This being my 60th year on this planet, it only makes sense that I would finally begin to realize my goal of world domination (was that my goal?), and no, the conference is not an S&M retreat.
It's a gathering of self-motivated entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, tinkerers, explorers, craftspersons, writers, bloggers and musicians who gather every year to network and celebrate living a non-conformist and remarkable life. The man who has pulled this together is author, traveler and entrenepreneur Chris Guillebeau who does remarkable things, and then writes and blogs about it.
But he doesn't just keep it to himself. He explains in simple language how anyone can do the same because of the new connected world we live in. His current book is called "The $100 Start-Up."
His point -- and it's one also made by Seth Godin and several other bloggers, people are becoming immune to advertising and hucksterism. They buy what their friends tell them to buy. They go where their friends recommend. You can spend a gajillion dollars on advertising, but if your product sucks, everyone will know about it instantly. And you're dead.
I hadn't heard of Chris before getting his email, so I was flattered to be asked. Especially when I clicked over to the World Domination Summit website and discovered that the event refuses all corporate sponsorship and does not accept submissions. "Do you think your client fits this? Well, it doesn't matter. We don't accept submissions."
So, how do you get chosen to be on the bill? Chris finds you.
Bob Lefsetz, the media guru and music industry critic, says how often he gets submissions from agents, artists, kids in their garages, etc. and he says that doing this is useless. "Stop sending me links to your videos and huge mp3 files! If you're any good, I'll find out about you."
In days past, this was not true.
I remember when I was managing director at National Academy of Songwriters, I was very excited about a young songwriter named Dan Bern. I literally took him over to music publishers and made him sit and play for them. Eventually, he got a deal and has made some great albums. But if I had had these kinds of tools back then... I still remember gluing letters onto a matte trying to make flyers.
We were not in a connected world.
But now, any kid from any corner of the globe can upload his music. Any adult can put something into the marketplace. Marketplace doesn't guarantee success. In fact, you'll get lost in the jungle.
Unless you're great. Forget the instant hit. This is about the long game. If you're great, people will find you. Now, there are lots of things you can and should do to push it along. For instance, this past year I finally put my album "The Bonus Round Sessions" into iTunes and Spotify because until then, I wasn't sure how. But along comes TuneCore and I suddenly have worldwide distribution.
In the connected world, Sony, Warner Bros., and all the big giants who used to have a chokehold on distribution are suddenly rendered irrelevant. The only thing they can bring to the table is money for production, advertising and publicity, which you end up paying for anyway, out of your contract.
I responded to Chris Guillebeau and asked him how he found me. In real world terms, I'm known maybe to a few theater fans, and to some people in the educational, health services and gay music worlds. But your mother never heard my name. He said it's a long story and he'll share it with me when we finally speak via phone.
And, funny, just about that same time, a young singer/dancer in the Netherlands, Joey von Grumbkow wrote me and asked if there was sheet music for "Save Me A Seat." I sent him the music. And in our exchanges, he didn't really know who I was -- or that I wrote for theater. But somehow the song got to him and he is using it for some project.
It's a remarkable thing, this connected world. I stumbled into it in the early days out of sheer desperation to stay alive. I knew it had potential far beyond what anyone could envision. Do you think Gutenberg had any idea what would happen with the printing press? Remember the early days of TV, when they would simply replicate their radio shows?
A couple of days ago, I had this crazy idea that I can crowd-source a performance of New World Waking there in Portland, since I'm going to be there anyway. I have no venue. No cast. No nothing. But I bet we can do it. We live in a connected world.
To that end, I made up a new graphic, thanks to a suggestion by Jim Brochu.
So, who wants to sing with me in Portland?