Next time you’re about to release a new podcast, post something new to your Flickr account or blog or make a new product available on Etsy, take a look at your archive immediately afterwards. Did you just create something that is in line with your back catalog or did you just create something that stands out on its own?
When AC/DC releases a new album, you can bet your life on the fact that it was written and recorded for their library. There hasn’t been an AC/DC record that has taken liberty for decades. Each song that’s written and each sound that’s recorded is done so in a way as to give the fans more of what they love and want. It makes your rabid fans happy (or your “tribe” if you’d like), but it doesn’t do anything to draw new fans in. Why do you think that the new Guns N’ Roses record took so damn long? Axl was writing a record that needed to stand against the Guns N’ Roses library. It’s why Wine Library TV hasn’t made any dramatic changes in hundreds of episodes. Is making your fans happy always priority #1? If you do it to death, you risk becoming a parody of yourself.
On the other side of things, if you create for today, you can reinvent yourself and hopefully take your audience with you. Madonna’s done it her whole career, and with success nearly each time. She has a deep catalog to reach back into and her past changes has allowed her to release whatever kind of music that she wants. It doesn’t always work for mega-artists. Ask Garth Brooks about Chris Gaines. Ask Metallica about their lowest rated album on Amazon.
So take a look at your latest creation before you open it to the public and ask yourself “Did I write this for my library or did I write it for right now?” The right answer could be different with each release.
Axl Rose from http://flickr.com/photos/26332149@N07/