A couple years ago I wrote a blog on artists of any genre to include music, acting, variety, writing etc…, using social media as their soapbox for the personal political or religious beliefs and the possible cost of doing so. Now I am writing a new one to help clarify the importance of being professional especially when hot political and religious topics like what we just went through with marriage equality. Today I received an email that a financial backer would not fund a project because of a certain artists rants on Facebook. This has cost 20,000 dollars in funding for the project. This morning when I woke up to the email saying basically that they will not fund a show with someone in it with such an obvious hateful stance on something we believe in so if I wanted the funding I had to get rid of that artist and replace him with another or they wouldn’t fund it. Now this may not be fair but it is business. It’s their money, they don’t have to freely give of their hard earned cash to something or someone they don’t believe in. These projects are opportunities for artists to not only get paid, but hopefully grow their fan base and brand as well as gain crucial experience in the industry. This is an artist that I have to talked to before about this many times and now it has comeback to not only bit me in the ass, but the artist and possibly every other artist involved with the production. You must remember, that people use Google to research what they are funding! Don’t think people won’t notice what you are saying. Never put yourself in the position of losing funding if you can at all help it.
I know you all think we have free speech and we shouldn’t be censored, but with free speech comes responsibility. If you are an artist of any kind of entertainment and you feel so strongly that you should be allowed to speak your mind at anytime because you have free speech, then by all means feel free to do so. Just do it on someone elses dime. Once you decide to work with other people, you have a responsibility to them and anyone else involved to make sure whatever you are working on becomes successful, not to cause controversy. Take a look at what has happened to Michelle Shocked recently for a sarcastic comment at a live show. All her tour dates where canceled in response because of her free speech. Now certainly Michelle has the right to free speech, she has every right to support her beliefs however she wants, but there comes a price with it. Now she is holding “sit-ins” in front of tiny clubs that canceled her with tape across her mouth saying “silenced by fear.”
What about the Dixie Chicks? They got nailed for one comment on stage. Of course being in a foreign country and slamming your President is never a good thing but they didn’t see anything wrong with it and the result was radio stations across the country quit playing their music for years and huge loss of fan base. They had a slight comeback but they never achieved the same level of success. There are many more examples of this I am sure.
You see, this is a BUSINESS. Promoters, venues, financial backers or whomever have their own personal beliefs and if they don’t line up with yours and you say something controversial then don’t be surprised when you loose the gig. They may do it out of fear of losing ticket sales or they may just want to not support your beliefs and outspoken way of handling the issues. In Hollywood it has never been a secret that if you favor one side of politics it could be much harder to get roles. This is nothing new whether it is right or wrong. People are people and they like to work with people they feel they have things in common with and understand them.
I have seen so many artists or promoters on Facebook fail miserably at Kickstarter programs or have lagging ticket sales and they are always starting controversial topics on social media. Do they ever wonder why no one backs them? Good chance part of it at least is your rants about your beliefs let alone the quality of show being provided. I have even been emailed about some of these people asking me to talk with them and I have nothing to do with them. I don’t work with or represent them in any way shape or form.
So here are my recommendations on how to handle this if you are an artist. First of all don’t post anything controversial on your social media pages especially business ones. If you have a personal one with your “stage name” and you post a ton of business on it, it’s now a business page. Either focus on your business page for marketing or hide your personal one from the general public and Google search engines and make it for friends only so your personal “opinions” don’t affect anyone working with you but you and you still get to stand up for what you believe in. If you are in a collective group of any kind say a band, acting troup etc… make sure you talk and set some ground rules so one else suffers from someone’s rants on Facebook. If you are “political” artist then I assume you already know the consequences of your actions and that is fine. If that is your vision go for it. Just make sure you are open about it with everyone you work with. You have every right as a human being to voice your opinion, you don’t have the right to ruin someone elses chances with your opinion. Be responsible with your free speech and you will benefit from it. Once you are big as U2 you can say what you want, because now you can afford to live if everyone ends up hating you and never buys another ticket to a gig. Remember especially here in America, the country is very polarized politically and if you alienate one half of your possible audience with your own personal political views, you are in for a very long hard road to success. The beautiful thing about social media is you can’t post what ever you want, it’s your page, your right to do so. The bad thing about social media you can post what ever you want.
If you are a newer promoter, venue, talent buyer etc… avoid artists like this like the plague. Hire only professional artists that understand it’s a business and want to make sure that every event they do comes off as professional and successful as possible. You can’t afford to loose ticket sales on artists that don’t care about anything but themselves. As a promoter check with an entertainment attorney to see if you should have some recourse to come back at them and sue them for damages if an artist causes you to loose money like this. Have set guidelines for your events and make sure the artists are clear on them and also make sure you research the history of the artist. I made the mistake of trusting someone to be professional and it has cost me.
I have said it before and I will say it again, as an artist trying to make it in the very, very hard industry, you can’t give anyone a reason to say “no” to you. Do you really want to lose possible ticket or merch sales just so you “rant” on social media? Why work so hard to make it then if you are willing to take such risky chances? This business is already way to risky for most to even try it and now you want to add to the risk? Your marketing, performance, attitude, media savvy should all be top notch. You more than likely don’t have a PR department to “spin” your free speech or questionable actions so you have to be able to do all this yourselves. If you aren’t willing to be professional at all times with your brand there are plenty who are and will take your spot on the roster or gig.
I know you won’t all agree with me and that is OK and I certainly support free speech, it’s a matter of knowing when to exercise it. If you are going to exercise it, do it responsibly, not in anger or hate, refrain from pointing fingers at one side or the other. Just make a nice, solid statement that isn’t inflammatory and leave it at that. Don’t go posting on everyone’s time line that doesn’t agree with you, or posting those sarcastic photo’s everyone seems to like to create. I have learned from my mistakes and will handle things differently with artists. Artists won’t be costing me money anymore.
Every once in a while I like to recognize at least what I consider someone who is doing everything they can to achieve their dream. Someone who I see constantly striving to be the best they can be and pushing new limits for themselves. This time I am recognizing illusionist Sammy Cortino. Now to be fair, this is only about work ethic. I am not talking about his show as I haven’t seen it other than a few video clips and the one illusion Sammy did for a show of mine last year. This is purely based on how hard I have watched Sammy work over the last four years.
I found out about Sammy Cortino on twitter four years ago and we became social media friends. Since then, Sammy has moved to Nashville, TN and is carving out his niche as a master illusionist around the country. Rarely have I seen someone give so much of themselves to their dream and try so many things to see what worked and what didn’t. Most just stay the same, never trying anything new, not listening to advice and wonder why over the last few years nothing gets any better. It becomes everyone’s fault but their own and the reality it is simply the world didn’t want to buy what you had to offer, at least not in the way it was presented by you. Sammy is becoming so good at learning to change things up and re-branding his image when necessary. He sinks his money back into his career, most importantly in the things he actually needs, not necessarily wants. For those entertainers that complain about travel and how much they have to take, try being an illusionist. Set up and tear down time is much longer and usually 1 – 3 people doing it not 4 – 5 like in a band.
Sammy tries to fusion things that have rarely been done before or are original, another trait lost on many. Keeping a show fresh and something you can sell over and over again to the appropriate talent buyers or promoters is incredibly important and Sammy seems to understand this. This isn’t to say Sammy has figured it all out or is always gigging. He hasn’t and he isn’t, but he is working harder than just about anyone I have ever worked with by far. Sammy is always coming up with new photography, videos, illusions and tons of other content to try and keep himself fresh in the worlds mind. Sammy also understand that image is everything. You can decry it all you like, but it’s the truth. It’s the first thing people see and it determines whether or not they will click anything to check you out.
Whatever you may think of Sammy Cortino’s show or talent is up to you, but what you should take away from this is no matter how talented you are, if you are not working as hard as someone like Sammy is, they will take your spot on the bill or the stage just based on their work ethic alone.
Well done Sammy Cortino. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and success in what ever way you deem it.
Note: The Lowry Agency is in no way affiliated with Sammy Cortino.
For anyone trying to make it in the entertainment business or professional sports, you are constantly under barrage from people telling you that you can’t do it. You are aren’t good enough, you don’t have what it takes or there is no money in it so go get a real job (like there is any security in that anymore anyway). You deal people who let you down, who don’t do anything at all after the big long speech of how good they are, how hard they work or what they can do for you.
You have haters and trolls on the internet, other people in your genre constantly tearing you doing or taking jabs at you. It get’s lonely, harder and often times you feel like giving up. Well you can’t. No matter what anyone says or does to you, only you can keep pushing, proving them wrong and only you know who you really are. Anyone who would tear you down is the insecure one, the one who if full of it, the jealous one who really has no idea what they are doing. You can’t let them affect you or stop you.
No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep pushing on with your dream. In today’s entertainment scene you have more control than ever and more often than not, that means you are doing it on your own because now the money is gone. You can’t afford to pay for professional help and you are facing this wave of overwhelming obstacles and people who have no life so they try and tear you down.
So let me offer this to you for some inspiration. No matter what you are facing in life, business or if you are someone who is trying to help someone you care about get through something, do it with the strength and focus that Garrett shows in this video. If he can over come what he is going through, we can over come what we are going through.
I wish you all the best and the strength to get through it.
Often those of us in the business in any capacity have the opportunity to work with very successful artists or entertainers and those that are still trying to get there. Of course this applies to any type of successful business or entrepreneur but we are talking entertainment here so let’s leave it at that. We get to see and observe things that those that make it do and those that can’t seem to get any traction don’t do. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I am sure that there are many things that won’t be listed this blog but here are some things I want to point out to help make it easier for all who read this to hopefully put into action to make everyone’s job easier and make teams stronger and easier to work with.
Successful entertainers surround themselves with positive people and then they take care of them. They don’t look to get them to work as hard as possible for as little as possible. They reward them for their hard work. Any business owner knows you pay your people who are working to make you a success first not the other way around. They don’t bring people on board and then sit there waiting for something to happen. They bring people on board and keep busting their ass to give those people something to work with. They keep working as hard as possible to be able to create the opportunities to make things happen. They listen to advice and feedback from their team and those that the team interacts with and makes changes as needed. They don’t make excuses or avoid making the hard decisions for change. Whether it be personnel changes, style changes, business changes etc. Successful artists give positive feed back to their team. They show up for meetings and are a part of the overall vision and plan. They don’t sit around waiting for everyone to do it for them. They are proactive and constantly push for the next big thing.
Too often in this business, people rest on their laurels or they have something good happen and they sit back and coast. You cannot do that. You have to keep moving forward. You have to learn how to create opportunities out of what you have everyday. People who truly want to do this for a living find a way to make things happen. The others make excuses. This business is nothing but hard work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no other way. Not everything tried will work but they know that. They make adjustments and keep trying new things. Successful artists don’t take no for answer, they don’t blame everyone else for what isn’t happening for them. They know that they are the product and that it’s a constant work in progress. They know that not everyone will get them, their music or art and they keep trying to find the ones that do.
Unsuccessful entertainers listen to their 30 friends or fans and let that lull them into complacency and think that people aren’t working hard for them. They don’t understand that they have to work just as hard and actually harder than their team. They don’t understand it’s a business. They don’t understand it’s their responsibility to set the bar high. They don’t understand setting goals and working hard to achieve them. They don’t understand cutting out the people that are holding them back.
