HOW TYPE A PERSONALITIES CAN SURVIVE IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS
BY QUINTON SHEER
It takes many different personality types to drive an industry forward. Even when some industries, like the music business, tend to attract similar personalities, they will still need those other personality types and more importantly, the different personality types must learn how to co-exist with each other.
The music business tends to attract free thinkers, easy going personalities, those who focus on the product, the project itself. On the flip side, they can be a bit too AD/HD and are prone to procrastination. And the dream for many years has been for some record label to swoop in and take that project and magically make them famous. But who are these labels? They’re the “suits”, the type A, dominant personalities; organized and structured. Both personality types are needed in a successful project. But how can the type A personality survive in the music business without the stress causing them to resort to random acts of violence on themselves or others?
We sat down with musician, host of Vision TV’s Indie Cinema Showcase, and proud type A personality, John Theisen to pick his brain on how he handles the difference in personality types in the entertainment industry. First, know the people you work with. And second, you’ve got to learn to never totally rely on other people. “We all know people and even venues who make promises but always have a reason why they can’t follow through. Although an excuse is NOT the same as excusable, the result is still the same. In order for a Type A personality to coexist and lower their own stress “they have to a. Change their approach and b. Be willing to work hard.”
Not getting called back?
Don’t be a pest. Constantly reminding someone that they are not doing what they promised just demotivates them. It makes them feel bad. “They won’t want to learn. They won’t change. And you’ll be the asshole.” Instead of a heavy hand, explain that you want the best for them, even if it’s your show. “I want to make every project successful – for everyone involved. When they think you have their best interest, people respond better.”
Expect things to be great but plan for the predictable. Success does not come from blind faith. The majority of time, when someone isn’t getting back to you it isn’t malicious. “The thing I’ve learned is how to manage my own expectations of others. They’re just being themselves, being Joe Fuck Up.”
When someone doesn’t get back to you or won’t do as they promised, resist the urge to ‘get to the bottom of it’ and learn to let it go. When something doesn’t go as planned, let them know it wasn’t appreciated or you are not pleased but anymore and bridges are going to be burned. Think long term relationships.
Time to Work It!
Having high standards is great but it’s important to remember that not every interaction will be great but you can be great every time. If you have high standards you should hold yourself to those standards and have reasonable expectations from others. Many agents, bar owners, and promoters see bands as expendable commodities. Because of that, there is the added pressure to make things a success. “I never let anyone have control over my own destiny.” There will always be other people to consider but you can’t let any one person ruin it for you. “The sound guy may fuck up but I know I did my best.”
What is success worth to you? “You just have to work harder.” It would be easy to have one slot in a music show, and hope everyone had the same level of passion. But hope alone won’t help the type A personality to make it a success. “I think bigger. I try to get the whole night. That way I can book more cohesive bands. It helps build relationships among my fellow musicians and gives the fans a better show which helps the venue.”
Many in the entertainment industry focus on one thing at a time so it can help to keep it simple. The type A personality should explain why they do what they do so others are more likely to follow through on their own promises. “You can simplify things for others, bullet point and bold emails, and people will still fuck up. Some just have the attitude of ‘why are you so stressed? Things always work out.” Things often work out because the Type A personality makes it happen. “It’s all a matter of the perspective we choose to have. Some people think they are managing that one thing. I’m managing a career.”
And if it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. “Of all the bands the Bloody Jug Band has played with, not one has reciprocated.” Waiting for the courtesy of reciprocation can hurt more than just moving on. “If I did that, I’d still be waiting. My band is booked through August.”
Knowing the people you work with is key to managing expectations. John’s band, The Bloody Jug Band, is at least an 8 piece band. Coordinating that number can be a daunting task. His advice is to “surround yourself with those who don’t create drama. I try to find positive people.”
John Theisen wears many hats in the Central Florida and strives to find the balance between being an artist as front man of The Bloody Jug Band and making the band into a business. Of all the entertainment businesses, the music business, and the local scene is right in line, is more lackadaisical. It can be frustrating. “I channel my frustration into my art and music, into my show. I do my best and try not to beat myself up about the rest. It’s just business. It’s almost never personal, I try not to take it as such.”
People are not the obstacles; they are opportunities to improve oneself. “The Bloody Jug Band doesn’t have the respect it does because we are awesome musicians… We’ve earned respect for being professional and organized. Each show is a chance to build relationships. Our 1st show was not a great show, for several reasons but the positive comments we did receive had to do with our professionalism.” A band can have all the talent in the world but no one wants to work with a pain in the ass. And unless that band is THE greatest band, those pats on the back and big gigs will soon be just fond memories. “Bands want to work with us because they know it will be a positive experience.”
“I’ve learned a whole lot from others. It’s taken a while to see things the way I do.” When a business type personality works in the entertainment industry it’s important to understand that everyone comes to that understanding at their own pace. “Be humble of your accomplishments but never stop striving for more.”