Part of why people are so hesitant to hire within the music industry is that this is a notoriously unreliable industry and not only that but once you get someone who is actually worth a damn in terms of work ethic then they also need to have connections. It’s extremely hard to find someone who does one or the other. Simultaneously if you DO find someone like this you need to make sure that they are, broadly speaking, in good standing in the scene and also someone who you aren’t too personally close too such that things could seriously fall apart in a brutal way that leaves everyone upset and stressed out about problems that don’t need to exist but have been conjured up via longstanding relationships that rapidly diminish because guess what, people get weird when money starts to get involved in things, and that’s a huge part of what makes this entire industry so goddamn weird and stressful, time after time after time. So let’s pick it apart.
I’m a big believer in the theory that you shouldn’t hire until you absolutely need to. A lot of bands have a hard time identifying when they have reached that point, but it’s still something that we need to keep in mind as we go forward. A lot of bands go out and hire management or agents before they need them and end up losing a ton of money at it. Not because the managers or agents are bad but because they simply don’t have enough to do and the little they do do is the sort of thing the band could set up if they put even a modicum of effort in. I ‘mean sure – some people don’t want to put that effort in, but what do you think that says about your band if you want everything worked out for you? Most bands should be able to handle things internally, they are just too lazy to do it properly and then get mad when either things cost too much or when things end up not working out. Hiring people can be good, but make sure you need it and you’re not just being lazy.
The other theory that I’m a proponent of is that you should never hire a close personal friend, unless you’ve been working with them in a context that involved a lot of money before. Personal friends are pretty much impossible to work with, they will continually fuck you over. I don’t care if someone is perfectly qualified or super nice and put together, time and time again these things blow up in peoples faces and for a variety of reasons. Primarily it’s because friends think that you will be willing to do them favors and oversee when they fuck up. While it’s certainly fair to give people second chances I hardly think that anyone is obligated to let their friends screw them over time and time again especially when money is involved. A lot of people continually mess up in this industry because they get in over their heads so just keep that in mind even when you’re trying to pay someone who you think is super smart to potentially work with you.
When it comes down to it, the real struggle is not just a financial one, though of course that’s a huge part of it the struggle is that it’s also tied to peoples art, something that they frequently are going to take a lot more seriously than money. It means that when you screw up people don’t just feel personally out of cash they feel like their art is being mocked. This is the big struggle, especially because a lot of the bands who want to pay people to help grow them aren’t good. This isn’t a symptom of wanting to hire people but rather just how bands are, there aren’t a lot of good bands out there and the ones that are rarely know it. The problem then arises that people have a tendency to go insane, become super anal, or simply not realize what is up. This is where things start to become incredibly frustrating – most folks aren’t putting two and two together, realizing things take time and money and then getting pissed at whoever they hire.
Something that really needs to be kept in consideration by both sides is reasonable expectations. Most people fail to keep them and this leads to a large bulk of the conflict within the music industry. Be it timescales, as previously discussed or simply realizing where your band is at you’re going to consistently run into trouble. People don’t seem to appreciate that it’s a hard thing to figure out where a band is at and what it should be doing. Furthermore, a lot of people who get hired by bands don’t necessarily listen to the bands needs nor do they accept what the artists are willing and able to do. Everyone has different standards and it can frequently be difficult to ensure that these standards are kept coordinated so everyone can leave happy instead of frustrated, stressed and angry at relationships that are left burning in a ditch.
It’s always scary when you are trying to invest money into your music career because when it really comes down to it the odds are that your music career isn’t going to make you any money. At that point you’re essentially paying for the experiences you will hopefully get in order to help develop your career into something substantial where you can have more fun and play to more people. There is a decided lack of reasonable paths forward here and I appreciate anyone who is a little bit concerned about who they bring on board. Odds are that they might not be trying their hardest, or if they are they aren’t doing it in the way you like. You need to talk this out reasonably though to make sure that all of your hirings bring you the peace you need and deserve.