Everyone is smarter than you
Everyone is smarter than you about something. Seriously, understand this basic concept as it applies to the music business and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.
Think of the biggest idiot you know. Someone that you feel is just plain stupid. Even that person knows something that you don’t. And because you spend your energy focused on how dumb they are, you’ll never learn that one nugget of information they posses that you don’t that could prove beneficial to you one day.
There’s an unfortunate sense of hierarchy in the local band world. Bands that play bigger venues, have more fans, and sell more merchandise certainly must be better, and smarter, than the opening acts performing before them on the bill, right? As a musician, don’t buy into this hierarchy. Learn something from every musician you meet, because they ALL know something that you don’t.
Maybe they know the best website to buy cheap guitar strings. Or maybe they know how to fix a broken radiator hose in a band van. Or maybe you can learn a small piece of fashion advice by noticing a cool pair of shoes or something they are wearing. Or maybe they know of a place to get flyers printed cheaply. Or maybe they have a friend at a booking agency.
Everyone is smarter than you about something. Learn from everyone you meet in the music business. Because they all, even those just starting out, know something that you don’t. If you spend all of your mental efforts concerned with yourself, you’ll never open up enough to learn from those around you.
When you find those few special people that you feel really have it together — those people you look up to — spend as much time with them as they will allow. Make these people your mentors. Even the biggest idiot can teach you something, but a great mentor can really change your life.
I’m not really sure why, but it wasn’t until recently that I understood the importance of having mentors, probably because I incorrectly felt there needed to be some sort of formalization of the mentor status. It’s silly, but I felt I needed to actually say to a person, “Will you be my mentor?” almost like in the 6th grade when I asked Missy Fulmer if she would “go with me.” Truth be told, most of the mentors I’ve had in my life probably don’t even know I considered them as such.
Learn something from everyone, but find a few who have achieved greatness and learn a lot from those people.
This would probably be an appropriate place in the book to thank some of my mentors — people who have taught me a lot over the years.
Joe Rose. Thank you for teaching me how to be a man. Not necessarily a man that can wrestle a grizzly bear or rebuild a carburetor in a ‘66 Mustang with nothing more than a Swiss army knife; although as a kid, I believed you could do both those things at the same time, and more. But thank you for teaching me to be a man that’s not afraid to love, to be honest, to work hard, to treat people with respect, and (when necessary) a man who is not afraid to stand up for his players and yell at the umpire when he’s made a bad call.
Ruth Rose. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, especially when I must have looked like an idiot in some of those clothes I used to wear. I don’t recall you ever telling me to cut my hair or grow up, although both would have been justified requests. Thank you for being so smart. You’re smarter than any scholar I know, yet you chose a much more difficult career path — being a mom and raising your two kids. Thanks for that.
The following people have taught me a lot about life and/or the business of music. I am grateful to them in ways they may never know (in no particular order): Phil Zachary. Michael Sweet. Bruce Hornsby. Bill Payne. Allison Moorer. Butch Walker. Vienna Teng. John Wozniak. Jay Williams. Greg Gallo. Matt Thomas. Josh McSwain. Scott Thomas. Barry Knox. Amy Cox. Andy Martin. Kevin Frazier. Jay Nachlis. Mike Hartel. Doug Grissom. Bob Jamieson. David Bendeth. Bill Leverty. Harry Poloner. Charles Meeker. Rhonda Beatty. Virginia Parker. Mark Paris. Tim Gaines. Robert Kearns. Philip Isley. Nancy McFarlane. Matt Smith. Bev Paul.