Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Question of the Day - STARTING OUT - June 17, 2009


L. Poliaki asks:

For people wanting to start out in the music industry, what is the best point of entry? I know individuals who have made it by starting out working the xerox or mail room in movie or television business offices. Music seems different, especially if you want to be a performer. I know one person made it by putting a video of his work on YouTube and someone in the music industry saw it and launched him.

Hartmann responds:

More highly placed entertainment executives began their careers in the mail rooms of major talent agencies than have emanated from any other source. This tradition dates back over 100 years to the founding of the William Morris Agency in 1898. Since then, virtually every agent began his career in this lowly station. Enduring the rigors of a system that not only tested your desire but challenged your fortitude was not for the faint of heart. Competition to rise to the level of secretary, and then to junior agent, was stiff and often ruthless. There were no guarantees.

An ambitious young man, women were not admitted until the seventies, often toiled for three or four years before escaping from the mail room to the next plateau. Every minute of the process was a test of ego, desire and endurance. Only the most dedicated agent "trainee" prevailed. For those who graduated to agent status the battle to survive and prosper had just begun.

There were many tests and few errors allowed. Sitting at the crossroads of all show business activity agents faced many opportunities and often moved on to the ranks of managers and producers. Even to this day, the low paying mail room jobs are highly coveted. Harvard Law School graduates and Stanford MBA's lobby hard to gain access to the most powerful ladder in entertainment. These positions are for business minded people not actors, writers or musicians.

Those young people in pursuit of artistic opportunities must travel a different path. For the realm of music there are two primary activities, recording an performing. In the digital age, careers in the The Music Renaissance are practiced on night club stages and recorded on Pro Tools software. They are built and nurtured on the Internet. Record companies are not likely to offer much help.

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