Forget Penny Lane. Are the people you surround yourself with truly supportive your efforts? (Image via luckythreads.wordpress.com)
Being an independent musician ain't easy. Most juggle day or night jobs, some have families, few have financial backing, and all of them are constantly battling to make things happen. Because it's a perpetual struggle, it's important to avoid factors that further complicate your efforts. Sometimes, that means people.
Ambition is key in accomplishing creative goals, and there are certain characteristics in people that can, whether noticeable to either party or not, chip away at your motivation. While you can certainly exist alongside these six types, none of them is truly supporting you – and their involvement in your life could be detrimental to your pursuits.
1. Pessimistic people
You landed your first gig, and you're justifiably excited – until your reliably negative friend chimes in to remind you about your faulty amp, the venue's history of bad sound, or that you probably won't pull a big crowd this go 'round. Whatever discouraging comment they made, it wasn't constructive, and it poked a hole in your bubble of enthusiasm.
Maybe they're always the downer because they're unhappy with themselves. It could be that they're jealous. (Haters!) Or they might just be general cynics, and their downer commentary isn't only directed at you. Whatever their reason, it's not a good enough excuse for you to allow them to bring you down.
2. "Yes" people
Call 'em brown-nosers, perpetual cheerleaders, or whatever you like, their enthusiasm helps to boost yours – but sometimes, it shouldn't. If you've got someone always in your corner regardless of the situation, you might fail to question yourself. While any mistake you make is ultimately your own, people who blindly support you aren't necessarily helping. It's good to have positive people around, but make sure they know you also welcome their constructive criticism and helpful suggestions.
3. Time bandits
We all have needy friends whom, despite how exhausting they are, we still love dearly. We're not asking you to dump your buds, but it's probably in your best interest to consider how much they detract from your focus. If the attention they need is too significant, try explaining how important your creative work is and they can support you best by respecting your personal time.
4. Lazy people
It's not the case for everyone, but it's definitely possible to absorb the qualities of people you're frequently around. You know the saying – you can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging out with turkeys. Some people can do both, sure. But generally, it's way more helpful to surround yourself with similarly ambitious people, as opposed to those who are happily aimless and set no goals for progress.
If someone you barely know who's not even involved in the music offers to be your tour manager, heads up: you might be looking at a potential hanger-on.
Forget "band-aids" and Almost Famous. If someone is not literally contributing to the music or growth of the band, he or she isn't really supporting or helping you. That person is riding your coattails. (Merch buds who work only for tips obviously excluded, because that's a huge sacrifice on their part, and oftentimes they are very much needed.)
6. Arrogant fellow musicians
Anyone who's constantly implying – or even stating outright – how much better they are than you is probably a supercilious jerk. They might even be jealous. Who knows what these people are thinking? All they seem to want is to put other people down, and themselves on the highest pedestal. That isn't helping anybody, and if you listen long enough, you might start to believe them.
What's worse than knowing these six types of people? Having them in your band.
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.