30 Years After – Part 6: The Booking Playbook

Being the head of a small, somewhat unorthodox booking agency was my life from 1995 to 2000. Many things transpired over that period that would make a big difference as my career continued to unfold.

It’s pretty hard to believe as of this writing when musicians are literally begging to find booking agents — 20 years ago, many people owned small booking agencies, and the number of performing/recording artists was easily ten times less than we experience today.

Performing arts centers were popping up everywhere in the Pacific Northwest.  The northwest is mostly rural and musicians with even minimal name recognition could bring audiences to venues who were taking advantage of regional talent. It seemed a perfect and level playing field where everyone was working to build community from one small town to the next.

After a time, the venues discovered if they could attract much bigger names to their small town, they would sell out performances. Venues were taking a risk paying considerably higher fees potentially netting handsome profits.

It didn’t take long and bigger names were filling halls all over the region. Top-name regional artists were left with fewer dates when it was their influence that helped build the arts scene in every regional little hamlet, town, and city.

Booking agents began disappearing in the late 1990s because their artists weren’t a big enough draw to keep venues interested.

My little agency wasn’t doing badly, but it could have been better. I knew that the venues weren’t promoting artists as well as they could. And they didn’t really have to when they had big names on their season series.

From the start I had looked for a PR agent in the Seattle area to work with. There were tons of publicists but they were all working for Microsoft, Amazon, and companies with a technical slant. I had media contacts from my stint in the rock scene,  but my clients weren’t of interest to pop and rock journalists.

Doing what I could, being booking agent and publicist was pushing the envelope pretty hard. The media contacts who would work with me couldn’t possibly write about every  performance we had locally or regionally.

Even still, it was obvious PR held more potential than booking. Though they’re pretty similar, the big difference was music journalists had years of experience, while venues were run by  people who knew very little about music.

Part of what colored my opinion about booking was I’d joined forces with the small town where I lived helping to establish their first-ever outdoor concert series in a beautiful park.  The city employee I worked with decided to quit her job midway into the process, so the whole thing was handed over to me to administer under the tutelage of the city administrator who was convinced a summer series of six shows should cost $500.

At the time I had adequate funds to cover the balance for what the city budgeted. Under that agreement, I held the city’s feet to the fire and told them if they wanted to start an annual series they had to book quality artists and pay them accordingly, which they agreed to.

Gathering a bunch of civic-minded people, we all met to select our first series from a small group of submissions.  In that group of artists were some really great shows and the first contract issued went to Japanese taiko drummers.

There was a flurry of preparations, checks and balances with the city. The park was situated right beside a train rail which was going to be a problem. Amtrak and Burlington Northern had several runs daily, but I didn’t know when or exactly how many.  So I called Burlington Northern thinking I could somehow find a solution.

“All I want to know is what the train schedule is so we can plan  an outdoor concert series around it, ” I explained. “Ma’am we’re Burlington Northern and we come through that town several times a day.”

“All I need is a general schedule to avoid the train whistles disrupting performances.”

“Ma’am, 60 trains a day come through your area. We cannot say with any accuracy when train whistles will blow at that crossing.”

Sixty a day? We’d just have to deal with it.

Another obvious obstacle in Washington state — the weather is highly unpredictable.  An old joke truthfully reflects summer starts on July 5 in the northwest. Six concerts were planned for every Friday night after July 5. Posters were designed and distributed for storefronts, press releases went out on a regular basis to communities within a 50-mile radius, and local businesses were contacted to participate. It was a virtual firestorm of PR, launching a new series with a diverse lineup of family entertainment. Much harder to achieve than an arena show.

Though centuries old, taiko emerged after the second World War. Taiko has mythological origins in Japanese folklore whose purpose was  ceremonial in religious rituals or events calling the community together. It’s important to note after World War II, a Japanese internment camp  existed just 10 minutes away from where the concert was being held.

