¡record industry horror stories!
tristin lookout: a woman interviewed me from uc berkeley for a paper she was writing about publicists in the music business. she had just spent the summer interning at sony in NYC, getting horribly disillusioned. she told me that the promotional staff there has elevated the art of trading in promo cds for non-music goods and services to a new level. she said they call airlines and try to get their plane tickets upgraded to first class by offering advances of big records and telling the airline people that these advances are worth hundreds of bucks on ebay. she said they always try to pay for everything, lunch, clothing, travel, etc., with promo cds first and only use their actual money as a last resort.
douglas dark beloved cloud: I knew a woman who worked at elektra in 1993, when they signed stereolab. at a marketing meeting, the idea of promoting them with that lovely clear-vinyl "jenny ondioline" single came up. my acquaintance said "I understand why seven-inch singles are cool and all, but they just don't have anything to do with a band like stereolab." she was fired shortly thereafter, and ended up at tvt; she called me one day all excited because they'd just signed "the aphex twins." richard and james.
shannon wright: one label dropping a band via fax.
claudia the magnetic fields: I worked as a puppet a&r person at a major label for a couple years, so my life was one long record industry horror story. I have loads of really unpleasant stories, but why not tell a funny one (also happens to be the story of how I met my girlfriend). I was invited to a "showcase show" for this teenage girl group from long island. I didn't realize I was the only person they were expecting. I brought a couple people, both lesbians, and the three of us found ourselves in an unfurnished private apartment in hell's kitchen. it appeared that they had rented this room, just for the "major label audition"! these three girls were maybe 14 years old, and were trying to be the next happenin' pop/r&b girl group, or whatever, so they were really shakin' their booties, with dance steps and everything. their boss (a large, intimidating guy) pressed "play" on a boom box, and my 2 friends and I found ourselves being practically lapdanced by these 3 highschoolers. it was pretty amusing... and wildly uncomfortable.
tim departure lounge: there was this chap called elvis and this manager called colonel tom parker...
gerard air traffic controllers: the head of A&R for V2? he can hold it in for something, like, a week.
daniel handler: the assholes at sounds new york wouldn't take back the sea & cake album I bought from them when it had a big scratch, does that count? p.s. thrill jockey sent me a replacement for free.
jonathan lambchop: oh, they're all horrible, aren't they?
david huon/driving past: don't get me started.
legendary jim ruiz: too painful to mention.
nick "momus" currie: after selling over a million copies of edwyn collins' gorgeous george album, setanta sold less than 20,000 of the next one. "I'm not following you" could be the motto of edwyn's audience.
louis philippe: I can't name names, unfortunately. as is the norm, I've been swindled many times, mostly by so-called "indie" labels, which is very sad. but the biscuit-taking moment has got to be finding out last year that a goodish proportion of my '90s publishing was spirited away by a crook who bought off my rights from himself (too long to explain how -- but he could), then declared himself bankrupt -- but only after assigning these rights to another of his companies -- then selling them on to a brazilian (!!!) company which has never, ever sent any accounts to me. it's all now in the hands of my noble publishers mute song.
peter paphides: have you read david cavanagh's fantastic account of the creation story? someone should make a film about the house of love's career -- it could be the '80s indie equivalent of boogie nights.
dan ida: one time we tried to work in the record industry... that was kind of a horror story.
karla ida/k: one time I had to wait for a table for an hour and a half at a really yummy restaurant in new orleans cause the "band" part of the dave matthews band and their entourage had all the tables.
alan low: after leaving a certain major label, some of their employees proceeded to tell people we know that we turned down a $70,000 offer, which was of course a bold-faced lie.
ld flare/moth wranglers: in general: anything released by sony/warner/vivendi/ whatever. on a personal level: getting a generic rejection notice from merge records that one of the guys had personalized with a handwritten note apologizing for sending me a generic rejection note. he's a southerner and, thus, should have known better. very naughty.
dickon fosca: the orlando one is pretty horrific, but I wouldn't know where to start. or stop.
joe pines/foxgloves: the one in which lloyd cole doesn't have a permanent, lucrative contract, letting him put out all his songs and live well off them for the rest of his life. phew -- thank goodness it's only a story.
gregory sportique: I wouldn't give the bastards the satisfaction.
sam quasi: backstreet boys.
james yo la dump: [gag order.]
john phosphene: when edwyn collins was on a press tour to promote gorgeous george (the year before "girl like you" took off), he was live on a radio station in england. as the dj said "back in your heyday in the early '90s... " edwyn's heart sank -- oh no, not that line again! then the guy added "...when you were having hits with songs like "living on the ceiling'..." edwyn said that wasn't him; that was neil arthur and blancmange. the dj got very flustered (he'd cued up a blancmange hit!), then said "oh well -- you know -- blancmange, orange juice... FOOD! DRINK... "
richard versus: being wined and dined by a label and not being able to keep the posh hotel bathrobe.
rob sportique: a band go into the offices of sony and all have their blood sucked by some vampires.
stephen tuesday weld: I met magnus fiennes and he described the classical girl band, bond, to me in detail. he'd recorded the music, got the record deal, the image, the money. all he had to do now was to find the girls...
isaac quannum: the story I'm tempted to tell can't be told in these pages, since the people involved are CF subscribers and the ensuing scandal would shock the nation. but second on the list would have to be the time I got bumped off a flight on the way to pop komm in germany, semi-slept in heathrow, flirted unsuccessfully with two german ladies who were also bumped, discovered a huge pimple on my forehead and then spent the entire time in cologne exhausted and in need of exfoliation.
frances cannanes: I don't know anything about the record industry -- the whole business seems like a bit of a horror story. CF