Get Off The Couch & Visit Your Customers

Splitting the atom causes an increase in energy. Divide and conquer fits into this discussion too. So does six degrees of separation. Getting ones ass into the car, driving to a venue, and meeting with the many good folks on a tour creates all of the above and then some.

I find that it is easy to get complacent or just plain lazy given the Internet and its supposed way of bringing people closer. This has been bothering me and I’ve been on a personal mission to get out and visit my customers and contacts. What now seems like a no brainer actually began as a post-NAMM revelation when I drove to Burbank to drop off gear at Center Staging. Walking around the facility with audio manager, Doug Dubin, reenergized me for some reason and I made the decision to focus more efforts on visiting folks in the field.

Last weekend I drove to Las Vegas and visited the Bob Seger gang at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. Early in the afternoon of show day, I met up with Bruce Knight who is Seger’s FOH mixer. We had never met in person – see my snide Internet comment – but had become email friends and he had helped open some doors previously with Seger.

For most of the afternoon I stayed at Bruce’s FOH area while he tuned the PA and attended to his duties there. Soon though he took me backstage and got me a pass, partially, I’m sure, so that I could leave him alone without getting thrown out.

A lot happens during the day at an arena show and being privy to issues that others aren’t seeing can have benefits. For instance the tour manager informed Bruce that he’d need to move the entire FOH (and lighting) position ten feet so that the promoter could run three more rows of chairs. This, 45 minutes before the band was due to arrive for sound check, is a big deal and could have been nasty. But everyone stayed calm and by being there and assisting in a very minor way I opened doors with a select few people who jumped in to get it done. I also got my own security guy who tipped me off to a restroom that few in the arena were aware of. Priceless.

The catering room is also a fantastic place. It’s imperative that you keep your wits about you though; be careful not to get caught up in whatever road gossip you may hear. A heated discussion by an ex-employee of the Eagles who was visiting is a perfect example. The guy was mad and wanted to engage anyone who would listen. I wasn’t about to chime in – no sense in saying something that could come back to bite me. I nodded my head and muttered a sympathetic “that sucks” and turned to conversations elsewhere.

My point here is that there is no substitute for visiting your customers or artists and talking face to face. Too often we communicate, and I use that term loosely, via email or texting and think that we are tight. Spending time, real time and not “thanks for the tickets, sorry it was too loud to talk, and I had to leave early to deal with the babysitter” time doesn’t cut it. Go in with an open mind. Heck, even the slightly buzzed girl and her sister sitting with me at FOH were connected to a high profile studio in South Florida. You never know…