I ran this a week or so back and then buried it superstitiously thinking it would be bad luck. I’m happy to say that apparently, my overture worked. The boss and the person assigned to me both emailed last night looking forward to hear what I submit.
In addition to turning a buck or two and (mostly) ventilating about the frustrations associated with selling advertising to escorts, I started this blog with the fleeting hope that it might lead somewhere beyond an escort’s bed or a trip to the bank. That is to say that with a little luck, this here train wreck might score me a paying gig with which I could express myself artistically.
So what did I really get on that front? Not a lot. A book agent who told me I could write but alas, was only interested in one proposed project – which lamentably was of the ghostwriting variety. Then there was the guy who plays Dollar Bill on Billions contacting me. And finally, the music promotion man who took me to a ball game and show or two. As I said…not a whole lot.
So anyway…yesterday, the promo man invited me to a showcase where meaningful music biz executives would be in attendance. Ya know…guys he could introduce me to! Eager for a shot at something to live for, I donned my fanciest duds (yeah, right. That means a collared shirt) and met up with my homey for the show.
Good to his word, the promo man introduced me to the label head, a guy who signed and popularized hits the likes of “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and “Stacy’s Mom” (a song I really liked). That was all good and well, but having labored in the music biz once upon a time and understanding how it works and what my new role could possibly be, I knew that this man was above my pay grade. What I needed was somebody up the food chain in the publishing end of the business – and not the head of the whole megillah.
One thing that doesn’t change in the music business is a catchy tune. It’s really one of the simple building blocks upon which a popular production is made. And I have several candidates that are recorded and well-enough-written for the right ear to bite. That’s not to say I’m a prolific and talented songwriter. It just means that over the course of 4 decades, I’ve had a few moments.
Well, the night was almost over…and nobody from the publishing arm was in attendance when voila, my homey pointed at a guy across the room who was actually the head of publishing in the New York office. But I’m not sure my friend really knew him – as he didn’t walk me over to meet the guy.
In that moment, I remembered a story my father related many years ago while he was getting divorced from his second wife – who he hated with a passion at that point. “I’ll say one thing for Pamela,” said pop. “She camped out at Eddie Holland’s Americana Hotel door”(she knew he was there at a convention), “until he walked out so she could introduce herself as a songwriter he needed for Motown.” In addition to sporting 36DD’s and long blonde hair (which I’m sure didn’t hurt), Pam actually was a good lyricist. And the rest is history (as they say). Three pop #1’s and a string of secondary copyrights recorded and released on not just Motown – but many other reputable labels as well.
With that in mind, I sprang into action as the publishing head exited the room, and caught up with the guy as he got in the elevator to leave the party. Of course, the sales pitch was of paramount importance. Publishers are besieged by wannabes as a matter of course. How could I stand out? So here’s how it went:
I looked him straight in the eye and said “I understand you’re BMG’s head of publishing” to which he responded in the affirmative. I continued “Like every other songwriter you’ve ever met, I have your next #1 song. But I understand it’s your job to build catalogue. I have several songs which may help you in that pursuit.”
This is not something he would ever hear from a young wannabe. Right away I let him know that I understand the publishing function and at least a small part of what his job requires. To this overture he smiled and gave me a high five as if to say “Finally, a songwriter who understands. If his songs are as good as his pitch, maybe we got something here.”
Understanding that time is fleeting and of the essence, I asked for his card (which he didn’t have) whereupon he asked for mine (which is ridiculous. The idea that he would actually call a songwriter he met in an elevator is preposterous). I asked him his name (which I don’t remember as it’s not a la John Smith) and then told him I’d be reaching out “I’m the guy from the elevator.” I figured that was the right move. People crack on him every two minutes. How would he remember me? Like a good song hook, I gave him a tag line with which to associate me. (Oh yeah, the guy from the elevator.) As he left, the man shook my hand and offered “I’ll be looking out.” Back to the party, I found my homey to report what just happened. And he promised to get me the man’s name and email address so I can pursue the deal.
Now a young amateur would continue and want this big shot to schedule an appointment during which he’d play too much stuff as the guy sits uncomfortably, listening to songs he’d either like or not like. But I know better. When I get his email address, I’ll suggest that he’s way too busy…and that he should dispatch me to one of his hungry employees whose job it is to discover and develop talent. And then, with the help of an up-and-coming publisher, I might make an alliance which will serve me politically in the future – all while respecting my ultimate connection. Sound like a plan? Who the fuck knows?
But I’ll tell y’all one thing. Faced with a crucial moment – and one which I’ve been waiting on for a while – I carpe diemed it like a mother fucker. Not only did I chase my guy down – but I hit him with an A+ sales pitch. If the same opportunity availed itself 10 times more, I don’t think I could have done any better than I did.
Having been disappointed by the music business a thousand times before, I’m not holding my breath on all of this. Chances are overwhelming that it will all come to naught. But hey! You never know when you’re gonna get lucky. At least I gave it a cum laude college try.