In most business books your will find examples like “every successful” business trims the bottom 20% of fat every year.” This means they get rid of the things not working, not making them money or holding them back. That could mean clients, marketing, personnel or anything preventing them from reaching their goals. You have to make hard decisions sometimes no matter whom it affects to be able to move forward. It sucks but it’s true.
Most entertainers especially it seems musical ones aren’t business minded and we all know that. They are creative people and in many ways avoid hard work. That is why they are artists or entertainers. They thrive in the creative and not the analytical or structured world. Unfortunately, if you are an entertainer, it is your business and you have to operate in both. There is no one to blame but you when things aren’t getting done and I guarantee you, if things aren’t getting done many times it’s because the entertainer isn’t doing it. They aren’t getting their work done on time. They aren’t showing up for meetings. They aren’t working all the time. The team won’t bust their ass for an artist that isn’t busting theirs.
I recently started working with an artist and we got more done in the first two weeks then we did with any other artist because that artist gets it. They work all day, all night. They have a vision and nothing will stop them from achieving it. They learn what they need to learn to get their career to the next level. They listen to advice, implement it and run with it as fast as they can. This is what people are looking for. Nothing else will do. You want to make a living at this business? You better get your head straight and learn from this artists example.
I know there are many artists that want this dream and work hard to achieve it. I know sometimes they are confused and overwhelmed. The first and best thing to do is to do something. Don’t sit there and do nothing. Learn to get done what needs to get done. Don’t skimp on your career by not investing in your self, your education and learning. Research your career choice and the things you need to know to get things done. If you don’t have a budget for websites, graphic design, etc… you better learn how to do it. Every business has to do this, not just artists. We all have to do this at times. We all have worked with people that don’t get it done even when paid so sometimes we just have to learn to do it ourselves unfortunately.
This business is so extremely hard. It’s very hard to make money in and it’s very hard to get noticed. Nothing but excellence will do. Do you have it in you?
Get out there and get it done! You can do it if you put your mind to it.
In this crazy entertainment business there are so many people who are working at it, trying to make it as a musician, actor, model, voice over talent etc…. and there so few really good paying gigs. It’s a dogfight to get noticed and grab the attention of those decision makers with all those other entertainers competing for the same jobs. But here is the real truth, there maybe millions of entertainers going for it, but there are very few that go the extra mile every time to make sure they bring the best of what they got to each individual project and make it the best it can be. This makes it a little easier to stand out and develop a reputation for yourself so that when someone like a promoter, producer, agent or whomever brings you to the table, they can rely on you whenever they need you. This will allow you to demand payment down the road by having proved what you can do for them on many different levels.
What won’t work is this sense of entitlement that many artists seem to have developed. Many feel that since they are “this popular” or “that they aren’t getting paid for this” they aren’t going to put in the extra effort. Trust me, people can see this coming a mile away and I can pretty much guarantee you that you won’t be called on again if this is how you represent yourself. If you agree to do something, then you are giving your word that you are professional and you had better bring your best effort each time. Everyone is relying on you. Just remember, more than likely everyone at this event is probably in the same boat you are. They are all trying to make something big happen so they can make it to the next phase of their career as well as make money too. Don’t blow it for them because you can’t be professional.
One of the ways to avoid not being able to do what you signed up for is to not over commit yourself to too many projects. If you want to make the most of your opportunities, you will be so busy you can’t take on very many. This happens all the time with artists of all types so try and be very careful about your reputation and work ethic because word travels fast if don’t deliver, you are difficult to deal with or are unprofessional for any reason.
With each opportunity, not only do you need to be punctual, be responsible and know exactly what’s going on when it’s going on, you need to be able to see the big picture or vision of what this can do for you. To see every angle that you can capitalize on not just for yourself but the opportunity you are working on. In any major production, no one is going to baby sit you. It’s your job to know who, what, when, where and why or least to know where to find out. Don’t expect them to contact you the way you desire because it’s what you prefer. They have many people to contact and they don’t have time to email 20 people here, text 10 here, Facebook 8 there. You are there to be professional, so make sure you check daily at least whatever system they use to communicate. It’s your responsibility to find out what is going on as long as they are consistent and you know where to look.
