Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Look Beyond The Music

The music industry is a world filled with many different jobs and perspectives. A few key pieces include managing, promoting, and the artist themselves. It was interesting to explore how they do, or do not work together to become successful. It is also interesting to uncover how today's technology has or has not changed the game.

After talking with Ryan Kingsbury, a successful manager for Red Light Management, it became clear to me that the job description has generally stayed the same over the past few years, even with the impact of the Internet. Kingsbury joked that his job is easy to explain and hard to execute,"My job is to do everything possible to make sure that all the band/artist has to do is get on stage and play."

Kingsbury is in charge of a multitude of things, from finding gigs for bands to play at to making sure that they are getting a fair amount of the income made. In his opinion the Internet hasn't effected the way he does his job at all, "It's more beneficial in terms of circulating music but it hasn't helped or hurt the way I perform my job."

Eric Pirrit, a promotor for Live nation, feels the opposite way about how the Internet has effected his work, "The Internet has totally flipped how we do things because everything has switched over to the web. When we go to promote a show we don't go to the Denver Post, because no one is really reading the newspaper anymore. Everyone is online so in order for us to be successful when promoting shows we have to have advertising space on as many popular sites as we can."

Pirrit went on to say that because of the technology available promoters can track how many times someone has clicked on their add for a concert and they can also find out how many tickets were sold online. Pirrit said, " I can't say that we are selling more tickets than we used to but I can say we are selling tickets more efficiently than we used too."

When talking to Pirrit about the monetary logistics that go on when a promoter is trying to book an artist he explained that it depends on the venue and the level that the artist is at in their career. Pirrit explained that when artists get to a point where they can play at popular local venues, like the Fillmore, they need to make more than$25,000, because that's how much it costs just to open the doors. Often the band and the promoter get a cut of the ticket's sold, and the venue takes the rest.

When getting in the mind of an artist on the topic of the Internet and money a different perspective is exposed. When meeting with Rob Drabkin, a well-known local artist in Denver, money and the internet where not topics he was expecting to discuss.

Drabkin started his career after he finished college, where he received a degree in chemistry and molecular biology, with a minor in Spanish. One would not think after such a successful college career that music would be the next step. But Drabkin is unlike the rest. He explained, " A couple of weeks before I graduated I decided I was going to give music a shot. I mean I have been playing my whole life so I thought why not."

Getting down to serious matters, Drabkin addressed a personal question about how he is able to make a living off his music, " I would say I am my own manager because I just do tons of the work myself, and its terrible. I mean the business side of music is just an endless void of promoting, but I do it myself because I don't think I am at a point in my career when I need a full-time manager."

Being a self-promoting artist is no easy task in the economy today but Drabkin has been able to weather the storm and build a name for himself. When talking about logistics of booking a show he said it depends on the venue, "Festivals, like the Mile High Musical Festival, call different musicians and ask them how much they will play for. So when that situation comes along I can pretty much name my price, if its too much though I absolutely negotiate because I enjoy performing."

When asked about the Internet and the impact its had on his career, Drabkin didn't seem that bothered, "I started working on my music in 2006 so the Internet has been at its peak of existence while I have been building up my career...I honestly don't use it that much to circulate my music so I find it more annoying than useful."

Drabkin was able to give some honest insight into how tough life is when music is your career path. Even though Drabkin isn't right where he wants to be in his career he is doing it mostly by himself. Drabkin is a rare case, according to Kingsbury, because he has been able to deal with the musical and business side of the job and he is still performing.

Music is not an easy career and the music industry is a very hard place to stay on top. If one chooses to enter it then they should enter with caution, because not everyone can be successful, and those that are have worked extremely hard to get there and stay there.

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