It can take years to get clear on what really matters. For myself and many creatives around me, it’s something we tend to resist, to not want to acknowledge. A hyper narrow focus sounds like creative limitations. Like the art won’t be as interesting to do.
About a year ago I decided to risk a massive change. I had built a presence on YouTube as “the baritone guy on the internet”. Previous to November 2021, my focus was split between 3 areas:
1. The mechanics and fictions as to what baritone guitars were, how they worked and the considerations in use.
2. The available models, the manufacturers and product demos.
3. Dabbling in composition and production.
With the first area, I had exhausted the topics and became a broken record. I quickly realized that if I were to proceed, my future was doomed to be repeating myself on a topic where there wasn’t much to understand in the first place. Additionally, the companies manufacturing the instruments saw (and still see) the niche as an addition or extension to their existing lines and continue to treat them as such. There is no interest in optimizing the instruments or product lines for the audience and use cases.
In the second area, I felt like I was becoming a marketing machine. I was promoting stuff that I wasn’t all that stoked on and none of it was of any benefit to me.
A. I realized that I had no interest in driving consumerism.
B. To this day, there are no companies focused on solving the problems that serious low tuned players and producers require.
The funny thing about it all is that I had never set out to become “the baritone guy” in the first place. It just happened. Baritones happened to be what I was using in my own music projects and that happened to be the thing that caught on in social surrounding my music. My music was supposed to be THE THING. And in that moment it was the things to bring everything back into focus.
I had to decide -Was I about baritone guitars? Or was I about what I used them for? It was clear that I had gotten way off course.
So in November of 2021, I decided that I was going to focus on the thing that I use the baritones for, which was all of the music under the Bunn umbrella.
I was absolutely certain that the interest in videos about my artist dilemma and journey would go to zero. But it didn’t matter. I was really jaded on the baritone topic, and desperate to prioritize composing and producing. Throughout the whole baritone phase of videos, new musical output had dropped to a few tracks per year. I had demos that needed to be completed into official releases and more material that needed to be written. If only a handful of folks were left from the baritone stuff, I was cool with that. The thinking was “anybody who is left, would probably be truly interested in the music. That was wayyyyyy more valuable to me than talking about baritones on repeat.
I rewrote and remade the first non-baritone video about 3 or 4 times. It took a bit to drill down on what it was about my personal story that might be of value to viewers. On December 9th 2021, I published the video - “the 50 year old "BARITONE GUY" from the internet”.
MUCH to my surprise it went to 30k + views rather quickly. I was so wrong, and the next video “STARTING a sludge metal career at 50 YEARS OLD” went even bigger to top out at over 190k views.
It seems that re-focusing on the thing that you are most true to, is the thing that you are going to be the best at and the most motivated to do. Not really surprising.. but in the midst of it all, I was really blown away. While I was totally stoked and thankful, it actually created a new problem. In the success of refocusing my video content on the music creation story, I suddenly got excited about making more VIDEOS about my music career path and not hyper focusing on MUSIC CREATION. My focus didn’t actually change that much. It did, but not enough. Instead of designing a new video workflow that prioritized music creation, I went even deeper into how I produce the videos with even deeper scripting and a more intense production routine.
I didn’t really learn… Sort of, but not totally.
So here we are. A year after I set out on that path, painfully realizing the lack of insight. A decent amount of good stuff has happened, I’m not complaining. But I know that I can do better, can do more. I love making the videos. But in truth, I prefer making the music. So if I am to continue making the videos, I have to figure out a different way to make them. A method that fully prioritizes the music.
Do the videos need to be so “cinematic” and scripted?
No, a more documentary type of approach may in fact be more valuable to the audience in that it might more authentically capture the artist's struggles and victories.
What if people hate the new format?
As with last year’s refocusing, if the new format more meaningfully connects with a few folks completely, that’s all that matters.
I am a composer / producer on YouTube, not a YouTuber who dabbles in music?
All this cames to me in my recent time away. While I was away, all I could do was write scripts and such. Yesterday I completed the script that I started on, on the 17th of October. That was 2 weeks ago. Is that a good use of time if one's priorities are composing and producing new music? In contrast, this blog post has taken me 2 hours to write. I think it’s actually way more poignant and personal on the topic of the modern day musician’s struggle to make their art and connect with an audience. What do you think?
So, I’m scrapping that script (maybe it will become a blog post…). And at least for this next one, there will be no script at all. Instead I’m going to try and capture daily objectives, activities and challenges that I will roughly edit daily and then compile weekly.
There a list of potential benefits here:
1. More music
2. Weekly BTS content
3. A never ending stream of social content
4. Weekly YouTube content
The thing now is to develop a method of capture, a media management and processing routine that does not diminish the music focus.
So the next video is gonna be different. How different? I don’t know. How “good” and how “valuable” to viewers? Hopefully awesome, but again, I don’t know. I’m gonna have to dive in and see what happens.
So to summarize: It’s that time of year. Upon reflection of the last 12 months, we need to change the video format, it might suck at first. Maybe it will be awesome, but man-oh-man, I REALLY need to focus on music.
A question for you
I’d love to know if you have been immersed in something that you thought was totally in line with your greater goals but as it turns out, it’s not? I think it probably happens to everyone in some capacity. Few folks are superhero geniuses. Or at least, so I assume… Hahaaa! But yeah, what are you, or have you been misaligned with?