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What An Interesting Idea

Barron Ryan

suggestion box  by Hash Milhan

suggestion box by Hash Milhan

I get suggestions all the time. People want me to play more pop music, work with a singer, collaborate with their musician friends, etc. I appreciate that they earnestly want to help make my music impactful, but sometimes these suggestions completely miss the point.

My art is about how I express myself (as I explain in this post), and I already know how I'm going to do that for the next few years (as I explain in this one). I generally respond to this sort of input with something like, "That's an interesting idea, but there are skills I want to develop before I tackle [insert type of advice here]." Put more bluntly, I don't want to. When it comes to my music, I usually don't take suggestions.

Yet there are a lot of suggestions I will take. Though my art isn't open for discussion, the way people interact with it most certainly is. For example, the idea of incorporating conversation into Keyboard Confidential wasn't even mine in the first place—it came from an audience member who wanted to ask a question. Issues like marketing, pricing, and audience engagement are all areas where I'm more than happy (but usually humbled) to listen.

As an artist, stand firm in how you want to express yourself but also be open when it comes to the way people experience your work. Maybe you should explain more (or less). Maybe you should charge more (or less). Whatever the case, having that perspective should make suggestions easier to process.