Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Industry Resume Blunder (And What to Include Instead)

Music business resumes can be daunting to put together, especially if you're new to the music industry and are assembling one to try to get an internship or entry-level job behind the scenes.

If you want a behind the scenes job in the music industry, or any creative industry for that matter, you must remember one very important thing:

You must actually want to work behind the scenes. (You'd be amazed at how many people forget that part.)

Your resume must demonstrate that. Here's why:

If you want to promote your own music career, working for another musician probably isn't going to get you there. You'll be too busy trying to move your own career ahead to do a great job on the tasks that can move your boss's career ahead, and vice-versa.

If you want to be famous, you more than likely won't cut it at all.  

That would be kind of like working for the royal family and thinking that by doing so, you could become a king or queen yourself. Ain't gonna happen, my friend. Not in today's music industry, and especially not on someone else's dime.

As the saying goes, "it ain't about you."

I'm writing about this because more and more, when I review internship applications I see resumes highlighting the person's musical abilities rather than skills they can bring to the tasks at hand. I also meet and get emails from people who think they want to work behind the scenes and ask for advice how to get in, but after a question or two it's clear they really just want to be famous themselves.

That's not what an employer wants.

Approaching a job with that mindset also isn't healthy for you.
Your employer is not going to hear you sing.

If, on the other hand, you're the kind of person who really likes to know--and can handle the realities of--what goes on behind proverbial circus tent, you might have a shot.

You must also enjoy dealing with all that goes into pulling the rabbit out of the hat to make the magic happen*. In a pinch, you might even have to help do some of the hoisting or make a run for carrots when that bunny doesn't want to budge (though if you're good at your job, you already have those carrots in your back pocket just in case).

I love all that stuff. The first time I was backstage at a big show, I found all that frenetic activity far more fascinating than anything my own band was doing. I quit my band the next week and never looked back.

More importantly, until years later when I actually had to do a bio, I didn't include my musical experience in my resume. Instead, I highlighted the fact that I'd managed our band.

Consider that your test if you want to work behind the scenes: do you freak out at the thought of not including your musical experience in your resume? Are you OK with it if the subject never comes up?

Think about it very carefully before you apply for a job behind the scenes in the entertainment industry.

There was a time when an aspiring musician could use a behind-the-scenes job as an entry to his or her own career. With the shrinking of the music industry, those days are over.

No more reality show contestant wannabes working behind the scenes, please. Just people who can deal with reality!**

*No bunnies were harmed in the writing of this post, or at any time during my career. (It's a metaphor, people.) Although there was a guy who ate live crickets onstage...

**No, I'm not hiring. I'm speaking in general terms.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Can We Talk? Joan Rivers Haters, Get Over it Already!

God this blog is becoming a montage of R.I.P. notices lately.

Joan Rivers would hate that. So I'm not going to do that to her, although I do wish it for her.
My heart goes out to her family, friends, and all who knew and loved her.
I didn't know Miss Rivers personally but have booked her, and we had many, many mutual colleagues and friends. (S.L., you did a fantastic job with her career. Kudos.) My heart goes out to them. It's painful enough for those of us who weren't the closest.

Some people resonate through their friends and colleagues, via their friends' and colleagues' warm words. Joan Rivers was one of those beloved people. Everyone who worked with her loved working with her, and I've never met anyone who didn't feel that way about her personally as well.

She hated the word "legend" but she was, in the best sense of the word, in which a legend is current as well as with a long-respected body of work.

There's so much I want to say about Miss Rivers, which I will when I collect my thoughts, because she defined the words "trailblazer"and "resilience", but for now, I want to address her haters:

Get a clue. (Actually, Miss Rivers would have said, "Get a F******g clue" and probably would have added a "shut up" as she did to her hecklers, so I went really easy on you.)

If you're offended by the thing she said to Splash Media about "Palestine" you're either grossly misinformed or weeks out of date. Miss Rivers addressed it personally weeks ago on her website. Either you didn't get that memo, or are determined to be nasty and hateful and don't care.

She was an 81 year-old woman caught off guard, ambushed by cameras, and she said "Palestine" when she was talking about "Hamas".

She addressed and explained this on her website soon after, but the media, loving a controversy, didn't report that part of the story.

She wrote her statement herself, from the heart, rather than having a publicist write it for her. It wasn't her style to have a publicist write something for her when, as a writer, she was perfectly capable.

One thing I know about Miss Rivers--and anyone who worked with her will concur--is that Miss Rivers didn't apologize or explain herself unless she sincerely meant it (much to the chagrin of the suits who often tried to get her to). She didn't believe in placating people.

I respect her for that.

