HITS Daily Double
WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?: For the past many years, I’ve had a legitimate reason to attend the Grammys—twice with Arcade Fire, once with The Lumineers and last Sunday I was grateful to be included in the Tame Impala camp. Vampire Weekend won (deservedly) for Best Alternative Album, and I know that Tame will win in the future. I have the deepest respect and admiration for Vampire Weekend—their latest should’ve been a contender for Best Album—and the blueprint of how their career has evolved is worth studying. The current female-appeal sound that dominates Modern Rock is a direct result of bands like Vampire Weekend and Foster the People redefining what “works” at the format. Even before mainstream Modern Rock embraced Vampire Weekend, the hipsters, early adopters at radio and their younger brothers and sisters had declared them to be their MOST FAVORITE BAND. Ticket sales far outweighed airplay, and the concertgoers were now much younger, due to the influence of older siblings and word-of-mouth. Based on what my niece told me four years ago, Vampire Weekend had cornered the market on the lucrative “all-girls private high school” demo. Attendance at their shows was MANDATORY for this group. Last year, my younger niece (then 12) said that all of HER friends couldn’t wait to see Vampire Weekend (and, thanks to “Aunt Ticketmaster,” as I call myself, they all had tickets to the Merriweather Post Pavilion show). Once airplay kicked in, the mainstream fan joined the fray, likely unaware of the band’s earlier records. “Unbelievers” is their biggest single so far, although most fans, if asked, would say that every song the band has released was a Top 10 hit. Violent Femmes was the first band I worked with that attracted a younger fanbase long before the mainstream caught on. The college radio DJs that brought the first record home during break played it for their siblings, and it became a life-changing record for both. By the time the Femmes played Carnegie Hall in 1986 (with Leo Kottke opening), the audience was comprised of mostly teens (and definitely one of the most memorable shows of my lifetime). Like the Violent Femmes, Vampire Weekend’s records will resonate from generation to generation…. One question I always ask my friends in radio and at labels is, “What is your 5 year plan?” Nobody ever has an answer, which is unacceptable, given the ever-changing/shrinking state of the business. There are no golden parachutes in middle management, and loyalty usually goes unrewarded. To assume that you will be where you currently are in 5 years is na�ve, unless you’re self-employed (although I’ve been known to fire myself in a moment of pique). Each of us has a different plan or path, but you must be honest with yourself about what is important to you: Is it recognition from your peers, stability, financial security, creative control, a big job title, time with your children, loca­tion, being part of a team, running the show, etc.? Think about where you want to be in 5 years, both geographically and in your career. For my goals (and for my young son), I know that LA is the only viable option for the next 5 years. Again, if geography isn’t a consideration, then decide what your goals are, and what sort of job you want to have that would enable the life you want to live. EVERYTHING is possible (except I’m not sure that many of you radio guys qualify for a career as a Supermodel, no matter what you’ve been told by a label rep in search of a late-Tuesday add). If you wake up tomorrow and it’s 2019, where will you be? Now it’s time to work backwards, and figure out how you got there. Who did you seek to mentor you? Who had your back? Who did you impress to get there? What extra work did you take on? Who did you bring up with you along the way? What artists did you champion? Did you profit from their success, either through industry recognition or financially? What other fields did you integrate into your new position—tech, film, production, etc.? Do you have a life outside of work (absolutely critical)? And yes, I have my own 5-year plan. If I’m still calling Modern Rock radio by then, you will know I failed….Email me your hopes and dreams: [email protected].
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