It was a little over one week until my CD release party. Two weeks earlier, the master CD had arrived at the pressing plant broken, and my designer had had a catastrophic computer failure when she tried to upload the artwork (I ended up uploading the final proof from my laptop at a local bar). The pressing plant said they’d do what they could, but could make no promises that my CD Release party would actually have any CDs at them.
So you know what I did? I decided to FAIL BIG. If this wasn’t gonna happen, it wasn’t gonna happen loudly and publicly. In the midst of what had been a crappy, crappy year, I had managed to finance and record a CD, one that I was proud of. And now this close to the finish line and it looked like it wasn’t gonna happen? I just decided, “if I’ve gotta fail, let there be a lot of people who see this baby go up in flames.” So I called a publicist friend of mine and asked her to get me on TV. Then I called another friend and asked him to set up a three-camera shoot.
At the time I thought I was taking the road less traveled, now I realize it’s just the M.O. of success.
There are hundreds of mitigating factors in determining whether or not you’re gonna “make it” in this business* . Some of these we can control and some we can’t, and luck plays no small part in this. But it is unacceptable to fail because of half-measures, timidity or fear. The potential for failing big ironically ensures that that is less likely to happen, if for no other reason than that your fear of failure becomes more pronounced than our fear of success.
More pragmatically, the concept of failing loudly and publicly has a galvanizing effect on audience, the people who believe in you. Your fans aren’t your fans simply because your music is good, they’re fans because they want to be a part of something that grows. This is certainly a topic for another post, but if your audience believes in your success, you owe it to them to succeed. That’s not something that is going to happen without you falling on your face once or twice.
In the end the manufacturer was able to overnight a case to me, the extra publicity brought a ton of new people to the show. I played to the fullest, quietest and most attentive audience I’ve ever played to in this town, and made a bunch of new friends and fans in the process.
So there you have it, if you’re gonna fail, fail big. Oh and don’t book a CD release party until you actually have the CDs in hand.
* Whatever that means.