Hate it or not, self promotion is a key element in anyone’s success in any field; it’s not just about who you know, it’s also about who knows you. I’m often amazed that a generation raised on television doesn’t consider ‘branding’ and having a message/image that’s consistent across all media, like Howard Stern or God help us, Simon Cowell; do you think the famous black tee is an afterthought? I bet he has his guy in for a fitting before he wears each one.
‘Stardom’ is a concept that doesn’t concern me; it puts me in mind of some ego-trippin’ performers I’ve worked with, and like ‘diva’, the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but artistry, that’s a notion I can really get behind. I believe an artist is someone who organizes a set of perceptions in a unique and truthful way, that’s hopefully also magnetic and engrossing. (so we can get paid) That, in a nutshell, is everything I ever wanted to be, and to the extent possible, it’s what I am. I already won, because recognition is completely irrelevant to the art, or the process, whatever you call it.The Mona Lisa doesn’t care who’s looking, nor in which museum she hangs. She just is.
However, the process doesn’t continue without income, which is where the self-promotion comes in. (if I didn’t do it, I’d have to pay somebody, and I’m a frugal person; it’s part of my persona) ) It doesn’t have to be hype, it doesn’t have to be bogus, you can self-promote in a totally natural and organic way, as long as you really, really know yourself. You have to be self-aware, and it actually helps to be self-involved; you don’t have to worry, ‘will other people relate?’, because you’re human; someone’s gonna relate, and you don’t need to sell a song to everybody, just enough bodies, and you certainly don’t need to sell your soul.
Take me, for example; (my favorite subject, though I probably don’t write about me enough) At your gig, I’m easy to find; I’m the tall guy in the loud shirt under the cowboy hat, not sayin’ much; because your music’s probably louder than my shirt. (but not by much; I came up in the seventies, we had Queen, KISS, Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie) Nowadays, I take care to tone it down some, cuz I no longer need to steal anybody’s thunder, but at MY gig, I’m in the formal attire represented in my profile pic on your right, because I’m the artist, and I set the tone; everything about my look should say, “This is an event!”, with an exclamation point. I’m rather shy and retiring, socially, but I don’t at all mind being stared at. (in my bio, it says, “chronically overdressed since 1961)
Which brings me back around to fear; an artist can’t be afraid of what anyone else thinks, and that’s the aspect where ego becomes really important; If you don’t have one, somebody will talk you out of being an artist, which is the best job in the world; it’s our responsibility as artists to teach others how to live, what to want to be. I have fun for a living, I date and/or marry some of the sexiest people on the planet; even on my worst day, I’m the luckiest SOB alive. At the end of the day, a paycheck is just gravy.