I keep notes all over the place – on post-it notes, napkins, Shinola Detroit notebooks, and on a surprisingly useful app called Evernote. Lots of bits and pieces that I turn into, what I hope are, stories and such about my professional life. As I celebrate another trip around the sun today I am pulling a few “so far” bits together here.
I exist, professionally, in a bubble of sorts. I’m not part of the band or production and yet I am closer than most people will ever get. I’m always made to feel welcome and I never overstay. I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable and it suits me just fine.
The very notion that an artist, in a band that I’ve never heard of, has a “side project” that, according to their representative, is something that I should become involved with is absurd. I wish said artist would work harder on his “main project” so that we all could benefit. Thom Yorke from Radiohead has a viable side project called Atoms For Peace. Use that as an example of how this works.
Modern artist relations is akin to speed dating. I use you and you use me and we see where it leads. I don’t invest heavily – a vocal mic, for example, for the lead singer. The truth is most of the bands that I deal with, in their current form, are gone within two years. Which leads to my next point.
Production people are my best friends. The men and women who do this touring gig are amazing. I don’t think there is another field of work where such a wide range of skills are brought to bear. Drive a forklift in the morning and program a digital device in the afternoon. Oh, and mix a concert in the evening for thousands of fans who have paid good money. They know where the good restaurants are worldwide as well as the best tattoo parlors. They put some sanity into my speed dating analogy and they are my experts on the music scene.
If you are speaking directly to the artist, you have set the bar too low. I know that sounds crass and there are notable exceptions to this but, for the most part, in my experience it holds true. Don’t get me wrong, I have some serious high profile artists who I do speak to directly but the conversations and relationships tend to center around an authentic friendship. We rarely talk about gear and when gear is involved, the artist/friend directs his or her “people” to handle the details with me.
Last, if the bar is closed at the Admirals Club at O’Hare Airport at 8AM and James Earl Jones sits next to you, you will get a drink.