Music Business Success
November 27, 2016
It’s funny how the definition of success changes over time, especially in the music business. Case in point…
In the mid-eighties, I was young, hungry, and scrappy. I wanted to make a living playing music. I tried going to Wright State to further my education, but college was just not for me. Ever since I’d seen Ringo on the Ed Sullivan show as a child, I knew that music was my thing, And I was going to do it, no matter what.
Through Tom Weisser, a manager for a local band that I was involved in (Mary Jane), I had a connection. Tom was starting Dice Records, and he needed a writer/arranger. I wanted experience working in recording studios, so it worked out well. I started writing and arranging tracks for his artist Lauren Grey (who coincidentally was also in that same band). Our first effort was “Putting The Night On Hold.” My memory is a bit fuzzy on the details, but we made the Billboard Dance Chart at position 40. I wasn’t sure how that happened, but felt pretty good about it, being my first rodeo and all. At that moment, I felt was successful.
I did several records with Tom after that. Unfortunately, those dance records were only being played in clubs. Nobody bought them. The fact that I wasn’t real big on the subject matter as we went along didn’t help. Since I also needed to make a living with music, this wasn’t working out too well for me. Here’s why: The songs didn’t provide royalties.
So, I moved on. I was embarrassed that I was not able to reach success and make a living, so I never spoke of it again. I went on to find my way into into writing music for radio and TV, and that afforded me the opportunity to work in the recording studio environment, and also pay the bills. In my eyes, that WAS success, and I was happy to talk about that.
Finding Success In Failure
Now, 30+ years later, as I’m assembling the discography for my website, and I realize that all that music is part of my discography. Even though at the time I felt I’d failed, looking back now I see I was extremely successful. Here’s why:
- I was writing songs that were cut to vinyl and distributed.
- I was working in recording studios.
- I was getting paid a session fee for my time.
- I was getting credit for my work.
THAT is real success. I just didn’t see it.
I first caught Jeff playing back in the “Mary Jane” days and on weekends would always be sure to catch his show… usually at Wolfies nightclub if I remember correctly. I was thrilled when I finally had the chance to work with him a handful of years later. His creativity, musicianship, and drive to put out work that’s never less than amazing has truly been an inspiration. I love this album Jeff, can’t wait to hear what else you have in store for us.