I Prefer The Foolish
I was watching the “I Heart Radio Awards” while grilling out back with my girlfriend, Cari, when I caught Justin Timberlake’s acceptance speech for this year’s Innovator Award. The always humble JT ended with two amazing quotes.
The first was a Steve Jobs quote from a Stanford commencement speech that said “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Are you truly hungry?
More importantly, are you still foolish?
Like, REALLY foolish?
Forget about what anyone thinks about you.
I have seen far too many very talented people fall short of their dreams simply because they put way too much stock in what other people might think.
In short, they’re afraid.
Fear of what other people think is a great excuse to hang it up, or refuse to try.
I always had a viewpoint on what other people think, “F**K those guys”.
It’s a mantra for me.
I know I’m going to get hateful responses for cussing in my blog, but I don’t care…clearly.
I hear criticism often. From people who are jealous, from people who are angry, from people who are clueless, from people who are nostalgic (about the way it used to be) and hate change, from people who are threatened, from people who wish success was easy so they wouldn’t have to work and have faith in themselves.
Most people hate change.
Most people hate the people behind the change more than they hate change.
Most people don’t recognize the go-getters for the innovators that they are, they only feel regret and deep rooted anger because they don’t have the constitution to be one of the innovators.
It’s funny, they hate being scared, but they’re scared to fail so they don’t try.
The result is they just hate.
Listen, music can still be sold.
People want to buy music.
Nothing has changed in our society about how we respond to music.
Music is the soundtrack to our lives. We remember what we were doing, who we were with, and what that moment meant from a single chord in a single recording; it’s literally etched into our mind.
I can think of nothing more powerful than that.
The great Glen Campbell has lost all memory from Alzheimer’s disease. He forgot everyone, family, friends, his daughter…the LAST thing he forgot was the music and how to play guitar.
That’s what I call power.
I know the EXACT song that was playing the first time I got to 3rd base.
I know the EXACT song that was playing right before my first bad car accident in Rockford, IL.
Y’all got “your song” with your significant other.
It’s the one that makes you smile when you hear it.
It makes you giggle.
It makes you miss someone.
It makes you grateful.
It makes you horny.
It makes you feel loved.
It makes you feel heartbroken because you were loved.
This is what music is.
It transcends all languages because it’s a direct line into the emotions.
I have seen 1 song, heard for the first time, make a Wall Street multi-millionaire investor break down to tears in front of strangers.
That’s power, man. That’s beautiful. That’s music.
Forget about me harping on y’all to be better business people for a second, let’s just focus on the power of it all.
If you feel you got something to say, if you feel that you can change people’s lives, if you feel like you have the power as an artist to move someone, then you OWE it to them and to yourself to market it correctly.
Your music needs to be HEARD.
It’s called communication. Communication isn’t just the message, it’s how you serve it up. Communication is NOT your intent but what is actually being received.
It’s not enough that the song is a good song, or a hit song, you have to get consumers to a mental place where they are willing to receive the song.
If they’re not receiving your music, and your music is well done, you aren’t communicating.
That is frustrating, I don’t care who you are.
Anyone who is frustrated selling their music isn’t marketing correctly. Period.
It’s the same as if you were an entrepreneur who is trying to sell hamburgers in a vegan community and you just can’t figure out why nobody cares.
On that metaphor the fix is simple, but you’d be amazed at how many people miss the easy stuff.
Trust me, there is a fix for selling your music and making a living at it. It has never been more attainable for more artists than RIGHT NOW.
Maybe the fix isn’t as obvious or simple as moving a hamburger stand out of a vegan community, but there are already artists who have discovered the secret.
Some of these artists are making 7 figures a year.
Making a living off your music is doable. It’s not just a dream or a concept.
Most of you are making simple mistakes like trying to hype on social media, or worse, trying to sell on social media.
Educate yourself and be willing to persevere and make errors. You will triumph.
Most of you are simply ignoring marketing all together. You just want to be artists.
Most of you are making excuses so you can avoid the thought of marketing.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it does cost money.
Whether you spend money to educate yourself on music marketing or whether you spend money to get your music marketed, its mission critical to success.
Let me save you the suspense, you are NEVER going to put a song up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. and have it magically go “viral” and turn you into a somebody.
You’re going to have to work hard at this.
You’re going to have to work smart at this.
The artists who become students of the marketing game are the artists who will make a living. That’s just a fact.
The artists who refuse become the sour elitists who look down their nose at the music business and complain about how unfair it is.
They become critics.
JT’s last quote had me emotional.
I feel this every day. I had never heard it before JT brought it to my attention on this awards show. He mentioned that he has carried this quote with him, close to his heart, for years.
That should mean something to you.
It meant something to me.
It’s an excerpt from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in Paris, France on April 23rd 1910.
It should be a mantra (JT recited this excerpt VERBATIM, btw) for every artist and every innovator on the planet.
Read it once, then read it AGAIN.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Here is the full speech if you’re interested.
Have you ever noticed most people are critics?
Have you ever noticed critics don’t like to be perceived as foolish?
Have you ever noticed critics criticize who and what they think is foolish?
If you haven’t figured it out already you will eventually, critics reside with the cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
F**k the critics, I prefer the foolish.
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