The X Factor (The Day The Fish Died)
©2005 By Bronson Herrmuth
No matter how many new technological advances that may occur in regards to the music business, it is still ultimately controlled by people making decisions. Decisions that will directly affect your career, assuming you are actively seeking establishing new relationships with hopes of climbing your way up the proverbial ladder, no matter what it is you do in the business. The X factor, the human factor, will always dictate the final outcome of any decision making process. The following true story is a case in point.
My long time partner and mentor, Johnny Drake and I made an appointment with a major label executive in Nashville to pitch him an artist we were working with. We arrived at the meeting early and then ended up waiting with the receptionist for over an hour for him to come in. When he did, he was obviously very upset about something and made us wait another half hour before calling us in to his office. We actually offered to reschedule our appointment but he insisted we wait and since face to face sit downs with label executives don't come easy, we waited.
As soon as we sat down in his office, he apologized for making us wait explaining that sometime in the night his aquarium had lost power and all of his exotic fish collection had died. Tears were welling up in his eyes as he spoke and it was obvious he was a mess about his dead fish. We offered our condolences, trying desperately not to laugh as we realized our predicament and again attempted to reschedule this meeting. He insisted on listening right then so we proceeded with our pitch anyway, though we knew this was far from the right time or place based on how upset he was. As we listened to the tape he sat and stared out of his office window with tears running down his face. He listened halfway through two songs and then passed with some lame explanation of why he was passing and we thanked him for his time, and then we left. As soon as we got outside we both cracked up and shook our heads at each other over how crazy the music business can be. It was very very bizarre to say the least and a meeting neither of us will ever forget. His fish died, I mean give me a break!
The X factor, the human factor. The big one that ultimately no one can control but will play out to affect you over and over through out your career. We could have played the fore mentioned A&R man the Star Spangled Banner and he would have passed, no doubt in my mind. We (and of course more importantly our artist) were screwed before we ever sat down in his office, because of some stupid fish dying. As ridiculous as this sounds, who knows what might have happened for everyone involved if those damn fish would have kept breathing just one more day.
Moral of this story? Just because someone in a position of power at a label, or a publishing house, or a manager or agents office, or anywhere, says no to you when you are looking for a yes, do not let it stop you. They are just people with an opinion and you have no way of knowing what made them come to that particular opinion on that particular day. The reality is you don't even know if they really listened to what you sent them, no matter what they may say to the contrary or what they give as their reason for saying no, even if you are sitting there listening with them. If you really are good at whatever it is you do, then believe it and pursue it no matter the odds against you. One more pitch, one more gig, one more phone call or package or resume submitted might very well make the difference you are searching for. The up side of the X factor is that some times it works in your favor and you score, big time. Yes, sometimes you get real lucky and the fish don't die.
Authors Note: I invite you to listen free to my narration of a few chapters from my book:
Dedication & Acknowledgements - Dedication (2.1 MB) mp3
Chapter 3 - Rehearsing - Rehearsing (5.5 MB) mp3
Chapter 7 - Your Name - Your Name (8.6 MB) mp3
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