Three Attributes to Look For In A Performing Arts Company

Over my lifetime obsession with Artist Management and Arts Administrative jobs I have read hundreds of articles, dozens of books, and looked into the lives of successful artist management teams with a microscope. Trying to learn the ins and outs of what makes these people successful is mind boggling sometimes. In LA everyone likes to put on a front. It is hard to decipher who is truly competent and who has a team of people that truly makes them and their company’s successful. During the last 10 years in the work force I have learned that there are three things I need in an art management job to be happy – teamwork among co-workers, well developed organizational structure, and great leadership.

Having co-workers you can depend on in the work place is vital to events going off without a hitch. If there is distrust in the workplace you have a tendency to try and do everything yourself which in most cases is not humanly possible without working seven days a week. So how do you trust the people you work with quickly when just stepping into a job? Get to know them outside of work and get personal. Don’t just talk about work. If meeting up outside of work gives you hives try connecting with individuals in the office one on one. You would be surprised how many people will open up when you include them in a project you are working on or asking for their advice.

Jonathan Dickins (Adele’s Manager) said, “If you have a short term focus, you are going to get short term results.” Having a lack of organizational structure is detrimental. I have worked in both structured and unstructured companies. Many that are unstructured manage all events, tours, and marketing within the event year, while structured companies manage all event aspects in a three to five year timeframe. Having that time allows for branding development, strategic marketing, and event expansion. How can a company grow if all you are ever worried about is getting through that year? The answer is it is impossible.

Finally, and the most important, strong leadership. Jimmy Iovine is one of the biggest names in the music business side of the industry. In a past Billboard magazine Iovine said, “Be careful not to breathe your own exhaust.” I think this statement encompasses why great leaders are great. Be careful not to look at everything you say as gospel. Know that you can be wrong. And understand that to bring the company up, you have to bring your team up first. The importance of how you approach your employees can be what makes you stand out as a great leader or horrible boss. If you are supportive and encouraging with a mix of level-headed toughness it is going to make everyone work just as hard as you do because there is a line of respect. In Aretha Franklin’s words, “All I’m asking is for a little respect, just a little bit.”

The Four Letter F-Word

Everyday can be a struggle when you feel that fear has a hold of you.  Fear to move on.  Fear to love.  Fear of the unknown.  When your a child, that fear doesn’t exist.  You trust without a thought.  You love with no regret.  You believe that you can do anything.  So, when does that fear become an emotion that grasps on so tight that it becomes difficult to move, to breath, or to hold on to reality?  Human nature makes us believe that everything is black or white, good or bad, but sometimes there is a grey area that gets forgotten about when people’s actions can be carried by the emotion of fear.  Fear can lead to regret, heartbreak, and resentment.  Why do we allow this emotion to control our actions?  Why can’t our mind go back to our childhood and block out that four letter word?

Society connects with stories about the underdog.  The person that was never meant to make it because of one thing or another.  Is anyone truly an underdog, or do we create these immortal men and women hoping to hold on to something that is better than our own lives?  The people that are important in our lives make us believe that the impossible is possible, but no matter how many people believe in you means nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.  When fear takes hold, you can feel stuck.  Almost like no matter which why you go, what action you make, you are going to fall through that crack in the floor and not be able to recover.

Over the years as I have watched the people around me change.  You notice their personalities change the most as they get older.  You let people go that maybe you should have held on to while others became more important in your life that started out as acquaintances.  You watch your parents, the people that literally could scare you with one look become these 50-something year old people of a totally relaxed mind-set.  The anger that you once saw when you would do something bad is no longer there.  Instead it has been replaced with a calm mind-set that it is now your life and your choices to make.  I have to say that I have been struggling with fear a lot lately.  Not fear of failure or fear of making mistakes, but fear of never being truly happy.  I’m not an emotionally driven person.  I do things based on thought and a lot of planning.  I don’t like to fly by the seat of pants in any situation and I have always thought fifty steps ahead of everyone else in the room if something doesn’t go according to plan.  I usually can tell someone how something is going to play out in any situation and 95% of time I am correct.  This is not me gloating, but more to show you that the people that may look like they are tied together in every way, feel the same fear that you do; they may just be less publicly emotional about it.  In Eminem’s song “Guts Over Fear” he raps:

