I’m a Jersey kid. Grew up in the Garden State – right smack dab in the middle of the 1980′s and weaned on the music of guys like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and the Smithereens. My parents were always big into music, and I vividly remember the sounds of Elvis, The Four Tops and The Temptations rockin’ out of my dad’s eight-track driven speakers when I was a kid. This no doubt had an effect on me, and to this day as I still love that music. First record I ever bought? The Grease Soundtrack. No apologies either. . .that’s a damn good record! . . .a little bit of trivia? That was also the first record David Gray ever bought as well!
The Music Itch – where it all began.
My life as a musician began in grade school when I started training on guitar and later progressed to playing the drums in the fourth grade. It was something I couldn’t get enough of and for whatever reason banging on the skins seemed a whole heck of a lot easier at that age than stretching my hands across the frets of a guitar and spending the first fifteen minutes of every lesson tuning the dang thing. When my drum lessons started, I just sat down and played. . .my process improvement genes were at play early in life, I suppose!
Years later in high school, everything else in my life began to take a back seat to music, and once I finally had enough money to buy my first drum kit my future was sealed. Nothing seemed to have as much importance to me as music, and it often seems as though my entire senior year went by without me even cracking a book. My brother still loves to joke about me ending each school day as a high school senior by tossing my book-bag in the trunk of my car only to retrieve it the next morning still unopened. Well, what can I say. I had to listen to a lot of music each evening and practice my chops, right? God bless my parents for dealing with the noise I threw at them. . .tolerance is a very, very good thing! But, alas, I did graduate (senior year was pretty much a breeze anyway), and the following fall departed New Jersey for college in the wild(?) plains of ‘ol Illinois.
College in a nutshell: majored in public relations, majored in photography, majored in radio/television, majored in music Business. Total time to graduation??? Six years! Ouch. But I learned a ton along the way, and maybe started a trend? For some folks, this is now the standard! Really, though, I did end up with a ton of experience in a slew of creative and business areas, and made it through with that much anticipated piece of paper. Along the way I made the first and easiest step toward a career in the music industry: college radio.
College Radio and Music Industry Internships
If you want to know one of the easiest ways to get started in the music business without an ounce of experience. . .an ounce. . .volunteer for your college radio station – everybody is allowed in it seems – and by doing so you can earn instant street cred. After volunteering at both WIDB and WSIU, the two radio stations at Southern Illinois University where I went to college, I leveraged that minor experience into a recurring internship at my local radio station in Jersey, during breaks and summers.
Then with that under my belt, I put together a few more internships at a music shop in my college town to learn more about engineering and music retail, followed by a gig as an artist manager for two college bands. While still working as a manager for rock band halfway jane, I landed the primo spot: the campus intern job for Virgin Records. This was the key position for me, because it enabled me to really get a feel for how the music industry worked behind the scenes, and it allowed me to demonstrate enough knowledge to get me a full time job in radio as a disc jockey and station promotions director at WTAO radio in Carbondale, Illinois.
So, as you can see getting a job in music isn’t terribly difficult, the key to making all of this work is thinking ahead. I overheard someone once say that the time to start thinking about your ‘next’ job is the first day of your ‘new job’. I couldn’t agree more. You’ve got to always be thinking ahead.
From College Intern to Music Industry Executive
After only a short time in radio, my boss put me in touch with one of the most respected independent record promoters in the country, and I soon found myself on a plane to Minnesota (brrr…) where I did independent record promotion with him for three years. Along the way I worked with every imaginable record label from the indies to the majors, setting up and promoting a ridiculous number of bands in the years that followed. Many went on to earn gold and multi-platinum selling status, and I must say I’m still quite proud of my achievements during those years.
In 1999, I opened my own record promotion business for about a year and a half promoting mostly indie and small label records to specialty shows across the country, and doing some consulting for Net Radio, but decided after that time I wanted to move in new directions. I was burned out, and the music industry was suffering from tremendous upheaval on both the record and radio side of the fence. Plus, I wanted to try my hand at some things a bit more creative. So, up for another change, I enrolled in school again much to the surprise of my family (remember the book-bag story?), to get a second degree in history at the University of Minnesota, and focus more of my attention at getting back into writing, a life-long passion of mine.
From Executive To Owning My Own Business.
That return to writing eventually placed me on my current path as owner of a freelance writing business, and I’m happy to say, this new turn for me has been one of the most enjoyable and challenging experiences of my life thus far. Basically I help companies outsource their corporate communications writing needs, and help other writers find work in the field as well. I am also a writer for a few trade magazine and am constantly working on this site as well as another one I’m just getting off the ground: thebaker.com
Persistence Will Get You There!
It is my mission at musicbusinesspage.com to provide anyone interested in a career in this industry, the inspiration and resources needed to achieve your goals. It ain’t easy, and you’ll face a lot of closed doors along the way. Anyone who has achieved greatness or even a modicum of success in this world faces failure and rejection. . .meeting rejection is the only sure way of knowing you’re trying! Be willing to starve, be willing to work at it, and in the end it will pay off!
I heard on public radio several years ago of a phenomenon psychologists have noted with regard to the unrelenting passion of musicians in pursuit of recording industry careers. It seems that despite the obvious hurdles in front of them, musicians more than most groups are able to harness the strength of their passions and focus with laser precision in on their goals. Fascinating!
Musician or not, harness that passion! Good luck. . .thanks for visiting. . .tell your friends about us. . .and run with it!
Rock on. — Doc