I grew up on punk rock. The last thing you would do in the scene I grew up in is network. In fact to this day if someone talks to me about networking I throw up in my mouth. When people network we often hear what they are really saying aka “what can you do for me?” When someone is a total douche-bag and is blatantly trying to use me to help their band using empty compliments and ego inflation, I instantly turn on them. This is what I like to call being a douchebag. Networking just feels slimy and business like – some I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine type stuff. In punk rock we knew we needed to be social and work together to get our movement stronger (and look where it got us). We were social and genuine in helping each other, we worked to get each others backs scratched without a sliminess or expectation. After the jump we will go over how you can apply this and learn how to not be a networker or a total douche-bag and instead be a real person while getting your band further.
I was not born an outgoing person, however
working in a club and a studio definitely did a world of good for my
social skills since I had to learn how to converse with new people
everyday. Time and time again, I have seen friends come out of
their shells and really enjoy being social once they learn how to do it and love
what it brings to their lives. If you have decided that you are sick of
your day job and going to do whatever it takes to get a career in the
music business it is time to accept that a lot of that is being social.
We have all seen countless bands get successful because of who they know – even though you think they suck. This is their social skills, you can either hate them for it while waking up at 8 AM 5 days a week or you can learn to do it without being half as much of a douche as them. Social skills may not get your band signed alone, but they help get good and even amazing bands to be noticed by the world. You can be the best band in the world but if enough people don’t hear you that are involved in the industry, no one is going to ever know it.
You also have an advantage if you are not a born socialite. It keeps you a little more honest. For those of us not born with the gene to just ask people to help us and schmooze it is probably be a good thing. If you offer your inherent kindness and are just nice to people and talk to people about real things rather then just talking till you can ask them to help your band they will like you a lot better.
Some people will say you should “be
yourself” and I agree, but there is a part of that saying that people take the wrong way. Be yourself means if you are not a kiss ass don’t be one, don’t
pretend to like things you don’t and don’t change your opinions to fit
in. What “be yourself” does not mean is if you feel like a social retard
it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change that. It does not mean give up on self improvement and never change yourself when you see that you could be better at something that will help your life and make you happier by obtaining your dreams. People often will hide
behind the saying and say “I’m just being myself and I am not very
social.” We all have room for improvement and I guarantee you will not
sacrifice any of your ideals in life or compromise one ounce of your
convictions by simply talking to other people and discussing new ideas.
I will ask you a simple question – do you hate your day job and like the
idea of being shy or anti-social more then accomplishing your dreams? If not get out there and talk a little I promise it won’t be that bad once you try it a few times.
Let me put your mind at ease.
- You don’t have to tell everyone you love their band.
- You don’t have to ask for people to do things for you (nothing makes me sick to my stomach worse than asking someone to do something for me).
- You don’t have to give any blow jobs or buy anyone drinks (but it is nice if you see Todd or I out on the town).
Being social is simple, talk to people about what you may have in common, and if you don’t have much – so be it. The people you have a bond with keep talking to, if you don’t like someone and they rub you wrong – move on. No one is saying you have to get on your knees and bend over for Satan after signing a pact with him. Find like minded people who you get along with and work with them to help both of you. Even if someone is more successful than you it doesn’t mean you can’t help them and they can’t help you. If you get ten people out to their next show and they are a band that draws 250 people trust me they are appreciative. When you get to that point you will appreciate it too. Being social means getting out of your house and finding people you like and get along with and starting a movement to help each other.
In the punk rock movement I grew up on, we worked hard to help each other because we wanted more people to know our ideals and be into what our likes to make the world a better place. If you aren’t into the whole political ideas movement thing and you think your band is writing great songs and hate how bad some others are think about that as your movement you are trying to spread. Bring up what you are down with.
Kurt Cobain started a massive movement in the nineties by simply telling everyone about all of his favorite bands. He wasn’t trading favors since a lot of the bands were way smaller than his and/or broken up. He was was simply promoting what he liked and trying to bury what he didn’t like by the example of his own band.
Even typing that word makes me quiver. The second I feel like someone is talking business with me in that “I will scratch your back if you scratch mine” way I want to run out of a room. Unfortunately, dealing with networkers is necessary in business since so many people adopt this as they become successful. Even worse as your band becomes successful you will see more and more of these people. For most of them it is innocent enough, they were taught this is how business is done and they are kind of right. Many people want to scratch each others backs and use favors as currency in the industry. Personally, there is some people who offer to do this and I feel it is innocent and I like them when we aren’t “networking.” I don’t think they are bad people I think they were just taught by idiots how to act when talking business. If I think their business is cool and we can work with them to help each other I play ball. But I know that if I have the power to exist without them, never again will I play their sleazy network business card tossing game.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. The corporate cock sword fight is one of the stupidest things we have to deal with in music. Just talk like humans there is no need to brag and see how to trade favors and “exchange contacts.” Be yourself and if your personalities don’t mesh odds are if you work together on something your lives will both me miserable because some people don’t gel with others. If someone rubs you wrong walk the other way and please don’t “exchange cards” for f*cks sake.
Being A Douche-bag
Ugh, nothing worse. There is probably no cure for you if you are one so I will just warn those of you who have been spared of this genetic affliction on how to avoid it and not be influenced by the ways of the douche. Here is the actions of a douche-bag, and how you can be better then them.
- “I love your band” – If you don’t love someone’s band – you don’t need to say it. Most people can tell when someone is a real fan, whether it is tone of voice or just the way the douche says things – everyone can tell the real deal from a douchemaster. Even if you are asking for something like an opening slot you don’t need to lie about your fondness. Everyone can tell when you are lying and even if they don’t say it they can feel it. Tell them the truth of why it would be good to have you as an opener don’t bribe the person with lies and false compliments. Relate to them and if you two gel they will be happy to help you even more than you are asking.
- Buying drinks and expecting a favor in return – It is so obvious when someone is being nice because they want something. It is about as comfortable as a hand you feel on your inner thigh in a public bathroom stall. If you want to really get your band somewhere – be real, find a bond with the other person as a human. Are you both into politics, guitar pedals, scamming on chicks, UFC, whatever? It doesn’t matter how classy or shallow it is if you are the same type of people, that creates a real bond. People want to help others they have a real bond with, not the douchebag who bought them drinks hoping they would get a favor in return. BE A HUMAN!!!
- Insisting that someone has to help you for whatever reason – When I used to book shows, bands would tell me they should be on a show because “they deserve it.” Unfortunately life doesn’t work like that and if you try to be intimidating and persuasive you are losing your chance at getting what you want. If you really believe you should be on a show discuss it with the promoter, do not insist and try to play “mind games.” If you are playing these games – odds are you already more of a retard than the person you are dealing with.