It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
I just finished reading David Pogue’s review of the Surface, Microsoft’s iPad competitor. The hardware is jaw-dropping, the software is baffling and the whole thing is a no-go because there are no apps.
Apple just pushed the envelope with its latest iPads this morning. But even if they did not a whit, introduced nothing, Apple would still be on top for years, until the next paradigm shift, because of the ecosystem, because of the apps.
You think you want a hit.
And you do.
That’s what the iMac, iPhone and iPad were.
But none of them would have sustained without the software.
our career is based on software. Everything is secondary to your songs. And you’ve got to have a lot of them. Because once you’ve got catalog, you’ve got fans. With a hit, you’ve just got grazers, you’re gonna be trumped by he who has the next hit. You’re gonna be plowed under by he who has a catalog.
Look at it this way. Imagine if apps were marketed first by Google, if Apple were caught flat-footed and there were hundreds of thousands of apps for Android before Apple started.
The iPhone and iPad would not be what they are today.
There is a first mover advantage. But staying ahead requires constant innovation, more soul, more hits.
But not everything has to be a hit. I rarely use iMovie. I never use GarageBand. But people swear by these apps. In other words, certain songs may only appeal to a tiny fraction of your audience, but it’s these “album cuts” that keep your audience attached.
So, instead of constantly searching for that hit, first and foremost focus on getting better. Focus on development. Not of your career, but your music. Try to find out who you are, and then keep on expanding your horizons.
Otherwise you’re Debbie Gibson. Or Tiffany. I heard “I Think We’re Alone Now” on the radio this afternoon. A gigantic hit, then what?
Everybody’s depressed when they don’t get instant traction.
Traction goes to he who sticks around longest. Who never relaxes. Who keeps on keepin’ on.
Then you can get lucky.
Music history is littered with stories of tracks that were going to be left off albums, deep cuts that became hits to the surprise of everybody involved. Stop employing short cuts on the way to a hit, keep experimenting.
When you work with Dr. Luke or Max Martin it embellishes their career, not yours. People don’t think you were responsible. Furthermore, what you’ve created sounds like what they’ve done before, it’s never so unique that it’s not disposable.
Everybody wants instant.
But the most instant act of the summer is already a has-been. Carly Rae Jepsen. She’s done.
And Psy probably peaked last week.
Do you want to be one of these people? Going back to your day job within a year, with only this one hit tarring your image forever more?
Or do you want to last.
All great acts took a while to make it. Whether it be the Allman Brothers or Elton John or Dave Matthews.
In the 1990′s, MTV dictated and you could be successful overnight. But the Internet blew that model up and that which is successful through manipulation now reaches far fewer people and lasts for even a shorter time.
The rewards do go to the person who took the road less traveled.
But you’ve got to travel, you’ve got to walk, you’ve got to create, you’ve got to keep on going even if most people are ignoring you.