The “good old days” when there were a staff of 100 fanatics working on your record. Oh wait, those 100 people only worked a maximum of 10 records per quarter. If yours wasn’t on the “priority” list, nobody did a damn thing. You didn’t know that? I understand, it was a well kept secret. While I’m waxing nostalgic, I’ll dredge up a link to the spot on essay written by creative provocateur Steve Albini. Notably, he produced and engineered Nirvana’s “In Utero” album. This essay, (which I read while navigating the shark tank at a label) informed my sensibility about what was really going on in the music business at it’s most successful time in history. In 1995 I saw the future coming. By 1998 I knew for certain the house of cards would be tumbling, I just didn’t know when. In 2005 I found out.
It was devastating, even though I knew the train was coming. I was emotionally unprepared. Losing the job I’d conjoined so completely to my identity took me years to unravel and emerge from.
Fast forward to 2014. No signing bonus, no six figure salary, no car allowance. 25% of my income goes towards health insurance. I do not get flown across the country to see a band play or stay at five star hotels on the corporate dime. No staff of young upstarts to hang out with, impart wisdom to and lavish great reviews upon. Guess what? I am happier, and a more humble and grounded human being.
I’m still in the music business, I work more closely with artists today. My partner is a recording engineer. We live in a small town 100 miles from New York City. It’s a strange new world I have learned to inhabit, but the main thing is it’s an authentic world that won’t disappear when the lights are turned on.
The good old days were fun, but the present is a gift I’m not trying to return.
Check out Steve Albini’s essay http://bit.ly/1ewKqnT