Ya know – for an industry that’s supposed to be about sex and drugs there sure is a lot of filling out forms. I mean yeah – there IS sex and drugs, that’s why I’m looking at property in Vegas, but god damn if there are not a lot of forms that need to be filled out. These forms appear just about anywhere – be it on booking requests, awards submissions or even just plain and simple social media setup. A lot of these forms are necessary and they have an important role in the industry. They help to make sure that everything is properly organized and set up in a way that remains sustainable and minimizes headaches for those on the receiving end who are generally the folks with some measure of power. The real issue is just going through and spending the requisite hours to get all of this set up.
The worst part – and maybe this is just because I’m bad at technology – is that a lot of these sites are using different or unique setups, meaning that dropdown menus can’t come to your rescue as they so often do with forms elsewhere. Beyond that – these forms often require very specific information and force you to doctor your bio such that it will fit into whatever the restrictions and guidelines du jour happen to be. What I’m trying to say, in so many words, is that filling out forms in relation to your band is a pain in the ass. Of course, as we mentioned, it’s also a necessary evil – so I guess you’re wondering now, “What larger point is Matt trying to make? Or is he just drunk and a little bit more bitter than usual?”
The larger point I’m trying to make is that paying your dues manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Yeah there’s the time on the road with your band replete with both groupies and breakdowns in Nebraska in the freezing cold. I know that sounds romantic – but it really isn’t. In fact it’s possibly the most miserable thing that can happen to you. But beyond that there are also the times when you have to sit behind your laptop and not go out with your friends because you are building a better tomorrow for your band. That is not to say that you should live in monk-like solitude when you’re not on the road, but by god it would really help your cause. That’s one of the weird dirty secrets of the industry though – you don’t need to be that high functioning for most of it, because the vast majority is grunt work that none of us have the money to pay someone else to do.
Of course – you can pay someone to do a lot of this stuff for you, just remember that you’re still probably going to have to spend at least some time on the phone sorting your stuff out and you’re going to be essentially throwing your money away if you have the time to tackle that on your own. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s wrong to pay someone to sit on their couch for a day or two to fill out your forms (Hell, I do that all the time) Just be aware that that is exactly what they are doing. Obviously they should be held accountable and working to build your brand and guiding you to make sure the right forms are being filled out in the best ways possible, but still, I think that the point stands. As with anything in artist services, you technically CAN do it on your own, it’s just highly unlikely that you’re actually going to be able to get anywhere with it efficiently.
That’s the weird state that we live in these days – you can get people to pay most of your dues for you as long as you have the money to do it. (Then again, maybe that has always been the case and it used to be hidden better) I’m not saying that you should, after all, I’m a punk, and half the punk ethos is driving around in shitty vans, doing it yourself and generally being bitter. That being said – there is a lot of validity to having an assistant on hand to fill out your forms and act as your VP of accounts payable. Going into this whole thing, realize that whole days are going to go down the drain to awards submissions that may or may not pan out. But if they do – well – then you probably are going to be seeing yourself moving somewhere great.
So, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a tired old man trying to protect you kids from a lifetime of bitterness. That’s certainly valid right? The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of your time in the music industry is going to be outside the music. Not only that though, it’s going to be a lot more than the sexy stuff like networking and interviews, it’s going to be a lot of repetitive crap that is going to make you want to die and wonder why you got involved with this in the first place. As far as I can tell though – this is how it is in every industry, so why not just take a risk and do it in the only one where hookers and blow are a fundamental part of the corporate structure?