I signed my first autograph when I was 22. I wasn’t famous. I was simply an out-of-town-er. It was 2003, and I was in Moscow sharing music in pubic schools. Walking down a hallway with my team, we were suddenly surrounded by students carrying tiny notebooks. They wanted our autographs.
In that moment, I didn’t feel pride. I felt humility. These students were showing me honor for simply showing up. They wanted a simple signature that would help them remember we had met. My bad handwriting stayed in Russia longer than I did. It was one of my earliest memories of being shown honor whether I deserved it or not.
Fast forward 15 years. I’m a full-time musician who is still not famous. Yet this past summer, I had two friends buy my CD and ask for my autograph. These are people I will see again, so why bother with an autograph?
With how saturated and accessible music is these days, why does anyone still buy CD’s, much less place value on a name written with a black sharpie? Why would you go out of your way for something like that? I suspect it has something to do with value and connection. When someone asks for an autograph, they are communicating that they value the artist as well as the art. They recognize the person, not just the product. Furthermore, there is a connection. It’s not just a financial transaction through an online store; it’s a relationship. As people, we are created to remember relationships and experiences more than products.
In light of that, I’m following in the footsteps of my two friends. I want to show honor and appreciation to the artists I love and have inspired my journey in music and art. My favorite artist John Butler recently released a new album. He has influenced me as a song writer, and he continually inspires me to improve my slide guitar skills. So, rather than just stream his new album where he’ll get fractions (and I do mean fractions of a cent), I pre-ordered a signed physical CD from his web store where I hope he’ll get the highest percentage of the sale. In turn, I got an autograph from one of my musical heroes.
Would you join me? I might be a music nerd, but it’s not nerdy to show genuine appreciation to someone who has impacted your journey. This is a key way to honor those who provide the soundtrack to your life. Who are the artists who have blessed and inspired you over the years? Send them a message and let them know. Order music from their web store, and yes, ask for their autograph. If someone has blessed your journey (artist or not), show them honor in a way that they will feel appreciated. Imagine how our culture would change if we sought to express gratitude and appreciation to those who have impacted our lives.