Since starting this blog I have been observing the statistics to see if a single-topic blog would attract more readers than a scattered journal-like blog. What has struck me is that, not only has this blog grown much faster than my Mindsigh one on Lostbiro, but that the stats also provide immediate (okay within a day or so) feedback on whether or not a particular kind of post works better than others.
So what has this to do with music? Well, just like McDonalds is more about real-estate than fast food, so too, blogging is more a form of busking than journalism. How would I know? About thirty years ago when I was learning to play fiddle I campaigned in Adelaide to get busking legalised – and when it was I received busking licence number ten.
The thing about busking is that it is one of the best (and most brutal) ways to learn about performance. I learned about making eye contact with an audience, and about the use of movement and gesture, and about how to structure a performance. All of this stood me in good stead when I subsequently became a full-time musician and my journey into the album charts. Even today the way I work an audience is a direct consequence of what I learned as a busker all those years ago.
Busking gives you direct feedback – people either stop to listen or they don’t. And people either give you money or they don’t and it depends directly on whether or not they like what they see and hear. It is a brutal school in which to learn, but it is also brutally honest. The feedback is continuous, immediate and above all, honest. The audience has no stake in my performance other than what attracts them at that moment.
And I met some amazing people. One violinist gave me an impromptu lesson that improved my tone forever; one evening Itzhak Perlman played my fiddle for an amazing 20 minutes when the Israeli Philharmonic came to town. So the rewards were not always the financial ones.
Back to blogging – the stats show day by day how many people came by, what search terms or tags brought them there, and which posts they open. If I fail to post the stats go down. If I write a boring post the stats go down. But if I post on a popular topic (or a curiosity, like pochettes) the readers come by and have a read. And sometimes they leave a comment – like dropping a coin into the fiddle-case. Piece by piece, post by post I’m learning to write a blog, finding my audience and understanding more about the process of writing as a kind of performance.