Friday, 20 March 2015

Why Authors, Bloggers, Journalists and Writers Need to Think Like Rock Stars

As a writer, I think I have a pretty cool job. There cannot be many occupations where you are allowed to spend countless hours in private contemplation, just imagining. Clearing my head (which often involves going for a walk or taking a cycle ride along the beach) is a very important aspect of my creative process (or at least that is what I tell my family and the people I work for). When my mind drifts (and it doesn’t take much to start this process), it takes me down a whole new career path, one that I spent most of my teenage years (who am I kidding, most of the last four decades) dreaming of. In my mind, I’m a rock star.
There are many similarities between to the roles of writer and rock star (and not all of them are positive):
  • They are both creative jobs.
  • They can both lead to fame and fortune (although most of us will be lucky if our creative output pays the rent).
  • Some writers might even lead a bit of a rock and roll lifestyle (I now limit my creative stimulants to several really (really) strong cups of coffee throughout the day).
  • Success in both careers can equally be attributed to luck as much as it can be to talent (although there is no substitute for hard work)
  • You can wear what you want to work (although I’m perhaps a little too old for a spandex jumpsuit).
  • There are plenty of “industry-type” people who will try and take advantage you.
  • Most people who aspire to become either writers or rock stars fail.
Digital Disruption
Both writers and rock stars have had their careers disrupted in recent years by changes in technology. Digital downloads and piracy has changed both the publishing and recording industries beyond recognition. Record labels, newspapers, magazines and book publishers have all felt the squeeze from the Internet resulting in less money being available to develop new talent.
But we shouldn’t feel too downhearted. Technology has also opened up numerous opportunities for the creatively minded. While incomes from traditional publishing and recording might be more difficult to come across, the digital age has reduced the costs of creating and distributing creative works, enabling us to reach new audiences and monetise our crafts.
With the likes of Napster and (latterly) iTunes knocking the wind out of the music industry several years before tablet computers and digital reading devices (like the Kindle you’re probably reading this book on) sent the traditional publishing industry into freefall, rock stars may have had a bit of a head start over us writers in feeling the pinch from technology. Because of this, I believe authors, journalist and writers can learn a great deal from their rock star contemporaries.
This doesn’t mean we are going to have to swap our quiet, contemplative, reflective lives for something more garish, loud and (potentially) offensive. But if we are to succeed in a new age we might have to learn to sing a slightly different song.
As someone employed in the business of writing (and I make no apology about calling it a business), I take a great deal of inspiration from the music industry. Successful musicians (those who earn a respectable living from their output and have had some longevity in their careers) are often very savvy business people. You don’t have to look too far through your record collection (or iTunes account) to find a rock star who would be as comfortable in the boardroom as they are on stage or in the recording studio. It has been suggested that Dave Grohl is as much the CEO of the Foo Fighters as he is their singer and guitarist. Similarly, veteran rocker Meatloaf took control over every aspect of his business after legal problems and bad deals left him broke. Many urban, hip-hop and R&B artists like Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z are more than business people, they are huge corporations. As fellow creatives we can learn from their work ethic and tenacity.

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