Did I mention that I was on the Radio…?

Over the weekend, my song Parity was played on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6 Music show and again on the BBC Introducing Mixtape.

This is the first piece of validation about my music that I’ve had from someone who I have never looked in the eye and who will never have to look me in the eye.

All the advice is “you’ll have to back yourself if you want to succeed” and “just put yourself out there”. It is so easily said.
This is often said by people who have already succeeded (looking back through their that-wasn’t-so-hard hindsight) or those who have never really tried to step out of their comfort zone at all.
To expect creative people (often sensitive souls who spend a lot of time alone in order to hone the multiple elements of their craft) to ALSO be their own cheerleaders and publicists is such a big ask and should never be a given. This is whether they are creating music, poetry or starting a business.
If you do come to putting yourself out there, the “like me” requirement can really interfere with the creative flow and producing the work itself. This is particularly stark through the “invite people to like your page” Facebook button.
The most important thing for me has always been that I continue to write songs because it’s the thing that I love to do the most. There comes a point where, as part of the natural cycle, musicians are expected to “just put it out there”.
I understand it’s important to develop core strength so that the opinions of others are not EVERYTHING. However, feedback (and particularly clumsily worded feedback) can ring in the ears longer than anyone ever intended. This can halt the creative process.
I have, then, been cautious over the years as to just how far I’ve put myself out there.
I’ve grown up in a world of Pop Idol and X Factor, where some of the brave who “back themselves” are ridiculed for entertainment. I have laughed and cringed along with everyone else.
This has, however, created a paranoia about my own music. I have been tremendously lucky to have had enouragement from family, friends and fellow-musicians. For example, I was happy to receive this message today from a friend and all-time supporter:
It is, however, very easy for the bully in my brain to tell me that they are “just being nice” or “they’re too close to have any objective judgment”. After all, look at the many family members who have stood outside audition rooms with Ant and Dec or Dermot O’Leary over the years while the stars in *their* eyes were made spectacles of.
In building resilience, we need to have the occasional *win* in order to push us to take the next steps. These *wins* can firm up the ground so we can take those steps.
Platforms like BBC Introducing and Fresh On The Net are so important to provide a stage for people, like me, who have made music but have not been used to putting it out there. This is particularly true when other areas of the industry are reliant on existing “likes” before they will listen.
Thank you Tom Robinson.
My track, Parity, is listenable here and I’d love it if you followed me on Spotify (in order to further legitimise my worth 😊).
It would be great to hear your thoughts on putting your work out there either in the comments section below or via email at embriarmusic@gmail.com.
Thanks for reading!
Emma x

3 Comments

  1. Hello Emma – am so glad that the airplay has been so helpful in helping you realise and understand how original and interesting your musical approach genuinely is. It sounds to me like it’s the brain bully that’s been the thing holding you back up to now, rather than any external factor.

    But it’s worth examining what we mean by “succeed” or “putting ourselves out there” in any case? All that actually matters is doing the best work we’re capable of and being true to our artistic inner voice – not what other people say about our work. Doing our very best work, and having a happy life.

    Of course the people at BBC Introducing head office have to brag loudly about our “success stories” like George Ezra, Florence, Slaves, Jake Bugg and Loyle Carner because that justifies our funding from the BBC Budget to people who only understand numbers. But in truth BBC Introducing isn’t there as some kind of long range weather forecast, designed to predict the stars of tomorrow. Yes, we played all those artists early on in their careers, but they suceeded because they were driven, talented, highly ambitious artists and would have done so with or without our help.

    So the most worthwhile function of BBC Introducing is to find and nurture interesting new music that’s worthwhile for its own sake. Not because it’s going to sell in the mass market or be acclaimed elsewhere in the media – but because we think it’s strong and original. Just like John Peel used to. Yes that’s it – at its best BBC Introducing goes some small way towards making up for the fact that John Peel is no longer around.

    I developed a lecture for independent artists in your position on the various ways of getting your music heard in a digital world, which you can hear here: https://youtu.be/1eckVV06_wA

    The point isn’t that we have to get a large number of “likes” on our Soundcloud/Facebook pages in order to get the REAL attention from the PROPER industry. The point is that everyone’s music needs a community around it in order to thrive. We need to put our work out there in order for that community to find us. However small that group of people may be, it’s them who help our work to develop and grow in confidence. And as the work grows and develops, so does the size of that community… but have a look at that lecture and see if any of it makes sense to you.

    My favourite-ever quotes on creativity come from Joe Orton’s literary agent, the legendary Peggy Ramsay…It was a bout a different medium, in a different era but much of it still holds true.

    “You write because you’re compelled to, driven to, have to. If you think of money before your creative work, in five years you’ll end up a hack. You shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself – ever ! If you haven’t got judgement you shouldn’t be in this business – you can’t just hope for luck.

    “New writers should be shocking and rather strange – never try to draw their teeth. You enjoy it – why shouldn’t other people like it ? I’m interested in being near talent – in the intrinsic value of something, not its’ value in the marketplace. Success doesn’t interest me at all – it’s so ephemeral…”

    None of this addresses your points and concerns above directly, but I hope it’l help stiffen your resolve to go your own sweet way musically and not give a flying f*ck about anyone else (including your inner bully) who doesn’t get it. The work’s the thing, and plenty of it. The more we create, the better we get at it.

    And if you can send us another tune via Fresh On The Net in another 12 weeks time, I’ll look forward to hearing it then….

    Tom x

    Like

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