originally published in Sound Waves Magazine August 2019
When Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” came on the radio the other day, I pondered things. Not only is it a kick-a** song, but the message is clear: She don’t care one iota about her bad reputation.
But in the music business, if people start talking about you in “bad” ways, it’s very easy to get a Bad Reputation, and it’s next to impossible to recover from all the talk.
It’s one thing to have musical skills but I would argue that it is just as important to have people skills: the ability to get along with others, and to not be a jerk. It’s so easy in the music business to be a jerk because you think you’re “all that” because the Universe gave you some talent. Nobody likes jerks, and nobody wants to play with jerks. Other musicians just don’t wan to be around you, no matter how good you are. You’re toxic. You’re poison. You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, baby you’re no good.
These people drift from band to band, never learning their lesson on the importance of people skills. They may not even be able to get solo gigs. Venue owners can sense your jerkiness, and they don’t want nothin’ to do with you either. I feel sorry for these people because if they kind of sense that their reputation is bad, they still don’t get it. They still don’t change. They make excuses: “Oh, we didn’t get along,” or “We didn’t mesh,” or “We had creative differences.” Creative differences my a**. They’re jerks. They’re on pathways to disaster, drifting in a world they don’t understand, unable to grasp what they did wrong. A good musician can not only play their parts, they also give room, believe in less is more, they hang back, give someone else the spotlight, they chip in, that sort of thing. They rehearse on their own. They’re good people as well.
Some sure-fire ways to get a bad rep:
If you don’t show up for a gig and don’t tell the venue owner you can’t make it – Bad Rep
If you never help loading in and loading out due to your so-called back problems – Bad Rep
If you constantly show up late to gigs – Bad Rep
If you act like a diva – Bad Rep
If you overplay and step on other musicians – Bad Rep
If you solo through eight of the chord progressions and everybody already agreed it would be once through – Bad Rep
If you’re a jerk – Bad Rep
And so it goes. I do like that Joan Jett song though.