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Old 11-27-2004, 07:37 PM   #1
Rocket Scientist
Join Date: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 514
4BAMA is on a distinguished road
Default I grew up dreaming of working at a record company.

l No more, now I want to work in SATELLITE RADIO!

Long but very cool article.

Record companies have downsized to the point of having no employees. Record companies are hamstrung by the avenues of exhibition. Record companies only own PART of the turf, they only have a COUPLE of hits at best. What if you could work somewhere where it was ONLY about the good music, and you played ALL the good music? A place where all of the good stuff and none of the bullshit of the music business existed. Then you'd have SATELLITE RADIO!

I started the day off at Q Prime.

There are no smarter managers than Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch. Sitting in their office you can FEEL Metallica. What with the memorabilia and the working detritus, it's rock and roll central.

And then I went over to Atlantic. To sit with Jason, eat lunch and play records. Hell, up there on the 26th floor I felt like a player.

But then I crossed the street to Sirius, and found out THIS was where it was happening!

You get off the elevator on the 36th floor and you're confronted with a giant control room. Encased in glass. Tracking the satellites.

Metallica is a part of the world. Atlantic has hit artists. But Sirius' footprint covers the WHOLE COUNTRY! Every nook and cranny!

This is not Zach Horowitz crying about kids stealing the music. No, this is UP TO DATE! This is cutting edge. This is technology used to its LIMITS! This is NOW!

After wandering the reception area for a few minutes, Steve Leeds came out to retrieve me. And started introducing me to people.

First was some promotion woman from Verve.

And then came John Boylan.

"It's been such a long time
I think I should be going
Time doesn't wait for me
It keeps on rolling"

There's a good chance in the fall of '76 you were in diapers. You weren't addicted to AOR radio, which was at its all time commercial height. Just before the advent of disco.

Every week albums by established stars came out. And, in between these known quantities, they'd slip in the work of newbies. But, to get airplay in such a tough league, your track had to be PHENOMENAL!

"More Than A Feeling" was phenomenal.

Oh, fuck that corporate rock shit. Boston wasn't Journey. It might have been meaningless, but it sounded SO GOOD! Just the way "More Than A Feeling" faded in.

Still, that wasn't the track that closed me. What closed me was this epic at the end of side one, "Foreplay/Long Time". A tour de force that employed the old Zeppelin trick of going from electric to acoustic and back again to PHENOMENAL effect.

John Boylan produced Boston.

So I immediately got into it with him. Asked him if the rumors were true. That he'd really only been brought on to do the drums, since Tom Scholz couldn't get them right.

Rather than be offended, John dove right in.

Yup, there was a problem with the drums. And the acoustic guitars.

He started telling me the COMPLETE STORY OF MAKING THE BOSTON ALBUM! How he cut songs in L.A. without Tom, because Tom didn't want to quit his day gig at Polaroid. How he rented a remote truck from Providence to run cable into Tom's basement to take his work off his 12 track Scully and transfer it onto 24 track for shipment to California. About mixing at Westlake on an API board in the DEMO ROOM! All for a price way under $25,000.

He's just a white-haired guy. In the lounge of an office. But right here is an integral part of ROCK HISTORY! HANGING OUT!

And why is he hanging out?

Because he cut a jazz album with Linda Ronstadt. On the aforementioned Verve.

But they weren't just here to hype the record. No, Linda was doing an interview. But I didn't know that until I stumbled onto her ten minutes later when chief programmer Jay Clark was giving me a tour.

But still. As I followed Steve away from Boylan and the lounge, I was already infected with the vibe. And, as we turned the corner to Jay's office, Steve uttered the immortal words. "It's just like MTV in 1982!" He was RIGHT, the was PALPABLE!

Jay explained the tech of the satellites outside the control room.

And then he showed me where the bits flew up. And then studio after studio. Cutting every kind of programming in this one building.

And then, there was this endless row of FINISHING workstations. Where the final shows were put together. All in the open. All amongst the people. Not that every one was occupied. No, people were glued to the TV, waiting for the Scott Peterson verdict.

This was not the conventional music business, where everybody's depressed, where the fun is gone, no, here it's HAPPENING!

Not that I don't have my complaints about Sirius. Which I uttered to Steve Blatter, who is directly responsible for the music.

And then I was ushered in for a meeting with the grand poobah. Scott Greenstein. The man who made the Howard Stern deal.

This guy was so good he should be giving seminars. He even convinced me he was a music guy, even though he used to work in the MOVIE business.

