I have been reading your newsletters for a couple of months now. I enjoy your views and admire the passion and energy which motivates you to write this stuff every day!
Below you say, “Tell me. Who is the young new record label star? There isn’t one. The rich fat cats don’t want to let anybody in.”
In the mid-sixties, my partner, Chris Wright and I were young managers and agents. We represented a couple of baby bands called Ten Years After and Jethro Tull. We got a deal with Decca Records in the UK for TYA. We were thrilled – we were on a major label, the Rolling Stones label, we were made, they would know how to do all the things we didn’t know. Yippee!! The album came out and Decca really screwed it up. We suddenly realized that the music industry was changing and the major labels didn’t get it, they hadn’t got a
clue. So we started Chrysalis. We knew nothing about the record industry, but we knew and loved our acts and we figured we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than Decca had done.
Over the last ten years I have repeatedly said that the music industry today is just the way it was in the mid-sixties. It is changing and the major labels don’t get it. I have confidently predicted that young music entrepreneurs, the modern versions of Ellis, Wright, Blackwell, Moss, Alpert, Holtzman or Ertegun, would emerge, young guys who had artists they loved and were able to grasp the new environment and use it to break their acts. But, as you say, it hasn’t happened. I am amazed! Why?
Well, I don’t know, but if you are young, care about what you are doing, don’t give a shit and know more than the rich fat cats, then no one can stand in your way. There is one other difference in the environment. In the sixties the movie business was associated with glamour and wealth. The music business was seedy, there were no rich music guys. People looked down on you if you chose the music industry. The financial prospects were not good and I lost count of the number of times my parents and my friends’ parents asked, “When are you going to get a proper job?” I and my peers were intelligent, well-educated guys with good alternative career choices who had one other thing in common. WE LOVED MUSIC. We loved music enough to make a stupid career move in order to be involved with great musicians.
Today musicians and music entrepreneurs are known to be wealthy. The music industry is respectable. It’s OK to say, “I am going into the music business, I want to be a billionaire like David Geffen.”
When we started, success for our acts was to be able to earn a living playing music. For us, success was making a living helping them do that. Maybe today those goals don’t sound lofty enough. We later found that we had the perfect career plan, the perfect business model: because we loved what we did, we were good at it and because we were good we became successful. With success came the money and the glamour, as long as we kept on doing what we loved and having a good time. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Keep writing, Bob.
With best regards,
Check out this rad flute solo by the infamous Jethro Tull.