Show up on time, know the material, hit your marks, do your best, and if it doesn't work out that night, the show goes on, so you do it again the next night. A total pro, that was always Miss Rivers' motto as a performer.

At the age of 81, she was booked through late November (that I know of--it could be more). The average age of her viewers was 22.5 .

I respect her for that, too. And much, much more, which I'll address in another post.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

R.I.P. Survivor Vocalist Jimi Jamison 1951-2014

One of my earliest vocal influences, Jimi Jamison, passed away over the weekend on Sunday, August 31, 2014 (or perhaps the early hours of September 1).

You may not recognize the name Jimi Jamison, because aside from his work with post-"Eye of the Tiger" Survivor, you had to be a bit of a liner notes geek to know his work. As a kid, I happened to be one of those liner notes geeks, and Memphis-based Jimi Jamison happened to be one of the"go-to" guys for backup vocals for many of the artists I heard on the radio.

That statement doesn't do Jimi Jamison's voice justice, though.
Pre-Pro-Tools, Jimi's voice possessed all four elements of what I call "The Four Perfect Vocal Attributes Of a Great Studio Singer": Soulful, Beautiful, Powerful, and Blendable. Very few voices have all four elements, and at his best, Jimi Jamison could pull any combination of them out of his pocket to suit the needs of a particular track.

Jimi Jamison's studio work was prolific, but Jimi's backup vocalist work I remember hearing the most as a kid
were ZZ Top's Eliminator album (his backup vocals can be heard on "Legs," "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and others) and Krokus's Bob Rock-produced The Blitz album (on which you can most clearly hear him on "Our Love Will Never Die").

Had he never joined Survivor, which gave him a wider audience, MTV video exposure, and a string of hits courtesy of Survivor's Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan's songwriting talents, Jimi Jamison would still have made an OK living as a studio backup and and jingles singer, just as he did before joining Survivor in 1984. When Survivor's lead singer Dave Bickler left the band due to throat problems (long since resolved), Jimi became Survivor's lead singer and found success with the band's Karate Kid soundtrack single and subsequent Vital Signs album and Rocky IV soundtrack single.

Jimi Jamison's lead vocal duties included pre-Survivor stints with D. Beaver, Target, and Cobra. According to a 1993 interview with Deep Purple's Jon Lord, at one point Jimi was asked to join Deep Purple as a replacement for the just-fired Ian Gillian but had to decline, as he was officially still in Survivor.  Post-Survivor, Jimi
co-wrote and performed the theme from Baywatch and recorded and toured as a solo artist.

It was always Jimi Jamison's backup vocalist work that intrigued me most, though. It takes a certain kind of singer to be a successful studio singer, and not many can do it. It's not your project, and the meter's running, so you have to be able to not only deliver, but get it the way the producer wants it on a time crunch.

On a personal note, many years ago, Jimi Jamison was one of my first-ever interviews. It was for a school project and was my first full-length interview, and to get it I went through the same proper channels any other journalist had to go through in those days.

Not yet having a clue about the mechanics of touring at that time, it wasn't until much  later that I realized how cool it was of Jimi to even do that interview: it took place outside, after a Survivor show, on a hot June evening--with a show the next day that required travel by tour bus. Not only was Jimi nice about doing an interview during the load-out, he even had fun with it and treated me like I was a professional journalist instead of like a kid.

Moreover, he immediately put me at ease: when I turned on the tape recorder, he leaned in as if he was about to tell me a deep dark secret...

...and recited paraphrased lyrics of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" ("I was born on a mountain in Tennessee, I killed a b'ar when I was three".)
I'm sure I wasn't the first person Jimi told that version of his "life story" to, but it was so corny it was hilarious. After a good laugh we did the real interview, and he gave me my first-ever "scoop": he'd just completed backup vocals on Joe Walsh's Got Any Gum album.

Another thing I remember about that evening was the proud smile Jimi had when he mentioned his then little boy, James Michael, whom he clearly adored.
Later, Jimi wrote me a kind letter, which I still have somewhere in a box of rock and roll mementos.

Here's where things get a little complicated.
I lost track of Jimi's projects for a while, and although I could do the Hollywood thing and gloss over it or give you a "happy unicorns" Hollywood version of why, that would be a lie. Life isn't all happy unicorns. People are multi-faceted. People have faults. No one is all wonderful or all bad. It's part of being human.

There's no pleasant way to put this: in the '90's after Survivor broke up, there was a nasty legal battle over Survivor's trademark between Jimi and founding guitarist/Survivor songwriter Frankie Sullivan. Having liked Survivor's music before Jimi joined the band, and knowing it had been Frankie's band...let's just say I wasn't Jimi's biggest supporter during that time.

