“What does it cost to get a record on the charts?” The question was directed to Mike McVay, programming consultant to about 400 radio stations owned by media giant Clear Channel.
A hush fell over the audience, as this was a piece of information that could determine the fate of independent artists everywhere.
McVay pulled no punches. Depending on your genre, the amount is “a hundred thousand dollars up to a quarter of a million.”
And suddenly, the economic reality of the airplay portion of the record business was in full view.
In a different part of the day’s event, someone asked another of those all-important, career-shaping questions: “How many slots are typically available to independent artists?”
This time, the question was directed to Shane Bourbonnais of Clear Channel Entertainment. “Not many” was his reply, albeit in the nicest tone imaginable.
Did these terrifying facts of life appear to dampen the enthusiasm of most of the artists? Nope. After all, hope springs eternal.
Judging from the questions to other panel members during the day, it was clear that many artists in attendance thought that somehow they would be the one who got past the gatekeepers, the one whose awesome talent would cause cold-eyed business people to waive the entry fees, the one whose marketability would get them the major label contract and backing to enter the game with a large checkbook behind them.
And why not? Why shouldn’t they be hopeful? Are they not talented? Judging from the CDs handed to me, there were some amazingly gifted artists at the conference known as the Boot Camp workshop, which was organized by Blak Dog Promotions in association with The Beat 94.5 FM and the Western Canadian Music Awards.
Consider some of the artists: Smokekiller makes music that vibrates with consistent excitement. Ultimate Power Duo blends equal parts modern punk and retro Liverpool sounds for an album that is fun from beginning to end. Lyricist Jacqui Leddy has written lines that make you feel the inside of the human soul.
There also was silky, subtle and seductive jazz from Sandy Foster; strong rock from Scott Douglas; evocative country from John Wort Hannam; excellent rap from Don Castro; and power plus glory in the heavy grooves of Aly Young. Not to be outdone, event organizers Shawn Smith and Chin Injeti are themselves supremely electrifying recording artists.
The quality of the acts was of the highest level of any event at which I’ve been a panelist. Group after group, artist after artist were very impressive. Karen Howlin’ Fowlie seems to put megawatts of electric power into even her softest vocal passages. Sonicjoy delights in fusing electronics with rock ‘n’ roll. This is not to overlook Rallycar, Green Door Club, Chesterfield Rock, Morgan Mayer, Maurice, and James Pender, all of whom are excellent.
Here’s hoping this music gets to your ears. And if would be terrific if someone was recording the panels, because a lot of valuable information was presented by a lot of very smart people, including:
Chris Myers, Program Director, The Beat
Michael McCarty, President of EMI Music Publishing
Michael Persh, Music Manager, E! Networks
Jonathon Simkin, Co-owner, 604 Records
Christopher Ward, Songwriter (Alannah Myles, Ming Tea)
Bob Power, Producer (MeShell N’degeocello, The Roots, David Byrne)
Jim Vallance, Songwriter (Bryan Adams, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons)
Terry O’Brien, SOCAN
Tom Wilson, Songwriter (Billy Rae Cyrus, Jimmy Rankin)
The event was well-run by Smith, Injeti, Natalie Rhodes, and a large contingent of volunteers. Attendees seemed uniformly pleased: “Extremely informative,” said singer and voiceover artist Marina Seretis. “The whole day was very encouraging,” stated Mitch Helten of SPI International. “It was enlightening,” said singer Jafelin. “This was great,” said Jacqui Leddy. You can’t stop people with this kind of enthusiasm.
Scott G, a member of NARIP and NARAS, records as The G-Man. He is voice artist and producer of radio commercials for Verizon Wireless, DIRECTV, Goodrich, Micron, NASSCO, and the Auto Club. Songs from his 4 albums may be found on iTunes and Real Rhapsody, at www.delvianrecords.com, www.myspace.com/thegman, and www.gmanmusic.com.
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