The Fine Line between Truth and Manipulation

This is something I do concern myself with, quite seriously.

And also that’s the reason why so many musicians hate the words like ‘promotion’ and ‘marketing.’

It seems that so much of marketing or promotion is focused on manipulation. The ads on TV, or newspaper. They all try very hard to make you want something. Retail stores, too…. How the products are laid out and presented, are all done with the intention of making you buy stuff. Stuff that you may or may not need, but since it’s within your reach, and it’s so cheap….

On the other hand, promotion can be very creative. I love thinking about branding, images, copywriting, design — it’s all very creative. The goal is to try to create a uniform and well-articulated message about what it is that I have to offer to the world. Which is music, but it’s more than music. The whole concept of an artist, including my interests and causes I champion, my personality, my feelings. I’m trying to tell the world who I am, so people who appreciate who I am and what I do, can help sustain the activity that produces more joy and happiness (even when the music itself is sad, angry or depressing — see my previous post).

But sometimes I am tempted to manipulate. Big time. For example, one of the things we artists are told to present is our “success.” People buy into you more if you’re already a “success.” When they know that many others like you. As if that gives them the permission, or that proves that this music is “good” — I’m not sure.

On one hand, I do believe that I am a success. I am proud of what I made, and I’m not ashamed to tell the world.

But on the other hand, I obviously haven’t achieved the commercial success of some other acts. Trying to compete in the same space as they are, vying for people’s attention, can stir up a lot of insecurities in me, because I am not as “successful” as the next band — and somehow I feel like I need to conjure up success out of thin air, so that I can be as “successful.”

When that happens, I have to slow myself down, and accept where I am. Yes, I do emphasize successes over mundane. I don’t discuss my dirty laundry here. It’s information that really doesn’t help me convey my message. But that doesn’t mean that I am a liar or I am being dishonest. I am not communicating something that is not true. I am just choosing not to show the whole truth — just selective bits, pieces that make more cohesive whole than perhaps what the reality is.

I am not a persuader, or a convincer. I am not comfortable in that role. I make music, I tell stories, I let people know what I have to offer. If someone doesn’t like it, that doesn’t devalue what I do. If someone does, that doesn’t make me magically “more successful” either. My success, I define in my head.

How the world values my offering, is not up to me to decide. I just need to accept, whatever the response is.

I do want you to know, that I am very grateful to everyone who has shown interest, took time to communicate, to listen, to connect — precisely because I can’t make you do that. I am trying to communicate, but you are here because you decided to take interest.

That is a marvelous gift to me. So I thank you.