Frankie Sullivan eventually won the Survivor trademark, and he and Jimi settled their differences, even eventually becoming Survivor bandmates again. It took them a few attempts, plus a couple of other changes in the band's lineup, but in the end, they worked things out.

Best of all, for their Summer 2014 tour, Survivor added Dave Bickler to the band, with Dave and Jimi switching lead vocal duties and singing backup on each others' respective hits. Candid photos from Survivor's recent shows, including the August 30 show in Northern California the night before Jimi passed away, depict a band having a good time.

In the end, Frankie Sullivan, Jimi Jamison, and Dave Bickler did what's impossible for most of us after a major conflict: they worked it out, got along and respected each other, and had some fun. Given Jimi's ultimate passing, I'm especially glad they did.

The music world lost an amazing singer this past weekend, and the angels got a voice that, at times, sounded like he already was one.

R.I.P. Jimi Jamison.

My deepest condolences to Jimi's Survivor bandmate brothers, family, and friends.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams R.I.P. 1951-2014: Shining Brilliance

Some people shine so brightly, the planet can’t contain them.

Like brilliant gems, they are the rarest of beings, created under pressure, and sparkling.

I think of Robin Williams as one of those people.

No matter what endeavors they undertake, no matter how successful they may be at those endeavors, and no matter how hard those people may try to be like everyone else, they always shine brighter…whether they want to or not, and whether or not they deep-down believe they even deserve to.

It must be incredibly painful at times…

Especially during those times when, instead of being a brilliant, sparkling gem, maybe they just want to be a pebble and blend in.

Shining brilliance comes with a lot of responsibilities, whether they’re wanted or not.

Shining brilliance is a lot to live up to.

Today I heard a lot of people refer to Robin Williams and his talent as “genius”.

On any other day, I’d agree with them. I’ve said it myself about him many times.

Today, part of me aches when I hear so many people use the word “genius” in reference to him, because I wonder if trying to live up to expectations that come with that word contributed to his pain.

I didn’t know Robin Williams, but he struck me as a gentle spirit.

Maybe, all that shining brilliance was too much to handle. Maybe that shining brilliance was too much for a gentle spirit to grasp, and too much to be contained in one human being, on one small planet.

Robin Williams' death came between last night's Supermoon, and tonight's Perseid Meteor Showers, which seems eerie and strangely fitting.

Maybe, ultimately, all that shining brilliance needed to fly free of the Earthly anchors that  that must have strained to hold his creative spirit enough for average mortals to even barely grasp…

…Especially for him to grasp, because he, too was mortal.

Fly free, and shine brightly, Mr. Williams. May you find peace.    

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1 800 273 –TALK (8255)

Suicide Prevention Hotline Number (Robin Williams R.I.P.)

Los Angeles is a somber-feeling city today. It feels like the entire show business community is in mourning. I think we are.

Robin Williams, one of the most creative, talented beings we've ever been blessed with, has died of an apparent suicide. He was struggling with depression and had battled addiction issues. He was sober for 20 years, and then his alcohol addiction took hold again.

Robin Williams was so well loved in this town.  He touched so many people with his talent, and his generosity, and his friendship. He was one of the few who people in this most self-absorbed of cities truly rooted for, and their love for him was genuine. The feeling of sadness in this town today is palpable.

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression and thinking of suicide, however fleetingly, call this number:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1 800 273 –TALK (8255)

If you think people don't care about you, or that the world would be better off without you, you are absolutely, positively, 100% wrong.


Friday, August 08, 2014

I'm Quoted in Solveig Whitle's Musician Blog: "25 Tips From Music Marketing Experts For an Indie Release"


I'm quoted on the August 07 edition of the Solveig Whittle Music, Marketing, and Social Media blog, (along with with some fabulous people like the legendary Bob Baker), in an article called "25 Tips From Music Marketing Experts For an Indie Release".

One of the coolest things about the article is the breadth of ideas...everything from simple and easy tips, to  detailed steps. There's really good stuff in there, from many points of view.

It was an honor to be asked, and working with the Solveig Whittle team was a pleasure.

I've had such a crazy week (three different deadlines), I haven't had a chance to even add it to the Media Tools section of my bio yet, so you're among the first to know.

Don't follow my lead on that, by the way...Unlike me, when you get press or media attention, you'll do it correctly by adding it to the "Media" section of your website right away. Right???

Remember: media attention isn't isn't for your ego. It's to bring you new opportunities.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Improve Your Stage Presence:Ten Steps to Becoming a Better Perfomer

This is directed at lead singers, but this post about live performances has a takeaway for anyone in a band.

If your band is playing a lot of shows, or if you've done a lot of touring this year, at this point in the summer, you're either feeling energized. or tired. or frustrated.

