Respect – Your Most Valuable Asset!

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There is one area of the music industry that often gets overlooked when an artist is building his or her career, and yet it may be the most vital contributor to his or her longevity. I am referring to respect – respect for your craftsmanship, professionalism, fairness, work ethic, performance standards, personality, ethics and every other area of your personal and professional life. Why is this important, and whose respect should you be working tirelessly to earn? Here are some thoughts:[private_member]

  • Fans: If you do not have the respect of your fans, the smallest negative move can knock your career down in an instant. The comments they make to their friends will be centered around the things that made them lose their respect for you, rather than your music. On the other hand, when your fans respect you, they are much more inclined to support you over both the short and long haul. They want to see you succeed, and will do everything in their power to make it happen. They will drive long distances to come to your shows, buy all of your music, buy merchandise, join your fan club and promote you incessantly to their friends. They will also defend you when others say negative things about you
    • How do you lose the respect of your fans? Professionally speaking, one way is to leave them feeling cheated! This might mean being boring and lifeless on stage when they came to see a show, or not coming out for an encore. It might mean refusing to play the song(s) you’re most known for because you are tired of them. It might mean letting the quality of the songs you write or pick to record slip instead of waiting until you have a full CD of great music. From a personal stand point, it might be things like cheating on your spouse, getting into trouble with the law, acting like a spoiled brat or anything else that makes your fan decide that you are not a good influence on them, their children, their friends etc.
    • How do you earn the respect of your fans? On the professional side, give them more than they ever could have expected. Constantly strive to improve in all areas of your career, such as being a better performer, songwriter, communicator (social networks, newsletter etc.). Show that you put your fans first, and always want to please them. Stay late after your shows to meet them and sign autographs. Keep all challenges from affecting the quality of your shows and recordings. And on the personal side, share enough of your life and personality for them to see that you are a kind and decent human being. Let them know your values and boundaries, and then stay true to them.
  • Band: When your band loses respect for you, you can have major challenges. For starters, they will show no loyalty to you. When a better offer comes along, they will jump on it. They also won’t be willing to go the extra mile for you. That might include playing later when an audience is calling for it, or performing the non-paying or low-paying charity or promotional gigs that you need to build your reputation. Everything they do becomes conditional with no thoughts of what the long-term benefit might be. However, when you have the respect of your band members, they will bend over backwards to help you. Whatever you need, they will deliver. They will be loyal through the good times and the rough patches. Most importantly, they will do everything in their power to earn YOUR respect!
    • How do you lose the respect of your band members? There are countless ways, such as paying them poorly, never saying thank you, never acknowledging their contribution to your career, treating them like slaves or cheating them in some way. You can also lose their respect by being mean, obnoxious, pushy, standoffish or snobby.
    • How do you earn the respect of your band members? By doing the opposite of all of the things I just mentioned, such as paying them fairly (or generously), showing your appreciation, give them recognition, treat them like family and always be fair with them.
  • Team: Your team consists of your booking agent manager, coaches, business manager, attorney and anyone else involved in the business side of your career. It also includes your sound and lighting techs, your producer and anyone else directly involved in recording or performing. When you lose the respect of your team, you literally lose the engine that drives your career. You become less and less of a priority to everyone. That results in less gigs, less publicity, proper quality recording (or not getting the recording time you need), less access to your team’s contacts, and an overwhelming unwillingness to put any extra effort into your career besides the bare necessities.
    • How do you lose the respect of your team? One very common way to lose the respect of your team is to adopt the attitude that they need you more than you need them. This kind of arrogance will turn everyone off. Always battling, complaining, sulking, never being satisfied are all ways to shut your team down. Even ignoring common courtesies such as showing up late for appointments (or not showing up at all) or not returning phone calls or emails can brand you as difficult.
    • How do you earn the respect of your team? Fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect will go a long way towards keeping your team working hard for you. Acting professionally, working out differences or challenges constructively is also important. Showing appreciation for their knowledge, expertise, skills etc. will always endear you to them. Also show that you are part of the team and don’t expect them to do all of the heavy lifting. Be an active and contributing member to your team. And lastly, be a strong and fair team leader. Learn to motivate your team to willingly push forward on your behalf.
  • Press – It is no secret that the press can make or break a career. This includes newspapers, magazines, popular bloggers, radio stations, TV shows, popular website columnists and more. If you don’t have their respect, you will find it very difficult to get them to report anything that puts you in a good light. In fact, they will find reasons to report something damaging. This can be fatal when you need them to promote your shows or new CD release. On the other hand, if they really do respect you, they will act more like fans than reporters. They will use their influence to bolster your image. They will give you good reviews, ask for interviews, publish your press releases etc. They will become a free but major part of your overall marketing strategy.
