Amidst the drone of constant noise, have the conviction to play your unique instrument clearly, with your playlist, as only you can. Resist the urge to fight volume with volume, or follow a trendy but temporary style. Play your strengths, play only the songs you know well, and only when you’re prepared to deliver your best. Play in the right direction, and ultimately the music will land on the right ears, receptive and appreciative ears. And it will sound beautiful, and they will want more, not less.
Case in point: the Grantland blog (mostly sports, some pop culture and entertainment). Is it the sexiest? The loudest in terms of hyperbole, hype, and hyperventilating? Does it get the Mark Cubans and Magic Johnsons and the scandal rants and the latest high draft picks to say (again) how it doesn’t matter if they don’t go in the top three, or if they land in Cleveland? If it did, it could grab some easy readership numbers – or at least traffic. It could get more cheap links and more me-too forwards and tweets. But it doesn’t need to. There is ample rip-roaring, slam-tastic coverage already out there to satisfy those who crave the Top 10 plays of the day/week/century.
No, Grantland does what it’s chief editor Bill Simmons was seemingly born to do: write. Actually, Write – with a capital W. The kind of Writing that requires Preparation, Knowledge, and Thought. It’s timely stuff, to be sure, but it doesn’t have to be on the hour buzz. It has longer reads than many blogs, and the themes can actually stick with you, enmeshed with history, deep context, and heartfelt, carefully crafted personal opinion. It’s no coincidence that Simmons is a New York Times best-selling author (The Book of Basketball).
And it’s worked out pretty well. Grantland has collected some good trumpet players, and its audience manages to hear them loud and clear.