Good and Lucky
In the world of creativity it is important to remember you won’t and can’t please everyone. Most people just don’t give a flying …fish about what you have created. Oh, a new song…that’s nice. Not. A book? About rock’n’roll? Booooring!
Remember that the greatest music artists have been thrilled to sell a record to one out of every three hundred people. A million-seller is a platinum album- the standard award-winner with the smiley photos of happy record execs and a champagne-fueled artist holding up a shiny piece of plastic for the cameras. That is one person out of three hundred, and that’s for big stars. A mega record will sell to ten people out of three hundred. There are over three hundred million people in the United States, so a ten-million selling album has sold to three percent of the population. Whoop-dee-doo!
So is there any sense in trying to please those people who don’t give a rat’s patootie about what you do, or who like other kinds of music, books, or art? No, there isn’t. What can you do?
Forget them. Stop trying to please them.
The most vital thing is to seek out those isolated individuals who will be receptive to your work. Find them and cherish them. If you can be Good and Lucky enough to find people within the business who believe in what you’re doing, you’ve hit a mother lode. It only takes a few key people to make something big happen.
Why? Because finding a few people means that there will be a larger audience as well. It means that the work you have produced is good enough.
That why I say Good and Lucky. You’ve got to be good to get lucky. You might get lucky once, but unless you have some outstanding karma (and there are some extremely irritating, ambitious, over-achievers who seem to have this), you’re unlikely to hit the jackpot more than once unless you are also pretty dang good at what you do. Becoming good means having talent and having sustained passion: having a calling that is undeniable. I have never done anything but write music and stories. I am a (very young!) sixty-two–year-old man ( 62 is the new 57). I had a job doing construction once for six weeks—then 867-5309 hit the charts and saved me from that.
In music it’s very tough to get a hit record. All the ingredients need to come together at the right time like some amazingly impossible tall cake-roast-soup-frosted martini-candlelight-roses-and- warm- evening- romantic dinner with no flies, squalls, hairs in the salad and the like. Many great musicians and writers never achieve a hit record. They are good, but maybe don’t get lucky.
And so it seems with writing books. I have sent manuscripts and what I thought were well-honed query letters to literary agents and publishers only to get the standard: “sorry, this is not for us, still, another agent might feel differently”(take a hike, son, you suck) note via email (or even better as a letter: Hellooo, trash can). I finally found a publisher (after more than one rejection!) who got my book and now other enthusiastic team members are coming onboard as well. Maybe I will get “lucky”. I’ve been writing stories for twenty years.
Now, you’ve got to be certain that you are actually good enough. How can you know? You create your song or book and you’re thrilled. How could absolutely everyone not get it? It’s PERFECT! I’ve written songs that I am so sure are my best—but no one likes them but me, and remember, I have written hit songs, more than one. I guess sometimes we as artists are maybe our own worst judges. But if you have worked hard and passionately at your creation and been unsparing in self-criticism while still holding onto your passion, then others will respond. That’s when your search for the business people who can help you reach the audience can begin.
There’s one thing to remember: never get caught in trying to please others by doing what is popular at the time. That is a losing race, because the winning horses are always artists who do their own thing in their own way. Think about it; choose any famous, long-term artist and you will find there is a uniqueness to them that makes them stand out. Their uniqueness IS what makes them stand out.
Like the late, great James Brown said: you’ve got to come on strong pushin’ your own type of thing.
So: get good, and then you can get lucky. Walk in your own footsteps, not in others. Good luck!