There has been a radio advertisement on local radio for many years.

“I’m kind of a big thing around here….. people know me” is the phrase used in the advertisement.

Every time I hear this advertisement I think, that’s exactly what my dad would say.

It’s like, in my own little world, I think I’m popular. Where the reality is, in your own little world you ‘are’ popular. It’s just that everyone else doesn’t know that yet.

For a musician, becoming ‘popular’ is part of the process that you need to go through.

The problem that musicians have is ‘why’?

When I first started playing music, it wasn’t about being popular; I just wanted to play music. How do I know that? No offense to trombone players, but my first instrument was a trombone. I loved playing music, trombone or clarinet, I didn’t mind as long as I got to play.

But then it dawned on me, chicks like drummers and guitarists. (insert drummer and guitarist jokes)

The focus moved from a love of playing music to a need to become popular.

So I learnt guitar. I soon realised that electric guitar was the instrument of choice especially when in the 80’s every song had a featured lead guitar solo where everyone was watching you.

Then I found out that drummers where more popular so I moved on to learn drums.

Slowly the novelty wore off and I realised that I just really enjoyed playing music.

The struggle of a musician is that you want people to love your music and love how the music makes them feel. You want to take people through an experience where they will feel the music and where the lyrics mean something to them.

The real world just doesn’t work that way. Real people are pushed into commercialism where products have a shelf life and where popularity is as long as a company can expect a high enough return, then the product will be promoted as popular until they saturate the market. Then it’s time to move on to the next product.

The music industry often feels a bit like this. Artists seem to appear and disappear as the market gets saturated then someone new comes along and they are the next big thing.

So how does a musician deal with all this?

Most people have great BS detectors. As human beings, we know when we are being sold something and we know when something is real.

In the same way, if you are a genuine artists, that has an agenda that is about sharing your experiences and sharing your music then people will be attracted to you and to your music.

It is the same with businesses, if a business seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. In the end it will slowly disappear as more and more people realise that the business is not genuine. In this internet connected world, it will disappear even faster as news travels so much quicker.

To become popular and stay popular is not about ‘how’ do I become popular, It is more about ‘why’. Why would people want to listen to me? What is my message and why am I credible?

If you have a message that speaks to people then people will listen. If you have something that makes people think, react and produce an emotion of some kind then people will notice you.

Popularity is often a fabricated situation where people are made to ‘think’ that something is popular. Popularity tends to move from one thing to the next very quickly as people’s attention is drawn in different directions.

The aim should be to become a person that is respected. Become a person that has integrity and to become a person that is genuine.

As a result you will establish a long and credible career in whatever industry, be it music or other careers that you venture into.

You won’t have to convince yourself and others that, “I’m kind of a big thing around here”.

People will just know you.

by Chris Richter