Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God forbid you should try to buck the system

I've been an entrepreneur ever since I was a teenager.

It started with collecting vinyl and merchandise on my favorite singers and bands.

And then evolved into a "real" job when I moved to LA and started managing bands.

Wait, is managing bands a "real" job? Well, sorta.


Managing turned into doing music licensing...which has now turned into a small indie label and publishing company.

And you know, it's funny, because I think a lot of people - artists especially but also some others I've come to know in the entertainment industry, aren't always very supportive of someone trying to make their living "outside" the traditional system.

And by "traditional system" I mean someone not working for a big Fortune 500 company or major studio, TV network, record label, major publishing company, etc.

I can't tell you how much bs I've had to put up with to stay in the music business these past 10 years.

Lying, cheating, backstabbing.

And from higher-ups at the companies I've had to deal with every day to blood-sucking co-workers at music industry jobs to artists alike.

Amazingly, sometimes artists have actually treated me the worst.

Yes, the artists.

The same artists I've worked like a dog for for years for not only virtually no pay but the same artists that I've poured tens of thousands of dollars of my own money into. Oh no, those "artists" are sometimes some of the most awful, disloyal, self-centered, egocentric and awful people I've come across in my life.

But they aren't the ones I'm here to talk about.

And of course, I've been lucky enough to also work with some amazingly kind, sweet, supportive, considerate and wonderful artists too!

No, I think it's jealousy or something(?) that causes people to not like it when you try to buck the system.

Now what do I mean by "buck the system"?

I mean, going out on your own. Not being at the beck and call of some corporate entity, whether they are big or small. Because, early on in my career, I learned the hard way that corporations just don't care about you.

In my 20's I went through several corporate mergers. In fact, it happened to me at my first "real" job out of college. The ad agency I was working for merged with a larger ad agency and so many jobs were cut - mine being one of them.

And how did I find out about my soon to be "ex job"? I read it in an email from the CEO to my boss. Yeah, so I marched right into HR's office and got myself laid off. I mean, why wait for them to fire me? I was young and naive but albeit ballsy and in retrospect, I'm pretty proud of my decision to do this instead of going into work every day waiting to be fired. I mean, what's the point in working somewhere when you know your days are numbered?

Anyhow, it doesn't seem to matter if it was from a merging of corporations or simple office politics or a shortage of cash (or greed) but companies have no loyalty to their employees anymore. And so, I have no use for companies.

Now I'm sure there are some good companies out there. I've had some great jobs too where we had amazing company 100% PAID FOR health insurance. But, in general, corporations do not care about you. Or me. Employees are most often seen as an line-item on some CFO's spreadsheet - so unless you're responsible for bringing in significant money to the company i.e. in sales, your job is usually an expensive line-item that can increase a company's bottom line if eliminated.

Anyhow, back to my original topic.

I just wanted to give you some background to why I generally dislike to work for companies.

So what have I done instead for the better part of the past 10 years?

Worked on building my own business.

Now, as anyone in the entertainment business will tell you, making a living in this business is difficult no matter what. Why? Because almost every kid of out college and/or with a trust fund would give their right arm to work in "showbiz". As such, the starting salaries for jobs in the entertainment business, especially music, are paltry and often insulting. Taken a look at the UTA job list lately? It's full of jobs for $400-500 a week, sometimes with NO benefits. Now who can survive on this salary? No one without a trust fund, that's sure.

So what's an enterprising young woman to do?

I say, "Go out on your own."

I mean, after all, if you're going to be eating ramen for dinner every night, you might as well be self-employed, make your own hours and have some control over your destiny, right?

Because after paying my dues for years working for other people, I realized that it was going to be almost impossible to get ahead by staying at a company and hoping to work my way up the ladder. After all, that means you need to wait for your boss to die....or quit...in order to get a promotion. And even if that happens, the likelihood of them hiring someone from outside the company are pretty great.

Ok, ok, back to my original point. Sorry. I know this is getting long but I have a lot to say.

