D.I.-Why is in the process of releasing and promoting our first book: The Analysis of Hype. In the process, someone on Hypebot commented that it’s time for musicians to stop “waiting for Superman” in terms of their own career. Brilliant statement.
So many musicians feel the need to work hard, but toss their careers away on hoping that Superman will swoop down and save the day. Unfortunately that’s rarely, if ever, the case. There’s an Native American expression that I love: ”Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” That pretty much sums up how the music industry works. You’re slaving away putting in your 10,000 hours. You hear about something cool happening: a gig, an open mic, a showcase, whatever. Having put in the quality time, you’re now in the right spot to benefit from “luck.” It’s not luck though, you’ve earned it.
I started out as an radio intern working on a morning broadcast. 3 AM wake ups, 15 hour (plus) workdays, and no social life whatsoever. One day I hear that Aerosmith is coming into the station that afternoon. When you’re a Bostonian, having Aerosmith drop by the studio is something akin to the second coming. Anyway, I also knew that the station was hosting their annual charity auction later that week. Being crafty, I raced out the door to the local used record shop, and grabbed the cleanest copies of classic Aerosmith LPs I could find.
Later that afternoon, 3 out of 5 members of Aerosmith showed up at the station. They were glad to sign the LPs, but who’d want to bid on something signed by 60% of the band? I talked to their rep, he quietly invited me to a book signing they were doing the next day. Told me where to be, when to be there, and (most importantly) who to ask for.
The next day I showed up at the club with the records, but also with a DAT recorder (high tech, right?) and a station mic. Before the chaos of the book-signing (there were THOUSANDS of people in line…), I was able to get 10 minutes with the band to fill in the missing signatures and record station IDs and a brief interview — with the ENTIRE band. Autographed records in hand, along with about 15 minutes of exclusive audio, I raced back to the station and handed the DAT to the program director. Told him we had a stack of brand new Aerosmith IDs from the entire band, along with a few minutes of interview audio from the scene of their signing.
He was floored. How’d that happen, who gave you access to that, why’d we send YOU?! I explained what happened, and he was suitably impressed. Ended up getting a raise, actually. And in radio, nobody gets a raise.
The point to all this: I was smart. I thought about what I was doing, and I didn’t just say it was “luck.” For musicians (and marketers!) your brain will get you always get you further than Superman.