Although Curt [“Confessions of a Music Guy,” Letters, June 22] has made some valid points, I still fail to see the problem with running a “business.” Even though people seem to think that music is the wonderful thing that inspires their lives and makes all of these great memories for them. Let us look inside the business behind all of the people that are behind the music. Even though I am not an expert, and I do not claim to be, I have worked for WBR, a major rock station, toured with bands, and played music for the last 13 years.
He specifically cites that label reps persuade the program directors of radio stations to play the latest hot track. Is this any different than another large corporation trying to get out there and “schmooze” to sell a new product, or a lobbyist trying to convince a politician to pass a particular bill or law that suits the company’s needs? I think there are a lot of similarities in music companies and other large corporations that have to answer to stockholders and have to somehow raise money to pay their employees.
I, also a former music promotion person, have seen steak dinners and hockey games with music directors and promotion people from major record labels. I have also seen a lot of concerts where the best seats in the house go to the radio staff. Is this necessarily a bad thing? First of all, the people that work in the music business do love music, otherwise why would they get into it? I am sure if you asked the disc jockeys at any major radio station if they are in it for the money, I can almost guarantee you that the answer would be a nervous laugh. The fringe benefits of being in the radio business are the concerts and all of the music you get to sample and share.
All of the letter from Curt sounds like a disgruntled employee. Maybe he was not able to separate the business and the music. I will say, sometimes you have to promote something you do not personally like. Then you have to identify the artist with a potential listener that would enjoy it and market it to them. To make statements that you have to market “Product X” to people that don’t care about it, that is really not thinking it through. Just because I can’t stand hearing Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t like to hear it instead of the Postal Service.
So let us look at the other side of the music business. The employees, not the promotions guy that tries to push Product X onto the music director over a steak dinner, rather the artist that has spent the majority of his life learning a trade and working hard to promote themselves and make it into a career. What about these people? Shinedown toured for almost three years straight! Living on a bus to try and make themselves known throughout the United States, sacrificing their own lives, family, and friends to make a name for themselves. Shinedown did a USO tour and as they got off the plane in the USA on the return flight they had to go straight to another concert in the U.S. They barely slept on the flight, and were tired after several dates in the Middle East for our troops. Yet someone trying to tell a music director that “Heroes” is a great new song and should be in the air is a crime. Is this any different than a mason learning how to build a foundation of a building or a landscaper mastering his craft? I do not think many musicians get the credit for all of the things they do to get noticed and get to the point where a promotion guy is trying to talk to people into listening to it.
After trying to promote my own music for over ten years, and only finding out that I had not even crested on the remote rim of being looked at by a major label, the chance of being noticed is slim to none. The artists that actually do make it seem like a good investment for the company to turn a profit. That doesn’t mean that is all they care about, but we all have to feed our families.
So Curt, I wish you the best in your search for a new line of work. May I suggest something in the field of social work, nonprofit, or charity?