    • How do you lose the respect of the press? Some common ways that you will lose the respect of the press are by trashing them for not giving you enough coverage, refusing to do interviews and giving terrible interviews because you refuse to get media coaching. You also lose respect by not following proper guidelines or procedures. Examples of this would be spamming them, sending them irrelevant press releases and not giving them their required lead time.
    • How do you earn the respect of the press? You do this by endearing them to you with your charm and personality. Recognize and appreciate the huge role that they can play in both your short and long-term success. Give them what they ask for, such as tickets to your shows, backstage passes, interviews, free CDs, merchandise, photo opportunities etc. (and some for their family), and do it with a smile. Follow their rules and guidelines when it comes to submitting press releases. In other words, treat them with complete professional courtesy.
  • Your peers. Never underestimate the value of earning the respect of other musicians as an artist, a colleague and as a person. They have influence in a lot of areas. If they don’t respect you, they will never refer you to a venue or an industry professional. They will never lend a helping hand when times get tough. And though they may not put you down to their fans, they certainly won’t talk you up. But if they do respect you, they will open doors for you that you may have never been able to open on your own. And if they tell their fans that they like and respect you, their fans will immediately check your music out. When you are having challenges, musicians who respect you will do everything they can to come to your rescue. And lastly, having the respect of your peers is an accomplishment that you can be very proud of.
    • How do you lose the respect of your peers? For starters, it is evident to them when you have stopped improving or even maintaining your art and craft (e.g.’ not practicing, doing vocal exercises etc.) Another big turn-off is arrogance. Never put your peers down or look down on them. Acting jealously regarding someone else’s success will hurt you instantly. If you are stepping on others, you will most definitely get stepped on as well. Compromising your integrity, on or off the stage, can also damage your reputation. One more common challenge is not being willing to pay your dues. Thinking the world owes you success and that you shouldn’t have to play any smaller gigs, or donate your time to charity, or tour in vans rather than a fancy tour bus are all ways to lose respect.
    • How do you gain the respect of your peers? Persistence, resiliency, humbleness and professionalism are all keys to gaining respect from other musicians. Being consistent in the quality of your performances, songwriting and recording will get accolades from them. Having a pleasing personality makes other musicians want to be around you. Treating everyone fairly and equally will increase his or her respect for you. On the musical side, being unique and innovative, pushing the accepted boundaries of your genre or doing something groundbreaking are all ways to elevate your status amongst your peers. Another strong way to earn respect is to root your peers on, helping and supporting them whenever possible. And lastly, being willing to do whatever it takes without stepping on anyone else’s toes will make your peers respect you.
  • The industry – Depending on your situation, it might be very beneficial to you to have the respect of the music industry (record labels, booking agents, managers etc.) It is true that many artists buck or snub the industry and are still very successful. Many feel that the industry has taken advantage of artists for a long time and have found ways to thrive without playing the corporate game. However, if you are looking to get signed by a major label, you will obviously need to have their respect. And if you are ever dropped from a label and you want someone else to sign you, you need to have proven that you are someone still worth taking a chance on. And of course, if winning an award like a Grammy is important to you, you will need to endear yourself to industry organizations like NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), who puts on the Grammys, and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
    • How do you earn the respect of the music industry? The easiest way is to be a consummate professional. That means treating everyone fairly and respectfully, working diligently, being a team player, being an advocate and a cheerleader for the industry and for others, being easy to work with, and taking care of business. And since it takes money to launch your career, you need to prove that you are risk-worthy. This means hard working, stable, staying on the top of your game, keeping the faith and building and keeping your fan base.
  • Yourself – I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it is hard to ask for someone else’s respect if you don’t respect yourself. That means taking care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. It takes a person of great self-respect to accept the inevitable rejections that the music business dishes out. It takes a person who is confident in themselves and their ability to weather any storm to push incessantly through the drought periods of his or her career. And it takes a humble but confident person to ask for and graciously accept help, criticism, advice, counseling and/or correction.

As you can see, respect can be your most valuable asset, and there is only one way to get it. You earn the respect of others by showing respect for them. When you respect someone, you treat him or her with dignity and appoint them an elevated level of importance. This is what you are asking your fans, your band members, your team, the press, your peers and the industry to do. And the bottom line is that they will, if you will treat them the same way.

Lastly, I must point out that in each of these scenarios, I talked about EARNING someone else’s respect. Respect is not something that is given out instantly or freely. It is the result of repeatedly demonstrating your respect for others. It is showing that you are on an endless quest to be the best that you can be. So ask yourself – “How hard am I striving to be respected?”

Indie Connect is working tirelessly to earn your respect. Please let us know how we can be of the greatest service to you![/private_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.