The taiko drummers would be an excellent opener. A 12-member ensemble with traditional hand-crafted instruments intolerant of rain. As a precaution a large tent was erected, and just a few hours before the concert began, a torrential downpour jeopardized the beginning of an annual series that continues to this day.

The drummers were at my house trying to decide if they should play or not. They’d travelled quite a distance and if they didn’t play they wouldn’t get paid according to the contract. I was certain no one would come to an outdoor show in sloppy weather, and secretly hoped we might cancel with an agreement to reschedule. But no. They decided the show would go on.

As the taiko performance began, a crowd silently gathered around the fringe of the park under a mass of umbrellas. With rain pounding all around me I was amazed to see dozens of Japanese Americans respectfully stand, listening to instruments native to their heritage calling the community together.

Honestly, it was something like a religious experience. And thankfully, not one train whistle blew disrupting the moment.

 

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30 Years After – Part 5: Music Older Than Dirt

Within a window of about 11 years, I’d worked with and alongside some of pop culture’s biggest names, then some even bigger names over on the concert circuit at the height of arena shows. I’d accidentally run into a few grungy kids who were about to become household names, then settled into a nice comfy spot promoting old music.

Old as dirt.

The dead guys’ stuff from way back before the earth cooled.

Yep, I was high rollin’ in the music dough. The high brow stuff with blue blood and bow ties, at high tea during silent auctions learning all I could about the guys that got this gig rolling in the first place with names like Ludwig, Wolfgang, Johannes, Franz, and Camille.

Still teaching piano lessons and working the Community Concert circuit, finding my way into a world everyone knows a little bit about but doesn’t give a damn. The opera, the symphony — the recital hall trenches.

Very nice folk.

Proper and icy.

It’s the academic side of music that’s only interesting in academia. The professors, their prodigies, and corporate types who needed an easy slot for their tax write offs. It’s the kind of environment where everything must be perfect. The notes were written down hundreds of years ago — and every string player, horn and reed section player from here to eternity — each with an ego as big as Rhode Island — has memorized them all at some time or another. And don’t forget the guy with right arm disease — the conductor. The guy who rolls out austere criticism much like Steve Jobs unveiled a new Mac.

It’s a very bitchy world, indeed.

It snaps, cackles, and pops with every step toward the front of the room.

No one, but no one, believes they can be replaced in that world. But the truth is, people have been replaced repeatedly over centuries, every time a  flautist, French horn player or the like dies.

One of my longest acquaintances in this field had a humorous view of it all, remarking, “You have to wonder about people who’ve done absolutely nothing with their lives except play one instrument. It really makes you wonder about their self-esteem.”

Now that you have a good idea of the profile within this community of stiff, starched, and tightly strung — now consider accepting the most thankless job in the world in this environment. Being the booking agent for a concert pianist, trumpet player, and a clarinet soloist. These are people who hold their art in the highest regard while the rest of the world is digging Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, 10,000 Maniacs, Garth Brooks, and Shania Twain.

Young and eager with time on my hands I got a call one day from a woman I had a very loose association with one state away who said, “I can’t do this any more. If you don’t take it over, I don’t know who will help these people.”

Mind you we’re still talking the last part of the twentieth-century at this point. I had a few contacts I could engage in this new enterprise, continue to teach piano lessons, and raise two high-spirited intelligent little girls. I can’t was not in my vocabulary, and getting 15% of a recital hall fee 18 to 24 months after the actual contract was issued seemed very civilized.

Motivated by nothing but fear, I increased the business of this tiny booking agency by 400% in the first year.  Then I expanded the roster to include different styles of music — some was even older than the classical stuff.  Celtic music was on the rise and Great Scot the Irish rock!

With every new artist added to the roster, I introduced them to my graphic designer, wrote new copy, had new photos taken, and got their story rolling in the right direction. The idea of branding was the new buzz word and building the myth behind a brand was the talk of the music world.

