New Noise Magazine reached out to a diverse group of artists and asked them to speak about their personal experiences with dealing with their overall wellness. The topic of being in good physical and mental health is an exclusive spotlight coinciding with Issue #32 of the print magazine, deemed The Wellness Issue. Each artist speaks with a refreshing transparency on the struggles they face and how to better go about their own health.
My name is Jennings Compton, and I tour full-time as a merchandise manager and tour manager for Four Year Strong, Warped Tour Official Merchandise, and The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. While touring for work, I also juggle the pursuit of a standup comedy career. Doing a few shows a week at open mics, opening for bands here and there, and planning tours for myself later in the year, this made me discover the importance of having a reliable service like towingless which can come to the rescue of your tour bus and not miss a show.
I want to offer some good advice and tips for those who aspire to a career in working for bands, but also have hopes and dreams for their own art or creative outlets beyond being just a behind-the-scenes player. Personal career growth for crew members doesn’t seem to be that common a topic of discussion, even though there are lots of people who aspire to work for bands and artists who also have their own creations of art. A lot of those creations can get overshadowed by making their living working for others.
Being a working-class member of the music and entertainment world is a dream job for a lot of people—myself included—but the dreams don’t always stop there for most of us. We all have our own creative outlets, whether it be music, photography, or, in my case, standup comedy. Balancing your career’s workload and your own personal goals for creativity can seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are a few tips and ideas that could help keep your own show on the road while keeping your employer’s show at the highest quality possible and maintaining your livelihood.
Put a Positive Spin on the Things You See and Hear Every Day and Use Those Things To Your Advantage
You work nearly 250 shows a year for several years, travel around the country more than a few times, and just as the 10th kid of the night walks up and mumbles that dreaded phrase, “That black shirt,” and throws up a pointed finger in a vague direction toward the wall of 20 different shirts you have behind you, you realize that buzzing in your ear isn’t just anger or tinnitus from the show.
It could be the gears of creativity turning in your head.
Maybe you take the low-road and just snap back at the kid, “Which black shirt?! They’re all black!” Or you take a little more time and use what you’ve just been given to your benefit. Quirky situations just like this happen every single day in our world, and a lot of times, you just look past them as an annoying part of the job. But these little bits of “mindless” interaction can be taken and used as creative content: a relatable anecdote in an article you’re hoping to get published, new material for a joke, or even a self-realization that if this is the worst of what you have to deal with, you don’t have it that bad.
Don’t be jaded! Be more aware of what you are hearing and seeing. Use it as an inspiration!
Negativity can eat away at the quality of your work and mental state. It’s all about your personal interpretation and how you use what you’ve been given. So, why not make it positive?!
Do Not Get Caught Up in Comparing the Success of Your Personal Work With the Work of Your Peers
One of the biggest and most common pitfalls I see in growing artists is the habit of comparing their personal success to the success of their peers and employers. Expecting the same praise and response for your work is a slippery slope toward bitterness, the feeling of defeat, and, ultimately, complacency.
At one point, those people you work for were starting out and spending countless hours developing their own voice and perfecting the polished product that you and their fans see today—the very same process you’re involved in right now. Artists working in crew capacity tend to look past this fact and expect immediate success without any sort of growth period. They want immediate recognition for their product, because they are such a big piece of someone else’s dream, see it come to life every single day, and see the gratification it receives.
Of course I want to walk out onstage every single night and see hundreds of faces hanging on every word I say, but the fact is: where I am with my comedy career, I’m lucky if there are 50 people in the room, and most of those people have their noses buried in their phones and don’t even hear the punchline. These sorts of things can lead people to question why their art isn’t catching on like their peers’—disregarding their own originality to fit someone else’s path to success—and even lose faith that their spotlight is out there waiting, eventually resigning to being just a backstage player.
Just saying, “Why not me?” isn’t good enough.
You have to find out what works best for you.
Learn From Those Around You. We Are All in This Together!
This one is quite simple: keep your eyes and ears open, and learn all you can.
Being able to work in our unique industry allows us firsthand exposure to likeminded people and a broad spectrum of different types of success. The connections you make allow you an honest assessment of your work. These people you work with and for can lend valuable advice and make suggestions to help you grow in a healthy environment, rather than having someone in the “real world” who can’t relate to your experiences attacking your work because they simply just don’t understand it.
Be nice to people, make connections, and appreciate them!
We are all just part of the circus. Just because we happen to be the tightrope walkers balancing our career working for others and our personal goals doesn’t mean our time in the spotlight isn’t coming up. There is always room for more happiness in the world!