Reader James Kirsch responded recently to a quote I posted on posted from Bob Lefsetz on the myth of the ‘long tail’ – the idea that the Internet makes it easy for niche musicians to find an audience.
Lefsetz has a pretty pessimistic view of musicians’ prospects.
“Almost no one wins making music,” writes Lefsetz. “The odds are incredibly long. And if you think luck is key, you’re never going to win. You make your own luck. Through hard work!”
Kirsch shares a different perspective in a post that takes an optimistic look at some of the harsh lessons that musicians have to learn. His first lesson:
No one cares about my music the way I do. There’s no reason for them to – for me its a primary extension of self. It’s what I pour myself into, laboring, debating, molding, and refining everything for a ridiculous number of hours.
Then, after all this toil and triumph, I release an album, where all my pride and insecurities are balled up in an explosive state of nervous excitement.
My friends and fans will support and celebrate with me, which is truly amazing, but it’s important to recognize that most people don’t care about it, nor understand the effort it takes. It’s important (though almost impossible) not to have expectations of how my music will be received.
What’s most important is how I feel about my music. You’ll hear this again and again when you’re an artist – it just took experience for me to internalize it.
Kirsch’s post shares six hard lessons he’s learned from creating and sharing music online lessons like the fact that most of your friends don’t really care about your music, and that promoting music is sort of a thankless task.
But nevertheless, he still has an optimistic view of making music:
I don’t mean to sound like it’s a negative experience to create and release music – it’s not. There’s simply a lot of challenges I never imagined.
I absolutely celebrate the tools, ability, and lifestyle that allows me to craft the music that I want to. I’m still in awe that there’s a distribution method that allows me to share my music at almost no cost to the entire world.
We are still very much at the beginning of the musical explosion that’s about to take place. The tools that are available completely eliminate the cost barrier to create music. As this generation learns those tools, the variety and quantity of output will be staggering.