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Do You Listen?

December 22, 2016

Do You Listen?

I know that if you’re an artist, you’re in the business of creating music. Making sound.

But did you know that the key to becoming successful in the music business isn’t making sound  – but LISTENING?

I remember when I was starting out in the management business almost twenty years ago and we were about to sit down with a band we really wanted to sign. I sat down with my partner at the time and asked, “So, what should we talk about in this first meeting with this band?”

Her response was one that’s stayed with me EVERY DAY!

She said, “I’d ask them, ‘how well do they take direction?’

As in, if you ask them to do something, will they do it?

Will they listen to your GUIDANCE?

After all, the entire purpose of a manager is to “advise and counsel” the artist….so if they aren’t going to listen to your advice, there is no point to managing them.”

Truer words were never spoken.

***

Flash forward almost twenty years later and you’d be amazing at what I’ve learned.

The most startling thing is this – MOST ARTISTS DO NOT LISTEN. Most artist that I’ve observed from either near or afar DO NOT take direction well.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that 95-99.9% of artists DO NOT LISTEN.

Now I understand that it’s not a dictatorship when you take on a client. And when an artist signs with a manager, your job isn’t to just do whatever your manager says. However, I’ve found that the most successful relationships have been when we agree and are on the same page 99% of the time. And I’ve sat and watched artists implode and fail time and time again because they went against my advice. They often went against ANY advice for that matter – and just continued to do things the way they saw fit.

For example, one artist, upon moving to Los Angeles, flat out refused to perform live. Sure, there would be a show or two a year. But the artist felt that performing live was a “waste of time.” I tried so hard to get this artist out there and impress upon them that no, they were wrong, but also, PERFORMING LIVE IS THE ENTIRE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS. That’s like a chef refusing to cook food. THAT’S THE JOB. And fine, it was some years ago, but if you just REFUSE to perform live, then you better spend every waking moment on social media and building up your fan base that way.

But no, they refused. They didn’t listen. They didn’t take my advice. So they instead went to the park and read books and eventually, when no one discovered their amazing music by them reading books in the park, they moved back home, got married and had kids. Which is all nice and lovely…but not if you really want to be successful. And this is all from an artist that was signed at 19 to a major record label BY THE LABEL PRESIDENT!!! So, the talent was there. The songs were there. The look was there. The LISTENING part was not. Not sure if it was stubbornness or foolishness but whatever it was, it ultimately lead to the artist’s career going nowhere…and yet they are still trying to figure out what went wrong and why they never “made it!” Yikes.

I can’t speak to all managers because many are good….but many are not. But what I can tell you is that a GOOD manager, and the GREAT manager out there is an objective third party. They can watch you and your career and see what you are doing correctly. And they can see what you are doing WRONG.

The SMART artist will make the necessary changes.

If the ship is off course, you steer back to get on course, don’t you?

If you’re running out of gas in the car, or make a wrong turn, you correct it, don’t you? You fill the tank.

If your plane is taking off and if your plane is about to land, you better pay EXTRA special attention because those are the most critical (and dangerous) parts of flying…but also the most crucial parts of your career. How you start things and get going…and where you ultimately land.

It’s best to listen to your co-pilot as they are often the ones who know what’s up. They have the data. You may be the the pilot and in charge (good music is key, no GREAT music is key), ultimately, but without a great co-pilot (your manager), you’re likely going to hit a mountain or miss important data that you need in order to really soar.

So, I urge you, NO, I BEG YOU TO LISTEN. TAKE DIRECTION.

Yes, it’s a collaborative process.

But if you trust your manager enough to sign a legal document to agree to work with them, you better sure listen to what they have to say….because being STUBBORN and NOT LISTENING and thinking you know what’s best when you don’t – when your head is way too close to it – is ultimately, oftentimes, the kiss of death – and the reason why your plane/career is stuck on the tarmac while others are taking off and soaring to new heights.

Hope that helps.

And safe travels this holiday season!

Jennifer Yeko
President
True Talent Management & True Talent PR
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com 
http://www.truetalentpr.com

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