Nobody likes a nitpicker – but it needs to be done, perhaps more in the music industry than anywhere else. In a world where the margins are so small and the margin of error is consequently so frikkin’ tiny you need to have people on your side who are going to nitpick. The advantage is that nitpicking, while frustrating and strenuous can also be a fairly easy thing to do if you are willing to commit the time and energy to it. What does this mean for you? Simply that you can go far in this world if you are able to pour over documents, take notes and make sure that every single part of the industry that you work in and are partially responsible for cultivating moves forward gracefully. In some ways there is no greater calling.
“Why do you need to nitpick?” You might be asking, “My band is a DIY punk act, we can just do whatever.” Unfortunately this is never the case. No matter how well you think that things are lined up you have to realize that it will never properly work out until you confirm, re-confirm and then re-reconfirm, preferably all via phone call. The reason that so many DIY acts have such a hard time is that they are willing to trust people and not follow up, of course this is going to lead to a ton of problems down the line. As my mother put it “Do it right the first time” that way you don’t need to worry about things when the going gets tough.
Of course – there is a way to do it, and you need to realize how and when to draw the line on nitpicking. It can be easy to regularly rip apart people who are supposed to be doing stuff for you, but you need to be executing in a way that is graceful and to the point. If you become too much of a perfectionist people aren’t going to want to work with you. Rather than being annoyed – realize when nitpicking becomes too much and at what point things go too far beyond the pale. The hard truth is, if we can accept that nobody cares about what you do, then little things can also be glossed over. Determining what this is can be a struggle though, since obviously things like grammar are super important. Figuring out your phrasing and structuring of press releases is a delicate process, but the further we go, the more able we are to make it all work out.
So who should be your nitpicker? This is an unenviable position and one that can put a lot of pressure o any individual. I have found that the best methods to have multiple people going over every document, ideally people with different backgrounds and roles in the band/record company/etc such that they can attack every problem from separate angles. What seems important to one will not necessarily be important to another and figuring out who cares about what can help move the entire thing forward. Ultimately though, in its most stripped down form you are going to want at least one or two people proofreading anything you do – if only to make sure that you have all your bases covered and have a unified approach to the narrative you are seeking to construct.
It’s one of those weird things where if you don’t nitpick enough then you are just going to get written off as a shitty band. If you nitpick to much, people won’t really notice – but it’s better to not have people notice you than notice you for being that band with awful and unprofessional press releases and an inability to properly communicate their message. The people who have everything together move forward subtly and powerfully – but those in power are gradually going to start noticing them and teir work ethic. Being able to communicate and present yourself in a manner that shows you spent the time to cultivate your image is only going to pay off in the long run, and though it might be painful now, know that it will help one day.
Of course – I might be crazy. There are a lot of major record labels and PR companies who regularly submit to me with all sorts of syntax and grammar errors. They go off the assumption that people are only going to skim over their releases and thus won’t be called out on it. I’d imagine that being in charge of the hippest bands is only going to help with that as well. People are often afraid to properly call those in power out on their subpar writing. It makes me wonder how those people got into power in the first place (Presumably longevity and being damn good at their jobs otherwise) but it’s important to realize that even those at the top fail to nitpick, and if you can move forward with precision then their jobs are yours for the taking.
There is a theory that OCD evolved not as something that would benefit an individual but rather a collective. Think about it in terms of pre-agrarian societies. It makes sense to have someone who insists on everything being super clean or cooked. Similarly, it is valuable to have someone who has an almost annoying attention to detail on your side because they are going to be able to hammer down every last bloody detail and make sure that you have your entire trajectory lined up such that it can lead to a better tomorrow. Find these people and use them as a part of your team, a narrative with a bunch of spelling mistakes is not much of a narrative at all.