Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

February 21, 2005

Why You Need to Get Off the Fast-Track Mentality

Joe Taylor wrote a great blog post last week called Slow-Cooked Success. It addresses the quick-fix, instant gratification mentality that is so common among aspiring rock stars. Here's an excerpt:

"Anybody that tells you that you can go from zero to 100% success with one radio promotion campaign, or one tour of a foreign country, or one appearance at an industry showcase, doesn't have your interests at heart ...

"Instead, focus on the small things you can do differently every day to move yourself forward. It may take a little longer than you want right now, but your gains will be real, and you won't endure the shock of a crash when your real, perfect audience is there to support you."

David Hooper responded to Joe's blog with his own take on the subject: That you should expect to spend seven to ten YEARS (not months) becoming an overnight success:

"Look, the 7-10 years that it's going to take for you to make things happen is time that will pass regardless of whether you are working or not. So why not get off your ass and make things happen?

"I realize that 7-10 years may seem like a long time, but it will pass quickly when you're enjoying the process. And if you're not enjoying where you are now, don't think that you'll enjoy it any more when you 'make it' -- because the process never ends and nobody ever really gets to their destination like they think they will."

This discussion reminds me of a section from my audio CD, What Every Musician Should Know About Self-Promotion. Here's the text:

Do Something to Promote Yourself Every Day

For a moment, let's talk about your physical health. Let's say that you decide you'd be better off if you lost 20 pounds and tightened up your stomach muscles and other areas of your body. The first week, you work out three times and feel the burn. Then two weeks pass by before you exercise again. A month later, you find time to work out once more, but as you look in the mirror, you wonder, "Why doesn't any of this effort appear to be paying off?"

You know the reason. You can't lose 20 pounds and get in shape by exercising sporadically. In the same way, you can't promote your music effectively by doing it intermittently.

Too many musicians think about self-promotion in terms of the big media blitz. They use terms like "push" and "hype" and believe that one big wave of promotion will launch a music buzz that will somehow continue without any further effort from them. Sorry, but that ain't the way it works.

From now on, stop thinking about the Big Push and start getting in tune with the idea of small self-promotion activities engaged in on a daily basis. The thing is, with this approach, progress is tough to measure. Just like one exercise session won't produce noticeable results, every day or week you promote your music may not appear to bear fruit. But over the course of months and years, the continuous effort generates a tremendous payoff.

Every day, do something to promote your music. Reply to an e-mail from a fan. Send a review copy of your CD to a new media source. Call a club owner to set up a gig. Talk to another artist about a cross-promotion idea. Search online for new Internet opportunities.

The activity doesn't have to be earth shaking. As long as the actions you take are focused on connecting with more fans, doing something simple every day will reap huge rewards just three to six months from now. I guarantee it.

posted by Bob Baker @ 11:08 AM   6 comments


At Feb 24, 2005 9:52:00 AM, Anonymous Reverend Wright said...

Couldn't agree with you more.
A lot of bands I love have taken roughly 7-10 years before they reached the 'famousity' they have now. Though for South African bands I think it's 15-20 years, haha.
Great blog and great advice...thanks!

At Mar 7, 2005 4:17:00 PM, Anonymous Jason Didner said...

Very well said! I've been investing some time each day in helping the online music community (along with myself) by building a live, online performance forum called Songwriter Showcase ** Live Online ** located at

Each week the turnout of musicians and audience increases and it's gonna be pretty newsworthy in the indie press. I'm working on the press release as we "speak."

Thanks Bob for all your help!

At Mar 7, 2005 5:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question. Why put a quantity on it? There is no reason to say "you can't do it faster!"

What about the people who have music as their full time job...who practice hours a day, and through small self-promotion efforts and word of mouth... seem to grow their audience exponentially without all the hard effort you talk about...just because their music is really appealing to their audience?

I have the guerilla music marketing book, and it has worked wonders for me... but I think discouraging the possibility of massive success, or telling people it's going to take 7-10 years seems a little extreme.

It would be much more helpful for me if you were to encourage the possibility of promotion into bigger independent success and the possibility of eventually becoming valuable to a major label... not as a tool for a break out, but as a genuine promotional partner to extend music to a wider audience... it may only happen to one in a hundred thousand artists... but that one has to come from somewhere, and I'm betting sometime he might be someone who owns your book...

Just constructive critisism...

Thanks for all you've done for independent musicians Bob! I've learned alot from you!

At Mar 7, 2005 5:45:00 PM, Anonymous Randy Ellefson said...

Sometimes I prefer to do 3 things in one day and nothing for another two days. It keeps it from being a constant chore or task.

At Mar 12, 2005 7:38:00 AM, Anonymous Mean Gene Kelton said...

Hello Bob,

As always, thanks for some great advice. Your analogy about the physical workout is perfect. As a fulltime musician, (my guitar has kept the lights on around here for over 20 years), I highly recommend that all artist:s to do something "everyday" to market their talents. I call it the "Never Ending Hustle". One of my "many" marketing tools I would like to share with your readers is: I give away brochures instead of business cards. Nothing fancy, just a regular sized sheet of plain, white paper printed on both sides (B&W) and folded in quarters. I give one to everyone I meet at my shows and in everyday situations. The brochure contains more information than a business card like a photo of the band, pictures of our products such as tshirts, CDs, etc, along with ordering info, website info, email newsletter info, booking info, a couple of endorsements, etc... I get asked to autograph these all the time. I also leave a few of these everywhere I go: waiting rooms, lobbies, video stores, hotel front desks, etc... Then, being the shamless self-promoter that I am, I leave messages on sites like this one and invite people who love the Blues to stop by and visit Texas Blues/rocker Mean Gene Kelton at .

Many Thanks my friend for all of your hard work.. We musicians appreciate it. Keep on rockin'.

Mean Gene Kelton
Houston, Texas

At Jul 14, 2005 7:16:00 PM, Anonymous Nancy Krebs said...


I've gotten lots of your articles, and the CD about Promoting ourselves. I listen to that CD almost every week; and I always learn something new each time I listen. I have found every article to be very illuminating and inspiring. I've used many of your ideas, and they always pay off. Even if it doesn't appear to be moving forward, my music career, which is actually a music ministry--has benefitted from your advice and expertise; because I am always doing something to share the music--every day, or every few days--putting forth the effort helps me to stay focused and energized. Thanks so much and keep it up!

Nancy Krebs <><


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