"Political Correctness: To Be P.C., or Not To Be"
What is funny to me, and sad all the same, is the amount of finesse necessary to be successful in business. The local music scene proves to be no different, as I am sure you have found out at one time or another in your stint as a musician here in Louisville. If you do not know how to talk to people, you will never get anywhere in music, or life for that matter. Here's what I'm talking about...
You ever put your foot in your mouth? Ever do it as a band? Ever have to take the blame as a group for something you did not do? Life is full of these situations, and they can really cost you in this business. All it takes is one negative comment from Joe Blow in your band to ruin a reputation that took infinitely longer to build.
How do you avoid from this? A lesson in politically correctness ... this one is on the house, so take notes.
Lesson #1- Do not say anything you have hesitations about.
You know what I am talking about when I say this. It is that moment of hesitation you get in your stomach right before you say something you know you shouldn't, either due to your temper, peer pressure, drugs/alcohol, whatever. You should recognize this after the fact, if not sooner when you say to yourself, "Damn, I wish I hadn't said that..." If you hesitate for a moment, think longer and decide whether that brief outburst of feelings is going to be worth burning that bridge you had with the person/band/venue and so on. Will you regret it in the morning?
Lesson #2- Deal with people face-to-face as much as possible.
It helps to talk to someone in person, just so that you have a chance to recover from any blunders you might find yourself falling into. For instance, if something you say turns a persons' smile into an immediate face full of anger, you know something is wrong! Face-to-face communication gives you an opportunity you lack over the phone, via email, or if you are ancient and you still write letters... whatever. You have a "bonus round" to react with a swift recovery by explaining yourself. You may not always be successful with this attempt, but at least you could see the transformation of the demeanor of the individual you are dealing with, so at the very least you know what did the damage, and will avoid the same scenario in the future... hopefully.
Lesson #3- Have one person in the band in charge of publicity and booking.
This is the "make it or break it" factor. If you have someone who is good with people (plays well with others) and has equally as good communication skills with his/her (another P.C. oddity) band members, then you don't have to call Cleo to know that things are bright in your future. On the other hand, a person who lacks good communicative abilities will only bring down the whole operations of the group. The person chosen for this role should be a proven leader, have a high sense of ownership in the band and be assertive - not aggressive. You do not want a conflict-oriented person in this role. You want someone who can smooth over arguments inside and outside of the group. You need someone who can talk to people, and instantly win over their trust. This individual needs to be able to sell an ice cube to an Eskimo.
Lesson #4- Make friends, not cliques.
I always hear that so-and-so always plays with the same bands or at the same venue. Mix it up as much as you can. Of course, you want venues that are receptive to your style of music, and other bands that compliment each other's style so that the crowds can interact; but you do not want to find yourself in a clique. There are many reasons for this... first, people judge you. They do not want to see you with the same band over and over again, because now you are not only boring, but also part of an elite organization that will only play with each other. If you are the big dog, give the new band an opportunity to play with you. It is cool to have friends you play with frequently, but everyone involved will be better off if there is some variety to the mix.
Lesson # 5 - Know ahead of time that message boards are the breeding ground for BS.
Rumors get started here, since some people are just looking for something to argue about and inflate to ridiculous levels. It's easy to misinterpret someone's typed, not spoken, late night ramblings. This goes back to that whole face-to-face communication thing. Talking trash should become an Olympic sport for some of these people who anonymously post the most vulgar, rude, politically incorrect thing they can find to say in their empty heads. This is something I have talked about before, but I must rehash it simply because it will persist indefinitely. Just take a look at the board on www.louisvillekore.com in the rants and raves section... there is always a fight between someone, people bad-mouthing a venue or a person or a band, or anonymous ignorance. You really have to walk around on eggshells with what you say in one of these boards to not get attacked by all sides of stupidity.
Lesson #6 - Watch what you say in print!
Yes, this one is related to me directly, and any of you who write for a paper, magazine, songwriting (lyrics) or any other written text that is seen by the public. It also represents more than just you: your bands and your employer, as well as you, are all represented by what you say in print. This can be your best friend or worst enemy. This goes for the message boards as well. They are like big soap operas, and I personally hesitate to post anything on there, but recently I was forced to defend my band Nemesis for a misinterpretation of something that was said. It is always something, so I would like to keep my battles limited. Especially when you do not even know who it is you are wasting your breath on fighting.
I think the key of all this is that good communication is essential, and it pays to be politically correct. Saying that another band sucks just makes you look worse. Saying that a venue sucks because there is never anybody there only speaks for your own band. It is also the responsibility of the venue to keep a good contact with the bands involved that are trying to do well for themselves and the place that is hosting the event. It is all about working together, as individual bands, as a network of bands, and as a scene.
Some great shows took place in October, and more to come this month. One show I would like to mention is the December 1 show at Tek World featuring the CD release party of Tornacade with guests MSD and Incursion502. Should be a great show, and Tornacade will be the featured band in Louisville Rock Lowdown next month. December should prove to be a good month for those guys.
A bit of news to anyone who is interested in getting shows outside of Louisville: a place called the Jungle in Marengo, IN is booking heavy bands every Friday and Saturday night and they are looking for groups from Louisville to come up and play. My band Nemesis has a show there Saturday, December 8 with Element H. Bands such as My Own Victim, Kallus, Evil Engine #9 and others have already performed there and could tell you more about it. Kim, the owner, says they have been doing shows since the summer, and it is an all-ages club. For more info, contact her at Kimbeej2@cs.com or go to www.ourworld.cs.com/kimbeej2/myhomepage/business.html. The Jungle is about a 45-60 minute drive from Louisville.
Keep rocking, learn to get along and promote yourselves without stepping on the backs of others.
Send me your thoughts at JJKSLACKER@cs.com or you can reach me at (502) 262-8728.