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Honor as a musician and a business person. 

All industries have liars and the music industry is definitely no exception. Many people do not follow through on their word; many people lack honor, consideration and professionalism. It’s unfortunate that those who do lack honor—who lie or skip out on promises—grow defensive about their lack of honor when called on it. Instead of righting wrongs or taking steps to modify their actions, they give excuses and reasons why it is okay for them to be dishonorable.

In the arts, as in any other profession, you must have professional abilities and skills, but today, with so many artists going after the same jobs, the same tours, the same records, it takes ability, professionalism and honor for people to call on you and continue to call on you again and again.

Your word, it is that simple

This is not rocket science. In fact, it shouldn’t even need to be mentioned. But honor is an issue. False promises, outright lies, back stabbing and just plain absence is a problem in the industry, but the industry is getting more and more fed up with it. While many superstar names have been troublesome in the past and put up with these days, with the economy, time restraints and other issues, more people are leaning towards working with those who can not only play, but also have the honor to show up, perform, follow through and deliver. Attitudes, egos and lack of professionalism are not tolerated like they used to be.

When you give your word, follow through with it. Honor it. This will lead to more work than you know.

Your actions

When you are booked for a session, a show, anything, be there and be there on time. If you are going to be late, call. If there are things that are going to keep you from fulfilling your obligation or your promise then do everything in your power to remedy the situation with a replacement or some kind of fix.

I am amazed at how people give up with no consideration of the person who has booked them or what ever the agreement or contract situation is. I, for one and I speak for many, do not call people back that flake out, blow off or bail at the last minute. This adolescent behavior is unprofessional, dishonorable and disrespectful. This also makes me, as the producer, look bad to the artist or the client with whom I am working. I don’t care how good a musician is. When they show a lack of respect or consideration for me, the artist and the promise they have made, then I am done with that person.

Things do happen.

Now I am not saying things don’t happen that you can’t control. Car problems occur, accidents, emergencies, etc. can prevent anyone from being able to honor his or her word. When it comes to professionalism, honor and respect, it really isn’t as much about how you behave when everything is perfect. It is about how you behave when problems occur.

When anything, or everything, goes wrong, how do you problem solve? What kind of effort do you put in to rectifying the issue? If you get into a car accident and you are okay, but stuck waiting for a tow truck, are you the type to call and say you can’t make it and leave it at that? Or are you the type who either tries to find another way to get to the session or makes calls to the studio or producer asking if they can call anyone else while you, yourself, are working to find a way to get that session covered?

Your follow through

It comes down to the follow through, and while a solution will not be reached every time, if something has to change or a commitment has to be broken, I know that the person I hired did everything they possibly could to make it right. That is honor. That is professionalism. That is follow through.

You say you are going to be some where = Show.

You say you are going to do something = Do it.

You say you are going to pay some one = Pay them.

Honor your commitments, your promises and your own goals. If something goes wrong, do all you can to make it right.

Too easy. Really!

Regardless of the booking, the gig, the contract, the promise, as long as you do what you say you are going to do or make every effort to resolve an emergency situation, then you truly are a professional with honor in every sense of the word. You want to have a reputation of a skilled, competent professional whose playing matches his or her honor.

Be the person who follows through on commitments, takes care of business and can be counted on when things are going right and even more so when things go wrong. Be the dependable, honorable person. It can make all the difference in the world. When people know they can count on you through thick and thin, your reputation will spread like wild fire but don’t forget, the same thing goes for the opposite as well.

© 2009 Loren Weisman

Watch out for Loren Weisman’s “Realistic Music Careers 101 Seminar” coming to a city near you and Loren’s book “The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business” coming in 2010.

Reader Comments (4)

Great post. I'd like to point out that you have to also know when you're over-comitting. If you have a lot on your plate, it's best to say a polite no to something you're being offered.

October 6 | Unregistered CommenterLois

Excellent, EXCELLENT post. Much needed! Here's an excerpt of what I wrote on my own blog as I posted the link to your article:

As a singer, I cannot TELL you how many times I've been underpaid, paid late, or not paid at all... And without apology.

And as someone who has had to contract musicians, I have encountered those who are unprofessional: who turn up late, who don't turn up at all, or who call at the last minute to say they can't, they won't turn up - and they haven't made any attempt to find a replacement or a workaround.

In the music industry in Jamaica, we're always clamouring to be treated as professionals by the rest of the business community as well as by our fans. However, I believe that we need to BEHAVE as professionals, and do so CONSISTENTLY, to back those demands. Trust needs to be earned, and it's a two-way street.

October 6 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Sharpe

I agree with this all , and I do agree , make sure your word is your bond, and never go back on your word!

Lois, You are so right and I forgot that all together. Know when to say no and when you cant do it all. That is a great point. Thanks.

October 8 | Registered CommenterLoren Weisman

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