Politics– In a broad sense, any situation involving power may be described as politics. Informally, any political maneuvering in order to enhance one’s power or status within a group may be described as “politics” (e.g. office politics). This form of politics “is most associated with a struggle for ascendancy among groups having different priorities and power relations.”- Wikipedia
Sad to say, but there are more politics than music in the business of music. The problem is that everyone has their own agendas and goals. Since everyone has different goals and agendas, everyones bottom lines are different. My goal as the musician/artist is to be the common denominator in all of these agendas to be the total package, and sell some damn records.
You see, if I sell records, then the A&R get a promotion, raise and bonus and, most importantly, bragging rights. If I sell records, then my manager gets a nice check, increased credibility and power and, most importantly, bragging rights. Also, if I sell a lot of records, then my production company makes a whole lot more money and, most importantly, has bragging rights. These are just the personal politics.
The other part of the bidness is the number of interested influential (folks who matter) people that are bidding to get their producers and writers work on the album. Now Im not opposed to people hustling to get work – Im still trying myself – but the uncomfortable part is when there are obviously backdoor deals going on.
For instance, when a beat is wack (I mean wack as in my first Casio beat), but is being pushed on you by someone who has influence, he/she is probably getting a check from the wack beat maker. Now if you put your foot down and absolutely refuse the wackness, you have to consider how much influence they have on your project. You also have to consider how this person may negatively or positively affect the buzz surrounding your music. Now, in writing this article I go through the same struggle: I want to make this article how I make my music ..more about the music and less about the bull$**t. But politics persevere once again. lol
Politics are driven by egos. The egos are driven by insecurities. The insecurities are fueled by everyones desire to be better than the next. So at the base of the politics are a bunch of insecure people.
In my effort to be sucker free, I try to only rock with people that care about the music, and who dont have too many hidden agendas. (Girls, you gotta realize that every dude has at least the one hidden agenda to have sex with you but Im not talking about that one.) So I let management deal with the politics (lol), hope that the label gets me (fingers crossed), and I just try and make music that I like.
Sometimes the music that an artist wants to sing is not the music that they are going to come out with. Luckily if the label believes in you enough, you can find a happy medium. I have a lot of crossover pop songs from before I signed to Atlantic, but now I have a broader mix of music.
Since I signed my deal in August, Ive written all of the songs for my album and co-written two. Writing has been something Ive enjoyed and loved doing all my life, but suddenly it became a job. I felt this unexpressed pressure to write something hot. Most writers pull from there own lives or life experiences (well, I do), but sometimes I get extremely creative (or I think I do) with it and can write about anything. However, I felt really bad when a good idea in my head didnt pan out so well on the record. After a while, brain freeze sets in and you have to take a break, because you shouldnt have to think so hard about something that comes naturally.
I take pride in being an artistic person and being original and unique, but I have learned that it is not always a bad thing to collaborate with other writers. Some of the best work comes out of sessions like that where musicians jam together to put together a melodic sound; so why couldnt I work with another writer? Would that make me less of a writer? Does my creative value go down when I do that? .Those were some of the thoughts running through my mind, and the answer is no! On my own I have written some great compositions. I had my first placement on a Grammy award-winning album (Mary J. Bliges The Breakthrough). I got signed with songs that I had written all my own. It has been super and I have some hot songs (in my opinion) to prove it.
I know it may seem as if I am trying to convince my self of some of these things, but an artists self esteem is under attack 24 hours a day. You have to know that you are valuable and bring something to the table. You have to know that nobody else can bring it like you can. The greatest lesson I have learned is to never second guess my talent, my creativity and my instincts. I have to prove myself every time I step into the studio, on the dance floor and even in vocal class. My performance/vocal coach James told me that when you are willing to learn and take criticism and turn it into inspiration and not let it crush you, you are in a great place professionally and personally.
Im writing this article in my hotel room in Atlanta. Ive been down here for a week now working with Brian Michael Cox, Tricky Stewart, Jazze Pha, Adonis, Kendrick Dean and Dream. Ive also been going to artist development classes practicing my performance skills and pushing my vocals to places I didnt know they could go. I am meeting challenge after challenge, and Im trying my best to stand tall and take it all on. My life has become so real, my dreams have become so close, and now that Im in the ring Im going to fight like Ali to become the greatest.