In past missives, I’ve talked about maintaining a professional reputation with venue/ bar owners. How you behave on stage is one thing. You’re putting on a show, but when it’s time to get down to business, you have to rise to the occasion. You can still have fun and have a great working relationship with the venue. Keep in mind that people in the industry talk to each other; there are no secrets. What you say and do gets spread around like “I can’t believe it’s not butter” at the Zellwood Sweet Corn Festival.
I was recently talking with someone who’s not in the business about a musician we both know. As the conversation progressed, it came out that this person said that their abilities and talent surpassed that of all the other musicians in the area. He said that just his appearance at a venue makes that band or performer more legitimate. That he is an inspiration to young musicians just getting started, and that other musicians are jealous of his abilities and success and refused to work with him because of this. I have heard this sort of thing from other musicians before and it always saddens me. It’s not really so much what was said (although it’s pretty hard to swallow), but more that this person would put that out there. This was someone who is a fan, not directly involved in the industry and yet the words of a strongly self confident performer reached even their ears. Don’t think it won’t have an effect on how that fan and many other fans will view this performer.
Here’s a thought: Even if you feel that way, you shouldn’t really throw that around, even if you’ve got the chops to back it up. It’s hard to work with someone with such an overblown ego. Putting a band together with musicians you don’t respect can be more than challenging. You’ll end up with revolving door band members, which will lead to inconsistency. Even if you pull every mercenary gunslinger in town, eventually, you’ll find yourself running out of people willing to work with you, unless there’s lots of money involved, and maybe not even then. Once you earn that reputation, it’s really hard to overcome. Venues, bartenders, servers, booking agents, managers and fans will talk as well. It could be a black mark against you.
Now having said all that, let me say this; if you decide that your stage persona includes an overblown ego, then go with it, but make sure it’s clear to those that matter, that it’s just an act. So, let others tell you how great you, let the fans praise your skills and let your fellow musicians come to you for advice. Make yourself available by letting the press and reviewers and bloggers rave on and on about you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. What you have to do is stay grounded and let your performance do the talking.