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I recently got to interview The Police’s former manager, Miles Copeland, and that conversation is going to stick with me for a long time to come.

One of my biggest takeaways from that interview is simply this:

Trying to get people to listen to your music is an uphill battle. First, you’ve got to grab their attention!

Trying to get people to listen to your music is an uphill battle. First, you’ve got to grab their attention! Click To Tweet

Think of Lady Gaga and all her early day antics.

Her talent isn’t in question. Lady Gaga is classically trained. She’s a great pianist and singer. She probably has other talents I don’t even know about.

The point is that by treating every occasion like Halloween, she got our attention. We’re all drawn to the bizarre, even if some of us don’t stick around to watch the whole train wreck.

And I’m not saying Gaga is a train wreck. I’m saying that only a portion of the people who come to check out the freakshow are going to stick around. Not everyone will be your fan. But some will, and those people will become your advocates long-term.

So, we need to be thinking about what we can do to grab people’s attention.

Slipknot has the masks, Marilyn Manson has a knack for the grotesque, KISS has the makeup…

And while these are more extreme examples than anything, what they have in common is that they’re successful by practically anyone’s standards. They got our attention, then delivered music that matched their esthetic.

You don’t necessarily need to go to the same lengths to get noticed. But chances are you will need to do something. Because you need to get feet in the door. Once you’ve gotten people to listen to your music, the battle is as good as won. Getting to that point is the hard part.

So, go back to your identity. Your brand. What are you about? Why do you do what you do? And within that context, how can you grab people’s attention? What would it look like to be the extreme version of yourself?

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