"Hey! You Should Come to My Show."
Does anyone else have a lurking feeling of guilt when speaking those words? This is probably at least one of the reasons why I’ve never been the best at self promotion. Every post, every announcement, every release always comes with with an embarrassment-based stomach drop. I’ve struggled with being a self-loathing musician for at least a decade now, and though I thought it would get better with time, it really hasn’t.
The saga of the starving artist, vagabonding their way around the globe with nothing but the clothes on their back, a guitar, and a dream is one many would find to be romantic and inspiring. Especially those who have been in bands or dabbled in the arts in their younger days, often stare with that longing look in their eyes, as if you have more than them, just before showing you to one of the 5 guest bedrooms in their beautiful home you’re lucky enough to be crashing in for the evening. Having lived that life once or twice now, my take on it is complicated. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few pals/acquaintances of mine that I believe were born to live that life and I support them doing whatever they have to do in order to “make it”. Virtually none of them are at the success level I think they deserve, but that’s another story.
I suppose some see it like any other job. If you’re a salesman, you sell your product and you do it well, or you don’t get paid. That's a concept that makes sense to me, hypothetically. The problem is, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to subscribe to that thought process. There’s something in me that makes me worry about annoying people when I make an announcement about my music, because honestly, I’ve been annoyed by others with their constant insisting on me seeing their show or checking out their newest thing. The industry is just so saturated at this point. Between the crowdfunding campaigns and the countless number of music blogs premiering new bands/songs, there’s just too much happening. I’ve seen people get sassy on their social media accounts, complaining about friends not showing up to their concerts and I think to myself, "The chutzpa on this guy!" Hot take: Just because we’re friends, that doesn’t mean I have to come to your shows! I’m sure I have plenty of pals that don’t listen to my music all together. They may have different taste. They may be indifferent about live music. A singer-songwriter might have killed their cat, making the sight of someone with an acoustic guitar too unbearable a reminder to endure. Whatever the reason is, I don’t expect my friends to be at my shows. It’s not a right of passage. Playing music is a weird thing in general, because when it comes down to it, you have to have a certain level of self-confidence/arrogance/entitlement to do the damn thing to begin with. I think my confidence level is just about equal with my self doubt and so it goes, an endless struggle for one to outbalance the other. Spoiler alert: it usually ends with me apologizing to myself.
Is this why I’ve struggled to build a sustainable career in music? Do I not have what it takes to kick people in the face with my songs until enough people are following me on Instagram? Maybe I’m on some sort of blacklist in Nashville that only allows me to get so far before two men in black suits and cowboy hats step in and block the doorway to next level? For ease of mind, I’ll go with that one. Maybe one day, I’ll find the right niche and I won’t have to daylight as a corporate sellout. Maybe, just maybe. For now, I’m grateful for that opportunity. I’m grateful for my wife, furry creatures and my small town world. I'm grateful for the ability to create music and share it in any capacity.
Oh, and Hey! You should come to my show, if you want to, that is - no pressure. I'm sorry.