Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rising above the noise

I attended an interesting event near Nashville last night put on by Carpe Artista (http://www.carpeartista.com/). It was an authors in the round much like the traditional songwriters in the round only in this case it was writers of the written word. This event featured two dear friends of mine, Jay Lowder reading excerpts of his book Tears of Minbrock from his War of Whispers series (http://www.warofwhispers.com/) and Steve Grossman reading excerpts of his book Why I Failed in the Music Business (http://www.whyifailed.com/) I highly recommend you check both books out.

After the authors read excerts, they fielded questions about the publishing industry and the topic of self publishing came up. This is surely a kissing cousin of being an independent artist in the music industry and shares many of the advantages and disadvantages. Also common is the changes brought on by technology.

In both industries the true advantage is that everyone now has the ability to get published/ release recordings and technology has "leveled the playing field" and in both industries the true disadvantage is that everyone now has the ability to get published/release recordings and technology has "leveled the playing field."

So while it is much much easier to get "published" and technology has greatly reduced the barriers to entry by reducing creation and distribution costs, the ultimate result is a glut of material out there. This creates an overwhelmed confusion in consumers who have limited time and limited desire to search for new material (remember while the arts are infinetely important to those of us who are creatives, it is typically just entertainment to the average consumer). It also creates the vital necessity for the creative to do three principles in this new world in an infinitely more acute way.

1) know your audience (target the people you KNOW would love your work. Not those you HOPE or think might enjoy). The irony in all this is that technology has put the wide world at our finger tips but you must ask your self why would someone in Brazil or China want to buy your creative work??? The honest answer is that at first they wouldn't. So while the world is a much smaller place because of technology, marketing wise your best bet is to start with those closest to you- your family, friends, community (online and real world), state, etc. The second principle is
2) work your network this boils down to finding a way to motivate the people in your sphere to spread the word about your work to the people in their sphere in a way that motivates either a purchase or further spreading of the word about your work.
3) tell your story the best way to motivate your network is to tell your story, be honest, real but not depricating. Make them care about you and your work.

In the world of being independent whether as an author or an artist the two main obstacles have not changed since the dawn of time, inspite of the ease of which you can get a work into the market. The main obstacles to success remain 1) capital and 2) an energized network. This is what the major companies in either market still bring to the table. Of course to get this muscle you will give up creative control and monetary percentages but the trade is you have to find a way to rise aove the noise.


  1. Heard an industry exec speak a month ago, he said the song used to be the thing needed for success (think the early days of radio and 1 hit wonders). Then it was the song plus the singer. Now it's about the song + singer + the story. The transparency has made it so customers expect to get to know YOU!

  2. Great post, Jason. Especially true about the fact that our audience wants to get to know us...the real "us." Some may find this repulsive or intimidating, but for me, I want to meet readers face to face. It's the only way to put "flesh" on an otherwise digital and sometimes cold social media.