Thursday, August 10, 2017

So You Bought Yourself A Band…

“Music is a proud, temperamental mistress. Give her the time and attention she deserves, and she is yours. Slight her and there will come a day when you call and she will not answer.”      ~ Patrick Rothfuss

So, you bought yourself a band.

The “consummate businessman” gamboled himself along the garden path into a financial hole, and you were there at the fire sale, cash in hand. What a coup! How cool is that?

Oh, but things haven’t gone so great at the start, though, have they?

First, there was the pesky little detail of the guys who were already the band members; you had to get rid of them. But you couldn’t, like, write them a letter or call them on the phone or speak to them in person sometime during the three or more years in which you’ve been incubating your plan toward hatching point. You had to sue people, some of whom didn’t know anything about the sale of the band, because it was never announced! So, now you are paying a whole bunch of money for a big wheel attorney who can pummel and gag everyone into submission. That was an expense and bother you hadn’t counted on. You made a big splash in the press, though, releasing the detailed legal suit for everyone to see, attempting to smear everyone.

Ham-fisted. Ugly.

You wish that part were over. You’re just itching to get on the big stage. You’ve been practicing and practicing. You’ve now memorized one whole album of the group’s corpus material. You’ve been offering as many gigs as possible in little coffee houses and restaurants and the like, smoothing your stage patter. Your sychoph – er, pals have been telling you how great it all is, how ready you are!

Hmm. One album’s worth of songs is, like, one set. One. Set.

Then, there is this little problem: At those venues that are already booked, they are waiting for those other guys to show up. The publicity is already out; it’s been out for months. In many cases, tickets have already been sold for some of those events. I guess your premise is that it doesn’t really matter who shows up to load in, as long as there are the requisite number of guys on stage doing the songs. When were you going to tell the presenters to expect you, instead of the other guys? Didn’t think about that as being your obligation, did you? You thought your “business partner” was supposed to do that? It’s you, now, man; it’s you! You wanted it, you got it! I mean, if you want your “partner” to do that stuff, you might have to whip out that attorney again.

I guess you’ll now start thinking twice about your business “partner” and how you do business together as time goes on; there’s a good idea.

You’ve got a computer. You’ve got a phone. You’ve had a bunch of time. It’s not just about playing the instruments and singing to audiences. The way you’ve “played” your hand thus far means you’re going to have to deal with a website and bookings and presenters, airline tickets, hotel room bookings and rental cars. Or, conversely, you might have to hire a competent staff person to do that for you, if you are too busy; another expense. But these are business decisions, right? You own those, now, too, I guess. Don’t you? (Did your contract talk about that? Did it stipulate who was responsible for these things? Did an attorney ever look at the rag before you signed it?)

Symphony gigs. I guess there will never be another one of those. I mean, you don’t know anything about a symphony, do you? Never worked with a conductor, I’m thinking. And I’m guessing you don’t have the arrangements. First off, there is something called a “cue” that is not associated with the word “pool.”

Summer clinic. Gone. You’re into jamming and schmoozing and having fun, but you can’t teach and you can’t coach. That’s not what you’re interested in, anyway. You want to market and promote yourself, and sing on the big stage. Those old fans simply aren’t as important as the new ones you’re planning to pursue. (I wonder if you did a market study?)

Got rhythm? Not so much? Maybe lose the drum, then. Or hire a drummer. Oh, but that doesn’t fit the tradition, does it? Cuts into the bottom line, as well.

Technê (craft) and epistêmê ( knowledge). Epistasthai (knowing how) and gnôsis (understanding). Émpeiros (experienced; practiced) and artios (ready because prepared). These are old Greek words about art and artistry; do you see yourself in any of them, or is it just Greek to you?

You can buy the band, but you can’t wear it like a suit. You don’t put on a shirt and magically become the fantastic musician with the hot guitar licks and the honeyed voice. Your money can’t endow you with talent the likes of the people you’ve supplanted, in order to fulfill your fantasy. But, get this, talent is what the audiences in the big halls expect! That’s what they pay for! Can you deliver that? (Will a letter from your “partner” to the venues, saying you’re “great guys,” make it so?)

This business is bigger than you are – way, way bigger than you realize. All by yourself, you opened Pandora’s box, and you sent the word out there. The industry feeds on gossip, and you gave out a whole lot of innuendo for people to chew on. Your stunt with the media puts you in as much questionable light as the people you tried to smear, the very people you did out of decent jobs. You can gag some of the people, but not all of them. You’ve already disappointed and disgusted longtime fans with your actions. You can create a back-story, but what will people believe? (You never made a press release, introducing all these changes to the world. What were you thinking? What were you waiting for? What were you trying to hide?)

I wonder if others in the business will want to work with you, share a stage with you, stand next to you, after the stunt you pulled. They’ve earned their fame; you’ve merely “purchased the rights” to it. Don’t look to DNA for rights to respect; any actor’s kid knows you have to show four times the talent to get anyone to even look at you.

Okay. So, now that you “own” it, the big question is “Can you deliver?” And, boy, oh, boy, you’re going to have to answer that one sooner than you think. Are you ready to ride the rollercoaster of your own making? Whee!!!!

A lot of people, these days, speak of karma. “Karma’s a bitch,” they say.

Oh, but karma’s got nothing on Nemesis. Do you remember who Nemesis is? She is the Greek Goddess equalizer, the righter of wrongs; she is an aspect of Justice. She addresses the hubris of small humans and big gods in the most appropriate manner, by revealing the truth of what they are.

Nemesis, the cold light of truth, awaits you, in every seat, in every concert hall.

Entertain me. Make me smile.

Nemesis is waiting to see and hear what you will deliver.

© 2017