In order to get started in the music industry, you only really need one thing: a shovel. This makes it easier to take in all the shit you’re going to have to eat. Whatever area you want to work in, from A&R to the big old Rock Star, somewhere along the way, you can only hope to make some kind of living for yourself and that you don’t end up as a Rock and Roll Casualty. I started off on £100 a week, slept on the office floor and washed myself in the sink every morning and night. I shaved my head to avoid washing it too much and then decided it was best to shave my balls too. This made sure the bathing process ran much smoother. The upside was that I had access to a kettle.
I then spent the next eight years in one of the most exciting, fucked up crazy industries we have: the music business. My job description as the A&R man was to find the best new music out there and bring it home. The record labels ‘promise’ was to sign that best music. I succeeded. They failed. Consistently. They were an indie label competing with the majors, who seemed to be wanking away their future with one hand, whilst tightening the noose around their necks with the other.
One major label A&R I knew was ordered to get to Edinburgh sharpish to sign a band they were interested in. His boss wanted a letter of intent signed and back on his table by 10am the next morning. Before Nick left London at 4pm, he stopped off and purchased a few grams of speed. By 10pm, he had hit Edinburgh to find this band had already signed with another label, who had been out fine dining them. Nick made it back before the 10am deadline and told his boss what went down. He was then fired and ended up working in a flower shop.
An indie label competing with the majors, who seemed to be wanking away their future with one hand, whilst tightening the noose around their necks with the other.
Another major A&R guy, who signed a few decent bands during his career, was on the shitlist of his new boss. One of the more successful bands had a key-man clause tied to the label. If the A&R guy went, so did the band. This all worked out dandy until the band announced in The Sun newspaper that they were splitting up. Contract cancelled. The A&R guy ended up getting paid for medical experiments.
Me? Well, I tried developing a cocaine habit. After a gig at the Brixton Academy, I tried buying some yayo off the local dealers. It took me ages to convince them I wasn’t a copper. It took me half-stripping down to my undies for that to happen. Finally, I bought my stash. The hardest nights work I ever put in to getting some cocaine only to find when I got home the fuckers had sold me an Oxo-Cube.
I didn’t end up a casualty. I didn’t succumb to drink, and despite trying, I didn’t succumb to drugs either. Instead, I really started giving a shit. All those great songs you haven’t heard because the band you never saw are now simply ghosts in the musical ether. In the end, I hated being an A&R guy because it killed me saying NO to a thousand kids dreams. Hearing another heart break at the end of a telephone, or another dream smashed because you simply don’t think the band is going to make it commercially starts to erode your soul. So, in order to win back some favour with the Universe, I wrote The Rock and Roll Times – Music Industry Bible. A manifesto for bands and musicians to use and implement, to create and build the business element of their careers and to, hopefully, use against the gatekeepers of the music industry. I wanted the bands, most of whom could have done something good, to pick the book up, absorb it and then tell the A&R guy I used to be, and all those who followed, to go fuck ourselves: we don’t need you anymore…
The Rock and Roll Times ia available to purchase on Amazon now
Click here for more Music stories.
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook