Two Gentlemen promoter Théo Quiblier believes our mental health and overall efficiency can be improved if the conversation about failure becomes as commonplace as the celebration of success.
If there’s one thing the industry needs to change, it’s the standardization of chess. This is a question I raised recently during the new bosses panel at the ILMC in April. After the session I received so many messages, texts and emails from so many different people I had never met saying that the topic really resonated with them. I had been convinced that everyone was affected, but I hadn’t expected so many reactions. It’s clear to me that failure is an integral part of this industry and it impacts everyone from managers to agents and labels to promoters.
Failure is something we have to deal with almost every day, yet we don’t talk about it. Most of the time, you won’t even know that someone is “failing” because chances are that person won’t talk about it. We’re welcome to talk anywhere and everywhere about a sold-out show, a big new signing or a fantastic festival announcement, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It takes most of your favorite artists dozens of empty venues before selling out 100/200/500 capacity venues. It’s just part of the process and makes a great achievement ten times more rewarding for everyone involved, and yet we’re afraid to share these stories because we feel like it would make us “weak”. But failure doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job at all.
So the next time you’re on the phone with a partner, when it’s time to share a recent big hit, why not take a few minutes to talk about what went wrong? I first started doing it with close friends and suddenly realized that by talking about something you thought was taboo, you could release some of the pressure.
Phone and talk to your friends, colleagues and partners. Check them out. Exchange is the key. Everyone fails. It’s 100% part of the job. “We sold out all the venues in minutes on the last tour, and this time the shows are struggling.” The group will call their manager. The manager will be mad at the agent who made all the wrong decisions, and the agent will blame the promoter for the sales while the promoter might rally against the album campaign. All of this is, of course, purely theoretical (it never happens in real life), but it shows how failing we are as an industry to talk openly about failure at all levels. When signing a band, going on sale with a show, or releasing a single, the outcome will always be uncertain. Still.
“Sharing insecurities is the best thing since sliced bread!”
So, rather than focusing on fleeting successes and hype, focus on long-term development. A very good friend of mine reminded me recently that it is important for artists’ careers to have a constructive evaluation and sometimes a recalibration of the “plan” rather than creating frustration over the results. The key is communication. Speak, learn and grow. In particular if
the answer is not what you wanted to hear. It’s so important to our mental health that we share our failures. We already work in an industry that doesn’t really take the time to pause and enjoy success – the only question is always, “Yeah, yeah, great. What next?” But imagine taking the time to talk about what went wrong. We have to do this. It makes everyone feel better and less alone. Sharing insecurities is the best thing since sliced bread!
Not sharing insecurities leads to pressure, too much stress and anxiety. This does not create a healthy work environment at all. It’s amplified by social networks where you only see people succeed, but it’s also a social issue. I believe this is one of the many reasons many beautiful people and souls decide to leave the industry.
I want to make sure that we create the right working environment for any young person who wants to have a successful career in this beautiful and crazy industry. Some of my closest friends have decided to leave the industry due to unhealthy pressures – I want to be part of the solution.
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