I walked into the venue for the first time. It was slow, but they had just opened for the morning. I walked up to the lady I was scheduled to meet and introduced myself.
"Harley?" she asked as I approached her.
"Yes, How are you today?" I responded with a smile.
I shook her had and our meeting had begun.
We talked for awhile for awhile about what I do for a living. Talked about how long I've been doing it and all the experiences I've had over the last 14 years I've spent entertaining.
She asked about the people that come to shows and what they thought about what I did. I didn't hesitate to ask how she heard of me. "One of my bartenders had a blast at one of your shows last month and a few customers have asked about you." was her response. I didn't waste any time answering her original question. She'd just answered it herself.
We spent a little while longer talking about the social media side of promotion and even broke into some other parts before she started asking about other people she was talking to.
She named another entertainer and I smiled. "I love her. She does a great job and I know she's expanding," was my response.
We finished up a great meeting and she talked about dates. I left there knowing I had another contact in my list.
After a few weeks, I learned she hired the other entertainer and I was thrilled. Yes it would have been nice to get the job myself, but someone I followed and knew got the job and I couldn't be upset. The owners made the decision because of a lower price. I knew they were in good hands and I wished for their success.
I honestly don't understand why some businesses or even other entertainers let ego get in the way of being happy for another business's success. I've been doing this for years and don't think I've ever badmouthed another entertainer in my time doing this. I love trading stories and taking about ideas and growth with other artists that do what I do.
I don't pretend to be perfect or all knowing, but I do believe that you build a network better by being supportive of your competition over hostile. They become a resource for information and a referral to a job they just can't do. Many of my earliest gigs were covering another entertainers weekly gig while they went on vacation. They still refer me to places to this day.
You need to have an ethics and values code within your business in order to network without conflict. You can't be humble and kind to one and hostile and combative with another. We are all just competing for attention from clients and the public. That's our game and we need to be able to push forward in a respectable and ethical way.
Maybe I lose gigs here and there from my willingness to speak well of another person in my field, but in the long run, I believe I'll gain respect and be seen as an example of a good person overall.
When I think deeper on the subject, I think about two bars that are right next door to each other. As an entertainer and customer, you hear the conversations around you and I notice one bar owner really runs down the other bar a lot. The other bar owner seemed to keep their opinion to themselves even though I'm sure they had a very strong opinion as well.
It wasn't what the owners said or didn't say that intrigued me. It was what the customers said that caught my ear. You see, in any business, the only thing that matters is customer perception. How they engage and react to whatever your service or product is, determines how much success the business has. It should be the only concern of a business owner of any degree. Sadly I fear pride and costs all too often win over this vital observation.
What the customers were talking about more and more was how much they hated the negative talk. How it made them not want to hang out there when the bar owner would say their opinions of the neighboring bar.
You see, some customers will pick sides, and they probably would have picked one bar either way, but most people aren't romantic about what place they hang out. They decide what they do and don't like in real time. The ones who heard one bar owner complain and never heard the other bar owner return the favor, chose to stay at the bar with less negativity.
They didn't leave the other bar because of lack of service or poor atmosphere. They are just average people who didn't like hearing negative comments. They went out to escape their normal day to day, not to hear about a bar feud.
This is what I want to avoid with my own business. Maybe some entertainers have opinions of me that aren't always pretty, but they'll never hear me talk about their negatives. I want to be the place you go to have fun without the negativity. I want to be an uplifting part of anyone's journey even if they are my direct competition. That's the legacy I want to leave behind after I'm dead and gone.
It's not just a gig,
It's not just money,
It's not just fame,
It's More Than Music
It's a Way of Life.