“Do I really belong in this game? I pondered
I just wanna’ play my part, should I make waves or not?
So back and forth in my brain, the tug-o-war wages on
I don’t wanna’ seem ungrateful or disrespect the artform I was raised upon
But sometimes you gotta’ take a loss
And have people rub it in your face before you get made pissed off
Keep pluggin’, it’s your only outlet
And your only outfit so you know they’re gonna’ talk about it
Better find a way to counter it quick and make it, ah
Feel like I’ve already said this a kabillion eighty times
How many times can I say the same thing different ways that rhyme?
What I really wanna’ say is if there’s anyone else that can relate to my story
Bet ‘cha feel the same way I felt when I was in the same place you are
When I was afraid”

The best songs that we connect with are about emotions that we feel everyday and fear is just one of many, but I feel that it can be the strongest one of all to either make us fight or fall in this world.  Everything you want, desire, and need is on the other side of that fear; so let it go.  Sometimes the best you can do is take it one day at a time and get up each morning to Eminem’s “Not Afraid” because no matter how alone you feel, your not.

“And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, I’ma face my demons
I’m manning up, I’ma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now!”

A Soundtrack for the LA Commuter

3608475365_189200eaa5The normal Los Angeles commuter usually consists of people spending hours in their cars, by themselves, driving five days out of the week to get ten to twenty miles to work.  We waste an exorbitant of time alone, miserable, and constantly in a hurry to get nowhere.  It amazes me that in Los Angeles people are in such a hurry behind the wheel of a thousand pound bomb, but walking they have no sense of urgency.  Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me, but I can’t handle walking behind slow people.

Communing on the Metro you get experiences that you will never get to experience in the comfort of your own car.  Like a homeless man sleeping sprawled out over two seats, a father and a child who carry all their possessions with them in a baby carriage, or a woman passing around the same story everyday at the same time saying that she hadn’t eaten today, but will never accept food given to her only money.  In Los Angeles, I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and as I people watch on the train, moving in slow motion, you see that society is nothing but a big giant high school full of judgements.

Yesterday, there was a man on the train probably in his 60s, long white beard, balding, and kind of looked like Santa Clause who hadn’t taken a shower since last Christmas.  He seemed sad, empty, lost, and smelled a little funny.  Everyone that was sitting in a two foot vicinity moved to the opposite end of the car; except me.  He watched everyone move away and it made him sadder. He looked at me, and was waiting for the same reaction, but all I did was smile.  He smiled back and then got off the train at the next stop.

A few weeks ago there was an African-American man in his 20s that sat next to me on the train.  His friend told him that he scared me.  So, he looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was scared.  I told him that very few things scared me anymore.  We had a long conversation about work and our lives.  He grew up in LA and worked with children in the inner city and teaching them to play basketball.  I guess my point in this post is to listen to everything and everyone around you – smile, talk, and laugh with people you don’t know.  Sometimes we are so connected to technology that if the world unplugged for the day I don’t think any of us would really know how to have a normal conversation; how to truly slow down.  Society judges people based on appearance.  We are brought up in a world where people who look or dress in a certain way are more worthy of our attention.

Sometimes music can be a basis of conversation.  Full of understanding our feelings.  We never truly understand what people are going through on the outside.  Someone could be smiling and laughing, but be a complete and depressed mess on the inside.  So, I leave you with this playlist full of fifteen songs that I hope encourage you to look at people a little differently.  To slow down in more ways than one.  Change does not happen over night.  It takes year of practice.  Full of critical mistakes, being stressed out, and scars to your beautiful self, but with a little bit of real friends, images of when life was simpler when we were young, and developing close functional relationships, we can all change the way we think, act and do.

Check out the playlist here!

14 Songs: 4 Minutes Can Change Everything

Three things you can never recover in life – the word after it is said, the moment after it is missed, and the time after it is gone.  We dwell on missed opportunities, on the choices we’ve made, and on the emotions we feel everyday like over-thinking our actions is going to change what we would have done.  Thomas Edison said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”  Each minute that passes by is another minute lost when we could have been productive, could have been spending it with someone we love, could have been doing something to affect change.  Four minutes can feel like an eternity, or it can feel like the speed of light.  Many songs that we encounter in our lifetime are less than four minutes.  It can change our mood, it can make us recall a memory, or it can be a moment in time where we stop and question a thought, emotion, or an action.

“We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away” –Stolen (Dashboard Confessional)

So what’s in a song that makes our brains turn upside down?  Is it the music?  The lyrics?  A combination of the two?  Why do we gravitate towards certain music genres and not others?  As a music lover I love listening to everything – from Rap to Bubblegum pop, but this post is more about the lyrics of the songs that I have chosen in this playlist.  They are all poem-like where there seems to be a deeper meaning behind each one.  Some are tied to movies, some can give you the strength to begin again the next day, and some make you feel like there is someone out there that is meant to be your other half.  Running makes you think a lot when you are not gasping for air trying to get to the next block.  During each song on my playlist I have learn to fall into the music instead of fighting against my own body and totally giving up; pushing to the next street.

