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Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Got to be about the music...


1. You've got to know people. Word of mouth can spread only if you know other mouths.

2. The agent had a friend who knew the band, he checked them out, he signed them.

Then what...

3. It was about the agent's relationships. Used to be the start was a record deal, now you begin on the road. But it's almost impossible to get a gig. Unless you've got an agent. And an agent won't sign you unless he thinks you're good. Because for a good long while, the agent's going to be working for free.

4. The first Dawes tour netted the grand sum of fifty dollars a gig. The agent's commission was five bucks. Unless you can see the grand scheme, unless the band's gonna break through, forget it.

5. The band survived by sleeping on couches. Maybe rock and roll's a young man's game. If you're looking for tour support, keep your day job. This is Dawes's first bus tour.

6. Then Dawes graduated to $250 a night. At this point, they're still trading on the reputation of the agent, he's using his contacts, convincing other agents and bands that Dawes is good, that they should let them open their show.

7. Not only does the band kill it on stage, they kill it at the merch booth. They stay there forever. It's less about making money than making contacts. It's these early believers who will spread the word.

8. There was a Chevy commercial, featuring "When My Time Comes", but they got it because the track had already gone viral, kind of like "A Little Bit Of Everything" tonight. When I saw the band over the summer, everybody sang along with "When My Time Comes", vociferously. Now they're singing "A Little Bit Of Everything" too. It was passed from person to person, on a grass roots level, there was no top down campaign, no cementing radio play. Unless you're a Top Forty act, this is the way you do it.

9. When you catch fire, your price goes up immediately. Suddenly, the band was making a grand a night, then five, then ten. You're nobody, then you're somebody.

10. Taylor Goldsmith not only sings and writes, he plays. Kind of like Springsteen, Taylor can execute the leads and still sing. There's no hit yet, but it doesn't matter. There wasn't a hit off the first two Springsteen albums either. You build it on the road, the definitive track will come. Then again, Springsteen and the E Street Band were more charismatic than Dawes. The Dawes crew is more everyman, hey, maybe that's why they back up Jackson Browne!

11. Jody Stephens came out to play drums. Greatness attracts greatness. Musicians are not jealous, they're looking for the next big thing. Sure, they like money, but they like music more.

12. Benmont Tench came out and played on the two encores, tracks he performed on on the record. And when he placed his hands on the organ keys, it sounded so right.

13. They played "Million Dollar Bill". And "So Well". And, as stated above, "A Little Bit Of Everything". That's what I want, a little bit of everything, I want to partake at the smorgasbord of life. Visit every country, eat it all up.

14. I met the dad after, Lenny Goldsmith, who played with Sweathog and Tower Of Power. He said it was before in-ear monitors, he could barely hear himself sing over the horns. He gave up the dream when his second wife got pregnant. She told him he was too old to rock and roll, thirty seven, he sells real estate now.

15. I asked the drummer and bass player why they broke through, what made it happen. In unison, they both said the songs.

16. The agent got them started, but management counts too. They testified about Tony DiCioccio, he told the band what t-shirts to make, what would sell.

17. It's a whole team, not only agent and manager, but label too. You're all in it together. And it's got to be about music more than money because it's such a long hard slog.

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