Learning curve. It’s a term we all know. But learning how to say, replace the power steering pump in a truck, or the hard drive in a laptop is different than learning how to bring your art, your lifeblood, your essence to the world. This is who you are, it’s what you have to say, and how you have chosen to say it.
There’s this teetering sensation when you know you have something good. You’re working with your friends. People you love and just as importantly people you trust with your art, your songs. And then you’re passing your tracks, those wonderful tracks that were so considerately attended to every step of the tracking process, you pass those tracks off to be mixed by a name you know because it’s on the records you love to listen to. The magic has come together just right. It’s exciting, it’s uplifting, you want to share it. And you teeter because this is the first time you’ve had something this good, this special, this new and you don’t know exactly what to do next, but you know you sure as hell don’t want to fuck it up. You know there are all these things to do, and there’s plenty of blog posts out there that will tell you what to do, but when it’s your first time doing them, and when the product you’re doing them for is so damn personal, you teeter. This is something new. You’re coming face to face with your learning curve. Look it in the eyes, take a deep breath, and make your move.
My friend Toft (he’s the one who engineered the record) and I were hanging here in Colorado last month and he reminded me that other than him and me and a handful of other people, nobody even knows what Posidub is (that’s the record…now you know too). So cool your heels, your album’s only getting old to you, and the rest of the world is just waiting to be brought in on the loop. They too will soon get to experience the posi. But I think the point here is that when you’re excited about something it’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to give yourself the time to hash out a plan that is going to actually serve your creation, and help it reach a wider listening base. Sure, you can log on to CDBaby or TuneCore and get your album available digitally and get CDs made and boom! you have an album for sale. That serves your merch table, but has it actually allowed you to share with your audience that over-the-top excitement you’re feeling right now? Has it helped you to gain new fans who are out there and who want to hear your music, but aren’t going to be at your album release show because they live 1,000 miles away?
I can’t really say I have advice at this point for other new artists in the midst of a debut release, as I’m in the thick of it myself right now, but I will say this. Make a team of people you trust who believe in what you’re doing, and take care of them. Money is something we work hard for, and it feels really good to give it to someone you respect instead of a little less of it to someone you don’t. Musicians these days, in particular small and new acts, have a lot of duties placed on their shoulders. The number one platform for listening to music is Youtube, which means your songs need videos. Your average show goer is equally or more inclined to buy a t-shirt over your CD, which means you need merch to sell them. And don’t get me started on the vast expanse of social media platforms, but yea, you’d better be on those too. Having people that can share their expertise with you, or who you can outsource projects to is essential. Videographer, graphic designer, social media guru, booking agent….these are your hats that stack on top of your musician’s crown, so take the quality help that comes your way. As musicians, strong linear planning and a task-oriented approach may not always be our strengths, but when you look at your record release to-do list remember this:
We are artists. Our brains are hard-wired to create, to be unique, to think outside of the box, and this is our advantage. Your artistic perspective is being constantly applied to every aspect of your life, and marketing your music will benefit from this treatment. That TLC you give your tracks, your creative problem solving skills that help you get your arrangements dialed, that is exactly what makes your art special, and what draws people to what you do, whether it be in the studio, on the stage, or late at night in Photoshop. So the next time you sit down to create Instagram teaser videos for your new hit album, don’t forget to do what you do best and make some art.
*Editors note: Rootfire will be debuting two tracks from Posidub over the coming weeks.
About Red Ninja:
Red Ninja creates sets of live original dub. World beats, heavy bass, and eclectic sound bits are met by strong lyrics and infectious melodies. Wrapped in a backdrop of classic Kung Fu films, this multimedia production is Red Ninja’s Kung Fu Dub Experience.