Audience of One

Your “audience” starts with you. Make the thing you wanna see first. In my latest episode of LATER, I talk about how your creative endeavors need to satisfy that audience of one; YOU. No clicks, or likes, or whatever. But you have to be stoked when doing it.

I did Skull Toaster for seven years and quit it because it wasn’t serving the audience of one anymore. Never-mind that it built up a $200/mo Patreon / Memberful support network, or that 30+ people a day replied to metal trivia, and a solid nightly email newsletter that I produced and sent every night.

Wasn’t enough. The audience of one – me – wasn’t loving it anymore. Shut it down.

But also, life and work and relationships and all that – guess what? You’re still the audience, and last I checked you get to walk out of bad movies.

That doesn’t mean you just tell your boss off, or leave your family, or burn down the farm. No, it was tiny decisions made over decades that landed us where we are. Now it takes a series of tiny decisions over the next decade or two to course correct.

It’s not black and white. It doesn’t go from misery to utopia in a day.

Seek to entertain that audience of one in all that you do.

What is Later?

There’s been a few words that have stuck with me over the years.

One time, during an interview with Jason Hamacher of Frodus, Lost Origins with my pal Travis on his As The Story Grows podcast in 2016 (here), we got around to when I met Jason, years ago when I lived in NYC, at some vegetarian place.

“Yeah, you were with your girlfriend, or wife…”

“Well, ex-wife now,” I replied.

Jason replied, “later.”

His delivery was perfect, as only Hamacher could get away with.

Another word that’s stuck is, “why?”

I had just been rejected for another job that I thought for sure I was a good fit. My friend was with me, and asked me what I was going to do next.

“Send out more resumes, I guess,” I replied.

“Why? It doesn’t seem to be working.”

Pretty sure that was in 2016, too. Last two resumes I sent were in late 2017 (didn’t get those either), but I haven’t sent one since. He was right. I hunkered down on my own business (Close Mondays) in 2018 and haven’t looked back.

Later. Moving on, moving forward.

Why? An honest question. Stop doing what’s not working.

Later is now the name of my video / audio series. For more info, click here.

Nothing is New

Ramping up my video / audio production means facing some fears. Like, there’s already Andrew W.K., the beacon of motivation and party vibes. Who am I in comparison?

Gary Vee pushes and prods, surely I don’t have anything to add.

Seth Godin, who I’ve been following devoutly since the early 2000s, has a blog, and multiple books filled with ideas, inspiration, and hard truths.

Why should I even bother?

But in the music world, do we need anything beyond Radiohead? Pearl Jam? Dillinger Escape Plan? Converge? Don’t we have all the music we need?

Not by a long shot.

If we stop, completely content with what’s avaibale, we don’t grow. We need to push, and pull, and remix. Copies of copies. Over and over again, we do this, and the world is a better place for it.

So don’t worry that you’re work isn’t breaking new ground. Your work is coming from your perspective, and that’s what makes it fresh, because you’re unique, and that’s more that enough.

To note: this video was done in one take. No edits. This blog post was done in one take. No time to bake. No edits (except for spelling and such). No second guessing. This is my continuing exercise in producing rather than procrastinating.  Done, versus perfect.

Call Yourself an Artist

Yes, yes, a million times yes.

You can be a writer and not have a published book. You can be a song writer and not have an album.

There’s no requirement to beat end-level bosses and clear chronological checkpoints to be anything.

Sure, having published by-lines and music on Bandcamp helps you get to other levels down the road, but again, they are not required check boxes on your creative journey.

Facing Loss

With the recent news of Alex Trebek being diagnosed with cancer, I saw a lot of people sharing their love for the amazing Jeopardy host.

It reminded me of losing Carrie Fisher (December 27, 2016), which really rattled me. I’m a child of the 80s, so that one hit home. I remember where I was – my favorite hometown coffee shop, sitting at the window.

The last time I cried over a “celebrity” was when I heard Kurt Cobain died, on April 5, 1994. I was sitting in my Mercury Zephyr when my girl friend at the time told me. I was heart broken.

Now in the age of social media we pour our hearts nearly everyday for people that are important in our lives, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Dying is a part of life, after all. It doesn’t wait for anyone.

I lost my mom in the summer of 2017. She as diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it was the COPD that took her life way too early.

Each day I remember her when I talk to her. When I see a gorgeous sunset, which was one of the few joys she got in the last few years of her life. I think that’s how we honor those we lose. We carry on their attitude, their spirit, their mission. That’s what I try to do each day.