Oh, there were no platitudes, no bullshit, rather it was like the closing room at a Ferrari dealership. How could I NOT think Sirius was the greatest shit on earth?

Well, I was a bit intimidated, but not enough to hold back my complaints.

The deep tracks were just not deep enough.

Scott said he had a different philosophy than XM. He wanted only OCCASIONAL wows. I wasn't about to let it go, I said I wanted MORE wows!

And I told him Sirius had no Loft, no Mike Marrone. And, he AGREED!

Then I casually mentioned that you listen to satellite radio DIFFERENTLY than terrestrial radio. That you JUMPED AROUND!

And it was like I'd fallen into a trap. Scott said this was true on XM, but not Sirius. Research had proven it. If you were in the mood for reggae, you stayed on their reggae channel. People were dedicated to the Shady channel.

I was weakening... I had to admit, they DID have some hot shit specialty channels on Sirius. The jam band channel for one.

But I kept uttering my complaints. Hell, I was with the top dog, why not?

The deejays sounded too TERRESTRIAL! Too much like their FM brethren. I wanted satellite radio to be like the opening of "Apocalypse Now", another world that you're DRAWN INTO!

And, like the consummate salesman he is, Scott agreed.

And insisted I let them put a Sirius unit in my car. That I couldn't really get it until I listened in the car.

And, this resonated. Because the car IS the primo listening spot.

And, in a masterstroke, he said that after I'd listened for a few weeks to give him my feedback and they'd tweak the channels. I WANTED to believe I had that much power, but I knew it was too good to be true. That I was being worked. Then again, Scott Greenstein is SO good, I thought MAYBE!

And then we were done. I'd gotten my fifteen minutes with the king.

But I haven't met anybody this exciting at a label in DECADES! Nobody as hungry, aggressive and KNOWLEDGEABLE in any facet of the music business in YEARS! You could tell by the gleam in his eye, Scott wanted to not only revolutionize radio, he wanted to revolutionize SOCIETY!

Contemplating all this, I went back to Leeds' office, my head spinning. Where he played me some of the Shady channel.

What I heard was better than anything from Em's new album I've been exposed to YET! It was live, not calculated. With enough "fucks" to titillate me. With Marshall rapping over the beats freestyle. I thought this channel was a stunt, but listening I felt an uncalculated pulse that has NEVER existed at Interscope Records.

And, there are venues where you can see bands for under $25 that represent the heart of the action. But they're secret. Whereas you could buy a receiver and lay down $12.95 a month anywhere in America and be plugged into the ZEITGEIST of popular culture INSTANTLY!

And I'm watching the endless parade in the hall. Girls in their tight jeans. Pat St. John. Everybody not punching the clock, but feeling they're on a MISSION!

The fact that not even a million subscribers are tuned in yet is irrelevant. They're gonna come. Because the beat is so hot, the pulse is thumping so hard. There's SOMETHING GOING ON HERE! Something COMPLETELY ABSENT from terrestrial radio.

Howard Stern gave Sirius viability. People now know what it is. And are aware of satellite radio in general.

I haven't been to XM, but one afternoon at Sirius made me feel it was the hub. Sure, you could sit in your label office tweaking a few acts, or you could park your ass at 49th and 6th and see the vast parade of musical acts, the whole panoply stroll by.

There hasn't been anything like this since the free format FM radio of the sixties.

And just like that revolutionized the music business, satellite radio will too.

Major labels are making records for Top Forty, an artificial format devised by programmers interested in selling advertising.

There is no advertising on satellite radio music channels. It's ONLY about the music. And there's a PLETHORA of channels. Devoted not only to the mainstream, but the obscure.

Sure satellite radio has a space for Jessica Simpson, it's just that in THIS world she's no better, no more powerful than a classic blues artist spun on another stream.

I'm a pretty jaded fuck. But I was thrilled to be at Sirius. A clubhouse where everybody had a common goal. To blow up the old world and usher in the new.
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Old 11-27-2004, 10:21 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 11, 2004
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 270
Turbo212 is on a distinguished road

I ran into a communications major at my college once, who toured the Sirius studios in NYC once. He said it was absolutely AMAZING. Everything was state of the art, and very advanced. He said it was spectacular. I assume they'll be adding even more cool stuff as the Stern date approaches.

I did talk to someone once about XM's studios, and they had an equally positive description. But I talked to the NYC person more in depth.
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