“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission."
- Grace Hopper
Last night I received a message on Facebook from a friend inviting me to use a new twitter account "group". They provided the account info/password, a few quick and simple guidelines, and suggested I allow other individuals to have access to the account information as I saw fit, in order to tweet from it.
I was horrified.
Luckily, there was a window of opportunity to park the account in an attempt clear up some major (and obvious) concerns I had with this.
Upfront, I don't think anybody can claim ownership on a hashtag… but #DearBands is something I came up with and have been using for almost a full year now on Twitter. Since the beginning, the tweets have been well received and I've been encouraged to tweet more often. While a few think it's a platform to poke fun at bands, there's actually a bigger picture in mind and I believe in order for an idea to grow, some care should be taken while planting the seeds.
#DearBands is an anonymous association of music industry professionals ranting and blowing off steam about bands today.
This is false.
#DearBands is a hashtag created by @HeyLangford to give gentle reminders to bands and artists to be aware of how they conduct, promote, and represent themselves online and in person, with a goal of encouraging amateurs and professionals to engage in conversation through various forms of social networks, in order to share ideas, opinions, and work towards a greater good for the music industry of tomorrow.
This is true.
In response to parking the account, which you can imagine didn't make me the most popular person in the room, I wanted it to be known I felt like my brand (and idea) was being compromised and the "new" description wasn't even close to what my original intentions are… and where admittedly the idea to form the group had come from. Being friends, I'm disappointed with how this has played out the past 24 hours but here are my concerns/issues:
I don't believe in anonymity, especially online.
If you have something to say, stand behind your words. Praise or criticism, it's not what you say, it's who says it... that's why the pen can be mightier than the sword. The weight of the words are lost if it's said without a face or personality to accompany it. Chances are the account/hashtag would simply become intermittent bite size chunks of comic relief… in my opinion, the lowest rung on the entertainment ladder on something like Twitter.
I've encouraged others to tweet using the #DearBands hashtag through their personal Twitter accounts, and slowly, they have been. This enables us to create a sort of searchable database of information, and that's a great bi-product Twitter. Good advice doesn't provide "one size fits all" solutions so allowing others to attach the tag to their tweets has a lot of value to the reader. Again, while there has been humour sprinkled in at times, the goal is to offer advice and guidance, and encourage discussion. Only fools, especially in present day, would take anonymous advice.
I don't believe ranting and venting about bands/artists is constructive to helping bands/artists.
Sure, we all have times we need to (there are things you tell your best friend, things you tell your mom, and things you'd only tell your dog), but I feel that, and I have 50+ #DearBands sitting my drafts folder, what we put out in the world comes back three fold. We should have positive or at least neutral intent with our words and actions as often as possible. On the top layer, there's humour and/or sarcasm to many of my tweets, but that's part of my personality. At the heart of it though, I believe the intentions should be positive. Say things that provoke thought, a response, and encourage others to pass it on. Considering the amount of bullying awareness going on these days, I'd rather not be part of that problem, and embarrass and/or discourage people from doing what they love. I believe the solution is simply not being part of the problem.
That being said, during a somewhat, one-sided heated conversation on Facebook last night, I provided several solutions. The main one being, if you want a place to rant and blow off steam anonymously, fine… but why attempt to hijack a hashtag I've been using almost exclusively the past year, attempt to redefine it, and pass it off as your own? Why can't it be called something else? I can accept certain places need anonymity (... elections anyone?), so a simple solution for both parties would be to create something new… perhaps along the lines of "Clients From Hell".
I won't name names (they asked for anonymity after all), and I'm sure their intentions are good, but this really caught me off guard yesterday… especially coming from a friend. I'm not the aggressive type, but I'll stand up for who and what I believe is right, and do what's necessary to defend my ideas and opinions… and in cases like this, be open to work together for a compromise. Hopefully this is all resolved soon but I felt the need to say something sooner than later.
The internet is a big place and there's lots of room for everyone, good or bad, to do as they wish. It's unfortunate sometimes others attempt to claim ownership on someone else's idea… considering it's that way of thinking which prevents others from sharing their ideas in the first place.
"... use it or lose it."
September was one of those months I feel like I did a bunch of stuff… but don't know what I did exactly. I had a few hours to think about what I wanted to write about during my flight back from Edmonton the other night… a common thread for last month? Professionalism. There's a couple main points I'd like to make and I'll do my best to keep this to a toilet sitting's length.
Early in the month I finished mixing Sarah Shafey's next album. First and foremost, Sarah, and Donna Grantis (who c0-produced the album) were a pleasure to work with and I think we're all happy with the results. Initially though, my radar went off that Sarah could potentially be difficult to work with. This is nothing personal, this is based purely on past experiences with similar artists.
"... if it happens once..."
Sarah is very organized.
How is this a potential problem? Over the past couple years I've accepted a few things about musicians… one of them being, be cautious of musicians who don't act like "musicians". That doesn't mean they have to be a complete train wreck… but there's typically a large grey area around details like timelines, deadlines, payment schedules, reading/comprehension, financial priorities, common sense, etc. You know… little things. They'll get done, you just have to accept the patience necessary that come with the lifestyle.
Sarah showed up to the first mix tweak session with point form notes, for all the songs, and copies for each of us.
