Marketing…a musician’s foe (but it doesn’t have to be!) - Part 1

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin (marketing guru). I read his daily blog, I have copies of his books, and I’ve gotten to hear him speak (through a lucky invitation…I have a separate entry about that! You can visit anytime for a story session.) Through a chain of events, Derek Sivers, CD Baby founder, invited me to review one of Seth’s books, Small is the New Big, on my blog. By the's a signed copy, and on the front cover I am referred to as a "rock starlet"... Just thought you'd want to know!

So, here we go.

To start off, I love books that come in small manageable chapters, so this is the perfect book for someone like me with a short attention span. This book is a collection of blog entries that took 8 years to write (he picked the best ones for us!) so get to the store, pick up a copy and start reading. You can read the first chapter in the parking lot!

Since the book should not be read in one sitting, but rather enjoyed in small doses, I’ve been taking my time, and plan on continuing to enjoy the book for a while rather than cramming through the second half of it while I’m on vacation. That’s how good this book is - it’s vacation good. I don’t feel like I’m working as I’m reading this book, and taking naps in front of the fireplace up here in Vermont…and now in Maine…

One warning: if you don’t plan on doing anything to change your current situation (your career, your promoting, your creativity – this isn’t just for musicians you know!) don’t bother reading the book. You’ll end up motivated, you’ll make changes you never wanted to make, and then you’ll be mad at me.

So here are a few highlights from the book…in no particular order.

1. You’re always marketing. To use myself as an example – if I perform somewhere and sound great – only to finish the show and behave rudely, that’s not going to sell many CDs. Another story: the last time Bryan flew with AeroMexico airlines he had a terrible experience with an idiot flight attendant (that’s not me being rude, she was really terrible…if you want to know the full story send me an e-mail at and I’ll tell you the entire thing), do you think we’ll be back? She was the head of marketing for that flight, so to speak, and she failed.

2. In the face of change, the competent are helpless. Being competent means that you are steady and reliable, but it doesn’t mean that you’re FANTASTIC! AMAZING! THE BEST SHOW EVER! It just means you delivered what was expected of you. I had my oil changed a few weeks ago…not only did the guys change my oil (competence), but they were friendly, moved efficiently, checked my car’s other fluids, brake lights, etc, and finished everything within 15 minutes and with a smile! Now, that’s a place that I’ll definitely recommend to a friend. Bob Dylan, is not someone who we’d describe as competent…you don’t always know what you’re going to get if you go see him in concert because he’s always changing how he performs. One friend of mine saw him, but he played with his back to the audience tapping out his songs on a small Casio keyboard, while another friend caught an amazing full band performance. He’s not competent - he’s brilliant.

3. Ignore everybody. This is a title of another book that has been recommended to me, written by Hugh MacLeod. But to stick to this book…have you heard of Elizabeth Gilbert? She wrote the popular book Eat, Pray, Love. I watched a talk that she gave about a year ago before her second book came out. Basically, her talk focused on the potential future ‘failure’ of her upcoming book. She knew that it was going to be nearly impossible to match the success she had found with her first novel, so she decided to write her next book knowing that it probably wouldn’t measure up. She accepted this fact, wrote the book anyway, and ignored anyone who only wanted to offer fear. I like that idea!

4. Turn strangers into friends, friends into fans, and fans into a sales force! I have lived this. How many people have I gotten to sign up for Seth Godin’s blog? How many books of his have I loaned out to friends? I’ve even gotten a friend to go and hear him speak! All because I believe in what he’s selling. So come up with an idea, a song, or a product, and get your fans to believe you!

5. Doing a ‘good job’ does not make you remarkable. On page 110 of the book, Seth describes a visit to Hershey Park, and calls it ‘good’. As I child, I remember going to Hershey Park, and I remember going to Disney World. Which place do you think I talked about the most when I was little? One of them is ‘good’ and at the other you get to meet Mickey.

6. No one’s perfect, so cut yourself some slack when you make a mistake and keep working! There’s a typo on page 54 of this book. If you find it, I’ll send you a free CD.

Those are my lessons so far in this “book review” of mine. Enjoy them…musicians, marketers, teachers and everyone; let’s talk about these ideas! We can all use some idea sharing – especially when they’re good ones.