“There’s a block on the edge of this town no one talks about
Where the train doesn’t stop and the kids know they’re not getting out
You live in the loop, the smokes on the stoop
Counting the coins you got
You work at a bar where all that you are is everything you’re not
Someone tell me when
I can start again
And rewrite this story
How long can I stay
Lost without a way to rewrite
I wish I could rewrite this story” –Rewrite This Story (Smash Cast)

Four minutes can change everything – meeting someone that connects with you beyond your looks, losing someone that meant everything to you, or closing your eyes and imagining that life can be a better place with just a little bit of understanding.  A four minute song can bring you closer to understand all the emotions that happen inside.  The ones that you are not ready to talk to about with anyone; not even the ones closest to.  These words can make you feel better even if it is just a good cry that you never knew you needed.

“No hesitation now she gets up and walks
She thinks of all the pain and pride that it cost
She empties all the tip jars and won’t get back what she lost” –Best Fake Smile (James Bay)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is loving with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary” (Steve Jobs).  Emotions are a funny thing.  They make us act before truly thinking and sometimes that can be a good thing because it doesn’t allow us to over-think.  Fall into the music and let it carry your thought process even if it is for only four minutes.

Click here for the playlist!

It’s Time To Figure Me Out – The Summer Set’s Best New Song

When you’re a kid, your dreams are endless as you’re told by adults that you can do anything.  When you become an adult, that constant push to dream is squashed by the reality of bills, trying to keep up with the “it” people, and viewing your friends lives through social media as it seems more glamorous than your own.  The Summer Set will be releasing their first album in more than three years.  For the run of their fourth full-length album (Stories For Monday) they have released a few singles with one of them being a song called “Figure Me Out.”  It’s a song about reflection.  Coming to an epiphany moment where you stop listening to everyone around you and you can finally see things clearly.  Getting to that moment is difficult, because it means you have hit rock bottom.  Rock bottom is where your thoughts truly fall into place, and it can come in more forms – financial, death, family disfunction, or job frustration; like a boiling point about to blow.  One of the lines in the song says:

“Son don’t stop chasing great, and keep pounding the pavement
So, I’d much rather die tryin’ to make something sacred than live as another YouTube sensation.”

As an adult you hope that the choices you make are eventually going to lead you where you want to be.  For the last ten years I have moved from city to city, job to job looking for something, but have never truly found it.  At this point I don’t know if I even remember what I’m looking for in this world.  Security.  Family.  Friends.  To make a difference at something I love.  To Change someone’s world for the better.  Maybe it’s a little of all of the above, but getting to the point in your life where your imprint is worth more than fortune or fame is something that not everyone achieves.  Another person passed away in my graduating high school class and it got me thinking that nothing is worth your time unless you’re happy.  I mean truly happy.  Not the facade that everyone sees via social media.

“I’m too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids
I don’t know just where I fit in cause when I open my mouth I know nobody’s listenin’
In the words of profit who still can’t turn a profit
Cause I don’t fit in with the in crowd, but I’m too Hollywood to go back to my hometown
Cause they think that I’m famous when I know I’m a fraud
Who got too fucked up on the finer things to remember who he forgot
But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems maybe there’s still hope for me to start again…”

We get caught up in what people think.  Their judgements become how we live our lives.  How many likes did you get on Instagram or Facebook?  Does it really matter if some likes the picture you shared, or asked you what’s wrong from your sad status.  Of course it matters, because humans thrive on acceptance.  Should it matter?  I don’t know.  I know that if a friend from the past reached out I would be there for whatever they needed.  I know if someone I barely know wants to talk something out with an unbiased party I would listen.  I know that life hands us situations that we question if we can handle and we are surprised every time we get through it.

Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  So, why is it so difficult to find out that second most important question?  We dwell and fester on the past, the choices we make, but we never consider the fact that hindsight is 20/20.  That the other decision might not have been better.  Living in the now is important, but learning from the past can be a powerful tool.  Learn from yourself, learn from history, and learn from the people around you everyday.  Continue to do what is best for you and fight to make a difference in more than just your pocketbook or your next status update. And Brian Logan Dales know that this song has given me hope in one of the most frustrating moments in my life, and that it is time to figure me out.