Maybe things aren't happening the way you'd like them to, and you're wondering how to get people to come out to see you perform.

Touring or gigging is hard. Fun, yes, but hard, especially if you're trying to move up to the next step--more tickets sold, bigger venues, more music sales, more merch sales, better opportunities...whatever the "next" is for you.

Here's one way to boost your shows and move toward your "next" without spending a dime:

Improve your stage presence.

Everyone, at every level of the business, strives to be a better performer every night than they were the night before. Even Mick Jagger.

If you work on it consistently, and couple that with solid promotion, word gets out:  "Wow, they were absolutely on fire tonight!" Or "Wow, what a different band than they were before!"

I'd take improving your stage presence over spending an extra hour on Facebook any day, wouldn't you?

Yes, you still have to do the other things to promote yourself.. But at this point of summer, it's easy to become a little complacent with the show, or to slack off because you're tired and it's hot as hell.

Don't be that person. Don't be that band. Get up. Stand up straighter. Take a little extra time with your clothes and appearance tonight. Walk out onto that stage taller, and strive to kick ass.

If you're not the lead singer, discuss this with the rest of the band, so everyone's on the same page. (NO accusations. Just, "I think we can step up our game, me as much as anyone. I was reading this article..." and have them read it and this post. Be sure to include yourself in the "needs to improve" category.)

Otherwise, what will happen is, the one who's read the article will stand out too much, and the band won't look like a cohesive unit. Or, you'll have more enthusiasm than the others and your timing will be different because of your increased adrenaline, throwing the others off.

A friend of mine worked with a drummer who suddenly decided to improve without telling anyone. Can you imagine? Don't do that...

Resolve to make the next one your best show ever. Get everyone on the same page, get out there, and kick ass. Then repeat. 

Here's how to improve your stage presence:

Have a great rest of the summer!

Rand Reed

Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice .

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Holy Crap, I'm Quoted on 7/27/14 (How to Land a Job In the Music Industry or a Job in a Competitve Environment or Win a Pitch)

So, I'd just finished publishing this post and checked my email to discover I've been quoted on in this article about creative techniques for how to win a pitch or land a job in a competitive industry:

Yeah, to land a music industry job, I really bought a ticket, stood in line, and waited for my potential boss to walk by. And it got me the job!

It was one of my first big jobs in the music business, and I was so unsavvy that when I went to the job interview and the interview lasted less than five minutes, I thought I'd blown it.

Later, my boss told me I got the job when I'd handed him my resume, and that the interview was just a formality to make sure I'd show up. He said he'd wanted to hire me on the spot because he knew I'd get the job done.

If you're going to try something creative to land a job, you must have something on your resume to bring to the table. Your resume has to be ready for whatever that job is, because for the employer, it has to be worth taking the risk to hire someone who does things a little differently.

In my case, I'd been in bands and working around them since I was sixteen, and had managed my own band and a local who grew a regional-ish following and got local airplay. The job I was applying for was a good fit, because it was the logical next rung on the ladder.

Now...having said all that, we live in a different world now. That was long before 9/11 and public shootings and all that. These days, being too bold can easily get you booted out, blacklisted, or at the very least, looked at strangely. And there's email and social media, so if you do something stupid, people will know about it.

Also, some people tend to take things over the line into stalking.
If a complete stranger did to me what I did to land that interview, I'd be freaked out. And it would be stalking. (Intention does not matter when it comes to stalking; it's the actions and how those actions make the other person feel.)

Remember: Although we'd never met, my boss and I were already talking, so I wasn't a complete stranger to him. We just were having trouble scheduling a job interview because he was overwhelmed with work. So my goal was to show him that as his assistant, I could make his life easier by saving him steps.

But it could have just as easily backfired. With some employers, it would have. Some employers think they want creative thinking, but they really don't. I may have just been quoted on Forbes and on Chris Brogan's business blog, but I'm savvy enough to know that I don't fit into the company culture of most corporations.

So, you must be creative and be bold, but not stupid. There has to be congruency between what you're pitching and where you're pitching it.
And you must weigh what you're doing very carefully.

Always, always, always put yourself in the other person's shoes and really think about what the worst possible scenario might be, and what the other person might possibly think. You may be a wonderful person, but a stranger doesn't know that. And if you frighten or creep them out, they don't really care.

MIght it frighten or creep them out? Especially if your potential boss is the opposite sex?
What if they're a nervous or paranoid person? What if they've been stalked in the past?  And if the worst possible case scenario happens and that person thinks the worst, what are the consequences?

Getting an FBI file because you got desperate with your job hunt is never a good idea.

Good luck!