A Desk, a Beer, and the Non-Popularity Contest

Video

When Jonathan found out that NPR’s tiny desk concerts and Lagunitas Brewing Company were holding their first annual contest for indie artists I was soooooo excited.

I know that what I’m about to say will sound like a complete fabrication in order to be all teacher’s pet-y, but I LOVE both NPR and Lagunitas. Little secret, my bucket list includes the entry “be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.” And if the bar serves Lagunitas IPA, that’s what I’m ordering every time – no joke.

While I pinky swear that my professed love is tried and true, I’m also pretty sure that the amount I enjoy informative radio and delicious alcoholic beverages has no bearing on the contest results. It does, however, have a complete effect on how much I enjoyed this project!

Enter Chad McClarnon. Chad is very tall, has a dapper mustache, and possesses the uncanny ability to make a kickin’ professional video in a matter of hours. The rules of the video were to play live music – behind a desk. With Jonathan playing bass and Duane on drums, we came up with something pretty cool and had fun doing it, too!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

But now let me express the REAL reason why I think this contest was worth the effort – because it was not based on how many VOTES or VIEWS or LIKES I corral from my friends or other poor souls that gets accosted by my persistent yet overly cheerful requests to “check out my page!!!”

Most contests that musicians enter nowadays make me feel like I’m in high school again – right back to the old popularity game. But has anyone ever noticed that the harder you try to get people to like you, the more they seem to not care?? 

Running after votes, views and likes, especially from my personal friends, is like whitening my teeth. Sure, a Crest-white smile looks nice, but does it really mean my teeth are healthier for it? In other words, if all my friends vote for my contest entry, am I really any closer to where I want to be in my music career?

I don’t think any musician should have to beg or nag people to publicly vouch from them. I think if our art is effective and accessible, people who feel moved to follow our careers will emerge. They will watch our videos, leave their comments and like our pages. This will grow into a happy byproduct called popularity.

Unlike the high school prom queen’s 15min of fame, however, this kind of popularity is the kind that sticks. It will stick if we respect our audience enough to let them decide when they want their voices heard and how they want to be fans.

So thank you, tiny desk concert contest, for giving us the space to following our Creative Light instead of a popularity gimmick. Hope you find an artist that shines like a torch in the night.

Heartbreak Hang Up

Video

I’m practicing a new song today and thought I’d share it with you all.  It’s called “Heartbreak Hang Up,” inspired by a French songwriter that I absolutely love – Tete.  Here’s on of my favorites from him: