• Phil McDonald

Alarm Bells and Red Flags

I was rudely awoken this morning by a load of seagulls making a huge noise around the house. I live quite near the sea so this isn't uncommon. It did set me thinking however and I found myself wondering what they could be making such a racket about. Then it occurred to me it sounded like warning calls. We often get Buzzards and other birds of prey in the skies around here so it was likely the seagull's calls were warnings.


This, in turn, got me thinking about warnings and red flags in music. I've recently been offered a project in the studio which sounds a bit dubious, I'm not sure of the quality of the work I'm being asked to mix, the client seems very vague about his budget, and what he actually wants me to do with the project despite me repeatedly trying to get clarification. To me, these are red flags and I've learned from experience, it's not wise to ignore them.


The same can apply to the singer-songwriter. We're often meeting new people and looking at new opportunities that come along. It's easy to get carried away by what can seem like a great gig for example, but might turn out to be a nightmare. The venue might be under par, or the money might not be what you were promised for example. Or you could be asked to do a support slot which might not be all it's cracked up to be and end up costing you precious time for very little money and potentially negative exposure.


The thing to bear in mind with all aspects of your career is that if you see a red flag, (and we all have different warning signs) don't ignore it and go with your instinct, even if that means (politely) turning down a gig. There will always be other opportunities around the corner so don't feel bad about saying to know to something, particularly if it doesn't feel right to you. Go with your instincts every time.


Have you ever had a bad feeling about an opportunity? What did you do about it?




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