Despite having all the tools we need to create and distribute our work, as artists we still have to make that connection with our community in order to be heard. Promotion becomes our biggest battle.
I was in Berlin last weekend at the fantastic new Soho House to see Bret Easton Ellis speak on his tour for the latest novel - Imperial Bedrooms. The event was hosted by the uber talented Damian Barr - host of the Shoreditch House Literary Salon. The insights gleaned by Barr from Easton Ellis' mind via interview were fantastic - the author is dry, witty and charming in his own sardonic way. It was apparent, however, that promoting his work can be torture to him. Tales of late night hotel food and endless carbon copy moments of fan adoration revealed his lack of enthusiasm for selling himself to his readers.
Anyone who has been on tour knows that there is little glamour in being wheeled into a city for a few hours before jetting off to the next. That overwhelming feeling that you are but a cog in the marketing machine - the travelling salesman. Without this effort, however, it becomes even more difficult to develop a connection with your audience. It's no surprise that bands that tour extensively find more favour with fans - as social animals we like to experience art outside of the solitary experience.
For writers it must be frustrating though. Reading is a much more private affair and does not offer the mass promotion opportunities on the level of music. Barr's creation of the Literary Salon format allows authors to be themselves and discuss their life and their work comfortably. The books come second to understanding and interacting with the artist at the Salon in a social atmosphere, giving literature the same promotional potential as an intimate gig.
When the audience were asked what they wanted to hear from Easton Ellis, one Berlin native shouted "won't you just read from the book?". Barr simply muttered a response on behalf of us all - "go buy the podcast". Genius.