Deadmau5 The VeldtWhen you first put yourself out there and share a business idea or creative work that’s close to your heart, it can feel uncomfortable. For some people it’s terrifying. I’ve met people with very successful careers who hold positions with lots of responsibility but when it comes to sharing their first blog post on their own project, they freeze up.

Why is this?

I guess it’s that representing someone else’s company or project feels a lot easier than sharing something of our own. Most people can join in and sing Happy Birthday to a friend at a drop of a hat but ask them to write a verse of their own song and sing it and the response is very different.

But if you can get over this resistance to showing yourself the rewards will surprise you. People love individuals who are willing to be authentic, to show themselves. And if you can get into the habit of sharing your process as it unfolds – share the business you’re creating as you do it – you can build a following of people who share your values, want you to succeed, and will even help you along the way.

I call this ‘playing in public’.

You can blog about your business as you build it, post the evolving design of your brand on instagram, share what you’re learning with others on twitter and so on. For a fantastic example of someone who knows the power of playing in public, I give you Joel Zimmerman…

Deadmau5 plays in public

This is a story about the multi-award winning, progressive music producer, Joel Zimmerman, better known as deadmau5. In 2012, deadmau5 began working on a track called ‘The Veldt’, inspired by a Ray Bradbury short story. Instead of waiting until he deemed the track ready and sending it out into the public sphere, the musician gave his fans a unique insight into his creative process by live streaming the making of the song.

He set up a webcam in his studio and fed the output of his mixing desk to the livestream. Then he jammed, mixed, and produced for 24 hours straight while fans all over the world watched live. He also uploaded each new version of the track to SoundCloud for fans to download and add to.

But, while deadmau5’s approach is a really cool example of how to play in public, he is not the main focus of this story. During his creative process, he declared to the world that he needed to start thinking about the vocal track for The Veldt.

Enter Chris James, an up-and-coming music producer. Chris had been watching deadmau5’s stream and set about writing his own lyrics (based on the Ray Bradbury short story) and laying his vocals on top of deadmau5’s work. He uploaded his version to SoundCloud for others to hear. What happened next was remarkable.

Deadmau5’s twitter followers started tweeting him to tell him about Chris’ amazing vocal version of his song. deadmau5 decided to check out Chris’s work for himself, and here was his response:

‘Some guy on twitter said he did vocals for this track already. Should I check them out or not? Okay I’ll go look. F**k it.’

Upon listening to Chris’ track, deadmau5 throws his hands in the air in amazement and declares:

‘Holy sh*t! I am f**king impressed right here!

Within hours, Chris was on the phone to deadmau5 and his agents to seal a deal, and his vocals ended up on a Grammy-nominated musician’s song that was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 50 best tracks of 2012.

Chris James took a brave step in sharing his work on SoundCloud and Twitter. His vocal track – which deadmau5 admitted he expected to be bad before listening to it – could have been rejected or never heard at all. However, being willing to dare to share paid off, and he’s now a great example of how you’ll never know what lucky connections and great opportunities will present themselves when you decide to play in public. Likewise, for deadmau5, his decision to share his process with the world was not only a great way of engaging with his audience, it also saw him collaborate with an artist who he never would have found otherwise. (BTW The Veldt remains one of my favourite tracks by Deadmau5)

Do you dare to share?

What could you be sharing right now that others might find interesting or useful? What parts of your process can you open up? You could use photos and videos, write blog posts or share snippets from your project with an audience as you create them. After working with thousands of people over the last ten years I’ve seen the magic that can happen when people dare to play in public. It can work for you too.


In my new book Screw Work Break Free you learn more about how to play in public, how to use social media effectively and how to make your idea go viral. Download a free chapter now: