Getting Prolific, Day 27: Practicing Public Visibility
Are you inviting creative opportunities to find you?
Are you someone to whom lucky things happen naturally and consistently?
The kind of individual who magnetizes good fortune and creative opportunities to rain from the skies?
If not, there’s still time. Luck is a skill that can not only be learned, but also leveraged. You can increase your luck, but also your return on that luck.
And not with simple things like being an extrovert, having open body language, saying yes more often and holding positive expectations, although all those things help.
The larger principle about luck is probability. You position your life in a way to open yourself up to numerous opportunities that otherwise would never have occurred.
Consider the love hate relationship musicians have with open mic nights. They mostly do it for stage time, networking and free beer.
But the thing is, performing at open mic night is the classic example of all permission and no control. It’s a high effort, low impact activity in a restricted environment that’s optimized for hierarchy, not independence.
You have to wait in line all night until you get your precious ten minutes under the lights, only to perform to a bunch of other musicians who are just rehearsing their own songs in their heads and criticizing your music until it’s their turn. And not that there’s zero merit in that kind of environment.
My first few open mic night performances as a teenager were pivotal in helping me overcome the fear of sharing my songs in public. It’s a rite of passage for every performer.
But once you’re an adult and more established in your creative career, you have to take matters into your own hands. Eventually you have to hire yourself and get to work. Otherwise opportunity will never get a chance to find you.
The sequence of questions to ask goes like this.
How could you make luck happen by relocating where the energy is?
How could you practice your craft in public and put yourself in the way of what you seek?
How could you stick around long enough until the world is finally ready for you?
The first question about energy is a big one, since all performers do better work when there’s a unique spirit of magic in the air. It’s hard to generate that in a noisy, crowded, smelly bar or coffee shop.
It’s one of the reasons busking in the park replaced open mics for me. There was no competition visually or aurally. Singing in a dark, wooden tunnel with a naturally reverberating soundscape heightened my music in a way an amplifier or microphone never could. This put a spin on the tunes that made it more noticeable and enjoyable.
The second question is about positioning. What I found was that showing up each week, same time same place, to play a free park concert, gave me a permissionless platform. There wasn’t a two song limit. I could rock and roll for two straight hours if I wanted to, and I usually did. Coffee shops would never allow that. Too many other artists vying for the stage. Gotta be fair.
The final question regards to persistence. Having played at the park weekly for many years now, this artist’s residency, so to speak, has done more for my music career than any open mic ever could. It exponentially increased my frequency of public creative exposure. It began to attract opportunities for connection, collaboration and commercial reward.
And most importantly, it built an unlimited creative platform where I could hone and perfect new songs at any time.
Busking ultimately incorporated my art into the community and helped me become a fixture. We even made a full length concert documentary about it:
To me, that is what luck is all about. It’s probability. Putting yourself in the path of what you seek. Over and over again.
Until something good happens.
And when it does, leveraging it with all my might.
Are you practicing enough public visibility to invite creative opportunities to find you?
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