Whether it be with Radio Stations or the Record Labels, there are certain things that make industry life easier
There are certain rules that music and radio pros MUST follow if they are to have long-term success. These are the ones I find most helpful. I’ve made some of these mistakes but thank God I’m a person who learns lessons quickly. Hit “NEXT” above or below for the next segment.
Know that it’s Business FIRST…
.. then you will never be disappointed! I cannot tell you how many people I have seen DESTROYED when they can’t separate the business from the personal side of the industry. Their whole lives are based on the industry, no personal friends or personal life and I have been guilty of this in the past too.
This is a lifestyle industry, an industry where we may be around each other all day and even at night and then see each other again at events. There are VERY few TRUE legends in the industry, I’m talking about those who are immortalized and get the ultimate respect like Frankie Crocker. So be prepared just because you make millions today and are loved by everyone doesn’t mean you won’t be collecting unemployment in two years. Everything is about what you can do and deliver. Yesterday’s legacy has its limits.
Always be Professional
It’s easy to mistake radio and music industry jobs as fun and long term and it’s very easy to get really comfortable really fast. Make no mistake, this is a lifestyle industry and trust is something that it takes YEARS to earn in the industry. Never hang out with industry people at a bar or let them into your personal space. This, once again, is where you are crossing the lines of business and friendships and truth be told, you are MUCH better off making friends like this who don’t work in the industry. You are ALWAYS working in the music industry, especially in cities like Los Angeles where you could see industry people in the grocery store. When money, your career, and lifestyle are intertwined, try your best to keep it professional.
Diversify your Skills
In the industry, those who last the longest are the Jack of all trades and master of none. If you do one thing your entire career you will either age out or be phased out for whatever replaces it quickly. I see a LOT of this, people in their 50 and 60s still doing what they did in their 20s and 30s. This is the best way to have a very short career.
The more you do when you are younger, the more leverage you have to remain employed when you are older. Today, you can even learn things when you are older if you are willing to not think that your way is the best way.
Stay on Top of Technology …
… but make sure you develop a social community on AND offline. Many and I mean MANY people over 40 think they don’t need social networks. What they are really saying is ”I don’t know how it works and I don’t feel like learning’ so they give up. This is the absolute dumbest thing I have ever heard and seen. Tech is here to stay and it’s something that takes time to learn and establish your skills. If you ignore it today it will cost you tomorrow. Make it easy on yourself, take a class at a place like General Assembly in LA that teaches you how to master social networks. There are companies like this all over the country that can jump-start your knowledge and ability to tackle the social network world.
Hoarding and Dominating
It took me many years to understand that just because others hoard and hold information, you don’t have to be that way. If something is meant for you it will be yours and if it’s not it won’t be but greedy people always suffer in one way or the other. Even if it means they don’t grow. When you look at some of the most successful companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, they share the wealth with employees by giving amazing vacation packages, having nap rooms at the office, giving them great pay, sometimes free childcare and free lunch and snacks during the day. They are NOTHING like a Walmart whose, employees, constantly struggle to make ends meet and they have a higher turnover rate but the board and upper-level management are outrageously rich.
If you are a person who doesn’t want anyone else to be successful, go ahead, hoard and be greedy. I promise you that you will never grow. Also, don’t use others to help you and not return the favor, you will quickly develop a reputation of someone who cannot be trusted and it will stick with you.
Give in order to receive. If you ask an established industry exec to help you vs asking if you can take them to lunch… you will get a LOT more information by taking them to lunch. You get much more time to ask questions and you develop a relationship…
Have an Action Plan
Go into whatever you do and make sure you give yourself a time limit to be where you want to be. If it doesn’t happen, move on but work with 1 to 3-year limits and you will move up much quicker in the industry.
GOD I wish I had known this when I was younger I would have saved my most valuable asset, TIME. So I’m giving it to you. Take chances and apply for GREATER job opportunities each time. When someone offers you something, that indicates that you have leverage, never accept the initial offer. ALWAYS ask for a day or two to think about it (so you don’t appear desperate) even if you just pissed on yourself with excitement.
Lateral moves are a waste of time and NEVER and I mean NEVER take a gig that is a step backward in order to move up unless it is temporary and you REALLY need it. That is never to your benefit but more so to the person hiring you. I fell for this once and it took me 3 years to recover from that.
The one person who should always have your absolute best interest at heart will always be YOU first. There are older industry people who will mislead you, not always intentionally but sometimes that is the case too and they will give you the worst advice. Follow your gut.
Surround Yourself with the Best People
…and not always the SAME people. As your goals change so will your business associates. In addition, your business associates will pay an integral part in your growth or demise. As your goals change, there is always a way to meet expand your network by meeting newer people who have more insight and more to offer in the way of business. Make sure you bring something to the table too. Don’t make everything about YOU and YOUR dreams. Show interest in what others are doing as well. If you connect with the right people and you assist each other one of you will eventually be in a position to help the other one. In the music industry strength CERTAINLY comes in numbers. People move up very fast in the industry and you want to make sure you have plenty of contacts so meet as many people as possible.
Have a Personal Life
Industry work can dominate your entire life by day and night. It’s great as long as you are being productive but the moment you are no longer in the pocket and nobody has any use for you it can be devastating for many people. This is ALWAYS the result of poor planning and a lackadaisical approach to one’s career in the industry. They think their jobs will last forever. Make sure you have a good balance in your life of people who are connected and not connected to the industry and try to not combine the two.
Take a vacation or a trip every year or twice a year. Hell, I know people who take a trip every other week. Reward yourself for your hard work, life is not guaranteed and neither is your career. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Be a Cash Saver AND Cash Investor
One of the best investments you can make early on is real estate, paying rent after 35 is just not wise and it’s not a good set up for retirement. Own some property put some money in mutual funds and invest in yourself and for an emergency down the road. I can promise you after surviving two recessions (one barely) the rainy days WILL COME.
If you have really hard time-saving, open an online account or another bank account and take a percentage of each check and put it in the other account. I would suggest opening an account at an online bank with a high-interest return rate like Capital One.
One other rule of money NEVER let people know you have it. That’s YOUR business and for YOU not for a long list of sob stories to separate you from it and to turn friendships upside down.
Saying “My Destiny” and Control Your Own Destiny. (bonus)
Drive your OWN career vehicle. Leave your career in someone else’s hands and 99% of the time you will be deeply disappointed. Everyone has their own agenda and that’s fine just don’t get caught up in it. Make sure YOU know what YOU want to do and follow your plan at all costs.