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Thursday
Jun252009

Fame at any price. Tell the best story and win the contest...

Over the last five years, I have heard some pretty funny and some absolutely amazing stories about what artists have done, and about what artists have been asked to do, to obtain the exposure they are seeking (i.e.: to get signed, to get on the radio, to get into a club, etc.).

Music Think Tank will give a month (at least) of free exposure (you take over the top banner of Music Think Tank occupied now by World Around Records) to the person that tells the best (funny, interesting, amazing, rude, etc.) story in the comments below.

The story has to be absolutely true, but you don’t have to mention names unless you want to!

Some of the regular MTT authors will judge the contest. Contest ends July 1st. If you win, you can promote ANYTHING that has to do with the music industry, as long as what you are promoting is tasteful and appropriate.

Reader Comments (9)

When we were trying to get licensing deals to put out records, we used an online Chocolate Muffin delivery service to bombard labels into replying to our enquiries with a sort of postal DOS attack. We never really got anywhere with this, most of the independent labels we contacted enjoyed the free muffins while they lasted. These were sent out by our fictional manager, Bob E Larrington (His middle name is entertainment) , who we created to do all the painful in the band so we dont fall out. If someone needs telling off for a bad mix, or lack of effort, Bob is drafted in to break the bad news via email.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterArron Clague

Story #1:
A huge musical superstar of the Balkans was giving a free concert to
thousands of people in the heart of Toronto. I attended the concert
and really wanted him to have a copy of my CD, as one of my dreams
is to work with him.
Just before the concert ended I went to the back of the stage
and asked a security guard if he could pass on my CD. He refused,
as he him self was not supposed to interact with "the superstar".
I was then asked to move aside as they were getting the gate ready
for "the superstar" to exit from.

I saw a limo parked in front, walked up to the driver and asked if
"the superstar" was going to come into that vehicle. The driver said,
"Maybe". I said, "I would just love to pass on my CD to him, that's all."
The driver took my CD and agreed to hand it to him. As the concert
ended, "the superstar" ran into that limo & was immediately taken away
by the driver in seconds. My mission accomplished.

Story #2
I hired a friend who does Sing-A-Grams to deliver my CD to Program
Directors at radio stations. Dressed in a tuxedo & mask, he walked
into the stations, asking for the Program Director by name and then
hand delivering my CD while singing a custom designed song about me
& my CD. They seemed to love it. One Program Director called and
said, "Thanks for embarrassing me at my work place, but I did end
up listening to your album!"

Story #3
I was a hostess at a private event for Prince (Artist formerly
known as Prince). He had just finished a concert and came into this
club for a private party. I served him finger-foods while trying
to come up with some sort of a strategy to get him my CD. I was
very shy & awkward about it. My shift was done, and I finally mustered
some confidence and decided to approach one of his bodyguards, instead.
I said "Would you mind passing my CD to Prince?" He looked at me
sternly and said" What for?" What is HE gonna do with that?" .
I have never felt so shut down in my life. It was awful, but I survived.
At least I tried. :-)

Story #4
I just got a job as a car sales woman and in walks my very first
customers. I was ecstatic when I made the sale. A few days later
I was flipping though the local newspaper & saw a photo of my customer.
I realized they were the owner of a big Record Label. I mailed
them a note saying "Remember me, I sold you the car? Well, I also
sing & would love to send you my demo" :-)

Story #5
A fan left me an emotional voice message about how much they
loved my music. Shortly after, I was following up with a radio station
that I've been communicating for a while and they still hadn't made the
decision to play me.
While leaving a message for the Program Director, I unintentionally burst
into tears, sharing how I have fans who call me and cry about how good my
music is. That was my last communication with them. :-)

It was the first mission to get a radio station's attention. This was the first station we had ever contacted to get them to play my now-radio single "Rainy Day" out on the airwaves.

My manager told me we had to make an impact and bombard them. At least then, if it didn't work out, we'd have made it obvious enough that they'd remember my name. For the next month, my manager and I would send at least 10 e-mails a day to the music director and show programmer, asking them to take interest in Mae Anderson. My manager knew that, normally, you shouldn't nag and nag like we were doing, but it was fun, and we absolutely wanted feedback.
When we weren't getting any replies, I got all my friends together and sent around 150 text messages telling everyone on my BlackBerry's contact list to phone and e-mail in the radio station and ask them to play Rainy Day by Mae Anderson. Now, you see, my manager had been able to get the private phoneline of the music director, which wasn't even available to the public.
It turns out that more people wanted to help me out than I expected, and before I knew it, my auntie was calling in too! The music director told her that there were so many people calling in, he was getting angry. He told her that nobody calls in like this, and that he's got new Celine Dion tracks on his desk that he can't even play yet. He wanted everyone to stop asking for Rainy Day.
My friend Sophie was one of the last ones to call. She said that she called the number and the guy didn't even say hello. He answered with: "Let me guess. You're calling for Mae Anderson?". She was speechless and was finally able to blurt out a small, "Yes..". He didn't even wait for her to speak. He replied angrily, "Yeah, well we're not playing her." and he hung up.
The music director was so overwhelmed that he cut off the phoneline to make sure nobody would call again.

Around two months later, another friend told me that he'd kept calling in and speaking to one of the announcers. He told me that the announcer had been really nice and kept telling him that he hadn't been able to get a straight answer from the workers of whether or not they were going to play my song. The announcer liked it a lot, but he wasn't allowed to play until he got confirmation, because it wasn't up to him to deicde what music played on the radio. My friend convinced him enough that the radio station actually held a meeting about me! In the end, they never have played my music, saying it's "too mellow and not the right format", which I find a little hard to believe.

