I signed my first record deal contract at age 17, with an alleged New York music promoter named Don. I still have the contract somewhere, securing my percentage of future earnings for having composed the potentially smash hit single, "Finer Thoughts of You." It was to be recorded by an Indiana-based band, Leather and Lace. My contract was for the song only, as the intimidating dude-in-charge informed me that I would never be a singer, so I should stick to my writing. Just didn't have the vocal talent.
I made the round of authenticity checks on this guy Don - Better Business Bureau, New York contacts etc. and found nothing, good or bad, to color his self-proclaimed importance. I knew nothing about publishing but scrambled with copyrights. Nothing of relevance happened with him except for my initiation into a suspect world where nothing bristles paranoia like the mention of contract signing. When I think about it, that song I wrote kinda sucked, too. It didn't have much of a hook, and it was syrupy in it's folky-ness. I think Don knew nothing about the biz.
It's not necessarily the smell of youth or naivete that perpetuates the pounce of music industry gnashers but rather the desires of the "gnash-ees." We want to be told we're great. We want to be hand-selected from the crowd. We think we are special, maybe even have friends and family who put visions of fame in our heads. We are impressed by the abilities of the stranger who identifies our award-winning qualities.
I am reminded of all this from the recent experiences of Alonzo, a singer/pal o' mine who participated in a talent showcase at the Jeffersonville Ramada Inn. The preliminary flyers were cluttered with come-ons, daring you to pursue your dreams, make them a reality, possibly get a deal "on the spot."
The hype flying around something called the MMT Group made head honcho Bruce Goodwin seem like a cross between Buddha and David Geffen himself. As a matter of fact, the promo teasers kept saying, "Meet Mr. Goodwin Himself!!" All ages welcome, all forms of cash accepted!! ( I may have misquoted the cash part.)
Alonzo paid $50, along with nineteen other entrants, to entertain the wallets of these "promoters." At least one hundred friends and relatives were in the audience, at ten dollars a head. Since he sold twenty tickets, Alonzo got a free copy of his two-song videotape which otherwise would have cost some bucks.
Hmmm ... I'm not great at math, but even I know that 20 time $50 is, let's say, $1000, and 100 times $10 is also $1000. But wait, there's more! Alonzo is a really fine singer, so he probably wasn't too surprised when he was singled out by Goodwin HIMSELF as "someone who could go places." For a mere five thousand dollars ($5000!), he could be under the contractual wing of the MMT Group just like Mary Doe, in Wichita or wherever. Need I go on? These kinds of outfits survive from town to town, year to year, and they stay afloat quite well. In this particular case, Alonzo did not accept the (payment plan available) offer, but is still getting mail. Songbird Productions has surfaced, requiring only $50 to move Alonzo to the next level. And what might that be - the shell game?
Alonzo is now reviewing original pop songs for what will be his debut album. Here's an opportunity for you, the songwriter, to branch out. He sings good, needs songs. You write songs, need singer. And the beat goes on. Contact Alonzo at 451-2834.
CONTEST!! THIS IS REAL!!
Five dudes, Wyndell, Adam, Jason, Erich and Glenn. One band, no name. Let's get together and feel alright. As you read this, these guys are at Ramcat's, recording an album of relatively positive ("not geeky"), heavy original modern rock songs. Light on the love songs. Two of them, Wyndell and Glenn, used to have a band called Jakky Paper. Who are they? I dunno. They would like you, the reader(s) to name the band. Help them. You know how hard it is to be objective about a band name . . . all of 'em sound stupid. But if someone else picks it, well that's different. If the nameless band chooses your name, you will receive a mention on the CD liner notes and -- AND -- a night of partying with these talented young musicians, all expenses paid, baby!! The deadline is Thursday, September 23 because they need to call themselves something at H. Lee's that weekend. That's all I know about that.
You can email or call in your submissions by contacting me, The Mid City Meddler. Be sure to leave your contact name and number! I promise not to steal your idea, even though the prize sounds intriguing . .
Contact me with your band/ Mid-City info!
(heart) Muffy 485-9677 / firstname.lastname@example.org