One of the hardest things to do in my line of work is figuring out what you want to listen to. The only task harder than that is to stop thinking about what you want to listen to.
As a businessman, I’m encouraged by every publication, mentor, free advice donor, and fortune cookie to “start with what the customer wants and work backwards from there”. It makes sense on paper, of course- find a need and fulfill it. Unfortunately, if you’re an artist, this quickly leads to one of two horrors: Songwriting by committee or, God help us all, songwriting by the label’s marketing department.
Imagine a starship where the captain just asks the crew where they thought they should go next.
Of course, nobody was asking for a tablet computer a few years ago; the models that existed were anything but profitable. A few hospitals saw a use for them and bought some, but only the adventurous nerds took them home from Best Buy or NewEgg. If the market speaks, it was largely muttering “tablets suck” about the time that Apple changed the very face of computing (again).
On the other extreme there’s the typical starving artist, doing whatever fulfills his desires with no regard to acceptance or profitability- like John Cusack at the beginning of “Being John Malkovich”. Cursed is the artist born with no sense of marketing yet an awareness of his own popularity. These are the artists that audiophiles and poets mount on pedestals long after they’ve given up and become medical billing representatives.
Somewhere in the middle, here I am. Trying to figure out what I need to do next- what I need to create -so that those already on board will continue the journey and those we encounter decide to join in. I can’t let the fans write my songs, nor can I just sit in the studio and do what I please. I must lead… somewhere.
This is probably why being first officer is a hell of a lot easier than being captain. Damn you, Prodo-1, you’ve got the easy job.
Robot’s Note: No, captain, cleaning up after you and keeping the ship running is not an easy job.
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