Different Costs in Different Cities

My friend from NYC drove to PA today for a tattoo. I only have one tattoo, so I don’t know all that much about the economics of getting work done, but she told me how much more affordable it was to get work done in a smaller city.

Sure, they have to pay for a rental car, and gas, but those things lead to other things – like dinner with her friend! Win win!

It’s fun to think of costs related to geographic locations. Rents are cheaper in smaller cities, which can change how we think about incomes.

Replacing Bad Thoughts

In this video I riff on warding off negative self-talk by filling your brain with other, more positive things – like running!

When I was down in the dumps back in 2016, I knew I needed a change, so I started running. It was painful at first, and didn’t look good (still doesn’t), but it at least gave me a solid 1.5 hours per day where I thinking of something besides my usual pity-party that I was throwing for myself much too frequently.

That time added up, and before I knew it I was thinking about running (which means I wasn’t thinking about that grump-town garbage) when I wasn’t running, so that was more hours thinking of this posi-cool thing that I was really enjoying.

Mind you, running hurt. I started in the summer, too, so it was gross and sweaty. It was painful, uncomfortable, and a bit smelly. But all that was better than spending time thinking about how life was unfair.

For me, it was running, so it’s up to you to find your thing (and if it’s running get in touch and I’ll give you some pointers). To find something you enjoy, that can take an hour, and get you away from your daily grump-town visits.

That video also available as a podcast (Apple Podcasts), and on SoundCloud.

Let’s Start

Audio from this video transcribed below, also available as podcast audio here. This is the start of something new for me, so thanks for your patience.

Hi friends, it’s your pal Seth. Starting something a little new. I hate saying I’m starting something, because I see it so much online, where people start off saying they’re starting something, then two minutes later it ends. That’s me right now.

Because… I talked to so many good friends, creative individuals, talented individuals, people who know like, skill wise stuff, internet, and writing, and all of that, and people that want to get into something. “Oh, I want to do this, I want to start this.”

I’m always, Mr. “just do it! You can do it! Just start, just start!”

And I’ve been saying, and I bat this around in my head a lot, because I really like podcasts, and I like doing video, like as much as I say I like doing them, if I had been doing them since 2014 and 2015, I’d have a lot of videos and audio, and everything like that.

Here we are, this is me starting this. And this is me, too, this is not perfect. There’s not, I’m shooting this in one take, there’s not going to be a fancy infographic, there’s no bumper music, there’s no name, there’s no… just start.

Because I fully believe that the first thing that we all do, is gonna suck. It’s gonna be ass. And I think of so many of my talented friends, photographers and musicians and writers, yeah, probably all our first things sucked. The guitar players I know, the singers I know; sucked. Sorry.

I’ve been playing bass since 1991, that shit sucked. And I think back, started a music blog in 2001, those first few posts sucked.

I want to say too, that, I remember when I started Buzzgrinder I remember i wanted to completely remove me from the news. I wanted it to be, band said this, that’s it, out.

And I realized, like, in this time that we have, with podcasts, with video, with music, I mean with a laptop now, we have the ability to write complete songs, without even having an instrument, which is great, which is amazing. Given how we all have laptops, now, and computers, access to them, which is awesome, but so much of that is… there’s no us in that. There’s no voice in it. There’s no us, which I think is a shame, because… I mean, I know there’s a time and a place for this, but I think with the amount of music that we’re able to make, I think putting “us” in more of this, and that’s what I did with Buzzgrinder, over the years ago… we put ourselves in it, we wrote dumb headlines and made fun of bands and stuff, because no one else was really doing that at the time.  Talking 2003, 2004, 2005, and shit, and that got me where I am today in 2019.

What works for me, may not work for you, but what I mean is to put yourself out there, your face, because and again, getting back to why I’m starting this, and being imperfect, being not planned, being spontaneous, you don’t know where that ends. And if we continue to wait til it’s perfect, and researched, and right, and done, and get the domain name, and make sure we have the social media accounts, we’re putting so much of the cart before the horse, when in fact we just need to do it.

The idea, too, I see it so often, of like, “just fail!” Just fail all the time! And it’s not, this is not failing, in that this is seeing what works. This is free, this is absolutely free. I have the phone, I have the internet, and I’m going to be able to put this online, and it’s a free test, it’s free market research, it’s free whatever. I don’t need 100 subscribers tomorrow, I don’t need 10.. I just need to put it out there for me, because I want to have this, I want to…

My ultimate thing would be to go and hangout with friends all the time. I deeply mourn that I was not able to get to Migration Fest last year, and see so many beautiful wonderful people, and have my heart burst with these amazing people. It just didn’t work out last year.