Networking, email, desktop publishing, booking conferences, newsletters, monthly mailings, world music — these were all the rage fueling the music machine just a few years before Napster took hold, and Michael Jackson claimed his music was healing.

Well, if this part of the story didn’t put you to sleep, save a few minutes for the next entry — things do pick up a bit!

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30 Years After – Part 4: Welcome to Pleasantville

Up to this point in my short career, I’d worked with some of the most iconic figures in contemporary culture and found my way through some of the roughest parts of the business. It’s important to understand that even though many people envy the idea of working in music there is very little that’s nice about it. It’s a backstabbing, disappointing world fraught with more ego and greed than you’d equate with the idea of music.

Once in a while you come across something nice– even civilized — maybe too civilized to be appreciated by masses of people who swear they love all kinds of music.

By the early 1990s I was married and had two beautiful little girls. Julia and Reanne kept me quite busy in their little girl world having tea parties, playing dress up, reading, writing, drawing, singing, watching Sesame Street — and yes, I’m afraid we watched Barney too.

To add to the bottom line of household income, I taught piano lessons and volunteered for a subscription-based concert series called Community Concerts, keeping all those skills I’d acquired fresh, applying them to the local arts scene.

Community Concerts was developed during The Great Depression allowing performing artists a way to keep working on a circuit of shows bringing live music and performance to small communities for very little money.  The tradition of the performing arts series was kept alive nearly 100 years, and many very talented people traveled through small towns like the Seattle bedroom community where I lived.

John Raitt — Bonnie Raitt’s father — a brilliant musical stage actor was among the most memorable concerts we presented. I remember him very well as an articulate, handsome, humorous man. When I went to the media with the idea of doing a feature it was ignored. I called the arts and entertainment editor of the Tacoma News Tribune explaining John Raitt was a Broadway legend, and for crying out loud “this is Bonnie Raitt’s dad – who, by the way, was soon being inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame. He made his Broadway debut playing Billy Bigelow in the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece Carousel,  and was in all the major musicals, and was one of the original cast members in Oklahoma.

Talking into the phone, I may as well have been talking to myself.  Dead air on the other end. When I’d finished my pitch, the editor, who I later learned was really a sports editor put on the A & E desk, said to me, “If you were pitching Bonnie Raitt, we’d do a feature. We’re not interested in her father.”

Lesson learned. The only way to get the kind of feature I was looking for was to have a name everyone would recognize, not somebody only your grandparents might remember from back in the day. At least that was the media’s position. They did not understand Community Concerts was based on the idea entertainment could be about family. It could be about grandparents taking their kids and grandkids to see someone they grew up thinking was a rock star, or a heart throb.

Not many people came to see John Raitt, and it’s a shame. He was incredible onstage. Bigger than life, his voice could melt butter. The man was a contemporary of Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, Richard Burton, and Roddy McDowell — he was that kind of legendary. I was very sorry to hear he’d passed away in 2005, but very thankful I got to meet him and share a little time.

The media did sit up and listen a little bit to a community outreach concert we presented featuring The Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. It was a very stiff, corporate ordeal to get the symphony down to our little town even though it was part of the orchestra’s mission to travel short distances to “less privileged” communities than Seattle — thank you very much.

Everything was controlled by the symphony office. All my press releases had to be approved before sending, and [sniff] “the word orchestra does not appear in our name. The word symphony should suffice.” The woman might as well have said, “the heathens in your community should at least know that much.”

Lesson learned. Quality organizations demand quality at all levels. Value in music begets value, and a memorable experience. Nonetheless, it was the first and only sold out performance in our 842-seat performing arts center.

Julia, my oldest daughter, was 5 years old at the time and sat in the front row mesmerized during the entire performance of Beethoven’s Fifth. When I took her backstage to meet Maestro Schwarz, whom I’d met at his home a few years earlier, Julia was a vision of absolute perfection, and Maestro was very kind taking her hand in both of his, and thanked her very kindly for coming.

