Shifting positions: Surviving the industry shutdown
Our work, by its very nature, is outward facing, created for the enjoyment of third parties. Any idea, any urge to create and develop is based on the way we will deliver it for the consumption by people we don’t personally know.
We all see the world as one big land for producing events. In order to be satisfied with our day or project, we need a few thousand eyes to give us approval first. In the end, the outer world dictates our delivery. Everything we do, everything we deliver, show, explain, sell, design, collect or announce is for the benefit of others.
On one hand, it sounds very noble. But, on the other, it is massively hard work for our ego and self-esteem. From a very young age, we face competitiveness, as in this industry no one cares how old you are or where are you come from. Anyone who hasn’t gained approval of their work from the very beginning, eventually will agree that they got stuck in the endless “comparison loop”, or at least, started accepting compliments as given to the product or artist they are representing, and not the person behind with all the work.
As a result, all of us grow and communicate based on adrenaline.
Adrenaline as fuel
We all have our unique ways of producing, communicating and forward planning, but nothing is ever 100% certain. That gap between what we manage to predict and reality is what creates the adrenaline. The difference between our industry and others, is that this degree of uncertainty is so prevalent that no amount of cooperation or experience – no matter how many times it is repeated or copied – can ever ensure anything turns out the same way twice. So it is easy to feed the adrenaline.
Through the adrenaline filter – craving to be the first informed, the first to know about a new tour, a new deal, a new project – we manage to navigate obstacles and overcome challenges, even if we have not seen them before. Why? Because of something bigger than any emotion, bigger than anger, disappointment, joy or sadness: gut feeling.
If you are one of those people who, when faced with an inbox filled with dozens of emails after just a three- or four-hour flight, your first urge is to smash up your laptop, you’ve probably done so over the past few months.
Knowing no-one is waiting for your reply and the sudden disappearance of any pressure to deliver is very hard for an adrenaline junkie
If you are one of those who tends to leave the work for the following day in the office, good for you! Or maybe, you are one of those who plans the rest of the day and night around finding a cosy place to work and while the hours away in a sea of emails.
Either way, none of these scenarios are relevant if you do not have any unread emails. If you don’t have any, you don’t have to plan what to do with them and arrange your hours by that.
Then all you have is yourself – no-one expects anything from you and no-one is waiting for your answer.
Pressure as a habit
Knowing no-one is waiting for your reply and the sudden disappearance of any pressure to deliver is very hard for an adrenaline junkie. As is the nature of this industry, even if you don’t have a NEED for the pressure, it becomes a habit just like anything else.
For some, the removal of this habit of being under pressure is immediately substituted with another pressure-inducing task, that the person will assign for themselves and consume on a daily basis, to keep nurturing the pressure – routine in a new form.
Others jump into a new world, based on consuming new information, nurturing mental health and spirituality and looking at the world as a huge playground. Others just turn off completely. You can find yourself among any one of these fractions, or maybe somewhere in-between.
Turning to a physical activity or challenge works directly to train your ability to deal with pressure.
This kind of pressure fuels a variety of feelings in us and is a very healthy form of motivation. Physical challenges develop discipline, while maintaining the satisfaction of the strength we need to use on a daily basis to push our boundaries and raise our performance. Perhaps most importantly, the results are visible and depend on consistent, long-term effort, just like our event production work.
This industry is still our most vivid and clear form of exchange, so be an active part of it and add value
Focusing on research, turning to self-improvement and learning new skills is another very useful form of pressure. There is a thin line here, though, where you might find yourself stepping away from responsibilities, losing the habit of working hard and forgetting to nurture and feed the discipline you strived so hard to gain.
Playing dead and being ignorant may deliver happy thoughts, but it takes out years and years of hard work just overnight.
Wherever you find yourself, the industry does not own you, but you do leave a trace of yourself within it. This industry is still our most vivid and clear form of exchange, so be an active part of it and add value, as we continue with the unique journey we face right now.
Making friends with the enemy
We are in this together, like never before.
This means that you and your competitor are on the same team. You have not spent months in the same, stagnant situation because your competition is working harder or better then you. No-one is any more clued up than anyone else.
This is why it is so important to nurture useful ways, both for the individual and the collective, to exercise and invest in our two most essential assets right now: creativity and forward planning.
When the curtain goes up, you better be ready if you are planning on sticking around in the live industry. But, until then, there is no point in comparing yourself with anyone else. To focus on yourself is the natural thing to do. There is no better investment.
Starting from our personal decisions, we are now at a crossroads where we can choose how to reframe the industry to make it stronger and more adaptable than ever before.
Lina Ugrinovska is an international booker for Macedonia’s Password Production and the founder of the Mental Health Care in the Music Industry initiative.