By Sheena Metal
No matter how we, as human beings, live our lives…drama happens. And the average musician has more drama than the crazy cat lady down the block has bags of used litter on her porch. At every turn, your average wannabe rockstar has a crazy squeeze, a crazier ex, a harem of would-be lovers, and a gaggle of insane stalkers. Then there’s the band drama, manager drama, club drama, fan drama, gear drama, and let’s not even get started on the online drama potential. Before you know it, your band makes "Desperate Housewives" look like 60 Minutes.
Certainly, no one ever said that music was going to be a safe, secure and solid profession to get into. Any industry that pays buckets of money to young, pretty people for jumping around and showing off is bound to inspire zaniness to some degree or another. And the creative process often brings with it a certain amount of tortured genius that fuels the seeds of drama like miracle grow on weeds. Plus, there are more than twenty million musicians around the world that are clamoring for maybe a thousand record deals like contestants on "Survivor" running obstacles courses for a single meager chicken wing. If there was a country built on drama, a musician would be its queen.
However, as much as the music biz is filled with glitz and glamour and the stuff that tabloid headlines are made of, it is also a business. And if there’s one thing you don’t want in the middle of your business, it’s drama. There’s a reason why doctors don’t fight over dying patients about their golf scores, pilots don’t announce to a plane full of passengers that they’ve been dating the stewardess, and the chef doesn’t come to tell you he forgot to wash his hands before he cooked your four-star meal…drama does not belong in business. Whether you’re aspiring to get a record deal or searching for a cure for cancer, leave your drama at home!
The following are a few tips that will help you to navigate the gossip and erratic turbulence of life in the music industry without becoming a slave to your own drama:
1.) Don’t Let The Internet Suck You In---Every since the invention of the internet, there’s been more drama in cyberspace than at a convention for bipolar drag queens. It’s easy to gossip and backbite while you can stay anonymous, so the internet has becoming a breeding ground for anyone and everyone with an agenda, an out-of-control jealousy problem, an axe to grind, or an unbelievable ego. Angry, upset, small-minded people with inferiority complexes like size of Shamu will use the internet to poke at your band with a cyber stick. As hard as it may be, you need to learn to let it all roll off your back. As long as they’re posting about you, it means they’re listening. Removing their inflammatory posts, or replying with similar negativity, feeds the drama until your entire message board is about the trouble-maker on your web site and not your music. What if a potential magazine reviewer or an interested label rep is perusing your page with interest only to find more info about your fight with some internet psycho than about your band? It’s not worth risking a loss of opportunity to engage in drama.
2.) Drama Doesn’t Belong At Your Gigs---When you’re at a show, your goal is to make music, engage the audience, sell CDs, and win the club over so that you can play there again and again. People make room in their schedules, pay for gas, and fork out cash for a cover charge and bar priced drinks, just to hear you play your songs for them. They want to be entertained; to get away from the pressures of their real lives and escape into the safety and excitement of your music and lyrics. What they don’t need is more drama at your gigs then they get from their office co-workers, their wacky neighbors, and bully at their kids’ school combined. Whatever problems you’re having in your personal and professional life, keep it away from your fans and your industry contacts or they’ll start to remember your shows more for the drama than for the music.
3.) Your Manager Is Not Your Therapist---Although a manager’s professional duties make them almost like the band’s parent, don’t cry to mommy every time the drummer calls you a name or your girlfriend decides she wants to play the field. There is too much music industry drama that your manager has to deal with every day, to add to his/her troubles by piling a heap of your personal woes on top of his/her already overburdened shoulders. If a club owner stiffs you at the door, tell your manager. If another band records one of your songs without permission, tell your manager. If your wife compulsively flashes her breasts at your shows, send her to a therapist, but leave your manager out of it.
4.) Take The Crazymakers Off Your Mailing List---A lot of damage control can be done simply by eliminating from your mailings the nuts that show up and bring their own boatload of drama. If you know that your ex has never gotten over you, that she’s off her meds and that she likes to show up and start swinging at every girl she thinks is catching your eye…why would you invite he to your shows? Comb your address book with a big, black sharpie pen and ink out the stalkers, crazies, attention-getters, and overblown drunkards that will turn each and every one of your gigs into a three-ring circus of drama that you’re forced to ringmaster from the stage during your set.
Once you remove the drama from your musical career, you’ll find that your gigs go smoother, your website is a more positive place for fans to hang in cyber space, and the industry is less wary about getting behind what you’re doing. It may seem silly, but too much drama can often be a warning sign that something is really wrong with a band and you may find that industry types will become gun shy around your band if they’re worried that your reputation as drama queen will be more trouble than it’s worth. Working in the music business is hard enough. Don’t give anybody any reason not to work with you. Be smart. Leave your drama at home and show the industry that your music is what’s most important to you and your band.
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 2,400 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: