Music Tutorials

Life hands you an offer – what do you do with it?

All day, every day, we are getting offers. If I misspelled that word it would be offal. Many offers feel like that so we get very used to saying No really fast.

Is that wise though? I see quite a few situations where people seem to have said no before they thought it through. I think they let fear take the lead instead of seeing where that offer might lead.

random offer image from 2015

Born To Run

Over the last 10 or so years as a person with an internetting profile, I have offered many times to help people. I’m not talking about the times when I made a business offer, but when I offered totally free work because I wanted to do the thing and the person expressed a desire to have that thing done.

You wanna guess the most common answer I got? Well if you follow me, you’ll know it is No. Do you know the reason most commonly given though?

“I’m not good enough.” The person is saying that they decline an offer because I am too good (or Pro) for them.

Ok, so you want to “make it”, feel that if you had someone doing that thing with/for you, that it would help you to “make it”, yet the moment you get an offer with no strings to try doing that thing, you say “no, because you “aren’t good enough”.

Are you completely bonkers insane (said in best Dawn French voice)?

Some people are born to run. Is that your first instinct and final word? It wasn’t mine when I got that call.

Phantom of the Opera

I got a phone call one evening out of the blue in 1991 and I’m listening to Jules from Phantom Records tell me how he is interested in signing my act Aeroplastic Voice based on the cassette I recently sent him called Vector.

Jules is saying in my ear that he wants to put a band behind me and get me out on the stage. I am wondering if I am going to throw up on the lounge room carpet.

Jules discusses maybe using David McCormack as the band leader/guitarist. I already knew David in passing from Uni where I used to talk to Cathy Atthow, his drummer in Who’s Gerald, a bit. She was older than me but always nice. David, I didn’t really gell with as he seemed to look down on me. But did I say anything negative, like “oh that guy, can I get someone else?” No way.

I couldn’t play an instrument, I had nothing resembling standard band experience, I was a terrible singer. I was waaaay out of my depth here.

Life seemed to be offering me an opportunity that was in line with my hopes (and fears). I was saying yes to it all.

The fear was there. I could give in to it and say no. I could say all sorts of fussy stuff that queered the possibility. Or I could say yes and ride it as far as I could: until I was punching Rod Stewart & Billy Idol* in the face on some awards show, or I failed.

There was only one way to know and that was to take the ride. Saying no, I wasn’t good enough yet was never an option.

Chains Of Misery

I have written many times on Fear. I see it as a major stumbling block. Am I fearless? I could lie and say yes.

The last thing I ever expect to get told by someone who has already expressed a desire for what I offer is no. It is not like they have to do it, or even want to do it with me. But when the reason is I’m not good enough it makes no sense.

If I didn’t think they had a chance in Hell of doing that thing I wouldn’t make the offer. So in the asking, I just said to them that they are good enough to at least give it a go.

I used to try to cajole people when they gave those sorts of responses, “come on mate, you are able, let’s get into it”. Blah, blah, blah. All that positivity stuff. Give a fellow a leg up and all that.

Here To Go

Not now. The last few times I have just kept walking.

Forums and the like give a nice safe space to people who want to pretend to be doing that thing whilst safely not doing it all. We used to call them Weekend Warriors – with their shiny new expensive gear but no ability to really play anything with passion. So, if you are not really here to play as hard as you can then please clear the stage.

Go hard or go home. See now you got me quoting sporting goods and that is so not me. Let me fix that…

If you don’t want to make it then shut the fuck up and get off the stage. If you aren’t here to play then why are you even here? You are just cluttering up the place and taking the air of people who do want to do it. Ruining it for everyone. Yes ruining it as people have to listen to your dross which turns them off for real Indie artists who have something going on, however raw it is now. They want to develop, you don’t so “move it on over”.

If you don’t want to leave the stage then you need to reassess how you are handling offers. It is just good business. Take the offers that life puts there for you.

Some offers may not be what you thought you wanted. But let me tell you that if Jules’s partner (who I never spoke to) hadn’t gone cold on signing me back in 1991, I would have kept saying yes until I absolutely couldn’t anymore. I wouldn’t necessarily have been any less pig-headed about my musical vision but I would have said yes to the opportunities, even if they weren’t exactly what I wanted in some minor detail.

There would have been plenty of times I was terrified. Being rather British I would have internalized it most of the time and had terrible headaches. But I would also have looked for the opportunity to find someone more experienced than me who I could ask for advice.

It might even have been something like, “Hey Jules, I don’t think I am as good at this singing thing as I need to be to do this right. Is there perhaps a tutor who you can line me up with to help me get this right?” If I wasn’t vibing with David, I might have said, “I really like that guitarist from that band, do you think he’d be interested in being in my band as I don’t know if Dave & I are quite the best fit?**” And that would only be if I felt his music didn’t work for me, not just because I didn’t like the color of his pajamas.

Assuming you want a nice positive New Agey ending to this article:

When life hands you lemonades, make Death Metal. When life hands you a Country song, sing it real nice because there is someone out there who needs to hear that song done right. The Universe has put the opportunity there to serve both you, the singer and them the listener. Who are you to mess up the Universe’s plans?

The only offers you ever decline outright are those that want to take you back where you weren’t supposed to be in the first place. Even then take a moment so you know that there is a good reason that you aren’t going back to be a car salesman or whatever that was.

*Not a chance. I hold Rod Stewart & Billy Idol as heroes. If could have been half the performers they were I would have been delighted.

**Who knows, David & I might have gotten on really well. We will never know. If you are reading this David, give me a hoy, if nothing else, it would be fun to talk about James Straker behind his back.

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