You know the type I'm talking about: beyond negative, beyond jaded, an undiscovered genius who cynically thinks everyone else is terrible. I've heard them referred to as “black holes,” which is an incredibly apt description. They suck the energy out of everything in their orbit, and everyone tries their best to avoid them. Here are some of the hallmarks of "that musican."
1. They write/sing/perform/produce better than anything on the radio
Don't get me wrong; there are some amazing, undiscovered artists out there where this is actually the case. But most of them have their nose to the grindstone and are working their asses off. “That musician,” however, spends more time whining and complaining about how much better he or she is than the empty trash on the radio. Nevermind that he or she hasn't picked up an instrument or played a show in 10 years.
2. The man is keeping them down
The music industry (aka, “the system”) is keeping them from making it. Everything boils down to politics and nepotism, which are never in their favor. Everything is rigged. Likewise, it's the only reason any other artist, regardless of actual talent, manages to succeed.
While there's certainly some truth to the idea that politics play a role in the music industry (and let's face it, they play a role in everything), it's possible to make it on raw talent and hard work.
3. The world simply isn't ready for their genius
Nevermind that their searing guitar solo went out of fashion in the '80s or their vocals sound like the intercom on a commercial flight. Should they take stock? Adjust their style? Fix the chorus in an otherwise great song? Never. The fault doesn't lie in them and their shortcomings. (What shortcomings?)
The issue is everyone else; the world simply hasn't caught up with their genius and is really missing out. They bristle at even the mildest of criticism, accusing you of being just another hater intent on squashing their brilliance.
4. They know everything
Not just about their own music and career, but yours, too. They'll tell you how to act onstage, how your song could be better, even how you're wearing your guitar strap wrong. This advice may appear kindly, but it's really just a way for them to put you down so they can feel superior.
A conversation with them will leave you disillusioned about the music industry, if not life in general, believing everything is either rigged or a scam. It's their not-so-subtle way of trying to pull you down to their level and make you just as cynical and jaded as they are.
If any of these ring a bell for you, it's time to take a good look in the mirror. You may be one of the select few who are happy being unhappy. If that's the case, no amount of personal insight or success can help you. But I hope this can be a wake-up call for some of you.
Set aside being a successful rock star for a minute; at bare minimum, friends and colleagues won't want to be around you. If you're the person described in these gifs, consider changing your outlook and behavior. If you know a person like this... run!
Daniel Reifsnyder is a Nashville-based, Grammy-nominated songwriter, having started his musical journey at the age of three. In addition to being an accomplished commercial actor, his voice can be heard on The Magic School Bus theme song and in Home Alone 2. Throughout his career, he has had the honor of working with the likes of Michael Jackson and Little Richard among many others. He is a regular contributor to several music-related blogs, including his own.