After reading a post by Amy Wilkinson about top tips for musicians and the great tip about being nice to the sound engineer, it got me thinking. (It is great advice by the way!)
I remembered the phrase, “Being nice to the people on the way up is a good idea as you may meet them on the way down.” (The phrase has been attributed to Walter Winchell, Wilson Mizner, and Jimmy Durante)
I don’t agree with the second part of the statement for two reasons.
1. You should be nice to people anyway.
2. You can take the good people with you when you get to the next step.
Meeting people on the way down means that you have excluded these nice people from your life. Why would anyone want to do that?
I have read this and until recently I have always felt that this was good advice especially if you want to progress to “make it.” Firstly what on earth does “make it” mean? There are many levels of success and all are a bit arbitrary but the people we meet enable us to make it better and enrich our lives.
In my experience, be nice to everyone involved in the gig, not because you might meet them on the way down, but because you will make a better performance atmosphere. You will also receive better treatment from those around you. In my career as a musician, I have not “made it” whatever that is, but the people I work with, I work with again and again and I have good fun and have had many great musical experiences. I have many friends who are very talented musicians and sound engineers and we help each other. Good creative friends are always something I want in my life whether I am playing simple songs in my lounge or playing Wembley stadium. (It may happen!) If there are good friends, there are always exciting opportunities ahead and the people around to make it happen.
“…We may meet them on the way down.” Also thinking about the idea that we should prepare for when we are failing is a strange concept to me. Musicians’ careers are constantly evolving. One day they are on Tv playing music and the next they are delivering workshops, and the day after they might be playing a pub. That is the nature of a musical life. Having more than one string to your bow is a very good idea. It will make your music more interesting and your life more fulfilling.
So, in short, as my elders would say, “Be nice and play nice”