Thursday, July 16, 2009

Following Your Heart Into The Music Business by Ellie Perleberg

Five industry professionals came to talk with GRAMMY Campers on the evening of Wednesday, July 15 to teach us about many important but rarely talked about facets of music business.

Megan Westerby, social networking coordinator of the Recording Academy, got a round of applause for reminding students that "everyone is watching all the time." It's a phrase she sees come true every day when working with nearly every department in the Recording Academy to represent the organization on sites like My Space, Facebook, and Twitter.

"The internet is the dangerous elephant in the room," said Westerby. "Be aware of how you're being positioned on the internet and who is positioning you."

Though it can be a tricky job, she loves working with digital media in the music industry. "The best part of the internet is that you get the opportunity to talk directly to your fans."

David Lessof was a lawyer at Capitol Records for nine years before moving to L.A. for the indie label New West Records. As a music lawyer, he negotiates deals with artists, producers, mixers, etc. about things like how much they're paid and how many records they make.

Lessoff explained that his, "This is your break, take it" moment that made him move from a job in New York at a major label to an indie in L.A. was inspired by Steve Jobs' quote, "Stay hungry, stay foolish."

At Capitol, Lessoff's experiences with the artists were "very limited and defined." He moved to New West Records and says it's "so much more rewarding to go to work now."

Susan Rosenbluth works as a talent buyer for AEG Live. She was recently involved in the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals. Her job is to talk to talent agents to negotiate deals and set up tickets and advertisements.

Rosenbluth educated students in the positive and negative aspects of bad record sales by pointing out "bands that sell less albums do more tours."

Amy Blackman says it's not in her "genetic nature" to work for someone. She got her master's degree in Anthropology from Columbia University in New York and now works as a band manager in Los Angeles. Not knowing what to do with her degree, she was "subtly sabotaging job interviews" until getting an internship at a record company and finally finding a career that she enjoys. "This job sustains and defines me. I really can't see myself doing anything else."

As a band manager, Blackman is "the gatekeeper between the band and the rest of the world." Her job includes handling merchandise, travel, internal issues, interpersonal relationships, and more.

Scott Francis is a Music Publisher at Warner Chapel Music, a company that owns the rights to the "Happy Birthday" song and music by Katy Perry, Timbabland, and Led Zeppelin.

Francis stressed to students to do what they love no matter what. "No decision is a bad decision. If you learn from it then it was worth going through. My best decision was to follow my heart."

All the panelists agreed that was their wisest move.

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