John Mayer On The Separation of Creation and Promotion

Music star John Mayer recently spoke to a group of students at his alma mater, the Berklee College of Music. Mayer's presentation covered a lot of ground, but one of the central points he made to the aspiring professional musicians at Berklee was the danger of letting promotion, particularly of the social media variety, interfere with their artistry. Mayer's need to limit his Facebook and Twitter time might strike a chord with aspiring filmmakers too.

Most New World filmmakers are all too familiar with the tension between making films and marketing them. In many of the blogposts here, I've tried to provide tools for New World filmmakers. If you don't have access to the Old World of distribution (where an all-rights deal meant someone else worried about marketing), it should be good news that there is an alternative. But I can't tell you that the New World is a filmmaker's paradise. The revenue models are still being built in the New World - and there are temptations and distractions that can lead New World pioneers down more than a few blind alleys. Your filmmaking work can benefit from learning about the new platforms - but gathering a lot of "friends" on Facebook and Twitter won't really matter if your films suck.

Whether you are a New World filmmaker by choice (e.g., controlling the marketing appeals to your independent spirit) or by default (e.g., you long for the days when Harvey Weinstein would write you a check and then refuse to take your calls) - John Mayer makes a very important point - the social media tools for marketing need to be managed. Recognizing the difference between the productive use of Facebook and Twitter and when you're simply using social media as a way of avoiding important work isn't always going to be clear. If all you really want to achieve with your filmmaking is a a lot of views on YouTube, your time and energies can be spent making one kind of film. But if you want to create work that is more than a meme - you may need to step away from the keypad and delegate some of the social media marketing to a PMD.

"Referring to the allure of having an instant, albeit often shallow and fleeting, online audience, John Mayer cautioned against seeking out “joy in little, tiny statements – little, tiny applause hits.” “I remember playing the guitar through the amplifier facing out the window of my house onto the street in the summer time – that was social media in 1992.”... John Mayer’s main reason for discouraging promotion came from his own struggle to curb using social media, which should have been an outlet for promotion but eventually became an outlet for artistic expression. Mayer shared that he found himself asking himself questions like “Is this a good blog? Is this a good tweet? Which used to be is this a good song title? Is this a good bridge?”"

Thanks to Elisa (who is quoted above, from the post she wrote for Berklee's blog), Seth Godin, Bob Lefsetz and finally to Jon Reiss (for recognizing the importance of John Mayer's ideas for New World filmmakers and linking to it, ironically(?) via Facebook).

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