Being one of those guys who work both sides of the stage and wears lots of hats (journalist, sound guy, performer…) I get to see how the “other side” is viewed by their supposed comrades. That sounds confusing, but because I am a musician—and talk to a lot of musicians—I get to hear all of the bitchin’ and moanin’ about sound and lighting guys. And, because I do sound gigs and edit a pro audio publication, I get to hear what the people on the production side say about musicians. It isn’t generally pretty.
Most of the complaints from musicians either relates to stuff that is out of their control (the venue hired the owner’s idiot nephew, whose hearing has been blown out by rap and metal shows, to mix their acoustic pop performance and the guy can’t mix a milkshake) or stuff that they should be involved in making better (keeping stage volume under control, so the engineer can actually mix in the house system and not just try to get the vocal up over the screaming guitar amp onstage).
The bottom line is: Most of it comes off as just whining. On the other hand, production people can go on for hours with war stories about egotistical, incompetent, hack musicians. Actually, they don’t call us musicians. We are the “talent”—which is not the compliment you might think—or worse, “muzos.” I think that last one has something to do with the fact it rhymes with “bozo.” Think I’m joking? You can just click here or do a search on YouTube for StarJack 3000. I have seen—on two different occasions—large gatherings of production pros doing the ROFL bit while watching this LoJack spoof where musicians are the butt of the joke.
While I am pretty sure that the vast majority of you (who take your career seriously enough to be involved with the L2P Network) are not “part of the problem,” we have, in large part, brought this derision upon ourselves. Too many of us use the excuse, “I’m creative, I don’t do business” to explain why we double-booked ourselves, showed up unprepared or just didn’t show up at all. I have done it too. And I have made excuses. But I always knew deep down that the truth was that I had simply failed to take care of business and had let others down as a result.
I usually try to make what I write for this space something that relates to the theme of the issue but this has been digging at me for some time. In the past year or so. I have had more players flake out on me than I have had at any other time since I started playing in bands (more than 30 years ago). If you are just starting out, learn early that most band leaders, agents and other gig gatekeepers (also known in this biz as “employers”) take reliability very seriously. The band or player that is good and reliable will get way more work than the act that is great but can’t be counted on to show up. Unless, that is, you happen to be Axl Rose…
So, do your homework, make sure your gear is working and that you have things like extra picks and cables before you leave the house. Show up sober and ready to work. If something is going to prevent you from coming through on a commitment, pick up the phone and let someone know. Avoiding conflict and confrontation is not acceptable in this arena. You may be a great talent, but as a bandleader, can I count on you? If the answer is not a solid “yes” then it won’t matter how good you are. You won’t get the gig. Period.
Originally posted 2009-11-09 00:15:55.