What is Square One?

I’ve been reading Kathy Sierra’s blog forever now and recommend her to almost every musician I know. Funny, because she writes about software development and learning, not music. But her ideas and observations are completely applicable to just about any profession, including working musicians.

My latest favorite: Don’t forget square one, a reminder to keep practicing the fundamentals, and why.

Now more than ever, it feels like independent artists are bombarded with advice to do stuff. Start a blog! Work that mailing list! License your music! Podcast! These are all good ideas. However, all that stuff really should take a back seat to the two things that propel every artist’s career: writing and rehearsing.

I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve seen it in my peers: the wild-eyed desperation that seems to come from too many late nights spent trolling MySpace, fussing over DIY marketing plans, scheming ways to get more money/exposure/fame and so on. Sure, good music doesn’t sell itself. But if you’re doing all this at the cost of writing compelling tunes and working on compelling performances, well, what’s the point?

One response

  1. I read an article about the difference between Mick Jagger and his contemporaries and the artists today. It stated that the biggest reason we won’t be humming songs of the 80s and 90s as much as we’ll still be humming Satisfaction in 50 years is due to the fact that the songwriters then got to (or forced themselves to) spend 90% of their time writing great music as opposed to spending 90% of their time hustling just to get one gig.

    Only the songs matter in reality though. Without it, you have nothing beyond a gigs at venues your friends run.