by Bernard Furshpan
One of the most challenging things one can do is to make a decision about career choices in Entertainment. There are so many opportunities and responsibilities in this industry that it would make your head spin. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart to get on stage or in front of a camera and let oneself be oneself freely. Artists, performers, entertainers, they all go through cycles of excitement, frustration, fear and regret. It can become a rollercoaster ride from hell. Anyone having the gumption to risk validation by putting themselves in the spotlight deserves a lot of respect. That’s one of several characteristics needed to succeed in this business. The others are business skills, perseverance and talent.
There’s also the other side of this business, the business itself. There are managers, bookers, promoters, directors, producers, agents, buyers, publicists, and so on.
Bottom line, not all artists are exceptionally talented and not all those in the business side of the industry have good business organization and communication skills. Many performers simply picked up a microphone and started singing without any formal training. Many business people also picked up a pen and started writing business plans, marketing campaigns and contracts with no formal education in those areas.
What does this all mean? Well, unfortunately a good majority of the industry on both sides of the spectrum lack basic business skills, and in particular communications. Most probably, communications is the preeminent skill required to strike any deal or do any kind of business and many lack the full understanding of its importance. Too many in the business manage by emotions and lack professional skills and common courtesies to make a difference for them and those they do business with.
I’d like to site one example of how communications in this business is ignored by many. Let’s talk about acknowledging a solicitation by phone, regular mail and emails initiated by an opposing party – an artist to a booking agent or a booking agent to an artist.
I’ve spoken with several production and industry folk about this and they’ve responded to me with comments like, “Artists should be prepared to be rejected, it’s part of the business.” I say to them, I think they are prepared for that and many very talented and well-deserving individuals handle it very well.
So here is where the problem lies, I’m not talking about rejection. It’s easy to confuse rejection and contempt. Rejection can be done in an easy way, by explaining to someone that it’s not a good fit. Yes, there are plenty of performers who have a difficult time accepting this information, however, it’s an obligation of anyone being solicited to accept or reject, but not to ignore. If you’ve ever applied to colleges, you know very well what I’m talking about. None of them ever ignore your application. They’ll either accept or reject your application, in a professional manner.
So what I’m proposing to the entertainment community is to respond to your emails and phone calls, whether you’re on this side or that side of the business. It’s how business is done. Someone waves, you wave back. Yes, we’re all overwhelmed with work, however, it’s not a good excuse to avoid responding to others altogether. At the very least, explain for delays or why you’re passing on their offer. It’s common courtesy and it’s good business sense. I’d also like to include in my appeal, that there are many in this industry who do demonstrate common courtesies and good communication skills, but that’s not the majority, unfortunately.
Overall, good communication skills and common courtesies will help make this industry a more pleasant experience for everyone, because whether you’re a talent, a buyer, a director or a publicist, we all deserve the respect and dignity as fellow human beings.