Archive for July, 2007

HOW TO MAKE A MILLION BUCKS IN THE MUSIC BIZ

Filed under: — George Petersen @ 1:23 pm

By George Petersen
I’VE MENTIONED THIS BEFORE, BUT ONE OF MY weekend activities is flea marketing, which is essentially searching for the unexpected. After years of doing this, I have yet to run across that fabled mint LA-2A or box of old Neumanns for $15, although there is this persistent urban myth about some guy who bought a “defective” U87 in a pawnshop for $20. As the story goes, the pawnshop owner evidently tried to test it by connecting it to a mic input on an old P.A. head that didn’t have phantom power, so the mic “didn’t work” and he sold it cheap. If anybody out there knows any details about that, let me know so we can verify the story—or at least give me the location of that pawnshop so I can shop there too!
Anyway, a couple weeks ago, on my usual local flea market jaunt was this junk dealer with cases and cases of 45 rpm records. All by artists on the now famous (or infamous) Rocshire Records label. This immediately brought up my memory of interviewing the people at Rocshire Records, back in 1983. (It’s in the September 1983 issue to be exact, in case you want to read the entire text, but sorry, our online archives don’t go back that far—yet.)
The interview, made just as Rocshire was starting, painted a picture of how a dream label would operate. The concept? Rocshire’s slogan was “Home of the Artists” and was dedicated to total artist support. This included use of their state-of-the-art recording facility, and plans to build rehearsal facilities and a live sound company—all for the exclusive use of the Rocshire artists on their label. Run by Rocky Davis and his wife Shirley (hence the name “Rocshire”), it was a true family-owned business that really seemed to care about the acts on their roster.
Among those artists signed to the MCA-distributed Rocshire Records were 1960s Brit sensations Chad & Jeremy, former Tower of Power vocalist Lenny Williams, Detroit favorites Adrenalin, Alcatrazz (with Yngwie Malmsteen) and a number of other bands, including The Suttons (former Motown act) and Eddie & The Monsters, featuring former “The Munsters” child actor Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster).
And with a beginning roster like that, how could you lose? Well, there’s one point that I haven’t mentioned so far, and curiously, it wasn’t mentioned in that interview I did back when the label was starting out. You see, Rocshire was financed entirely by some 12-15 million dollars that Shirley Davis had embezzled from Hughes Aircraft, while she was working as an accountant there. Now most people who could steal such an amount would simply disappear and end up living the good life on some faraway country. Yet the Davis family somehow felt that laundering all that dough into some low-profile operation (like a record label) was a good idea. Not so smart, evidently. The pair were eventually caught and ended up serving time.
It just goes to prove that old adage. If you want to make a million bucks in the record biz, just start out with $15 million.

George Petersen is an independent journalist/author/producer. Visit him on Facebook or at www.audioinfosource.com.
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YOU HAVE THE POWER!

Filed under: — George Petersen @ 7:47 pm

By George Petersen
IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO A RECORDING STUDIO (small or large) and can write and produce a song—you have an amazing amount of power within your grasp. So what am I talking about? Power. Political clout. And it’s all yours for the taking.
Here’s how it works: With the presidential election just 16 months away, candidates are starting to line up for the process, both before and after the primary. And if you have the gumption, talent or wherewithall to write a campaign song—either espousing your views or slammin the opposition—there are plenty of outlets to get YOUR message out. These can range from podcasts to political websites, to conventional broadcast radio and TV stations. And hey, sending or uploading an MP3 of your work to people who can spread your creation out to the masses ain’t necessarily expensive either.
As a case in point, before the last presidential election, I wrote, recorded and produced a song that took a humorous poke at one of the candidates. [I won't say which one, because Blair Jackson mentioned it in one of his blogs and it roused up a flurry of hate mail by some people who felt mixing politics and music was a bad idea—which it certainly is not.] But this particular song went on to rack up a startling 500,000 downloads and massive amounts of national airplay—not bad for a little ditty that took an hour to write and three hours to record/mix. So for a couple hours work, I could get my message out to a huge audience. And it isn’t hard at all…
Writing/producing the song is up to you, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate. In the spirit of simple = fun, mine only required nine tracks—three for drums (stereo+kick), one for bass, two for lead/backing vocals, acoustic guitar, flute and banjo. I will say that people (listeners and hosts) like humorous songs more than dirges, so a light-hearted approach is usually best. Once done, cut a couple MP3′s—I did a lower-res 128 kb version and a “broadcast-quality” 256 kb version—and host them and the words on your site/myspace page/whatever. Then start hitting up newsgroups, bloggers, podcasters, websites, broadcasters and others (particularly those allied to your cause), send them the link and watch the numbers grow. At last count, there were more than 500 links to my song and dozens of mirror sites hosting it. In fact, when you enter its fairly generic, 2-word title into Google, it comes up #1 out of 1.5-million results, so it’s definitely working.
Several people have told me that I should have charged for the downloads, because 500,000 downloads at $1/each is a decent return for a couple hours work. Great idea, but there’s something here called George’s 100,000-to-1 rule, where for each person that will pony up a buck, there are 100,000 who won’t. So given the choice of spreading my message with hundreds of thousands of downloads (and potentially millions of listeners) or making five smackeroos, I’ll take the big audience alternative, anytime.
YOU have the power. So get out, get involved, make some music and get YOUR message heard!
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Check ‘em out at www.jenpet.com.
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