01 Jun HOW TO BE A POP STAR SUCCESS IN ENGLAND
AND PROBABLY ANYWHERE FOR THAT MATTER.
So you have decided you want to be a pop star. You have set your heart on it and nothing will change your mind. You need some reliable advice. Well I can guarantee* (*Not actually a guarantee) that if you follow these instructions carefully, you cannot go wrong. Firstly, you will need a Manager or Agent. They are not difficult to come by – you will find them on almost any street corner. They will want to take anything between 20 and 30 per cent of your total income.
Not to worry though – 7O per cent of SOMETHING is better than 100 per cent of NOTHING. The Manager will then try and persuade a record company to spend their hard earned money on recording and promoting you. They will probably achieve this by taking the executive concerned out for a hard night on the town. At about 4.00 am in the morning, the manager who has meticulously remained sober, will put the word on the executive. “Hey Joe – I’ve got something new for you guaranteed to set the charts on fire,” is usually how it runs.
The executive, well on the way to being plastered, will answer, “Yeah, Yeah.” The manager quickly fronts out a contract, guides the executive’s pen holding hand to the dotted sign, and it is all over. Later in the morning he calls the sleepy eyed executive and asks when he wants to see the new star. “What new star?” asks the executive as he is having his fifth black coffee in as many minutes. “Ah don’t you remember, the one you signed up at the Playboy Club last night?” the manager replies. And so it is done.
Once the artist has been recorded, which is no fun in itself, the real fun begins. As soon as sample pressings of the record come in from the plant, the manager prepares himself for weeks of solid boozing and conning, and buys in a hefty supply of an acid. His first call is on one of the pirate stations – usually the one that claims the highest listenership, which is all – and without beating about the bush, asks for the professional manager of the station’s publishing company. “What has a publishing company got to do with it?” you may well ask. Well if the publishing company like’s the A side of your record, they may decide to publish the B side. For being so nice to them, they will give you 3 week’s airtime on their station. They don’t bother to listen to the B side which they are going to publish – who cares about it anyway? If the record is a hit, the radio station is going to make as much as the publisher off the A side. That is just one of the little idiosyncrasies of the present copyright laws. Having made sure you have at least one pirate station (with an audience of 10 million – supposedly people) you must move on.
You go to the other major pirate station. This time you visit the Manager of the Concerts Department. You see, pirate stations don’t just broadcast – they do all sorts of other things as well, like running and promoting Saturday night concerts for teenagers. You tell the gentleman in the polka-dot tie (I just love the respectability of these people) that you have a new record and you would love the opportunity of singing it at their dances.
He looks quite pleased, makes you sign a contract, which is notable for its lack of finical obligation, and you’re in business. Oh no, you don’t get paid for those appearances. That’s public relations. For providing the radio station with your gratis services, you might get mentioned in their advertisements and they might play your record as a lead-in to a commercial about the next dance. Having fixed up the pirates (and heaven knows, they would not have played your record if you had not) you proceed to more nobler institutions, such as the BBC. Here you will play the game a different way. You don’t buy anyone anything other than several lunches at the Savoy.
You wine and dine the dee jays until you are absolutely clobbered with rich food and martinis. This will assure you several plays on legal radio. Then it occurs to the manager that he must make sure the pirate station dee jays say nice things about your record. Yes, they know they HAVE to play it (a memo from the boss tells them so) but they might get nasty and forget to mention the singer. So you wine and dine them. By this time, the manager has acquired a stock phrase for answering normal salutations like, “Oh baby, it’s all happening right here”. Having got to within a few days of release date, you hastily see the magazine critics. If you haven’t known them for ten years, you hire someone who has.
Then you are in a position to ask for a “teeny weeny favour.”
You arrange a reception, and invite all the VIP’s. Receptions are normally held in the early evening, after everyone has adjourned from the local. Rarely does one know who the reception is for, but who cares as long as the booze keeps rolling. Release date comes, and the reviewers say they think it’s a hit. The pirate dee Jays flog the record until they are blue in the face. The whole country hears about you, in one way or another. So then comes the messy business of making the charts. Very few dealers buy records by new artists until they have made their way into the charts. So this must be arranged pronto. You call up a guy, tell him you will leave $500 in an envelope somewhere or other.
He says fine, and what position would you like in next week’s charts? You cannot go in too high for people might get suspicious. One record company dill once rang a music paper asking why so and so’s record was high in the chart when they hadn’t sold a single copy. You must be careful about these things. Having received his $500 bucks, the fellow rings up 10 people in 10 important shops around the country. For $25 each, (hell! – they’re only making $40 a WEEK!) they agree to add three figures to the sales return on your record which they send to the chart listers. They do this for a fortnight, by which time your record is being ordered all around the country. The kids think its a hit, so they must buy it to be in.
And then you get TV appearances because you are in the Top 20. You are in business. What’s that? What sort of record should you make? Hell who cares – as long as it runs for 2 minutes!
Sing what you like – the end result is always the same.