I've been wanting to write this for a while, but a conversation this evening has prompted me to finally put finger to keyboard and get it done.Mooi verhaal. En waar!
I was talking on twitter to a smart young chap about the merits of DIY and why the word 'unsigned' is unmitigated bullshit [MySpace zelf ook trouwens ;-)].
Then he said "Still, if someone offers my band a record deal now there's no way we'd turn it down".
I suspect this is what most young musicians would say if asked, and my issue is not with a musician wanting a record deal, it is that 'yes' is the default position.
Ever wonder why your band only ever plays shitty gigs? It's because you keep saying 'yes' to shitty gigs.
Let me rewind.
I was in a band from the age of 18-24, and during that time we were trying to "make it". We said yes to everything. Gigs, record deals, putting on gigs for other people, the list goes on. I can't think of one single instance where we said no.
You want to know where that got us? Nowhere. Worse than that, it cost us easily £1000+ in travelling costs for gigs, and specifically £1500 (naively) paid to a record label to fund the "manufacturing" of 500 CDs on a "pressing and distribution" deal. I could write a book on the utter bullshit involved in that deal, which was effectively a scam aimed to take money from young bands, lots of them, for about 5 years. The label in question is now under new management, and I have no idea if the practice still takes place, so I won't name them.
But I digress. Saying 'yes' all the time got us precisely shit all. In fact, it directly led to us splitting up.
My current band, formed of the ashes of that previous incarnation, is a 'no' band. This is not to say we turn down everything, instead it means that 'no' is our default position until convinced otherwise.
If 'yes' is your default position, then you literally agree to anything, and there's no need for someone to change your mind. Why would they? You've already agreed.
Here's what saying 'no' has got us so far:
The point is this. If you agree to everything you are offered, then you are devaluing what you do. You are a musician who is pouring your life in to your music. If somebody wants to do something with that music then they should damn well have to convince you that it is in your best interests before you agree.
- We've played 7 gigs. At least 5 of those were with bands we were going to see anyway, including a few of our favourite bands. We've turned down more gigs than we've played.
- We've only played 1 shitty gig. This was the only gig where our default position was 'yes'. We were still in the old mindset and it was by far one of the worst gigs we've ever played.
- Because we only play good shows, we've got fans. This is because they're the shows we would have been at anyway. They are our audience, because we are the audience.
- We were offered a record deal by a really cool guy from a well respected UK punk label. We considered it, agreed in principal, but then things started to drag. We were concerned that our "adult lives" may not be conducive to what the label needed from us. We could see shitty gigs looming on the horizon. We turned it down, being open and honest about our reasons. The label came back and offered us all of the promotion with none of the pressure. This was good news. This would never have happened when our default position was 'yes'.
- Most importantly, we like being in this band. We only do stuff we want to do. How can you not be happy doing that?
You don't have to be a dick about it either. You have the right to ask questions and be honest with the people that you are talking to. If they don't respect that then you were right to ask those questions and they should be avoided like the plague.
Change your default setting to 'no'. Wait to be convinced. Do things on your terms.
You'll get a lot further than you will by saying 'yes'.
20 november 2011
Over dit onderwerp blog, spreek en schrijf ik vaker. Soms zeg ik 'ja', soms 'nee'. Van allebei kun je wat leren, maar ik ben steeds voorzichtiger met 'ja'. Net als deze blogger en muzikant, om de juiste redenen. Lees wat hij schrijft, leer ervan: