If you are a Buffalo high school or college student and want to succeed in the Buffalo music business, then GCR Audio, the house that Robby Takac (the Goo Goo Dolls) built, was the place to be last week. Top superstars from Buffalo’s music industry shared their insights and secrets on making it. Some 30 students took advantage of the RSVP invites that were available to attend for anyone that had an interest, and boy did they take lots of notes. For details on that as well as the event itself please view Queenseyes’ preview Music Industry Mentoring Event. Although the focus of the event was directed more toward students, I believe the content is applicable to anyone looking to succeed in Buffalo’s music business, and hope to share insights and excerpts with you.
In the music business, it has always seemed to me that 90% is business, and only 10% is music. Plus the path to success is quite similar to many other fields of endeavor: network, make connections, and try to grok from the top people in your field. Well, those people were certainly in the house. The moderator and the man who assembled this spectacular panel was Anthony Casuccio, who was nominated for an engineering Grammy and is the current Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Vice President. Anthony also creates radio and TV jingles. The panel:
Artie Kwitchoff: Co-owner of the Town Ballroom, managed the Goo Goo Dolls in 1986. Kwitchoff and Donnie Kutzbach as Funtime Productions booked this year’s Thursday at the Harbor.
Chris Ring: Promoter of After Dark productions. Artie teamed with Chris this year to created the new Outer Harbor Concert Series.
Bruce Moser: Helped break U2, Goo Goo Dolls, and Bryan Adams, Melissa Etheridge, the Tragically Hip and Tom Petty. Moser co-founded Could Be Wild Promotions in 1978.
Seamus Gallivan: Founded The Good Neighborhood and is a music promoter.
Susan Tanner: Worked for IRS (not the Internal Revenue Service) record label and as a management consultant for Righteous Babe records
Armand John Petri: Producer, engineer, musician and composer with the Goo Goo Dolls, Talas, 10,000 Maniacs, Sixpence None the Richer and John and Mary. Petri will be inducted this October into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
Bob Silvestri: Although not officially part of the panel, shared some great insights, and is the entertainment writer for the Best of WNY.com.
Casuccio asked: How does a band get on your radar?
Ring: With local bands, we do 100 local shows a year. We will work with most anybody, and everybody will get one shot with us if they want. We emphasize and teach simple details that bands might not get anywhere else.
The “Buffalo Gap”
Ring: There is a huge opportunity right now for local musicians. There is a “Buffalo Gap” which is the gap between superstars and local level of bands. There is not much in-between right now, hence the opportunity. For us, local is the Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse area. The key is to treat your music business seriously, build relationships and network.
Kwitchoff: In a way we use Chris Ring to vet (appraise) bands. Bands that make it do it by working hard to sell tickets. So we will use Chris Ring’s bands in our shows, and in return we have a minor league farm system (sort of like in baseball).
Every band starts out as a $50 band
Kwitchoff: With every band, it all does start in a garage, where every band starts out as a $50 band.
Moser: Like back when U2 opened for Talas at the old Stage One. Also, it takes money to make money.
Kwitchoff: On the road the Goo Goo Dolls ended up staying at a lot of smelly places when they couldn’t afford a hotel room. They slept on a lot of floors.
Moser: In ‘A Boy Named Goo’ Johnny Rzeznick wrote the song NAME in my office. Johnny was making $125 a week back then working in college radio.