An interesting thing happens to people who becomes ‘stars’, many times they stop doing the thing that made them special. Star employees are often promoted to management. Star artists become celebrities first, artists second. Successful authors spend more time becoming PR machines. I guess none of this is inherently bad, but I often wonder why people lose touch with their craft. I’m sure there’s a host of reasons, but I wonder if you truly love that thing you do, why would you stop doing it?
I was pretty excited to see Beck taking on a pretty interesting project. Beck’s basically collaborating with different artists to cover songs he loves, and then he’s giving it away on his website. This is one of those little moments where you go, ‘yeah, ok, so…” and if you let it sink in a little, you see the genius.
Putting out an album is a huge ordeal. There’s lots of investments of time, money, and sanity. Releasing an album lets you connect with your fans and make some money touring. But how could Beck stay relevant when he doesn’t have a new album out? And in today’s market, months between albums can feel like years. People are bombarded with a million times more content than before, it’s easy to fade into the noise. By no fault of your own, time could passes and you just become irrelevant. I’d even argue the lower you are on the celebrity musician chain the more dire this situation is. A flash in the pan burns brighter and quicker than ever before.
So what’s Beck’s way around the problem? Stop playing everyone else’s game. Invite some people over you’d like to work with, cover old songs in one take, and post them to your site. Now, with just a little coordination you have artist exposure, fresh content for your fans, collaboration and inspiration for yourself, and you can elevate older artists you enjoy and share them with the world. I don’t think you’d get to the place Beck seems to have found if you didn’t care more about the craft than anything else.