Songs About The Music Business

Music is their business, so it was not surprising to hear the hosts of Sound Opinions dedicate an entire episode to the music business. Jim DeRogatisi and Greg Kot, who run the weekly program for National Public Radio, discussed on a recent show their favorite songs about the joys and pitfalls of the record industry.

Greg Kot picked “Nothing Is Good Enough” by Aimee Mann, “Mercury Poisoning” by Graham Parker, and “E.M.I” by the Sex Pistols as his favorite tunes about the music business, while co-host Jim DeRogatisi chose “Have a Cigar” by Pink Floyd, “So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star” by Patti Smith, and “Caught Can I Get a Witness” by Public Enemy. All six were worthy selections, but there were many more they could have mentioned.

Here are ten other popular songs written about the grind or delight of a career in music.

Death On Two Legs by Queen

Although it never received the acclaim of “Bohemian Rhapsody” this opening track from A Night at the Opera has Freddie Mercury taking his best shots at underhanded deal makers in the industry.

Geno the Manager by Hall and Oates

Unlike many songs about those involved in the music business, this one actually shows appreciation for the guy watching over the duo.

The Entertainer by Billy Joel

It is a fickle career to enter, as the Piano Man so clearly points out in this jaunty acoustic number from Streetlife Serenade.

Paint a Vulgar Picture by the Smiths

As an artist lies dying, Morrissey blasts the fact that the record company is preparing to capitalize on the tragedy by repackaging her material.

Goon Squad by Elvis Costello

The title group in this Armed Forces track are industry executives, who Costello warns “have come to look you over and they’re giving you the eye, they want you to come out to play but you better say goodbye.”

Free Man In Paris by Joni Mitchell

Reflecting on his youthful days in France, this fed up record exec dreams of getting out of the hit making machinery on this single from Court and Spark.

Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You by Sugar Loaf

Most aspiring artists were already well acquainted with this response when the band made it a Top Ten single in 1974.

Keep the Customer Satisfied by Simon and Garfunkel

Here the customers are those buying their albums, and the title serve as the mantra the duo keeps receiving from their record company.

Thank You Very Much by the Kaiser Chiefs

“It should be a thrill but it feels like a drill” Ricky Wilson sings in the chorus on this track from Retirement, an album with several other references to the pitfalls of success.

Daily Records by the Who

Pete Townshend on this delighftul track from Face Dances emphasizes that he just wants to keep making songs, as he grows increasingly wary of the business side of the music world.

Music Business Contacts: Music Business Registry connects artists, managers, publishers, producers &

“The difference between success and failure is information,” notes Ritch Esra, and he should know. Along with his partner, Stephen Trumbull, Esra is a leading part of the number one most-reliable source of information on “who’s who” and “who does what” in the music business. Best of all, they can tell you where everybody is located.


The Music Business Registry ( publishes five directories: the “A&R Registry,” the “Music Publisher Registry,” the “Music Business Attorney Registry” the “Film and Television Music Guide,” and the “Record Producer and Recording Engineer Directory.” For many in the business, these are indispensable reference works.

“The directories give everyone vital, accurate and the most up-to-date information they need to contact the entire A&R, music publishing, legal and film/TV music communities,” Esra states. From comparing notes with dozens of professionals in all of these areas of expertise, I can tell you that no one disputes his claim.

More than one music industry executive has told me that the Music Business Registry publications are worth their weight in platinum. Tess Taylor, president of NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals), says “I couldn’t get through one day without the directories from the Music Business Registry. These publications are the finest in the business.”

Each directory tells you how to reach industry professionals by regular mail, e-mail, direct dial telephone and fax. The books provide each person’s exact title, street address, the name of their assistant and the styles of music in which each executive specializes. Web sites are also included.


The world of the A&R executive is exciting but ever-changing. Which is to say, there’s a lot of turnover in this part of the industry. So much turnover, in fact, that the A&R Registry is completely updated and reprinted every eight weeks, whereas the publisher volume is biannual and the other books come out yearly.


Created in partnership with RPM Direct, the “Record Producer & Recording Engineer Directory” presents 1,700 of today’s leading Record Producers, Recording Engineers & Remixers throughout the US, Canada and Europe in every genre of music. Included in the book are:

(1) Complete contact information for every Producer, Remixer & Recording Engineer along with a list of their credits.

(2) Producer/Engineer/Remixer Management Companies including a complete

staff listing as well as full client rosters.

(3) A Complete Index to easily locate any producer.

(4) Several Interviews and articles with today’s leading Producers & Engineers.

No wonder you can find the Music Business Registry’s publications in the offices of top record company executives, music publishers, artist managers, agents, music attorneys, recording artists, studios and other music business professionals everywhere from Los Angeles to London, New York to Nashville, Chicago to Copenhagen, Toronto to Tokyo, Stockholm to Sydney and Minneapolis to Munich.


The Music Business Registry is located at 7510 Sunset Blvd #1041, Los Angeles, CA 90046-3400. Phone: 800-377-7411 or 818-995-7458. Fax: 800-228-9411 or 818-995-7459. E-mail: [email protected].

