posted by Claire Maillot
What is the meaning of the term "busy"?
Busy = disorganised, and/or lacking the availability/time/capacity/cost to perform at the required standard. For this reason, we avoid using the word at all costs and/or being drawn into situations where the word might be used. The industry is saturated by disorganised people who use the word 'busy' as a polite substitution for diminished interest, such that the word has become a meaningless excuse for inefficiency. If we are not interested, we will say so, and provide reasons if necessary.
Too often, we hear business intermediaries using the term as an excuse for not doing something, withholding information and/or withdrawing interest. This implies that they have let themselves become drawn into a situation where they have either over-promised or under-delivered. This is a symptom from a lack of communication and accountability.
We've seen it occur many times that musicians put themselves forward for auditions and positions in productions but then end up over-compromising themselves and others through their lack of self-regulation, accountability and communication. This means that they have received offers elsewhere and not notified stakeholders in advance so as to effectively manage expectations and avoid a conflict of interest situation (unhappy client situation).
Instead, they 'gloss over it' by using the word 'busy' as a polite way of withdrawing interest to cover up for their lack of accountability. If it's an excuse for disorganisation, it also indicates an underlying communication issue. We've had one musician turning up to an audition and saying "I don't have time for this", which warrants the response "OK, so why are you even here in the first place?" We've even had the same musician re-applying to other opportunities! First of all, this is not fair on the opportunities that they are already signed up for (opportunity 'B') because they're effectively putting us (opportunity 'A') in a position of conflict.
Just to clarify, we fully understand musicians have other commitments and often need to juggle their availability/involvement between different engagers in order to maintain their livelihoods. However, in order to do so effectively there needs to be a degree of mediation, i.e., communication, so as to properly set out and quantify expectations. The key to this is transparent communication. Their respective commitments have to slot into one another and communicate at all levels to avoid mismanaged expectations, which can lead to frustration and disappointment.
From: "EM Agency"
Yes, we've quoted this many times now on our blog, but this is a classic case of an agent rejecting neutral, informative communication. It's a cancerous illness. Without wanting to resort to generalisations/blanket statements, this statement alone perfectly encapsulates in one paragraph an underlying problem of the music "industry": lack of communication. This agent has inadvertently revealed his true colours in full blinding light: by both dismissing transparent communication and advocating the use of the word "busy" to project a false image of success and polite withdrawal. This sort of talk and attitude is precisely the root cause creating the snowballing "smoke and mirrors" effects - withholding information and spawning unresolved queries. It opens up a cycle of anxiety, indeterminacy and ultimately depression, which engenders adverse psychological effects.
Note use of the words "great" and "excessive". Both words are vague and unquantifiable, i.e., they don't refer to an exact degree of measurement.
New Enquiry for Wed 7 Dec 2016 from W Entertainment
This agent was "too busy" to read his emails. Therefore, by extension he undermines his own wish to resolve the matter more "efficiently" in his apparent intention to get angry on the phone. We're glad we didn't pick up the phone. Apart from receiving unwarranted emotional angst and subjecting ourselves to verbal aggression/abuse (as implied by the tone of the email); we would have been socially pressurised into an agreement which would have betrayed our own terms and conditions, thereby compromising ourselves. Finally, this incident would have remained unaccounted for (the outcome would have vanished into thin air without a trace).
Read more about our written communication policy.
If the agent had a backlog of enquiries over the weekend needing processing (as implied by the email); it would have been more efficient to either prioritise enquiries rather than multi-tasking, or, at the very least, inject some form of delegation into his proceedings if he couldn't address the backlog by himself.
From: "Chris - W Entertainment"
Female Vocalist - Fiesta Latina
This musician approached us, putting himself forward for work. However he failed to communicate that he had both put himself forward for other opportunities in addition to already having existing opportunities, and therefore compromised us (and possibly other people).
This musician then put himself forward for other opportunities, even after having stated that he was "too busy".
Fiesta Latina question
This musician approached us, putting herself forward for work. This meeting never materialised.
