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E-Gherming, The New Music-biz No-no...

As in all businesses, the most important and essential contributors to our success in show-biz come from the personal relationships we develop and maintain over the course of our careers.
Someone put it very succinctly when he or she said: "It's not about who
you know; it's about who knows you." To take that very truthful statement
a little bit further: It's not just about who knows you, it's about who likes
you, who trusts that you can take the bad news with the good, and who can
depend on you to give your all and perform at a truly professional level every
time you're called upon to deliver the goods.

Yes, Willy Loman was right. Not only should you seek to be recognized for your
individual gifts, you should strive be "well liked," too. Sure, there
are some notorious A-holes who have somehow bullied their way through to the
top and remained there using tactics of manipulation and intimidation. These
insecure egomaniacs surround themselves with "yes" people,
subservients who live in constant fear of losing their jobs, their connections
to, and/or their influence over the cult of personality. But, I think most
folks agree that is no way to live. Life's too short to spend it burgeoning a
rep as a greedy monster or, worse yet, as a lap dog to a mean-spirited master. For
the most part, the folks who have sustained creative and/or business success
are the ones who are capable of at least painting on a charming veneer. It may
only be skin deep, but they usually refrain from exposing the self-serving cad
hiding below the surface. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every
successful person in this dog-eat-dog game is actually a jerk. There are a
whole lot of genuinely nice, caring, compassionate people in the music biz,
too.

This leads me to a friend request I received just the other day from a
gentleman whose name I did not recognize. Chad (not his real name) and I had
dozens of mutual friends, so I felt safe accepting his invite to connect as
Facebook pals. Curious, the nomenclature of much of the Internet social
network: "Friends," not "connections." As if we all are
capable of carrying on thousands of friendships, most of which are with people
we will probably never meet in the flesh. Anyway, I accepted Chad as a
"friend." Within hours he sent me a FB message: "THANKS FOR
BFING ME , CHECK OUT MY SONGS"

I don't know if other music-biz pros feel the same way, but here's what really
irks me: getting an email, or a post, or a personal message from an aspiring songwriter
or recording artist instructing me to "Go to my reverbnation (MySpace,
personal website, whatever) page and listen to my stuff." The presumption
that I have the time or the inclination to click a link and spend a half hour
wading through a half dozen songs by someone I've never heard of is, quite
frankly, disrespectful and offensive to me. Arrogant? Maybe, but it's true. I'm
busy. My time is at a premium. And, lots of songwriters pay me their hard
earned cash to coach them, and offer my constructive criticism. "CHECK OUT
MY SONGS" is the equivalent of walking up to a dentist at a cocktail party
and saying, "Hey, Doc, take a look at this? Is this an abscess?" This
is precisely the same brand of obnoxious as the overly ambitious newbie who
aggressively corners a top producer or publisher at a conference and forces a
CD and/or a business card into his or her hand. This kind of uncouth behavior
has a very unattractive name: "gherming." And those who practice it
are deserving of the moniker, "gherm."

So, I warned my brand new FB pal, Chad, that "e-gherming" was uncool
and suggested that he stop doing it, to which he responded: "CALL IT WHAT
YOU WILL , IT IS WHAT IT IS" Now, remember, I don't know this guy from
Adam. Well, I know a few guys named Adam, and I know Chad is not one of them,
but you know what I mean. Anyway, I have no reason to give Chad any slack,
because he's already made a rather toxic impression on me. Then, he followed up
quickly with yet another post: "WHAT THE HELL IS E-GHERMING , I NEED TO
KNOW,SO I CAN NOT BE COOL"

I explained to Chad that "CHECK OUT MY SONGS" was not the way to get
an industry pro interested. In Nashville, you can't swing a cat without hitting
another aspiring songwriter. (Not that I'm inclined to cat swinging, or any
other kind of swinging for that matter.) Nearly everybody has a bunch of
original songs and nearly everybody is trying to get those songs heard.
However, as I detail in my new book, The
Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success
(Alfred Publishing, 2010),
getting your songs heard is not enough. Songwriters only find success when they
get their songs heard by somebody who cares, somebody in a decision-making
capacity who wants them to succeed more than any other writer. You want your
songs to be heard by somebody who can influence the outcome, but who is also
motivated to like your compositions more than the thousands of others competing
for the same slots. Chad had already become the raspberry seed in my wisdom
tooth by blatantly offending me. In return, I had given him some solid,
constructive advice on how not to immediately torch a potentially beneficial
bridge. Was Chad receptive to my free career counseling? Absolutely not.

