FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Daniel Whittington: Welcome to American Small Business Institute I’m Daniel Whittington, and today I wanted to continue the series that I was working on, which are lessons that I learned inside the music industry. These are things that as I’ve gone through, I’ve discovered that they do not only apply to the music industry, they’ve applied anywhere I’ve ever worked, and with any person that I’ve ever discussed these things with. Today I wanted to talk about who actually gets the gig.
One of the things that I learned is, when I was working in the industry I did a whole lot studio work, and I did a whole lot of touring and traveling work, and I did a lot of live performance work. And I would say when it came to drums, which is where I did a lot of my studio work, or backup vocals, did a lot of studio work, on a scale of 1-10 I was probably a seven to a low eight. But, everywhere I lived I worked 100-300% more than all of my friends who were better players than I was. The flashier drummers, the fancier voices. I got more work, I worked more consistently, and I got paid better than they did.
At first, because I was young, I just thought it was because I was awesome. And then I started showing up to some of the gigs where friends of mine were playing and going, “Holy crap man, this guy is such a better musician than I am.” Just the pure skill of the instrument. But he’s always complaining about how he never has work and I’m always working two or three days a week on stuff, and getting calls all the time. And what I realized was, I was bringing to the table all of these things that had nothing to do with just being the best drummer in town.
And so, pretty quickly I realized what gets you the gigs is not being the absolute best person at your thing, it’s all the other things surrounding being good at your thing. So when I showed up to a gig I already knew the songs, so I already knew my material, so keep that in mind. I showed up knowing my shit. I didn’t have to learn the songs in the studio on the clock, I didn’t have to be told, “Oh, remember there’s a chorus here.” Anything like that. I showed up, I knew the songs, I had them down. I showed up early and was ready to go when they were ready to record. I worked hard, I didn’t wait for someone else to do all the stuff for me.
So I showed up early or on time, I showed up prepared. I did not renegotiate the price. If we had already discussed what we were going to get paid I didn’t renegotiate the price, that was just what we were going to do. And, I executed consistently, so it took less times for me to be in that room, it took less time to get things done than to somebody who was maybe really amazing at one time, and then on the next take not that great.
What that meant was … and then later I started producing albums and recording other people, and that’s when I realized, “Oh my God,” the guy who shows up on time, executes consistently, is good enough to do a great recording, but isn’t necessarily your all-star, rock star, flashy amazing player, I want that guy every day of the week way more than I want the top one percent player in the town ’cause that guys going to have too much ego, he’s going to want to get paid more, he’s going to want to have opinions about what he thinks he should be doing and he’s not the producer. And he’s probably going to be an asshole. Whereas the guys that I call upper-middle-class musicians or the B+ to A- players, those guys show up with no ego and they just make shit happen. And when you’re done recording you kind of want to hang out with those guys. And when you’re touring being the guy that people enjoy hanging out with is so much more important than being the best drummer in the entire city.
So that’s a thing that I think applies across the board. If you are looking for work, or if you get hired and you want to be called back, or you want to get the job permanently, or you want to never be the first person fired when times get tough you need to make sure not that you are by far the best rock star person in the whole planet for this job. You want to make sure all the other shit is handled. That people know you have your crap together, they don’t have to keep following up on you, you just get shit done. You don’t complain, you don’t renegotiate, and you’re an enjoyable human being to be around. Those things will take you so far in any industry.
So, keep that in mind, I hope it helps. Good luck and we’ll see you next week.
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