Submitted by Peter Åstedt
When you work in the music industry, you can easily spot the amateurs since it’s changing so much so quickly. If you haven’t been in the new world recently you are going to be exposed pretty fast. In my early days, I did several of these mistakes. The main error is that if you want to appear to be professional you need to tell it in a certain way.
I was managing my first band. I played myself in the band back in those days. We had rehearsed for half a year and had saved up money to get into the local studio for a weekend. When we thought we were ready to book the studio the drummer told me that we needed to line the instruments in the recording. What he meant was that we would record track by track, not all instruments at the same time as a live recording which was kind of standard back in these days to save time in the studio.
We planned to lay down four songs in the studio over a weekend of Saturday and Sunday, including recording and mixing. We had no clue how long it takes when you lay track by track. If we did the live recording, we probably would be able to do it but track by track you might do one song if you are fast and experienced. Let’s say we were not experienced and handled the instruments badly.
Since I was also the manager, I was sent to the studio guys to book the studio time. Of course, I wanted to show that we were not this new beginner band, so I memorized all that the others had said. I walked into the studio and just told them that we need a weekend, and it was important that we should line all the instruments. The guy sitting there looked in the calendar and said it was fine, how many songs would we record? Four, I said, it was very important for the band that we got enough for a vinyl single back then it would be enough with two sides. You are counting on recording and mixing during that weekend? Yes, I said in a sure voice. Okay, he said, do you want to line the drums as well? Of course, I told him in a very sure manner.
Today it’s totally fine to line the drums since you have the electronic drums and pads, but back here the only thing that was available was totally acoustic drumkits that needed to be microphoned. The guy probably had a very fun time after I left trying to line an acoustic drumkit. He knew that recording four songs track by track and mixing was hard to do even even with someone who is experienced, so he just tested and found that I had no clue what I was talking about. In my fantasy, I was professional by ordering these things. This is how it’s done, I thought.
Right now, I experience quite a lot of these rookie mistakes from artists. Like the manager that set an interview and needed all info and the questions beforehand. How it would be done and when it should be aired and so on. The artist doesn’t even have 20,000 streams on Spotify and is nothing and should just be glad for the exposure. The inexperienced manager probably thinks that these are things you should ask to be professional. Since I do really big stars for interviews, and I never get those questions beforehand I know I am dealing with an amateur.
Same thing happens when I book the Future Echoes Festival. I get backstage lists and lists of equipment that would make a big star jealous. Or requests that are totally impossible to get or soundcheck time of several hours.
In many cases the questions are ok. You are uncertain about things. The serious error comes when you think you are sure about things that you really don’t have a clue about.
Don’t let your fantasy get you derailed. Of course, like the guy in the studio, I let your ignorance pass, but I know what I’m dealing with and that shines through. And we never recorded four songs in the end we only had time to record one. It was a great song though and we were all richer from the experience.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.