Music Industry Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on December 13, 2010


Hmmm … where do I begin? It almost seems silly to post stuff like this, but the fact is – a lot of up and comers are naïve to the realities of this hard and cold industry. Think back to the old saying “Keep It Real” and grab your machete. It’s a jungle out there.

Here are some don’ts.

1. Don’t be a naïve fool!

Just because some young thing is praising you and down, remember that everyone else has their own motivator for what they do, and often that includes a hidden agenda. Remember what is real, and just because someone compared you to their distorted view of the Beatles work, don’t believe everything you hear – and by no means should you repeat someone else’s deluded review of who and what you are.

2. Don’t see it, be it.

It’s easy to dream about the glory days to come, but living in a dream doesn’t pay the bills. Plan for the road you will follow and use your head. It takes planning to build a house, don’t throw a towel over a close line and call it a home. Plan!

3. Pig Pen never got a date. There’s a reason.

Avoid sloppy work and don’t be lazy. Put in the effort to get the job done right, the song written well and the performance made to be memorable. The payoff for doing it is life long!

4. Shut the fuck up!

Don’t complain about the lousy sound system in the club or the waitress who never brought you the water bottle. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your green M+M’s. Make the best out of what you have to work with and brag about the positive result later, but don’t complain along the way. Adding gasoline to a fire never works.

5. While opening that pie hole, don’t blow the listener downwind.

Keep your ranting short and sweet – and do the same with your off stage conversation. When someone asks how the band got started, they don’t want to know that you first had a harmonica when you were 6 and mom’s Lawrence Welk albums made you realize what melodies were. Bob and I used to perform around town and we wrote some songs together. The band grew from there.

Short and sweet.

6. Don’t live the 80’s rock lifestyle.

I like the part in the movie RockStar, starring Mark Walburgh, where the former singer of Steel Dragon says “You think it’s all sex drugs and rock and roll … I got to sleep at 11:00 every night before a show … yadda yadda”. Don’t live it like a party, handle it like a career. Those 80’s hey day moments are long behind the music world. Be responsible.

7. Under promise – over deliver.

Sure we have a fun show, come check it out. Then blow them away! Telling them you should have been in iron maiden, then flopping onstage will only get you laughed at – which won’t be to your face because they won’t stay for the full set. It will be posted all over Facebook tomorrow when you get out of bed. Talk small – deliver large!

8. Get out of my face!

Don’t shove your artistry down people’s throats. Push your music, don’t PUSH your work. Promoting isn’t about driving into the neighborhood with your radio blaring so no one can think. It’s done professionally like the 50 articles I wrote before this dictate. Do it right and be gentle, rewards come for those who aren’t being a dick!

9. I’m different, just like everyone else.

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, especially in how you describe yourself. Let the fan decide, and just be who and what you are. If you are easily definable by a genre, then so be it. Don’t claim that your AC/DC cover band is unique. It’s still rock and roll to me.

And now ladies and gentlemen … some of the DO’s to consider.

1. Enjoy the ride!

It’s a lifestyle and it should be embraced. Take the goods with the bads and enjoy the trip, it’s not about arriving, it’s about the ride it took to get there.

2. Keep your eye on the ball.

Follow through with each decision to move forward. Stay focused on what you wrote in the notebook as the next plan of action and feel proud to have resolution for each goal you set. They are all building blocks for the future you know.

3. Have a big picture of the movie of your music career.

It is important to know where you want to end up – so know it in your mind, this is what I want to become. Don’t lay down the old “Millionaire with a Ferrari” dream, but make it one that might actually come true. It can grow and change along with you.

4. Live it, learn it, and know it! Thank you Spicolli.

Get a good education on what you need to climb the ladder to success. If you don’t understand press writing, read about it and get a press template. Start with that and become a pro within a few releases. Learn about sound dynamics and try different applications for setting up your amp, guitars, drums and speaker placement. Learn the terminology of the stagehands and be a pro at talking to them in their own language. Never stop learning and use it in all you do.

5. BFF

Be a fucking friend. Don’t be a dick. Help the opening act load out, or load in, or just get their shit together. Chances are they are coming up the same ladder you did. Share your expertise with a kind and gentle hand. Be a friend, make a friend. They’ll be there for you when you eventually fall from grace. We all do one day.

6. Eat some Humble Pie.

Sometimes it’s just best to take the beating and keep your trap shut. Be humble about your accomplishments and let other people brag about you for you. It’s better to have a stranger tell someone you are great, than to have someone tell a stranger you’re a blowhard.

7. Keep performing.

This one needs no follow up. Get out there and do it as often as you can.

8. The biggest one to remember – stay healthy.

Eat right, exercise and don’t smoke. Live long and be triumphant, you can do it. Keep your head on your shoulders and keep it real – you’re gonna go far kid!

Keep this stuff in mind as you do it, and I’ll see you at the top.

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