By Dave Tamkin
I’ve been blessed to play with many musicians over the years. Some have been cool as hell and others with their enlarged ego and elevated sense of self entitlement I’ll never forget. I have shared a beer or two with some, and others I’ve finished off the bottle of Sir Daniels both on stage and off. I’ve heard sober artists grace the stages with their talent, and drinks and drugs make others fall flat in front of hundreds. I’ve heard gossip spew from lips of the jealous and others stand as friends along side of their absent comrades. I’ve seen artists explode with anger when confronted with bad business ethics or a sound man’s poor ear, while others handle that same situation with grace and professionalism.
Where do you fit in on this sliding scale of keeping your head above music? I know I’ve learned from the examples of others and the mistakes I’ve made while sliding through those different scenarios. While you might find yourself leaning one way or the other; your fans, friends, and business relationships have placed you on one end of the scale already.
The music business is cut throat if you make it that way. You can either succumb to the bullshit of others, or clear your own path to understand what it takes to be successful and treat others with respect. The secret to success in life and music is simple. Make real connections with people that you come in contact with. Whether it’s your friends, business partners or your fans: be honest, be true, be real.
There are people that will take advantage of you. Some people will screw you over. A few business contacts might double book or not pay you or treat you unfairly due to their mistakes. Musicians might talk shit or take for granted your hard work. But it’s up to you to be able to speak freely with people you are doing business with and negotiate in a calm and ethical manner.
These are the people that are not happy with what they are doing or are only looking out for themselves. Make a decision to surround yourself with honest musicians, booking agents, promoters, talent buyers, venues, lawyers (yes, lawyers) and friends. Your life will be much easier, more fulfilled and people will not only remember you for being fair and trustworthy, but easy to work with and loyal to your band mates, your business ethic, and most importantly your music. That will precede you in every relationship you ever have, even before they hear a note.