Having worked in the music industry for over a decade, I’ve heard an astronomical amount of major BS from bands in my career. Not only do I often get to play the part of a grown adult’s babysitter/manager/boss sometimes, but as their primary investor, I dump tons of money into their career (with no guarantee I’ll actually receive any of it back).
With money and careers on the line, it’s a job that I take extremely serious. Unfortunately for a few bands, they don’t. These are five things I’m tired of hearing from bands.
1. “We need you to hire a social media team”
As a touring band, the one thing you have is time. There’s time in your tour van or bus as you drive six-plus hours between venues. Time after load in as you wait for your slot to play. Time after your set is done and your merch table is broken down as people are drinking beer around your vehicle. With so much time on their hands, what do they do? They play Nintendo Switch, holler at girls on the internet, play Candy Crush and shoot each other in the crotch with squirt guns (seen it). The sad truth is, if you have time for all those things but need to hire someone to post about your own band, well, maybe you should get your priorities straight.
2. Petty bullshit
This is a job, but oftentimes band members forget that. The amount of groveling, tattle telling and underhanded pettiness I’ve seen in my career is mind-blowing, from “my name needs to be higher than his on Facebook” to “I’m the only one allowed on the right of the stage.” You would think I’m actually dealing with children fighting on a playground. The truth is we’re all adults here, and if this is your job, treat it like one. (We are lucky to even have one.) No one has time to fix your arbitrary problems. They only create waves for a career that’s trying to stay afloat.
To quote legendary rapper Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch, be humble.” We’re all human beings. No one is better than another individual, but some people languish in the fantasy they are with fancy cars, jewelry or ego-tripping “demands.” Cocky, demanding artists are miserable to work with and often have trouble keeping their team together with a constant rotating door of managers, agents and members. I like to call these musicians “punishers” because working with them feels like God is punishing me for mistakes made in a past life. With that being said, all of this exists because of music and fans. Artists asking for a bowl of M&M’s with the brown ones being taken out by hand (Van Halen) aren’t going to put on a better rock concert. Nor is 20 white kittens and 100 white doves (Mariah Carey) going to make your voice any higher. It just makes you a needy asshole. Don’t get bummed, though: We still have heroes such as Henry Rollins and his outlandish request for two bottles of water (and that’s it).
4. “We don’t think that’s a good idea”
One thing that makes my blood boil is a band who refuse to do something without actually giving a reason why. The amount of work to make a band look way bigger than they actually are is exhausting. Every now and then you trick someone into believing they need to give your moderate-sized band an opportunity that’s usually designated for upper echelon artists such as Taylor Swift or Fergie. Well, maybe not Fergie. All of my hard work paid off. I can finally afford to buy a Roomba because my artist is going to be on TV, I thought. Then guess what? They don’t think it’s a good idea. Why, though? Without an answer, I pass on the stellar opportunity that fell in our lap and watch it fade into dust.
5. It’s someone else’s fault
It’s always easier to pass the buck when it comes to blame, and it’s always someone else’s fault. “Our album didn’t do good because our manager isn’t big enough.” “Our label didn’t spend enough money on radio.” Sometimes there just isn’t a reason why an album wasn’t successful. If there was a formula to having a successful album, then everyone would have one. The sad truth is that no one can predict what fans will latch on to. Sometimes the music just wasn’t good enough, relevant or it didn’t connect. The best thing an artist can do is be honest with themselves. If the album wasn’t successful, maybe it was the music itself. Look at success stories such as Bring Me The Horizon who went from generic metalcore band to powerhouse pop artist. Who saw that coming?
Shan Dan Horan is a record label insider best known for his work as president of SBG, Artery Recordings and Outerloop Records. He also continues to work for labels such as Century Media, Republic, Universal, Sony and many more.