I love point form notes for mix tweaks… tell me what you want, not how you feel. There's lots of code names I can decipher (eg. "warmer", "darker", "brighter", "Bohnam"), but for the most part, just tell me in almost primal terms what you want.
It's simple that way. It's not being rude, it's being specific. You don't have to describe the neighbourhood when what I really need to know is the address.
Sarah also mixes and engineers, and this is her album.
"... you're here to ruin everything... aren't you."
We all have our ways of doing things and what sounds right to us… sometimes knowing too much about what happens behind the curtain is just as annoying as assuming you know what happens behind the curtain. This wasn't the case at all with Sarah though, it just made it easier for her to articulate what she was thinking.
Bottom line, being organized has a couple ends. On the bad end, it's simply an obsessive attempt at micro-managing with a side order of unrealistic expectations. Instead, you should be able to roll with the setbacks and not prevent progress when there are opportunities to get ahead.
Another problem with badly highly organized people, is they're always aiming to hit the bullseye as opposed to crossing the finish line. They'll constantly reset the cycle, thinking another attempt will give better results. Imagine you're driving and you see the same intersection 4 times… yes, you're still moving but chances are there's something wrong with your directions and/or your sense of direction. I think that's the problem with artists that can't finish in general. We don't always have to come in first or hit the bullseye. Completing art is about getting it across the line... that being said, where you set the line is up to you.
On the good side of being organized... efficiency, focus, and endgame vision.
I did a spec mix for a band early last month. I do spec mixes often and although my track record for getting the project is pretty good… sometimes I don't, they let me know, and it's totally cool. Considering our initial meeting, this particular project seemed like it was for sure, just going through the normal paces to know what I'm getting into time wise.
They explained early on how the previous studio they'd recorded at had screwed them over a little (red flag) and that they had a tight timeline. I turned over the spec mix within the week and explained it'd be best to have the rest of the songs asap if they wanted it done by the end of Sept/early Oct.
One week goes by… nothing.
Two weeks go by… still no response.
Response from management was they didn't know what's up either.
"... something seems off."
By this point I'd already assumed I wasn't getting the project but it wasn't official until I saw the band posting about mixing at the original studio on Facebook... Facebook official!? It's not like people aren't going to find out what you're up to, it's just that you look like a bit of a knob for leaving people in the dark or directly attempting to indirectly mislead them. Then again, with some people, it just doesn't cross their mind to say anything for whatever reason.
"... most of the time, it's better to say something, all of the time."
The main annoyance isn't the poor communication though, again, musicians being musicians. It's the time I don't get back. I blocked out a chunk of time to do the project since they were on a tight schedule and it seemed like all things were "go". It's not about how long the band/artist thinks a project will take... I do a mix on spec to see how long I know it'll take me. I don't want to cut corners or wear myself thin trying to hit a deadline if it's unnecessary. It sucks to look in the mirror and see dark circles under your eyes from a project that just wasn't worth it. So lack of communication is one thing, and I know the band will have their excuses, but the long and the short of it is, it's unprofessional… not to mention it leaves a mark on the people who referred them. Will it end someones career? Of course not… but acting unprofessional rarely helps in the long run.
So bands/artists, just keep these things in mind when someone doesn't bend on budgets, timelines, and deposits. Another band or artist before you is to blame. They got there first and messed it up. It's up to you to break tradition.
"... just stay the fuck away from this tradition."
So, with that out of the way… I was blessed with the presence of The Pecan Sandies later in the month who were in to record a few more tunes for an upcoming release. They were in earlier this year and were just as much fun this time around. It's a simple 2-piece, baritone guitar and drums driven rock outfit, and easily one of my favourite acts in the city. They talked about a few of their video ideas and I can't wait to see them completed and out in the real world… two great musicians making simple music they love and have fun playing. What a concept.
Lastly, as I made a slick reference too early in this post, I was in Edmonton last weekend to record drums for some new Tupelo Honey songs. I love mentioning these types of gigs to people… their response is a mix of "that's cool!" to "why would they bring you all the way out there? Is there nobody out there who could record it? Are you actually THAT good at recording drums? Am I in the presence of drum recording royalty or somethin'??"… yeah that last bit sounds better in a Joe Pesci voice… seriously though… some people make comments like anybody could do it... which is 100% true… to a point… but when it gets down to it, it's shitloads more fun to work with your friends, and much easier to work with people you've worked with a lot in the past.
"... good times... it's a team sport."
The recording process is just that, a process. The more you work with people, the more you understand their process and don't have to say much to know what's going on. Like most things in life, it's more fun when you're good at it. Put a good producer, a good engineer, a good drummer, and a good assistant (to glue everything together) in a room for few hours, good things happen… and we have fun in the process.
I usually see the Tupelo guys when they're in Toronto… it's been years now since we first met and the visits are frequent enough I forget they're on the other side of the country. We've flown Greg to Toronto a couple times to track drums here, so it was fun to go out there for a change and I'm glad Jeff (producer) threw the idea by me and the invite. It was a quick trip but felt more like a visit with friends than actual work.
… then again work rarely feels like work... and on that note...
"do, do, do, do, do, duhdoo, do
do, do, do, do, do, duhdoo, do
do, do, do, do, dooooo0000."
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!