Road to a Million Views: Forget about perfection

Behind every "overnight" success I'm betting you'll find, depending on the medium, 20 unsold novels, 200 songs that never made it to any chart, and 2000 barrels of sweat.

Hit 'N Run baby.

Welcome to the sixth article in our Road to a Million Views series. Stark Insider TV is closing in on 1 million YouTube views (we estimate it will happen this spring) and we’re celebrating by publishing a weekly piece on our experience — good and bad — with video on the web.

Stark Insider YouTube Channel Views: 924,987

Weekly Change: +6,940 views, +8 subscribers

Year/Year Growth: 68%

Hit 'N Run baby.
Hit ‘N Run baby. Yours truly, Nick Rhodes wannabe, center.

If you’re planning to build a YouTube channel, I’d say two things: (1) go for it and start early; and (2) forget about perfection.

Back in the day, I played keyboards for two bands. They were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was a studio band seeking a record deal that recorded layered synth tracks with Brian Eno-like vocals. The other was a rock ‘n roll group that played live shows. Nothing wrong with either approach. But the studio group used to get hung up on perfecting every nuance. So much so that I’m not sure anything we recorded ever made it out of the basement. Meanwhile the live group, rough edges and all, slowly built a college following. Then we made it to radio with a minor hit. Soon after, reps from regional record labels started popping into the shows. Playing clubs, concert halls, campuses was not the easiest thing; I had to slog around the Korg M1 and Roland D50 keyboards, as well as the Atari ST computer used for sequencing. The live group was a bit of a mess to start. But over the course of 18 months, we became quite hip, and ultimately became the more successful of the two bands.

I’d love to to take months to perfect some of this content. The reality is that’s not possible.

And when I think of the Stark Insider video and YouTube adventure I always recall those days of playing live. It’s visceral, there’s incredible energy. If you’re like me, you’ll make plenty of mistakes. The thing about putting yourself out there creatively, be it on YouTube, or WordPress, or Tumblr, or whatever platform you opt to use, is that the entire world can watch, for better or worse.

When I produce a video, though, I’m not seeking perfection.

Would I like it to be perfect?

Of course.

But even the day after I hit upload and publish a piece, I see at least 10 errors or various aspects that could be improved. A year later I’ll see 100. After that… we’ll let’s just say it’s too painful to watch because it feels so amateurish. For me, that’s okay. It means I’m (hopefully) improving. If you can’t yet nail perfection then, well, maybe reckless abandon will suffice.

Clint on the Roland D50: Hit ‘n Run Live 1991

For the thrill seeker, here’s a bootleg of If it’s Love, recorded at one of our biggest shows, opening for The Northern Pikes (with a dressing room vibe that would do Haight/Ashbury proud) at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Brace yourselves. PS – after the show our drummer individually criticized each of our skills (probably rightfully so), quit the band, and signed on with another group in Montreal.

Stark Insider, like a lot of sites, typically operates on an editorial calendar with much of our content under deadline; especially things like theater reviews (24 hour turnaround), regional news, and major film/food/wine-related events. I’d love to take months to perfect some of this content. The reality is that’s not possible. Over time, we’d lose ground. Others would beat us to the punch. Ultimately we’d lose traffic, and, more important, mind-share. It’s critical we publish on time. Again, it’s like playing a live show. Power through the performances. The following will come (hopefully). If you improve over time, your audience may actually grow more loyal, and cheer the underdog.

Behind every “overnight” success I’m betting you’ll find, depending on the medium, 20 unsold novels, 200 songs that never made it to any chart, and 2000 barrels of sweat.

The relentless pursuit of perfection sounds good if you’re Lexus. At the end of the day, I prefer getting content out the door, and then improving upon the process.

Go forth, and create!

Stark Insider in 2009

Stark Insider in 2013

Road to a Million Views

1. Road to a Million Views: The Journey Begins

2. You love Cirque

3. What’s the ideal length for a YouTube video?

4. Get in, get out

5. Name your YouTube video right

6. Forget about perfection

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.