Stop the talking!
People ask questions, and when answered, do not respond. People are asked questions and an answer is not received. Subsequently, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting happens. Something is expressed in an abstract, time-bound utterance. An offer/decision is backhandedly dealt and almost instantly withdrawn (possibly). A conversation/discussion takes place, and simply vanishes into thin air without a trace, without being committed to written record and/or followed through. Almost as if the conversation/discussion didn't take place at all! Thus, one begins to doubt oneself, question one's own sense of reality. Yet when topics are picked up on in writing, people fail to respond. The blank email inbox and innocently empty mailbox conceal a hidden agenda of swords and daggers. They indicate an absence of communication and a lack of accountability. It's this that we challenge at its route source.
Whilst talk is a reasonable form of communication in articulating a "shared vision", this is only a temporary illusion. It's emotionally and spiritually effective, whilst physically and psychologically ineffective. It's an obstacle to accountability in its very nature of being fluid and intangible. In business contexts, talk should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. We're human too. We like to talk and share a good feeling. It's lovely and nice (depending on the context). We like to give ourselves and one another a break once in a while, and there is a time and place for that. However, whilst easier in the short term, talk creates confusion in the long term because it's not committed. Why have a two part thing of talk then having to commit it into writing afterwards when you can simply skip step one and formulate everything straight into writing? Just keep it in the back of your mind that talk, to the same degree as developing relationships, ideas and thought processes, raises the threshold of disappointment. Things can be said and not substantiated. Moments are lost and forgotten. Communications aren't picked up on. People are too "busy"* to follow things through effectively and translate talk into action.
*busy = inability to manage one's own time.
Let's simplify communications. Let's reduce communications to their basic, elementary form and strip out all of the emotional confusion that is the enemy of solid, concrete accountability. Let's communicate information neutrally and transparently. Yes, I repeat: talk is a reasonable form of communication, but in its fluid, transitive, time-bound transmission, lacks accountability and is an inferior, deficient form of communication. Simply because it's impossible to verify/falsify what was discussed/agreed (unless it is committed to a sound recording, which throws up a minefield of technological complexities). On the other hand written communication puts action into account.
Phone lines down
A social approach?
People often critique Red & Black Music for being "cold, rigid and impersonal". But they fail to understand that there are reasons behind this (documented in this blog). We've repeatedly succumbed to the bait of socialistic business transactions. We've been coerced backwards into agreements formulated upon human relationships. But time and time again, we're reminded about the flaws and fragilities of humans and the futility of such socialistic means, we're reminded about why we moved away from such means in the first place, and we return forwards to the individualistic approach stronger and with more vengeance than ever before. It's a vicious cycle. As agreements are breached and people continue to dishonour their promises and commitments, it's a sombre reminder that 99% of people can't be trusted and aren't accountable for their own actions.
It's for these reasons we re-hibernate within a safe haven of written word whereby discussions/agreements and actions can at least be archived, traced, evidenced, read and understood clearly, neutrally and impartially. It's for these reasons we retreat into a protective cloak of literal transmission and clarity can be attained, for better or for worse. It's all about putting action into account.
Less shouting down the banana phone! We can lick our wounds, re-evaluate/re-ground ourselves and capture eventualities in pixel and print. We can silently and tirelessly trivialise dramas to mere soap operas on a page. We can implement our own measures and frameworks to prevent the insoluble insanity of such problems happening again and again. The harsh realities of working within such an unstable "industry" repeatedly inform, justify, prove and necessitate our approach. People might talk about how bitter the label is and deem such an approach as "defeatist". SMART incrementation, insight and forward-planning (as opposed to woeful outbursts) is anything but defeatist! It's a means of survival.
"But the music industry doesn't work like that!"
Change the world
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
Read this article Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World and consider the possibility that to facilitate change and forward motion one must manifest it from within oneself. We attribute value to "the only way to change the world is to change ourselves" philosophy. We also accept ourselves as liabilities in equal measure to those we employ. And that's why when there is a continuum of communication, there is a necessity to consolidate it through that mechanism of accountability. Action being the teleological (end result) sum of Experience. Translating actuality into account. Too many times we've come across a depletion in one of these areas. EITHER by people withholding information out of "politeness" and thereby stoppering KLU (Knowledge, Learning and Understanding). OR by people populating the aether with abandoned resolves, cluttering the stratosphere with a mist of false claims, unsubstantiated "noise" and hidden agendas. Stop talking! Stop lying! Musicians putting themselves forward for engagements without first considering their availability. Musicians propagating a contingent, time-bound and often unsustainable enthusiasm without communicating when their availability undermines their honourable intentions.
OK, you get the picture. Now let's apply this to the music "industry" (assuming such a thing exists). Or at least an untraceable blurred boundary surrounding an abstract, "almost-body" of artists and engagers.
Red & Black Music builds a music "industry" from within itself. It's an internal, organic growth process, formulated upon a three-dimensional matrix of structure and relativity. We have gone back to the roots of logic, reduced everything to its elementary definition/form, and built upwards from scratch. What is an "event"? An instance of activity that's planned and embedded within a time continuum? What happens when an "event" is linked to another "event"? What does it become? Is a rehearsal an "event"? Should a rehearsal be considered as a matter of contract, or a matter of availability? What structures lie behind such agreements/expectations? And so these questions continue. We've cultivated our own notion of a music "industry". We've challenged, interrogated and questioned everything from its root source and upwards. We've manifested "change" from inside of ourselves. And by transmitting this element of "change", a transformation has occurred from one entity to another, no matter how small: it cannot be denied as a certainty of logic. Solid, tangible and concrete actuality/experience rooted in the basis of account and written record forms the building bricks to a stronger foundation of KLU (Knowledge, Learning and Understanding). Negative oscillations and cycles are broken, making way for clarity and forward progress.
Does this mean less work?
Perhaps, for the short-term. However, as we grow and evolve as humans and as a business, we will transmit this understanding to more and more people. Yes, some people might disagree and they are perfectly entitled to. After all, that's what distinguishes us as individual entities. But it works both ways. Cleansing and detoxing ourselves in terms of our approach to business has positive effects too: there are people who find relief in the way we work and there are people who appreciate our approach. Ultimately many of us are changing the world in a variety of different measures and capacities. It's up to one to identify and establish one's own truth, to find that sweet balance between realism/acceptance and having the courage to think/act independently should it serve its end function, without sacrificing oneself to apathy and laissez-faire.
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
Read & Blog
The "Watch Blog"
Red & Black Music was set up in 2012 to stop musicians cancelling.
Please note: full names, addresses and contact details of private individuals are omitted for data protection purposes (unless already made public elsewhere online).
A category naming and shaming unreliable musicians to watch out for.
A category reporting unscrupulous venues and traders.
A category exploring the issues faced working via agents and promoters.