I’ve been avoiding it indirectly for years – with varying degrees of success – but I really need to face up to the fact that I have a pretty strong anti-self-promotional streak. Not in the sense that I want to keep everything I do a secret (although that’s pretty much the end result regardless): I do recognize the need to go out and spread the news – but not to suck up. (I’m speaking mainly to performing artists here, though others of you probably know what I mean)
At the risk of sounding far too old-fashioned to possibly be allowed on the internet: I believe quality will out, sooner or later. Ask me again in five years.
The wheedling tone, the transparent inflation of an event lacking real substance, really puts me off. Makes me, in fact, almost physically ill. There are few things that will better ensure my absence at a concert or event than a persistent, obtrusive, unimaginative ad campaign.
– Unimaginative! This is hugely important. Publicity is the creation of a narrative, culminating in an event. If the story’s interesting, or mysterious, or amusing, I’ll probably want to know how it ends.
The internet has made us all amateur ad men and women. There are two problems with this: 1. it takes a huge amount of time away from the refining of ourselves as artists and/or human beings, and 2. we’re amateurs! I’m not one who generally looks fondly on advertising – apart from any intrinsic value it may have as art, which the best examples are. (Warning: tangent!) – In fact, the very proliferation of electronic and real-world media (remember when guerrilla marketing was surprising?) has made advertising something of an artistic medium unto itself and is fusing it with more traditional art forms (music being the most obvious). The story is still a big part of the Werk but the methods of dissemination have become so many and so diverse that the selection and implementation structure of same has in a sense become, or is becoming, a thing of beauty (or baroquely interesting, or scary, depending on your point of view). None of this is new: I’m getting a lot of it from William Gibson & co.; I’m sure he’s got his sources.
Conclusion: we must decide for ourselves the degree to which we want to become hucksters and hype artists. Granted, letting people know that something is happening is an absolute necessity.
But Achtung! If you lack substance, if you have not done your utmost to prepare, if you don’t offer something unique (not recycled!) to anyone who may be listening YOU ARE SIMPLY ADDING TO THE NOISE, of which there is already way too much. Yes, I’m talking to you.
Next time: what to do with the noise. If I don’t get distracted.