Have you ever wondered what it takes to make it big in this industry? Blood, sweat, tears? How about some good, old-fashioned commitment and unrelenting loyalty?
It seems like “all of the above” accurately describes how lighting designer Chris Kuroda has spent the last 16 years as the staff designer for Phish. In a rather surprising move earlier this year, the long time touring band announced plans to retire after a farewell summer tour. Fans (or “phans,” as they like to be called) are devastated the world over. There are even online message boards and web rings dedicated to “coping with the breakup,” so I can only imagine how the band and crew feel.
It's amazing how close knit the “Phish net” has remained over the years — not something we see every day in this business — and it's really refreshing to hear Kuroda's account of the history of it all. The members of the band, and crew alike, have forged relationships that make them like a family. They have evolved as an entire traveling camp, not just as a band of musicians. Over a decade-and-a-half as a salaried LD, such an environment doesn't sound bad for the guy who started out moving the band's gear. Call me sappy, but it's just really nice to hear about this sort of communal support and closeness occurring anywhere these days.
It seems almost vulgar to translate this scenario to business, but there is a lesson here: loyalty matters, and it can mean many years of good business and some great relationships, to boot. Plenty of LDs have made it big growing up with just one band — one account that launched a career as a full-fledged, industry-known LD. Some just have that special relationship that keeps years of collaboration going between band and LD.
Think of some of the names that go together like peanut butter and jelly: Willie Williams and U2; Marc Brickman and Pink Floyd; Patrick Woodroffe and The Rolling Stones — you get the point.
In short, play nicely out there, and it will come back to you.