Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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

February 05, 2007

On Music, Money and Attention

Last week I responded to a barrage of blog comments with a post called The Talent Myth. In it I addressed two topics often debated by music people: talent and popularity. Feel free to read it if you haven't yet.

But I realize the comments were mainly sparked by a reaction to my suggestion to take financial advice only from people who are financially successful. In the same way I wouldn't ask a plumber for advice on how to fix my car's transmission, I wouldn't hold too tightly to the money-making ideas of someone who constantly struggles with cash flow.

I know this, because for much of my life I lived on a pretty slim income as I pursued my creative passions. And I would have been a lousy mentor to someone wanting to profit from their talents. Fortunately, over the last decade, I've aligned myself with abundance and prosperity and feel I have more to offer in this department.

Still, when it comes to advice, there are as many roads to success in any endeavor as there are people making the trip. So what worked for Person X might be useless to Person Y. We all have to find our own way. But I've found it helps to at least be aware of what's worked for people who are already at a level to which you aspire.

Dollars and Common Sense

That said, let's talk about money -- especially as it relates to The Talent Myth. In that post, I said talent is a subjective thing based on individual opinions -- not an absolute quality.

It's like trying to rate "beauty." Not everyone agrees on the definition of "beautiful." People's opinions vary and are based on their culture, previous experiences, and past encounters with people, places and things they considered to be beautiful.

However, there are certain things that a majority of humans would agree exude "beauty." Certain facial features, body shapes, breathtaking landscapes, etc. So if we go by majority rules, that means our opinions are validated through popularity.

A similar thing happens with the flow of money. The more people who feel you are "talented" or "beautiful" or "fun" or "exciting," the more options and opportunities you have to expand your music career and increase your income.

Seek Attention First

As Gerd Leonard wrote in a recent blog post called Music Sales 2.0, music fans pay you in two ways: first with their interest and attention, then with their money. So your primary goal isn't to make a sale; it's to invite fans to discover you and get to know you. As the number of people who are aware of you in a positive way increases, so does your ability to transform that awareness into revenue.

Gerd writes:

It's NOT about selling something at every turn and putting a BUY button everywhere. In reality, it's all about this question: "How can I interest you in my music / band / artist?" - it's the process of getting interest from the right people, getting them to pay attention, engaging an audience, creating value for and with and through them.

Only then, AFTER all of this happens, is where the 'buy' button comes in, where you can put some sort of tollbooth, where the wallet comes out. Create demand, capture interest, collect attention, drive exposure - THAT is the mission. Selling is just a consequence. Focus on getting interest, then enjoy the results.

I could go on but this post is already too long. To sum up, it's all based on the opinions of individual music fans - what they think of your talent, value, feel-good vibe, etc. It's your job as a musician and music promoter to connect with people who view you in a favorable light. And the more of them you connect with, the better off you are.

Now get out there and grab some attention!


posted by Bob Baker @ 12:29 PM   3 comments


At Feb 5, 2007 2:04:00 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

I agree.

I don't think talent is a one dimensional thing, either. There are plenty of people who were valedictorians in their class who never realized their dreams because they didn't have the people skills to make the most of their mental skills.

There are athletes who are amazingly talented but fail miserably at the team work aspect of sports and, again, never realize their dreams.

So I think that process of estimating someone's talent shouldn't be based simply on one thing that they do well....but on whether they are able to capitalize on their skills and achieve their ambitions.

Does it really matter if someone is a talented musician if I never have the opportunity to hear their music?

At Feb 6, 2007 4:21:00 PM, Blogger carms said...

Robert Sternberg has the notion of successful intelligence, to distinguish it from IQ.

Successful Intelligence is analysis, creativity and practicality.

All relevant to this topic I think.

At Feb 8, 2007 9:53:00 AM, Anonymous Molly Myles said...

It's the "practicality" part that most artists struggle with.

Don't let the "anonymous" negativity get you down, Bob. Your enthusiasm is one of the things we like best about you.



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