Great Book about the Music Biz

About 10 years ago I was in Columbus for the East Coast Hockey League's initial tryout camp, held at the Chiller in Dublin (then the only Chiller in Columbus). And I knew a bit about Columbus then, but not enough not to get lost. (And no, I wasn't trying out to play hockey for the ECHL.

I was there reporting on the thing for my own minor-league hockey publication called "Hockey Talk" that I published from 1994-1997. My organized hockey playing days ended in the military. My rec-hockey days ended in 1993 when I had my first knee surgery.)

But yeah, like I still do now, I was trying to get somewhere in Columbus and got lost.

This time, I wound up on Sawmill ... but in Powell. Out where all the new stuff is.

Back then, there was a strip mall and a gas station.

In the strip mall was a mom-and-pop record store.

There I bought a cassette. That I loved. And promptly lost. And forgot all about.

Until about a year ago.

Well, maybe earlier than that, but it stuck in my head. I could remember the cover, but not the name.

I knew it was Jennifer (something).

I searched.

I googled.

I spent hours looking in used stores (yeah, that's torture for a guy like me, eh?)

And then one day, while killing time in some city, I was at a book store, looking for some good
Henry Rollins to read, when I saw this

"Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be - A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale"
by Jen Trynin.


Jen Trynin. Yeah. That's it. That's the CD I've been looking for. "Cockamamie" was the name.

Yeah. White cover. Blue words.

Wait. This is a book.

She wrote a book? Really? I gotta read that.

Well I grabbed the book, finally, from the library on Monday. And read it Monday night.


Now let me back up and say since I finally found her name, I also found her website where I ordered both of her CD's, released in the mid-90's, and forgotten by everyone involved, shortly thereafter. And she gave up the music business, got married, when to college, now has a family.
I'm sure if you she walked down the street, even I wouldn't recognize her.

But you might recognize the quasi-hit she had with "Better Than Nothing" back in 1995.

But not the rest of the story. Because I never knew the story until I read the book.

Wow, again.

It's a must-read for anyone who is, or wants to be, a musician.

As a guy who has friends struggling like hell to make a living playing music, because they're gifted musicians, this book was an amazing eye opener into a side of the business I'd never seen before. And a side I'm sure most fans have never been exposed to. There was serious math to be done just to try to follow the part where she explains exactly what musicians get from a standard contract; from the sale of a CD, how advances are handled, expenses recouped; publishing rights; performance pay; tour support and the endless streams of interviews, radio games and flat out crap that artists have to go through.

Makes me give that much more respect to people who do that.

Think about it. Everyone has their own unique gift - that one thing they do the best.

But how many of us share them with the world? I like to believe, among my gifts, are my writing and photography. I share the writing here, and the photography here. And I've not made a dime from my photography. In fact, I've never even been paid for a picture I've taken since 1992 when I was a newspaper reporter.

But neither my writing nor my photography are what I rely on to pay my bills, either.

But I know people who drive all night, city to city, to play music to people they don't know and may never meet, often times in clubs they'd never be seen in, if they weren't the performer.

Sometimes they get paid. But it's not a lot.

Often times they get screwed. In many ways. And none of them good.

The club is over-booked, underbooked, bands don't show, people don't show. The sound guy sucks. There are no lights, not enough power outlets, not enough space.

Then there's the money, or lack thereof: The 'guarantee' they were promised? "By who?" or "That's not our policy" or "I can't give you that because the place was empty."

The person responsible for counting those who come to the show - lets his friends in free, or undercounts, so the band doesn't get a fair take of the cover charge, if they're getting anything from it at all.

Or they're just flat-out screwed - "Well, the guy who pays bands isn't here. We'll send you a check."

If they're lucky ... and this is in the words of someone I know, "I'm making enough in each city to get to the next gig, so that's good."

That's good? Just making enough to get from one dark, smelly, bad-sounding club to the next to do what you love for hopefully a hundred, but more likely a dozen, people? Night after night?

That's dedication.

And that's why I go to see bands you've never heard of. That's why I have no desires or intentions of trying to sell the photos I take of them, to them, or to anyone else.

They give music to me. On stage.

I give them pictures. Of them. On stage.

As well as my $5 at the door.

So don't bitch about the cover charge ... read this book, and you'll understand.

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