5 Brutal Life Lessons from the Music Industry

Music teaches us so much more than just chords, intervals or lyrics. It literally teaches you how to live and conduct business too. And some of these teachings are F’in brutal. Take a look.

5. Networking will FURTHER your career/life so much more than you could possibly think!

Let’s call things what they really are. When a musician networks, he is scouting for potential people that have more connections than he/she does so he can level up. When a ‘normal’ person wants a certain job position, he will kiss the boss’s arse as much as he got to. There are BOOKS on how to do it efficiently! Both the musician and the common person want to further the quality of their life and work. And here’s sad news for all you rebels (I was one too), IT WORKS. Compliment that musician’s new EP, and he’ll be glad to hear out your demo too. Compliment intentionally your boss behind his back, (a legit strategy to gain your boss’s admiration), and you radically increase your chances for that promotion. So tell your kids not to have too many fights in school, and stay on good terms with that rich popular kid ’cause trust me, when sh#t hits the fan later in life, he/she will be glad to have done so. Heck I wish someone told ME that when I was in school! You never know who and what kind of opportunity will have before YOU do and how they could help you out big time one day. So learn to be politically correct and likeable as soon as possible in your life.

4. Just because it’s in writing, it does NOT guarantee that things will proceed as planned. Or if it will happen at all.

How many times you have heard that you MUST have a contract with everyone for basically everything? Cause that gives you some sort of illusion of protection. Here’s REALITY: just because there’s a signature, it does not mean jack. While they do bring SOME reassurance, in the end it is all really about trust. If you’re working with a publicist who agrees to put it all in writing, he STILL may not do his job at all in the end. One example: I had paid a magazine EDITOR after he continuously insisted it would be beneficial to my career to put in an article about my music, and my projects, in his column. We did the photo shoot, the contract, which included guaranteed interviews on Sirius XM, 3 performances in major venues, and even FM airplay. To seal it all, he was super transparent and pulled up the contract HIMSELF and it was absolutely flawless (I read what I sign, lesson #1 in any industry). Come the date of the release, and NONE of it happened. NONE. No article, no airplay, no interview, no performances, nothing, nada. I was bewildered and tried contacting him. NO CONTACT. He just vanished. Mind you, this guy was legit working in 50 Cent’s office building in Manhattan. I started contacting people around and turns out there were tens of other artists that fell for this ‘legit’ scam. Each with a signed contract, each with plenty of promises, each with thousands of dollars LOST. The guy texted me some month later, saying they didn’t have enough money to put out the paper version of the magazine and that they were going to release the digital version. You probably know what happened next. That never materialized as well. What were we gonna do? Sue the guy? He was WELL CONNECTED and had lawyers while we didn’t. It would have cost us more to get an industry lawyer (which btw are over $500/hr) and get him to sue the guy, than to just take the loss and move on. So we took the loss and moved on. I promise you, the exact same thing happens ALL THE TIME in all other areas of life. You got a prenup? Surprise! It is not valid if your ex says he was forced into signing it. Good luck proving otherwise! You got hired and signed a contract? A month later the company gets its license retracted and you got no job. You signed a contract with a record label and think you will finally catch that break? That label gets its rights and catalogue transferred to a bigger label and your artist file is put on hold indefinitely. This last one literally happened to me when Cat Music, a subsidiary of EMI Records tried to sign me and 1 week later POOF! ( Universal Music Group purchased EMI in September 2012, read here for more info) NOTHING IS GUARANTEED IN LIFE. Not even with a signed and notarized contract. I just want you to have reservations in your mind regarding future plans and prospects, so that if it doesn’t happen, you don’t lose your mind and have a nervous breakdown, or have to move cities, or live in the streets, because things out of your control DO HAPPEN.

3. Friends/fans come and go, but family and blood relations stay

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Friends are cool and fans are awesome, but when push comes to shove, the only people ready to sacrifice time and money are more than likely, your blood family. I’ve become enstranged from my family because of the immigration system in the US, and the insane costs related to the green card process, so 3 years went by and I hadn’t seen them. The texts were always becoming shorter, rarer, and the want-to-talk-to-them became a have-to-talk-to-them after 4 years. And in the 4th year, I got really ill, really quick. And my friends hit me with ‘I care about you but I am not your bank’. Mind you, I was asking for a loan of 2k so I could take a break from work and find what was wrong with my whole body because I became anorexic in 2 weeks. From 117 lbs to 97 lbs and blood clotting in my legs. I was DYING and people just didn’t care. People I could have sworn by, people I thought would have had my back. No sir. Not even one was there for me. Got on the airplane and headed to my family where they actually gave a damn about me, and made sure I recovered. So don’t bad mouth the ones that actually care if you’re dead or alive. Stay in their good graces and appreciate them as much as you can! You will not be sorry.

2. Looks matter. Every time. Everywhere.

It pains me to say but, even with the body positive movement, and Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated, people DO TREAT YOU DIFFERENTLY BASED ON YOUR WEIGHT. I was on both sides, and being even slightly overweight, will determine a very different attitude coming from persons you interact with, compared to being fit (leaning towards slim). Less weight equals more smiles, more appreciation, more acceptance, more admiration, more money, more respect, more opened doors, MORE OF ALL THE GOOD THINGS. As in music so in everyday life: LOOKS ALWAYS MATTERED and in my opinion, always will.

1. No one will ever come and save you. Ever. You have got to save yourself.

Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash

Ask any aspiring artist what he/she is hoping for and they most likely will answer: to be discovered. Like Scooter Braun did with Justin Bieber. 99.99% it is not going to happen. What can happen though, is that you raise the quality of your songs, do better music videos, create strong connections with your fans, and build your OWN FAN BASE. And then you have a 10% chance of being discovered. Get to a national level of recognition, start touring independently, and you get a healthy 50% chance of being offered a good deal. Go on a live reality tv show and become the hot topic, and you’re in the 90% chance range of getting the deal YOU WANT. It is not the only way, but the steps are the same. Build yourself up first, focus on your independency, and make being able to live off your craft a goal, and the chances will continue going up. Then who knows, you may not even want a deal when you get, for example, to Hospin’s level of fame and income. Same goes for looking for the job of your dream. You HAVE TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE and take lots of action. Never be desperate in your decisions, but do TAKE ACTION. No lost relative will die and leave you an inheritance of millions. You will have to make dollar decisions, so you can later manage thousands, so you can deal with hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions. We all start from the bottom really.

See the half full side of the glass but don’t let empty positive thoughts fill out the other half.

Article by Mariana Berdianu
Blue Rhymez Entertainment © 2020

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