The Top 10 Excuses For NOT Achieving Music Business Success

Over the years, I’ve heard many excuses from aspiring artists on why they are not successful in the music business. I’ve compiled a list of the “Top 10 Excuses for NOT Achieving Music Business Success”. The difference in winners and losers is winners take action and losers make excuses for not taking action.

Here is my list of excuses:

1. I’m too young

2. I’m too old

3. I don’t have enough money

4. I don’t have enough contacts

5. I don’t know what to do

6. I just don’t have the look

7. Other people are holding me back

8. I don’t live in the right city

9. I have too many other obligations (kids, marriage, job, etc.)

10. I’m not getting enough exposure

Let me attack these excuses one by one.

1. I’m too young

There have been many young people who have made it in the music business. In fact most people get started when they are young. Currently, there are young people who top the music charts like Justin Bieber. Michael Jackson started when he was 5 years old. Destiny’s Child found success when they were teenagers and look at there members now. Who hasn’t heard of Beyonce? If you are young, I say you probably have a better shot at being successful than someone in their 70’s. We’ll also dispel the “old age” excuse in #2.

2. I’m too old

I remember one of my friends stating to me that if he was not successful by the age of 30 in the music business, then he would quit altogether. Well, the music business is very strange and instead of focusing on making great music and being a great entertainer, my friend focused on his age. Al Jarreau was well past 30 when he became successful. Most recently Susan Boyle has become an international success, not because of her age and her looks but because she has talent.

3. I do not have enough money

I’m sure glad I got over this excuse early. If you do not have any money then you should find someone to invest in your music career or learn how to advance your career without using too much money. There are all kinds of guerrilla marketing techniques that aspiring artists can use to further their careers. Go to the library and get a book on guerrilla marketing and you see what I mean. Better yet, Google it!

4. I do not have enough contacts

Once again let’s shoot this excuse down for good. We are in the information age. There are networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and many others online that will allow you to make all the contacts you need. In the offline world, you can go to music industry conventions to learn about the music business and build lasting relationships. I can’t even remember all the contacts I’ve build over the years but I will never say I don’t have enough contacts.

5. I don’t know what to do

This is another tired excuse. There are plenty of books in the public library on everything from how to make a demo to how to book your own shows and make money. If you really don’t know what to do, find a mentor and follow their path. Even if you don’t personally know them, success leaves clues. Figure out what they did and duplicate it.

6. I just don’t have the look

Of course there are plenty of gorgeous artists in the entertainment industry but if you don’t think you have “the look”, then you probably need to quit anyway. I’m serious. There have been some really blockbuster successes that were not “lookers”. Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder which means different people are attracted to different things. This is more of a self-esteem issue and you should probably work on boosting your self-esteem first if you plan on being in the music business. Sometimes people can be mean and if you have thin skin or are easily offended, this business is NOT for you.

7. Other people are holding me back

Really? Unless you are incarcerated or someone is holding you against your will, no one can really keep you from achieving your music goals. You need to look at the “man in the mirror” and figure out what you need to do to get going with your plan.

You do have a plan don’t you?

There can be negative people in your life but if that is the case then if you are an adult, you can remove yourself from their negativity. So many artists hear the words, “I don’t think you can make it in the music industry.” If someone is telling you that, you need to get as far away from them as possible because you’ll begin to doubt yourself and your talent.

8. I don’t live in the right city

Thirty years ago this might have been true but once again the Internet shoots this excuse right in the heart. There used to be a time where you had to live in New York City, Los Angeles, or Nashville to make it in the music business. The Internet has leveled the playing field so that no matter where you live, you can make money and get discovered if that is you goal.

9. I have too many other obligations (kids, marriage, job, etc.)

I actually struggled with this one for a while. I put my music dreams on hold to take care of my family and that was a very noble and responsible thing to do. However, I never stopped writing and moving forward with my goals. I learned how to make beats and I learned how to market myself on the Internet as I’ve said to you so many times before in this article.

I did not make excuses for what I was doing. I just need to find a different way of achieving my goals and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. Even if you have to spend 30 minutes a day doing something toward making you music dreams come true, that’s better than doing nothing at all.

10. I’m not getting enough exposure

I can lump this excuse in with some of the others above but here is a different viewpoint on exposure. Internet, Internet, Internet! All you need are some basic pieces of equipment and you’re on your way to getting massive exposure. You first need to take a course in guerrilla marketing so you can learn how to market yourself with little to no money.

I would also suggest getting a digital camera and/or a camera that records video. You can post pictures and videos all over the Internet for your fans to see. Need to do a live show? Have someone record you performing live and post it on the Internet on sites like YouTube. Posting on a site is not enough though. You need to learn how to bring traffic to your postings and that is why I recommend learning Internet marketing.

People are making a killing on the Internet and it doesn’t take millions of people or millions of sales to make you successful.

I’m sure there are more excuses than I’ve listed here but I do believe these are the ones I’ve heard the most. If you are using any of these excuses above, I suggest you take a good look at yourself and actually figure out if this business is for you.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote. I’m not sure who the author is but when you start making excuses, always remember this:

Excuses are the tools of incompetence. Those who use them build monuments of nothingness that shall not amount to anything. Therefore, there are no excuses