How Comparing Will Kill Your “Right Now”
The Bible had it right. THOU SHALT NOT COVET!
Why do we do this? Why do we compare?
Why are we putting so much stock in another artist’s journey?
Especially when we are comparing our beginning to someone else’s middle.
Y’all compare your art with other artists you know and artists you admire, but what exactly are you comparing?
To admire is one thing. That’s what art is for.
Comparing is a complete waste of precious energy.
I can hear you now saying that you’re “comparing to learn how to be better”. You think dissecting a song or performance to obtain a deeper understanding and savor the meaning of each note is comparing.
But it’s not.
I call that research. I call that studying. Potato, Pot-AH-tow, these are productive exercises right up until you start comparing.
Comparing is unhealthy.
Comparing is the playground that your subconscious negative-self built to remind you that you’re not good enough.
Here’s the thing. We all go there occasionally. It’s like the shadows of doubt literally grab us by the hair and drag us to that dark, ugly, schoolyard. There we sit, on the merry-go-round, spinning so fast the outside world is a blur and the only thing our eyes can focus on are the shadows directly across from us.
The more we can recognize the red flags, the easier it is to avoid that rabbit hole.
Now, some of you are rather adept at avoiding this kind of thinking with your art. You know who you are as artists and you’re confident about it. At least more confident than most. (I can usually recognize this artist instantly because the air of authentic creative confidence is palpable. But I digress.)
For the more confident artists and every artist, really, it’s level 2 that opens the door to the shadows of doubt.
Level 2 is marketing.
Every day I hear an artist groan about another artist’s marketing.
“Must be nice to have all that money.”
“If I just had 10% of their budget I could be making a living.”
Seriously, STOP IT!
Comparing in marketing is detrimental for the same reasons as coveting someone else’s art.
Comparing presupposes that there is some kind of destination for you. But there is no destination.
The journey is the destination so you’d better love the process.
This goes for creating art and marketing.
First off, when you compare, you’re always at different parts of your respective artist journeys. You must learn to advance but not get overwhelmed.
I started running again a few weeks ago. There is this DEMONIC hill at the beginning of my run.
It’s not that bad, but it is a hill.
At the beginning.
And it totally sucks.
I realized that my will to conquer that hill is blown to smithereens if I look up and soak in the distance. It just seems so freaking far away and unachievable. My attitude sours instantly and the probability of my stopping increases exponentially.
My solution is not to look up.
I keep my head down and focus on my feet. It’s momentum. This approach has the opposite effect on my mood. I’m moving, I’m actually moving! Then before I know it, I’m at the top of the hill. It sneaks up on me.
Do you see how comparing your marketing or your art is exactly like my evil hill?
Just focus and double down on the job at hand. Looking too far into the future or too closely at another artist’s journey will rip the hope right out of your chest. It’s a violent experience.
Do you like violence?
This is atrocity is preventable.
Keep your head down and W O R K. Before you know it, you will have dominated that little, seemingly insurmountable hill.
It’s just a hill.
The only thing that changes from day to day is our perception of the hill.
Problem number 2 with comparing on marketing is that you’re inevitably comparing apples and oranges. Your favorite artists are being marketed to you via a system that broke them but won’t break you. If your favorite artist is on their 15th single, they already have a relationship with radio, but you don’t.
Radio is going to take someone’s song off the air to put their song on because they have a brand name. Yes, radio launched that brand name, but it won’t launch yours.
In a sense, they’re lucky because they obviously get the push for radio. But at what cost?
It’s far better to approach radio after you have a solid audience built up. It’s way more fun to walk into a station where they’ve added you because they didn’t have a choice as opposed to you having your hat in your hand and begging for a favor.
There are no guarantees on radio. There has never been but now it’s worse. I had a conversation with a manager of this amazing signed act. They are compelling artists. They have a WELL FUNDED deal. The takeaway moment in the conversation came when the manager told me, “Johnny, we’ve spent an OBSCENE amount of money on radio and nobody knows who they are.” For the record, at this stage of the game and with their budget I would venture a guess that an “OBSCENE” amount of money would be in the $350,000-$500,000 range.
How are you feeling about those pings of jealousy now?
Keep your head down and work.
Learn about online marketing, story-branding, permission marketing, and how to deeply connect with an audience.
Knowing and owning your audience is the key to your success.
STOP worrying about any other artists. It’s none of your business.
If you are good enough, nobody is stopping you.
Stop complaining that you don’t have time. You’ll find the time if it’s important enough. To me when artists complain about not having the time, they’re really saying all this other stuff is more important.
Focus on the stuff that’s more important and OWN IT.
If this artist thing is important to you, and I mean REALLY important, you’ll get to work.
You’re either acting on the things you love or you’re not.
Coveting is not acting on what you love.
Coveting is subconsciously creating the reason you can’t.
If you found value in this content please SHARE it. I’d love to hear your COMMENTS.
Tell Us Your Comments
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!