Figuring out who you want to work with in the music industry is hard. There’s a lot of shitty people you have to deal with and you’re going to get fucked time and time again by awful people. A lot of the stereotypes in the music industry are true. Very few people seem to really get it and most people use it as an excuse to shirk responsibility. As luck would have it, being in a band doesn’t mean that you can just have an easy time of it. You can’t just resort to ad hominem’s and let yourself have it easy. The music industry is a place that requires a lot of maturity and to be able to get up and invest yourself in the amount of responsibility you are realistically going to need to take on for this sort of thing is ballsy. Becoming a music industry professional was never supposed to be an easy thing, but I wanted to help you figure out the sort of people you’ll want to be working with.
First and foremost, you want the people around you to have steady job. Be it in the music industry or anywhere else you want it’s a good sign to see that people have steady jobs. Now this isn’t an attack on people who don’t have jobs or people who suffer from chronic unemployment. All I’m saying is that if someone doesn’t have a job or is chronically unemployed there is probably a reason for that. Some of those factors can be out of their control for sure and I’m all about being understanding and compassionate but I also think that there’s a lot of reasons that someone is jobless or chronically unemployed that reflects poorly on themselves. When you’re getting involved in a project with someone you don’t really know do you really want to have that pall hanging over them? It’s really not a good sign and one that can lead to a lot of frustration and mooching further down the line. That’s because when you’re looking for people to work with you want to make sure that they are someone…
Who has money. Now I know that sounds crass and I don’t mean it that way, really. You want someone where if you need to each pay $100 a month for a practice space you know that it won’t be an issue and they aren’t going to gripe about it. You want someone who is willing to chip in on gas for those early shows where you’re walking away with literally no money. You want someone who is willing to buy their own food on tour and won’t be awkwardly staring at you while you eat gas station pizza with nothing of their own because they are broke. They don’t need to be rich they just need to be financially stable so that you can relax and not worry about everyone’s financial situation the whole time. I know that can sound like a high demand in a nation where half the population has less than $500 in their banking accounts, and that’s definitely valid. But trust me – you will feel a lot better in the end this way.
You also want to make sure that the person entering your organization is emotionally stable. Now this can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For some people this means someone totally free of mental ailments, but let’s be real, this is music, that isn’t going to happen. What you can look for though is someone who isn’t going to insist on taking days off due to their depression or someone who isn’t going to randomly go missing because they off doing drugs somewhere. You essentially just want someone who is going to show up when they are supposed to show up and not fuck you over by showing up twelve hours late for a tour (Which has happened to a band I used to manage) or forget to bring their guitar to the gig (Which happened at a showcase I booked once) These are all shitty things but things that we need to be able to deal with in order to build a better future for you and your bandmates.
Most importantly you want someone who knows how to work. I mean someone, not just who has a job, but who understands that if you want to get somewhere, especially in the hypercapitalist maelstrom of the music industry you need to put your nose to the fucking grindstone and go for it. Now that being said, any one given band isn’t going to necessarily need everyone to be like this, and it could even be a negative factor, but be aware that you need at least a couple people in your band who are real workhorses and also be aware that everyone needs to know who those workhorses are, because if you get to the point where you’re starting to make money and the guy who does none of the work expects to get paid the same as everyone else… you’re going to run into a problem. I’m not saying you need to set up agreements before establishing a band, but you do need to be aware who is putting the most effort in from the get go.
When it comes down t it you don’t need all of these assets in every member of a band or organization but you want to make sure that everyone ticks off at least most of these boxes. You want to be able to minimize the stress of your working relationships in the music industry because you want to be able to instead focus your energy on other shit. The less you have to worry the better. That’s why these days a lot of the bands who seem to get along best are the ones where everyone knows they have something solid to be going home to and has t least some sort of a safety buffer. Music is a financially risky and emotionally trying thing so it makes sense to do it with people who are as stable in every sense of the word.
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