"WHY WON'T YOU COME TO THE FRONT?": Artistic Entitlement
I need to admit. I have been guilty of artistic entitlement.
*bows head–raises hand*
Maybe steeped in it is a better way of saying it–wondering in my narcissism why exactly more people weren't getting excited about whatever it was I was doing.
"Well because it sort of sucked," says hindsight to my past self. "Or at least it was polished mediocre."
I was chatting with a musical friend last night, the sort of person you can make inside complaints to without coming across as a curmudgeon. I said, "You know, people really shouldn't exuberantly express their appreciation for your music unless they have a CD in their hand or on their hard drive. If they don't, what they are actually saying is either 'I didn't find your music offensively bad' or 'it obviously takes a certain level of competence to play such things.' Either way you didn't really leave any sort of significant impact on them."
Let me be clear, this wasn't flowing from the entitlement I'm talking about. I wasn't saying this in a grumpy way like I once would have, but more as a dissociated observation. It is true that if you are creating something that really hits home for someone, that either resonates in their soul or inspires them to dance, they will most likely try to find it again in live or recorded form. But the simple observation reminded me of a transition in my attitude toward what I create: I no longer cared much whether any single person did or didn't like what I do, or even if they were horribly disgusted by it. I was no longer concerned that people appreciate how hard I worked for something and in turn unquestioningly shower it with support. It's a pervasive attitude that practically every other band has a version of, come to the front. Come on, don't you people want to have a good time?
Why yes they do, which is why they are shooting hoops in an adjunct gym instead of listening to the terrible noise you're creating.
In fact it's true of almost any profession, pursuit, or relationship. When you are focused on how people should respond to your efforts, you are taking your eyes off of what you could do better or even how some are responding positively. No amount of shoulding on others is going to change their opinion of your creations, and it's most definitely not going to make you a better musician, writer, secretary, or spouse.
Also I should note, at that show I played, a group of 4 year old girls were unashamedly dancing non stop to my tunes. It was magical.