Thursday, May 20, 2010

Panic

"What's happening is the people that don't have quality product aren't selling it," Blake says. "So they're the ones that are creating this panic. So it really comes back down to that, just like in every other [...] industry. When you get too many [musicians] and too many [labels] out there, then only the good ones make it."

Ok, so the quote is actually related to a crash in the price of marijuana in California, but it's dead-on about the panic: the people who don't have quality products are creating the panic.

I panicked for a long time. I still panic. That's because my music's not good enough yet. But I know the difference now.

There are too many musicians. Too much music to listen to that's already amazing. I know this. My fans know this. One of my best songs sounds suspiciously close to somebody else's song. It doesn't matter. People will tell their friends about a great plate of spaghetti.

Which brings me to Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. You only need to watch one or two episodes to get the gist (the formula doesn't change on the show.) A restaurateur is in deep trouble. Chef Ramsey swoops in. It always comes back to the kitchen. It always comes back to FRESH ingredients, SIMPLE recipes, OUTSTANDING results, and CONSISTENCY.

Restaurants, like musicians, are based on the same basic ingredients. In the way that every restaurant basically mixes vegetables, fruits, meats, grains and spices, every musician uses the same basic 12 notes, the same I-IV-V...it comes down to HOW you use it. If you can take the simplest things and consistently make something delicious, satisfying, and memorable, people will flock to you. They will evangelize you.

But don't EVER short change them. Don't ever substitute frozen for fresh, microwaved for pan-seared. If you do, they will leave you, and the only way to get them back is hope for a major star to swoop in and give you a second chance.

I'd like to tell you that just opening the restaurant, or just completing a CD, was enough. That booking a few shows or selling a few plates was the only requirement, and that you're not in denial. You've got to do it every night for a thousand nights. The highest standard has to become the baseline.

Otherwise, you won't have a quality product, you won't sell, and you'll be in a panic.

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