I was listening to Daniel Glass today at Bob Lefsetz‘s Music Media Summit. His fourty year career with labels in the music industry is marked with hit artist after hit artist. There were misses too. He talked about making bad picks on what seemed like good bets. Yesterday, it was Troy Carter, who managed Lady Gaga through her rise to stardom. Bob did a good job with the interviews but you still had to listen close. There were faint patterns in both stories.
I heard focus. Gaga had been dropped by her label when she started working with Carter. It was his only act. Glass’ first act at Glassnote was Secondhand Serenade and he poured everything into it.
I heard quality. People wonder why records (that is the word they used) don’t work and it’s because they are not good records. They aren’t hits. Both of them talked about the tension and the honesty needed to make great music. You need producers. You need musicians. Glass tells artists to stay in the studio until they find it. He then tells them to test the songs live with an audience. Mumford and Sons have been play new stuff for a year at their concerts and Glass is just hearing it now as they make the next album.
I heard amplifying. All artists should build relationships with their fans. There is a line of thought that says the indie route is enough. I believe to scale an idea that there are many well worn paths in each industry and people who have spent decades walking those paths who can help. Those sales, publicity, marketing and promotion people can open doors that most artists can’t. Glass talked about the key radio stations he needed to convince to get the airplay needed to launch a new track. I have heard people say that you are just renting those roldexes and in the long term you don’t gain anything. That might be true but the right connections can give immediate power to an artist’s idea in a way they can’t do themselves.