Chris Boardman Music Blog: September 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Do you have an exit strategy?

What to do when things don’t work out.

Safe to say that we spend a lot of energy trying to get ahead, trying to figure out how to get that next gig, create and take advantage of that one opportunity that is going to airlift us to our vision of nirvana.

Let’s assume you got the call for the gig of a lifetime! You’re elated. Your client loves your work and you’re ecstatic. After all of your struggles you breathe a sigh of relief thinking that you are on your way.

Then there is a problem. Something has happened to upset the apple cart and it’s not working.  Have you spent the same amount of time figuring out an exit strategy as you have trying to get the gig?

Knowing how to successfully end a gig that isn’t working is every bit as important, if not more so, than learning how to get the gig.

A couple of things to think about:


If you are feeling uncomfortable and think the end is near chances are your client is way ahead of you., that you are both feeling the same way.

Once you hit that threshold it is important to remember that you have a choice:
You can continue to try to solve the problem. Or, you can acknowledge the problem and accept the fact that you may never be able to satisfy your client.

What do you do then?

A career is not created in one job or opportunity. A career is fashioned as a result of many opportunities over a period of time. So what’s really at stake?

Let’s say you burn bridges by reacting defensively to criticism or a change of direction. Your client will probably walk away with a sour taste in their mouth.

Let’s think about that for a second.


If you go negative then the potential exists for your client to consciously or unconsciously transfer that feeling to someone who may be in a position of hiring you someday in the future. In this case you might get considered for a gig and then lose it without your even knowing that this conversation took place.

Pretty high stakes when you look at it from the perspective of career vs. gig.

Now that you’ve accepted the fact that the end is in sight what’s next?

Your feelings and expectations are no one’s responsibility but your own. Not your client, your significant other or your friends and family.

Take the high road. Admit that the situation isn’t working and be courageous enough to bring the question up (there are many, many ways of doing this).

Many times we are in relationships that aren’t working and our fear prevents us from acknowledging the problem.

When this happens professionally it’s time to take the high road and be the adult by addressing the issue head on. The fact is: no matter how hard you try to deny it, the problem will still be in the room.

How to do THAT?

If it comes time to bail out then deal with your emotions first before you address the issue with your client. This type of conversation has to take place from a neutral, unemotional place. If you process your emotions first you can let the sting and disappointment pass right through you. This will enable you to be emotionally detached (by removing your ego) during a difficult conversation.

This is hugely important.

If you are emotionally detached then you can focus your energy on being empathetic, even sympathetic, to the emotions of your client thus, solving their problem while solving your own at the same time.

And what is the benefit of this?


If you are gracious and classy about ending a relationship you don’t have to worry about the inadvertent, damning glance or being slammed by your client to anyone else in the future.

At the end of the day the media business is very, very small. 

And, even if you are right is the need to be right worth more than setting yourself up for a career.

What have you lost in the end?

We are all humans. We all make mistakes. We all have problems we struggle to deal with.  A little compassion, empathy and understanding goes a long, long way.