Friday, January 21, 2011

Traction and Momentum

1a. The act of drawing or pulling, especially the drawing of a vehicle or load over a surface by motor power.
b. The condition of being drawn or pulled.
2. Pulling power, as of a draft animal or engine.
3. Adhesive friction, as of a wheel on a track or a tire on a road.
4. Medicine A sustained pull applied mechanically especially to the arm, leg, or neck so as to correct fractured or dislocated bones, overcome muscle spasms, or relieve pressure.
1. capacity for progressive development: the power to increase or develop at an ever-growing pace
"The project was in danger of losing momentum."
2. forward movement: the speed or force of forward movement of an object
"the momentum gained on the downhill stretches of the course"
3. physics measure of movement: a quantity that expresses the motion of a body and its resistance to slowing down. It is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity. Symbol  p
4. philosophy basic element: an essential part of a whole
I have been talking about these concepts for months. I even use the term "traction" in my description of this blog. Within the scope of attaining your goals as an artist, musician, band, applying these two terms may be the best way to understand if you are truly getting anywhere. 
Gaining traction is the precursor to momentum. Without traction you are in essence simply spinning your wheels and will go nowhere. I recently drove about 200 miles to have a meeting with a band regarding some consulting and then went to one of their gigs. They gave me a CD to listen to about a week before the meeting and I listened to it all the way through about 5 or 6 times so I would at least have an opinion to give them. What struck me about the CD is that the music seemed to be 2 completely different bands. Some of the songs had a 90's guitar alternative feel to it and some of the songs had a rock/blues vibe. When we sat down for dinner, my first question to the song writer in the band was, "If you could pick a style on the record, which one would it be?" It seemed that this guy had actually been waiting for someone to ask him that. You can't gain any traction if you don't have a creative direction. I understand that we all have various influences from multiple musical genres that inspire our creativity but if you don't have a small understanding as who you are as an artist and songwriter, you will never find a direction that will give you the ability to gain traction in your writing, recording and performing. You must also create a foundation for traction within the scope of the internet and social media. Do you have a website? Have you set up camp in every conceivable social media and band internet platform. Do you have your youtube channel? Have you set up twitter? Do you still update your myspace? (people are still there you know.) Are you getting my drift? You limit your amount of possible traction and thus gaining any momentum in the cloud if you aren't in every possible place that your music can live on the internet. 
Momentum. Traction's tricky pal. Before I leap into momentum I must preface it with a statement. If have said this before and if it offends you, too fucking bad. MUSICIANS ARE INHERENTLY LAZY. I mention this to set you up for my next statement. CREATING MOMENTUM FOR YOUR BAND MEANS YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY WORK AT IT. How often are you actually writing new music. This needs to be constant. I remember Gravity Kills battling this because it was difficult for us to wear the writing hat while we were touring. In the old paradigm, you could get away with long album cycles. Gravity Kills shortest cycle was 2 years and three months. Back then, labels controlled what you heard and when you heard it. In the modern business paradigm this wouldn't fly. You will be forgotten. Now I can listen to just about anything I want at anytime that I want to. Your fans are bombarded by new information, including music every second of everyday.  How much new content are you uploading to your website, facebook, myspace, twitter, etc. Are you blogging? Are you constantly searching for new and creative ways to engage your fans on a constant basis. There is a band out of LA that I met at a music conference about two and a half years ago that just hit me with some new music for me to check out and help them pick a single. Just this second I went to their website. IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE FIRST TIME I SAW THE SITE AND HASN'T BEEN FUCKING UPDATED SINCE 2008! If they had any momentum to speak of, it is certainly gone now. Again, do you get my drift? Your fans can feel momentum just as the members of your band can. This band from LA will be starting all over again.If your fans can't see, read or hear something new, they will stop going to your website all together and move on to something new while leaving your band for dead.  It is up to you not only to gain traction but to create and maintain momentum. Here is another example. When thinking about touring and playing shows, apply traction and momentum to your approach. I talk to bands constantly that want to tour. Something about the open road that lures musicians like sirens to the rock. Only play markets that you know that you can make it back to at least 3 or 4 times a year. Why would you play in Portland Oregon if you know that you won't get back there for a very long time if possibly ever? Are you still getting my drift? Momentum is far easier to create than sustain. Believe me, I know this first hand. 
Traction and Momentum. Say it with me, "Traction and Momentum." I think you might be getting my drift.


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