My young songwriting partner in Josephmooon, Ronan, is consistently interested in how we can get more “famous.”
“Is so- and-so famous?” he will ask about almost anyone. Sometimes the answer is easy, but there’s a lot of grey area. If I bring up Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as an example of a songwriter who is known and respected by a large group of music fans, Ro will ask, “Is Jeff Tweedy famous?” So, yes, to a large group of people he is well-known for making a lot of good music over the last 30 years. But does having 10,000, or 20,000, or even 1,000,000 people hanging on your every word make you “famous,” in a land of nearly EIGHT BILLION deserving souls?
Compared to Albert Einstein (Ronan’s benchmark example of someone who definitely is “famous”), however, “no so much fans,” as Tweedy’s young nephew once observed in a school report on his not-famous-enough uncle Jeff. That’s trivia for fans of the music that has nothing to do with the music. I guess that’s one definition of being “famous” – other people become interested in EVERYTHING you do, not just the talent that originally drew attention.
And always, I will try to impress upon Ronan that “being famous” should not be a goal. Writing interesting songs, and making interesting music, should be the goals. Then, if the music does attract an audience, you’ll keep writing songs, and as the years go by, more and more people will discover Josephmooon.
“That is when you sell ‘em the t-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads,” I jokingly tell Ronan. “After they’re hooked on the music.” It’s a nuanced concept for someone who only knows a world where all of the music ever created is available for listening with a few keystrokes. Where the music, sadly IMO, has become commodified and perhaps indistinguishable from the all of the other merchandising spewed out by the Corporate Music Machine.
Ronan obviously has invested a lot of time identifying products and services that could be attached to the Josephmooon “brand.” Over the last year I’ve created this list of things he has suggested could be affixed with the “Josephmooon” logo [in no particular order]:
Men’s and women’s underwear
Face masks (Ronan actually did have these made!)
All apparel (jackets, pants, hats, socks, etc.)
Cars (delusions of DeLorean and Musk)
Fake tattoos (great idea! resources?)
Footwear / sandals
Personal beauty / makeup
Air pods / headphones (if Dre can have his Beats . . . )
Beds, sheets, pillowcases
Toothpaste (cheese-flavored, of course)
Dog collars and pet accessories
That’s not even the whole list, but hey, PG-13 blog here! Hahaha. But we take the time to discuss each of these items seriously as they come up, and I think it is a good lesson to learn and to be repeated – what and why do you want to associate your BRAND with THAT? I mean, I don’t really want someone using Josephmooon toilet paper. It sends the wrong message.
The same goes with the housewares and appliances – those are bulky to ship, too. And it always returns to the meta-lesson: Without FANS who enjoy the MUSIC, there never can be a DEMAND for all of the other Josephmooon products you might have in mind.
So, go write another song.
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