Wanted: Florida Music Blog content which was obtained using our brand & credentials and then held hostage.
**Faces and names have been protected for privacy – however chest exposure isn’t my problem.
About this post:
Over a year ago I decided it was time to take my side project Florida Music Blog to the next level and monetize it, or take it down. Despite years as a professional journalist & music promoter for other outlets & record labels, and knowing what challenges & costs come with running a media outlet, I chose to continue my work and that of my predecessor Ryan Emke.
WOW! What a journey this has been. We’re almost there though! I can feel it. But this has not come without a HUGE amount of challenge & responsibility.
Part of this responsibility is now owning up to my poor judgement.
In order to grow our coverage area and give others an opportunity to learn and grow with us, I took on volunteers. While I won’t say it was a mistake, because I’ve learned a lot about having policies and procedures in place, I definitely made some Terrible Decisions on taking on volunteers who are only in this for ego, “free passes to party” and various other advantage-seeking behavior.
People have to earn their way in order to appreciate the amount of TIME MONEY AND EFFORT it takes to become qualified to cover events.
Everyone can’t be allowed to jump on the bandwagon.
Suspect #1 continuously applied for event credentials behind my back without approval. When he was granted approval to cover Relix Conference for our blog – I asked for the content weeks later and he said he didn’t have to provide it since he paid for his own trip to N.Y.. The trip to N.Y. was a personal trip he was already going on and he asked (begged) if he could cover Relix for us since it was occurring at the same time. Of course he never asked IN ADVANCE to be compensated for travel or else I would have clearly said NO to the credentials.
Long story short – he used our name to get into Relix and never posted the content.
He also interviewed The New Mastersounds & some others which were never turned in.
Not to mention tons of other interview opps we missed out on by sending him to events which he failed to produce the content he promised.
What a pickle he left us in!
Suspect 2 hustled his way into plenty events under the guise of “helping us out.” And once the help was issued, it was quickly used against me while he constantly accused me of “using him” for free work – as he stately it PUBLICLY IN OUR STAFF FACEBOOK PAGE.
Nevermind he was given hours and hours of free education AND a camera & lens.
Nevermind he was given full access to promote his personal projects on our outlet for free.
Nevermind he’s not a professional-level photographer, whatsoever.
Nevermind he passed out and missed the main headliner at Dirtybird Campout – one of our biggest opportunities to date.
Not that we don’t all make mistakes, and I’ve definitely made quite a few, but I make mistakes on MY NAME and I take responsibility and try to rectify the errors. I don’t disrespectfully rant and rave acting like I take event photos for free so I can do whatever.
I don’t take credentials for events and then tell the event “well you didn’t pay me so I don’t have to supply the content now.” WTF.
And when I wasn’t “using him”, I was “trying to get back together with him.” Referring to our short-lived host/parasite situation he calls a relationship. While that situation was painful & toxic, it had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with covering events for FMB. I thought we were able to separate those emotions and respect each other in a work environment. Poor judgement on my part all the way.
Anyone who doesn’t respect women isn’t going to take direction from one as a boss.
Thanks to suspect 3, suspects 1 & 2 were under contract to supply content for events under our credentials. Suspect 3 attended Okeechobee 2017 under our name and posted the photos to his personal Instagram page instead of sending them to us first. He claimed he wasn’t under contract so he could do whatever he wanted to with the photos. Was he under contract? No (not with us anyway). Was this still a jerky move? Yes.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
When I asked him to turn in the remainder of the photos, he refused. Only giving us a minimal amount of non-exclusive photos, with NO PERFORMANCE shots.
While we did not have a written agreement with him, he was credentialed with Okeechobee to only shoot for Florida Music Blog. Major events issue a photo release to photographers stating they are only to shoot for approved outlets.
If you are only seeking to further your own identity – GET YOUR OWN PASSES. There’s a standup philosophy for you.
