The kindness of the music industry is something that I don’t think people appreciate enough. People in music are kind. They believe in this weird thing. For some reason the power of music is such that people will do stupid crazy things. You can’t forget this magic. You can’t forget that there are people at every level of the industry who are deeply in love with what the industry represents. The music industry is magical and triumphant, bizarre and overwhelming – the sort of thing that will encourage you to pick apart the darkness that defines so much of this industry and instead find a way forward that is encouraging, empowering and strangely beautiful. You need to remember that everyone in this industry is (Or was at one time) truly passionate, otherwise they would have gotten into something that would actually make them money. You need to circle back to this time and time again if you want to find a measure of success in this crazy old messed up universe of ours.
You might be doubting me – I know that I’m kind of a bitter individual in general and have been quoted as saying that you shouldn’t expect shit from anyone. To a large extent this is true. However you need to also remember that the foundation of this scene is young passionate people who have no real goal other than to facilitate live music and all sorts of exciting adventures. Finding these passionate people, and the passion deep within you is going to make you money. The point is not to become a giant mogul but rather to just find a path forward and show that they are art of something greater. That’s what so much of this boils down too. Not being a weird and demented god but just wanting to be a part of a world that is going to change everything. There is salvation and it comes in the form of dudes in their 20s who just have so much love for this stupid thing that they throw away most of their income and free time in the name of their art. It’s funny how it happens, but time and time again (Hell, even last night) I will meet people with a similar passion and they remind me why I keep coming back to this eternal suffering.
You need to take advantage of this, but in due measure. You can’t expect to exploit people non stop and think that people aren’t going to get pissed off at you. You need to reciprocate. This much should be obvious, but you also need to realize that by contributing you are becoming a part of a greater scene, one that transcends national boundaries and reminds us of the power that’s inside. I know that sounds cheesy but ultimately that’s what this entire thing is founded upon. The music industry is not something to be taken lightly, but so many people engage in it as a hobby that it ends up being both the industries greatest boon and greatest bane. While on the one hand it can be super helpful, as I have discussed in the past the cross section between amateurs and professionals can be a frustrating one to navigate, especially when you are dealing with as many amateurs as your average day in this industry will shoot up at you.
Not only is this an industry of passion though. It is an industry that thrives on people helping other people. Even at high levels this entire thing is a terrifying circle jerk. That’s cool and all, but you need to realize that no matter where you are in the industry it’s the people who do stuff for free and are willing to just go the extra mile who are the most respected. I know that sounds overtly poetic and even a little silly but I think that it makes sense. After all – the people who are the most respected at high levels tend to also have the strongest DIY ethics. Yes it’s a circle jerk, but a large part of that is because as these same people were rising up in the industry they found themselves climbing because they got to be included in a variety of circle jerks. If you think that you can be free of any baggage you are wrong – and you’re not appreciating the beauty of the music industry and all that it can truly entail for you and your friends.
Note that this whole thing isn’t without it’s consequences. It expects a lot of you as an individual and means that you need to cultivate these relationships. It means that you can’t just expect to feed off the scene and regularly scam people by lying about your draw because, “The live show is just that good bro” without expecting some consequences down the line. Since this is a circle jerk everyone knows everyone else, well, perhaps a bit too well. It leads to some interesting consequences that you might not have normally expected from this line of work and wrestling with these consequences is going to be a nightmare if you fucked people over early in your career. That’s why you need to always be careful to end things on good terms, people are awful and trusting them is a challenge. Yet you still need to do it because otherwise you realistically have no way of kicking things off as a DIY band, and if you can’t do that then you are staring down the barrel of a very dangerous gun.
At the end of the day – the fact that this entire thing is driven by passion is both beautiful and terrifying. It’s beautiful because it shows that even in terrifying and awful financial situations people will stand up and contribute to something greater than themselves. You have to admire that. That will help you a lot over the years. It’s terrifying because well… if the entire thing is driven by passion then after a certain point we are kind of all driven by the need for rich patrons, and if you have trouble finding fans with deep pockets well… that’s not a good thing. It’s going to be a regular struggle for you to keep coming and finding your way forward through all of the shit that this industry is going to keep throwing at you.