Bob Baker's Buzz Factor

Why Take a Shot If You Can't Hit the Target?

By Bob Baker

Admittedly, I've never really been into archery. If I were to take up the sport, though, I imagine there's a wrong way and a right way to do it. On my first day of practice, let's suppose I got out my arrow and bow and took aim at a target that was an entire football field away. What would happen?

I'd probably be lucky if the arrow made it to the 50-yard line. Worse yet, it would most likely end up on the sidelines, in the stands or embedded in my foot. After a few more tries, I'd get frustrated and begin cursing about how difficult it is to learn archery. I'd start to believe the individuals who do succeed at the sport must know something (or someone) I don't, that they have the upper hand. I'd just feel like giving up.

What went wrong?

You guessed it. My target was too far away. What made me think I could have any accuracy whatsoever at that distance on my first day -- let alone my first week or month? The way to become a skilled archer is to move the target closer in the early stages. Landing a few bull's-eyes early on would give me confidence and allow me to have some fun with this recreational activity. As I got more confident, I could move the target further and further away.

This same strategy is at work in the music business. Far too many musicians and people who start record labels attempt to accomplish too much too soon. Bands send demo tapes to A&R people who've never heard of them. Small record company publicists concentrate on getting national press in an over-saturated marketplace. No-name bands attempt to court managers who live in cities 1,000 miles away.

And they end up frustrated, cynical and ready to give up.

The solution: Move your targets closer. Don't start out trying to get written up in SPIN. Shoot for the local papers first. And before those, maybe even your old college paper. Don't expect to get airplay on the big rock station in town until you've plugged away at earning some spins on college and community frequencies first. And why would you want to line up national distribution before you've even tested the sales waters with local consignments?

It's no wonder there are so many music people with noble intentions who believe the world is out to get them. They place their targets too far away and get discouraged when they miss the mark time after time.

Where are your targets? Are they challenging yet attainable? Are they close enough so you can see them clearly? Or are they distant, pie-in-the-sky delusions?

Start moving your musical targets closer and treat yourself to the rush of nailing a few bull's-eyes. Only then will you be able to move them further away and turn your small successes into big ones.