Confessions of a "Music Guy" | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Confessions of a "Music Guy"

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As a former major label promotion rep I can personally attest to how screwed up and evil the music industry truly is. I've actually arranged for people to get paid for playing songs on the radio. Last year I was let go as the company I was working for "downsized" and I was left adrift and in search of another "gig." As I soon found out, I'm not cut out to be part of the music machine. I love music, I care about artists and therefore was labeled a "music guy." A "music guy" would be someone that enjoys listening to music and loves the finer aspects of the creative process of music making. A "music guy" is not the type of person that takes a programmer to a hockey game, steak dinners, and strip clubs in order to "persuade" him to play the new hot track from the new hot artist. After interviewing with five or six different labels I felt horrible and quite disillusioned about what the music industry really is. It's not about music. It's not even remotely about music. It's about selling product X to as many people as possible by any means possible and if you like music, you're fucked.

The machine is broken and the Q101/White Stripes situation ["Why Play Leaks?" June 15] only makes it more obvious. WB is unwilling to concede to a new era of music. An era where independent labels can top the billboard charts and bands can survive without a label at all. Commercial radio is a dead horse that can't be fixed, they're still playing the same music they did in 1992 when they first started. The former music director once told me, "Postal Service, yeah, I guess we missed the boat on that one." The reason for this is simple: music directors sit in their little offices and have meetings with 40-year-old men that stop by and play them the new release by some cheeseball band that's going to be the next big thing. It's all been scientifically proven to increase their cume, raise their ratings, and get them higher ad rates. Music directors don't have to spend any spare time searching out bands that might bring a fresh sound to the station or surprise listeners, they just have to wait for a label rep to walk into their office and systematically tell them what the hot sound is.

So why was Jack White and WB so upset about Q101 playing the entire record? Control. They had lost control of their puppet and if you let them slip just once, what will happen next? They could actually stop listening to the majors altogether and start playing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and break free of the chains that bind them. HA! That's never going happen, because how would Q101 get all those free tickets to that sold out Linkin Park concert or all of those hard to find Wiis that no one else has. It's a vicious circle that will never be changed until the listening public wakes up and starts making choices for themselves.

Curt

Andersonville

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