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Brown M&M's or I'm Out!!!

Playing jazz for a living has taught me many things about good buisness. Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned is to take your talent, your artistry and what you do very seriously. If you don't, no one else will. More importantly, if you don't take yourself seriously it will be extremely important for you to command a decent wage for what you do. On the occasions where I am playing gigs with other musicians not under my name or my gig, I sit silently amazed at what cats allow in their buisness lives. I am shocked at what they require to work - or rather, what they do not require in terms of respect. Was it the Staple Singers that had that great song RESPECT YOURSELF? Amen, Pops...

So, let's talk about the most important issue facing our way of life in the 21st Century: the brown m&m

m&m candy.  mmmmmm.......

They taste just as good, serve the same purpose as the other m&m's - yet, why would they be important in our discussion about Leadership?

I'm glad you asked :)

There was a time when the rock band Van Halen was the biggest band in rock music. I was a little young but I remember they seemed to have all the ingredients for a great band. They had a charismatic lead singer that jumped, wailed and screamed. The bassist seemed quiet but rock solid. The drummer was Animal from the Muppets on steroids with a drum set so large, it could only fit on a concert stage. And they had a guitar player - Mr. Eddie Van Halen - that was a true innovator, a wizard on the guitar.In short, the combination of this 4 piece was amazing.

In their heyday, when they could command top dollar, they had an infamous clause placed in their performance contract. In addition to listing compensation, dressing room needs, size of stage, technical requirements and the like, they listed 'have a bowl of m&m's in each dressing room with the brown ones removed.' David tells the whole story here:

Suffice to say, Roth says that because VH was one of the first bands to have a large technical requirement of lights out on the road, they had to come up with a way for promoters to really read their contract thoroughly so that the band wouldn't be held liable for damaging the venue. The thinking was if you've removed the m&m's, you've read the contract, we feel comfortable doing what we do and the venue can withstand our tech needs.

Now I'm not suggesting you turn into a diva. I'm not suggesting you book a gig at a local club for $500k and get mad if they crush your ice when you want it cubed. But what I am suggesting is to create a framework that yields maximum return combined with maximum respect.

When the Eric Byrd Trio plays a concert we get fed, we get drinks, we get an advance 50% deposit, we absolutely know the details of our event in advance. Some of the layers we add to a contract are our own personal 'brown m&m's': for example, we get the rest of our money before we play the first note. If we don't, we don't play.

Again, you have to respect yourself and set a standard for buisness. If you don't, you're asking for disrespect. But you can't complain about what you've allowed to happen.

Set a standard for buisness

Don't settle for disrespect

Be willing to walk away from relationships if they don't feed your creativity

And make sure they get rid of your brown m&m's or YOU'RE OUT

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