Get Informed... It's part of the Secret
David Herlihy of O Positive, Ellis Paul & Ralph Jaccodine on a recent panel
I just completed a weekend speaking at Berklee College of Music's "Business of Music Weekend".
Don Gorder, the chair of the Music Business department, asked me to speak about my take of this business of music through my lens of 20+ years of managing artists.
The participants came from all over the globe, hungry, eager and smart. They all had questions, and after the sessions they needed and wanted more information, and we were always running out of time... but isn't that the case.
A big part of my job as a manager and business owner is staying informed - this is hard because there is so much material to sift through. Every day, 24/7 there is news, stories, blogs and clutter that needs to be sifted through. After years of doing the sifting, I think part of teaching the business to others is to relate how important it is to stay informed.. daily.
What I did promise my students was a follow up with a listing of some of the main sources I rely on for music/entertainment/media news.
I rely on the following daily news feeds, blogs:
Bob Lefsetz Lefsetz.com
Seth Godin SethGodin.com
Jason Hirschhorn's Media ReDEFined Paper.li
Digital Music News DigitalMusicNews.com
SXSW Daily News SxSW.com
In addition, I also rely on these daily newspapers... old school:
NY Times, Wall St Journal & Boston Globe
(Get informed, it is part of the secret....)
5 - No... 6 Mistakes a New Act Should Avoid (by Bob Lefsetz and Ralph Jaccodine)
Newbury Comics CEO Mike Dreese & Ellis Paul
Below are 5 mistakes a new act should avoid when starting out by Bob Lefsetz a (THE) music industry blogger.
It's spot on.
I would add one more point to Bob's list...
#6. 'NOBODY CARES'.
Mike Dreese, the co-founder of Newbury Comics record store chain up here in New England said these 2 words to me when we started Black Wolf Records in 1994.
I came to Mike ranting and raving about Ellis Paul, and how great this guy's music was. He quickly brought me down to earth saying those two words that have haunted me ever since... "Nobody Cares!".
But I do, and did... and 20 years later I have made a career out of spreading Ellis' music, and the music of other people I care about to music fans who don't care.
We have enough music in the world, we don't need any more songs, any more musicians... there are millions of songs and musicians that will never be heard because they can't find ears interested in taking them in.
So Mike's challenge to me back in '94 was 'How do I make people care about the music I care about?'.
I have worked at this question every day... for over 20 years as a manager.
Personal management has to be a holy crusade... or nothing at all. You have to have confidence that people will care.
Spreading my artist's music is how I feed my family, but just as important... it is how I feed my soul.
Now on to Bob Lefsetz:
Q. What are the five mistakes a new act should avoid when starting out?
- Believing that publicity/marketing is more important than music.
- Believing a record deal will solve all their problems and ensure success.
- Believing that because their parents and friends like them, everybody else will.
- Believing success usually happens overnight.
- Believing anything that happened in the past still applies. MTV no longer plays music, the younger demo doesn’t care much about radio, albums are a historical format with little relevance in today’s marketplace, everything’s up for grabs, and you can have it your way. If you’re good, people will find you. If you get success quick, it probably won’t last.
You can check out the full Lefsetz Letter here.
Unplugged & Uncensored: An Insider's Guide to the Music Industry
When I started out in this business of music, I had limited, hands-on experience... but a ton of enthusiasm.
I always knew that the power and inspiration music sent through my veins was an important part of what I wanted as part of carving out a career. It just so happened that this 'career' had to be cobbled together with lots o' time, patience and then only after getting a bunch of mistakes under my belt.
After a college fantasy job of promoting concerts at Notre Dame, and a double fantasy come true hanging with a Bruce Springsteen's tour in London, I got a 'real job' in Boston. Whenever I could, I would leave the day gig I had to get on the road to 'follow my bliss'.... as it was called back then.
I learned about the music business from going to music conferences and seminars all over the country. I would fly to a strange city, rent a hotel room, find my way to the conference and parties, hopefully with an open bar somewhere in the mix. I would soak everything in, ask stupid questions and network like hell with no one who cared about me and my dreams... and I loved it!
It was great... but wasn't cheap... even with the free booze.
I found that this was a very expensive way to learn.
Ultimately, the reality was that I was in huge conference rooms with hundreds of others just like me, wanting to be in the music game. My alone time with the 'experts' was limited and the competition to get attention from the panelists/players was practically impossible.
I learned that anyone who can help get someone a gig, a job or some short cut on getting planted in the music industry got all the attention. I had nothing to offer, nothing to trade, or give away, so it was tough starting out.
Jump ahead 20 years, I've been running my own artist management-record label business. I still go to conferences and panels, I'm still learning, reading, and working hard to be the best at the game that I can be.
Recently here in my hometown, the Boston Center of Adult Education (BCAE) gave me the opportunity to create a one day music seminar we are calling: "Unplugged and Uncensored: An insiders guide to the music industry".
I'm thrilled how it came together!
We'll have a panel of experts. Actually it is my dream panel of artists and entrepreneurs who know what DIY is all about. Our attitudes are fiercely indie, we are all in the trenches doing things our own way... and surviving in what is the most turbulent time in the music industry.
The BCAE folks gave me the license to create what I think is the best value for anyone interested in music/creative businesses either on the stage or behind the scenes. Managers, agents, bookers, promoters, musicians, songwriters, fans and those who want to find out what the heck is going on in our creative world would benefit from this.
After spending thousands of dollars attending seminars and 20+ years of being in the trenches of the music business I came up with this seminar. I'm extremely excited about this opportunity. It will benefit anyone in the creative fields, not strictly limited to the music world.
I wanted the seminar to be intimate, so we are limiting this to 100 participants. We have built in time for dialogue, questions and networking. We will learn from each other.
I wanted artists and industry speakers with a national profile with lots of experience to pass on. There will be lots of lessons, warnings, war stories and success stories of how we all are thriving in our own way in a completely different music industry from what was around when I was starting out.
Hope you can check it out.... let me know if you have questions.