MISHASUCKS.NET/GEAR_GEEK: THE ART OF [NOT] BURNING BRIDGES
This article is mainly for all of you who are in a band(s) or are attempting to be. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of you misconstrue this article as a rant or a tool for me to vent about reactions to Periphery. To those of you who still believe that is my goal by the end of this, I would like to thank you. Although it is sad to see you miss the point entirely, perhaps you weren’t intended to understand this concept to begin with. And with this industry being about survival of the fittest, you are only going to make the lives of other professional musicians that much easier!
Let us start with a few things we know about the music industry:
1) It is hard to break into. Everyone wants to be in a band, and now that anyone can make music on a laptop, the industry is more saturated than ever. There are subgenres with absurd names popping up every day (for example the one that begins with the letters “Dj”). So as you start thinking about forming your first band and/or project, the odds are already highly stacked against you.
2) There are two main groups of factors that affect how successful a band is: factors you have control over like conducting good/smart business, and factors you don’t have control over such as being in the right place at the right time, and whether your music will be liked or not. This article is going to focus on one aspect that you DO have control over.
3) Everyone is on the Internet. People’s dogs have Facebook pages. And just because some people don’t post on forums or comment on blogs doesn’t mean they don’t read what is said. The grand majority of your favorite bands and musicians read a lot of the same sites you do, and lurk on a lot of the forums and blogs you frequent and perhaps post on as well.
4) At the end of the day, like it or not, this industry is a business. And the most successful bands usually get as far as they do by treating it like one. Sure you can have fun with it, but if you have ever wondered “Why did Band X make it and Band Y didn’t?” chances are Band X was better at the business side of things. That is the difference between making some noise for a few years and making a career.
With these four points in mind, perhaps you can see what I’m getting at.
I see so many “musical elitists” on all sorts of forums get their little endorphin rush from putting bands down in a rude manner. Many of these people are in bands themselves, which is what I want to talk about today. These people thrive on sites like MetalSucks, Metal Injection, Blabbermouth, The PRP and Lambgoat to name a few. Sometimes it’s just trolling to get a rise out of people, sometimes it’s elitism, sometimes it’s just peoples’ way of dealing with insecurities.
I am all for self expression and I am in no way suggesting that you should not say what you mean or feel. What I am trying to convey is the simple and common fact that HOW you say something is oftentimes more important than WHAT you are saying. Watch “Thank You For Smoking” if you literally have no idea what I am talking about.
Music is wonderfully subjective, and that is what makes it so good. It’s so personal, and you feel a strong connection to it in a way you do with few other things because of that. So it only makes sense that someone would speak strongly for or against music they love or hate. There isn’t a single band in the history of music that EVERYONE has liked, so it stands to reason that every band has haters; how vocal they are about it depends on the band and their demographic, but they are out there nonetheless. This is especially true for people who are themselves in bands because they are so involved and emotionally invested in their art on a daily basis.
The rule is simple, and this is far from the first time anyone has been encouraged to follow it: If you are in a band and you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything. If you want to express distaste with something, do it in a polite and constructive manner. I’m not saying you should feel like you can’t say you dislike something just because you’re in a band, I’m just saying HOW you express it makes an absolute world of difference. Since the bands you are talking about have a relatively good chance of reading what it is you have to say about them, depending on how and what you are saying, it could have future repercussions you aren’t fully aware of.
For example I have seen COUNTLESS opportunities for potential tour offers that smaller and fledgling bands have lost because of the public hate and trash talk that have been seen by the bands, members and industry folk who were in the position to provide them with an opportunity. If the offending parties had expressed what they had meant to say in a polite and constructive manner, they most likely would not have burned that bridge in the process. As I have already mentioned, this industry is hard enough as is with the odds being bad to begin with, so no one should be proud of burning bridges when they run a small business trying to make their mark.
Here is a quick example if you still are having trouble following:
If you are thinking: “I dont like Band X and I feel that I must express that at all costs.”
Ask yourself if it would really bother you to not express that.
If it would kill you to stay quiet then here are a few general options:
1) “Band X sucks, fuck them.” (short and concise but rude responses)
2) “God, I hate Band X, all the band members are faggots and I hope they vanflip and die.” (getting personal AND specific, people will truly understand how much you hate that band, and can see you put some thought into it as well)
3) “I love Band X.” (yes, you are lying, and some of you may die a little on the inside because you know you hate Band X, but at least it’s good business although it’s morally questionable)
4) “I am personally not really into Band X’s music because of these reasons…” (points for being constructive, but if you manage to pull this one off well, you won’t offend the party AND you will get your point across, so no bridges burnt!)
5) “Band X” wouldnt suck so much if…” (surprisingly, this is not constructive. it’s a tricky one and won’t win you any points)
Examples 3 and 4 (if worded correctly) will not burn bridges. Personally I think 4 is the best approach because you can express your views if you must, but if you do it right its a win-win situation!
Of course the BEST way to approach this in my opinion is to just suck it up and not to say anything. Silence CAN be golden when used correctly!
I know this is directed at musicians and may not be as relevant to people who really don’t have any bridges to burn. But dare I suggest, for everyone (not just those in bands), that you may find yourself getting along better with people and having better interactions in general if you do follow what I am saying here. Or maybe that’s taking it a bit too far.
tl;dr: conduct and express yourself in a polite, respectful and constructive manner, and you will manage to open doors whilst being respected yourself and minimizing lost opportunities. Play nice, good things will happen!
stl;dr: happy happy hugs for everyone and money time.