A Question from Chris Castle
I was a Nashville staff-writer from the age of fifteen until I turned twenty-two. Over the course of those seven long years, I cultivated a great distaste and distrust for the corporate music business- and I’ve managed to avoid it ever since. I personally handle all booking, album production, publishing, copyright administration, royalty collection, radio promotion, publicity, social networking, cover art and design, tour/merch management, html coding… My wife and I have launched an LLC, but it serves only as a legal umbrella. My career is in all actuality, entirely self-driven and sustained.
And I’m okay with that. I write fewer songs than I used to, but at least people are hearing them. The biggest problem for me is having nothing to weigh my successes/failures against. And I’m constantly left asking myself things like: How high would the last album have charted, had I hired a promoter? How many more TV/radio performance-interviews could I have landed if I’d hired a publicist? Am I batting .350 or .110?
So my question to you is this, John:
Can there come a point when an artist is holding himself back by insisting on handling all aspects of his own career? Or is the “old business model” finally dead enough to ignore it entirely (cause in another decade, everyone will have to be fully self-contained)? I’d hate to find one day that I’d sold my songs short, all because I’d spent a decade worrying that the sky might fall. Anything epiphany-inspiring would be greatly appreciated, JD. Thanks and peace.
- Chris Castle
What Would John Doe Do?
First, I congratulate you on taking such an active role in yr own career. People in music would be a little more satisfied if they followed your example by being involved & invested. It seems likely that the sky will not fall even if the music business stopped completely. What’s happened is that the old music business has been replaced (because they stuck their fucking heads in the sand for too many years & their choke hold on distribution got blown apart by the internet) by people taking charge of their own careers like you have.
Don’t be driven by the fear that if you hire someone you’ll lose control of your public image. You can turn down any interview/radio/TV that doesn’t feel right to you. You can refuse a music license because it’s selling toilet paper. You don’t have to play some shitty B-B-Q, unless you want to.
If I were you I’d make a list of business things that you don’t like to do or that you don’t think yr particularly good at & find someone that you trust to handle that. Then you can concentrate on aspects of yr business you like & are best at doing. Publishers, booking agents & publicists would be first on my list of people to hire. They have networks that still really work, especially in TV performances, finding those gigs you never would’ve thought of & placing songs for licenses or collecting royalties. To me the aspects that are important to hold onto are the artistic ones like songwriting, record production, art work, merch designs, etc. If you look for other business people to work w/ you might find that they might be better at business than you are.
Letting go of things can be really liberating & I’m sure your wife would appreciate some extra time together apart from your business. And there’s my two cents.
I hope this helps and as always, thanks for writing.
best of luck,
If you have questions for John Doe about music, the music business or life feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.