I have thought a lot lately about "fitting in" and being "liked" by everyone. That seems like something you do in Junior High School, where everyone's insecurities are at the fore. Being unique is really hard at that age, and many an ad agency preys on that to sell kids the latest gadget, outfit, and sugary snack. Bullies find uniqueness an easy target, as well.
But as an artist - in my case a musical artist - that mentality goes against my goal of being original and standing out as such.
Trying to please everyone results in a watered-down, compromised vision. Not everyone is going to like what I like, so what do I do? I can try to please everyone, or boldly march forth, gathering like minded individuals as I go.
I was recently contacted about having my band, Jazz The Dog, play at a local street fair, but the person in charge suggested we leave our mascot Jazz, a taxidermied dog, behind as some people find it "offputting." I explained to him that while that may be true, others find it quite interesting.
Who are we going to try to please - those that love us the way we are, or those that want to change us so they don't have to?
And how about all those minor key songs I like to create? Not everyone like them either - should I drop them and play only "happy" songs so they, the audience, doesn't have to feel? How about those deep, slow grooves that just make me melt... should I stop playing those, too?
Unless you are paying me extra to play for a special occasion like a wedding (which I will happily do,) then I am going to present my art as I envision it. Those that don't "get it" will move on, leaving more room for those that do.
We should all that more often, don't you think?
Derek Sivers, of CDBaby fame, wrote two short articles about this topic, which I greatly admire:
"You need to confidently exclude people, and proudly say what you’re not. By doing so, you will win the hearts of the people you want."
Thank you for appreciating what I do. It's hard to say no sometimes, but when do we get to show others who we really are and stop pretending just so they'll like us.
This isn't Junior High School anymore.