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Thread: "THE MUSIC BUSSINESS" or "WHO ARE YOU?"

  1. #1
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    "THE MUSIC BUSSINESS" or "WHO ARE YOU?"

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    Since this is a songwriting forum, there is another aspect of it that might be note-worthy, and that is the bussiness of the music industry. Ever wrote a good song and tried to get it heard by the right people. The bussiness has evolved into a world of connections. It wasn't always so. It used to be, do you have the right stuff.

    Another music friend and I went to Nashville. He was getting ready to go in the studio and was going by to talk with his manager. While we were there we were discussing how hard it was to get your foot in the door these days. The manager told me a very intresting story.

    He said years ago he was just a booking agent. One morning when he arrived at his office, a tall young lady walked into his office with a big smile and was holding a guitar by the neck and asked if he would listen to her song. He told her that he was only a booking agent and that she needed to go down the street and talk to the record producers. She said she would but still wanted him to hear her song. So he listened to her song while he drank his morning coffee. He said it was a beautiful song and that she played very well. She thanked him and went down the street to the record labels.

    The next morning she was back again at his office about the same time wanting him to listen to her song again. He said I'll listen but I can't help you. She said I know but I still want you to hear it. So he did, every morning for four days. After that he never saw her again.

    About two months later while he was driving to work he was listening to the radio and heard a very familiar song. It was the same woman and song that he listened to in his office. The song was "Ode To Billy Joe", and the woman was "Bobby Gentry".

    The manager said if he had only known, he would have become a producer on the spot. Because that song became syndicated around the world and also became a movie.

    But now you can't just walk in and play a song for someone. You must have the right connection to get your foot in the door and your demo better be studio quality or they don't have time for it or you. I do know why its like this. Because everybody and his brother who calls themselves a songwriter would flood the record labels with tapes, CD's, and telephone calls. But how many truly good songs have been ignored because the songwriter couldn't afford studio time or recording equipment. So the song gets shoved back into the scrap book like so many times before, unheard.

    <><
    George
    Psalms 150
    <><

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    Nice story; and I agree with most of what your saying, though I think you may be being a little naive as to saying that it wasn't a business yester year. Music has always been a business and it's always been down to luck as much (or even more) than the material. These days the music is far more obviously a business due to the materialistic fashion it's taken on. WQhat I mean by that is all that goes with a song; the video (sometimes these days more important than the song), the image (i.e talentless people fronting the music (whoops...did I say music)), merchandise.

    What I'm saying is that it's always been a business. Now that is more apparant but you should not think that it was not that way before. It's always more or less been who you know rather than what you know.

    Luck though is the important factor. To an extent you can make your own luck but.......

    There are (no question in my mind) many great songs that slipped away or were never heard (remember some people do not want the stardom).

    Jimi Hendrix was ignored to the most part in America because he was different. Luck brought him to England........Just an example to stir a few responses.

    They should deffinatley have a seperate forum here for the suits......the business forum (I don't think it would do to well).

    I for one would not look for fame, fortune and a record deal. I am doing very well myself with my own set-up; if it happens it happens, but it'll be for the right reasons.

    There should be another post........whos been screwed by the business...again don't be naive.

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    George,

    I like the story, and you're right, something like that just wouldn't happen anymore, you do need the right connections with the right people.


    I think there's another side to this issue though:

    You mention the fact that good music is going unheard because record producers don't have time to listen to everything because they recieve so much.
    Therefore I'm imagining that back then they had much less to listen to. This could be either because there were less people actually writing music, or more likely, there were less people trying to promote their music to producers etc.

    A reason why people might have been less likely to promote their music is because of lack of knowledge or know-how to do so. Nowadays this is something that your average musician has been able to gain from information sources such as the Internet.

    So, I guess what I'm trying to say is I think there always has been and always will (for the time being anyway) be good songs going unheard.
    I guess it's the same for all the arts: good not getting noticed.

    It's just that back then the musicians going unheard probably weren't sending producers their music at all because stuff about the music industry wasn't common information.
    Now however, with easier access to this type of information, every man and their dog has been able to send around their demo tape.
    This has led to a point where material outweighs the listening ear.

    So I think now and even then there were pros and cons of the music industry:
    Then, the producers were getting far less material, but it meant that they were able to listen to everything they received.
    Now, they are getting far more material, but this consequentially means that they're unable to listen it all.

    In both cases there is good material not getting heard, just that in the first scenario it never even left the bedroom.


    Just a thought:
    The woman with the guitar back then, knowing which people to go and see, asking around and being in the right place at the right time seems just the same as the person today, the one with the 'right connection'.
    In both cases these people have become successful because they have had a 'one-up' on the majority at the time.

    So, overall, I don't think the music industry has really changed as much as it may first appear.


    Just an alternate perspective, don't flame me

    -Matt

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    Krystof,

    You hadn't replied when when I started writing, so sorry if I've gone over any of the same things.