Through this era of my career, raising children and working around their schedule rather than someone else’s, it went perfectly with the timeless traditions of music from Broadway and the symphony. And though I didn’t know it at the time, it was opening the door to something just a little bit bigger.

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30 Years After – Part 3: A Little Grungy

So all was well. Even though my short little romp into rock ‘n roll hadn’t ended all that well, I was happy to be off that roller coaster. It gave me a little time to figure out what should happen next.

But I didn’t have a clue. My phone kept ringing, so that was a good sign. One of the groupie types that hung around my previous job had started working for a small – really small company who was presenting shows at clubs. They called me often to find the answers to any number of questions, so one day I just said why don’t you hire me as a consultant.

The owners who were more than a little rough around the edges said okay, so I’d go to this funky little office every day for not much money to help them with some of the stuff they needed help with.

There isn’t much memorable about this as it was such a rough and tumble outfit. They had no experience in the music biz, and worse, they didn’t  have the money to sustain their inexperience.

Let me say that again. They didn’t have the money to sustain their inexperience. Music is an expensive business to be in. You must have money to keep the boat afloat. And this little company was a bird’s eye view into what the future would bring with the indie movement. People with good intentions who wanted to work in music but no experience to back it up.

If they’d played their cards right, those folks would be legends right now, but they had no idea what they were looking at, and not enough capital to see them down the road.

All kinds of musicians would filter in and out of that office on a regular basis. Mostly members of no name bands, and their entourage of lots of girls in heavy makeup. Many of them were under 21 and couldn’t play in the clubs under the state laws, so they were looking for solutions.

They happened to be members of groups associated with or would later form the grunge movement including Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Too bad I didn’t know who I was talking to at the time, but I didn’t.  They were looking for someone — anyone to take a chance on them, and it wasn’t my place to say one way or another what we could do for them.

It wasn’t too long into this little company’s future they ran out of money, stiffed me for a month’s pay, but illuminated yet another dark side of the music biz and what would come next.

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30 Years After: Part Two – Rock and Roll Is Risky Business

After a stint working with composer and television writer, Mason Williams in Oregon, I packed my Toyota truck with clothes, a filing cabinet, an electric typewriter and moved to Seattle to work for the largest concert promoter in the Pacific Northwest.  Finding this job was a fluke. By chance, one of the key administrative assistants was leaving her job after 10 years but I had to wait a few months until she  actually left. So I couch surfed with friends and took a crappy job at an insurance company until I could interview for the position.

This company, now long defunct, promoted rock and roll mostly in Seattle, but all over the western states in 63 venues to be exact. Large rock shows, even small ones,  were a far cry from what I’d done in my previous job, and it didn’t take long until I hated it.

Everyone in that company tiptoed. There were 12 employees and three partners.  Formerly arch enemies, the partners somehow  decided instead of fighting each other for Seattle’s share of dollars, they were better off working together. There was enough tension in that place every day to explode the three story building at any given moment.

Why? It was all about money. These guys weren’t educated bean counters. They were back street fighters with money. They weren’t there for the art of music. No, no. They were there for every thin dime they could extract from arena shows well before 360 Deals came into existence. These were the days when TicketMaster was making back room deals with promoters before they had a legal monopoly.

Long, long hours were put in for a small paycheck. Everyone was expected at their desk by 9:30 each morning no matter how late they’d worked the night before. Often I was downtown Seattle by myself at  1:00 or 2:00 in the morning after bands had cleared enormous amounts of gear onto tour buses heading out of town.

Part of my job was negotiating deals with vendors for happy hour situations for about 100 ticket buyers. I’d be given a blank check under a different company name to pay vendors who provided food and beverages to folks who’d pay quite a bit extra to slide in for drinks and a bite to eat and get front row seats for A List artists. A Listers’ management were not aware my boss was skimming money from the Golden Circle.

