The Value of Attention

I see it all the time. A big-name author or rock star enjoys the adulation of millions of fans, but takes home a fraction of the income of a C-level executive or investor.

Both envy each other, but I don't know anyone who would honestly take fame over money. In fact, the truly wealthy pay more to keep their lives as private as possible.

We're told every day as creators online that attention = prosperity. But no one's attention online lasts long enough for that to be true anymore (if it ever was).

I recently saw two posts on different social networks, one from a writer and one from a photographer, pleading with their tens of thousands of followers to help them pay their bills because one lost a gig and the other dropped his camera.

This can't be where we're going.

At 16, I was into two things: guitar playing and starting a small business. They were my two passions, and I quit all sports and extra curricular activities to practice and plot. If I were giving advice to myself from the future it would be: go all in on the business, then use the freedom that affords to pursue any kind of art you want.

That sounds like old man advice, and being a teenager I would have probably ignored it. Now, it's the advice I'd give any young artist who had even the slightest interest in business.

"Attention is the ultimate form of currency." - Sally Hogshead, advertising guru

At one time I would have agreed with this quote. Now, I think currency is the ultimate form of currency. Attention is one path of many to get where you want to be, and increasingly, it's a less desirable path.