Lessons about performing, lesson 27: Skip the drama!

Ah, thank you WordPress and your scheduling feature. I had a mostly free day and the weather isn’t all that good – so I’m able to write these ahead of time. It’s much easier this way and it is why I’m able to bring you fresh material all the time.

If you’re not aware of it, I’ve been compiling a list of rules that will help you become a better performing musician and increase your chances of success. Though the odds are low, there are things you can do to increase your odds and I’m trying to enumerate as many of them as I can.

If I’ve missed some, feel free to let me know. If there’s something you’d like me to add, just use the contact form or reply. If you’ve missed an entry, or would like to refresh the old stuff, this link will take you to the complete list. Do feel encouraged to check the list out and submit any suggested rules for inclusion.

By now, you know it’s a terrible career choice and you’re subjected to all sorts of stress along the way. Because of this, there’s often quite a bit of drama that goes along with it. That’s why I write this…

Rule #27: Keep the drama off the stage!

I’ve had the chance to experience a lot of things in the realm of music. I’ve seen things that I don’t want to see again. I’ve seen things that were unprofessional, unbecoming, and unneeded.

One of those things is bringing drama to the stage.

I’ve gone to see a band and watched them breakup on stage. Gotta be frank, that’d probably be one of the worst shows I’ve ever been to. That’s the epitome of unbecoming.

I’ve had fellow members of the band quit – on stage. Sure, we played on without them, but the fact is that it’s unprofessional and wasn’t needed.

I’ve seen band rivalries spill out into scathing commentaries screamed into the microphone, airing dirty laundry and causing additional bad blood between people. Again, that’s not needed.

I’ve seen a band member who recently broke up with a girlfriend and decided that the stage was the appropriate place to break down, scream, and insult her – even though she wasn’t in the audience.

I’ve seen band members snap at each other over petty things, rather than concentrating on the task at hand. I’ve seen them call each other horrible names and cause a hostile working environment. It’s already stressful enough, you don’t actually need to add anything to the mix and make it more stressful.

I’ve seen people bitch, on a live mic, about the venue, the promoter, other band members, an audience member, or people entirely unrelated to the band.

I don’t want to hear your politics. I don’t want to hear you endlessly drone on about your health issues. I don’t want you to talk about your lovely spouse that you’ve now been with for a week. I don’t care if your divorce is ugly. I don’t care that you’re not making enough money. I don’t care that you want to rant about the topic of the week.

I want you to perform and play some music. Not only do those things give the audience a negative vibe, they also distract you from doing your job to the best of your ability.

If you have a problem with a fellow member of the band, take it back stage and deal with it during your break – or, better, before the show even starts. The stage is not the place to air those things. The audience deserves better than that.

Yeah, you’ve got a beef and there’s no way you can continue to play with Bob The Bassist anymore. You spend way too much time together and you’ve had enough. Finish the night and then quit. The stage isn’t the place to do it.

Frankly, if you have a history of this sort of thing, I’m going to refuse to play with you. I want nothing to do with it. It’s not ego when I tell you that it’s people like me that you want in your band. But, it’s people like me who aren’t going to put up with your prima donna bullshit, your drama-queen antics, or your need to constantly have your ego stroked and be appeased.

Keep that shit off the stage.

I don’t have a nice way to say it. I don’t want you. I don’t want to go see you. I don’t want to buy your albums.

If you have drama, put it aside. Do you think Frank The Burger Flipper gets to rant at customers because his girlfriend cheated on him? Of course not. He’ll be fired. If you do that on my stage, you too will be fired.

We have enough stress already. There will be drama. Keep it off the stage. Do your damned job. Finish your job. Have some pride in your work, not your persona. Have some tact in addressing things that need work. Be comfortable in your skin. Be considerate of your fellow band members and, more importantly, your audience. They’re the ones paying you, they deserve better experiences than you unleashing and sharing your drama with them.

It’s that simple. I’m not going to bother writing more about it, because it’s not that hard. Yet, it’s continually overlooked. So, yes… This is a short one. There’s really not that much more to say about it! If you want someone to listen to your bitching, get a dog – not a paying audience. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song.

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