It’s hard to put into words what it felt like in the workshop last Thursday afternoon. It was just another “day at the office,” as they say, and we were having a class about the new trends, strategies, and technologies in the music industry. Only, it wasn’t a class at all. It was an intimate conversation between the president of a prominent record label and ten hungry musicians about what drives us to create and consume music. For that hour and a half, we weren’t students and Derek Simon wasn’t the president of Blaster Records. We were just people talking about the thing we all can’t get enough of: music.
Derek Simon is one of kind. Just like us, he fell in love with music at a young age and has been working in the industry ever since. Over the last few weeks, he’s been showing us how to properly release our music into the world as independent musicians and artists. I’m not sure how many people could turn a class on the hairy details of performance rights organizations into a conversation about what drives us to create music, but somehow, Derek did. And it blew our minds.
As everyone got settled in and pulled out their laptops and notebooks, Derek opened the class with a simple question: “How many of you consider yourselves ‘creators’ of music?” Everyone in the room raised their hand. He then asked each of us what drives us to create, and one by one everyone had something to share. Jennifer talked about how quiet her voice can be, and that writing and singing her own songs gives her a voice that can be heard. Ethan mentioned how he loved the accessibility of music in today’s day and age, and how the artists aren’t just selling records anymore, but a lifestyle.
This led our conversation in the direction of music consumption and all of the different outlets available to us. Issac’s hands raised in the air trying to somehow articulate the raw—human-ness—that you hear in a 1940s vinyl. “It’s like the band is in the room with you” Isaac explained. I scooted closer to the edge of my seat as we described how there is something intimate and raw about the way a performance is captured to analog. On the other hand, who can deny the catchy dance beats of Dr. Luke when it comes over the radio in your car or at the bar on your best friend’s birthday? We all throw our hands up and our heads back and rock to the beat in unison. How about when you’re standing fourth row back from the Ryman Auditorium when Tedeschi Trucks is bringing you to tears and you can feel it in every inch of your body? Be it a turntable spinning the lullabies of the roaring era or the dopest hits blasting in your earbuds; music moves us in a real and tangible way.
As each student took a turn adding something to the discussion it dawned on me what was really happening; this isn’t a classroom and we aren’t students in an educational program and Derek is not a professor. We are striving for professional careers as artists and musicians and we had about ninety minutes to ask questions from Derek’s long resume of experience in an attempt to understand more about the industry that we so desperately want to be a part of.
I’m not sure this exists anywhere else; an outlet that submerses you in the heart of the music industry. But that’s Segue 61 and this was just a typical day in an atypical program.
Are you ready to join us?