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What You Might Not Have Known

Published On August 9th, 2016

August 12, 2013

What a long strange trip it's been...... A long, long, long time ago there used to be a rule that middle agents couldn't charge more than 1000 bucks!! Did you know prior fax machines (some might not even know of this relic) you had to either mail your offer or use a Telex Machine! You had to actually SPEAK to someone to gather info (avails,etc.) Tour Managers and Production Managers called in the middle of the night or on weekends to advance a show. Yes, the brown M&M story is true (re: Van Halen) Touring bands were lucky to have a Tour Manager, let alone a Production manager. Bands really did get paid in cash! Backstage used to be exciting and FM Radio was cool! So what happened? The music business did just that, it became a business. A multi billion dollar business that is now comprised of hundreds of independent business'. Gone are the days of giant record companies and powerful radio stations. Today, get a lot of views on Youtube, make a few thousand friends on Facebook quickly, get on one of the dozen talent shows, and bang, you can start touring. Most would say that pricing (in the past) was based on how many songs you had on the radio. My gauge was for every song you had on the radio, you got 10k per song! The most exciting night was watching The Grammys to see if one of the artist you had a show with won! That was good and that was bad. Good- if they kept your date in and you could say you were ahead of the curve. Bad, if the agent called you the next day and cancelled for whatever reason- but the real reason being they could re sell the date for twice the money! Today, there is still great music. The only problem is that you have to search through so many layers to find it. There used to be an excitement when a band released a new album (or disc for the newbies). It was a thrill to save a few bucks and head to the record store- yep i said record. Even still, when cds came along, it was still a joy to hit the local music shop to get a new piece of work from your favorite artist. That just doesn't happen today. When Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood and the locale in Greenwich Village, NY finally closed, it was the end of an era. Today it feels like we are back in the 70's when 45's were the craze (a smaller vinyl record with one song on each side). Why? Because bands are releasing single songs more than they are full length albums. Today you sit in front of a computer screen and tap away at a keyboard to purchase music. So what happened? EDM, return of boy bands, the diva, the moody artsy singer, the hard core rapper, the sultry songstress, the cute country girl, the cute country boy, the pop stars, the TV stars, the local kid turned singer, and those wonderful talent, there is a lot. It's no wonder that the agents are grabbing big money as fast as they can- no one knows how long a singer/ band will stay popular. My parents were quite confused when I told them my plans of entering the entertainment world. It was very foreign to them. "How does one do that? Don't you have to know someone? What talent do YOU have?". They had no understanding of how these artist got shows or were managed. They saw going to a show a special night, something you rarely did. Ask anyone now and they probably see at least ten shows a year! Today colleges are offering courses and even majors in music business- a very explosive conversation among any veteran in the biz that has paid their dues. Is it still exciting to be in the music business, a big yes of course. But it is not the same as when I started. Those days of debauchery and chaos backstage are long gone. Most of us always laugh at those that ask us "can I get a pass?" Our response is why? It's very boring backstage, people are working, warming up, preparing for the next show. Hell, you see sound guys walking with ear plugs in their own ears! Why? Self preservation mostly. Needing to get to the next gig, making sure your voice can perform, and to get paid! This isn't meant to speak badly about today's music or music business, but like all things in life, things change. What doesn't change with time? The love of music, the love of a great show. That chill that goes down your spine when you sing the chorus, or that one line that defines your life. When a song takes you back to a point in your life, to a show you saw, the town you were in, the people you were with. Music is magical for the powers it possesses and that is what we all hold on to.