I absolutely hate drama and negativity. And it’s taken me a year to build up to this. But I’m tired of being taken advantage of, bullied, and pushed around. This industry is full of snakey people, and I REFUSE to have any on our team.
DO NOT LIE, CHEAT, STEAL, MANIPULATE, OR ATTEMPT TO BULLY MYSELF OR OF OUR STAFF.
I’ve built my reputation over the years from being honest and fair. The media credentials I get aren’t approved solely on owning a small independent website – I own a marketing company outside of this blog. And I wanted to use those credentials to grow this site and help others. But I’ve learned the price of being nice is STEEP.
Beware. No amount of contracts, red tape, background-checking is ever fully enough to protect against people with bad character. I should have went with my instincts.
These people clearly VOLUNTEERED to cover these events. Often begging. Then afterwards, when they couldn’t have their way on everything, they started complaining about not being paid. If you want to be a paid journalist, you need an accomplished resume first. You need to be able to MAKE DEADLINES. You need a rate sheet. You need a business set up. There is a difference in a hobbyist, an aspiring music journalist and a pro. I was offering experience and access to major events so these suspects could get to the next level. That was clear from the beginning. All that “you didn’t say this and that so I can do this and that” is immature manipulation.
INTEGRITY DOESN’T NEED A CONTRACT.
What #1 & 2 taught me is that even if I have SIGNED WRITTEN CONTRACTS, words can be manipulated a thousand different ways, and contracts don’t mean anything if I’m not willing to enforce it. SO BE PREPARED TO MEET THE JEN THAT DOESN’T TAKE CRAP.
Good thing this happened before we started taking on clients. I don’t mince words to cut corners and no one on my team will either. I’m making sure of that. So, once again:
INTEGRITY DOESN’T NEED A CONTRACT.
This is step 1. And hopefully I’ll not be forced to take steps 2 & 3, but I’m prepared to. I am an excellent publicist of information. I am an expert at spreading the word. And I also have AN EXCELLENT LAWYER….NOT PAID FOR BY MY PARENTS.
Nothing I have is paid for by anyone but the years of sacrifice & work I’ve put in. I took time off from my high-profile, extremely demanding clients so I could build this website into something serious.
Which meant giving up a comfortable salary and clientbase in order to build structure, foundation & CREATE JOBS and opportunity in our community.
I’ve gone without meals.
I gave up my apartment.
I sold all my things.
I’ve slept in my car at rest stops. (still do! It builds character!)
God knows when I last had a professional hair appointment.
I lost a bunch of weight to be healthy enough for this journey. I’ve not had nearly enough money for a new wardrobe.
I gave up personal socializing for the most part. In fact, I’ve actually been ridiculed by my “friends” for doing all of this. And the circle gets smaller as you climb I’ve learned.
I’ve also been ridiculed by my OWN FAMILY.
I’ve given up all dating or possibilities of having a stable relationship while I go through this growth period. I deal with the loneliness because I know it’s necessary to be alone to focus right now.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT BACKLASH AND NEGATIVITY A SINGLE WOMAN IN AMERICA HAS TO DEAL WITH?!!
Thank you so much to everyone who has fed me, given me a place to sleep, donated clothes, contributed from their heart and not for greedy reasons. (I’m tearing up thinking about all of you! You are my angels & I will pay it forward).
I go through all of this because I KNOW – without a doubt – I can create something bigger than myself. I believe in this dream. I believe in myself. But I can’t believe in anyone else anymore than they believe in themselves. I can’t do the work for anyone else.
I wish all three of these individuals the best. They are EXTREMELY talented and hardworking for the most part. However, there are some character issues I want my colleagues to be aware of. I wish someone had given me the warning first.
As of now, Florida Music Blog is tightening up the reigns. If you want to contribute, we have plenty of opportunities for you to submit your own content voluntarily. But if you want to get into events for “free” with us, it’s not happening.
Creative Gold, LLC