One day the company accountant was handing me a blank check and said, “You’d think they’d just give you the checkbook and let you handle all of this since you’ve made this company over $15,000 in just a few months.” I just looked at her and said is that gross or net profit? Without blinking an eye, she said, “it’s all profit, and you haven’t been offered a raise.”

But I digress.

Robert Palmer, Cheap Trick, Boston, The Bangles, Bruce Hornsby and The Range, Ozzy Osbourne, and the list goes on. These are the artists I promoted when I wasn’t hustling dollars to line the owners’ pockets. Make that unwittingly hustling to line the owner’s pockets.

People all over the country are familiar with The Gorge, lauded as the most popular outdoor venue in North America,  a venue my boss was responsible for creating along the Columbia River Gorge. When I worked these shows, the adjoining winery was allowed to sell concert goers full bottles of wine — two per person if I remember right — to take along with their “yuppie style” picnic baskets attending concerts in the middle of nowhere near the small town of George, Washington.

Trust me. Nothing so civilized as a yuppie with a picnic basket appeared at these events. This was a perception created to appease the county sheriff’s department who was vigilant about concert goers drinking and driving along rural roads.

It was so remote, my boss flew a skeleton crew of us from Seattle down to Oregon, then back up to The Gorge so we could oversee back-to-back arena shows a couple times a month throughout the summer. Carrying large amounts of cash from ticket sales, this was all risky business.

Among the shows we promoted in the third season at The Gorge were Amy Grant, Rod Stewart, Reba McEntire, John Hiatt, Robert Cray, and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s last Northwest appearance. The media was all over these shows. I rarely had to call anyone except the artist’s “people.”

One time a friend saw my address book with Rod Stewart’s publicist’s name and number. With disbelief, she said, “Is that like Rod Stewart Rod Stewart?” I just laughed, shaking my head.

The most afraid I’ve ever been happened at The Gorge during the John Hiatt, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan show.

We’d flown in from Oregon with little sleep, and set up the ticket office in a flimsy booth on a knoll at the amphitheater’s rim. It was hot. People were shirtless, barefoot, and plastered. Scalpers stood in front of the ticket office making deals while we sat on somewhere between ten and fifteen thousand dollars cash.

At one point two guys started fighting with broken wine bottles ready to stab each other. Several fights broke out sans the bottles during the day, then while on my way to the little girl’s honeybucket a couple was openly having sex in front of God and everyone. And at any moment someone could easily have pushed that ticket booth right over the edge of the knoll to get a great deal of money.

But this was tame compared to what happened next.

John Hiatt opened the show before thousands of people — something like 15,000. Robert Cray cranked up the heat with tunes like “Right Next Door” and “Smoking Gun.”

I was standing backstage next to Robert Cray after his set, when the crowd rushed the stage trampling dozens of people just as Stevie Ray took the stage. The whole place exploded.

Mostly what I remember is mass chaos and all I wanted to do was leave. A friend had come to meet me, so we just got in the car and left to avoid massive congestion, but it still took 5 hours to get home.

Not long after that, my boss called me into his office one day and casually explained one of his buddies got into some trouble with a girlfriend. Apparently some drinking was involved and the girlfriend drove her car right through their living room. The police were called, and there was this report, which he handed to me.

“I want you to cut and paste this report. Just take out this sentence, make a copy and bring it back to me so [his millionaire friend] can give it to his insurance company.” Looking at the report, then back at my boss, all I remember saying is, “You want me to fix a police report. This guy doesn’t even work for you. Why do I need to do this?”

“Because I’m telling you to.”

I took the police report and sat in my office for about 5 minutes.

Ten minutes later I’d cleared out my desk, and told the receptionist I had an appointment and I never went back.

Yep. It’s only rock and roll. But it’s dirty business, and I don’t like it.

