Monday, June 30, 2014

I’m in Chris Brogan’s Business Blog Talking About Female Freaks, And Ten Ways You Can Apply It To Your Own Career

Yep, I thought that title would get your attention. It'll make sense in a sec.

This morning I woke up to discover something I wrote is featured in Chris Brogan’s June 26 business blog post. Chris Brogan happens to be the author of one of my favorite business books for creatives, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators.

I’m incredibly honored, humbled, and-I-don't-know-what -ed. Wow...And holy crap!

For perspective, Chris Brogan is a respected business consultant and New York Times  best-selling author. He’s been interviewed for Forbes multiple times, he's written for many business publications such as Success, and he gives speeches about business stuff a lot of creative people don't like to think about. He's also consulted for Disney, among others. His latest book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, has endorsement blurbs from Seth Godin, Anthony Robbins, Amanda Palmer, and Steven Pressfield, who was on the Oprah Winfrey Network last week. (Which reminds me...Chris has also been on Dr. Phil.)

"Freaks," in Chris Brogan’s terms, are people who do things differently. Freaks are creative people who don’t fit into the usual corporate structure. Freaks stand out and are misunderstood by corporate types. Or, Freaks may look average, but they don’t fit into their particular industry’s neat little boxes.

As someone who was once told, “You think too much like a musician” by someone who represented musicians and then half an hour later was told, "You think too much like a Suit" by someone from the same company, I could relate. So, recently, after hearing Chris speak, I bought a copy of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.

As I was reading it I thought, “This is a fantastic book!” I liked Chris’s concept of monchu and his matter-of-fact advice. His step-by-step plans for people who didn't know where to begin were dead on. The more I read, the more I couldn’t wait to share it with you...

…until page 171, which included this sentence:

“I would love to see the first amazing female freak being her own weird self at a huge corporation in my lifetime.”

I stopped reading, grabbed the green pen I’d been been using for underlining, and began scribbling names in the margin of the book. In less than five minutes I had a list of successful female Freaks spanning not only Chris Brogan’s lifetime, but his mom’s lifetime, and his grandmother’s lifetime:
(Photo: Randi Reed / MusicBizAdvice Blog)

I should add, the subject of "women in business" isn't something I'm comfortable talking about. While it’s true I’ve been one of “the first” or "only" several times in my career and have interesting stories about that, the idea of making a big deal out of being a woman in business baffles me. I’d rather be treated equally at work than singled out or “celebrated” for my chromosomes. After all, the guys don't refer to themselves as "male musicians" or "Men in Entertainment".

Exclusion is another matter, though. Just who the heck was this Chris Brogan character, anyway? Was he a sexist idiot? Or was he a fellow human being who, nearing the end of his book, maybe suffered writer’s fatigue and had a brainfart his editor happened to miss?

I decided to find out. So, I emailed Chris, giving him the benefit of the doubt. I also included the list of women I’d written in the margin of his book, with a couple of sentences about what made each one a “Freak” according to his terms of Freakiness in the book. Meanwhile, I wondered how or if I could still recommend Chris's book. Damn that page 171!!!

I fully expected no response, or perhaps a defensive one. A book is an author’s baby, after all, and who the heck was I to tell a best-selling business author what he’d omitted?

Chris couldn’t have been nicer about it. He emailed back with a friendly reply, and as it turns out, he liked my list. We had a nice email exchange, and I’d be pleased to have Chris as part of my monchu any day. 

Expecting that to be all, this morning I was pleasantly surprised to hear about this post:

Chris Brogan printed my list, word for word, giving me full credit. Then he went the extra mile by linking to my bio. (Thank you, Chris. That was really cool of you!)

So, fellow Freaks, what can you take away from this?

1. Be nice, but stand up for yourself.
2. State your case in a way that cuts the other person some slack.
3. Wait and re-read that email, Tweet, or Facebook post instead of just firing it off.
4. Be open to what the other person has to say in response.

5. Look for common ground. (Chris Brogan and I have the same "would like to meet" business mentor: Sir Richard Branson.)

6. Let go of the outcome.  

7. When someone shares something with you, be generous in giving them credit, as Chris did.

8. Go the extra mile: give a little more than might be expected.

9. When someone acknowledges you or something you've done, be appreciative and grateful, and use that to open the next door--even if you're a little uncomfortable promoting yourself.You've gotta eat, so work it.

