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Warnings for the Up and Coming Artist

Updated on November 19, 2013

Words of Wisdom from a Pro

A great friend of mine (and former producer for some of the top names in LA) told me over a scotch and soda this pearl of wisdom, ‘Be careful who you burn on the way up, you will meet them on the way down.’ To me these were great words as I bought his drink and picked his brain as I struggled over a current client who was choosing to maybe not make the best decision when it came to our relationship. (Definitely not the first time and most likely it won’t be the last).

My friend with the free drink isn't the only person I've heard this from. I believe I also heard it on the playground from my 1st grade, ‘Do unto others…’ (I think it’s in the Bible too…) And the key here is not, 'Oh, here is another selfish person' It is more what do you do when you are faced with one, especially one you were trekking with on the road to fame.

The bummer is that there are those who think they can justify how they treat another person based on their current status. The reality is that contracts end, bands break up and shows get cancelled. What doesn’t change is this town and whom you end up running into now and again, who works with who and who talks to who. You burn enough bridges you end up swimming across a sea of muck and you can only doggie paddle so long before you drown. The real of LA LA land is that there are no lone wolfs. Your success is a result of many people who have worked alongside you to get you to the level you are at. One of the most abused places in this cog is management. Often the use of a manager can seem redundant and unnecessary. And in some cases that may be true.

As an artist you may need the use of accountability to get you to where you are going. You may be in a position where you cannot manage your career and juggle all of the balls of your life. Perhaps you need the contacts a manager has to get your foot in the door to an agent, negotiate a contract or connect with a group of people on a professional level. Unfortunately what can happen is that once you are in the niche, you may find a question mark why you are paying the manager. Ah, this is the pit that can get you in trouble.

The reality is the manager walked in and helped you get where you are AND they did it for the payoff now. No manager works for free. A manager does not get paid ahead of time to work for you (sometimes fight for you) or to represent you in the best potential scenario for hire. Their work and pay is after you are in the position. You choosing to drop them because you then want to keep the entire profit is selfish and dumb. You are not thanking your manager but insulting them. You are assuming they worked their butt off for you for free.

That is personal. The professional is this; if you have a contract with a manager and they negotiated a deal where you are now monetarily receiving gain you are entitled legally to honor the agreement/contract you signed. If you agreed on a verbal agreement you are liable, even if its just your honor. Refusing to monetarily compensate them is breaking the contract and opening up you as the artist to a potential lawsuit.

Think twice about burning bridges with the persons who help you get to where you are going. Don’t let a little green turn you stupid and cut off the person or people who supported you when you were less known. And remember, you may run across them again and then where will you be? If you think, ‘that will never happen’....well, think again and go buy our buddy another round and absorb what he has learned, your lack of interest can cost you your career.

© 2013 Deborah Capstone


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