Lately I have been reading a blog by a guy by the name of Bob Lefsetz. Don’t know what his connection is to the music business, but he hits the nail on the head in almost every post. He is a firm believer in the death of the music industry, as we old people know it, and that there is a new paradigm that makes it possible for anyone with a few tools to make good music and get it out to an audience.
This reminded me of some recent encounters:
1. Last summer I was invited to a party on the roof of a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago. The party was hosted by Tom Silverman, the man behind the highly innovative record label Tommy Boy Records. The party was to announce the reinvention of the New Music Seminar, which had been dormant since 1995 and was being reintroduced to the world in Chicago last fall. During his remarks, he told us about this new, astonishing paradigm where artists produce their own music, and promote it by using the internet to send out mass emails to their fans to get them to come to their shows! He didn’t seem to know that this had been going on for about 15 years! That is when I got up with my free bottle of Evian and hit the elevator to go and pay a wasted $10.00 to get my car out of the parking lot it was in. (The Seminar, from what I heard, was very poorly attended.)
2. Yesterday (4/10) I was a panelist at a seminar produced by Martin Atkins (Drummer of Public Image Ltd., Pigface, etc. Record Company Owner- Invisible Records and producer). The panel was called 7-11. About 10 experts in the field each having 11 minutes to expound on 7 facts relating to any subject they thought would be helpful to the audience. One of the panelists was Greg Corner from Kill Hannah, a Chicago band who have been together for 15 years, and were under contract with Atlantic Records for a lot of those years. His 7-11 talk was on why you don’t need record labels and managers to become a working musician. My favorite story that he told was about the band asking their manager and their label representatives to set up a European tour and being told that there was no reason to go to Europe and no money to do it with. He thought that was strange, as he is the guy in the band that handles shipping of mail order band merchandise and he was regularly addressing envelopes to European addresses! So the band raised some money and went overseas on their own. There they found some initial success in England, and a booking agent who wanted to work with them. Later this week, the guys are leaving for their 12th trip across the ocean. They no longer are on a record label, and they no longer have a manager!