 …and lastly…

10.  Read Chris’s book!!! There’s great stuff in there. (No, this link isn't an affiliate link. Timing, people, timing.)

Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice .

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fake Reality? ABC Rising Star Talent Competition's "Surprise" Instagram Contestant Macy Kate Came to the Show Already Repped By a Major Talent Agency and Worked with Ludacris Producers

So, tonight I watched the premiere of ABC's new talent show, Rising Star...

And I'm crying "Foul!!!"

So foul, in fact, that I'm writing this post directly into Blogger instead of writing a draft first like I usually do.

Did the producers think no one would notice that the "surprise" Instagram contestant from the audience (Macy Kate) looked considerably more polished and put together for TV than the other audience members?

That was the first thing I noticed: unlike the audience members around her, Macy Kate had obviously been brushed and currycombed like a prized show pony.

"I wonder if she's insurance in case the amateur contestants fall apart..." I thought to myself. 

Then later in the show, we're shown her obviously expensive, pro-shot music video "Instagram Audition" entry that supposedly "won" her a place on the show. Even host Josh Groban commented on the obvious professionalism of it. Hmmm...

"I guess she could have Kickstartered it," I said aloud to my sis, trying to find some benefit of doubt left for the 16-year old contestant. (Ragging on an adult is one thing. This is a teenager, after all.)

Still, it looked a little pricey for a Kickstarter video. Maybe her parents were off the charts wealthy? Or maybe she used to be signed to a label that dropped a bunch of artists in a merger? She did look kind of familiar, and dropped artists appear on talent competitions all the time. (Rules usually state that you can't be "currently" repped).

Or, maybe she's actually a current client of Paradigm Talent Agency, a major talent agency in Beverly Hills.

If you're not familiar with Paradigm, while they're less-talked about than they once were thanks to mergers that turned William Morris into the now-behemoth WME, Paradigm is still big, and their huge roster boasts some current hotshots, as well as legends. (Ed Sheeran, Toby Keith, Solange, The Lumineers, Stevie Nicks, and Aerosmith all come to mind.)

Paradigm also has on its roster at least one American Idol alum: Taylor Hicks. As it happens, Rising Star Executive Producer Ken Warwick also executive produces Idol.

Did the show not stop to think that while we have our devices in our hands ready to vote with the Rising Star app, we're also Googling the contestants--especially the ones we suspect are seasoned pros?

Did the show not realize that before we'd even finished wondering aloud about the pro-shot video, we already knew Macy Kate is on the Paradigm roster, repped by a fairly well-known booking agent, has recorded with Sean Kingston, has a You Tube partnership with Sony/ATV,  and has endorsements for Uber,  Samsung, Jewel Mint, and others? 

(While we're at it, is she 16 or 17? Rising Star and Macy Kate's talent agency can't quite seem to agree.)

And wait a minute...What's this?

According to her agency website Macy Kate "is currently working with" Rock City, the songwriting /production duo, who's worked with a host former Idol winners, and major artists...

...including--ta da--Rising Star judge Ludacris.

Wow. Just wow.

At least judge Brad Paisley said he and contestant Sarah Darling have mutual friends...

That, I'd actually expect and would be OK with: Sarah Darling's been kicking around Nashville since moving there straight out of high school. She's now 31 and was signed to a label at one point but got dropped. Nashville's a pretty tight clique, but if you've been around long enough and have been working your butt off all that time, you're probably going to be just a couple of degrees of separation from most people in the industry there. If you do it right, that's how the business works.

So, that didn't bother me enough to Google.

Besides, by then, there was already enough to make me question the validity of this "reality" competition that I didn't need to. A currently repped contestant was more than enough for me to cry foul. 

Anybody got a copy of the rules for this thing?

And is it just me, or are "reality" shows starting to get really sloppy about details?

Edited to Add: I Googled Sarah Darling, and she had a single that went to #34 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart two years ago. She's also a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry.

P.S. Macy Kate is a apparently a veteran of other shows on the "Reality" Competition Show circuit. None of this is her fault, by the way. She's very talented. But whomever's advising her seems to have a lack of foresight and creativity. If they're trying to work a publicity angle, it's the wrong one. She's a teenager, people. [Shaking My Head...]

Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice .