Many of us were brought up hearing that no question is a dumb question. When we ask questions, we learn, right? While this is true to a point, at a certain level, there are basic things that you are expected to know, particularly in the music industry as a professional musician (at least if you want to work). But what about valid questions? This post isn’t about what you’re expected to know as that is going to vary drastically depending what job you have. No, this post revolves around a trend in mid-tier, semi-professional musicians/managers (but self-proclaimed professionals) who actually seem to get annoyed at any line of questioning, especially when it comes to gig details. I have one question: why?
Here is my theory: Many folks love to run an operation and/or be in charge but very few actually have the ability, knowledge, and leadership skills to actually manage said operation. When a valid line of inquiry comes their way, they tend to get annoyed, blow it off, or worse yet, ignore it altogether.
Sorry, let me pull the military/corporate speak out: Folks love their titles, but often lack the skills. Now, there are times where someone is just on a power trip and lacking the skills, but I think the more common scenario is a combination of not understanding what it means to manage a particular scenario and laziness. So, I come back to asking these individuals in charge questions. To be a leader, you have to be comfortable with questions, plain and simple. If you aren’t, then you are in for an exceptionally rough time. If you are shunning questions, then your “professional” credibility is on the ropes. If you are running the show, it is your responsibility to make the calls, answer the questions, and if you don’t have an answer, get an answer. That is just part of the gig. If you can’t field questions, then maybe it’s not the best position for you to be in.
If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the pros that are out there. The dumb question culture has no place in the pro world. Do you really think that the Bruno Mars band is walking on stage with unanswered questions about staging and exactly where they are each supposed to be and play? Yeah, me neither. This stuff is worked out and articulated before-hand along with answering any questions that may have come up. When we work to climb the ranks and try to be better, wouldn’t you agree that working out any questions that come up is included in that? I would. It doesn’t matter what level at which you’re currently operating. For those that have been on the receiving end of a cold shoulder when they posed a question, I’m very sorry. When you are in charge, be careful not to reciprocate this behavior. For those that look down on questions, you are shooting yourself in the foot and eroding your own position in the eyes of those underneath you. Proceed with caution.
Aaron Kusterer is a musician, tour manager, and composer based out of Long Beach, CA. He has performed with artists such as Eddie Money, Juanes, and Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson) to name a few. He has also performed across the globe during a 10-year stint with the United States Air Force Band, 6 years of which was spent as a music director and tour manager. In addition, he owns and operates Advantage Tour Management. For more information on him, check out: AaronKusterer.com.