There are a few clarifications and additions I wanted to make in my manuscript of Turner’s Big Radio & Record Adventure. But It’s such a process to revise and resubmit that I thought I would blog them here. I realize this is the lazy way out but hey, it’s my life and my story so I get to make those choices.
In Chapter 77, I wrote that Lyric Street Records spent 100 thousand dollars in advertising to Chancellor Media in support of Lari White’s album launch. Upon reviewing old memos, I discovered Chancellor Media decided NOT to accept our money because all of their country stations would not agree to give Lari White’s current single the airplay support. Lari did perform a couple of in-market events for listeners in lieu of advertising commitments.
During my record promotion years, I wrote about the cost of doing business and how music research became a necessary component in dealing with radio. I probably placed too much emphasis on Mr. Moon Mullins. As a radio consultant, he parlayed his connections to the record labels into a music pre-test outfit. He would survey key programmers as a way to target which songs should be “singles” to radio for chart success. I should have given John Hart’s Bullseye Research as much print. Plus I failed to include Bill Hard’s Radio Tracks. Unlike Mullins, Bill surveyed country music listeners/consumers in various markets to get feedback on new, yet to be released songs. Labels would buy his research and use as sell points to promote radio. Mr. Hart’s methodology began as phone calls to listeners playing short hooks of current songs to gauge acceptance. As technology changed, he too switched to on-line testing.
In my memoir, I referred to self-help books that impacted me…like “Dress For Success” and “Career Shock”. For me, they were roadmaps to positive improvements through general common sense life skills. During my years working for Randy Goodman, he was always recommending executive and marketing books. Two that stand out are “Good to Great” and “The Winner Within”. Since I’m a non-fiction reader, I enjoyed reading these plus other biographies and industry related publications. Here are some key takeaways from Pat Riley’s “Winner Within”
*Never demean the time you spend in the trenches. If you pay attention to what you’re doing you can learn an awful lot about how an organization behaves and that can be very useful later on.
*Use any time when you aren’t on center stage to strengthen your powers of perception.
*Keep reminding yourself that attitude is the mother of luck.
*There are only 2 options regarding the commitment to a core covenant. You’re either in or your out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.
*Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better.
*You can not manage men into battle. You manage THINGS.
*It’s what you learn AFTER you know it all that counts. (John Wooden)
*Athletic teams inspire people because they are small enough to be REAL teams. Big companies try to be teams but most can be teams only in very small terms. The micro-team is the core team: It must work together almost daily, it must be constantly aware of its own performance. And it must be in-tune with its own morale. If it can’t do these things the group is not a real team but a figment of the personnel’s department imagination.
*To be prepared is half the victory (Miguel Cervantes)
*You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge (Damon Runyon)
In the mid 90’s Galante would stage a day with all artist managers and artists to provide an overview of the marketplace. My part was to explain the climate at radio. Here are the letters we sent as a follow-up in 1997:
Dear (Artist Manager), You’ve probably read in the trades about radio’s playlist cutbacks. If you’re in the promotion department’s trenches each week you have felt the pain. The chart game has changed and continues to discourage artist loyalty in favor of the hit song of the moment. Radio stations with a list longer than 40 are almost non-existent. To further the frustration, the latest Arbitron ratings are out and it appears country radio is holding a #1 or #2 position in most markets. The result will be that radio will believe their cutback on current music was the right move and decide to continue the conservative approach.
We just wanted everyone to have a heads up on the climate at radio. Music decision makers aren’t thinking long term for the health of the format. They are thinking short term in how to maintain audience for the next rating period in order to keep their jobs.
We must practice patience in the artist development process. It will mean a longer run at radio in smaller increments. This is the reality. We at RLG are focused on developing careers one step at a time. We believe in the music. Have patience and please stay in touch. The game changes daily. Regards,
Dear (Artist), It has occurred to me that the RLG Promotion department should communicate to our family of artists a “letter of attitude adjustment”.
Airplay seems to drive all components of our format. Hits on the radio generate TV opportunities. Hits on the radio garners tour date bookings. Hits on the radio influences consumer reaction at retail. You can begin to see that radio is very important to the process of artist development. And we take the responsibility of airplay very seriously. Yet we believe that in our endeavors to secure airplay…we’ve freaked you out! In overthinking what to say, how to say it. Be sensitive here, don’t make that move with that person…we’ve put too much pressure on you at the radio level.
I remember advising a new artist just before the CRS Boat Show that this performance could mean the difference in launching a career and first single to radio. Someone should have slapped me! That’s way too much stress to articulate to an artist at ANY level. Shame on me.
The fact is we should be advocating a ‘lighten up’ approach. Sure, they are the gatekeepers to the fans/consumers. But these people are just trying to make a living. They don’t know the answers. They are confused individuals trying to justify their current jobs in an era of consolidation. They have opinions and they don’t always match up with ours. That said, I encourage you to begin a new, refreshed approach when dealing with radio. Have fun, be yourself, engage with these music decision makers in a way that says “Hey, I hope you dig my music and me as a person but you don’t have that much power”. This we believe will demonstrate a great personality while not sacrificing any integrity on your part. Hope we haven’t over explained the attitude adjustment concept here. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call. Regards
After publishing my memoir, it occurred to me that I might have left readers with the impression SheDaisy was difficult to work with. Now that time (almost 20 years) has separated me from that moment, I can appreciate my change in perception.
Personally, they were delightful young ladies. Great Family. I still have their beautiful homemade journal that they gifted me. Professionally, they were super talented, outstanding harmonies. And they had a real sense for who they wanted to be…their Brand and integrity if you will. But I was conflicted by 2 forces. #1-the pushback at radio was frustrating. Some compared them unjustly to the Dixie Chicks. Some didn’t care for their pop sounding production. To Lyric Street’s credit, we had an amazing set-up and introduction to radio with full support from Disney. But it wasn’t an easy road to airplay and sales success of their first album. Then force #2-self-inflicted from inside the label. President Randy Goodman had expectations that were difficult to deliver. Radio didn’t automatically embrace SheDaisy. Each single was hand to hand combat. Not like rolling out the next Reba McEntire single. We had to prove to radio and overcome bullshit pushback like “are they really committed to the country format?”, “why aren’t they touring?”, “how about another free in-market show?”. The pressure to succeed was incredible. The record company needed this act to work and grow so Lyric Street could stay open for business, to throw off enough revenue to get to other new projects…like Rascal Flatts!
All of this to say I may have directed my anxiety to the sisters during their early years in a personal manner that they didn’t deserve. The music biz will do that to you, especially when I realized (through self reflection) I took everything WAY too personal…radio relationships that weren’t reciprocal, overly sensitive to everyone’s expectations week to week, project to project. I was caught up in the moment. Plus issues at home with family. For me, career and family balance was clouded. Life was happening. Only now can I see this more clearly.
And finally, I wanted to clarify that Kevin Herring is not gay. However, as Seinfeld points out, there’s nothing at all wrong with that. I may have told the story of first meeting Kevin in Detroit @WWWW where he and my boss tried to trick me into believing this to be true. I failed to mention in the book that this was certainly not the case!