Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Editorial

A Facebook friend of mine posted this note. If you're too lazy to look (or not on Facebook), here's the short version: it's on marketing.

I found it kind of a downer.

This isn't a personal shot against the fellow who posted the note. I don't know if he personally subscribes to this mentality (He DOES refer to it as "Lies and Truth"). Heck, I don't even know if he wrote it himself or if he found it somewhere else and forgot to credit his source (Assuming a source could be found--not always such an easy thing on the internet, I've noticed).

Here's my problem with it.

All of the things in the note may be true. My beef is with the unspoken subtext: that success is measured by sales and popularity.

I have nothing against fortune and fame. I am allergic to many things, but you will find neither 'bling,' nor 'mad bitches' on that list. I would love to be rich. I would love to be famous (*).


I also think adopting sales or popularity as a benchmark for success is a great way to make yourself miserable. Because no matter how good your product, no matter how great your marketing plan, such things are largely out of your control. Yes, you can put yourself in the best possible position to succeed, but there are no guarantees.

To paraphrase something some editor said in a I once read book somewhere (**): "I can tell whether or not a book is good. I can't tell whether or not it will sell."

As I said, I don't have any moral objection to fame and fortune. I do have an objection to putting my sense of personal satisfaction in the hands of others.

Because you can't MAKE yourself commerically succesful. You can't MAKE yourself popular. That sort of status isn't something you can take. It's something other people give you for their own reasons in their own time.

As long as you are measuring yourself by outside standards, you are at the mercy of other people. You are tying your happiness to the mast to a ship that is not yours to captain.

Fuck that.

I know who I am. I know the standard I've set for myself, both as a performer and a human being. I know when I've done right and I know when I've fallen short whether there are 500 000 people watching, 15, or no one at all.

All things considered, I would rather have the 500 000. The more people I can reach, the better, especially if they're showering me with gifts, adoration, and cold hard cash. I want those things.

But I don't need them to tell me whether or not I'm successful. And neither, I suspect, does anybody else.

Because whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, I think that is something that deep down, we already know.

(*) More precisely, I'd like to be famous for eight months, with an option to renew if I decided I liked it. But now we're splitting hairs.

(**) With that phrase, I officially give up my right to bitch about other people's lack of citations

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