Recently, a female label executive recommended this book “Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office.” I bought it a few weeks later for a plane ride and DAMN does this book drop some truly essential points. I get asked all the time about challenges that women face in the music industry, or why there aren’t more female producers, and many of the answers to those questions are in this book. This book is significantly shifting the way I approach my career and I wanted to share a few of my favorite highlights here, presented in a way specifically relevant to our industry. We’re all getting up every day trying to navigate this business successfully and take a smarter approach than the day before, and these chapters really spoke to me:
Don’t Wait Around to be Given What You Want
I think we could all benefit from asking for what we want a little more frequently. Whether you’re an artist, songwriter or producer, it can be a great thing to just be more direct in our conversations. There have been several times in the past when I have asked people for advice or for a favor and it has actually led to some awesome mutually beneficial situations. It becomes much easier to ask people for what you want when you start viewing this for what it is, which is:
1. Not personal, and
2. Not a big deal
If someone can’t help you or doesn’t write you back, honestly who cares? You’ll probably have forgotten you sent that text or email anyway in a few days if you are doing this as regularly as you should. If someone tells you no, that’s also not a big deal. They probably have a valid reason, and that frees you up mentally to explore other avenues. When one door closes, another one opens, and that is something we all need to remember (including myself). So ask for what you want, and then move on with your day…not getting too wrapped up in the answer can be pretty liberating.
Be Creative In Your Entire Approach to Work, Not Just The Work Itself
In this book, this section is actually titled “Mistake 43: Thinking Like An Employee”, which translates to “thinking like someone who only does what they’re told.” We all have a checklist in our head of what we think our job description is, but the author makes the point that we should regularly step out of our perceived role and be proactive. For producers, maybe that looks like taking on some artist management tasks to move a favorite collaborator forward. What if you booked some writes for them? What if you tried to take some meetings on their behalf? That might turn up some unexpected opportunities that would benefit you both.
This author also suggests taking time once a quarter to look at people who are finding success and ask “What non-traditional things are they doing that are helping them move forward? Could I incorporate any of that into my own business strategy?” While comparison with others is oftentimes unhelpful or even toxic, this kind of comparison is good. The difference is that this is a task-based comparison, not a personal worth-based comparison. Task-based comparisons help you find creative ways to move forward, worth-based comparisons just make you feel like garbage. When looking at successful peers, keep the focus on their tasks.
Producers, Managers, or Older Writers are Not Your Dad. They Are Not Going to Give You A Career.
This chapter is called “Mistake 48: Viewing Men In Authority as Father Figures”. This is a common one I witness all the time in Nashville (and was probably also guilty of myself when I was first starting out).
Young female artists are especially prone to this subconscious career plan of waiting for some guy to see their talent, swoop in, and make them a star. In today’s industry climate that requires extensive self-development on the part of the artist, this attitude will hold you back. Why waste your crucial years waiting around for someone’s approval when you could be using that time to develop your skills and your brand yourself? This self-starting attitude is much more likely to attract people with experience, and if you do eventually add someone to your team, he/she/they will respect you as a peer. If you’re putting out your own music regularly, that’s a sign that you’re confident enough to believe in your work without being told to.
Also, don’t confuse a great resume with a creative connection. Many songwriters get hung up on chasing a date with a certain writer without stopping to think about whether their creative input would actually be right for their artistry. While writing with older and more experienced writers is something I HIGHLY recommend, if this person is a man, then stop to ask yourself why you want that. Is it because you want to learn from his wisdom and experience? If so, then YES, stalk that dude relentlessly. If it’s to get his approval so you can finally feel like a “real songwriter,” then check yourself—you do not need a man’s approval to be good. This person is not your dad who is going to fix your life, he’s simply another peer in your field trying to take care of his own life. Readjusting your internal compass will help you to choose more effective collaborators and stop chasing dead ends for reasons that ultimately won’t serve you.
Here’s The Link:
If you have the time to read more and are into the vibe of this book, you can check it out here. There are so many great perspective cleansers in these pages...after a few chapters you will start to feel like “Hell yes, I can DO THIS," and I know we can all use a regular dose of that.