What Jennifer Batten Learned From Michael Jackson

Sources: Guitar Girl Magazine | All Things Michael


As some of you may already know, famed guitarist Jennifer Batten will be hitting the road in her motor home starting in July to conduct a series of seminars entitled “Self-Enpowerment for the Modern Music Experience.

In a recent interview with Guitar Girl Magazine, Jennifer provides details about the tour and a few things she has learned from working with Michael Jackson.  To read the entire article, please click on the link at the end of the page.

You are holding three-and-a-half-hour sessions for people with seven-second attention spans. How do you keep them, and yourselves, interested and engaged?

One takeaway from working with Michael Jackson was the entertainment value. For him, the music was the foundation and he built from that. He added the “wow” factor on top of it. Being aware of the attention spans, and my own attention span being short because I’ve got just as many gadgets as everybody else, I’m pulling out all the stops as far as trying to get information across in an entertaining way. Some of the videos are only 10 or 30 seconds long, to take your attention outside of this zone and put it in another one for just a second. By having the point driven home several different ways, it pounds it into your head more. The most dry thing I can think of is having sentences on a PowerPoint and reading them to the class. My sister has been in the corporate world forever, and when I told her that I was getting into PowerPoint, the first thing she said was, “Whatever you do, do not read what’s on the screen.” And in fact I don’t have anything written on the screen. It’s JPEGs or entertaining videos or something hitting them at all times. I worked for Cirque du Soleil for six months, and their whole thing is constantly overloading you with imagery. You can see the same show three times and get three different shows, if you focus on different things. That’s how I intend to keep the attention spans. Having Jesse as my co-host also means there’s a different person to listen to. So every 15 to 20 minutes there’s something brand new, and within those chunks there will be as much entertainment as I can muster.

One of your topics is monetization. How do you approach this when we live in a world where many people believe that anyone working in a creative field should work for free, that creating is not work, and that if you love something, getting paid for it should not matter?

I have tons of resources. There’s a book called The Trick To Money Is Having Some, by Stuart Wilde. The gist is that the amount of money you make is directly related to how you feel about yourself. If you believe in yourself, then why would you sell yourself short? I will never forget — this guy wanted to be my manager right after I had done the Super Bowl with Michael Jackson, and he wanted me to do this certain thing for free. For “exposure.” I’m saying, “Motherf****er, I just played for 1.5 billion people and I got paid for it!” A lot of public speakers say, “If you do it for free, you get your name out there and you get known.” Every time the offer comes up to do something for free, you’ve got to weigh it. Is it going to be valuable to you to get you used to the stage? Will there be certain people in the audience who might be shopping and it makes it worth your while? But making a habit of working for free, or playing for cheap, just cheapens the whole industry. I got that training when I was with Michael Jackson. I was making ridiculous amounts of money, and as a result I have no problem saying, “This is what I cost. Take it or leave it.” Also it’s a psychological thing. I have done ten- or twelve-hour flights to Europe so many times, and I know very well what happens from jet lag, especially when I return and I’m absolutely useless for seven days minimum. I have a certain dollar amount in my mind that if you want me to do that, this is what it’s going to cost and I feel OK about it, but if it’s less, I’m going to feel abused. The last time it happened, someone had me fly to Birmingham, England, for a one-off for $1,500. I flew home and I thought, What the hell was I doing? I’m never doing that again. My price doubled after that, and it’s probably doubled again.

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