Music and radio industry trades have always had the propensity to focus on the successful aspects of our industry; corporate moves, management, acquisitions, and music. I think it is also our responsibility (or at least my own) to give back and to teach younger people how to navigate the unpredictable industry waters. It’s not always about money sometimes it’s just about
hits and likes, I mean, giving back. (lol)
Quite often, I get calls from young black radio talent around the country asking me how to handle some of the things that I’m about to list. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to mentor a lot of people but I do try to communicate via phone or email with younger industry people on a regular basis as long as they are not asking me for rent money.
These are some of the things that will help steer your career in the right direction more efficiently. These are also the things that I’ve seen people in my generation either ignore or simply be ignorant to that ended up costing them BIG later on. Big as in houses, cars, jewels and even their lives. Please note a career in the industry is not promised. No other trade gives a damn about your career but I do (because I know you may be in a position to hire me 10 years from now when all of my generation is out. (I’ve never been stupid, but I have been broke and I didn’t like that sh).
I’m going to offer you 10 ways to save time money and frustration to quickly grow your career in the industry and to prosper. I sincerely hope this information helps you and that you will pass it around on your social networks to help others like you, in and out of the industry because the first rule is … to get back you have to give back, unintentionally and out of pure consideration of course.
Focus on Passion
It is very easy to get caught up in the BS of a Radio station. My advice is to focus on your craft and your passion and keep improving, the better you are, the more likely it is to ascend the ladder more quickly. The industry has a disdain for troublemakers and gossip mongers and word spreads fast on them and they disappear never to be heard from again. The people that I have known who were like this were always the FIRST to go. Stay in your lane and avoid oncoming traffic and accidents. Click NEXT above or below for next segment
RUN from Negative People
There are some people who are just hard-wired for misery. No amount of Zoloft will change that. A psychology professor I had in college used to say “Misery Loves MISERABLE company.” She was absolutely right! There are some negative people who won’t be happy until you die! Avoid negative unhappy people at all cost in and out of the industry, they are like vampires who are never satisfied until they suck your spirit dry and turn you into them. Ironically, I can’t say these people will never go far because I know SUCCESSFUL people who are negative and miserable and I have even had bosses like this too, which is the worst-case scenario. But if there is one thing I have learned it is, no matter how nice she dresses, how good her hair looks, how many friends she has on Instagram or how drunk YOU get … Karma is STILL ugly and she ALWAYS comes to collect. When people do you wrong, get the hell out of the way cause Karma will pay them a visit.
Set a Time Limit
Wherever you go, depending on the market size, give yourself one year, two years max to achieve a goal that you should set from day one. If you’re in a city like NYC, or ATL give it more time. If you set a goal, you are more likely to achieve it or at least determine when to leave. But the worst thing that you can do is wait for break that is not going to come or leave your destiny in someone else’s hands.
Watch How You Start/Chop the Dangling Carrot
I know from experience that how you go into a situation is almost always how you come out. if you go in getting what you want you’re going to leave satisfied but if you go in with promises on the table, you failed negotiation 101. “Promises” can’t open a bank account or buy a house (well, actually a promissory note can but you don’t need to know about that now). You never get what you deserve you get what you NEGOTIATE. When someone tells you we will bring you in with this pay, and see how things go… and if things go well we’ll give you a raise in six months, I’m willing to bet you six months will never come no matter how good you are. If they can’t give you everything you need upfront figure out a way to ask for something else of equal value, Weekends off, extra remotes etc. But beware of the dangling carrot. Also, keep in mind if I can get you to work for $10.00 an hour, why would I raise you to $20.00? If that’s the case why not hire someone else for the other $10.00 and get two people for the price of one?
We work in a “lifestyle” industry. This means we spend a lot of time day and night around industry people. It is very easy for the lines to get blurred at times and to think that industry people are your friends. Truth be told, a majority of industry people are your associates. This is a business, never forget that! If you don’t believe me, wait until you lose a job and you are out of work for six months. See how many people stay in touch with you. But don’t be offended, take note.
Try your best to go to industry events solo or with other industry people in your industry only. At times you want to show off what you’ve earned to your friends and family members but if your cousin only has two teeth in the back and they get drunk at an industry event or your Auntie is asking an executive at a dinner “Are you gonna eat the rest of that burger?” (with her purse open waiting for his answer) who do you think that’s going to be a reflection on? I have made this mistake several times and I can honestly tell you it can take you 20 years to build a reputation and 2 minutes to destroy it. Respect your legacy from start to finish.
Go to events like CES
You owe it to yourself to save your money and go to events like CES in Vegas in January (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show). They host an amazing array of all of the latest technological advances and you can run into CEOs, VPs, music and hip hop music celebrities and management from various major corporations to start developing your industry contacts. I go each year and I strongly suggest you look beyond the industry for your future, either radio is going to be a career or a stepping stool to something greater.
The Power of Investing
No one is going to invest in your career as much as you are. Not just your career, but you. As the old adage goes no one can love you if you don’t love yourself. Buy a property when you’re young and make sure it’s in an area that’s going to generate some revenue for you down the road. A house gives you “leverage” and leverage means you can negotiate. It’s better to be broke and own a house then it is to be broke living in an apartment. It takes a lot longer to get kicked out of a house and you can make arrangements with the bank but an apartment isn’t hearing it. Buy something when you are you young. Also, learn the stock market invest in mutual funds get online and learn about E*TRADE and other services like it that charge a small fee to invest. Invest in the time that it takes to achieve your ultimate goals. I’m talking about where you want to end up in the industry. Give yourself five no more than 10 years to get there and you will. Don’t do like many in my generation did with no direction and not reaching their goal until 20 to 25 years later, If at all.
Diversify Your Skills
When I first moved to LA many years ago, I was working for the top industry trade publication. People at the publication constantly complained about all the jobs they had to do. I looked forward to the opportunities and took them head on. I looked at the job like college and my low pay as the stipend. Bottom line, it paid off and has been paying off for 21 years now. I took what I learned and started my own trade publication. Look at your job like college, and take as many courses as you can because the more you diversify your skills, the longer your career will last.
Listen to Your Gut
Intuition is an amazing thing, If only we listen to it. It’s a feeling that tells you something is wrong or something is right. GO WITH IT. Learn to listen to it and let it guide you, it will never steer you wrong. It will give you a warning about the people you’re dealing with the places you go and the things that you do. If your gut is telling you it is time to make a move, but your mind is telling you give it another year, more than likely you going a waste a year. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to my gut and made a move and what I was waiting for was presented to me immediately. You have to value yourself in order for other people to value you.
Be the Guru of your own Career
While it is nice to have a programmer believe in you, the way you feel about yourself… is more important. His or her dreams are not YOUR dreams. Never put your career in the hands of others, you’ll most likely miss great opportunities.
The Power of Relationships
Social media may be great but most of us barely know our followers in person, if at all. The one thing that will remain constant in the radio and music industry is relationships. That will help to sustain and grow your career. Never under-estimate relationships. As the saying goes treat everyone the way that you want to be treated you never know who’s watching you, but I can guarantee you one thing, people are always watching. So make sure you make the best impression.
Read the Trade Publications
I can suggest three great industry trades that you should be reading on a regular basis. Radio Facts , Radio Facts and Oh Yeah, let’s not forget Radio Facts . There are more thing I could list but let’s see how this goes and if y’all youn’ens listen.