If it’s your event then you need to get as much out of it as possible whether it be your sales numbers, new video possibilities, gathering email addresses, acquiring new fans, future ticket sales, new opportunities and new contacts. There is so much you can do to maximize these opportunities and that can be staggering to think about but it is the business minded entertainers and that see these things and ACT on them. Most entertainers don’t do this no matter how many times they are told. They are stuck in such a rut and instead of focusing on business they are more interested in partying, drinking or whatever. It’s quite disheartening sometimes to be at an event and watch them just stand around not working and missing every potential opportunity as it just passes them by.
So here are just a few thoughts for you to think about. For every opportunity you get involved with, take the time to really think it out and how you can best take advantage of this moment to shine. Even if you do it for free, you gave your word and accepted the gig so you need to be professional and treat it like a paying gig. Do your absolute best and then some. Go above and beyond what you were brought in to do, promotion, connections, networking for new opportunities, creating content etc….
Remember, those that shine and bring the most to the table are the ones that come away with the most from each opportunity. They are the ones that get remembered, called back next time and most important talked about recommended to others. They become first call for other opportunities and that also puts you in a position to help others next time as now your opinion will matter and in many cases you will be asked whom you know to help out in some sort of manner.
Work as hard as you can and bust your ass each and every time and great things will happen for you!
Welcome to my new video blog! I’ll try and put out a series of video blogs as well as my regular blog to be better able to communicate with you. Please feel free to comment or add suggestions for topics!
Stay tuned for more updates and thank you for watching!
In our second installment of our “Musician Spotlight” blog we are showcasing an amazing young talent in drummer Hannah Ford. When I say amazing, I mean more than just her ability on her chosen instrument. Having met Hannah, her family, having attended one of her clinics and watching her use of her endorsements, opportunities and social media, this is one artist that has really learned what this business is about and what it takes to make it. More importantly is she hasn’t lost focus on why she does it. As important as the “business” sides of things are in music, Hannah has somehow avoided becoming jaded, negative and still has a childlike love for playing. Hannah attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts and still works with multiple Grammy award-winning drummer Paul Wertico to constantly refine her skills. Hannah has also worked with music legends like Jeff Berlin, Wynton Marsalis, Ignacio Berroa and Butch Miles.
From a technical perspective Hannah is road ready for any gig. She has the chops, creativity and energy to drive the bus for any artist or band. Her performances are always energetic, engaging and her smile when playing is just as attention capturing as her skills or performance. She really is the whole package. Being an attractive young female, it would be easy to dismiss her skills and say, “oh, it’s all because of her looks,” which would be an incredible disservice to Hannah. She has substance, skills, and a drive that just wont quit. She works harder than just about any musician I have ever met and leaves you feeling like you have known her all your life when you meet her. She is engaging and most importantly she is there to inspire others. Hannah makes sure she focuses completely on the person she is talking too and you can see her passion for passing on her love of the drums and encouraging others to follow their dreams. She completely understands how to relate to her fan base and how important they are to her.
Currently Hannah is a rock band called “Bellevue Suite,” has a tour she puts on for her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and recently did some shows with bassist Nik West. Hannah is also doing workshops for Guitar Center, a judge for the “Hit Like a Girl” 2012 contest and is regular a feature on the drumchannel.com. In the recent past she has played with the fusion trio “Pandorum,” played drums for the musical “White Noise” produced by Whoopi Goldberg that ran for two months at the Royal George Theater in Chicago and the Hannah Ford Band.
Hannah and her father/manager Dave Ford with PLAD Productions have done an absolutely incredible job of marketing her without the money that everyone says you need in today’s music industry. Both are dedicated and hard working individuals that strive to make great things happen for Hannah’s career. It also says a lot about their relationship and family dynamic to be able to pull this off without all the drama many entertainment families go through.
