‘What would our business look like if we cultivated a code of best practice in communication?’

The following MBW op/ed comes from Larry Wade, Nice Life Recording Company Co-Owner and COO, and Founder of Decible Entertainment.

Communication is by definition the imparting or exchanging of information. Seems simple enough, right?

I have been in the music business for nineteen years and one of the biggest struggles I see with executives, artists, songwriters and producers is communication. Whether you are leading a team or in the studio creating music, good communication is part of the equation.

Over the years, I have worked hard to improve my skills. For my clients, my teams and in my personal life – being a strong communicator is how I show up consciously and contribute meaningfully. The gift is that it also happens to be a foundation building block to success in business.

This translates through my roles as Founder of my management company, Decible Entertainment and COO of Nice Life Recording Company and the working relationships I have built with my clients over the many years including Ricky Reed, Evan “Kidd” Bogart, amongst others.

The global pandemic taught us many lessons and we are still going through it. A particular lesson that I learned – a reminder perhaps – is how connected we really are. Through our experience we have needed to think and operate as a collective – less as individuals.

COVID reminded us of our humanity. Our fragility. Our oneness. The virus does not discriminate and we have needed to rely on each other to wear masks and follow guidelines – collectively navigating this monstrous challenge.

A second lesson has been regarding how adaptive we are. Look at how we have been able to shift and adapt to new ways of working and operating within our communities. It’s something to contemplate, don’t you think? The way we communicate has shifted dramatically. We had all of these devices and now we are really putting them to use.

Personally, I am an energy person and I like seeing someone face-to-face. It allows me to be able to read body language and truly hear what the person opposite me is saying. The pandemic was not easy for me and I had to often go within and ask more of myself from a communication standpoint.

Where we go from here is the practice of what we have been collectively experiencing: a new culture of communication. A better place than before the pandemic and we can’t go back. Nitin Nohria says: “Communication is the real work of Leadership.”

When we look at the work of masterful communicators, I consider Phil Jackson to be a role model. If you look at his career he was able to connect with everybody – all walks of life. He believed that “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

He also believed that communication was paramount in leading a successful team. He talks about non-verbal communication with one of his players Toni Kukoc and how words matter when talking about former Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause. There are many things we as leaders should do to empower our teams and radical communication is a tool to strengthen the relationships at every level.

In my career, I have come to realize that getting people to communicate well is my Super Bowl. In July, we decided to put together a dinner for an artist we work with at Nice Life called The Marias. They hadn’t been to New York City during the pandemic, so it felt like the perfect time to gather people together to celebrate not only the release of their debut album CINEMA, but getting people back together in-person. I didn’t realize the effect it would have on all of us until we got to the restaurant. There were so many laughs, fist bumps, hugs and high fives. The energy was palpable. There were co-workers who hadn’t seen each other in-person in over a year and some who hadn’t met in-person at all.

That dinner made me realize that human contact, communication and bonding is vital to the evolution of relationships and careers. The global pandemic showed us what happens when the music stops. We must really savor these lessons. What would our music business look like if we fostered connection and understanding by optimizing our communication?

What would our business look like if we cultivated a code of best practice in communication? Over time I’ve developed eight principles that I utilize as my model. Working with these principles has helped me to no end. A culture of communication would build a better future for the people in our care and yield strong results for our business in the process. We have an important task before us and we have work to do. Teamwork makes the dream work.

8 Communication Commandments

1. Listen.

Listening is a virtue. People will tell me so much if I truly listen to them. This helps in any storyline. Active cognizant listening allows me to hear what someone is saying. It is a tool that will help me find the most accurate solution to any problem. Understand all of the ways that we listen.

2. Be Present.

Be focused on the conversation at hand. Multi-tasking is never a good idea.

3. Be Honest. Use candor.

When having a conversation the best thing for me to do is to be sincere in my honesty. This will allow the opposite side to open up and your communication to elevate.

4. Be interested.

Meet people to meet people. Recognize yourself in others. The goal in any conversation is to find a commonality with the other person as soon as humanly possible. Get to the common ground, because when that happens, the conversation really begins.

5. Practice differentiation.

Do Not Project. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Please don’t bring baggage into the conversation. Be open and available to have the conversation at face value. Accept that the conversation is happening for a reason.

6. Empathy.

To be a sophisticated communicator – understand the feelings of others. We are in a pandemic, so humans are feeling emotions that they haven’t experienced before. My ability to step into the shoes of another is powerful.

7. Conscious Responsibility.

This is one of the most foundational principles of communication. I accept liability for my role in the conversation. Each party has the power of making people feel the way they want them to feel. Therefore, I must be completely conscious in how I show up and play my part.

8. Choose the medium for the message.

Do not text a conversation if there’s something important to discuss. In a text I cannot hear the tone of the voice or understand the intent or context. It’s paramount that I hear the whole story and that includes verbal and non-verbal communication.Music Business Worldwide