Jason Wan, touring as a manager

My STEP project involved me using my funds in order to accelerate the growth of my record label Aurora Records. I used grant money received to buy recording equipment as well as use some of the money for touring. This allowed us to create EPs and then travel to Atlanta and Charlotte and perform.

I knew this would be a tough job going in. My artists are very temperamental and difficult to work with at times. Also, some of them I realized, view this not as a way to go and perform their music, but as an escape. I definitely saw who was serious and who was just in for fun. I expected a lot from my artists and some of them delivered and some of them did not. I quickly realized in my limited scope of my company I cannot support people who do not share my dream. These artists were quickly dropped. The ones that have always been consistent though, were fantastic. I enjoyed touring with them for every second of it. There were times for fun and there was a lot of practice, but I admired my artists that knew the difference in those times. I think out of anything in this project, you can’t help people that don’t want to be helped. If people don’t put in the work, then they won’t help you and they won’t help themselves. Originally, I viewed my artists through a very optimistic lens; I thought if given the chance, they would surely give it their all and put on a wonderful show. That ended up not being the case. So I think out of everything, I’ve learned support the artists that really want to be an artist.

There were a lot of moments that pushed this revelation. I think one of the biggest ones was one of my artists that showed up absurdly inebriated to his own show. He not only failed to put on a good performance, but he tarnished any rapport I might have built with the venue. Afterwards, he did not take his actions seriously and seem unperturbed by his behavior, even more infuriating was his lack of regard for the effort that the team put in.

Besides just people showing up intoxicated, I had artists not be prepared. I had an incident where an artist completely forgot his equipment and was unable to go on. He’s a fantastic artist, but he has no organization. While he was upset, this is not the first time it has happened. I think the most disappointing thing was the fact that this has happened in the past and I thought he would have rectified this problem by now.

But my tour was not filled by disappointment. One of my smaller artists blew me away. Not only was he prepared, but his set was flawless. He hit every cue and he actually had a performance planned out to go with his song. It was amazing. Needless to say, I shifted a lot more resources into him. He also took a lot of mental notes during the performance. It was impressive to say the least.

This was a significant change for me because as I delve into the music industry I will need to recognize qualities that are detrimental to an artist. I do not want to waste my time with people that will not take what they are doing seriously. I have always been able to see this is more practice applications, but seeing them in music is different especially since people in the industry are a different breed than the typical individual. While I understood this mentality was going to appear, I did not realize that the lack of effort on an artist’s part would appear so early.

This lack of professionalism is an important milestone in any aspect of of my life. It is easy to go through the motions, it’s even more impressive to fake them. However, recognizing when someone “fakes it to make it” has jarred me a bit. I know the signs, but more than anything I’m disappointed in them. When we used to talk about what we were going to do when we toured, we always had great ideas. We talked about a lot of things. We promised we would do x,y,z or any number in between. But that was as friends, we’re supposed to be professionals. If music is to be a career, we need to take things seriously, and I think for myself, I need to know that we have a professional relationship as well. I learned that no matter how close to them I get, my artists are still clients. That friend/professional relationship became intertwined because of our situation of touring together for a period of time. But it must remain separated. Business is business and no amount of time together, ordeals that have been overcome together, and the moments that have been shared can change that. I want to make a living and so do they. If I’m to be a professional I need to separate myself in anything I do. This could be school or business, but those are still different aspects of my life. I think I might have to distance myself from my artists in the future. To sum it up, I can’t let my feelings get in the way, as ruthless as that may sound, I’m going to do my best and I’ll know when people can’t help me. I’ll give them advice and hope they improve; but if they can’t our relationship will have to end there.

Gojira performing in Atlanta.

Gojira performing in Atlanta.

Once of my artists during a sound check.

Once of my artists during a sound check.