All that to say, I just want to be around good people, I want to vibe with good people, I want to just put my energy into a space where those people exist as well. Because then we embolden each other to do amazing cool things. I see friends of mine on Instagram posting amazing art, building stuff, making amazing photographs, being brave, and just putting this stuff out there.

Years ago I used to think, this was a naive view I had, because I grew up in PA, moved to NYC in 2004, and… this sounds so stupid, but I was like, I don’t understand street art. It’s beautiful, but where’s the domain name? Where’s the click here for more? But it’s not that, it’s not for that, it’s not for building, or brand awareness, it’s for fucking permission. To inspire, and when you look up and see crazy stuff, in crazy locations, hopefully that makes you think like wow, if that person could get up there, and do that, put their lives on the line, and their freedom to evade police, well maybe i can click record on my laptop and record a song. Or maybe I could draw something and maybe be brave today and snap a photo and put it on Instagram.

And that’s where shit starts. As much as I have shit on social media in the past few years, just because of how much of a cesspool and a sewer it can all be, I also believe that, well, fuck that. That gives the win to the trolls and the haters, and the garbage. And no, my friends are there, and I want to be around my friends.

In closing, where does this go? I don’t know. Is this even episode one? I guess we need to classify it as such, of the SETH W TALKING INTO A PHONE SHOW, I’ll think of a better name, or you can suggest one.

All that to say, please start. Don’t be disheartened. Keep making music. Please keep posting it. Be scared, because putting stuff out there is damn scary, and people can say mean things, but the people saying mean things aren’t making things, so who cares? Make things, because then other people that makes things, that might be right at that level, there’s not way up, there’s on the same wavelength, trying to figure it out, I don’t know if I should put my stuff out there, I don’t know if I should put my music to SoundCloud, or put my photos on Instagram, they’re gonna see it, and that’s energy. That’s good. Then they’re going to put stuff up, because we’re all coming up in this together. In this new everything, and we are in a new everything right now, in 2019. We’re all trying to figure this out. Freelancers, artists, musicians, all trying to figure this out.

So put your stuff out there, just keep putting it out there, why not? It’s free. I mean don’t, I guess if you want to take a picture of fecal matter, and post it somewhere, sure, that’s disgusting, I should edit this out, I’m not going to. Yeah, put yourself out there, don’t be disheartened, don’t hold back, why hold back? It’s free to post this stuff everywhere, and for every 10 people that even like it, there’s probably 25 people that do like it and just haven’t hit that heart, or like, or replied, so keep putting your stuff up.

Don’t let fear, don’t let that rejection, just keep making and disengage with people that don’t make, and just leave comments, and are negative, because we ain’t got time for that.

What Do You Do?

You know the dreaded question at parties, “so what do you do?”

Worse, if you’re a photographer or musician or writer, you don’t want people on the internet to wonder the same thing.

If someone looked at your social media profiles today, or god forbid your website, would they know what you do. Like, really, do you spell it out?

It took me awhile to get this, too, so I’m finally getting around to taking my own advice here, but honestly… take a step back and think about it.

I bring this up because I’ve had these talks lately with friends, about what we want to do, yet we don’t really put it out there. We talk about it, sure, but we have a hard time asking for it, much less displaying what it is we want.

Find Your Dreamers

Be around the people who are on the same “dream wave length.”

There are probably plenty of people in your life that probably don’t want to hear your dream talk. They don’t want to hear about your art, or how you want to tour, or make photographs. That’s okay, they’re not dreamers.

Save your dream talk for fellow dreamers, the folks who dare have lofty goals and ambitions. Those need to be your people, your tribe.

You find them by putting your dreams out into the universe.

You publish that poem, post that song, upload that art, start that podcast… you shoot them into the sky like a rocket, over and over again, waiting for other dreamers to find you. Friendships are built, bonds are made.

That dream DNA seeks out that dream DNA. That’s where I believe that yearning comes from. The feeling that something isn’t quite right. You’re unsettled.

You need to dream, and put those dreams out there.

That may not mean “making it” in the short term, but surrounding yourself with dreamers, people who want your dreams just as bad as you do, you’ll make it in your own way.