On Dropping The Ball

Dropping the ball happens. It sucks that it happens but it does. That’s just how things are in a culture where we get hundreds of emails a day and are constantly bombarded by social media. It’s super easy to have an email slip through the cracks and you don’t want that. You want to be the guy who is known for responding to your shit quickly and effectively and you want the same of your peers. If you’re a band it’s important that you are able to quickly and accurately reply to a promoter or agent if you can play a show or not. You also want to make sure that the people you are working with are, for example, actually going to put their streams out the days they are supposed to, something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as you would like. This is really hard to deal with a lot of the time when you’re a smaller band, so I wanted to take some time to discuss how to ensure you don’t drop the ball and approaches when others let you down.

The biggest key in my experience to really nailing the execution of your day to day tasks and ensuring less stuff gets by you is just going to be taking lots of notes in an electronic calendar. On any given day I probably have twenty or more things that just need to get done as per my calendar. If they don’t get done then it means I am messing up and we don’t want that. It’s also good so that as I go about my daily tasks I am able to read through my list and check items off. This ensures that I never get too far behind and that I can see what from my day I am getting done and what I am needing to push off to tomorrow just because I’m hitting the end of my energy. (For curious parties I stop work at 10PM but will answer emails until midnight) There are obviously a ton of apps that can help you with this, but for me I will probably forever be a fan of the plain old Google calendar app that you can find in just about any smartphone. If you establish a reputation as an organized person, then when you do drop the ball it won’t be as catastrophic.

Another key trick of mine is that every few hours, and then again at the end of the day I scroll through all of my Facebook messages and through my emails for the past few days just to make sure that nothing was left outstanding. I know that this is hard and requires you to click through a bunch of stuff and to read carefully but trust me it allows you to find things you forgot to note down or minor bits you had to reply too that you thought you had already handled. It’s so easy for things to get lost in the shuffle and it only takes a few minutes here and there to save you literal hours of work and stress. I think that a lot of this can be alleviated if you have a nicely formatted email system. Unfortunately not all of us have that luxury and so we need to hustle amongst ourselves in order to make sure that we don’t fuck up and fry all the relevant fish. Trust me, even if a reply is a day late, people appreciate being told what’s up. It can make for substantial and lasting relationships and it covers your ass if you wind up dropping the ball.

Meanwhile, if someone you work with drops the ball, do your best to be extremely forgiving. Remember that you have no idea what is going on in their lives and if you’re a smaller band it’s a small miracle that they were interested in working with you at all. I think the big key here is to do your best to make sure that no one looks bad. You don’t want to be the guy who is out there casting blame. It’s like Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Well shit man, if you start casting stones then other people are going to dig in their heels and tell you why you suck. This is a really important thing not to fuck up because once you become ‘that guy’ and known as an asshole there is no coming back. Instead just try to be a beacon of love and forgiveness. Shit falls apart constantly in music, that’s just how it goes.

When people do drop the ball, do your best not to freak out. I know that that can be really hard. I know that from personal experience and having had it happen many times over. Eventually those scars form and you become immune to it. You realize people mess up and then it’s up to you to decide if you want to trust that person again or if you’re ready to just move on to the next thing. This isn’t an easy way to be and it’s just another layer in the madness of it all. Sometimes people really screw up in big bad ways and this makes it really hard to come out of it. But again I think it’s important to remember that DIY music is not a paid position and it’s one that really demands that you have patience and make it work .If you can’t do that then you are just going to wind up being laughed at. So do what I do, breathe deep, embrace the craziness and realize that there is nothing more you can do. It’s music. Everyone is drunk or high and it’s been that way since 1953.

Keeping a cool and sober head is going to pay off in the long run. If you get a reputation as a hothead, even if you’re right then no one is going to want to work with you. People are looking for affection. Remember the people you are working with chose to work in the arts for a reason. That’s usually not because they were the captain of the high school football team. If someone really gets on you it’s often best just to step away, be it from the screen or from their stupid fat face. Give yourself time to breathe and it’s going to come together. Just appreciate the importance of organization on your end, a positive mindset and a desire to make sure that we all rise up together rather than getting caught up in the self serving bullshit of the rest of our society.

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