Often times I get a call from someone who says. “Uh, is this GotchaNoddin? …Oh, I’m so and so and I’m in the music business. I was hoping we could help each other out…you know, I make hits!“
“Ok,” I say…and start to ask my routine questions. What do you do? What have you done? How long have you been doing this? Sometimes people will actually cut me off with accolades of famous people they know and on and on they go with, “Oh, I made a hit with this person or that person and I got some industry connections!”
While I appreciate this, I am more interested in learning what projects and things are being worked on.
It doesn’t matter who you know… it matters what you are doing.
You are not who you know but what makes you successful is the results in your life, how you go about achieving results and how many people you’ve helped. What I see lacking in the industry is heart and hard core common sense. I don’t know where it started, but for years there has been this ‘not enough’ mentality that there isn’t enough business to go around and that only a ‘select few’ can live their dreams in the music business. On the other spectrum, I get many folks calling with stars in their eyes thinking that success and fame can happen in a couple days. The reality is that I have to get through many hard layers of ego and self promotion until I can get to the center of a person’s character.
Now this is the exact same thing you have to do as you embark on the journey of your music dream. Don’t believe what people tell you. In the music business everyone talks. The only way to determine who to let in your circle is by actually witnessing the results in their life to back up what they’re telling you.
Don’t worry about asking too many questions. That will get rid of the posers. It will also start great conversational interest and connection with someone who is not a poser. The biggest point to make here is YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO – if you respect everyone you talk to, you’ll never worry about meeting the right people – they will always return phone calls and keep appointments.
Sometimes, I tick people off with my questions and putting people on the spot. But like clock-work they always call back a few months later. And the call goes something like this:
“Hey man, you think you could help me out. I still haven’t had any luck since we last spoke. My studio isn’t working right and I haven’t been able to work on my beats. I been trying tutorials and other people just aren’t giving me answers that help me.”
“Sure” I reply. “What do you think the problem is?” As I probe deeper I find out that this person has little experience, little knowledge and doesn’t know how to ask for help. I sit back and say to myself “Wow, this is the same person who said in our first conversation he’s got connections, makes hits and we should help each other out.. It’s a good thing I ask my questions!”
I cringe thinking about what many people’s “hits” must sound like who love to run their mouth, show up late to the studio, never return phone calls and have no consistency. If a person’s life isn’t consistent how is their music and music business going to be consistent? I know I sound harsh in saying this but its important to discern who people really are that you would like in your circle. All the sweet talking players who think they can smooch their way through, it’s conversations of honesty and being real that true connection can happen. How can any of us help each other if we’re not up front and honest from the start?
Now that I have painted a picture for you, what do the paintings of people in your life look like? Are they playing hardcore game, talk but no walk, name dropping but the results in their life don’t add up? These people are toxic to your success and interfere with your needed encouragement while on the journey towards your dream.
Tutorial: 5 Ways to Detect a Poser in the Music Business:
1) Consistency: When someone calls the person you’re trying to work with, do they say “ahh man, why they calling me!” or do they respectfully say, hold on I got to get this call. How do they treat other people, friends and family when you are around them? Don’t listen only to what someone says when you meet them, watch for consistency in their life with others and you’ll see right through them on how they will treat you in business and as friends. This process takes time. Also, everyone goes through phases in life. Sometimes you may meet someone in an inconsistent phase of their life. 6 months later they call you and are constantly calling you. This is a good sign. It’s not about judging but watching and always being open and attentive, being understanding and not burning bridges works wonders for connections too.
2) Reliability: Reliability is never seen on the first meeting. You can talk about a lot of plans and ideas. Some people live in ‘ideas’. However action is the only thing that counts. As with consistency, reliability is on a day-to-day basis. Set appointments, times to talk, meet or attend events. Watch for patterns of lateness, promptness, ‘unexpected issues reoccurring’, do they show up, do they call? Consistency and reliability go hand in hand. Relationships take time, effort and continual pursuit. If there isn’t a great common ground then the effort may not be worth the consistency and reliability of yourself or the other person for that matter. Also look to see if they are consistent in other areas of their lives. If someone hasn’t been consistent a few times, maybe its time to give them some space. If the relationship is important to you, call them back in a few months to touch base. It could be a season of inconsistency for them. There are many seasons of inconsistency in our lives. These can change at any moment. In the present situation, this lets you know that they are more of an acquaintance rather than a potential business partner. Never start business partnerships until you have tested and established that they are reliable.
3) Integrity: One of the definitions of integrity is honesty. The word honesty these days seems pretty lame… However, the results of dishonesty are flat out appalling. Let’s paint a picture of how important honesty is. If you are building a house and you decide to use cheap cement to cut costs, decide to do poor quality job in building the foundation and don’t put forth a quality effort, that house will crumble from the inside onto itself. This is the same thing that happens when surrounding yourself with dishonest, shady, inconsistent, unreliable, game playas. All the time and effort you put into building your music foundation and career will be destroyed from within itself. What is the opposite of cheap, ego-centric, poor quality and laziness? Surround yourself with encouraging, passionate and motivated people who enjoy the learning and growing process with you. You’ll then have lifelong friends and potential business partners as you achieve your goals.
4) Value: What is the value of the person you are meeting? Are they a giver, a taker, a friend or mooch? Are they always broke asking for money, asking you to make beats or record them for free? Do they ask you to do something and then respect your time and give something back? Or are they asking you ‘to put them on’ and ‘give them their shot’ but when the time comes they have nothing to offer, are not prepared or just simply flake? Or do they come prepared, asking questions and on time? It is important to determine the giver, taker, friend or moocher as soon as possible. This can avoid much wasted time. Consistency, Reliability, Integrity and Value all integrate together to form the character and trustworthiness of the person you are considering doing business with, partnering with or working with creatively. Time never lies and will always reveal the truth of your relationships.
5) Results: The last and most obvious is the results in someone’s life. This is the easiest to detect. I hear from at least 10-20 or more people a week telling me about how they run a record label. Before I can determine if I can help them, I first ask: How many artists do you have, how long does it take to put out a record, how many units did your last release sell, do you do production, mixing and mastering in house or is it outsourced? Often, I get the response “Well, I don’t have a label yet but I’m in the process of starting it”. OK, now we can get somewhere!
What are the results in their life? What does their music sound like? Does what they tell you about their business and music match up with what you see currently or is it where they are heading? This is SO important! I have seen so many people miss opportunities because they misrepresented themselves. The change that must be made is not to tell people where you are going but to tell them where you are currently, what you need help with NOW FIRST. Then the doors of what you need and where you are going can be established.
These 5 ways to detect a poser in the Music Business are important to reference when you are seeking relationships and also to reference in your own life. This is only a small part of what it takes to not just talk but to live your dream. If you love music and have a passion to do it for the rest of your life than making some personal changes to avoid posers should be easy.
If you are in the middle of a business deal or networking and are not sure what to do,