Out Of The Loop
I’m stepping out of the loop for a couple of weeks. The metaphorical Gone Fishin’ sign is up on the door, wheels are turning and plans are in motion (including a small low risk plan that involves a big scoop of Wemple and Edicks Almond Joy ice cream). During that time, I plan on posting some miscellaneous observations and excerpts from my Selling It Versus Selling Out ebook that you may enjoy.
Given the somewhat tough love podcast last week, I thought I’d post a music business essay with a personal development twist that’s at the heart of a lot of the ethos here. I hope you enjoy it!
I wanted to talk about adversity today because while many people do whatever they can to avoid it (and avoid dealing with it), life’s very nature requires that you will face adversity throughout your time on this planet. If you’re a working guitarist (or planning on becoming one), adversity is going to be as constant a companion as your gig bag is.
Taking proactive steps to work through any kind of adversity is a noble and just effort. But it’s easy to slip in to daydreaming about the people or the things that will turn adverse circumstances around.
It’s important to understand the difference between working to get access to people who can help you with your goals and expecting that other people will swoop in like a white knight to save you from your current plight and hand your achieved goals to you on a platter.
Shockingly enough, the two comments that I hear from fellow musicians consistently are:
“Oh if only I had a manager”
“If only an A&R person were to hear this”
The problem is…
The only white knight is on a chess board
The reality is that no white knight is going to come and save you from whatever problems you (or your career) are facing and this is good news because once you get away from the concept that you’re a damsel in distress that needs to wait around for someone else to save them – you can move towards being part of your own solution.
To be clear – I’m not saying don’t seek out help – you’re never going to get anywhere in life trying to be an island – but don’t waste energy and time counting on other people to help you unless there’s something in it for them.
Can a powerful entertainment attorney help open doors for you? Quite possibly… if you have something profoundly marketable, a proven track record in sales, promotion and success and if you pay him or her a lot of money (either up front or as a percentage).
When you go to a store and see Metallica on four magazine covers in the same month, that’s not an accident. It’s instead the result of a carefully managed marketing and publicity campaign that probably cost more than the average person makes in a year or two.
Would getting access to a publicist at that level help get you attention? Again, quite possibly – but you’d still need a killer story, you’d still need a great product and you’d still need to keep feeding that PR machine to keep your name out there once the initial blitz is done.
(this reminds me of the old music business joke,
“Question: How do you make a million dollars in the Music Industry?
Answer: Start off with two (million dollars)”
When people talk about the death of the music industry, they don’t mean that the industry is getting smaller. The industry is actually larger than it’s ever been and that’s the problem. The entertainment dollar is now getting divided between more and more performers which makes it harder for everyone to get their share than ever before. Getting that share is ultimately anchored in the knowledge that everyone in the industry comes to sooner or later – there really aren’t any long term shortcuts.
Can getting signed to a label get you fame and fortune? Well fame quite possibly…but the length of your fame is another matter entirely. A record label can spend a lot of recoupable (i.e. your) money to put you in front of a lot of people, but if you don’t have the skills/branding/looks/personality and/or wow-factor, you’re going to fall just as quickly as you rose up.
Bands come and go, but the bands that stay are the ones that have put the hours in. They’re the ones that have built relationships with fans and building any long-lasting relationship takes time. So if you’re planning on sticking around, plan for digging your heels in for the long haul – and plan on a lot of adversity.
“Don’t make excuses make it right”
One thing that may not be obvious in all of this is that in those moments of adversity, some well-meaning people around you will come up with (and present to you) numerous external reasons for why things may be going wrong for you. It’s the wrong timing. The wrong setting. The wrong message. The wrong delivery. Etc. Etc.
While they may be legitimate reasons, external factors often aren’t actionable and very well may be outside of your control and despite their good intentions, those moments can help make you feel powerless.
If you get caught up in the mindset of not being in control of what’s happening around you equaling not being able to control what’s happening to you, then you’re relinquishing personal power and actually self-victimizing.
You can’t change everything in the world – but you can change your perception. You can change how you choose to interact with things and you can choose the paths you take.
The responsibility for what you do lies with you and that is empowering.
Be your own knight when things get rough. It’ll save yourself (and your friendships) in the long-run.
As always, thanks for reading!
PS – If you dig this post, you may like my ebooks (both available for Amazon Kindle or for the FREE Kindle App). Click on graphic for book link page.