Everybody says yes to everything in the music industry. Or at least ‘maybe’. After all, it’s the music industry, we’re all supposed to be rebels and punk rockers, why wouldn’t we be up for whatever, right? Everyone is down to do everything, but when it really comes down to it the number of people who are willing to do anything of substance and actually move forward is frighteningly slim. Still, you need to be ready for everyone to initially tell you yes and then never follow up. This is something I’ve been struggling with lately and wanted to start to pick apart for you guys. There is a whole psychology behind it and you need to start getting ready to plan for it and figure out how you are going to go forward with this whole fucked up thing. These people aren’t lying, they are just, quite simply, misguided – and we need to all work together to move past that.
The reason that everyone says yes is just one of those weird deepset psychological things about the industry – no one likes to say no, ever. At worst you get no reply – which in many ways is more frustrating than a no because you don’t know for sure. I’ve spent many a long hour sending out emails to receive absolutely no replies, sending out followups, getting a few no’s and then a few months later getting a tentative ‘yes’. It’s weird how people operate – not all of them are especially high functioning or super interested in getting back to you promptly. Odds are if you are asking for something then it’s simply because you want to advance both of your careers (Asking for stuff just for you almost never works) and they obviously want to do that. It then becomes a question of optimal time investment, and if the person in question thinks that you can really bring them up to the right level or if they are just too busy to take you on – or simply don’t believe you are worth it right now.
Beyond that – you will find that a lot of people are excited to work with you but just lack initiative. This can be for a variety of reasons, the two biggest ones being they are lazy fucks and the other being that they simply lack the ability to kickstart a project. You need to approach both of these types of people as you grow in the industry and realize you will always need to work with both of them. As an aside – you will be amazed at how many of these people exist even at high levels. I’m not sure how they get there, since pretty much everything I’ve gotten in this industry has been through my own initiative, but it’s pretty frustrating to see. That being said – a lot of these people are just super busy and that can be a struggle, no matter what level you are at. I want to pick apart both of these reasons that folks might not have the initiative that you need.
There are a lot of lazy fucks in the industry. In many cases though this is simply because they are not educated. They haven’t been shown what it means to truly try and make it work in music. They think that just because they put out a CD all will come to them. It’s easy to get caught up in this mentality, a lot of artists brush over all of the hard PR work in interviews – or they have really good managers who protect them from a lot of that work. I mean yes, some people are genuinely lazy, but I try to give most folks the benefit of the doubt. In other cases they just don’t know what they need to do, which makes them appear lazy, but often they just haven’t figured out what the next steps they need to be taking are. The music industry is kind of a bitch that way and you need to accept it for what it is – a great way to lose a lot of money and time in the name of something that might one day turn out to be cool.
The lack of initiative is a more pervasive problem and one that frustrates me financially. A lot of people who I know have the money and the motivation for some reason or another can not seem to get their shit together enough to actually start something up. A lot of the time I will be sitting on project all good to go but I will be waiting for other people to give me the green light. This goes for managing, booking and even being in a band. People sometimes don’t have the same sense of urgency as you do and you need to be patient about that but you also need to know how to gracefully apply the sort of pressure they might need. You need to show that any pressure you apply is coming from a place of love, respect and the desire, not to be a domineering asshole, but rather to help your friend reach the most of their potential. A lot of the music industry, in my experience, comes from gentle nudges that show us a more delicate and graceful way forward.
At the end of the day – the same lessons apply here that you find everywhere else in this industry. You need to realize that no one really cares about you despite what they say – until they prove it with their actions. This is an industry where people are inundated with random bullshit all day and you need to realize that all that matters is concrete steps forward. If you want to get anywhere it’s going to be via you own hard work and if you can’t be bothered to put that in yourself then I highly doubt that anyone is going to do it for you. You need to be your own kickstarter and motivate others to do the same – there’s money enough for all of us.