A Gentleman's Guide to Being a Pro


I’m going to be perfectly frank, this is an awkward post to make for me. Partially because I feel – as a male – it isn’t entirely my place to talk about it, but also because some of this shouldn’t even need to be stated. It should just be innate – in the moral fiber of anyone who puts themselves out as a professional. Still, some of this actually needs to be said and perhaps I need to be the one to start the ball rolling. There is zero place in the writing room for sexual harassment and/or unwanted advances, but I’ve heard from enough women to know it’s not just a thing – it’s a regular, every day thing.

Most of us – I’d go as far as saying 99% of us – are in the business to be professional. We want to make the best music we can, the best way we can. We do it day in and day out – we put on our proverbial hard hats and clock in at the writing rooms, banging out new songs, re-working old ones, or forging ahead with a new co-writer. Sure, friendships are formed – sometimes even romance blossoms. And that’s a wonderful thing! But there’s a far cry from developing a friendship (say, inviting a collaborator out for coffee) and telling them – apropos of nothing –  they have a hot body and asking if they want to go to Hot Sheets Motel down the road. Or leering suggestively. Or responding to a new co-writer’s scheduling request with “Ok, but can we fool around after?”  Aside from it being, you know, wrong, here are just a couple reasons why it’s bad form.

1. Word Gets Around

You may think that time you grabbed the ass of your peer at the writer’s round went unnoticed. Or that time you texted a brand new co-writer unsolicited at 2 AM asking for a booty call.  I assure you, it didn’t exist in a vacuum. Nashville is a small town, made even smaller by technology.  That means other artists, potential co-writers, and business contactsmay decide they don’t feel comfortable working with you. I’ll be honest, even as a guy, I hear stuff – and I’m sure it’s only a small fraction of what girls share with each other.  And even though I know I wouldn’t be in the position of being groped in a writer’s room, it makes me leery of the person in question – because I know they aren’t a pro.  The odds of me wanting to work with them are very, very low.


2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

When you decide to collaborate with someone – be it a producer, an artist, or a fellow writer – you’ve got to have a baseline of respect. At very minimum, respect for them as a person, but hopefully you have respect for their talent. Maybe they can come up with cool grooves, or they’ve got a great voice, or their ear in the studio is just incredible. If you don’t respect them – even a little bit – why are you there? Why are you investing in building a partnership that doesn’t start off on equal footing? If you’re using the whole process simply as an excuse to hit on someone for a few hours (or less, if they decide to walk out), you’ve not only wasted everyone’s time, but damaged your career (and very possibly ruined someone’s day) in the process. Not only is this going to be reflected in any work you’ve managed to create, it can really sour business relationships.  No one appreciates not being respected.


3. It’s All About The Song

One of the great lessons my mentor taught me was this: Your ego doesn’t matter. Your bad day doesn’t matter. Sometimes, where you want the song to go doesn’t matter either.  At the end of the day, it’s about stepping out of the way and letting the song that wants to be written bring itself into the world. The song, and what’s best for it, should be the #1 priority. Maybe that sounds like fairy tale, pie-in-the-sky B.S., but it isn’t. It’s always worked for me, at least. I’m not saying it’s easy to leave the stresses and concerns of your life at the door – all too often, I find myself struggling with this – but at the very least, don’t impede the process by bringing things into the writing process that don’t belong there. If you’re that hard up for a date, get a Tinder account andlet the real pros do their jobs.

What are some of your experiences with this issue? Sound off below.

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