Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Raise the Titanic

Filed under : Life in general,Music
On March 23, 2007
At 2:00 pm
Comments : 9

I received an e-mail recently inviting me to a reunion of a label where I used to work and it began, “Remember when we used to love our jobs?” Indeed. It’s this evening and I’m totally psyched to go. Well, I’ll just be popping in for an hour but still. If you have ever worked for a record label you have probably worked for twelve record labels. This is because:

a. They tend to go bust or get bought and then folded.
b. If things don’t go well, the solution is usually to randomly fire a bunch of people.
c. The new people who are brought in to replace the fired people usually start their regimes by firing a lot of other people.

See, record companies are a lot like the NHL. The same coaches keep getting canned and then turning up on other teams, usually announced with a gushing press release. Then, if they can, they bring over their top-scoring line from their last team. So chunks of one team will suddenly be on another team. Chunks of three other labels are at my current label, including the one whose reunion I’m attending tonight.

This former label has a glorious history typical of the industry. First, as an independent, they broke numerous bands important to the history of R&B and Rock. Then they got bought by a giant behemoth and became the kind of place where you could only get your office painted non-white if you were a VP or above. When that giant behemoth got bought by another multi-national a few years back, several labels were folded, including this one.

We knew for about six months and it was kind of like being on the Titanic only with Brit-pop instead of “Nearer My God To Thee.” You knew that some people would survive but that the majority of people would lose their jobs. At first there was a kind of blitheness, like, “yes, yes, it’ll be OK.” Next came the beginnings of concern. People stopped caring about radio adds and tour marketing and focused on resume-writing and networking. Then came the mass panic where everyone just came to work and hung around the hallways drinking and raiding storage closets for future eBay sales. One of the finance people had an open bar in her office and you just helped yourself before discussing the latest rumor with the other doomed passengers.

I was lucky and found a new gig about two weeks before the layoff announcements were made but it still totally blew. Honestly, it was so corporate there that I don’t miss it terribly but I do miss some of those people and I totally miss having bands I was proud to sell. I used to answer the phone, “Blankety-Blank Records” instead of the way I do now with my name. Those were the days when I could still be thrilled at the history in our catalog and excited about the artists we represented. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to have a good phone because I wasn’t at a high enough level but that won’t stop me from having some drinks with my old shipmates tonight. Ahoy!

Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On


9 Comments for this post

  1. I have been meaning to ask if you were a fan of Love Monkey when it was on the air…. The show kind of portrayed the industry as you describe.

  2. Pious B says:

    Thanks for the sobering reminder!

  3. Alex says:

    You could just answer the phone, “Magic Jewball.”

    Shabbat shalom.

  4. Becca says:

    Mid, I watched one episode and found it so not true-to-life that I couldn’t watch any more. I can’t even remember what it was specifically but it was really far from reality. And congrats! This was my 5,000th comment, although 3k of them were spam.

    Pi, how are those B-school applications coming along?

    Alex, that would make it a little difficult to keep the blog a secret, though.
    And to you too.

  5. Really 5k? I am so honored….

  6. RN says:

    This reminds of my industry, drugs. It’s all about the new kid on the block.

  7. Sarpon says:

    Doesn’t anyone have the perfect job in the perfect industry? How will I ever settle on a fantasy job if they all suck?

  8. KP says:

    I tell all of my friends and family that my friend Becca works in the music industry and they all think she is hot, hip and happening.

    Does this in turn make me hot, hip and happening as well? As the JBall would say, all signs point to no.

    I so adore the fact that you still say the word “record”. I say that and my kids look at me like I am insane. Which I am, but that isn’t the reason why.

  9. Becca says:

    RN, drugs is our industry too.

    Sarpon, my job is awesome! It just won’t exist in five years.

    KP, I am hot but it’s mostly because, like most New Yorkers, I have no control over my own radiator.

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