Rude and arrogant people tick me off. Yes, they do - big time. Some of the human race should go to some kind of manners training institute. And for others, they need a full degree in ethics and manners - or programming in the fine art of non-arrogance. Let me explain...
Last week I went to a Daughtry, 3 Doors Down, Halestorm and Bad Seed Rising concert. Like any concert, there are people who really love the music and band. These people scream, cheer, dance and sing along with the music. I love people like this. They are passionate about the music and artist. It is refreshing seeing people who are into the music. At the concert there were - for some reason - a lot of older people. I mean like REALLY old - retirement age old. I am not against "older" people going to a rock concert. I believe wholeheartedly that older people can rock just as much as younger people. Except for the older couple sitting in front of me with Grumpy Smurf scowls. Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy Smurf, who stayed seated the whole time, started complaining about the young gal in front of them who was standing up cheering singing, and dancing as 3 Doors Down performed. About two songs into the set list, this old-ish couple stood up, marched down the steps, stopped for a moment to yell at the young gal and then proceeded to exit the concert venue. The young gal just stood there in disbelief. Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy Smurf ruined the young gal's concert experience for a moment. I wanted to run down the aisle and say to Mr. Grumpy Smurf, "Hey there. I noticed you yelled at a young lady having fun at a ROCK CONCERT. I think a Rochester Philharmonic concert is more your speed. Next time go there instead." Many days I scratch my head trying to figure out why manners and hospitable people are hard to find now days. As years pass, I see more and more people becoming more selfish - and self absorbed. I also see a lacking of common sense. Common sense should have told Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy Smurf that if they showed up to a rock concert then people would be on their feet dancing, singing and cheering. Having manners should have told them that yelling at a young person having fun at a concert was a very dumb idea. Duh.
At this same concert, I overheard some people complaining about the price of the concert tickets and other life topics. I thought to myself, "Well, if people bought their music then maybe the prices of concerts would go down a bit". Back in the "good ole days" artists would perform shows for their fans, but it wasn't a concert driven industry. Back then CD sales could support the artists or band. Now in order for artists to survive they have to tour. The industry has shifted. I could go on and on here about illegal downloading and the state of the industry - but I will save that for another blog.
When the concert finished, we were in a traffic line trying to make our way out of the parking lot. I looked to my left and saw this older man with his older man-friend cutting through traffic at a speed not fit for the congestion present. There were a few things wrong with what I was witnessing. The first thing; he was in his later 50's (I would estimate) and driving an ugly banana yellow Porsche convertible. Come on....really? That color...on that car? He should have painted "mid-life crisis" in bright fuchsia on the hood and doors because the car was screaming that out loud. Second thing; he almost ran over one of the concert goers and laughed when it happened. The female concert goer yelled some very colorful words, and I believe was totally justified in doing so. I then chimed in with a few words of my own - and a bit less colorful than hers. I just simply asked, "Having a mid-life crisis, huh?" Third thing;, he came about three inches from hitting us in the front end of our car. That may not have been a bad thing since it was very apparent he had a lot of money - and could have bought me a new banana yellow convertible Porsche. In which, when receiving said Porsche, would immediately go to a body shop and be permanently painted black. This man and his friend were and are the poster children of rude, arrogant and manner-less people. God help us.
In my line of work, I have a lot of contact with interesting people. Some are gems, and I absolutely love being around them. Some are arrogant and manner-less - I leave drained and exhausted when I work with people like that. But one thing that I will never get (maybe its my age) are the young engineers, producers and artists that think they know everything. It just seems like many of the new generation are more rude and arrogant than the previous year's crop - and generation. Some have an opinion on anything and everything. Instead of listening to the wisdom of others, they ignore it and then get frustrated when their careers are stalled. Some think that success is an easy road and that it happens instantly. I like to call that the McDonald's mentality. I want it quick and I want it now. When I try and explain to them that it takes time to be successful, they close their ears and minds. Not every single person is like this - so I do not want to generalize a whole generation. There are rare gems, occasionally, that actually listen and absorb.
When I meet a rare gem, I take great care in teaching and mentoring them. I want to do my best to make sure they are successful. When I meet the arrogant person I do my best to reach out, but if they will not listen or change then good riddance (Ain't nobody got time for that). Sometimes people get a little bit of information, and then think they know everything about music, sound and engineering. Sometimes it gets disheartening having to deal with people like that over and over.
Recently, corporations were asked to list the top things they look for when hiring. Within the top ten, the words teachable and team player showed up. Teachable means you are willing to learn - and want to learn. It means you absorb, like a sponge, the wisdom of industry people. Normally, teachable people make it in this industry and other industries. Yet, every year it is becoming harder and harder to find those teachable gems. Team player means just that - you work well with others. You give credit to the team when you succeed and never take all the credit. Not one person in this industry - or other industries - succeed without good people (or a good team) surrounding them.
So, in this day and age where manners are lacking and arrogance seems to run rampant; what does it take to succeed? The answer is pretty simple....be the opposite. If a person becomes the opposite of the "norm" then that person will stand out as the exception. I (along with many others) want to work with the exceptions. I want to work with the teachable, non-arrogant, well-mannered people who are passionate about this industry.
Be the exception.
About a week ago I received a call from my landlord's son. My wife and me rent our comfortable, beautiful and renovated carriage house from an elderly woman (83 years old to be exact). We would have purchased a home by now, but I had some doubts as to what our future may bring and wanted to stay mobile - "just in case". The son brought us the news that his mother (our landlord) was experiencing dementia, and the family had made the decision to have one of the children move closer to their mother so they could take care of her. The son stated that we had 60 or so days to move out - but he also stated he would work with us. I definitely can relate to this scenario. My mother who is sixty six had a massive heart attack about a year ago. My wife and me have been discussing how we could get my mom and dad closer to us. So it didn't come as a big surprise when the son informed us of his mother's ailing health. We had discussed this very scenario a few times in our years at our current rental home, but never came up with plan B.
If you are like me, and I know I am, then you will understand the statement, "I do not like change". I am sure I am not the only person out there that dislikes change or changing. I want my world to be orderly, somewhat predictable and organized. When things change it can ruin my day - or what I like to say, "It eats my lunch". But there are some things that are totally out of my control, and in this particular case it was my elderly landlord. Yet change can be a good thing, and it can be a healthy thing. In our case, it has moved us to pursue buying a home. For others, it stretches them out of their comfort zone to do something great. Of course, this ordeal is definitely stretching me out of my comfort zone a bit. And if you haven't been able to tell already, I do not like stretching very much.
The same could be said about the music industry...The Times They Are A-Changin'. I know many engineers and producers who are fighting the change. In fighting the change, they are just prolonging the inevitable that the music industry will never return to its former "glory". It is a never-ending cycle of change from music styles to recording techniques....and personnel. People come, people go; styles come and styles go, but the world keeps turning around.
In these changing times we either adapt - or we die. We adapt to the new business model or we no longer stay relevant to the cultural shift, thus dying out. I know a lot of engineers and producers who have adapted to the change. They focus on platinum acts, but they also produce indie bands. They have changed their pricing structure to meet the demands of the new business model, and many of them are doing quite well. I also know many who refuse to change, and they voice it constantly on social media sites or forum groups. Maybe the saying is right, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". In this case, you can't teach an old engineer a new way of doing business. Yet, many of the younger generation could benefit from the wisdom of these guys.
So, it is a new day. It is a new day in my personal life - getting up and crawling the web for home listings. And, it is a new day for the music industry. A new day to figure out how to change with the changes within the music industry. How you go about changing is totally up to each of you - but I am sure persistence and perseverance will be key with a touch of flexibility. The times they are definitely changin', have changed and will continue to do so. Now it is our turn to change with them.
Kevin "Danger" Jackson is a New York-based producer, engineer, composer, performer, educator and Berklee College of Music alumnus. He writes, produces and engineers music for a wide range of artists in the pop, hip-hop, rock, R&B, classical and electronic genres. His work can be heard daily on a multitude of albums, radio and television stations worldwide.