Hannah is endorsed by: Gretsch, Zildjian, Gibraltar, Toca, Vater, Kelly Shu Concepts, Shure microphones, Wornstar Clothing, ThunderEcho Drums, Prentice Practice Pads, Roland, MaxHeads Custom Bass Drum Heads, and Evans. Quite honestly, I have never seen an artist work as hard to promote her endorsements and utilizes them to the full potential they should be used. She is one of the few artists the get the power of her endorsements and what you can accomplish with them if you are creative, hard working and are marketing to the hilt.
Hannah is rare jewel in the music world. She understands what it takes, works hard to get there and does it happily. She has set her self up since childhood to be as well rounded a musician as she could be. The breadth of her skills as a drummer, a businessperson, a marketer and being a genuinely nice person to work with are her major strength. While other musicians are out trying to be a rock star, Hannah is a rock star and is also building a career that most will never have because they don’t get it like Hannah does.
For more information about Hannah Ford please check out the following links:
Now I am writing this and I am most definitely sometimes guilty of this myself because I have no patience personally for smart ass musicians on social media that think they have a need to post negative or what they deem to be “funny” comments but really just come across as arrogant or ignorant comments. This also applies to many different situations such as hitting on people who are married especially if you are married yourself, or ripping down someone’s career or event.
When on social media, the most important thing you should always think about is how you would in act in front of the people you are talking with if you were all there in person. If you wouldn’t do this in front of the person whom you are trashing, your wife or husband, friends, quittances or any other person, don’t do it at all. Never treat social media any different than if it were in public.
If you are in a crowd and I am talking with a friend who is promoting something for me to someone standing there with me, are you just going to walk up and say “oh what a waste of time and money, you don’t need that!” Of course you wouldn’t, but we seem to have no problem doing it on social media. When someone is posting about a seminar I am giving, it never fails that someone will get on there and say, “Don’t waste your money!” Who are you to say that and what compels you to? You don’t know me or my work so what experience do you have to give that makes you feel like you need to say that when you wouldn’t in public. In public if you did that, I’d fix you in a hurry. On social media we are much braver and feel invulnerable so we say what we want. Just because something is an open forum doesn’t mean that you “should,” say something just because you “can.”
On my blogs, I usually get very positive responses and feed back is ok even if I don’t agree with it, but post feedback on the blogs message board, not on the link of the person promoting it for me or whomever. It just makes you look like an ass when you have something smart to say. If you have a negative comment about something post it in YOUR own timeline. Not in the timeline of the person who is trying to do something nice.
Recently an article was written about one of my artists, and a former member of the original band started a negative rant on my clients article for no reason what so ever. It was completely and utterly ridiculous. A person’s need to take the spotlight away from someone else to showcase him or herself is so narcissistic it’s not even funny. It was a very well written article that a journalist put a lot of time and attention into writing and some “very nice person” decides to start a rant on it. Not only is it an insult to the person in the article, it is to the writer as well. As a professional or wannabe professional, keep your negative comments to yourself. There is no room for it in this business. You need to separate yourselves from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam out there.
One last thing, when someone on Facebook is showcasing another person’s link on THEIR timeline, don’t ruin it by posting your link on it too. That link wasn’t for you. I don’t care if you know the person, think its funny or for what ever lame reason you are going to give. That is the equivalent of you putting your concert poster over their concert poster. All of you in bands know how much that angers us and it is childish. You wouldn’t do it in front of me so don’t do it on Facebook either. If you want someone to post for you or get your name out there for you, develop a relationship with that person and if they like you and your music, movie (insert form of entertainment here) then maybe they will do it for you.
Quit all the stupid comments, bashing, trashing or anything else you may be thinking that is negative towards someone. Unless you are the greatest thing on the planet with a ton of success, you have no right, experience or clout to trash anyone else.
P.S. It’s usually the ones who have no success or success from WAY back in the day who do this.