Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Essentials Don't Matter

Photo by Juliana Coutinho.

You need everything, but none of it matters.

On Twitter? You should be. Nobody gives a shit, but that doesn't matter. Just the number of followers.

Got a Facebook fan page? You should. Nobody gives a shit, of course, but that's not the point. Just get as many people to join as possible.

Got a blog? Get one. Nobody will read it. That doesn't matter. It just matters there's something there when the great wandering eye of public spectacle happens to track across you.

Got an CD? You should. Doesn't matter if the music or production quality is good. Nobody cares. The best stuff is free anyway. They just want to remember. We'll smile for any photo. We'll buy any CD.

How about schwag? Do you have T-shirts and mugs and keychains and all that crap? You should. Nobody cares. But they won't believe you without it.

How hot is your website? It doesn't matter - the hottest website is only hot for 2 weeks. Nobody will visit anyway. But you need a top-shelf site otherwise you're a nobody. You're already a nobody.

Do you have any talent? It doesn't matter. Talent's just one more gimmick. As far as modern entertainment goes, the talentless get the same consideration. The stakes are different now. You're up against legacy on a scale nobody had to deal with before. You're competing with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Elton John before and after meteoric success. The current crop of most-knowns are just clones stuck in a time loop.

Can you write a hit song? Who cares? Twenty million iPods out there are stuffed to the gills with everything BUT the Billboard Top100. The Long Tail of music creators is dominated by DIY troubadours and their relentless promotion.

How about management? It doesn't matter. They don't have a fucking clue right now. Try anything. Try everything. Play in coffee shops. Don't play in coffee shops. Give away your CD's. Sell. Sell. Sell. Play anywhere. Pay to play. Play for free. Play for tips. Don't play at all. Do interviews. Eschew public contact. Beg Apple to feature you on iTunes. Beg someone to put your song in their go-nowhere film. Crash other people's parties and hope that somebody just likes you enough to put your music on their TV show.

Got a record deal? You just signed a mortgage where the bank keeps the house at the end of the loan. It doesn't matter. They're fucked. They're looking for a reason to drop you the day after they sign you. Maybe you got a chance to cash out. Take it. Nothing's for certain.

Maybe Jim Kunstler and John Robb are right: the future is hyperlocal. Start with a ten mile radius. Work for ten thousand hours to make it 100 miles and you might be able to squeak out a living.

But only if you've got the essentials.

And they don't matter.