This was dear Chad's response (spelling intact, asterisk is mine): "bull
sh*t I dont care who you are , i never said i had any tast,if i did i would not
ask you to be my freind" This of course begs the question as to why he
wanted to "friend" me in the first place. If he doesn't really care
who I am, and if he is also aware that he has no discretion in regard to his
friendships, then why would he want me to "CHECK OUT HIS SONGS?" What,
after all, would me listening to his stuff accomplish? After dashing off a
response that included my off-the-cuff observation that Chad must be a very
self-destructive fellow, I terminated our day-old "friendship" post
haste.

Chad has more than 1,000 FB friends. Perhaps he treats his other online pals
with more diplomacy and greater respect, or maybe they are more forgiving of
his insolence. Maybe those other folks even find his lack of social skills
charmingly rebellious. I ain't got time for that stuff myself. And, I'm quite
sure that most true pros in the music biz feel the same way. We want to
associate ourselves with talented, hard-working, humble, yet confident people,
who are willing to do anything and everything it takes to create and build
their own success. A big part of "what it takes" is patience. When
you meet somebody you think just might help you get another rung up the ladder,
don't push it. You start by making a positive impression. As you walk away from
that first chance meeting, you want that person to be thinking, "What a
nice young feller, I wonder if he writes great songs." What you don't want
to do is to send your new show-biz acquaintance rushing to the nearest rest
room to scrub off your aggressive, obnoxious stink. You certainly desire to
make a memorable impact, but you want that recollection to be a pleasant one.
The goal is not to score a walk-off, grand-slam homer on your first swing, but
to be invited back into the conversation the next time. Relationships take time
to develop and cultivate. Then, once established, they require periodic
maintenance and careful nurturing.

The Internet has vastly expanded our networking opportunities, offering more
and greater potential to make new connections all over the world. To abuse that
incredible opportunity for whatever reason is beyond foolish. Presumptuousness,
rudeness, and disrespect broadcasts a person's propensity for stupidity,
cruelty, and self-destruction to a worldwide audience and can taint a person’s
reputation permanently. Once it’s there, you can't run away from it. I have
made some huge mistakes in my life. Several of my gaffs became somewhat
notorious in certain circles. The most notable was probably the day I offended
Clive Davis so blatantly that he immediately withdrew his offer of a recording
contract with Arista Records. (An account of this blighted chapter from my
checkered past is detailed in my book, Makin'
Stuff Up
.) I try to be much more careful these days. Popping off in an
email or impulsively posting something in an online forum can lead to a
firestorm of negative energy pointed in your direction. Take it from me. I've
faced the flames of scorn more times than I care to discuss.

Relationships. Cultivate them. Do not disregard the people in your life who
might potentially open the door to success. Before you flash out in anger (or
to protect your fragile ego) take a deep breath. Swallow your pride. Try to be
nice. We pros like nice people, considerate, respectful, gracious, and grateful
people. There, there, Chad. Sorry, you blew it with me. I'm sure you won't lose
any sleep over it. But, then again, neither will I.

Views: 96

Tags: bishop, business, facebook, gherming, loman, music, music-biz, rand, relationships, show-biz, More…songwriting, success, willy

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Comment by Greg Hopkins on November 19, 2010 at 4:56am
Outstanding!

Chad may have not even known you were an industry pro at first, and was perhaps following the misguided assumption that adding a ton of friends to his online social network and then messaging them incessantly is an effective way of promoting his music. Many artists even do this with software that automatically sends hundreds of friend requests while they sleep at night. Then mass messages go out the next day with links to their music.

anyhow,

Great post!
I especially like that you tagged it 'gherming'. I'm about to click on it and see what it returns...

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