How To Not Turn Potential Listeners Off Immediately

You ever come across someone that plays guitar and for the love of God they won’t shut up about it? That’s not so much a problem on itself, but it hinges on what they are saying and before you’ve even so much as heard a single tone from them their jabbering has by then successfully ruined any hint of anticipation you in the least may have been convincing yourself you’re feeling. Have you ever been in a situation like that? It’s unfortunately not a hard one to come by.

As a public service to any reader who might fit into the category of ruining their music before it’s even been heard I’ve put together a small list on capital no-nos for marketing your music. A set of Prime Evils when talking about your music, if you will.

Prime Evil 1: Insulting Yourself

Criminal mastermind Nicholas Tozier alluded to this in his article How To Own Any Stage You Walk Onto in number 7 when he said not to greet the audience with excuses. Therein lies something that goes deeper than just being on stage. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been telling someone about your music and among the first things you mindlessly blurt out “it sucks” just comes flying out like a bat out of hell and, assuming you have any inkling of an attention to detail, you can see the other person’s face contorting as they no doubt think “then why are you telling me about it?”

Think of your words about your music as a verbal resume. The purpose of a resume is to toot your own horn. To make people not only want to hear it, but feel like they need to hear it. If you write down “sucks” right after your name on your resume how many phone calls do you think you’re going to get? You’ll get every bit as many bars and clubs willing to let you perform with that approach.

I’m not saying you need to go above and beyond arrogance. You don’t need to do your impression of Yngwie when talking about your music, but if you ever find yourself insulting your music, then perhaps you should read his interviews and siphon in some of his perspective. The guy has established what? A 3 decade career of the same song over and over? When was the last time you’ve heard him insult any of it? You don’t. Why? Because he’s confident in it.Hang on.

There is only one, and I do mean one situation where it’s ok to tell someone your music sucks. If it’s by design. Only if it’s intentionally supposed to be so bad that people lose sleep for weeks is it ok to use “sucks” as an adjective.

Prime Evil 2: Pointing Out Your Screw Ups

Speaking of things that suck. You know what really sucks? When someone shows you a song and while you’re trying to listen to it they keep pointing out every mistake they made. I pride myself in having a pretty good ear, but it’s a long shot from the best. Some could argue it’s probably only mediocre, but we all know what we like when we hear it and I’m pretty sure no one out there likes the sound of someone’s voice insulting a song in mid-listen just to point out all the fallacies.

If you do this bring it to the forefront of your mind and force yourself to stop. It makes the song unlistenable because you’re busy talking and it makes it impossible to hear a second time without thinking “yeah… out a tune aren’t we?”

Unlike saying your music sucks there really isn’t any exception to this… unless talking over your music is part of the artistic expression. If that’s the case have fun finding a solid demographic.

Prime Evil 3: Panicking

You ever get so antsy and anxious expecting an impending screw up? Be it in recording, performing live, auditioning, anything. You’re sitting there, “playing” the guitar, sweating bullets, and you’re lucky to have played as much as you have as well as you have because since you started the song you’ve been worried about that one part about ¾ in and how you always screw it up. And when you get to that part what happens? You screw up.

The cure for this? Lighten up. If you routinely screw up one specific part you simply just need to relax and practice it more. If you’re fine playing it when you’re alone, but you can’t play it for someone so help you God, then yeah. Relaxation is probably your best antidote. Mistakes happen. People accept them. It’s not the end of the world.

As they say if you put your mind to anything you can accomplish it. That goes the other way around too. If you put your mind to screwing up you can expect to see a lot of that happen.

The Moral

There is one principle that governs everything I’ve prattled on about here. Confidence. These are all things that go back to self confidence. They are but a few ways that you ultimately show people, whether you know it or not, that your threshold is decidedly low.

If you’re playing some little ditty you jammed out, covering someone’s song, or playing a full-fledged rock opera you’re playing it and it rocks by default. Simple as that.

Kyle Smitchens (448 Articles)

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.