    -Matt

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    krystof01 and matt's bedroom,

    Sly yes, naive never. I must be honest. I post questions in a way thats sure to evoke a response to get the topic flowing. For instance, if I would have started it out by saying, "What do you guys think about the music business?" It would have started out with a lot of views and a few tastless replys like, "it sucks" or "same-o-same-o".

    Having said that.....

    I never said it wasn't a business. I was trying to say it was more of an approachable business then as compared to now. For instance do you think if Bobby Gentry wrote her song today that she could just walk in to a record exec's office and say listen to this?

    Come to think of it the same man that told me her story also told me that he makes it a point to keep in touch with these guys by dropping by occasionally to drink coffee. He said while he sits accross the desk from them they are putting tapes and CD's of new songs into their player. They listen to the intro, take it out and throw it into a box on the floor. He said the first time he saw this he asked what was going on. He was told that he didn't have all day to audition songs. So if the quality of the intro didn't sound studio quality he threw it into the trash box. He said if they don't think enough of their song to have it done in a studio then I don't have time to listen to it. Now keep in mind I'm giving you second hand information from a man who has been in the music business 40+ years.

    While one thing is very obvious. That is the number of stars in the music business. For instance in the country music field. I couldn't keep up with all the new faces coming out. And the availability of digital recording equipment for the home studio is making it easier for anybody to cut a demo.

    Krystof01 I to don't seek after record deal. I am in a Christian group that does all our own recording and promoting. It is doing well enough to totally fianance every CD project we've done before we ever started recording the next one. We're presently in our third project.

    So why did I post the question? Because there are some that do want to make it in the music industry. And it does have a role in our culture of music if one desires that avenue.

    [quote from krystof01]
    "I for one would not look for fame, fortune and a record deal. I am doing very well myself with my own set-up; if it happens it happens, but it'll be for the right reasons."

    Krystof01 I'm curious as to what your "set-up" is and what a "the right reasons" are, seriously. If I'm not imposing too much. If its a privite thing, I'll understand.

    <><
    George
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    <><

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    I've no problem with you asking; just don't expect an answer.

    Only joking.

    Well put simply my own set-up would constitute the environment I work and live in and the right reasons shows my arrogance and descisiveness (though not my spelling ability). Put another way; I don't seek that higher place (whatever and where ever that may be). I am now officially a full time musician (i.e. fucked the job and all the rest to concentrate on it). Given that; why am I reluctant to want to go for it (whatever that is). I am a musician (whatever that is), I love music but I wont' sell out (dont start on what that means). What I'm saying is that I have the capability to promote myself (and band) and if I do end up on that other level (here we go again) it will be on my terms. With music in it's current materialistic state there are many that settle for less or give up. For me it's not all or nothing, it's about doing what you believe you want/should be doing and ignoring the rest.

    It's by no means a conclusive response/answer but it's the best I can give. I cold write pages and still you would be left wondering what I'm on about.

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    krystof01,

    Believe it or not your answer does make sence.

    I am a songwriter/singer/musician, tweenty four seven, even though I haven't shucked my job yet. But then I only work a total of six months out of the year. I work fourteen days and then I'm off for fouteen days. So I can't complain too much. The guys I play with hope I get fired because they hate having to play without a keyboard. But they do, reluctantly. They are my brothers.

    May your gift make room for you at the table of happiness.

    <><
    George
    Psalms 150
    <><

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    Why, thank you.

    You to,

    Krystof.

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    Re: "THE MUSIC BUSSINESS" or "WHO ARE YOU?"

    Originally posted by George Parler
    Since this is a songwriting forum, there is another aspect of it that might be note-worthy, and that is the bussiness of the music industry.
    There is always the "Marketing Your Music / Publicity" forum.

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    George, Matts bedroom is right, Bobby Gentry found the right connection.
    This has been going on for hundreds of years: there are plenty of great classical composers that no one has heard of. Haydn worked for a Prince, because of connections. The Mozart family was well connected. Bach's children were very successful and very mediocre, Nepotism at it's finest.

    I have been fortunate enough to get some pretty killer gigs in my 22 years as a pro. Certainly my playing is up to snuff and I am very established, but connections played a big part. Likewise, I have seen hundreds of players who arent good get good gigs, all because of connections. It has always been that way, always will be.

    When conductors get hired for orhestras, the musicians have absolutely no say in the matter, it is fat old board ladies with no knowledge who choose, and as a result, most conductors (except the big boys) are more skilled at schmoozing than music.

    Certainly the methods have changed, you are right that live auditions are rare, but it is still the same principle. Lots of great songs have never been heard because the writer didnt know how to get it heard. But it is not a new thing, just a different thing. With the internet, computer recording, midi, synths, and programs like fruity-loops, everybody and their brother can make music and does, which is why record companies dont accept unsolicited material.

    As far as Bobby Gentry, she got turned down? Umm, not exactly a genius, but Steven King was turned down a lot, Everybody hated Beethovens 5 Symphony, REM spent years in a van, etc. The key to getting in the door is
    1: Luck ( Spice Girls)
    2: Being Discovered in Concert ( Springsteen, Mellencamp
    3: Getting the demo to the right person

    It has always been that way.

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