Although sometimes I wonder what would've happened if we would've proceeded in a different matter, I don't regret what we did. We had a lot of fun, and have great memories because of it. I just recently found out that ironically enough, the music director stopped working there. Well, at least now everyone who works for the station knows who I am. :)

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterMae Anderson

One night in Gainesville two years ago, I got really drunk at the midtown bar "Balls", and stumbled back to my dorm room. I walked through the McDonalds drive-thru on the way. When I got back, I had a still-drunk, intense jam session. I guess I was having a blast and thought I was Eric Clapton or something, because I came to the conclusion that I needed to walk back to Midtown and play for the people leaving the bars; my music needed to be heard! Note: the midtown bars are about 30 minutes away on foot sober; 40 minutes drunk. My reasoning capabilities were obviously seriously impaired because I didn't consider after a 40 minute walk home, 15 minute walk-thru at McDonalds, and a 40 minute walk back, that everyone would be long gone and at home in bed. So...I made the trek back to the midtown bars. Not a soul in sight, I sat down on one of the corners and started to play, keeping my guitar case open, just in case, of course, someone walked by. I played for maybe 15 minutes, then found a bench nearby and passed out. When I woke up as the sun rose, I was lucky to find my guitar was still under the bench and even better: a half-eaten, double-cheeseburger in my jeans pocket. I finished it, took the bus back to the dorms, and slept for the rest of the day.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Simmons

The best story of fame at any price is the film Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Just go see it.

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterSuperfly

I grew up listening to hip hop in Zimbabwe, Africa in the mid to late 80s. We didn't have direct access to the music in stores or to videos or magazines but occassionally things would trickle in through friends and relatives overseas. Through those channels, we got our hands on a copy of a fledgling hip hop publication called the Source. A guy named Dave "Funken-Klein" Klein (RIP) wrote a montly column called Gangsta Limpin' that chronicled various hip hop news and info. At the end of the article he's ask readers to send in news and included his mailing address.

At the time hip-hop was in its Afrocentric phase with everyone sporting beads and medallions and dashikis. Funken-Klein was working at Red Alert Productions which had him working with Afrocentric artists including native tongue members the Jungle Brothers, an up and coming arist Q-Tip from a Tribe Called Quest, and the Black Sheep.

Being aspiring hip hop artists that had some rudimentary tracks recorded and with the focus on Africa, I crafted a letter to Dave letting him know that there was some brothers from the motherland in Africa listening but also rapping and I touted our skills, lyrical prowess and relevance. To this day that is the most important letter I have probably written in my life. To our surprise he responded to the letter sending an awsome package of Jungle Brothers,Queen Latifah and assorted promos.But the most valuable thing he sent was an invitation to look him up if we ever came to the US. He briefly mentioned that he was in the process of starting up a new rap label.

I promptly let him know that within a few months (circa 1990) my brother and I would be coming to the US and we eager to take him up on his offer. Long story short, we called him from upstate new york sometime after we arrived, set up a meeting in the summer of 1990 and rolled into the offices of Red Alert Productions on W. 29th Street in full African hip-hop regalia with our rough demos in hand. We had a meeting, listened to the material and had a very positive discussion. He was impressed enough with what he heard that the same day he ended up bringing us over to Mercury Records to meet with the Black Sheep and informally discussing getting the group's beat maker, Mr.Lawnge to produce a more refined demo.

Some months later we recorded some professional demos at the fame Calliope Studios in New York and eventually signed to Dave Funken-Klein's label Hollywood Basic records which was actually a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company under the arm of Hollywood Records. The group was Zimbabwe Legit.

^^That's some awesome history. Thanks for that.

When I was young and trying to push my music to labels and promoters to no avail, I created a pseudo-manager called Gerry. Gerry is a garden gnome who has an interesting back story. The cover letters accompanying the demos would be from Gerry, explaining how that garden gnomes have it tough in New Zealand, and are not eligible for the dole unless they do volunteer work, so Gerry was stuck sending off demos for this Tom guy so he could feed his wife and kid.

That lot of Demos I sent out was the best thing I had done for my career, within a month a promoter from Portugal (Boom Festival) had replied, commending me on my alternative approach and offered an all expenses paid trip to Boom Festival, Portugal for my first international gig, which brought my music to people all over the world and increased my fan base significantly.

I still use Gerry, mainly for when I get overwhelmed with fan mail, he comes in and politely informs the person that Tom is out of action for the next few weeks and wont be checking his mail, it adds a humorous and soft touch to any situation, and has broken me through many communication barriers.

July 4 | Unregistered CommenterTom Cosm

It was Sophmore year in High School and I was playing drums for my first band "Hidden." (terrible name i know) There was a Freshman at our school who happened to be the son of Chris Frantz (drummer for Talking Heads) and we decided to book him as the opening DJ so his Dad could see us. The son was DJing and his gear broke about 10-15 minutes into his set. Our equipment was already on stage so we noticed his Dad was in the crowd so we started playing....forgetting to tune and playing a lot faster due to the Hall of Fame musician being at the performance. THE WORST performance I have ever been a part of and for one of rock n roll's most awesome drummers. I was too embarrassed to even give him a demo. I moved the next year.

July 6 | Unregistered CommenterDan Skarbek

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