Let us now sing the praises of not being in the public eye...
I love this article: Embrace Obscurity. The author is talking about business but it certainly applies to musical pursuits as well:
When no one knows about you you can make mistakes quietly. Learn at your own pace. Fail without the fear of failure. Failing in obscurity helps protect your ego and youâ€™ll need your ego later on when you are successful. Confidence is vital to success and if you fail big on your first try itâ€™s going to take years for your ego to recover. Fail small now so you can succeed big later.
We all wanna go big. Big release party, full-page color ads, widespread commerical radio play, gushing reviews in Magnet. Being small and staying small seems almost counterintutive to conventional wisdom about music marketing and promotion. When the stakes are small you can use your failures to learn how to do better the next time. When you go big right from the start, there usually isn't a "next time."
This is why I don't believe in "make-or-break" scenarios. If any one gig is truly able to "break" you, it's probably because you weren't ready for it in the first place. You haven't made enough mistakes to learn what's important.
Related link: Derek Sivers says, "think 'test marketing.'"