Most of my closest friends know that one of my guilty pleasures is reality TV. A few of my favorite reality shows follow the lives of successful recording artists. A part of my interest is simply to see how they live their daily lives amidst a busy recording/touring schedule. Another key part of why I watch them is to learn. I am always trying to acquire new ideas/ways to conduct business as an indie artist and navigate the ever-changing music industry. What has surprised me is that I’ve found myself repeatedly shocked at some artists’ behavior when it comes to communicating with individuals on their business team and not taking ownership of their actions.
The primary purpose of an artist’s team is to support him/her in their professional endeavors and help in executing the artist’s master vision. However, for the team to operate efficiently and effectively the artist has to be crystal clear in communicating with them. The person who needs to understand the artist’s vision better than anyone is the manager who serves as the head of the team. What is astounding to me as I watch these reality shows is the confusing messages and/or lack of communication between artists and their managers. I see managers attempting to do their jobs and artists who are not being realistic with their expectations. It’s as if the artists are expecting the managers to not only read their minds, but literally move heaven and earth to reach an extraordinary goal. To add insult to injury the artists refuse to take responsibility for their actions and blame the manager for every loss or failure. Then at that point the artists usually are ready to “jump ship” and look for new management thinking that the “grass is greener on the other side” before thoroughly assessing the situation and holding an honest conversation with their manager. When they show these scenes I always end up shaking my head in disbelief and checking the TV information to ensure I’m not watching a new episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
The key to any relationship in my humble opinion, including a business relationship, is effective communication. My manager’s commitment and ability to execute my vision has repeatedly amazed me, but one reason is because our business relationship started with our having a direct conversation about our individual expectations of each other. Have we had some bumps along the way…..Yes. However, that is to be expected in any relationship. To resolve any issues that arise we hold a meeting, discuss the issue and then take the proper steps to solve it. We don’t even always agree on the resolution to a problem, but that does not stop us from discussing it like adults, respecting one another and finding the best answer. Our conversations can sometimes prove quite difficult because it forces me, the artist, to be honest with myself about personal issues including insecurities that stand in the way of progress. However, I could not imagine having a manager who does not force me to ask those tough questions about myself that need to be answered in order for me to evolve as an artist. Therefore, I have to do the work and take accountability for my part in MY dream instead of projecting my shortcomings onto my manager who is doing her best.
Artists need to be “real” with themselves about what they want for their careers and if they are truly ready for key people on their team such as a manager. If they do not want to be managed then do NOT hire a manager and drag them through hell just do his/her job. That is not fair to all involved parties. I’m sure I’ll continue watching these reality shows since I obviously am receiving an education on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of the music industry along with some great laughs, but I sincerely hope that some of these highly successful artists “catch a clue” and start taking responsibility for their actions instead of blaming those around them who fight the “good fight” on a daily basis on their behalf.