Fan mail – The good, the bad, and the ugly…
So reaction, response, and fan mail to what I do comes in many varying forms. For the most part I’m very happy to report that it’s very positive, and that I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the followers/fans//subscribers etc etc that I do. It’s an amazing relationship that I learn a lot from on a daily basis. But once in a while a negative email or piece of correspondence arrives that I have to deal with. If this was 10 years ago or more the advice I would have given would have been very different. I had to learn the hard way how to deal with negativity, and how to not send negative energy back in the direction it came from. Two portions of negativity don’t make anything right. So with this particularly nasty email, that arrived anonymously in my inbox a few days ago, I thought I would try and extract something positive out of it rather than screaming abuse back at the sender.
The email is basically referring to a blog post I made about John Maclaughlin entitled The Pirates Are Coming. It was in response to John’s post on his website about how he claims piracy in music has basically created a climate in which it’s almost impossible to make money from record sales. I wanted to put a point forward that perhaps the business model of making money from selling albums was an old one, and that it’s actually an amazing time as a young musician (or any musician for that matter) to be a part of the music industry. There’s just an immediate need to update the business model and move forward with technology instead of fighting it and hanging on to the past. Take a look at the blog post if you have a second, it’ll help put the following “fan” email I received into perspective. I also wasn’t aware that I had referred to John M as an “old motherfucker”. Maybe someone can point that out to me if they see it somewhere, I couldn’t find it. I did tell him I was a huge fan and that he’d had a profound influence on my career and my music though.
Here is it. A letter from a “fan”:
So i saw your videos, website, content etc. Im curious, who addresses such a legendary musician as an ‘old motherfucker’ in an environment where your teaching and offering advice to others? More-so if its being filmed for worldwide distribution via the internet? I also ready John’s post and he is right, but that doesnt make you right either. Technology is changing, you dont need me to tell you that. I dont understand why someone like yourself disgraces other, far senior musicians in such a disgusting manner!? Anyways.Id be happy to review your book if you send it to me for free, i wouldnt be paying for it as i dont expect much to be in it considering what you appear to teach is internet marketing which i can, and have learned from the worlds best. So what it is exactly you feel you have to offer? Ill surely give your book a very honest and accurate review based on my experience of internet marketing, sales, music and education which goes far beyond yours. I know one thing, id never publicly disgrace myself by speaking the way you do. So that would be my first piece of advice to you that will do you more good then you realise. Step down from your pedestal, stop copying things that are already out there and do something original. Maybe then you will earn the respect and admiration of your peers. I dont know how you can tour for 11 months and be broke, who were you touring with? Doesnt that comment alone reflect on your own career and inability to get a gig with an artist that pays well enough? I dont really understand as you babble on so much, thats all it is. Babbling and not really education. Anyways thats my rant over with. Let me know if you want me to read your book so you can prove me wrong, maybe you do know a thing or two.”
This arrived without any formal introduction as to who it was who was writing to me, no links to a website for evidence of said “…experience of internet marketing, sales, music and education which goes far beyond yours….”.
This brings up the first positive and educational point I can take out of this rant. It looks really professional to have an email address that’s linked with your product rather than an anonymous yahoo or hotmail .com/.co.uk/.org etc etc. One of the first things I do when I receive an email from someone that requires research into what they’re talking about, is to do a quick google search of their name or put the URL of their business email address into a browser to check them out. There was no such branding or searchable information in this persons email or email address.
The second thing that struck me about this email was the accusation of not being original in what I do in terms of my blog or any of the advice I have to offer on the subject of marketing, education, sales, etc etc. I had a good long think about this one because I generally strive to be as original and innovative as possible in anything that I do. It’s of course not always possible, but having that mindset and outlook gives me a way more open playing field of options and ideas with which to find something new. And when I really thought about this accusation it made me think and come up with this idea. The writer is probably right and what I have to offer on the subject of internet marketing is not original. But what is original is the place in which I come from, and the methods in which I use it to increase my global reach as an independent musician. I’m also one of the only people I know who uses this information from an end user standpoint, and not from a position of working for a marketing company advising clients. I’m my own client and am so far making this stuff work for me, and having an incredibly fun time doing it. It’s opened up a new world of possibilities that would never have been there had I just carried on as a musician. A singular entity without interest in different sectors of the market. And I truly hope that I can inspire other people who have found themselves in my position to get past adversity and become all that they can be in their chosen field.
I think it’s my job to try and inspire in any small way I can, and always be giving. From personal experience, the more I’ve given, the more has come back to me. It’s hard to explain in words, and it took me a really long time to get used to as a concept. But I can’t recommend it enough. Writing the blog, conducting the video interviews, running the podcasts, and all the stuff I do outside of playing the bass, has come back to me ten fold in terms of how I play and the inspiration I have to make music now. Fueling an endless energy to create and research ways to be better at what I do.
In fact, there are so many positive thoughts that have come from this seemingly terrible email that it has made me feel just a good as an adoring fan letter or rave review. It’s allowed me to take my ego out of the situation, and try and find something positive and inspirational.
Now you might ask “how do you deal with that when you first read it, and not let your ego get carried away with an equally awful reply to the sender…?” Well I’m human, and I wrote that email right away. I got all the egotistical things off my chest in that email. I then saved it. And then deleted it. The whole process of being upset from receiving this email lasted about 5mins. But the process of being able to discover new things about myself, share some personal advice with you, and ironically generate lots more traffic to my site will last infinitely. And although I haven’t commented on it in this blog post much, the irony of the sender asking for a free copy of my upcoming book wasn’t missed…
I hope that the highest percent of email and communication you receive from fans and friends is positive, but just remember that even the seemingly negative stuff can be used for good. Whether you choose to share that on your blog like this, or use it personally in your own space, remember you have options. And those options, when you leave the ego out of it, are incredible for personal growth.
Don’t forget to leave me a comment and share your stories if you’ve had similar experiences! and follow me on twitter, like the facebook page, and stay in touch.
Everything is possible, Patience is key, and hard work is obligatory.