Balancing Art and Industry

My friend Nathan Dohse runs an artist development company in Nashville called AGD Entertainment. He offers a unique and much-needed service in our industry - I’m grateful he’s out here fighting the good fight (Nathan’s also guest #4 on the Not Famous Podcast if you wanna be serenaded by his sexy baritone). I recently contributed a post to AGD’s blog and figured I’d share it with you. Reading back, I'm not sure I actually answered the question, but there's some good stuff here I think.  

How do you find the balance between art and industry?

Through my experiences with Allen Stone and a myriad other outlets, I’ve realized it’s important not being overly precious with your music and process. I’m absolutely NOT saying sign an awful deal or work with a blatant crook just to cut a few places in line. And never, NEVER write disingenuous music- awful songs beget awful business.  

But, if you take time building a quality team around you, you’ll discover there are all kinds of smart, dedicated and passionate people working on the business side who believe whole-heartedly in a future where artists are treated fairly. And you should listen to these people - they offer much needed perspective and, provided both parties check some ego at the door, your artistry will flourish. 

Good A&R people and quality managers understand there’s a bottom line. But they also know that an artist who has something to say and writes undeniable, timeless music will be making records until they decide to stop making records. These good eggs understand that hedging their bets on bandwagon jumping’s a flawed philosophy - the trend’s already here, which means it’s already gone.

So, as an artist endeavoring to make the most genuine music possible, for the love of all that’s decent PLEASE make that music. Play shows that make sense, spread the word and enjoy every small success along the way. In doing so, when industry comes calling, you’ll easily recognize who’s a douche and who’s on point. The compromises you’ll make won’t feel like compromises at all, but rather intelligent, necessary strategic steps. 

Be patient. Don’t try to game the system. Let your heart and integrity become your brand, and any industry person who supports you will be worth your time.