Welcome to Music Industry Confidential…

Behind the music you hear, the guitar you play, the concert you see, and the band you look up to are a ton of good people that make it all happen.  Unfortunately though, you’ll probably never get to know them…until now.

 


Museum Piece

This guitar will make you happy, not rich

A few weeks ago I sold some gear that I just wasn’t using anymore.  Before I moved to Santa Barbara last year I played guitar in a great band back in Phoenix, The Breakup Society, and had some awesome stuff.  The Santa Barbara scene is less than vital, so why hoard gear that could use a good home?  It’s like Toy Story…that shit needs played with.  I have no idea if this is a good analogy.

I knew what to expect money wise, but I kept thinking about some of the end users I used to speak to when I worked at FMIC who were delusional about what their brand new, mass produced instrument, would be worth someday. Continue reading


No Deadline

The office

I’m discovering that the theme of this blog when it comes to documenting my life in the MI (not to mention the task of interviewing others, which was something I had hoped to do much more of) is inactivity.  I keep catching myself being part of something cool or interesting and immediately thinking to myself, “Gotta write about this!” only to come home and not even open up my laptop.

Blogging is like going on a diet:  You’re extremely motivated for the first week but after that it becomes really hard.

That being said, I’m going to keep going, just at whatever pace I feel like…which right now is very snail like.

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I do though want to share a video that Harmony Central shot with me at Bass Player Live in LA two weeks ago.  I’m starting to do more and more of these and I’m learning that you have to be prepared for less than optimal conditions when they’re at live events.  At BPL this condition was the thunderous amounts of bass playing, slapping, popping, and rumbling going on all around me.  Seriously, the “brown sound” is real!  I couldn’t hear myself think and the nice guy who shot the video said to make sure I spoke up, so I tried my hardest to practically shout.  I’m not convinced what you’re even hearing is my real voice, but I like the way it turned out.


The Rumor

BEFORE BRAILLE “THE RUMOR”

I’m convinced life moving is in dog years. Every calendar year is now equal to 7 years of normal human progress only a decade ago.  I’m not just talking about the obvious examples in technology and science and other industries I would have gone into if I was smart.  I’m talking about the music business.

10 years ago MySpace and Facebook didn’t exist.  If you were in a band and wanted to get your career going you had to work your ass off, record a demo, try to get fanzine reviews and play as many shows as possible.  Record labels still had power, so in some ways signing to one made sense.  It’s what you did if you wanted to “make it.”  The definition of this was different for everyone, but at that time it was the clearest road map to making a living.

With that in mind, this the story of Before Braille from Mesa, AZ as written by lead singer Dave Jensen, about the how the logical decision to sign with a label almost cost the band everything. Continue reading


Thumper

I will hear more low frequencies this weekend than most humans do in a lifetime

Lately my attention to M.I. Confidential has been borderline neglectful,  but I have a good reason.  This weekend I’m heading to Los Angeles to work at Bass Player Live, a yearly event put on by Bass Player magazine that celebrates, well, bass players!  I’ll be with my Seymour Duncan crew representing the brand, talking with customers and fellow manufacturers, getting feedback from players, selling pickups, and listening to ridiculous amounts of great music.

I’ve been preparing and organizing for this weekend for over two weeks now so it’s taken up a lot of my headspace.  The whole time though I’ve been conscious of the fact that I started M.I. Confidential to give a day-to-day look at this industry, and trade shows like Bass Player Live are definitely a big part of it.  Luckily my daily readership is in the 20′s  (as opposed to the 10′s a few weeks ago), so I don’t have a ton of people to disappoint yet.

I can’t even concentrate on writing this to be honest, but I will say that if you have a chance to go to a bass centered concert or event, do it!  I’ve always had more fun hanging around bass players than guitarists and I promise that if you witness some incredibly talented bass players jamming together you will find listening to guitar solos as annoying as post-Gilbert Gottfried Geico commercials for at least a week.


