Music Industry Red Flags: “We Are No Good At The Business Side Of Things”


I often argue that years of reading rock journalism and watching movies teaches musicians very stupid myths about how the music industry works. One of those myths is that if you are good enough that a manager, A&R man, or whoever is going to scoop you up and you are never going to have to worry about the business side of your music career ever again. Unfortunately this is RARELY the case. When we say rarely the case we mean one in a million.

What many bands do not realize is that most managers and A&R people who are successful aren’t rocket scientists or even hard working. There have been countless successful careers in this industry that have been built on finding bands who have the whole package of good songs and business savvy and riding their coattails to the top. Even in the cases where the music industry figure is astute and has a great work ethic they don’t want to be carrying all of the weight, especially in this age of smaller budgets. Follow me to the jump and we will discuss why saying or being “no good at the business side of things” is a one way ticket to your parents basement for the rest of your life.

Let’s say your music has caught the ear of a music industry person you would really like to work with. You then decide to meet up and discuss things. Consider this a first date, if you say “We are no good at the business side of things” you may as well say “I am impotent and will never be able to have sex with you.” Just as sex is a part of any relationship, the business side of things is part of any successful music act. If you are telling your new potential partner that you are incapable of doing it, this does not make you a very suitable mate. It means that this music industry figure is going to have to work twice as hard since their partner isn’t pulling their weight.

While you may have seen movies where all the band does is party and sip Margarita’s poolside while some guy in a suit deals with the business side of things, I hope you realize this is no longer the case. Bands need to be an ear to ground of finding out what the other bands are doing to get ahead as well as offer guidance on what they think they should do. At that, with decreasing budgets it becomes all the more important that you can conduct business and help promote your band since your label most likely won’t be able to hire someone who will. The days of being able to sit back and hang out with 12 strippers in a bed like Paul Stanley are over and instead you are getting a lapdance from your laptop as you type away all night and day.

Unfortunately, you can’t fake this one either. Just keeping it to yourself that you are a bad businessman isn’t going to get you a passing grade. Any music industry figure is going to see you are a bad business man pretty fast and if they see that they are going to have no help in this department and you are going to be a co-dependent-know-nothing-loser they may pass on your for someone with some business savvy. So what do you do? Start reading!

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.