From Phish Live at Madison Square Garden:

First and foremost you must own your own material. This gives you the freedom to take chances, to experiment, to see what works. The sky’s the limit, let your imagination flow, fans love the weird, the unpredictable, the cool. Then you must get fans. Fans are the people who pay. That’s not critics, that’s not radio, that’s not any intermediary or filter. That’s the person sitting at home on the couch, listening to your music on headphones just to survive. Forget trying to convince everybody who doesn’t care. That’s not the future. Who knows, you may get lucky and everybody might ultimately pay attention… Then again, for how long? Treasure every fan, treat each and every one like a blood relative. Then they’ll continue to give you their money. They’ve got to do something with it. Investing in you makes them feel good, they believe they’re part of something. And if you’re trying to make it in the music game, it’s about the music. It’s not about the outfits, not about the videos, they’re just trappings. It’s about what goes into your ears. Know that you’re not going to be successful overnight. Do you play in the MLB the first time after you throw a ball? Do you suit up in the NBA after your first layup? Music is a calling, an adventure, you go on a journey and if you’re unique and good enough you gain followers. But don’t let your followers imprison you. Your music must satiate you first. Because only by satiating ourselves can we truly inspire others. Don’t give people what they want, but what they need. Know that you don’t know when you’ll be successful. That it will happen after you want it to. Or, if it happens soon, it’s going to evaporate, because you don’t have a catalog and your fans haven’t had enough time to bond and form a tribe.

This piece is why I was wide awake at 3 in the morning on New Years Day, with a bonfire lit under my ass but no energy to do anything. Sleep seemed even more useless than usual, I had to get to work, NOW.

No, I don’t have any designs towards starting a rock band. I read enough to know that it’s a pretty futile effort at this point, unless you’re willing to become an industry prostitute or starve for most of your life.

You haven’t fully read this quoted passage if you can’t apply this to some aspect of your life, especially those of you that read this blog primarily in ‘esports’ mode. It speaks to two things: make sure your motivations are in the right place, and focus on the product.

Coming soon, but love us anyway

Every once in a while I make it a point to touch base with old business contacts pertinent to my gaming content production outfit. It’s rare that, in the process, I don’t get several comments along the lines of ‘I can’t believe you guys are still kicking.’ We’ve never seen what could be called smashing successes compared to other production crews, but soaking in a bunch of limelight isn’t what matters to us; we enjoy producing content that our most loyal viewers like to watch, and that’s more than enough to keep things going.

I think I might puke if I see one more ‘omg coming soon later this year going to be epic’ projects in gaming; I’ve stocked up on antacids since 2011 has already been christened ‘the year of esports’ and I’m sure there’s going to be a parade of such bullshit. If you’ve already started promoting a project that hasn’t been finished or launched yet, your motivations are misplaced, your priorities are out of whack. You want praise and interest in the nothing you’ve built. You want to enjoy the fruits of your successes before you’ve realized them. You’re not interested in what you’re building, but what you figure you deserve for merely considering action.

I’m reminded of this tiny violin fest in particular [Update: dead link]. (And yes, if you’re in the gaming commentary sphere, there’s a good chance I visit your site weekly and check out what you’re up to.) This crew (the now dead PwnageTV) is notorious. They’ve nearly outdone TsN in TsN-ness, generally conducting themselves as God’s gift to competitive gaming, hyping themselves to no end, talking trash about other groups on air and in public forums, making commitments and issuing statements regarding their own projects that they’re incapable of following through on (as evidenced here), while putting the least amount of focus on their actual core product as they possibly could. It’s sad to watch someone literally hype their complete and utter ability to produce nothing, expecting support in return.

[ Addendum Jan 6: the video linked above has been taken down. Pity. Strangely the comments are still viewable. The video was entitled ‘PTV Revival’ and was basically a 10 minute rant by a staffer about how they’ve been screwed over by things like school and life, but that we should all rest assured that their comeback is imminent. Their most recent content was produced in October of last year. ]

I’ve made this mistake before. It’s not a good place to be. I think there’s few among us that haven’t; self-promotion is easy, creating something worth promoting is difficult.

People don’t care about the craftsmanship of your IRC spam.

Today’s new music world order is not so dissimilar to sports, or sports commentary for that matter. Used to be that solid marketing was the key to success in music. You just had to get out in front of people in order to make it, and since the grand cultural unifiers were radio and television until right around 2000, you just had to get yourself there in order to make it. ‘Building your brand’ was simply a matter of making sure you were seen and heard on the mass media.

Now, nobody’s listening to the sales pitch. Most in today’s under-18 crowd doesn’t even know that MTV used to play music videos. Everyone already has their list of favorite acts, and their mp3 players are already filled with said acts’ entire collections. Sports fans don’t care about marketing, it’s all fluff to them. Kick some ass on the field, that’s all.

Today, the only thing that counts is what you actually build, what you produce. Nothing else matters. Sure, some self-promotion on twitter and facebook etc. might help you a bit, but, again, nobody’s paying attention to promotions unless it’s coming from a personal friend, unprompted by you. The only way to encourage that sort of organic promotion is to just put out something great. If you’re a band, that means putting out solid material that you’re invested in and you believe in, and hopefully your fans will enjoy. If you’re producing written or video content around gaming, that means putting out solid material that you’re invested in and you believe in, and hopefully your fans will enjoy.

I’m trying to tie this piece together with a solid insight to end it, but I’d merely be repeating what’s quoted at top. So read it again. And do some work.