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30 Years After: Part One – Baptism By Fire

It’s the first full week back to work after the holiday season and the New Year. Twenty Fourteen marks my 30th year being gainfully employed promoting music. Obviously now’s the time for a little reflection about what I’ve learned and what I may never fully understand.

First, I didn’t plan on working in music. Never even thought about it. It just sort of happened. Like most people in their 20s I’d gone to college, but it didn’t offer a satisfactory answer to what I should do with my life. After floundering a while, I was living in my rural Oregon hometown, the same place where composer Mason Williams had grown up and was currently living. He needed an assistant and I needed a job.

By the time I started working  with him, Williams had gone through several phases of his career, having written what would later be documented the most-broadcast instrumental tune in history.

“Classical Gas” is known around the world by just about everyone at least 40 years of age. I remember seeing Mason play ‘Gas’ on The Ed Sullivan Show, and I grew up watching The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour where ‘Gas’ debuted. Some of my generation know, too, Mason was the head writer on that show in the late 60s. CBS fired The Smothers Brothers for their controversial, and shall we say, smart ass defiance toward the cultural norm. They were pioneers in their comedy as variety TV hosts, a format that isn’t even close to being controversial by today’s standards.

Working with Mason put me in a group of people who’d been baptized by fire in a much more formal era, yet they were all accomplished, mostly iconic figures in contemporary culture. Among them, Ken Kesey, John Hartford, Tom and Dick Smothers, Pat Paulson, Hal Blaine, Jennifer Warnes, Ed Begley, Jr., Father Guido Sarducci, Byron Berline, Vassar Clements, Chip Davis,  and a long list of cultural creatives — many I’m sure I’ve forgotten about.

These folks were hard core pros. They’d been put through some ordeals in their careers and come out the other side a little worse for wear, but brilliant by a standard that is a very rare commodity today.

My first project was working on the most obscure vinyl indie release you can imagine. It was a concept album about water and rivers on Mason’s indie label, Skookum Records. My first assignment: getting a review from Billboard.

That seemed so easy, my next assignment was to get the album in the hands of another ecological activist and industry insider, Robert Redford.

That took a little while longer.

I’m still not quite sure how it all happened, but one cut from “Of Time & Rivers Flowing” ended up as the opening preview to Redford’s video release of the movie, A River Runs Through It.

In this baptism by fire — typing press releases on an electric typewriter, one at a time from a kitchen table — I set up an entire distribution system and mail order division for the indie label. Various small labels would act as distributors for indies, and I worked with Sugar Hill and Rounder, to name a few, to get this indie release in major chains like Tower Records. Miraculously, I was able to connect with a company who put this album on a network of over 300 radio stations for airplay.

Mason toured with a large band – usually no less than five members – in support of not only this album, but he also appeared with symphony orchestras around the country playing what he called Symphonic Bluegrass, as well as shows that featured some of his classic pieces like “Sunflower,” “Vancouver Island,” “Chanson de Claudine,” “Jose’s Piece,” (written for Jose Feliciano), and a theme written for SCTV, “Doot Doot.”

A truly gifted comedic writer, Mason was periodically hired to write for television during this time. I was fortunate to be included in projects he wrote for NBC and HBO.

The biggest controversy in music at that time was the format was changing over from vinyl and cassettes to the compact disc. Not only did the CD change the way people listened to music,  the technology changed from analog to digital recording, and it was a very, very big deal.

BIG!

During this time Chip Davis at American Gramaphone Records (Mannheim Steamroller) gave Mason a contract to record several of Williams’ classic tunes including “Classical Gas” digitally. One cut off the album, “Country Idyll,” was a Grammy nominee in the country music category for Best Instrumental Performance by a Soloist. This album went platinum 20 years after the original acoustic release won three Grammy Awards.

By 1988 Williams decided he wanted to live in Los Angeles and I moved to Seattle to work for the largest concert promoter in the Pacific Northwest.

