by MATT BACON >
The most frustrating part of the industry is dealing with the fine fact that you can’t really expect anyone to know things.
This is a perpetual struggle I’ve run into time and time again, be it for smaller bands not getting that no, you can’t tour when you only have 200 Facebook fans and 3 pieces of press on you, or bigger bands just totally failing at social media and creating something that only hurts their brand. And yet we find ourselves constantly confronting these realities and wrestling with unfortunate cases of bands who refuse to learn their place and others who just refuse to learn. On top of that of course you have to look at labels, managers and other industry people. Just because you work well with someone and think they have cool clients doesn’t mean that you are going to be on easy street. Even major managers can have a hard time with some of the finer points of the music industry, leading to frustration on both ends.
Now this applies to me too, I’m by now means a guru, as my frequent typos on this blog suggest. Everyone is constantly learning and this is why you need to build a team who can work with you in order to build a better tomorrow. Learning things is not easy, it takes a lot of time and is going to drive you up a wall more than a few times a day. This is especially frustrating in the world of music where the margins are so small and the hours required to be put in are so high. Learning all of these things can seem like a Sisyphean task. So this leads to a couple of things that you need to start to realize as you look to go forward in the industry and try to develop your brand and product, be that music, management, a label or whatever the fuck else. The amount of knowledge required in this industry is frankly insane – there are a few people who try and know it all but the most successful people get there by having a strong network.
When it comes down to it you need to come to accept that people don’t know things and you need to start carefully laying shit out for them in order to make their lives easier.
It’s hard to lay this out so it’s not condescending, so it’s often best t present vital bits of information that need to be communicated in the form of “I know you know this, but just to make sure we’re on the same page check this out…” remember that if you suggest that people have certain attributes then they will engage in those attributes. If you act like those people are the scum of the earth or dumb then they are going to do nothing to live up to it. Being officious and trying to throw your weight around isn’t going to get you anywhere. Being patient and kind is going to get people to respond positively to whatever you need and work with you on building a better future.
A very dear friend once spoke to me about this selfsame problem and said that when it comes down to it you just need to give your best 20%. If you are good at 20% of the things that you need in order to have a successful music industry brand then you are going to find success because you and blend your 20% with other peoples 20% and while there certainly might be some overlap, there also is going to be new stuff that you can’t handle on your own. Reaching out and bringing this knowledge from back to front, up and down is going to give you the sort of long term success that you want for your project to thrive. This is why you need to keep growing your team, because sooner or later you are going to have a group established who can tackle all aspects of the industry and make for a better and brighter future for everyone.
The obvious lesson that this ties too is that networking is key.
You need to constantly be able to find the next person who you can work with to bring both of your careers forward. You need to embrace the constant struggle that this industry can represent and use that as a way to drive forward. Sure you might just be friends with someone today but you know that three or four years down the line you might need to work with them and be able to create something great that the two of you can build up regularly. No one reasonable expects you to know everything but the do expect you to work fucking hard and bring new stuff to the table. Ow this applies to everyone. If you show you have an attitude of hard work and stick-to-itiveness that you can blend with a certain degree of likeability you are going to find success. You just need to be able to call attention to the 20% of the industry that you have somewhat under control and try to see how that can blend with other peoples talents.
I know that this is frustrating – in fact I would make the argument that general cluelessness is the way that the music industry usually shakes out. If you want to get far in this game you are going to have to have more than a little patience and a willingness to humbly explain shit that you think is simple. The ‘teacher’ element is going to be strong as you try and grow. Again just remember that you only need to have totally mastered a small chunk of it and you need to have a servants heart, even when networking. But if you’re smart and dedicated to your craft then finding a path is going to gradually become evident. Just realize that the constant explaining is just a part of it, it’s not you having dumb friends, everyone is a little dumb and love is the answer.