Posted tagged ‘Hugh MacLeod’

How to Have A Pre-Internet Mentality

November 15, 2010

It’s Grassrootsy’s 200th entry! Pretty exciting even though it doesn’t really mean anything (per-se).

Today I thought I’d refer to a funny comment Hugh MacLeod posted on his twitter account a few week’s back…

“Wondering how the hell anyone could’ve been successful, pre-internet…  ” –@gaping void

Have you ever thought that? I’ve actually thought about this alot. What would we do? How would we communicate with people?  Truth is, the internet could be a digitized version of the old days if wewant it to be…and it wouldn’t be a bad thing.  And if we did take that approach, we might even be more successful in our musical pursuits. Here’s more on that.

1. Think Locally. Back in the day, every neighborhood had its own butchery, milkman, bakery and post office. What if the internet could be like that. What if you had a close-knit community of folks that you correspond with on a regular basis?  What if you could go to these folks for anything – like splitting shows, cross promotion, getting new gig leads, and more. Treat the internet like your neighborhood. No, I’m not trying to limit you, but make an effort to create an online community that mimics reality.  Play your shows. After the show connect with the audience online, strengthen that connection. Use the internet to foster the connections your already have and to build things slowly and steadily.

2. Start Small, Go Big. You’re thinking waaaay too hard. Just because the internet holds the potential for you to reach millions of people, doesn’t mean you should go and do that. I have a very strong feeling that all the big companies like Fed Ex, Subway, Starbucks, (etc) didn’t start big. The founders likely opened one location in a city or town, saw it do well, and then decided to open a few more…and so on and so forth.  Any strong, successful, long-lasting company will first work to build a strong foundation with what it has before expanding. Work to build a strong foundation with what you have before you try to conquer what you don’t.

3. Don’t Ever Forget the Importance of Word-of-Mouth. It was the highest compliment back then and it’s still the highest compliment today.  Independent music existed long before the internet. But how did people share information? Word of mouth, of course! When you make your fans top priority, they will share you with their friends. They will bring their friends to shows, and they will support what you’re doing. And this is the beauty of the internet. Word-of-mouth exponentially increases when the internet is involved. It’s an old-school concept in a new format.

By the way, MacLeod is the author of a book called “Ignore Everybody”.  Its a pretty incredible wake-up call to anyone who’s been sitting on their creativity but wants desperately to use it.  Here are some blogs we wrote referencing the book a few months back..

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Ignore Everybody and Just DO

January 11, 2010

"Please hire me. I'm a hard worker"

Ok, I admit.  Last week’s post was a bit brutal. But the more I look over various chapters of MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity, the more I realize that he is offering the reader two choices. DO or DON’T.  You either DO your passion or you sit back and watch others do theirs.  It’s as simple as that. And the kicker is that if YOU don’t do your thing, it will never get done.

The best way to get approval is to not need it.

Sovereignty:  “It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours.”
…and when it’s yours, no one but you can tell you what to do with it.  As independent artists we often make the mistake of trying to do what singer/songwriter XYZ has done.  But originality always wins out. See Creating Value: Is your Music Worth Something?

Grassrootsy  talks often about mimicking other artist.  See Mimic the Artists You RespectLearning from people who are more experienced than you is essential; but mimicking is not the same as copying.  Take what others have done and put your own spin on it.

Sovereignty is ownership.  If it’s not yours, you don’t own it.

Power:    “Power is never given. Power is taken”
…and when you have sovereignty, power will follow. You don’t need someone to give you control over something you already own. If you’re an artist looking for that “big break”, make sure you’re making as many breakthroughs as possible on your own.  No one wants a freeloader when they can have a hard worker.

Consider the following:

  • Do you truly own what you have?
  • If you owned a record label, would you bring yourself on as one of your artists?
  • Are your methods original or have you been trying too  hard to copy someone else?
  • Are you confident in yourself or are you continually looking for other people to affirm you?

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The Problem with Wolves & Sheep

January 6, 2010


Grassrootsy was one of 17 blogs picked by Derek Sivers (founder of CDBaby) to check out a new book by Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.  I should first mention that this is not a book review and I was not asked to “sell” the book. I should also mention that there is alot of great stuff in this book for any aspiring entrepreneur. Clarification: if you are trying to make a living off of your music (or any type of art), you are in fact an entrepreneur.  I’m sure I will be referencing the book for months to come.

The price of being a sheep is BOREDOM. The price of being a wolf is LONELINESS. Choose one or the other with great care.

Are You a Wolf?
Reading this book brought back many memories from 2 years ago.  I was months away from quitting my job. I knew it.  But at the same time I was making more than any young professional should probably
make at a 9-5 and actually felt pretty stupid for thinking about leaving my job…b/c it went against all common sense.  But I also remember being extremely bored and realizing that pursing my dreams would be more fulfilling.

One month into my freedom, after quitting my job, I suddenly realized that, not only did i not have a boss, but I also had NO ONE to help me get started. Go figure. I’d been playing out for 3 1/2 years but the pressure of  really making this full-time venture successful was all on me. It also took a full 18 months for my parents to honestly acknowledge that my “career move” was actually a career and not a hobby.

Or Are You a Sheep?
Sheep are bored. They follow. They don’t lead.
Sheep copy ideas and follow in the shadow of others.  MacLeod talks, in his book, about the problem with followers.  They might not like your idea, but if you’re successful, they’ll “like it” because they want to be on the winning team. It’s the human condition of wanting to be part of the something big…even if it doesn’t make sense.  I’d personally like to think that this is also the definition of pop culture.

Choose One or the Other
First of all, There is NO condemnation here.  This blog may come off as a bit biased, but one is not better than the other…unless you strongly feel you are on the wrong side.  Maybe “bored” is a strong word to use, but its assumed that, if you’re reading this blog, you’re trying to make moves with your music. You can’t be a sheep and make moves with your music. You can’t sit back and be timid.

At the same time, you won’t always be liked as a wolf. Wolves are kind of mean. They eat the people in their way and they don’t wait for someone else to do what they can do on their own. And this, my friends, is why wolves are lonely.  They make moves even when no one support them.  This is the primary reason no one likes Hugh Laurie of the Fox TV series, House. But he gets the job done! And he’s good.

…all this from a man who became famous by doodling comics on the back of business cards.  I think he’s worth listening to.

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