That's Showbiz - See You On The Way Down

Published: 04/08/2016

As my good friend Nick Beggs (clang) once said to me, "Don't worry John, there's no shortage of c**ts in the music industry". Sadly this brief refrain rings true to my ears almost on a weekly basis. Despite one's best efforts to be fair and just, there are always people you encounter along your voyage across life's rich tapestry who just don't have any real moral code. That's a given. It's also a given that miscommunication, misunderstanding and conflict is inevitable within the realm of business versus artistry, hence why we have a subset of individuals collectively known as lawyers who are there to profiteer from such conflict and confusion, and hopefully resolve any disputes. I get all of that. That can apply to any corridor of industry and is just how it is.

What I simply don't get about the music industry is just how many clueless berks there are per square mile comparative to any other profession. To be a clueless berk is one thing, to go around wearing a Sheriff's badge brusquely purporting to know what you're doing, spouting 'received yet not comprehended wisdom', and quoting dog-ended soundbites you overheard someone else say without really really grasping the very essence of what you are blathering is simply laughable in my book. Do NOT pass Go. RED CARD. If you fall into such a category, PLEASE, do yourself a MASSIVE favour and read Kill Your Friends by John Niven, then please take a LONG HARD LOOK at yourself in the mirror and question your place in the world. Maybe a career in the shoe industry might be a better calling for you? After all, you wouldn't expect to be wheeled into an operating theatre and find a chimpanzee looming above you with a scalpel would you? You wouldn't expect to find a small beaker of plankton in charge of choreography at the English National Ballet would you? It's an industry based around the very basic notion that having an opinion is far more important than not having one, even if said opinion is based on absolutely no knowledge of the chosen subject whatsoever.

An A&&R person once said to me "I don't like the hi hat sound" on quite a popular rock record I was mixing at the time. That's the sonic equivalent of me saying to a decorator "that black paint is too black". The reason he/she was saying that and not "this song doesn't really have a very memorable hook" or "it feels about 5bpm too slow" is basically because he/she didn't know or indeed understand about such things but felt compelled to say SOMETHING. Said person PROBABLY got the job in A&R by spotting something cool down at the Barfly one night and got lucky on a whim but that, my friends, doesn't constitute a career, or indeed an understanding of what that career entails. Fortunately however, the A&R merry go round is very much results-based so such buffoonery is short-lived and if you really really don't know what you're doing, you'll get ejected back into the queue at the Job Centre before too long. Good, then that's one less moron I have to endure and pander to.

Sure, I get that there is always a certain amount of "learning on the job" and not everyone has to know everything from the get-go. An old friend of mine who was managing a band at the time (who are now one of the biggest rock bands in the country) once asked me what "points on a record" constituted. I explained to him in short form, he duly went and read up on the subject and there we go, more life skills. What I can't endure is people blagging it and then talking to me as if I don't KNOW they are blagging it.

Sorry to say kiddo, this ain't my first rodeo and you're fooling no one but yourself. I am reminded of the legendary Karl Pilkington and his imaginary superpower. He came up with "Bullsh*t Man" who flies to the scene of anyone in the act of mid blag and just cries "that's bullshit" then promptly flies off. My good mate Andy Shilletto once said to me, if you're in a situation in life and you don't understand something, have the humility to ASK, and if you feel you can't ask and have to bullsh*t because you've blagged yourself into that situation, well you probably shouldn't be there in the first place. Never a truer word said. I'm not very good at many things in life, but what I am good at (I think) is sort of throwing myself into my chosen fields of passion and doing my best to understand them inside and out, and at the very least to constantly challenge my creativity within those fields. You'll never hear me down the pub spuriously waxing lyrical about football or politics or indeed eastern spiritualism, I don't know anything about those subjects and a great many more. If however, you wish to get into a diatribe about music, music production and the industry surrounding said topics, make sure you have a handle on your chosen subject first please. You can fool some people some of the time, you can't fool all people all of the time and you definitely can't fool me ANY of the time.

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