No One's Listening? GOODDec 02, 2023
We all want our art to be seen and heard, but it's often the experiments we do in the dark that mold us.
There's an expectation today that in order for our music (or any artform for that matter) to be "successful." it has to be seen and hear RIGHT NOW.
If it doesn't happen, we're told to move on quickly and keep trying until something works.
While it is important for artists to keep creating, the algorithm-fueled quantity over quality approach can be really harmful.
There is a time for quantity
Wait a second, doesn't quantity create quality?
If the goal is to be an artist and not an artisan (someone who recreates a certain style or sound for a specific purpose - like ad or trailer music), time in the lab figuring out your own unique style is invaluable. This is where you experiment with different combinations of things you love. You mix them together to make something unique to you.
You can MAKE a lot of music without RELEASING all that music. Because attaching numbers to those formative works may be counterproductive to your development.
Early in any artists development, the last thing we need is to start attaching numeric metrics to our "success." Comparing our perceived outcomes to other artists is a new thing because of streaming and view counts.
Whether the numbers fall short of our expectations or exceed them, the impact it can have on our work is hard to ignore.
Depression and Despair
If we fall short of our perceived “success” threshold, it’s disappointing.
This happened to me with my first LP, “What Dreams May Come.” I had gotten some blog coverage and recognition after my debut EP, and in my mind, my first full length album would obviously be my “big breakthrough.”
But it received less attention than the EP.
This was difficult for me to understand at the time because I had put more time and effort into it than anything I’d released to that point. I was very proud of it, and I wanted others to experience it.
The music didn't fail, the algorithm or blogs didn't fail - it was my expectation and how I measured its success.
Today, young artists are immediately met with numbers - and art isn’t about numbers - it’s about expressing deeply personal things.
Chasing Cheap Dopamine
My next release revealed another flaw in this measure of succuss.
“Carry Me Slowly” - the first single from my piano album “Sanctuary Sessions” ended up landing on some big Spotify editorial playlists.
I was really excited, of course, but I hadn’t really tried to make it specifically to be playlisted - it was simply what I wanted to express at the time.
Turned out, I discovered a whole world of slow, felt piano music that seemed mostly manufactured for that very purpose.
This was maybe the biggest crossroads for me as an artist. It was more tempting than I’d like to admit to just continue writing that piece over and over. After all, that’s what I was seemingly being rewarded for.
But there were so many others things I wanted to learn. I wanted to get better at production, to learn more about synthesis and sound design. I wanted to make music where I could exercise those skills.
Ultimately, this is the direction I chose to take. And while I have no doubt it has hurt my streaming numbers, I’m so glad I made that decision for myself as an artist.
Monthly listeners come and go, and most are only passive listeners anyway. By committing to the things you’re truly passionate about, you’ll attract ACTIVE listeners who appreciate that passion and craft. They may be fewer in number, but they are far more valuable.
Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:
1. Composition Concepts for Artists - an in-depth look at the process of composition with step-by-step examples SHOWING how and WHY I make decisions. You'll learn to take an initial idea and DEVELOP it into a finished project.
2. Understanding Synthesis - learn to design your own sounds starting with the basics of subtractive synthesis and progressing to more advanced sound design with semi-modular and various forms of digital synthesis.
3. YouTube Membership - monthly livestreams featuring music making and sound design in real time. Q&As and exclusive videos only available to channel members.
4. One to One Coaching (coming soon) - work with me on YOUR own music. I'll help you take your track from idea to finished product, so you'll come out with a polished track or EP and any knowledge gained from walking through the process with me.