Just Be Yourself — Here's Why
Tips, Tricks, and the Latest News
We’re Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith IV, co-owners of the Sweetheart Pub. We’re music industry veterans with over 30 years of combined experience in the music business, having worked in licensing, talent buying/booking, label management, tour management, and more. Once a week (hopefully), we’ll publish a new edition of this newsletter, where we’ll share some philosophy and actionable advice on all facets of the music industry.
This is the free version of the newsletter. Consider subscribing below to receive more in-depth research and opinion pieces.
We’ve been putting together a weekly playlist of seven songs (just enough to keep your attention) every week — check out The Sweet Spot to hear what we’ve been listening to.
What we’re thinking about this week…
I was recently reminded of this lecture given by Charlie Kaufman that includes some of the best advice on being an artist I’ve ever heard.
You can watch the video to get the full effect, but I have transcribed the key parts for you below.
Say who you are. Really say it, in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there, who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won't be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can't help but be. But more importantly, if you're honest about who you are, you'll help that person be less lonely in their world, because that person will recognize him or herself in you.
And that will give them hope. And it's done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It's profound importance in my life.
Give that to the world rather than selling something to the world.
Don't allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work. And that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.
This is from E.E. Cummings:
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, it means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
The world needs you. It doesn't need you at a party, having read a book about how to appear smart at parties.
These books exist. And they're tempting. But resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party, starting real conversations. Saying, “I don't know.”
Then at 11:33
It isn't easy, but it's essential. It's not easy because there's a lot in the way. In many cases, a major obstacle is your deeply-seated belief that “you” is not interesting. And since convincing yourself that you are interesting is probably not going to happen, take it off the table. Agree, perhaps I'm not interesting, but I am the only thing I have to offer and I want to offer something. And by offering myself in a way I am doing a great service to the world because it is rare and it will help.
Tips on Working with Talent Buyer Jeff Tuohy
No matter what, promote!
A venue will appreciate you getting the word out. Even if you’re playing for free and there’s a built-in crowd, a little promotion goes a long way. It shows you appreciate the venue taking a chance on you, and you’ll help them get their brand out there.
Obviously, ad-driven sales can work well for ticketed shows. But even if you’re playing for free, you’ll want to pull all the free levers: social posts, Facebook event, etc.
Divas are exhausting.
If there’s a problem, be a problem solver.
Complainers don’t get hired again. There are too many other artists looking to take your gig.
Show up on time. Don’t take long breaks. But don’t milk your set times either.
If there’s another band waiting to play after you, get off stage!
Be well-rehearsed, and make sure your gear works.
Know your point-of-contact
It might not be the talent buyer. They can’t attend every show.
So make sure you know who to communicate with on the night of the gig.
Often it’ll be the general manager or bartender. And remember, these aren’t just the people helping you get oriented (and paid), they’re also the ones reporting back to the talent buyer about how the night went.
Read the room
Don’t bludgeon the audience with what you WANT the night to be; meet people where they’re at.
“You attract bees with honey, not vinegar.”
Try your best not to cancel on the gig, unless it’s something serious like illness.
Flakes don’t get hired again.
If you DO have to cancel, suggest another artist who is willing and able to take the gig in your place. The talent buyer might not hire that artist, but they’ll appreciate you trying to make their job easier.
Don’t give any excuse to choose another act
All the above tips can be summed up like this: BE EASY TO WORK WITH — and make the night a success.
There are always other musicians who’d be happy to take your gig. And Jeff’s inbox is full of hundreds of those artists at a time.
Don’t give him a reason to go back to his inbox.
H/T to CD Baby
Tweet of the Week
Music Rookie Podcast
Thirty Tigers’ David Macias on labels deals + streaming economics
Former Bloodshot Records Radio Promoter talks radio and navigating “the biz”
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about sync licensing
Have a follow-up question for one of our guests? Got a tip? Did we (*gasp*) get something wrong? Our line is always open -- hit us up and if we use your question or response in a future newsletter, we’ll give you credit and link your socials.
As we often receive requests to work with artists who don’t have the budget to afford a full campaign, we’re launching an “Office Hours”-style consulting service where you can book us for 30 or 60-minute blocks of one-on-one time.
You can learn more here (scroll down past campaign details)
Thanks for sticking around! If you dig what we are doing, here are some easy ways to support us:
Forward this to a musician or industry professional
Subscribe to the $5 / month paid version