If I were to form a list of the most powerful words in the english language, among them would be the words “me” and “we”.
“Me” represents the individual. That I, as a person, have importance. It’s an important word because it gives me permission to be selfish and to look after my own needs. Individuality and the personal experience that comes with this is the font where creativity springs.
“We”, on the other hand, represents the collective. It recognizes that to function as healthy individuals, we also need to co-operate with other me’s. While ‘me’ is self-empowering, ‘we’ is the more powerful of the two because it is only through ‘we’ that we actually accomplish great work.
Why should you care about these two words? Collaboration and working with other people is how we accomplish goals in any business. You can write a song, but someone has to produce it, sell it, and manage all the other tasks that come with creating and selling a product. But to some extent, this conflicts with the nature of music which usually starts from the ‘me’.
The creator(s) of a song are using their personal experiences to start the composition process. They had a break up, they’re lonely, they fell in love. The experience of the ‘me’ and translating it into a song that ‘we’ can appreciate is what great music is all about.
The pitfall of all this is when the creator gets too caught up in the ‘me’ part. Songwriters who get attached to their songs so deeply that they fail to acknowledge the work put in by other people to translate that song into a product that sells.
I wrote the song.
I went through hell to write it.
If you had to guess an age from the last 3 quotes, what would it be?
When you are having a business discussion, particularly with collaboration partners, listen to yourself. PAY ATTENTION. Few people I think really stop and listen to themselves as they speak. You may be surprised by what you are saying.
If you are having a conversation with a collaboration or business partner, and you are using the ‘me’ and ‘I’ words in every other sentence, then I would say that you have a problem. It’s the type of conversation you have with a person who lives in a ‘me’-centric world.
I and Me are both important, because you need to be heard, but ultimately your conversations with the people you work with should be about ‘we’. What are ‘we’ accomplishing together. If you are in it only for yourself then why should anyone want to work with you? If someone told you their needs, wants, and efforts are more important than yours, how would you feel?
If you’re hiring someone flat out and paying them an up front fee, then yes it can be all about what you want. But even then, keep in mind that the quality of your working relationship will affect the quality of their work. If you are railroading over other people’s opinions, even in a work-for-hire scenario, then it’s going to affect how the person you hired feels about you. And that will affect how much effort they are going to put into your work, and how much they’ll charge you for the next project.
But if it’s not cash up front, then it’s not all about you. No matter what the proportion of efforts may be.
I bring this up in part because of a conversation I had on royalty sharing that took a wrong turn. This particular songwriter thought that because they came up with the song, they didn’t need to bother compensating their producer. They thought this was completely normal for a songwriter to do.
I guess they didn’t realize that I am a songwriter too and that I have an understanding of the relationship between a songwriter and their work. No matter how much I like a particular song, I am not precious about sharing the spoils. If someone can help get the song to where it needs to go to make money then I have no problem giving up a percentage. If you have the confidence that you’re not a one hit wonder, and you’ll have other songs that will make money, then it’s a much easier pill to swallow.
If you really think that the song you just wrote is your one and only song that can make it, then you can hold on to the entire pie, but that could easily be 100% of 0.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Be fair to the people you work with. Recognize other people’s efforts. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’ll get you a lot farther.