by MATT BACON >
Watch out for people who do not respect your time.
This is one of the big struggles in the music industry that I think a lot of people ignore because of the pervasive myth that ‘everyone is cool man’. It’s the people who don’t respect your time who are going to be driving you to want to jump off a bridge. I’ve had this realization a few times in recent weeks and wanted to delve into what it means for you and what the long term repercussions can be of dealing with people who don’t respect your time. This is one of those thing that I think defines a lot of our frustrations within the music industry and which will time and time again lead to those frustrations that make so many of us want to dip out of it. We all feel the crush of countless wasted hours, an unfortunate reality no one wants to recognize and a sort of curse that we all need to be able to acknowledge and embrace if we really want to grow and get somewhere in this whole thing.
It’s the people who don’t respect your time who are really going to drag you down as you try to progress within the confines of the music industry because in this world time is everything. Ultimately with everyone you work with you need to decide if they are worth it given the time commitment that they demand from you. Now this can balance out in a variety of ways and can be a tricky one to figure out, so I wanted to spend time further down figuring that out. As for now what I wanted to emphasize is that in the music industry your time is your greatest resource. It doesn’t matter if your band isn’t great, it also doesn’t matter if you don’t have a great look or lack connections, with time you can fix all of these things. You need to find band members who are similarly willing to invest time into improving their place in the industry, because that’s all it is. If your band members can’t devote their time then you are going to find yourself running into a brick wall time and time again.
Determining what is worth your time can be a very tricky thing indeed.
It’s one of the most important things to figure out in the industry but also the thing that everyone seems to stumble up on. That’s because when it comes down to it, people fail to realize a crucial thing, and that’s that while yes time equals money, you can trade time for other things that end up being worth money too. For example – even though yes time is money when it comes to services you might provide and trying to get paid for this bullshit, information also will turn into money. Sometimes it’s worth spending the time to learn some stuff even though it doesn’t mean an immediate payout. For a similar reason it’s worthwhile to be spending time out there networking. Sure that doesn’t immediately mean a profit, but those connections will lead to an ability to create effective projects in the future. That’s the thing with the music industry, it’s capitalism on steroids, and that can be both very good and very bad.
What this means a perhaps a bit more directly is that with any project you engage in you need to be able to see how that time investment is going to lead to more money for your band in the future. With some things, like going to shows, it’s obvious. It means that you are going to be able to make connections with other bands who are going to be potentially interested in working with you to build up more as you go. In other places it’s not so obvious, like how friending other people in the scene who you don’t know on Facebook actually builds up your profile because it means that when you contact strangers in the hopes of booking shows then they already know that you are invested in the scene and not just some random spammer trying to add them. It all feeds into everything else, and figuring out your precise role in it is not something that you’re going to figure out right away. Rather it’s something that will take a fair bit of time and energy to understand.
I also want it to be clear – I don’t think you should be constantly trying to figure out how to make a buck. That’s in no ones best interest and it will only hurt you in the long run. Kevin Smith always says “Do what you love first and find out how to make money off of it later” and I can’t help but to agree. If you are constantly trying to invest your times in ways that are going to make the most money people are going to be able to tell and they aren’t going to especially like you because of it. People in bands want to have homies and want to work with you on creating cool projects. That doesn’t mean that you should be constantly trying to profit off of those homies, it means that you should be working on developing a future with them that is based off of the strength of relationships. That’s why music is so much fun after all, because we are developing relationships and can enjoy hanging out while getting shit done.
So yes, time is money and other people around you need to respect that otherwise they will just take advantage of you and you will be driven insane. It’s happened to me countless times because I was trying to be a nice guy and if you want to help your scene then odds are that you are going to fall into this trap a fair amount too. That just sucks and if you don’t embrace this reality and these hard truths it will continue to suck. So instead just realize where you stand and work around it. No one wants to deal with someone who constantly tries to profit, but they do want to work with people who have a community vision, and that really is the best time investment of all.