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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review - Platform by Michael Hyatt, Part 2

In my previous post I started talking about a book I just finished reading: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt, which I "read" as an audiobook, performed by the author. In that post, I got into some of the basic concepts in it, and why it applies so immediately to where we are as singers.

For this post, though, I need to get critical. There were problems with the book. If I were to distill it down, I would say that its methods just didn't seem to apply to my circumstance. That is probably an unfair thing to say in a review, because the book wasn't written for me - it was written for a more general populace. On the other hand, how could I be more fair?

The vast majority of the book revolved around two forms of media and how to go about using them. These two media forms wound up being central in the book. First, he recommended starting a blog, and second, use Twitter.

I don't blame the author for this: this book is his story of how he has found success. His experience, however, is so very unlike mine. He started off as an executive in a major book publisher and as a published author. His natural bent was toward writing, and thus a blog was perfect for him. For singers, websites, of course, are absolutely necessary, but blogs are not as big of a thing. Perhaps.

And Twitter - I just can't "get" it. Personally, I hardly ever scroll through there, as, to me, it's full of stuff that doesn't interest me, and for the sake of brevity, most "tweets" don't actually communicate anything themselves. Nowadays, most tweets are simply links to things outside of Twitter, and I simply don't have the time or interest to click on mystery links just to find out what a person is saying. So I understand that Twitter has been a powerful influence in the marketplace, but I just don't see the value in it presently or in the future.

That brings up another issue: the date. The book was written in 2012. It may just be my impression, but both blogs and Twitter had their hay-day five or ten years ago. As a company, twitter is only barely solvent right now; it's for sale and no one wants to buy it. One irony is that he disparages other so-called social media experts, but he doesn't call posts on Twitter "tweets." That word probably came into use a little after his book came out.

As for blogs, at one point the author claimed that he browsed one or two hundred blogs every day - and seemed to suggest this was a common occurrence. Perhaps this is true, perhaps it this phenomenon is still going on even in 2017, perhaps there is still a blogging community that is vibrant and enthusiastic. It just isn't my personal experience. I - again personally - know almost nobody that even reads one blog, let alone dozens.

My third major issue with the book is how readily he said "hire a professional." It was actually a little dizzying, sometimes he was taking a "this is something anyone can do" approach, noting how easy it was for anyone to get started now. But then when he would get into the specifics of how to use these resources, it frequently came down to spending money up front. Hire a professional web designer, a professional photographer, spend money on a service to get a consistent "look" across all your sites, etc. There's even an entire chapter where he talks about your "pit crew."

The ironic moment here was when he felt compelled to write a chapter on NOT hiring a "ghost writer" to write your blog...

I understand that the cost of these things has come down dramatically over the years, and that the value that a hired professional adds is immense. But this gets at my last objection - it seems the book is not oriented towards the building of a platform from scratch, but turning an average or already-kind-of-successful platform into an incredible platform. The book is of limited utility when you are starting at ground level, and when incurring debt is off the table.

Again, this may have something to do with his personal perspective: he started his blog while the CEO of Thomas Nelson, and had a built in reader base right from the get-go. Presumably, he also had some disposable income to spend on improving his media machine. Singers, like me, on the other hand, seem to always be trying to create something out of nothing, money-wise. And many of us are just getting started, trying to get our foot in the door, somewhere, anywhere. Even when we have a few notches in our belt and some financial padding underneath us, keeping momentum often seems more due to chance than to effort (the key word is "seems", of course).

Simply put, I don't think I'm the intended audience for this book. Coorporate executives and other business leaders have much to gain from it, but to other singers, I might recommend other books first.

That being said however, there were simply some wonderful nuggets in here for me to take away, but I'll have to talk about that in the next post!

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