Lessons about performing, lesson 37: People lie!

It turns out, there are a lot more rules to follow than I’d expected. I didn’t think I’d come up with this many. I’m starting to notice a trend, in that I’m not predicting the success of the various series on this site.

What am I doing?

Well, if you’re asking that then you’re pretty late to the series. You’ll probably want to go way back to the very beginning and read all of the lessons. I’ve explained this enough times already! Sheesh…

These are the things you should know (and try to do) if you want to have a successful career as a performing musician. Someone should have written a book with this information. They didn’t. So, you’re stuck with me. Sorry about that.

Now, not all the rules are applicable to every venue or genre. It’s horribly inappropriate to stage dive when you’re doing a lunch gig at a fancy restaurant, no matter how awesome that might sound. You also probably don’t need an accountant if you’re playing your friend’s pit party for $100 and all the beer you can drink. So, use some common sense and try to apply them to your situation as best as you are able.

This next one is pretty fucking universal, however.

Rule #37: People will blow smoke up your ass!

I get it. Being in a band is cool. The next best thing to being in a band is being associated with the band. It’s cool to be a member of the in-crowd.

Bands have fans. Bands have dedicated groupies. They see more tits than a bird watcher. They get more pussy than a crazy cat lady. They entertain crowds of thousands. They get people cheering for them, calling their name, and throwing their bras at them. (I can do this for like ten more paragraphs.)

And, people want to be a part of that. They want some of that attention. Living vicariously through you isn’t enough, they want to be associated, even a little, with the band. They want to be cool, hip, entertaining… (I can also keep doing that for paragraphs.)

And…

The shit they will tell you…

“My buddy owns a bar and you can play there any time you need a gig.” That really means the bartender was nice to them and they don’t even have a stage for live music.

“My uncle owns a recording studio and he’ll just let me use it any time I want.” That really means their uncle has a couple of microphones, an old 4 track player with a record button, and lives in a shack. However, it probably means that you can throw a raging party there – if you can get past the smell of cat urine.

“I’m a promoter.” That means, “I’m a liar.”

“I know of dozens of places you can play!” That pretty much means it’s the drunk guy a the bar and he’s going to make shit up as he goes along. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell. They might be telling the truth and you might be in a position where you could use dozens of places to play.

“I can help!” That pretty much means they want to go backstage and party with you.

Once again, I can list this sort of shit for hours.

You’re going to get stuff like that. You’re going to get people who blow smoke up your ass and that’s probably because they’re well-meaning and really want to spend time with you. No, it’s not that they particularly like you (though they might) but that they want some of that sweet, sweet attention you’re getting from the audience.

Fans are, as a general rule, pretty honest. However, there’s a subset that are inherently willing to disassociate themselves from the truth or, as I like to say, horrible liars.

I’m not a psychologist but I’m pretty sure it’s because they have few accomplishments and wish to attach themselves to people who have something – just so they can feel better about themselves and reap the rewards. I imagine that it’s sometimes successful. However, my advice would be that they just learn to play a damned instrument and join a band.

I suppose you’re expecting me to now tell you what to do about it. The truth is, I don’t really have an answer – just the observation.

The trouble is, they could be telling the truth. Do you waste your time following up on a false lead? Do you invite them backstage to talk more about their relative who’s obscenely wealthy and has a huge recording studio? Do you risk inviting the guy who might be a creeper back there with you?

That’s up to you.

This is a lie. It’s a bold-faced lie. My grandmother said no such thing, but I’m going to pretend she did!

My grandmother used to say, “Trust none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” She was a wise woman, this grandmother of mine! She was also fond of saying, “When in doubt, play a bitchin’ solo.”

See? I told you she was wise!

But, I don’t have a clear cut answer and I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass pretending that I do. I guess it depends on how desperate you are.

Would you like to know how I deal with it? No? Too bad. I’m going to tell you anyhow. That’s kinda what the article is for, after all.

If you go back through my articles, you’ll find one where I mentioned business cards. I also mentioned that you don’t hand them out to everybody.

When someone’s telling me something akin to the above, possibly blowing smoke up my ass, I reach into my pocket and pull out a business card.

I give them this card and I say, “That sounds like something I’d like to hear more about. Why don’t you contact me on Monday and we’ll set something up?”

In all these years, maybe 1:50 will contact me. I’ve had more people contact me from business cards that they’ve been given by other people – which is a good thing. It means they followed up and gave the card to someone else. Granted, I haven’t kept exact numbers and those are just estimates, but the system has worked for me.

What this does is it tells them that you’re really interested, that you’re willing to believe them, that you’re grateful for their interest, and that you’re open to discussing it. It also weeds out the people who are in the moment, being a bit passionate, or straight up lying – mostly. Some of them will still pursue their goal of associating themselves with the band, but it cuts down on the level of smoke-blowing significantly.

Now, that works for me. I really don’t know how well it will work for you, but it’s my solution. It’s pretty damned effective and it still allows you to capitalize on potential leads. Serious people will understand that you’re probably busy and they’ll follow up with you when things have settled into a dull roar.

My grandmother used to say, “There’s a solution to every problem.” That solution worked for me. What adages did your grandmother have that fit? What solutions have you used to stop people from blowing smoke up your ass? Let me know in a comment or use the contact form and I’ll see if it’s possible to turn it into an article. I ain’t scared! Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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