In my last blog I wrote about researching your own record library. If you haven’t read that blog DO SO NOW!
OK so you have a hit list of people in the music business that you think are somehow important. You live in the age of Google, in the age of the total surveillance state, in the age of narcissism, all of these people will be listed somewhere on the web. This is a huge blessing for a band looking for an agent, manager or label. In the old days you had to piece all the info together in your head and in your phone book. (Ya,Ya I know who gives a shit about the old days)
Now build up a list of targets, say ten names of people or labels or agents. Start at the top of the list and dig for phone numbers on the web. Start making calls. This is where you act dumb, and dumber. If a person answers the phone at a music industry company you must be hyper polite. The people (usually female) that get stuck fielding incoming calls are harassed grumpy people. I usually start with trying to get this person’s name in the most polite manner possible. Remember, everyone else calling is being a self important asshole. I will give you an example of how this might work.
In the mid eighties I was managing Miracle Legion. They wanted to be on Columbia Records. (we eventually got an offer from Columbia but then they fired me so that never worked out) I found out everything I could about Columbia. I had a little bible of stupid facts I wrote down about Columbia. I would call and speak to the two operators. I always had A & R, the part of the label that gives out deals, as my target. I read an article about Columbia buying a small San Francisco label and the label owner David Kahne, joining the A & R department. I also knew the Columbia phone system and the operators. Each area had a main secretary that took the incoming traffic. I called, greeted the operator BY NAME, she knew me I called regularly and often spoke to promotions peons looking to get info or offer favors so I could get tighter to the label. I asked to be transferred to David Kahne, this took me to the A & R secretary. This woman was tough, really, really tough. She had a list of approved callers. She also worked in a huge corporation so she was always polite. I would call and she would stop me cold. But I was extremely nice and would try to engage her in conversation. She never gave an inch but was still civil. One day i called, asked for David Kahne and she said “Brad, you know that I won’t put you through to his secretary unless you are on his approved list.”
I said “Yeah I know but you know I’m just gonna call back”
Her reply “Well, don’t call back in 15 minutes cause I will be out to lunch and Amanda, David’s secretary will be covering the phone”.
I hung up and realized that my twice weekly calls and unending politeness had paid off. I called back and sweet talked Amanda into giving me her extension. I then called her twice a week. I soon knew her sons name, her vacation schedule and she would often bitch about what a shitty job she had. Within a few weeks she told me she had told David of my calls and he said “Yeah, I heard of that guy. What’s he got?” This got our demo in the door. Soon he was taking my calls. Then he got promoted to head of A & R. Within six weeks we had an offer.
This is just one small example of how to get through the wall that is built up around the music business. Use your head and do the research and most of all be persistent. ……
©Brad Morrison/Billiken Media 2013