Client Enquiry - Do not reply to this email
This client was obviously so "busy" she forgot she'd already made an enquiry and pencilled a reservation into our diary.
Date of event Saturday 14th March 2015
This agent approached us, offering work. When offered quotes for the smaller lineups, the agent used the word "busy" as a way of politely withdrawing interest on behalf of the client.
What might have been said is: "I can't be bothered to read your quotes because I already have enough quotes." Or, alternatively, if the agent were "too busy" to do his job, he could have referred the client to us in this case. His inability to manage his own workload possibly meant we missed out on a booking, or at least missed out on the opportunity to pursue the lead directly.
Another classic example of the word "busy" used in the context of politely withdrawing interest. Unfortunately, it was too late: the musician was already under contract. Fortunately, the musician honoured her contractual agreement for the 16th August, and found a deputy musician for the 23rd August. However, her use of the word "busy" suggests she possibly should not have accepted the work in the first place, or at least owned up to her change of circumstances after having accepted work.
Availability re: 24/08/2014
This musician approached us, putting herself forward for work. When she was offered work, her response was delayed. When she finally did respond she didn't actually disclose her availability as requested.
Salsa / Latin Jazz Pianist (Martin)
This musician approached us, putting himself forward for work. Another example of already having enough work and therefore not needing the opportunities.
This musician approached us, putting himself forward for work. Several issues here. The musician either had a problem which was not communicated (it's implied that he wasn't happy about the performance fees, which would explain the withdrawal of interest), or outside circumstances affected his availability for work.
This musician approached us, putting himself forward for work on evenings; but then discounted the fact that he was actually already working most evenings, thereby putting us in a position of conflict right from the start.
latin musicians required - piano player
This musician approached us, putting herself forward for work. However she is right in requesting us to stipulate gig dates and time frames, and she has indeed stipulated her own schedule of activity which falls into a time frame of approximately six weeks.
This musician approached us, putting herself forward for work. She uses the word "literally" to emphasise her point, but this is an oxymoron because there is nothing "literal" about her use of the word (she hasn't stipulated her dates, for example).
What she might have said is: "Please note: my circumstances have changed or are likely to change. I'm prioritising my other opportunity over your opportunity. Additionally, I'm unable to stipulate dates in advance as I don't know which dates I'm currently booked, and I cannot guarantee that they won't change. However, any date conflicts that do come in will automatically need to take priority over your dates."
The word "busy" often indicates a displacement of context. In this example, John has described Tom as being "too busy with people like BBC Big Band/Ronnie's". Although helpful, Tom was never contacted because the word "busy" automatically dismissed him from the equation (indicating that it would be counter-productive to contact him under such circumstances).
Gig confirmation re: 08/05/2012
This is a classic example of withholding information. The musician could have simply sent a list of the dates that they were available, or even simpler, eliminated from the list the dates that they were not available (i.e., fully disclosing their availability instead of releasing information in bits and pieces).
To-do list re: Diáspora
As it happened, this workshop facilitator never found the time to send us their DBS. This indicates that they probably would have not had time to deliver their workshops. This undermines the reason/rationale for putting themselves forward in the first place.
Red & Black Music was set up in 2012 to stop musicians cancelling.
Red & Black Music has been running a journal since 2012 for the purposes of evaluation and future development. It documents internal struggles faced by musicians and music leaders in an honest and transparent way - and evidences breaches of communication and accountability both on the artist side and the client side, in an open access format.
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Rory comes from a musical background having trained at the RNCM and worked with musicians since 2009.
Claire comes from a publishing background, having worked as a digital editor in the books industry, and proofreader in the marketing industry in London.
Jo comes from a hospitality & tourism background, having managed staff at prestigious venues throughout UK, Italy and China since 2009.
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.
Event Diary #1
Event Diary #2
Freedom of Speech
Less Talk More Action
Productions vs. Bands
Unresolved Queries 1
Unresolved Queries 2
What happened to Diaspora Collective?