It’s no secret that if you’re “in a room” with a recording artist who is making a record there’s a decent chance the song you write with them will be included on their album. So does that make it okay to cancel a session you originally had booked if you are subsequently invited to a session with a recording artist? If so, is some kind of cancelation etiquette in order?
I ask this because recently I was introduced to an up and coming writer (via email). She was eager to collaborate with me and had many accolades for my work. (I don’t say this boastfully. The fact is, I have “history.” But I wouldn't be surprised if over the next few years she has more songs on the chart than I.) Her accolades made me feel good. It felt personal…like I wasn’t just other writer with history. A fellow colleague vouched for her talent. So I said, sure…let’s give it a go. But when it came to booking actual dates, I started hearing from her “Team” instead.
I never had a Team. Though most millennial songwriters do. I book my schedule the old fashioned way: all by myself. Personally, I like it when writers DIY. It feels like we’re invested in the plans we make. That’s just me. And I am trying to roll with the new school changes.
So with a little back and forth The Team and I put a couple of days in the iCal. But as the dates were upon us I received an email saying they needed to cancel the 2nd day as the writer was being “pulled in” to another session with an “artist.” I felt like I had seen that email before. It was a familiar template but with a different writer’s name and cancel date. It suggested we reschedule that 2nd day. It was a friendly and apologetic message and I was thanked for understanding.
Now I don’t doubt that The Team are good people with honorable intentions. It’s just that, in the last few years, session scheduling and canceling practices have taken a sharp turn--if something better comes along, take it--and casual notification via electronic mail (along with the assumption that the receiver understands) has become an acceptable way to communicate a change in plan. In addition, it seems as if topliners are often double booked with the hope that the more favorable opportunity will reveal itself as both sessions approach.
Hey, it’s not like I've never canceled a session before. Things come up. And let me just say, if I was being pulled in with Rhi or Bey I would ask for a pass too. But I’d pick up the (i)Phone or send a self-written email or text. Especially if I had been so enthusiastic from the get go.
So how is the receiver of such a communique supposed to respond? I came up with some alternatives:
Option 1 - Don’t be a hater. Say: "no problem,” or “no worries.” (This would be disingenuous, albeit the low maintenance non-confrontational reply. The advantage to this choice is that The Team will assume you’re easy going and will most likely call you again to schedule another session with another writer they represent. They might cancel that session too, but you’ll know how to handle it.) Follow up with an email about rescheduling that 2nd day.
Option 2- Do not respond at all. Do not give this email the dignity it doesn’t deserve. (Okay, I admit that's a little rude.)
Option 3- Say: "What a coincidence! I was being pulled in with an artist too. But I declined as I had another commitment: the one I made with you.” (That would be a lie, but you get the point.)
Option 4- Say: “That’s a shame. But let’s not reschedule and just say we did. Because I assure you, if we were to convene, I would not be on my game as your email made me feel like a 'Plan B,' and that's not productive for my creativity. I’m sure there are other writers who wouldn't let this bother them. I wish I had a little more of their stuff. But I don’t. (Thanks for understanding.)"
So what did I choose?
I chose Option 4. But I didn't actually say all those words. I thought them. And I simply said something "came up for me too." After being trumped by a more favorable session and receiving what felt like a form letter in disguise, (from a Team), I no longer felt special. And I was not looking forward to the session any more. And though we might have written a stellar song, I didn’t care. I actually can’t remember what I did on those two days instead. Maybe I went to the mall. Or maybe I made soup…my two favorite things to do when I need to step away. Whatever it was I promise you, I had a better time than I would have if I went to a session that took place because nothing better came a long.
In essence, it was the truth. Something had come up for me too. It’s called self love…self respect…self esteem. I spent the day with it. And I enjoyed my company very much.
Mushroom barley anyone?
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