Traction is probably the most difficult thing in the world to understand. It seems to be a catch22 because “you can’t get press unless you have a community, and you can’t get a community unless you get press”. It’s unknown how it works, or why some ideas and companies catch on while others don’t. How some indie movies, pop culture fads, fashion trends, or even videogames catch on. It’s a mystery because there are so many moving parts, variables, and it’s not a linear process.
So after putting in tons of effort (well over 120 arrangements), and slowly growing this idea over the years, something magical finally started happening over the past 2 months or so.
I’m still confused, but since some have asked, here’s my take on how it works:
1.) The first 3 months are quiet. Then you’ll suddenly get 1 person, so cling onto them. Make them your family.
2.) Keep the momentum going. For me that meant constantly releasing new music, answer every single email, and staying in touch every single day. For others it may mean continually touring, or book signings.
3.) Eventually, that one person will tell 2 friends, who will then tell their friends and social graph (in school, online, to each other, etc).
4.) In the beginning this will build loyalty, but not necessarily sales (so hold onto your current income stream until your fanbase is able to fully support you)
5.) Don’t worry about getting press, just keep giving your small community the best possible products you can create. Day after day, week after week. Month after month. Never stop growing within your trade, and never stop showing them your appreciation. Read every article, learn every technique, and make it an obsession.
6.) Comment everywhere. Every blog, every relative video, every relative search tag you can think of. Over months and years you’ll have left enough of a “trail” that people will see your name pop up a lot.
7.) Don’t “push push push”. Don’t say “buy buy buy”. Just keep creating lasting friendships and relationships. You’re not an ad, and your community doesn’t want to be sold to. The product should sell itself. And the authenticity and personal care will go a long way.
8.) Start learning about new products and services, or tweak some of the stuff you’re doing so that you become more efficient, smarter, and as close to perfect as you can get. I’m constantly updating things.
9.) Never lose focus of your goal - it takes a long long long time. (for me it’s been 6 years).
10.) Aside from learning new services, perhaps try new ideas. I release cover songs, polls, cover art, drawings, topical songs, different arrangement techniques, new website designs, etc. Over the years I’ve learned a lot (and made a ton) of mistakes.
Other than that, I really have no idea what else to do, or how it happened. I remember I gave up on this idea a few times over the years because it wasn’t working out, but something kept pulling me back in. So patience is important, and I’m glad I didn’t give up on the community and the idea. Don’t release crappy products, and keep doing it and patiently nurture its growth watch over time.
There’s no hard and fast rule to how the internet works. It’s a bizarre and strange world, and perhaps that’s why I feel so welcomed by it.