussed in my previous post. It looks at it in a very analytical, scientific way, which I suppose speaks to the engineer/geek in me.

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