Monday, October 16, 2006

How to manage?

I don't mean to "call out" anyone here, but in the essence of this blog's "transparency," I feel I should write out my feelings relatively unfiltered. Thus, we get this...

Lately, I've been having a prevalent thought of feeling drowned in what goes on in managing this group. This is new to me, as I have always been a pretty good task-balancer. Even when something bothers me on the managerial side, I'm usually pretty good at cloaking it so as to not affect others' work. (In the same vein, this post's sentiments are not meant to impede progress, but simply provide a window into my thoughts lately.)

But, man, sometimes this can be really, really trying. Everything in a band is so tender. Like if an "executive" decision is made, it counteracts the definition of a "band" -- a core unit. I understand that, and I try to honor that. But every successful operation has a primary facilitator, and one way or another, the job has landed squarely on me. Now, this isn't a bad thing. I love task and people management. I think I'm pretty good at it. Plus, as far as my role in the band, it makes sense. I also have the tireless efforts of Chris to help me out -- and he does, big time. So don't go thinking that I'm trying to pawn off a single duty onto anyone else... that's not really the issue at hand. I'll hit that topic in a moment.

But back to the "tender" issue. I think that I often get in the mindframe that I'm going to accomplish a goal, large or small, and I take the necessary steps to ensure this. That is all well and good in my personal life, but with a band, I have to consciously tell myself repeatedly to be more democratic. This can really get tiring, though I recognize it is essential. Everyone wants to be, and should be, involved.

Now, I do not mean to diminish the role of what anyone else does for the band. Every member is so important to the success of this band, in different ways, I would never discredit them. Still, that does not mean they are involved on the business side a lot of the time, which can cause some conflict when Chris and I shuttle the process along. Plus, if I am constantly making sure I'm not just calling the shots, I want something viable in return. Also, not the case oftentimes.

I feel bad because last night I ranted at Scott for a good long time about money. I often think that I hate money, and I don't like thinking about it, but I need to get a good grasp on it. I've started keeping records of every expense and it is an exhaustive process. Why am I the money manager? Last year, the band voted me as the money manager to collect our payments and save them. I established a band bank account, which I oversee and operate. But more recently, I've become a much more obvious facilitator, by my own hand. Since most of the band funds were depleted prior to recording by our summer tour, I have self-funded this entire record. Now, I'm going broke fast, though that's not really my concern. But the fact is, I ran out of money more than expected and had to do something I never wished I'd do -- ask my parents for money. They agreed, and while I really, really, really appreciate it, I'm not too thrilled about it. I hate being in debt.

This issue of money, coincidentally, is something I also brought upon myself. I knew the other guy's funds were tight, and I was comfortable at the beginning of the process. So you can consider it an act of volunteerism (which I'm happy to do because I realize you need to invest to earn, or "spend money to make money"... I don't know if I personally stand to profit from this, since that was never the plan, but I'd like to see the band account become self-sufficient). We turned down money offers earlier in the year, because a) they weren't right for us at the time and didn't wow us and b) we've been so pleased with our progress as a DIY effort thus far, we didn't see a need to involve anyone else yet, unless they offered something we couldn't provide. They offered money, which we appreciated, but we had that and needed more "what we're going to do for you" ideas, so we figured we'd be OK on our own. And we will be OK, even money-wise. But, as I told Scott (who was arbitrarily picked, by the by, since Scott didn't do anything particularly inflammatory), if everyone wants to be involved in the process, then I want people to listen when I brief them on what Chris and/or I are up to. That includes money, which often gets little to no response beyond bored looks or guitar noodling. Because if it's not your money, you don't care. Sorry, but that's true. I wouldn't either. Thus, I noticed long ago that my briefings were falling on deaf ears and I gave up talking about it.

(On a side note, one of the motivations of this blog is that I found that the other guys in the band were reading it and getting an idea of what we were working on, because I often forget who I discussed what with. So, I may think I told Matt something (this is a random example), but in actuality, I told Mike and forgot to tell Matt. Hopefully, he can read about it in the blog though and bring it up to me, if he wants. While I was excited that this works in theory, I forgot to take into account that one of our members is currently sans computer and thus operating under the handicap of not having the same access to information as the other two members.)

I am confident in my ability to manage this band, both on the personal side and monetary side. I hold nothing against my bandmates, especially financially. As I told Scott, I would never, ever want money to be a source of friction within the group. (On the same note, nor would I want betrayal of their trust over posting about them, so if this violates any bro codes, please let me know.) I would not want to put that band in a position to lose a member or break up over such trivial matters.

But some decisions need to be made with the money in mind -- not necessarily what we WANT to do for our own enjoyment/progress, but what we NEED to do to make money to fund the more fun aspects of band life. And if no one is up to date on the money matters, then how can I act any way but unilaterally?

Anyway, it feels like that a lot of the time lately. As we enter the final phase of putting this record together, I'm micromanaging like none other. Every little detail must be addressed and I'm spending huge portions of the day working on the band (let's see, this week is midterms week at school, causing me great distress, and yet today I've followed up with our graphic designers, circulated T-shirt ideas to the bandmates, made sure they responded with their choices, contacted our printing company about shirts, proofed our CD label and trayliner, drafted and sent out a press release for our CD release with Chris, followed up with A to Z about printing, talked to Jaclyn about the final album design and meeting with Dan, arranged a time for Fritz to help us move our equipment from the practice space tomorrow, checked in with the bandmates about meeting up tomorrow with Fritz (twice), sorted out a practice space money qualm, and tried to schedule a photoshoot for this weekend with Aram that probably won't happen, then tried to re-schedule a photoshoot for a night this week, but waiting to hear back on that). Anyhow, if I'm putting in the time, I don't want or need thanks. I don't have any use for that. I just want people to understand the effort, and accommodate it to the best of their ability.

But sometimes when I'm working like this, and not getting much of a response, if the few responses I do get have even the slightest tone of negativity, I go nuts. That happened twice today. It makes me feel like a mother -- I remember getting lectured for not appreciating all that my parents do for the family. And you know what? I DIDN'T properly show my appreciation when I was growing up. There's so much behind the scenes that I didn't even realize it. I have a newfound appreciation for all the stuff my parents did for us growing up, because managing the life and business of a group of a few people is HARD. Mom, I don't know if you read this, but THANK YOU.

Well, that's how I feel. I'm not asking for anyone within the group to take a greater role, because I'm happy to do this for us and again, I have Chris to make the load lighter (thank God). And we work well together, Chris and I. Plus, I think I have some business acumen, and I like doing the work a lot. And I'm OK at it. All I want is some constructive feedback, or possibly just less complaining if things happen while people aren't paying attention. Is that unfair? I don't really think so. If it is, let me know.

Either way, this has been written after several days of mental anguish on this topic, and I've thought about NOT writing it on numerous occasions. But I think it's fair to the nature of the blog to show the internal struggle, as well as the more tangible struggles that a young band encounters. If you want to chalk this up to recurring "heat of the moment" frustrations, that's not far off base. But I'm just being honest and hopefully just writing it out brings some clarity to the situation.

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