posted by Rory Duffy
Remember this colourful logo? The kinder, yet ill-fated precursor to Red & Black Music? What happened?
Here's what happened!
In August 2012, a lead vocalist withdrew from an engagement. Diaspora Collective closed as a result of this because the way in which the incident was dealt with was too lenient and could have created a negative client situation.
How did this happen?
From: Diáspora Music
3 years later...
The agent of that same booking (08/09/2012), Jason @ Book Live, critiqued the exact measures put in place to stop such a situation from re-occurring:
From: "Jason @ Book Live"
The end of Diaspora Collective.
The way in which the vocalist was handled was far too kind, far too nice and far too personal. Had Rory enforced the vocalist's contract, this might not have been so sweet but at least would have avoided the risk of such a potentially negative client situation. Diaspora Collective's bright, colourful and appealing brand/image coupled with its gay, friendly and camp business style undermined its credibility as a sustainable business model. Its approachability, generosity and flexibility became the death of it.
Diaspora Collective needed to "harden up". Musicians were taking advantage of the work freely available and creating too many problems by not honouring their promises and commitments. These were subsequently impacting negative, knock-on effects for the brand and the band's reputation among agents and promoters. Something needed to change internally. Diaspora Collective needed to crack down on communication and foster an environment where musicians were made accountable for their actions.
The start of Red & Black Music.
Rory was on the point of giving up. Roberta advised Rory not to give up. Just to re-clarify, the problems were at a musicians level. The trade unions were enforcing regulations and supporting musicians who campaigned about being paid fairly for their worth yet didn't think twice about breaching a contract let alone the various damages/repercussions that these unwarranted cancellations could trigger.
From: Red & Black Music
Jo advised Rory not to let himself be defeated by other musicians who had once promoted a so-called solidarity and "shared vision" yet undermined the very promises and commitments that this made possible in the first place, via their own lack of communication, accountability and decisiveness.
Jo stepped in and saved the day. She created a partnership. A tighter business model which was steadfast, uncompromising and refusing to bend the rules for the unreliable musicians who had brought Diaspora Collective in its innocently naive, socialist optimism crashing down into the ocean (more recently, this resoluteness has extended to agents too). A "sterner" management style which would expose offenders for their inconsistencies. Hence Red & Black Music was created.
From: Red & Black Music
One of the principle and perhaps controversial measures we've put in place is all communications are made in a written form, via email. This is to ensure that the correspondence is captured in its raw, elementary form and not succumbed to the "Chinese whispers" effect of social nuance and appeasement. Have you ever tried to recount a verbal conversation? Has your account been completely 100% accurate? Or was any part of your explanation coloured/tinted by how you felt about the person or situation? How easy was it to look back at the conversation and properly analyse what went wrong? And what evidence do you have handy to prove/disprove the conversation anyway?
No: enough is enough. We decided to strip down communications to their base form and eliminate any emotional confusion. Written communications allow the fundamental points of a discussion or agreement to be properly read, understood and translated with ease. They "cut out the crap" and trivialise a conversation to mere letters, numbers, words and phrases on a page. This way situations aren't taken out of context and the content/meaning of the message is transmitted clearly and emotionlessly.
While we understand from feedback that this might be considered less 'personal': we believe 'personal' can be another term for taking advantage of someone. People are a detriment to one another as much as they are a compliment. People hold one another back as much as they move others forward. An agreement arising out of a personal relationship only builds up the threshold for misunderstanding, disappointment and disillusionment. A verbal conversation lures the correspondent towards believing in and buying into what the other person is saying, which is only relevant to the immediacy of that contingent time and place situation. The other person is actually utilising social appeasement to cast a mist of deception and to propagate circumstances conspiring in their favour, which ultimately serves their ulterior motive and purpose. This is a certainty, not a probability. We've seen it time and time again not only in our own work but in the work of others too. And the worst part of it is: it's impossible to testify/falsify if such off-the-record and "below board" conversation actually happened or whether it was merely a figment of one's imagination. Acknowledging this realism of defeat lays the foundations of our belief in reducing and simplifying business negotiations to their constituent elements, i.e., in writing.
Yes, we can be personal. Yes, we smoke, we drink, we have relationship issues, we party all night and indulge in drugs, sex and despicable behaviour just as much as anyone else :-) If you wish, we can interact with you on that level, too. If you want personal, we will give you personal. Lovely! (if you're not serious and are just hard out for a bit of banter then that's perfectly fine and acceptable, too: we won't get anything done but at least we will have some fun, hey! :D). However, when it comes down to the business, we're serious, we're dedicated and we want to get it right as much as you want to get the band right. Verbal communication, while lovely, and occasionally throwing in a tasty carrot, doesn't necessarily achieve anything tangible or concrete. Verbal communication can cause confusion: for better or for worse, it invariably poses an obstacle preventing action and decisive progress, on both sides.
The second, and perhaps more controversial measure we've put in place is accountability. Holding people accountable for their inconsistencies via means of information transparency. This means we expose inconsistencies in the public domain by posting correspondence online in order to evidence breaches of contract and account for the who, what, when, where and why we've come to work in the way we do. Having communications in writing allows us to do this in a neutral, unbiased way. The simple reason for this is we want to please everyone: we want to at least prove we've taken advice on board, even if experience has led us to the conscious decision not to act on such advice, for whatever reason.
This concept is at the heart of accountability. Neutrally publishing correspondence in its source format allows us to justify and formulate ourselves as a business, exercise our right to the freedom and deregulation of speech and cultivate an open accessibility of information. Not having correspondence in writing weakens our arguments, because it removes the evidence to back up our convictions and therefore undermines our striving for accountability.
Withholding information for "political correctness" purposes is a cancerous force in such a music 'industry'. Miscommunication is the root cause to many of the issues documented and explored in this blog; one that's detrimental to business, and ultimately, progress.
Where does this leave Jason?
From: Book Live Bands & Singers
Red & Black Music
From: "Jason @ Book Live Music & Entertainment"
Easy. Jason has the simple decision.
Either, Jason can go back to the days of Diaspora Collective. Book a 7-piece band, fail to enforce a contract and bring a 6-piece band instead. Risk the client noticing and kicking up a fuss for breach of contract (after all it won't matter anyway if the entertainment business is about being generous and flexible).
Or, Jason can accept the terms of Red & Black Music and understand that the label works in the best interests of its clients.
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.
This link is hidden and only shared privately.
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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?