That’s one of those word which, depending on the context can mean several things.
“He’s got an attitude!” Not good.
“She plays with attitude!” Good.
The word has positive and negative interpretations. But what I want to discuss is the negative one.
Let’s cut to the chase. The fact is this: Once one has sufficient skills, what’s most likely to get them to be called for a gig is the demeanor they bring to a gig, a session, whatever. Yeah sure, talent is in short supply. But what’s in even shorter supply is someone with great talent and a positive vibe. If you can be that person, your chances of getting work go up a 1000%.
I’ve been blessed to work with some of the greatest musicians and producers on the planet. And let me tell you, most all of them have a great personality and vibe. They not only play great, they are a blast to be around and inspire everyone around them. Human behavior is something to pay attention to, so when working with people, notice these things. And while musical skills and a personal skills are two different things, I’ve found that almost without exception, the greatest musicians I know have both.
While personality alone a great career cannot make, the world is full of those who have such negative vibes you’d not want to spend any more time with them than you have to. What is also certain is that it’s hard enough to make a living in this business, and if you are perceived as a PITA (pain in the ass), your chances of being a part of a project will drop considerably.
In my post, “There Are No Small Gigs,” I mentioned an experience I had and how learned a lot about this. I gained tens of thousands of dollars of work from a client who wanted nothing to do with a certain engineer, who was more experienced and better than I at that time, due only to his attitude. He was a PITA, and that cost him.
I’ll admit that I’ve learned this the hard way. I can have an intense vibe which can be seen as negative, even when what’s in my heart isn’t that at all. Once I had a good friend with whom I was working comment that I had a “mad face.” I wasn’t mad or even bothered, but my face showed a very negative vibe. We laughed about it, but the lesson rang home. I needed to be careful of my facial expressions and try to let that never happened again. Had I been working with someone I didn’t know, they’d have come to the conclusion that I had a bad attitude and it could have cost me a gig.
I know I’ve not been fully successful at all times, but I am at least aware of it. My facial expressions are not always in harmony with my inner self, so I must be sure to try to remember that lesson and keep a good vibe, starting with how I look at people.
Always remember when you show up, it’s imperative to have a good attitude—your game-face on...happy to be there. You may have had a bad morning, or feel you’re not paid enough, or any number of other things which can follow you to the gig. But no one cares about that. They want and need you to toss that aside and bring with you a good creative spirit, showing you’re happy to be there.
And always, always remember that the producer and artist have their own issues and problems, most of which you’ll never be aware of. You’re there to serve them, not your own musical aspirations. Get the ego out of the way, accept criticism with eagerness to learn something new, and be grateful that someone thought enough of your skills that they’d pay you money to do something you love. Work hard at your musical skills, expect more from yourself than anyone ever will, have a great spirit about you and you then have a good chance of a long career.