Blog 1419: Awkward Debutante at the Music Biz Ball

In which Ray, the unpopular girl at the dance, premieres his Comprehensive Plan to solve the “Single” Artist vs Music Biz conundrum.

“Let me tell you ’bout the snakes, the fakes, the lies, the highs
At all of these industry shing-dings…”
– A Tribe Called Quest, “Show Business

Music industry “shing-dings” always make me feel like an awkward debutante at a high school dance, where all the other kids are pretty and popular.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. You cannot just ask someone to dance.
  2. Maybe you have a “moment” with a prospective partner – as spontaneous, relaxed and lacking-in-expectation as a chat at a singles bar can be. Maybe you exchange details – no luck can be had the night you first meet; this is a chaperoned high school dance, and that’s mile-high-club-with-flight-attendant-level action.
  3. You wait the customary 3-5 days to email (not call) with a casual, “Hey, nice to meet you…” including subtle reminder of who you are (who knows how many others they met or spoke to that night, much less whether they’ll remember you at all). DON’T appear desperate. DON’T make them feel pressured. Be memorable, somehow, but be restrained.
  4. Possibly hear back from them – once (the Courtesy Reply).
  5. Maybe run into them at another industry thing 6 months later. Don’t mention that you emailed them. If they bring it up and apologise for not replying, pretend the thought had never crossed your mind. Have much more “familiar”, relaxed chat. Promise you will email them again, as per their request.
  6. Email them (1-2 days later). Don’t expect reply.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for next 1-2 years.

The last person anyone wants to hear about you from is you.

As in the dating game, the meaningful or lasting connections usually come about via mutual connections, and rarely from cold encounters. Also as in the dating game: the eager-to-commit individuals are usually not the right fit, often troublesome, and occasionally hazardous.

The irony of this inefficiency: though we flirt and dance around eachother, most of us seem to be looking for serious relationships and long-term partners. Few are interested in flings; yet the landscape is populated with singles bars, which promotes a deceptively “meat market”-looking culture. And yet real connections are made – albeit, usually long before you join the party.

So: here is Ray’s Comprehensive Three-Step Plan To Make Music Biz Hook-Ups Better For Everyone.

(Warning: it requires major resetting of the bar, and goes against pretty much everything at the root of this culture).

  1. Artists: tell the manager / promoter / label / etc person you’ve targeted (after thorough research, of course), “I want to be in a relationship with you. Would you like to be in a relationship with me?”
  2. Managers / Promoters / Labels / etc: tell the artist (soon – not after pointlessly long weeks, even months), “Yes” or “No – and here’s why.”
  3. The artist can then do one of only two things: either not handle the “why”, and go away; or apply the “why”, and return as something desirable to work with. Everybody wins.

The End. Next blog entry: Peace in the Middle East.


Ray Mann is an independent music- and video-maker, is looking for label and/or booking partners in Europe, and enjoys long walks on the beach. Expressions of interest are welcome via email.

Original image via Marvin kurve (Kassie73)

Ray Mann Blog | Awkward Debutate

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