Musicians' Corner breaks down what a likeable personality can mean to a career
Here at Musicians’ Corner there are several decades' worth of music business insight and journalistic experience of music articles present, behind the scenes. And one thing is clear as day after meeting performers, at every possible juncture in their careers, for that long: It is hazardous for the development of an artist’s career if it is a challenge to check the box for ‘He is a likeable person” (expressed in the British English that we speak here).
The truth is that so many put in the hours. So many have the talent. So many are just the right artist for the spot.
And so many people that a performer comes across in his career, and is dependent upon for his progress, also put in the hours. The question of who reaches his full potential career-wise may be more of a question of who is able to inspire people to put in the extra time. Who among the talented performers can make a multitude of people go the extra mile? That extra time, that extra mile, put in by many, is so often the difference. The artist who inspires this in people is an artist ahead of the game. The artist who doesn’t may one day see that nobody’s around in all of the town when someone’s down… Right here let’s give a mention to all the family members of artists, who do put in the time and the extra hours too, so much of the time, and keep such a lot of music up and running through their tireless efforts for their artist family member. This is a large and largely unsung group of people who deserve accolade. These days the art of inspiring folks also is very much a question of who can make enough many people out there reach past the music available for free online, usually with horrible sound quality, for their credit card and the full listening experience.
We are not talking about a ‘social media kind of nice’. The truth is that we all see through it…
We are talking about a deep-going likeable disposition being present one way or the other.
On a psychological level people tend to like individuals who seem to be like themselves, and characters they would like to be. The image machine was always well aware of both of course. This is why we have seen the multi-gazillionaire artist, who rents a squadron of luxury villas everywhere he goes on tour to put up all his staff and private chefs, still sport a pair of ill-fitting jeans too, when he has been off to meet his audience. It has been looking like he is basically only on tour when he is off the shift at the factory, still. He is just like them! The goodness knows that the ‘wanna be like a rockstar” thematics choked on their own repetitiousness long ago. Divas may need to have the dirty little secret that they are really easy-going to work with, or the funding and knowthyself to hire people who can make things run smoothly, for them.
The people who meet the artist in a work context are a very large group over time in a career, and they are important all the way. Getting through the door in music can be hard, and being chucked out from this game is something that can happen easily, if noted or not by the artist, or denied for years and years. And then it is the reaching of the full potential that doesn’t scrape by where success was possible, and the working smart instead of too hard all the time running the risk of burn-out. Of course many of the people who the artist meets will evaluate the artist strictly from a business point of view. Business has few feelings and doesn’t run on emotion. But there too a likeable personality is in the material, in the known and subconscious. It may be part of the picture evaluating you from a work- and business perspective. Will people like you? – May be the question, there as it is here. And it doesn’t really matter who and where anybody is – they would rather be working with someone they enjoy meeting than with someone they would rather avoid! And – burning the midnight oil at work is going to seem so different while done for one than for the other. After some time it will start to show. After a few thousand people that the artist ran into on a professional basis the result is going to be in. There for example will be another newspaper article or there won’t be. And music fans might ask questions like “Why is so and so not more of a household name? He is one of the best!” and “Where did so and so go?” in many, many – many cases.
If you don’t happen to have chosen a line of work where your personality matters you can behave more however you like, be much more of a ‘rockstar’ in that cliché sense, than someone whose entire success or failure depends on what people think of him. What people actually think of him, beyond some pleasantries spoken and outside of checking a clip on YouTube for a few seconds.
It is said that what we say verbally makes up about ten percent of people’s impression of us. How much singing grabs our attention, in regards to the rest that we pick up of a person, is more unclear, but the truth is that music also is part of a multitude of things that we pick up.
Working on the personality seems important for an artist. Certainly not as important as working on the music or practicing. Music shouldn’t be a congeniality contest, but about the music. Let us in the wings here at Musicians’ Corner clearly state that we wouldn’t want to be without the music of some of the ‘less merry’ artists that we have come across – way back in time – of course – before this platform was even started! But you need/ed to bring something truly special musically to be in that category, or have the ability to really sell, for people to put up with you looking for their paycheck. And in today’s climate it’s just not so much of a viable concept for accomplishment as the market has gotten so much smaller, and it’s just not possible to sell as many products as it used to be. Working on personal growth deserves a spot on the list of priorities for the performers who want to have a smooth work-life on that market.
Few internal arguments benefitted music acts, and especially not when brought to the general public’s attention. People immediately associate anything negative, uttered by an individual, with the individual who mentions it. He can actually be talking about something that doesn’t even have anything to do with him, simply reference something going on with other people perhaps, and a tad of this will rub off on him in the minds of the people who catch it. It is how the human mind works. We can say ‘Don’t shoot the messenger” however much we like. If the message is somehow bad it reflects on the current situation. Consequently talking bad about people is a bad idea.
If someone doesn’t have much of a pleasant disposition, being part of an act where someone else does may be the difference between a career succeeding and a career tanking. They can tag along with this other person’s likeability. And people who come across them after twenty years in the business may be utterly surprised at how stuck up they may still be, as if their success was not only entirely their achievement, but even something to for some reason be rude to people because of…which may be their take on their success, missing that personality that they don’t have… when in fact it has come together for them because of someone else’s abilities in this department. These may really be humans who never grew or learnt. Many others learn – something – the hard way, possibly not able to see what it was that caused their careers to not get to where they was supposed to go, or tank altogether. They did have the music. They did have the voice. They brought the show. They came prepared. They were on time. They met their obligations. They cut the deals. They made the effort. But somehow, somehow things just didn’t quite happen the way they were supposed to.
When you did music interviews for decades a lot is explained and has been clarified over the years, and who made it through and who did not isn’t so much of a mystery at times. You met a lot of artists, and who was who and who made it where is pretty self-evident some of the time.
We might like to think it’s LUCK. That is so easy to blame. If we can blame luck or the lack thereof there is nothing further we could DO. There was nothing more we could have done. Speaking of luck is related to the mentioning of the people referred to as ‘they’. That is often an unspecified group of persons who reportedly prevented something or other from happening. ‘They’ wouldn’t let me! ‘They’ did this and that, and luck didn’t come my way! But success is so frequently preparedness meeting opportunity. The ones who keep working on both are those most likely to have longstanding careers flowing where they should.
So – the best advice that we can give budding artists here is: Work on the personal growth TOO. Do what it takes. Learn how to show people who do things for you appreciation. Respect people's time. Understand that everybody has their story and stuff to deal with. On a larger scale pick a lane to go, and just be hella nice if you can muster that. If you feel that you can’t right now be savvy enough to work on that and iron out those things within that makes that difficult. It’s straight-up professionalism if you do it for no other reason, and it is particularly relevant for how it is all going to pan out for you. This may be exceptionally difficult at times, because people may not be nice to you always exactly. This is a rough business and there are for certain some very bad eggs about. We also live in times when music fans have extreme expectations on artists, and put it to social media anytime they for example didn’t get to take a photo of an artist they ran into. Being a likeable person never equated being a doormat, but it often signifies an individual who doesn’t allow for the influence of others to lower their own behavioral standards. Being tough but stylish and fair is one thing, being in a foul mood because you allowed for mean, dishonest or demanding people to push you there is another. You keep your wits about you, ink what needs to be put down on paper well, and kill as many as you can with kindness, however they behave at that, because that is in your best interests, and on a deeper level it will incidentally make you feel better too, and what goes around – within you – will come around – within – to genuinely benefit you.