JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Bob Lefsetz thinks I suck. Does he have a point?

For those of you who do not know who Bob Lefsetz is, he writes a newsletter that I am totally addicted to. Bob's focus is the music business but he adds a personal (and harumph-laden) touch that separates his musical missives from everyone else's. I really appreciate the guy.

But Bob Lefsetz thinks I suck.

Truth be told, Bob doesn't know me much at all. But I can infer from his writings that he thinks I suck because when I put my music out there, precious few listen and even fewer share it. And in Bob's world view, if you're putting it down but no one's picking it up (thank you, Beck, for that line) then you are just not good enough. 

I find this to be monumentally depressing because I think Bob might have a point. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like my music a lot, I think it's good, I pour my heart and soul into it and ruthlessly critique it before during and after I record it. I get the best musicians on the planet to play it for me. The engineer I work with is supernatural. And on and on and on. But there is no question that my music has failed to catch fire. So I have to ask myself why.

The most painless answer is that my music has just not been properly promoted. I mean, aside from a few Facebook posts, this blog/web site and a few feeble stabs at legal payola (Jango, etc.), I have not promoted my tunes at all. I intended to, I really did, but about a year before I finished my one and only album, my wife and I had twins, and about a year after my album release I returned to full-time work (I was out of the working world for about 6 years because of my brain injury). Time has not been on my side.

The most painful answer is, of course, that I suck. 

But I think the true answer lies somewhere in-between, and it's something Lefsetz writes about a lot. Because while no one ever got very far in music without promotion, being really great is also no guarantee of success. No, to my mind, the key ingredient in musical success -- and the one I'm missing -- is ruthless relentlessness. Ruthless because to make it in music you have to be ready to kill for it, not literally, but pretty close. You have to be ready to kill your relationship, your friendships, even yourself in that you have to be willing to lose parts of yourself in sacrifice to the music gods. And relentless because you can't ever stop -- or even slow down -- until you have "made it" and even then you take a break at the risk of your career because very, very few musicians are able to "come back".

And I am just not ruthlessly relentless about music. Which, when I tuck my kids into bed every night, I am thankful for. Because it might be okay if Bob thinks I suck, but it's not okay if my kids do.