Remember the 1992 film, “White men can’t jump”? Woody Harrelson, playing the geeky but some how loveable Billy Hoyle, hustling LA’s toughest basketball players? Man, I loved that movie. As a short, white and probably geeky kid myself, I loved the playful banter that addressed certain stereotypes that otherwise might have been taboo. The movie made it plain and undeniable. Sometimes generalizations are just flat out true. Recently, I’ve started to become aware of certain “general” truths concerning bands or artists in the music business. It seems the same handful of issues just keep coming up.
General Truth #1: Band’s are there own worst enemy
How many times have we heard of a band breaking up just when things were about to break? In the last year I can think of five different artists right off hand that have ruined opportunities just by their bad attitudes and ego. Bands that find a way of staying together have a way of being successful. It might seem like I’m playing the part of Mr. obvious here, but it’s the truth. After all, in your town who is the most booked band? Who has the best merchandise table at shows? Who has the most industry connections? The band that has been together for a while, that’s who.
General Truth #2: You don’t need a manager until there is something to manage
Every band that has credible talent will at some point be approached by somebody that wants to “manage” them. This can easily be the biggest mistake you will ever make in your music career, so be very careful! Industry standard for managers is 10-15% of gross earnings. That means they make money off of everything from shows to t-shirts to the movie you just starred in. A good manager has there hands in everything as the job description reads something like, “to enhance and create opportunities for growth in all facets of the artists career”. The only times that you should hire a manager is if you have so much going on that you can’t handle all of it yourself or if the person wanting to manage you is the manager of U2 and somehow fell in love with your music and is willing to stick by you as you grow.
General Truth #3: In an artists development there are no shortcuts
We’ve all heard the term “pay your dues”. When I hear this I instantly think of the old, chain-smoking, blues man. This is a way of quickly describing the process labels refer to as “artist development”. Every show you play, every fan you interact with, every interview you conduct, I mean everything you do, will help form you into a better artist. It’s worth noting that even American Idol has its contestants for almost a year prior to you seeing them on TV. Why don’t you know that? Simple, contestants sign a contract with a gag order and if they talk about it, they are history.
General Truth #4: Anything worth doing in life takes sacrifice
If you don’t believe in yourself enough to sacrifice for your dream why should anybody else? Every producer, engineer and record label executive has worked and sacrificed to be where they are. They have no time for wimps. Suck it up, work hard or go home.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Enjoy the experience and whatever you do don’t be your own worst enemy! For every Billy Hoyle you will find a white NBA dunk contest champ like Rick Barry or Rex Chapman. Sometimes the general rule doesn’t apply, but we would be foolish to let our pride blind us to the fact that most the time it does. This short, geeky, white guy is finally willing to admit white guys, on average, can’t jump!
Written by: Blake Easter