How To Destroy Your Good Reputation In The Music Business

© 2012 Vinny Ribas

In today’s high-tech world, both good and bad news about you can travel faster than you can talk. And it’s not only news; it’s pictures, videos and audio recordings.  That means that you need to take extra care to protect your reputation both on and off stage. Creating a buzz for the wrong reason can have a dramatically negative impact on your career. So if you are tired of all of your success and you wan to put an end to the growing demand for your shows and music, here are some things that you can do that will have this kind of effect:

  1. Get caught doing something embarrassing in public, especially if you are recorded or filmed. Some examples would include exposing yourself inappropriately or using foul language around kids. Your fans may not like it, and venue owners may fear you’ll alienate their patrons.
  2. Get arrested, especially for drugs, drunk driving, abuse or assault. Think Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen etc. Venue owners don’t want the liability!
  3. Post something online that is insensitive to others. Actor Gilbert Godfried was just fired from being the voice of the Aflac duck for posting a few jokes that were insensitive to the Japanese right after the tsunami. Aflac does a LOT of business in Japan.
  4. Do or say something that angers your sponsors. They are very careful who they associate their brands with. Look at all the sponsors who jumper Tiger Wood’s ship!
  5. Voice your opinion in the wrong forum, or try to force it on someone. It’s one thing to have an opinion. It’s another to abuse a platform to further your own agenda. How many times have you gotten angry with people who use their appearance on the Oscars or Emmy’s to make a political statement?
  6. Whine and/or act like a spoiled brat. No one wants to be around that kind of personality. It shows weakness, and many people won’t stick around to give you a second chance.
  7. Make fun of or blatantly tearing down a competitor. It just makes you look cheap. Your fans may also be their fans, and they will immediately side with them if pushed to make a decision.
  8. Say or do something that goes against the brand you’ve worked hard to develop. Remember that whatever you post or is posted bout you can easily be spun and used against you.
  9. Put yourself in a compromising situation. An example would be being seen going into or coming out of the home of someone of the opposite sex, even though you are married or otherwise attached to someone else. It may be a completely innocent situation, but can easily give the wrong impression. Think of all the times TV reporters say, “So-and-so was seen with so-and-so!” Protect your image.
  10. Leave your actions open to interpretation or an easy set-up. Be as specific as possible when you speak, and as open-book as you need to be in public so there is no fuel for misunderstandings or rumors.
  11. Give a less-than 100% performance. You never know when a magazine reviewer, popular blogger, venue owner, booking agent or other influential person might be in the audience.
  12. Say something online or in person that can come back to haunt you. Flip remarks, ethnic jokes, put-downs etc. can all be brought to the surface years after you made them, especially if they were somehow recorded. This is more and more likely as your popularity and notoriety increase.
  13. Brag and talk yourself repeatedly. People love to watch someone with confidence, but not someone who thinks so highly of himself that he is the only thing he talks about.  Be humble.
  14. Let your ego get in the way of common sense. A perfect example is to release a CD where you chose to write every song even though your songwriting chops are not up to par. It is self-sabotage unless you’ve built a following of people who love your songs just the way you are.
  15. Play the know it all. Ignore the advice of others with more experience, skill or expertise. This is a sure way to fall quickly.
  16. Mess with someone else’s money. When other’s find out that you’ve been stealing, skimming off the too, not reporting sales, underpaying your team etc., no one will ever trust you or want to work with you again.
  17. Mess with someone else’s spouse. No one respects this behavior. Again, no one will ever trust you again. It is a sure career-killer when the word gets out.
  18. Steal a gig. Undercut or hijack a gig that was rightfully someone else’s. You will lose the respect of your peers and everyone that they tell about you!
  19. Lose your cool or get in a fight, especially at a gig. You will immediately earn the labels ‘troublemaker’ and ‘liability.’ Both can put a quick stop to your career.
  20. Affiliate with someone who doesn’t follow through with their promises.  Their lack of integrity might just bleed over to you because of your relationship with them.
  21. Hire band members who screw up. This is a tough lesson to learn. If you are the band leader, especially if your name is on the marquis, every move that your band members (or other team members) make is a reflection on you. They are your responsibility. If the guitar player gets drunk and gets in a fight, people will associate it with your name. If the keyboard player doesn’t show up, the fans and the venue will put it on you. Protect your reputation by only hiring and associating with professionals.
  22. Bring together personalities that don’t get along. Fighting, resentment, tension etc. within the band all show up on stage. Even though the group is extraordinarily talented, the show will not shine like one from players who love to play together. If the band isn’t having fun, no one else will.
  23. Infringe on someone else’s copyright. This is a sure way to lose co-writers, as well as respect from both the industry and your fans.
  24. Let your personal life interfere with your business. This works regarding the good and the bad! I am not saying don’t write about it, or tell stories about it. But no one wants to watch an act fall apart because of personal problems, unwarranted spousal interference, trying to please a love interest at the expense of the rest of your fans etc.

The bottom line is that it is important to guard and protect your reputation all of the time.  Think hard before you make any moves that might even remotely be misinterpreted.

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, a global business club for serious independent artists, songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Indie Connect helps its members increase their chances of success by providing practical career direction and education, combined with live and online industry networking opportunities. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, an artist manager, a booking agent, songwriter and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He is a published author and popular speaker at music industry conferences.


1 Comment

  1. Excellent points! This list needs to be printed out and distributed to every musician, booking agent, promo, the entire household of the music industry.
    I am ‘old school’ in that I believe in these same principles which are, unfortunately, contrary to the attitudes and ‘management’ (?) of bands everywhere regardless of genre, including those of the religious music, New Age, and the like. Thank you, Mr. Ribas, for telling it like it is, or rather, should be. We should all do an honest review of ourselves: ‘Am I guilty of doing any of this stuff’?

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