Back to The
"What does it cost to get a record on the charts?"
The question was directed
to Mike McVay, programming consultant to about 400 radio stations owned by media
giant Clear Channel. A hush fell over the audience, as this was a piece of information that could
determine the fate of independent artists everywhere. McVay pulled no punches. Depending on your genre, the amount is "a hundred
thousand dollars up to a quarter of a million." And suddenly, the economic reality of the airplay portion of the record
business was in full view.
In a different part of the day's event, someone asked another of those
all-important, career-shaping questions: "How many slots are typically available
to independent artists?" This time, the question was directed to Shane Bourbonnais of Clear Channel
Entertainment. "Not many" was his reply, albeit in the nicest tone
Did these terrifying facts of life appear to dampen the enthusiasm of most of
the artists? Nope. After all, hope springs eternal. Judging from the questions to other panel members during the day, it was
clear that many artists in attendance thought that somehow they would be the one
who got past the gatekeepers, the one whose awesome talent would cause cold-eyed
business people to waive the entry fees, the one whose marketability would get
them the major label contract and backing to enter the game with a large
checkbook behind them.
And why not? Why shouldn't they be hopeful? Are they not talented? Judging
from the CDs handed to me, there were some amazingly gifted artists at the
conference known as the Boot Camp workshop, which was organized by Black Dog
Promotions in association with The Beat 94.5 FM and the Western Canadian Music
Consider some of the artists: Smokekiller makes music that vibrates with
consistent excitement. Ultimate Power Duo blends equal parts modern punk and
retro Liverpool sounds for an album that is fun from beginning to end. Lyricist
Jacqui Leddy has written lines that make you feel the inside of the human
soul. There also was silky, subtle and seductive jazz from Sandy Foster; strong
rock from Scott Douglas; evocative country from John Wort Hannam; excellent rap
from Don Castro; and power plus glory in the heavy grooves of Aly Young. Not to
be outdone, event organizers Shawn Smith and Chin Injeti are themselves
supremely electrifying recording artists.
The quality of the acts was of the highest level of any event at which I've
been a panelist. Group after group, artist after artist were very impressive.
Karen Howlin' Fowlie seems to put megawatts of electric power into even her
softest vocal passages. Sonicjoy delights in fusing electronics with rock 'n'
roll. This is not to overlook Rallycar, Green Door Club, Chesterfield Rock,
Morgan Mayer, Maurice, and James Pender, all of whom are excellent.
Here's hoping this music gets to your ears. And if would be terrific if
someone was recording the panels, because a lot of valuable information was
presented by a lot of very smart people, including:
Chris Myers, Program Director, The Beat
Michael McCarty, President of EMI
Michael Persh, Music Manager, E! Networks
Simkin, Co-owner, 604 Records
Christopher Ward, Songwriter (Alannah Myles,
Bob Power, Producer (MeShell N'degeocello, The Roots, David
Jim Vallance, Songwriter (Bryan Adams, Steven Tyler, Gene
Terry O'Brien, SOCAN
Tom Wilson, Songwriter (Billy Rae Cyrus,
The event was well-run by Smith, Injeti, Natalie Rhodes, and a large
contingent of volunteers. Attendees seemed uniformly pleased: "Extremely
informative," said singer and voiceover artist Marina Seretis. "The whole day
was very encouraging," stated Mitch Helten of SPI International. "It was
enlightening," said singer Jafelin. "This was great," said Jacqui Leddy. You
can't stop people with this kind of enthusiasm.
Scott G, a member of NARIP and NARAS, records as The G-Man. He is voice artist
and producer of radio commercials for Verizon Wireless, DIRECTV, Goodrich,
Micron, NASSCO, and the Auto Club. Songs from his 4 albums may be found on
iTunes and Real Rhapsody, at http://www.delvianrecords.com, http://www.myspace.com/thegman, and http://www.gmanmusic.com.