Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
Music marketing tips and self-promotion ideas for independent songwriters, musicians and bands.
Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros
February 26, 2010
The Time Factor: Are You Giving Yourself Enough?
I just finished reading Steve Martin's book, Born Standing Up, and it really opened my mind to this important factor.
I was at the perfect age to appreciate Martin when he burst onto the national scene as that "wild and crazy guy" in the late '70s. I ate up his absurd appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, recited his bits with my friends, and saw him perform live at an arena in St. Louis.
But, as is the case with all overnight success stories, it took him decades to get there. In the book, Martin details his early years doing magic at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, and struggling with his unusual act in front of empty rooms and apathetic patrons at folk music venues in California.
By his late 20s, he was on the road a lot and treating his performances like a science project -- recording his act, measuring audience responses, experimenting with timing, honing his physical gestures, while gaining (and losing) confidence along the way.
These sure but steady improvements earned him more opportunities, and when he finally made it into the greater public awareness, he was well oiled and ready to deliver.
Compare that to the early rounds of American Idol, where kids who have barely spent any time on a stage are expected to stand up and deliver star power quality to millions on live TV.
That's insane. No doubt, some have a better handle on delivering the sound, the look, and the swagger ... but to expect much more out of them without years of work is nonsense.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that on average it takes 10,000 hours to master any craft. And getting in that many hours of practice can take 10 or more years.
Which leads back to some variations on my opening question ...
Are you giving yourself time to develop?
Are you putting in the time? For songwriting? For performing live? For recording? For self-promotion?
Are you giving yourself the space and room to experiment, to screw up, to learn, and to grow?
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Charlie Rose video interview with Steve Martin
NPR interview with Steve Martin
Arts Journal blog post on Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours Get more tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.
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What About Bob?
Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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