One Rule For Anyone in The Music Industry

NEVER TEXT, EMAIL, OR OTHERWISE INTERACT WITH YOUR CELL PHONE WHEN AN ARTIST IS PLAYING YOU THEIR MUSIC. IT IS INFURIATING TO ANYONE WHO HAS POURED THEIR HEART INTO A PIECE OF WORK.

I offer this advice without any cynicism or anger, and out of genuine respect and love for the thousands of people who work in the music industry helping artists like me do our thing. I also am not pointing this at anyone in particular, since I’ve witnessed literally hundreds of managers, A&R people, agents, and others do this. I know you don’t mean to be disrespectful, I get that you can at some level hear what’s happening while you have a conversation with a friend over text, and I appreciate that your time is valuable too.

But if an artist takes the time and emotional risk to share with you their music, and especially if you’ve requested that they do so, it is unbelievably disrespectful to them and to their work to do this. It also prevents you from actually listening to their music and evaluating or understanding it. Listening is different than hearing: it requires one to dedicate focused attention to composition, lyrics, melodies, harmonies, textures, structures, performances, and emotional subtleties.

Even as a musician myself, having spent years working on and studying recordings, I frequently discover new details in Bob Marley or Beatles records…and I’ve listened to these thousandsof times. Great music, just like great novels or great paintings, tends to blossom over time. If you are only listening to something (of quality) once, chances are you’ll miss plenty of what’s there. And if you’re on your cell phone being rude, you’ll probably miss most of what’s there.

I can promise you that trying to really listen when you’re listening will not only reflect well upon your manners and ethics, but will also improve your ability to discern good from bad and great from good. You will win more friends, make more money, achieve your wildest dreams, and potentially live in a mansion one day.

-D.A.