It seems that all too often we, musician’s, tend to loose ourselves in the pursuit of improving our business tactics in the industry. When we study and examine the “business” that we are in, we can loose foresight of the big picture behind being an entrepreneur in an artistic industry. I humbly believe that this “grand scheme” involves the following principle: If we are naturally well-rounded people, then our careers will likely be just as well-rounded. The qualities that come with being a better person easily become the qualities that define a more respectable, and better in my opinion, entrepreneur. The reason I correlate the characteristic of “respectability” with “better,” is because there is less room for corruption when one aims to be a humane businessperson. I firmly believe in upholding ethics under such a professional title, as well as in all walks of life. I am speaking of the umbrella effect and influence that human decency and positive character can potentially have upon every facet of our lives, especially upon our careers as artists. The following provides a few examples of ethics that strongly reenforce a better entrepreneurial style.
THE COMMONALITY OF KINDNESS
The golden rule states, treat others as you wish to be treated. This applies so thoroughly and rather universally that it encompasses all aspects of our careers. If we aim to be respectful, we are more likely to be respected. If we engage others professionally, we have a better chance of being regarded as a professional. There is something significant to be said about the musicians who aim to better themselves as a person as well as a businessperson. These are the individuals, which of whom I like to consider myself, that learn about the tactics of a truly successful entrepreneur and experience a profound feeling of, “Duh!” If you, like me, experienced something like this in your studies, than you likely understand why this feeling is so profound. We hear about unique individuals, like Carl Ciasulli, who build and manage their crew, ensemble, and overall business upon the virtues of decency and human kindness. We also learn from these people that people skills are just as important as the art that we are presenting and sharing with the world.
I recently attended a guest lecture at the Adams State College Department of Music that was less of a lecture an more of a story session and discussion with a self-proclaimed and reputable stage manager named Carl Ciasulli. He shared many of his past experiences with us and reaffirmed much of what we have been taught in our music business class. Even after thirty minutes, I personally felt like I had known the guy for much longer than that. He inspired me to be a more respectful person if I wish to succeed in the music industry. I also learned, via a humorous comment that he made about me, that I am “the question guy.” Place me in a situation in which questions are not only allowed but encouraged, and I will ask away. You don’t have to ask me twice. Although there was much to learn from his stories, I can put the overall atmosphere and moral of the evening into one quote:
If you act like an a**hole, you’re gonna be treated like one.
This is SO important in our lives as entrepreneurs, and somehow there are still musicians out there that do not give a damn who they step on or what people think of them. For example, there is a band I listen to called Fantômas. At one point, I used to really admire the creativity and opinions that Mike Patton (vocalist for the band) expressed through his music. However, when I heard from my brother, who met Patton after a show a while back, that he was actually kind of jerk, I lost respect for his music. While I still enjoy listening to Fantômas, my interest has become stifled by the poor character of the man behind it.
WHY DO I CARE?
I for one do not find the least bit of struggle in upholding this type of business plan/strategy/style (whatever you want to call it). I do not find this difficult because it was first my lifestyle before it ever became my business strategy. I do not help an elderly lady with her drink at a restaurant because I want to sell her something. I do it because it is ethical, respectful, and kind. I do not hug a friend when he/she is having a bad day because it is good for my reputation. I do it because I care. I do not approach a well-known stage manager, like Carl Ciasulli, because it is good for my career. I do it because he is a good person and it is much more valuable to me to befriend such a person for the sake of befriending them and learning from their experiences. The potential reference and business connection that comes with that is merely the cherry on top that sweetens that connection–it is simply an added bonus.
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that “Eliot does not understand the meaning of working in the music business,” allow me to address that I understand perfectly well the importance of thriving financially and making connections that progress one’s career. If we plan to make a living doing what we love, we cannot be afraid of earning money in the process. All to often, the public believes that we ONLY make music for fun, which is such a misconstrued perception of our careers. Yes, we do this because we love it. Yet, we desire the need to survive in this society just as much as the next guy/gal. To quote a friend of mine, “you should charge what your worth,” and music is worth much more than the current value that these individuals ascribe to it.
If you take anything away from this, please take this with you and carry it in your pocket at all times: When we aim to better ourselves as human beings, our successes are more likely to follow and reciprocate those efforts. In this instance, we embrace the umbrella effect of human decency.
I would like to thank my genuinely caring friends for teaching me to teach myself to be a better person. I would also like to thank Carl Ciasulli for his stories and inspirations.
Thanks for reading Musik Modus Mémoires!