Sometimes You Wonder What You Are Doing It For 

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

Sometimes you wonder what you are doing it for. Why are you working in the music industry? This is just a regular day. I just took a day in the week and just described what comes around in a normal workday for me.

I got into the office at 8 am. Our distribution department contacted me about a client that they having a problem with. All the things that you have to upload to our distribution are very clear on the site. To make it easy, we need a picture 3000 x 3000-pixel jpg a Wave file of the song, info around writers, and who plays what on the track. This client had gone around it and ordered a PR package and sent the info randomly through there so the system couldn’t verify that it was correct.

It’s not the hardest requirement that we ask for and standard requests but the client had sent a picture that was 250 x250 pixels. That was the largest size he had on the picture and that was the picture he wanted to use. Just blow it up to 3000 x 3000 I told the staff. They sent me a copy of the resized picture and yes it was more pixelated than a Nintendo 8-bit game. I sighed and just said put that through anyway. No one will ever bother listening to an artist that can’t produce the right square picture.

I hung up and then I got a message from a ‘drive-by shooter’. These are the artists that send you unsolicited stuff on social media. The strange part about these people is that they send songs and want me to listen to them, but they never tell me what I should do with the songs. If I like it, should I play it on the radio station? If it’s not given out, do they want me to work with it? Or is it a proposal for my festival? No just listen to the song, thank you for your time. The artist had written a COVID song. You know what? I already became allergic to COVID songs in the autumn of 2020. No one wants to hear your depressing song about your loneliness during COVID. We have all been there, so no we don’t need another COVID song. It then turns out that he gave out the song in October last year, almost a year ago. Nothing has happened so far,  so I really don’t understand why I should listen to it as well. The whole music industry would be so much better without loose cannonballs like this.

Then I went into the mailbox. A letter from a person that used to be the music industry’s biggest a-hole. She worked as an intake at an important music firm and treated everybody like dirt. Never answered emails. Never took any meetings. Turned out that she left her position and now is a nobody at a new tech start-up and she needs the limelight in the industry to be something again. Of course, she could think of talking on a panel at my festival. Suddenly we are best friends. Yeah right! Many that want the service when it suits them, I will never get anything back anyway.   

Keep on going in the mailbox. More letters from has-beens in the industry that now are in deep desperation to get into the new limelight. More strange PR emails of crazy songs that are going nowhere.

They call back from the distribution department. The client has now sent the song. An mp3 in 128kbs. I just tell them to convert it. They are arguing that it will sound like crap. I just tell them to listen to the song. They soon realize that the song is so badly recorded that it doesn’t matter if they convert it. It’s not like anyone will listen to that song anyway.

Going through songs sent in by artists through Submithub. I guess around fifty songs. All with the same thing. They are great recorded with the new technology. The bad part is that they are not good songs so it’s like trying to polish a turd. Most of them also think that I will be interested if they tell me that the song has big numbers, or what they think is big numbers, like this one with 250,000 streams on YouTube. A quick look showed that the song only had 2000 streams on Spotify and they only had 39 listeners there and that it was released already in March. A quick check on YouTube, yes it’s correct with 250,000 streams, but only three comments all of them fake. It just screams bought streams. You get that a lot, people think the numbers will make up for the fact that the track is really bad. It will never cut it.

At the end of the day, just meeting hopeless cases and people that are just fake and really should not have anything in the industry to do. Maybe just quit the whole thing and do something else, got an offer for another job. Maybe I should just take it. This is hopeless.

Then a mail came with a new song from The Magnettes that I work with. As a last thing for the working day, I put that one in the speakers. What a great tune! Suddenly I know why I’m in the industry. It’s for moments like this when a good artist creates a great song. Like the artist though I must meet a hundred impossible cases to get one good one. It’s tiring but when hearing the right music, it’s worth it.

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 Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.