I went to lunch with a friend/very funny comic Mal Hall the other day and the topic of self-marketing came up. I’ve always respected Mal for being so confident in himself that he could send out blast emails and event invitations without really worrying that he might be annoying people. He’s a great comedian and he has something great to offer so why not?
I went to LA to play a show a few weeks before and I came to the realization that there are thousands of people just like me wandering around the country, trying to be the next Jeff Buckley or Jimi Hendrix. That thought made me feel incredibly small and insignificant. Being in the San Diego bubble for the last year and a half has given me a good deal of confidence and a potentially undue sense that I deserve success. I started writing this song about how the illusion of LA was alluring and dangerous to our personal idea of self-worth and honesty (which is far more important than any amount of success).
As an independent artist, the concept of self-marketing is something I have yet to come to terms with. I don’t have a manager or a publicist who’s dedicated job is to make me look bigger and better than I am. I don’t have a scheme to achieve fame or success, nor do I think I need to. But as I delve deeper into the dream, I find myself realizing that my long term career means a measure of self-promotion that cannot be avoided.
To my own chagrin, I’ve been adamant about avoiding that type of marketing in the past. I’ve been very vocal about not wanting to travel down that road. And unfortunately, I’ve always been more of the self-effacing, shy type so talking myself up does not come as second nature. But this is a time of development and I find myself more and more open to the idea. Maybe it’s because all the youthful idealism has left me or I’m just more desparate than before (I hope not).
I think I believe in myself. I know that I can accomplish great things if I work a little harder at what I do but the thought that I’m somehow deserving of any kind of success always makes me feel sleezy. Mal left me with two ideas that have stuck with me so far. The first is if I don’t believe in myself, then no one else will either. The second is that where there is potential to fail, there is also potential for great success. To avoid those situations will only make success more elusive.
I don’t know what iterations these new ideas will take. I’m still conflicted about how far to market myself and how I will feel about becoming that guy who is always reminding people to come to my shows. But necessity breeds innovation (or in my case, creativity) so hopefully I can turn this into something entirely new!
Consider yourselves warned.