So you work on your own and yet I seem to get a sense oftentimes, that people do not like you bucking the system or trying to "make it on your own" outside the corporate bubble.

God forbid you try to be creative in coming up with ways to make money as an entrepreneur.

Now I'm not talking about doing anything shady or unethical here. After all, anyone that knows me knows I have just about the highest morals and ethics out there!

No, the irony is many of the people that head up labels or music departments or that run some of the biggest companies or music departments out there are some of the most dishonest, lying, cheating scumbags out there. Yet they oftentimes make the most money by their lying and cheating ways. Ugh. If that isn't enough to make you want to jump off a bridge, I don't know what is!

However, I know, that with much hard work and dedication, it's possible to become successful by behind honest, up front and ethical. But more support from people would be nice!

Anyhow, thanks for listening to my rant. I just wanted to say that it's not always easy to do what I do.

After all, I don't take home a steady salary or paycheck like my corporate brothers. I don't get paid vacation or sick days or holidays. I don't have a matching 401K plan or company paid for health insurance.

And I've endured more than I ever care to admit in terms of assholes in this business.

And why?

Because I love music.

But at the end of the day, I also need to make a living.

And for the 2 of you out there who studied economics, you know the meaning of an "opportunity cost" - because it's what you give up

i.e. that corporate gig with the 401K and paid health insurance, yada yada

is a lot. So you need to figure out a way to make that same money (if not more) when you work on your own because you have to pay for all those benefits on your own. And also enough to pay your rent and expenses and put something aside for the future.

It's NOT easy. It really isn't.

As such, I wish people were more supportive over what I do.

Because it's not easy going to work for someone else every day.


Because it's DEFINITELY not easy going to work for yourself every day.

People should support entrepreneurs, especially the "good" ones like me who are fighting the good fight and trying to make their living on their own terms - and meanwhile who are competing against companies with much deeper pockets and many more resources and bigger staffs than me!

I wish.



be more supportive!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A dating question

Ok, things in my personal life are going much better (at least for now) so I have a completely new topic to discuss - my personal fave - DATING!

I've had several girlfriends over the years lecture me about what I wear.

They say I should "dress up" more.

Not on dates but when I go ANYWHERE - even if it's just from my house to their house!?! I mean, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do full hair, make-up and clothes just to go visit a couple of friends - in the hopes that I'll meet a cute guy in the elevator or on the short walk from my car to their apartment. That's insane!

Now, while I RARELY leave home without make-up (ya know, in case the paparazzi keep following me, as they always do), if I'm going to a friend's apartment or just somewhere mellow to eat or hang out, I usually wear my chucks, jeans a cute top and a hoodie or something equally chill/casual.

I've tried to explain to friends that I work in the music business - where dressing like a college student is the only way to go. If I wore skirts and other "dressy" outfits out on a regular basis, well, I just wouldn't fit in. Plus, I'm definitely more of a "jeans and t-shirt" type of gal than a "dress in heels and dresses" type of girl anyway.

And, for the record, I've gotten dolled up and dressed up PLENTY of times to go out to dinner or to drinks with friends and rarely do I ever talk to a guy when I'm looking hot. No, it's the times I'm in Trader Joe's in my gym clothes looking like hell when I get approached by a guy. Or walking down the street, in my hoodie, outside a bar. But rarely, if ever, when I actually look good. Now why is this??

I have a theory that if you look too smoking hot, most guys will be too chicken to come talk to you. So only the total douchebag guys who have that unwarranted amount of self-confidence will approach you when you look great. But when you look like a "normal/girl next door" then, and maybe only then, do you stand a chance at a "normal" guy talking to you....

Anyhow, I love (aka hate) that my married friends think the whole secret to snagging a guy is dressing a certain way.

Oh, and doing my hair, make-up, eyebrows and nails.

Well, if that's really true, I guess I'll be single forever.


I'm curious to hear from all you married folks - is this how you got attached? And for the married guys, is this what got you to fall for your now wife?

And to the single men and women - what do you think??