Ring the Bell
Inspiration comes from many places. Some obvious, some a bit more random. In this case, today’s lesson on “how to be a successful musician” comes from Mel Brooks.
When Mel started making movies, they were pretty good. His first two films, The Producers and The Twelve Chairs, were somewhat successful. By no means were they blockbusters, and at the time they didn’t make back their money initially. Great cinema, much like great music, doesn’t always translate to great profit.
At this point in his career, Mel wasn’t sure what to do next. Studios weren’t particularly interested in giving him more money to make another movie that wouldn’t be profitable. Film is (also like music…) a business. For better or worse, money is a serious concern.
When presented with the original story for Blazing Saddles, Mel came up with a thousand reasons why he couldn’t direct it. The only way it would work, he concluded, was to just “go for it.” There couldn’t be any sense of restraint, subtlety, or holding back. His brilliant explanation:
If you’re going to go up to the bell, ring it.
Think about that for a minute. How many musicians make music that just dies a lonely, quiet death. How many artists rail against the “new music industry” that denies them their deserved success?
How many artists:
- Refuse to acknowledge the significance of social media, or …
- Use it minimally/poorly as a justification of its non-importance
- Refuse to perform live (the BEST way to generate new fans…)
- Have no website or online presence
- Place their entire budget on recording leaving nothing left for any type of promotion
- Do not have videos on YouTube
- Do not have music streaming on Spotify or any other service
- Don’t consider things like hiring a publicist, radio promotion, or tour promotion
- Would rather complain about why they’re not (more) successful.
Artists like these aren’t ringing the bell. Being successful in (today’s) music biz is about so much more than just recording music. If you want the success, but aren’t willing to ring the bell, why bother?