Home | Articles | BookstorePromote Your Music | Music is Your Business | Subscribe
Twitter | Start a Record Label | Radio Promotion | CD Art Design | Music Career Help

Click to email ChrisWhy I Do What I Do
by Christopher Knab - Fourfront Media & Music -
May 2010

Back to Music Business 101

I started my career in the music business back in the late 60's in San Francisco working at one of the first ever Used Record Stores in the country-The Magic Flute. That was really a 'school' of sorts for me in the sense that my love for a wide variety of music was born there. I hung out every day for over 6 months just diving into all the cool records the owner had and customers brought in. I remember so many great conversations with other music hounds and ‘vinyl junkies’ that inspired and motivated me to want to learn more about any kind of music.

The SF music scene of that era was just unfolding, as was the 2nd British Invasion of bands like The Original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green, early Clapton and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds going through Clapton to Jeff Beck to Jimmy Page and morphing into Led Zeppelin, not mention all the American groundbreaking bands like Captain Beefheart and The Mothers of Invention, and the Velvet Underground. in Jazz there was the prime time of Miles Davis and his adventures in music, along with John Coltrane, and all the way to the avant garde space music of Sun Ra’s Arkestra …and on and on it went. Then to be able to go see these bands at the Fillmore and the Avalon ballroom…I was lucky enough to be right in the middle of a true renaissance in music.

As the 70’s arrived I got an offer to manage a new record store that had sprung up around 1971- Aquarius Records, eventually buying it in ’72 and watching first hand a major shift in music and the music business…the birth of punk rock and the ‘new wave’ bands of the later 70’s.

It was at this time that my love for music gave birth to another love that would be my main source of interest to this day…learning HOW the business of music worked. I was a curious guy. I wanted to know how record labels and distributors worked together, what role did radio airplay contribute to the selling of records, and how important was it to learn what publicity contributed to this ‘game’, as well as observing the live performance industry first as a concert goer, and then as a behind the scenes guy who just soaked up the work that went into putting on a concert and the business of that part of things.

I asked questions all the time during that period, probably driving a lot of my comrades in the music business crazy with all of my questions.

Around 1977 I was even asked to become a DJ on one of the greatest radio stations ever, KSAN the ‘Jive 95” underground and ground-breaking station led by visionary rock radio guru Tom Donahue. Being a DJ was like being on the other side of a fence. I saw the business, as I said, first from a music retailers point of view, and simultaneously as a DJ playing cool music that would then send flocks of customers to my store to buy what I played. “How cool is that” I said to myself.

Then within a year I help start and became a co-owner of my own record label, 415 Records, along with a good friend at that time, and fellow music addict, Howie Klein. Wow, now I was really in the thick of things. Learning everyday on-the-job how and what a record label did…signing bands like The Nuns, Romeo Void, Translator, Wire Train, Roky Erickson and many others.

We did well enough to attract the interest of Columbia Records in 1982 and then the curtain that was slowly being lifted with the inner-workings of the music business really started to rise up in importance and interest to me. I thought to myself “This is an amazing job I have” and the first ripples of a desire to explain what I had been learning throughout those ‘apprentice-ship’years to others came to mind.

I would however have more to learn before I could really commit to teaching others what made the wheels of this business turn. Next up was to quit working with my label and moving from SF to Seattle to take on the position of being the station manager of a non-commercial public radio atation- 90.3 fm. To say the least that was an unexpected learning curve, but one that led strangely enough to my first job of teaching a real class about one part of the music business…Radio Promotion.

Little did I know at the time that I taught my first class at the Art Institute of Seattle, that I would finally find my real purpose in life, my vocation if you will. I was offered more and more classes on topics that related directly to my life experience that I have described here.

I had become a teacher. That long ago faint whisper-in-my-ear thought about how cool it would be to share my knowledge of the mysteries of the music business with others was now a reality.

For 18 years I taught classes on every aspect of the music business, except music law….(I would leave that for real entertainment law attorneys to deal with)

So , here I am some 40 years later (and for the last 15 years as well) not only a teacher, but an author, a consultant, and supporter of any and all people who love music and want to learn more about the business side of it.

That is why I write my books, why I write this blog, why I offer my workshops and seminars on the business of music, why I offer consultations, and why I have committed to interacting with social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter etc. I have this insatiable appetite to not only keep educating artists and bands and any other people who love music the way I do, but I continue to have the same zeal and enthusiasm to check out any and all new developments in this fascinating business of music . We live in a remarkable world of new and evolving digital tools and skills that we can apply to the basic old ‘analog’ ways of promoting, marketing, and selling music.

What a ride it has been. So, I promised to write a bit about why I do what I do, and now I have put it into words for the first time.

I'll drink to that.


Submit An Article for Consideration!
Would you like to submit an article for publication at MusicBizAcademy.com? If you have music-related expertise you'd like to share with other musicians including career tips, how to's, or general music business-related articles, please feel free to send them our way. We'll be glad to consider them.
Submit your article!


The Four Fronts...
Artist/Product Development

Get Educated...
Master the Music Biz!
Online Courses. Many Programs. Learn Day or Night.

Details Here

Christopher Knab

Music Is Your Business
Christopher Knab and Bartley F. Day's expanded edition of "Music Is Your Business" is filled with more insights into the business side of being a successful musician or band. Included are chapters on both Internet and traditional music marketing methods. The essential legal issues you need to know are explained as are music contract tips, how to license your music, attract distributors, get radio airplay and create a demand for your music. More...

How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet

How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet
Our in-depth guide to music promotion demonstrates how you can combine powerful internet marketing techniques to sell your music merchandise online! Learn what works, what doesn't, and what you shouldn't waste your time and money on.

Our Top 25 Articles
How to Write an Artist Bio
Performance Contracts
Mastering Your Music
How to Copyright Music
21 Songwriting Tips

Tax Tips for Musicians

Sell Your CDs Online

What's a Record Deal About?
Artist/Band Interview Form

Inside Record Labels
Internship Do's & Don'ts
How to Make a Living w/ Music

How to Write a Press Release
Reasons Demos Are Rejected
Facts About Music Licensing

Trademark Your Band Name?
Planning A Radio Campaign
A Legal Checklist
Industry Quotes to Live By
Songwriting Techniques
Guerrilla Marketing Tips
Starting a Music Business
Live Performance
Music Marketing Plan
Can U Afford Distribution?

Lots More Articles...

All Content © 1996-2013
Midnight Rain Productions.
All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy