Dear Bands, Don’t Be Dicks
By Kelly McClure
Here is a little quiz I’d like for you to take before moving on to read the rest of this thing. Ready? Here we go:
Q: You are engaged in casual conversation with a friend or co-worker and they begin to talk about a musical artist. After listening to them go on about how great this artist’s music is, and how much of an inspiration they are, you reply with which of the following?
b) I’m happy you’re happy
c) I know/have worked with that artist, and they’re a dick
Did you come up with an answer? Are you wondering which one is correct? Well, truth be told that this was a trick question because all answers would be go-to replies, seeing as though on average, almost any artist you would be talking about is in fact a dick, and you would either want to politely keep that fact to yourself, as to not crush the dreams of the person you were talking to, or choose to put the artist “on blast”, as they say, and spread the knowledge far and wide. I usually opt for the blasting, but a few nights ago a friend of mine who lives in England was going on about a band she loves and how she’s seen them a bunch of times and recently bought a pricey, limited edition set of theirs and had it signed at a show. She was in the middle of telling me what one of the members inscribed and I was juuuuuust about to blurt out “I’ve met that band and know people who work with them and they’re literally the meanest cows you could ever come across” when I stopped myself. In the end I concluded that it was more valuable for her to carry around an idea she had crafted about a person, and how they are, then for me to snatch that away from her with the truth.
Being a dick has many layers, and it’s not a black and white thing by any means. Dickish behavior is often allowed, and even welcomed/expected, from creative types because it’s somehow been made the norm that “that’s just how they are”. What may take a little power out of that is the knowledge that acting like a dick is a sign of weakness, I should know, because I’m kind of a dick. Anytime I’ve ever shit all over someone, or had a meltdown, it was because I was hurt, sick, exhausted, or experiencing feelings of inadequacy or vulnerability. Trying to keep this in mind may help you cope with the next time you meet your favorite artist and they treat you like a special-ed student and dismiss you with stink face. Throwing something back at them like “I’m sorry you’re sad” is even better because it will really confuse them, give you something to laugh about later with your friends, and bother the artist so much later, because they’ll know that it’s true.
It’s really the saddest thing about being a fan of music, knowing that if you were to ever meet the person you’ve spent your time, money and thoughts on for years, that the little ember you hold in your chest for them could be snuffed out with just a few words or careless facial expressions. I’ve been hit with this so hard, even recently, that I have made a point on giving up looking forward to meeting certain people who’s work I admire, choosing to protect the “them” I’ve built in mind, rather than risk it on their reality, which most likely, isn’t nearly as fantastic. There are albums that I can’t even THINK of listening to now, after meeting the people who made them. I can’t bear to throw them away, but I also can’t bare to fill my home and my imagination with what amounted to broken promises. Sappy as it sounds, every time an artist makes a beautiful and unique piece of music, they’re making a promise to be special, to be there for us, and with us, to guide us through our breakups, and new loves, and dead cats, and wrecked cars, and bad grades, and broken bones, and lost relatives. Some artists may never care, and may in fact be reading this right now thinking things like: “It’s not my responsibility, you’re too sensitive, I just want to make money/be well known”. Well, perk up to these two examples for why being a dick is just bad for business:
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