You Didn't Try To Call Me...
(30 Sep 02)
Oh well, I wrote a lot of stuff about actual playing lately, licks, exercises, etudes etc.
But one thing I learned is that, in most cases, youll need more than just good songs, an ability to perform them, good gear and a nice outfit.
This one is more of a column, something to make you think and check out some things you might have never paid that much attention to...
Unless you are able to just restrict yourself to playing at home, recording some stuff without trying to "take the next step", you will have to deal with some business stuff. Not only contracts and such (those should be read carefully, but I guess that should be common knowledge these days) - No, you also have to get in touch with people, meet some people, get your promotional material out, make contacts etc.
This starts from the moment you want to play a gig (unless its in your own backyard, in that case you might have to deal with the police only, if youre too loud)
One good example of the business-side is: the TRADESHOW. You know the NAMM in LA and Nashville, or, in Europe, the "Musikmesse" in Frankfurt. For many of us, thats an event we definitely wanna be at, not only to see all the cool gear (although its usually not a bunch of amazing new stuff every year anyway), but to get in touch with people, make contacts, spread the word.
Man, I remember attending some of those tradeshows for the first time. I was really a bit naive. Every positive reaction I took as a huge success, every word, every confirmation I took for granted. And I left thinking "Man, once I get home, the phone wont stop ringing, cuz I really made some awesome contacts here". And boy oh boy, was I crushed after a few days of the phone NOT ringing.
And I remembered the advice of a more experienced friend of mine "Dude, dont take everything for granted, dont believe in every promise... this is a lot of politics. Dont set your expectations too high, youll most likely be disappointed if you do".
I soon learned that there were a bunch of common phrases that even became running gags among some of us "Dude, we really got to get together one day and jam" ... "I will call you up. We have to get together and record something". "Sure, I can get you a job as a touring guitarist. Ill call you up". "Once I get home, Ill immediately send you one of my CDs and then Ill get in touch with you".
I also learned that often, those are just common phrases that are dropped without any intention to actually do what was said. Or that it was just one way to say "I really am busy right now, so please go away, maybe Ill get in touch (if I still remember you in about 15 minutes)".
For them, it was just the common "lingo", while I really believed every word and took it as a huge success. Just because I really didnt have a clue.
So you might wanna write down rule No.1:
- Take nothing for granted as long as you aint got it on paper with a signature.
Now, I dont wanna come over as completely negative or whatever. All this applies to a bunch of people, not all of them. I have met some great guys who really stood by their word and did what they said they would. Guys like Paul Rivera, Steve Blucher etc. are really fun to deal with cuz they mean what they say. But in general, dont put your expectations too high and get used to the "lingo".
See, you usually have your goals and expectations. In the beginning, you lack experience, and if some "big guy" just says a casual "Maybe we should stay in touch" we tend to interpret too much into this.
Sure, you are proud to hand your demotape (or CD) to someone, and you are sure that its good, and you expect that person to really pay attention to it. But you shouldnt forget that there are a BUNCH of guys who hand those "Big guys" a demo-tape, a press-folder, or whatever.
They do have a lot of stuff to listen to, and a lot of business to take care of themselves. Often, they try to be nice, and they wouldnt go "Listen, this is about the 60th demo I received today... I really wont have time to listen to it"...
Instead, they take it. But dont expect them to run home and listen to it for a few days. Consider yourself lucky if he / she does listen to it at all. After all, thats the way it is: these days, everyone seems to have a demo.
It also takes a lot of experience to decide how to go on after you gave someone a demo. Usually, you go home and you expect a fast response within a few days. If that doesnt happen, you gotta decide whether you wanna wait some more (usually a good choice) or check whats going on by sending an Email or calling that person.
But you gotta consider that sometimes, people like it if you really show some determination and actually call them up to say "Hey, I was wondering whether you checked it out", while others might think that that is a sign of impatience, and an annoying thing to do.
So you gotta decide. Usually its better to wait, unless you are really convinced that that person might be impressed by you hurrying up the process.