Be your own back-up singer
Rodney Fisher from the band Goodshirt looks back on when he first started playing music, a few key ideas come to mind that he wishes he’d thought about back then.
The music business isn’t always the kindest place for the creative people working within it, so these are the three things I believe are worth keeping in mind to make life easier as a musician.
These ideas relate to working within a band, but also apply just as much to working in any collective (including as a solo artist with a team behind you).
I look back fondly on this time as there’s nothing quite like getting to do what you love as a job and I hope you get as much out of these ideas as my 22-year-old self would have!
Keep your feet on the ground
It’s really easy when you are a driven and passionate person to throw everything into what you do and lose your sense of what is realistic. A little bit of ‘dreaming big’ is essential to being a creative person, but you don’t want to go beyond the edge of reality.
If your vision of success is out of scale to where you are at in your career, then you might be tempted to spend money that you can’t afford or take too much time away from your day-to-day life. For that reason, it’s worthwhile keeping some perspective on where you are at.
If you’re able to enjoy the small wins, then you’ll enjoy the journey more - rather than focusing on a distant, possibly unattainable goal that will leave you feeling like you’re constantly falling short. Therefore, you need to be flexible with your plans and re-evaluate every few months.
"A little bit of ‘dreaming big’ is essential to being a creative person, but you don’t want to go beyond the edge of reality."
The other danger in the success-at-all-costs approach is that you don’t always give credit to the people who are helping you on the way, but these are the people that make the journey enjoyable, so make sure they know you appreciate them. Good vibes in your interpersonal relationships will go a long way to keeping things ticking along. If people around you are doing a lot of unseen work that never gets acknowledged, then you should take the time to thank them. It’s great to have people who believe in what you are doing, so value their input.
Talk first and set boundaries
When entering into partnerships and collaborations with people, it’s important to agree on your terms before you start working together. Further down the track if things change in the arrangement then you need to talk it through and renegotiate.
"A bit of “creative tension” can lead to great music and art being created, but actually being able to function as a group should win out!"
For example, if you end up by default becoming the band booker or studio engineer, then you may need to be compensated for this extra time you are putting in or others in your group/band might need to help or take on other responsibilities. If some people within a group think they are doing more work than others then resentment can fester and lead to unnecessary internal struggles. If this is happening then you need to talk it through, before the unwanted stress on the relationships within a group cause the whole thing to blow apart.
Look after each other
The collective mental health of the group is as important as to how each of the individual members is feeling.
A bit of “creative tension” can lead to great music and art being created, but actually being able to function as a group should win out! Lol.
There always needs to be a sense that you have respect for each other and are working towards the same goal. Then everyone will feel comfortable to throw around ideas and enjoy the process - being able to flourish creatively is important to be able to keep the buzz alive.
Rodney Fisher is mostly known in NZ as the high energy frontman of naughties chart toppers Goodshirt, currently, he is also working for The NZ Music Commission. Rodney moonlights in his spare time under the monikers Beach Blue (a collab with Wellington producer Nik Brinkman) and his solo project Mixed Vege has a new single dropping May 31.
We are celebrating NZ Music Month and in collaboration with NZ Music Commission, our stories this week have focussed on the fabulous talents in Aotearoa’s music industry, on stage and behind the scenes. Thank you for following along!
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