23 December, 2008


A person can do a lot of things alone, but success requires people.

The other day, I was thinking about the daily grind of work, and how people do stuff to get paid, and I thought, I'm me, I do the stuff I do because I'm the person I am, so why am I not being paid? I should be paid to do the stuff I do.

So I thought about music. Sure, I'm no professional musician, but I play music, and people applaud. If their applause isn't sincere, then that's their problem not mine. But they should turn their applause into cash. I should be paid to entertain people with my music, even if I'm not at a professional level. I should get something.

So I thought about how it would be possible to get some money just from playing, even on an amateur level (in relative terms), and my thoughts strayed to busking. And I thought, making money out on the street, just playing tunes for passing people. I should be doing this.

And so I read up a little on busking, and I read that you can actually make some decent money busking, if you can do it well. So naturally, I was curious about what it takes to "do it well" such that you can actually make some decent money. And I kept reading these "tips" that basically amount to "be a good showman". The "tips" are really "tricks" - the kind of tricks you use to manipulate people into feeling happy and joyous and loose with their change purse. The exact kind of dishonest tricks that get used in all professions, just disguised by the fact that they appear on the surface to make people happy.

Look, I have utmost respect for a good Thom Merrilin character, but that's just not me. I'm not here to put on a show. If being successful at busking means wooing an audience, rather than having anything whatsoever to do with the music you play, then what the fuck, mate?

Even if I think about photography... I've taken some pretty good pictures, I think. I've had some good concepts, and I've had a few successes turn out. But I can't help thinking that if I was taking pictures of a better subject, there would be a lot more interest in my shots. I mean, we could debate about how much credit the photographer deserves for the photographs he takes, and how much credit nature, the world, or the model deserves (and let's ignore the ridiculousness of post-processing in this day and age), but if you give an intelligent person with a passion for photography a decent camera and enough time to learn how to use it, and then you put a gorgeous model in front of him, I have to believe he'd be able to take some good shots.

So how do you become successful? Charisma. You have to be good at working with people. Okay, maybe this applies less to different types of photography (landscapes, for example), but for the kind of photography I'd really like to do - nudes - the bottom line is that you have to be suave enough to get the women all begging to take their clothes off for you.

Even if we ignore the issue of subject, no matter what field we talk about, the key to success is networking. It's meeting people and expanding your web of influence. A physics professor I knew during college once described his experience trying to get a job after he graduated college. He applied for a bunch of positions but didn't get accepted for a single one. So then he spent some time traveling instead, meeting people "in the business", so to speak. And just like that, he got offered a position. It's all about who you know.

Like if you're a musician. You gotta know people who know people. "Hey man, I got this gig goin' down and we could use someone to warm up the crowd." And then a promoter goes, "hey man, saw you at the show tonight, you were smokin', how'd you like to play this other place this other night?" And it goes from there. It's meeting people, it's knowing people, it's communicating with people.

Even if we ignore the networking aspect, success, in the traditional sense, don't come without people. Unless there are people who like what you do enough to pay you, you ain't gonna make a living. Particular in the entertainment fields, you gotta have people that like what you do, or you're nothing. In the media arts, you gotta be worth something to people. You gotta have fans, of some sort. You might be appreciated long after you're dead one way or another, but unless you've got it now, you're not successful. And you've got to be successful. Else you're dogmeat.

God, I'm tired. I just wish there were paths set out for the people who don't want people. Of all things in the world I could be bad at, why did it have to be people? I may as well have the inability to breathe air. It would do me just about the same amount of good.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you about charisma. I believe the vast majority of things I have are mine due to my charisma and little else.

    I can't agree on networking though. Maybe I'm in denial but networking is a depth of deplorable sleaze that even an unabashed opportunist such as myself can't condone. Networkign is how nmost things in the world get done, but I do believe that a non-networking route exists. Though that route generally depends on charisma...