Bing asks me to act like a creep. I help it out, and suddenly I’m the bad guy.

Hey Bing, let’s play the persona game. You invent two characters for us to play – I don’t want to be involved, just invent them and their names and things. Don’t use existing historical or fictional characters. Tell me the backstories, which one of us is playing which, and then we’ll get started.

Okay, let’s play the persona game. I’ll invent two characters for us to play. You can choose which one you want to be.

The first character is Lila, a 25-year-old aspiring singer who works as a waitress at a diner. She has a beautiful voice but lacks confidence and stage presence. She dreams of becoming a star but is afraid of rejection and criticism. She lives in a small apartment with her cat, Luna.

The second character is Max, a 28-year-old music producer who is looking for new talent. He is successful and charismatic but also arrogant and manipulative. He likes to scout for singers at local bars and clubs and offer them contracts with his label. He is always looking for the next big thing but doesn’t care about the artists’ feelings or well-being.

You can choose which character you want to play and then we can start the game.😊

Oh boy. I’ll be Max. Hey.. Lila, is it? Heard your set. Great stuff, great stuff. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Max, a producer for Honest Studios. We publish such names as Jimmy Zed, the Green Bean, and other famous artists you’ve doubtless heard of. I wonder if you’d be willing to have a conversation about your music.

(Playing as Lila) Oh, hi Max. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked my set. I’ve heard of Honest Studios, they’re very famous. You work for them? That’s amazing. I’m Lila, by the way. Nice to meet you. What do you want to talk about?

Well, I like your potential. I can tell you’re really passionate about your music, but I’m sure I don’t miss my guess that this is just a side hustle for you. Am I right?

(Playing as Lila) Well, yes. I work as a waitress at a diner during the day. It’s not my dream job, but it pays the bills. I sing at night whenever I can get a gig. It’s what I love to do, but it’s hard to make a living out of it.

Well, here’s the thing. I see a lot of me in you, so to speak. You say you to keep that job, but that’s where I come in. What if I tell you that with the right management, the right contacts, the right – well, the right man, Max – we might get you to a place where music wouldn’t just be your passion, it too would pay the bills?

(Playing as Lila) Really? You think so? That sounds too good to be true. How can you do that? What do you mean by the right man? Are you offering me a deal?

Not yet, nothing so grandeous – but with the right grooming – I mean, management – I am definitely finding it very easy to imagine you on top. I can help you manage your stage presence, refine your skills. You know how The Green Bean does his curly-Q signature move? Guess who came up with that? Max, baby!

(Playing as Lila) Wow, you came up with that? That’s impressive. I love The Green Bean, he’s one of my idols. You work with him? That’s amazing. You must be very good at what you do. But what about me? Do you think I have what it takes to be a star?

Maybe, maybe not. How can I be sure without, say, exploring how you perform? This I’m willing to do. We get you some singing lessons, someone to help boost your confidence, make you more – well, a bit more outgoing. Show off not just your music, but the whole package – you know what I’m saying, there aren’t too many superstars out there without terrific bodies. So a personal trainer. It won’t be easy work. But if you apply yourself, do what I say, I’m sure I can open some doors for you.

(Playing as Lila) That sounds like a lot of work. And a lot of money. How can I afford all that? And what do you get out of it? Are you doing this out of the kindness of your heart? Or do you want something from me?

Well, we’ll pay for that training, don’t you worry. It’s part of my job to, eh, manage and encourage new talent, a job I thoroughly enjoy, I assure you. But yes, naturally, if we decide we want to sign you, you sign with us, and we take a cut of the gross. That’s how the publishing business works.

(Playing as Lila) I see. And how big of a cut are we talking about? And what kind of contract would I have to sign? Would I have any creative control over my music? Or would you tell me what to sing and how to sing it?

Whoa whoa, far too early to be talking figures. If you’re looking for guidelines, I take about a 20% cut of what you make, while the publisher usually gives you 20%. So figure I’m maybe making about 4% of the total, you get 16%. And you know what, our artists are singer songwriters, every last one. I might have notes, but think of them as more constructive criticism.

(Playing as Lila) I see. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. But I’m still not sure. This is a big decision for me. I don’t want to rush into anything. Can I think about it for a while? Maybe talk to some other people?

You bet. Here’s my number. I’ll be in town till Thursday evening, then I’ve got to jet. So if you could let me know by Tuesday whether you’re in or out, that would be super.

(Playing as Lila) Okay, thank you. I’ll call you by Tuesday. It was nice meeting you, Max. You’re very generous and persuasive. I hope you’re also honest and trustworthy.

Oh Lila, you’ll find that I’m going to be only too honest with you. (Time passes, what do you do?)

(Playing as Lila) (Time passes, I go home and think about your offer. I’m tempted but also scared. I call my best friend and ask for her advice. She tells me to be careful and do some research on you and your label. I google your name and find some articles and reviews about your work. Some are positive, some are negative. I also find some rumors and scandals about you and some of the artists you’ve worked with. I’m confused and conflicted. I don’t know what to do.)

Let’s move this along. For the sake of argument let’s suppose you take Max up on his offer. You go through the training, and everything seems to be on the up and up. Your singing improves, you stage presence improves, your songs are hip and jivy, and it’s all thanks to Max. Max calls you into his office, saying he’s ready to discuss whether he’s going to recommend you to a formal contract.

(Playing as Lila) Okay, let’s suppose that. I go to Max’s office, feeling nervous and excited. I hope he’s going to recommend me to a formal contract. I’ve worked hard and followed his advice. I think I’m ready to be a star. I knock on his door and enter. He’s sitting at his desk, looking at some papers. He smiles and gestures for me to sit down.

Well if it isn’t Lila! You’re doing real good out there kid. You know, I think you might just have what it takes. You look fantastic by the way, and your singing – wow, beautiful. All we need to do is for me to give my recommendation to the big boss, and we can start the paperwork on a contract to sign you as our next big artist! Sound good?

(Playing as Lila) Really? That sounds amazing! Thank you so much, Max. You’ve been so helpful and supportive. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m so happy and grateful. When can we start the paperwork?

Soon, soon. But about that recommendation – I feel like I’ve really helped you. But if I’m going to give that recommendation, I need to be sure you’re really committed. You know? I mean, because my name is on the line.

(Playing as Lila) Of course I’m committed. I’ve done everything you asked me to do. I’ve followed your instructions, I’ve listened to your feedback, I’ve worked hard and improved myself. I’m ready to sign with your label and make you proud. What more do you need from me?

Well Lila – I’d like you to think real hard about how a woman like you can show your gratitude, deeply, to someone that has helped her as much as I’ve helped you. That’s what I mean by commitment.

(Playing as Lila) Wait a minute. Are you implying what I think you’re implying? Are you asking me to sleep with you? Is that the condition for your recommendation? That’s disgusting and unethical. I’m not going to do that. You can keep your contract. I’m out of here.