To sum up my initiation into the glamorous world of music, a quote from Mason’s satire needs no further explanation than his off-the-cuff, one-liner:

There is no abyssness like show abyssness.

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Reflecting On T Bone Burnett’s Observations: Are You An Artist Or A Salesman?

Earlier this month legendary producer T Bone Burnett was featured in American Songwriter, one of the more respected music industry publications at our disposal. He apparently created a little riff with some folks when he talked about young musicians he referred to as Milk Carton Kids, saying this:

“Self-promotion is a horrible thing. As soon as an artist self promotes he ceases to become an artist, he becomes a salesman.”

He was talking about the idea that to be an artist, musicians must be at all costs, creators. Yet the indie movement under the “DIY model” has created a generation — a huge one — of self-promoters who’ve embraced the idea they ultimately know everything there is to know about becoming successful in a business that has increased eleven fold in 13 years.

This on good authority from a Music Row label exec during a November, 2013 meeting: In 1999 there were roughly 10,000 new albums distributed commercially. In 2012 that number increased to 110,000!  When I find the actual documentation, this post will be updated pronto, but I’m fairly confident this is accurate. It’s the executive’s job to know these things.

So the DIY musician has 110,000 times the work to do on his own to build global name recognition without a staff of record label professionals, just to get brand awareness established.

This, plus writing the songs, booking and performing at gigs whether they are local or require travel. Arrange and hold interviews, oversee production in and out of the studio dealing with everything from making a recording itself to some involvement in mixing and mastering,  arranging and getting ready for photo shoots, artist development, writing professional copy, to overseeing  art direction for album covers, digital graphics, and posters. And the list goes on and on. It’s a huge process just to put out one CD or even EP.

Some musicians handle it effectively enough. Others not so much. The latter category typically has the most musical talent.

Most outsource at least some of the work, done at a ridiculously reduced rate causing a product that  requires 100% effective marketability to be less than perfect in just about every way due to cutting too many corners. Historically musicians have never had enough start-up capital to get through the process, hence the existence of the record label system.

The net result is usually a motley crew of mismatched experience,  out to prove themselves in an over saturated market with an inferior product, making much less than minimum wage whether it’s their main source of income or not.

Indies struggle intensely through the process, sometimes insanely, micro managing every step instead of allowing those they hire to do their jobs. It’s really very sad to witness. Ask any photographer, graphic designer, web designer, manager, publicist, radio promoter, or booking agent worth their salt their opinion on being micro managed by the DIY artist, and get ready for a ride to hell and back. Then multiply that by 110,000.

The professionals exist to create the best possible outcome for the raw material they’ve been given to work with. Most of the time that information is inferior from the start. Ninety nine percent of the raw material can benefit greatly from at least one professional on board to help the musician see where flaws and errors can be avoided. To be fair, from the list of pros above, “the team players,” all have their specialties, and can provide a wealth of knowledge to musicians.  Yet in most situations they never get the opportunity because the DIYer insists he can control the mayhem. After all he created it, and he’s footing the bill, therefore, he has the last word.  This is not an entrepreneurial spirit hell bent on winning.

The indie profile has turned the musician into a manic manager of tasks he’s not equipped to handle, one who then has the arduous job of selling an inferior product. He is then swimming, if not drowning,  in that overcrowded pool with 109,999 others attempting to achieve the exact outcome, quite often to the exact demographic base.

And everyone wonders why CD sales are down.

At any given time roughly 100,000 inferior products flood the music market, with substandard packaging, marketing and promotion. The internet has subsequently displaced sound quality, distribution, and more importantly, the audience who buys the product.

Only 40% of visitors to iTunes make a purchase. When there are too many choices, the consumer generally makes no choice at all — which by some standards is the best decision.

To those who are critical of T Bone’s remarks on self-promotion, I hope this clears things up. There is a world of difference between being a musician and being an artist. Burnett leans heavily on the arm of art, while everyone else is lost in a daze and the confusion.

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