Recently one of our newest clients, Steve Freeman, wrote a great op-ed on his blog about relationships in the music industry. If you’ve been in this business for any time at all you know that so much of it is based on having great relationships with people. Steve is a multi-platinum songwriter and producer and has been around the block a time or two. We’re extremely excited to have him on our roster and to share his guest post. If you want to learn more about Steve and his work, we encourage you to visit his website at www.stevefreemanproductions.com.
by Steve Freeman
There is a fine line between being a friend and being used. Learn to tell the difference, in this business it can be the most difficult thing to do.
You’ve heard me say it a million times, this is a relationship business. You have to have them to succeed, however, building those real relationships is very difficult in a world where everyone is chasing the same thing. I don’t think that people necessarily mean to, but the fact is that the competition level in this business often turns real relationships and friendships into people just using each other to get what they want and get ahead, often leaving the friendship in the wake of their success.
I have always tried to operate with the understanding that a rising tide raises all ships and mutually achieved success is still success, but I’m in the minority. This is a “Me” business, not a “We” business. You will save yourself a lot of time and heartache on your journey if you can grasp the concept of the music business ladder. Everyone is climbing the ladder. There are people on rungs above you and below you and even some on the same rung you are presently on. The traffic on this ladder really only goes one way, up! Nobody wants to move down the ladder. If you are on your way up, building relationships, trying to make your mark, don’t be surprised when you go to reach for the next rung that it’s been sawed off by a “Friend”.
I’m not saying don’t try to make friends and build relationships, I’m saying be very cautious and don’t allow yourself to be used. Friendship by definition should be mutual, both parties acting for the betterment and well being of the other. It’s ok to expect your friends to act like friends. If its a business relationship and you are using each other for what each person brings to the table, then let that be known up front and that there are no real feelings attached to the relationship. It’s ok to be like a puzzle. A puzzle doesn’t have feelings and it doesn’t get attached. A puzzle is simply different pieces that come together and fit to complete an objective, a complete thought or picture. You will run across others in your journey that have pieces of the puzzle that you don’t and vise versa. That is the basis for collaboration and relationship, but not always friendship. You’ll see the difference when you run out of pieces. How do others treat you then, is your presence as valuable as when you brought something to the table?
Always remember, this is not “Music”, which is all inclusive and team oriented by nature, this is the “Music BUSINESS”. Business is cut throat and more about individual achievement progress.
You can say that I’m just being pessimistic, but I’m not. I’m being honest and truthful about this business and how it works. Your time, talent and passion are valuable commodities, you should invest them wisely. There is nothing that will kill your passion more quickly than when you invest in something or someone and get absolutely nothing return. The plain fact in life is that there are givers and there are takers and to be honest, you have to do a bit of both to succeed in music, but if you give as much or more than you take you can stay even with the system. Takers can spot a giver from a mile away, so be cautiously aware of the environment you’re plunging head and heart first into.
I encourage you to be a part of changing the mold. When you find yourself on the ladder moving your way up, instead of sawing off the rungs below you to keep others from catching up, reach down and offer a hand. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s Lonely At The Top”, that why. People have burned so many bridges and used so many people to get where they are, that when they get there they have nobody to share it with or enjoy it alongside. Be true to who you are, find others with pieces of the puzzle that you don’t have and be willing to share the pieces you have that others don’t, but do so with a cautious optimism and understanding of the difference between true friendship and loyalty and being used.
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