Quick, name a Rolling Stones song. It’s not that hard, right? Now, name a Mick Jagger solo song. Not so easy, eh? You see, even one of the greatest frontman of all time benefits from being in a band and partnering with others—like Keith Richards. Even Don Henley of the Eagles said, “Mick Jagger can’t even make a successful solo album, and the Stones are the biggest rock group that ever was.”
Most musicians can keep a beat and hit the right notes, but the ones who make it are able to not only get along with others, but make others better because of their partnerships with them. People skills are one one the most important skills (outside of our musical chops) that can make or break us in the music business.
Those old sayings like, “It’s who you know,” and “Nobody makes it alone,” are true—especially in the music business. It’s all about relationships (healthy, positive, and long lasting ones, that is.) It is who we know that determines how high we can go with our careers, it’s also about who knows us and what they know about us (our reputation). People want to partner with and promote those they know and like.
So who are the most well-liked and respected rockers of our time and what do they all do that we aren’t? It’s a long list (both in numbers and number of things they do to have others wanting to help them reach their goals.) Let’s just pick one and see what we can learn. Dave Grohl, founder and leader of the Foo Fighters knows what it’s like to be in a dysfunctional group (Think: Nirvana) as well as how to function in a group of guys that truly seem to get along (his current band.)
It seems like everywhere you turn Grohl is jamming with other major musicians, having the biggest of the big names appear in his “Sound City” documentary (Paul McCartney comes to mind), and his band has remained intact (for the most part) for years. What is the one thing he does that sets him apart?
• Grohl keeps his ego in check and shows respect for other musicians. Could he play all the drum parts for Foo Fighters? Absolutely. Does he? No. He lets Taylor Hawkins bash away while he plays guitar and sings. In interviews he is constantly praising the level of play by his bandmate . . . and friend. Give honest and sincere praise as often as possible and respect people for what they do and how they do it—even if they do it differently than us.
• He does the right thing by others. People don’t care how much we know or how good we are until they know how much we care about them by how good we treat them. Doing the right thing is hard, but in the end it makes life a lot easier. We eliminate guilt, worry, and fear that comes from trying to live a lie. We also have a lot less enemies and more friends. When we help others get what they want and give them what they need, they will help us get what we want and need.
• A friend of mine met Queen guitar great Brian May when he stayed in the hotel he works as a bellman. They talked for a short while the guitarist checked in on his first stay, but my buddy never got a chance to say goodbye. The next year May stayed at the same hotel and not only did he remember my friend’s name, he recalled what they had talked about a year before and his wife’s name as well. If we can be better at remembering names and pay more attention to others, they will become fans for life. Dave Grohl is known for being down to earth and the kind of guy you would want to hang out with—even if he weren’t a Grammy Award-winning artist. Dave Grohl said, “My songwriting is like extending a hand to the listener.” Be better at remembering names, birthdays, and details about the people you meet and work with and remember, it’s not about us, it’s about them.
LEE SILBER is not only the best selling author of 19 books he is also a drummer and bassist with his own band and is known for going the extra mile for other musicians. To learn more about Lee go to: http://www.leesilber.com.