by MATT BACON >
Double check your math. It is just about the most crucial thing that you can do in the music industry.
Obviously this comes on the heels of me making a pretty notable fuckup, nothing too pivotal, but certainly not something to scoff at. So I just wanted to take a minute to talk about the importance of double checking and why attention to detail is something that is only going to help you grow in the music industry. This is something tat is going to bite you in the ass time and time again but is also something that you need to be familiar with if you want to have any sort of real progress within this industry. Sometimes you are going to forget it and it’s going to bite you in the ass, but that’s simply part of the maddening fun of this industry. You find out time and time again that there is a very real sense of suffering that defines this whole thing. No matter what you do it’s going to be hard to escape that, but it’s also in my eyes a part of the adventure.
First and foremost I think it’s important to have someone in your network who is a logistics guy and who can work with you on making sure that these things get executed properly. The skills required to coordinate a lot of the major defining aspects of life in the music industry are not always easy to come by and it can rapidly become frustrating when stuff like that blows up in your face. Some of this can fall on a manager, but even talented managers who have a lot of connections and who are talented when it comes to connecting people will sometimes fall flat on their face in truly astounding ways. There’s a lot of moving parts to be aware of with these sorts of things and I think that it requires a certain worldliness that many folks just don’t have in this day and age. Coming to terms with that can be a struggle and one that requires quite a bit of forethought to be properly executed. It also requires a lot of humility – admitting you don’t know everything can be pretty hard to do, especially when most stuff comes so easily.
The thing is that in the music industry we don’t have a lot of room to fuck around because margins are so small.
In most other industries getting excited for a thousand bucks would be a joke, in the music industry it can be the difference between life and death. Not a lot of people seem to be super receptive to this idea, largely, I think, because people in the music industry don’t really think about economics in the way they should. They don’t get that by fucking up they are ruining their financial futures and that sometimes you need to take a personal hit if you want your band to grow. Again, this is all very hard to do and you need to be wise in how you start to engage in your logistical approach to things. This is why people hire managers and why managers hire logistics guys. The margins are, again, totally negligible and when you are playing with the smallest slice of pie of the smallest slice of pie it doesn’t make sense to take risks. Instead you need to psychoanalyze everything from the top down to make sure it won’t fall apart on you.
Of course the easy trap to fall into is that ‘this is rock and roll, who cares about details?’ and that’s precisely the attitude that will bite you, and which bit me, in the ass. It’s what proves who is serious about this and who is just a pretender. When it comes down to it this is a business, and it’s a helluva business at that. Acknowledging this unfortunate reality is a huge step when it comes to working on the logistical realities of your band. Logistics are one of those few times when you will find the struggle of day to day life intersect with band life and most people don’t want to deal with that. Most people want to try and find a way around it, but sometimes the government and society as a whole is sufficiently pervasive that there is no other way around it. You just need to embrace the unfortunate realities presented to you and then move forward from there, it’s the shitty and fucked up reality we try to escape the confines us.
It’s important to realize though that there are tons of services that can help you with the madness of all of this, the sort of stuff that only really bites you in the ass once you get a hundred or more preorders on your record all over the world and need to figure out how to ship them to the relevant people. There are merchandising companies out there who would love to take care of your product. There are clearinghouses that will work with you to make sure you never run out of stock and that you will constantly be able to service fans. While yes this can be tricky it’s also a key part to growing your band. If you don’t have an online presence driven by a competently run webstore then you are going to have a hard time growing the brand that you worked so hard to be able to develop in the first place. This isn’t something people want to hear, but sometimes to grow your brand you just need to be willing to suck it up and spend some money.
The music industry is something that is incredibly intricate and which requires a lot more patience and attention than I think we are willing to give it.
There’s a certain intensity when it comes to locking in these sorts of things and it requires a lot from the artist to be able to sort out their schedules. There’s a lot of spreadsheets that end up coming into play and quite a bit of tears when these spreadsheets don’t work out. The thing is, no matter how organized you might be, the world of music is one of drunks and degenerates and it’s really hard to overcome that and find a way forward that actually helps to grow your brand and doesn’t just feel like retreading tired ground.