The Best Sophomore Album Ever?

Billy Corgan played rad guitars…

I was born 1982…bummer.  As a music lover and musician it means that I missed out on some seriously good shit:  Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Born to Run era Springsteen, pre-Joshua Tree U2 and much more.  A lot of the greats either broke-up while I was young or were past their prime by the time I started going to concerts.

I got the crumbs:  Reunion tours and artists far beyond the “fire in the belly” stage.

Even though my Dad kicked ass and took me to see Guns n’ Roses & Metallica (with Faith No More opening) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh right after my 10th birthday, it still wasn’t the Appetite for Destruction & Master of Puppets eras.  Not that I really cared though or was that cynical yet.  I was in 5th grade.  ***Please note that my Dad dressed in business casual to the show, as he did for every other concert he took me to.  You think a mohawk is Punk?  Try khakis.*** Continue reading


Keith Merrow Will Light You On Fire!

Keith Merrow / 2012

It’s hard to describe how something sounds.  “Will this make my tone fuller and richer?”  “What about using thicker strings?  What type should I use?”  “I’m running everything through Vintage 30 speakers, how will that change the sound?”

I’ve gotten pretty good answering these types of questions from years of practice, but it’s not easy.  How can you describe with words what your ears are going to hear?  It’s like being asked, “Why do you love your dog?”  It seems simple, but it’s not.  Even now when I’m asked to compare two or three pieces of really similar gear, well, bring out the alcohol. Continue reading


We Don’t Sell Direct

Quick pic I took inside Fender’s Ensenada plant / 2008

I’m going to double-up here with another post based on a great New York Times piece.  Considering I have 10′s of readers right now I probably won’t get crucified.

Here’s the two line summary (feel free to cut and paste words or phrases from these sentences for any kind of school essay or report):  The article is a great behind the scenes look at the financial side of Fender and the real life challenges they face in today’s global economy and culture.  Also woven in is a succinct history of the financial deals that took place when the company changed hands from Leo to CBS to FMIC.

You’re welcome.

When I worked at Fender I was so far from these kind of these important matters I could have worn a clown suit around the office and no one would have blinked.  Continue reading


Move!

It’s hard to be humble when you’re from Pittsburgh

I just read this quote from Neil Young in a New York Times profile story by David Carr:

“For whatever you’re doing, for your creative juices, your geography’s got a hell of a lot to do with it,” he said. “You really have to be in a good place, and then you have to be either on your way there or on your way from there.”

In the words of my Mom’s favorite SNL character, “Talk amongst yourselves.”

Here’s a link to the full article: Neil Young Comes Clean

 

 


The Life & Times of John Mooy, Professional Guitar Tech

With John Mooy at Seymour Duncan

It’s a theme that you’ll see more and more on this site: People that have careers in the music industry are lifers..there are no casual employees.  Once most people get in they’re hooked whether they know it or not.  A few may leave, either by choice or not, but they always try (with varying degrees of success) to get back in.

John Mooy is definitely a lifer and has the ungodly amount of frequent flyer miles to prove it.  For over 30 years he’s been making his living touring the world as a guitar tech, and sometimes tour manager, with artists ranging from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Rodrigo y Gabriella to Kenny Loggins. John has been exclusively with George Benson for some time now and also does Artist Relations for L.R. Baggs pickups.

I first met John this January one night at a bar with some friends after a day at NAMM.  When we started chatting about his life and times in the business I was struck by how this was the guy I wanted to be when I was a kid.  These were the stories I wanted to tell!  John has insights into the music industry that I never will no matter how long I’m in it. Continue reading


C’mon boss, it’s Friday

Evan Skopp: M.I. Veteran and President of good times!

I don’t care what industry you work in:  Buying a case of cold beer for your co-workers to enjoy on a Friday at 4 pm is never a bad idea .  Even if you don’t drink it’s a hell of a gesture.