By Sheena Metal
Ideally, it should always be the way you’ve imagined it in your daydreams. You get the phone call you’ve been waiting for: the big live review, the hot music management company wants you to sign with them, the A&R rep from that major label is coming to your next showcase, or you were picked as one of the best unsigned musicians in the area. Your first thought is to share your good news with your best friends, your comrades, your fellow struggling musicians.
After all, your group of great friends has been chasing the musical brass ring together since high school: the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the hits and flops. Certainly, when you tell them of your latest big break, they’ll stand up and cheer, slap you on the back, raise their glasses in toast, buy you drinks until closing time. You are happier than you’ve ever been. You are going to be a rockstar with your awesome group of best friends by your side.
But what if your band of brothers or sisters, isn’t quite as happy for you as you’d expected when your share your big news with them? What if there’s more silence than cheering, more pouting than back slapping…what if you have to buy all of your own drinks at your celebratory event?
The following are a few tips that may help you to determine if your friends are more like the green-eyed monster than they are monstrously elated over your newest career success:
1.) The Closet Seethe --- Nothing is more disappointing than sharing exciting news with friends only to have them stare blankly at you, wounded, as if the tidbit you just shared had been not of your good fortune but of their impending deaths. Silence such as this is almost always indicative of creative jealousy. Your friends are exhibiting the classic, "If you don’t have anything nice to say…" adage by simply saying nothing. The big fake smile and croaking of, "Great. I’m really happy for you" through clenched teeth only serves to make your friends seem more seething than when they were mute.
2.) The Third Degree --- It’s your big day, supposedly, but some people always need to make it about them and nothing takes the excitement out of your big announcement like getting the third degree from your friends. When, "Wow! That’s terrific news!" gets replaced by, "Oh yeah? How’d you get that?" it may be time to start asking, "With friends like these, who needs jealous enemies?" Honestly, there are only two reasons that your friends are giving you the Third Degree: one, they want to know how you got what you got so they can follow the same course to get it for themselves or two, they want to find some special reason why the good fortune is happening to you and not them…like you slept with the magazine editor, the label guy is your cousin, or your blackmailed the management company into signing you on.
3.) The Alpha Dog --- Clearly, there is an aspect of the artistic personality that craves being the center of attention. It is often that drive for fame and adoration that’s shaped some of history’s hugest popstars. So, don’t be surprised if your jealous friend squashes your elation with the announcement of his or her bigger news. If you win Best Songwriter in the city, then he/she’s won Best Songwriter in the country, in the world, in the galaxy, or in the universe. This is the kind of musician that constantly needs affirmation (from him/herself and others) that he/she is the hottest, coolest and most talented artist around. No matter how famous you get, you’ll always play second fiddle to the Alpha Dog…even if it’s just in his or her mind.
4.) The Red Baron --- Don’t get used to the high of your good fortune just yet, because the Red Baron will shoot it down faster than you can say, "jealous loser." No matter what your exciting news, the Red Baron will find a way to discredit it and reduce it to frivolity within minutes. Sadly, he or she will also do their best to convince everyone in your company that your great excitement is seriously lame by citing examples of his/her own experience in the same case (and how stupid it was) or that "friends" of his/hers have been where you are now and nothing much really came of it. Expect to be constantly disappointed with the Red Baron as a friend.
5.) The Saboteur --- This is the jealous friend you need to watch out for. He or she may be all big smiles, back slaps, and free beer at the time of the announcement but secretly there’s a hidden plan hatching quietly under his/her luminous jack-o-lantern grin. Days after your spill your great luck, you may find that it is no longer happening. Either the source of your good fortune is now simply not interested or has found a better candidate on which to bestow the greatness of your former musical riches: your jealous friend, The Saboteur! Mum’s the word around this one.
6.) The Beggar --- Probably, the most insidious of all of the jealous friends, the Beggar will fall apart seconds after the exciting revelation has left your lips. "Why, oh why", he or she will exclaim, "Is this happening for you and not me? What have I done wrong? I’ve put years and years into this business and nothing ever happens for me!" There will be whining, cajoling and, of course, lots of crying. Crocodile tears will spill down the face of your jealous friend as he or she begs you to get him/her the same opportunities you have. There will be threats of "getting out of the business," threats of never talking to you again because "I’m too much of a loser to be friends with a successful person like you," threats of disappearing forever, running away, holding his or her breath until death ensues. By the time The Beggar is done with you, you’ll gladly hand over your new musical prize, just to get the begging to stop.
Unfortunately, we’ve all had friends in the music business just like this and although you may think it will pass, that they will grow out of it at some point, usually these personality types are here to stay. Any of these sorts of pals will drain you emotionally and creatively, backstab you at every turn, and definitely not look out for your best interests. In short these so-called "friends" are not your friends at all. Real friends support you through good and bad, and are genuinely happy for your good fortune even if the same level of success never comes to them. So, if any of your buddies fit one or more of the criteria above: get away from them, change your phone number, don’t answer your door, wear a hat, cross to the other side of the street when you see them…and then please, make some real friends.
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 700 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: