August 12, 2011

Week 44: Treat People Right

Treat people right.

Take a tip from Santa... ALWAYS pose for photos.

If you can’t look people directly in the eye each time you deal with them, you better fix yourself. It only takes pissing off one person to ruin your name in the music arena. And if you’re still struggling to get a foothold becoming a band that covers its own expenses (you can MAKE money later), you’ve REALLY got to be careful.

I’ve been the recipient of some pretty crappy attitudes in my years as an entertainment writer. Sometimes I think, “Lucky for you I’m not the media person who writes about this kind of stuff” after witnessing a particularly A-Hole move by a band member.

And it only takes one member of your band to anger a media person to get blacklisted from a publication and/or have a really unflattering review written up that will likely have nothing to do with the music and everything to do with the personality of the musician. 

I’m a blacklister. If someone gets to me that bad, or offends me directly, they will never be mentioned by me or any magazine of which I’m a part. Want to know who they are? Well.. search my website or INsite’s website and they are the names you WON’T find. 

Of course, in these times with instant access to everything, you can be called out by anyone and it may go viral. So, now more than ever you have to be careful how you treat people. Add to that the fact that when someone is sitting in front of their computer typing into a screen, they are more honest, angry, negative, and resentful than in person. Filter comes completely off for some.

Think about it. You’re living in a time where Big Brother (a show that is a train wreck of negativity) outranks America’s Got Talent (a show about…well.. showcasing talent) (read the story - on People thrive on negativity and thumbing their nose at someone. Every “reality” show has to have an anti-hero, the villan people love to watch. But, the “reality” is anti-hero’s that aren’t self-promoting media celebrities are NOT celebrated. They are quashed and forgotten. 

And, sometimes being an ass, or pissing people off can be a career ender. On a large scale…think Sinead O’Conner ripping the pope’s picture up on Saturday Night Live. Remember what she did next? Nope… me either. *Poof.* 

But you’re not there yet. You are struggling to make it. You’re trying to tour and make a living as a musician. Believe me, while you’re playing your dues in the small clubs and benefit shows around your town, if you piss one owner or booking agent off (provided they have a decent reputation), you aren’t getting to the next level. Here’s a hint, WORD GETS AROUND. 

One thing I learned early, as well, is local bands tend to know each other. I learned this the hard way, too. I was interviewing an Austin band by the name of Caddillac Voodoo Choir in 1998 around the time of the release of their Boomtown Flood. While talking with them, I thought I’d be a “big guy” and mention another band by name as an example of music I thought was unoriginal and bad (This is before I adopted the “don’t talk negative” rule in my career). The band I mentioned just so happened to be personal friends of the members of CVC and they didn’t appreciate my comments. The rest of the interview went downhill from there.

What can you take from my blunder? Well, local bands tend to know each other. If you’re opening for a band , don’t trash talk them. Be appreciative. If they trash talk you, make a note not to play with them again. They won’t be around for long.

In this instant-access to information time, when anyone can be videotaping or posting about anything and that can be shared to a larger audience… choose your words and actions carefully. You might be the next viral video or next name trending on Twitter.

You don’t want to end up on TMZ like Katt Williams,  Perez Hilton like Lindsay Lohan, or on a Yelp like Snow Patrol.

You want to go viral like OK Go, Holstee’s Manifesto poster and Ted Williams.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

Just for kicks and grins… and to beat your friend at trivia… Do you know which video has been attributed as being the first viral video ? You probably got it as an e-mail attachment at some point. It’s called “Bad Day.”  - Watch is here

Oh.. this video I’m in didn’t go viral, but it proves the point of this week’s column… SOMEONE is always videotaping. Watch how you treat people.

If you look at the photo pit, you’ll see me taking photos ( In the still before you start the video, That’s my arm in the middle of the screen). I shot the show in San Antonio when Avenged Sevenfold walked off stage about 3 minutes into their set in 2006. Luckily for them, they overcame this. I don’t know the backstory (I heard several backstories, don’t know which is true) but the fact is, to the 5,000+ fans out in the crowd at this RADIO gig, Avenged Sevenfold came out bad, really bad.

But, it’s San Antonio. Ozzy peed on the Alamo. They’re used to controversy.

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