Plenty of books have been written about the music industry and how to get into it (we recommend Donald Passman’s All You Need To Know About The Music Business), but few have yet to tackle the elusive sub-industry of metal. Amy Sciarretto (with co-author Rick Florino) aims to change that with Do The Devil’s Work For Him: How To Make It In The Music Industry (And Stay In It!). Amy has a wealth of experience in the music industry, working as the Director of Publicity for Roadrunner Records and writing for our pals at Noisecreep along with Revolver, Kerrang!, Guitar World and more. We caught up with Amy to find out more about getting a start in this crazy metal business.
With all the gloom and doom going on, why would someone want to break into the industry now?
I know. It is a tough time, and we say it in the book. The pie is getting smaller and the industry is in transition as a new model is sought to combat the loss of physical CD sales. But while the music industry model is changing, music will always be something we all need in our lives. The strong will survive. The business won’t go away. The book also talks about other areas of the entertainment biz, and you can use transfer skills in the music biz to the movie biz and the celebrity handling biz. You can promote books, movies, porn, DVDs, cosmetics, widgets, etc. But if music is where your heart is, follow it. When you wake up everyday loving what you do, there is no better feeling.
You’ve worked as a publicist, a writer, a radio DJ and a radio promoter. Do you think a diverse resume is important in the music industry?
Absolutely, 10000000 percent, without a doubt. Nowadays, with all the cutbacks and skeletal staffs, less people do more work. Being versatile is key. You don’t have to be a utility player that has no mastery, either. Do one thing expertly, but also do a lot of things near-expertly, and you will be golden. Aside from making you indispensable to your company, it will also stimulate you as a creative human being and keep your juices flowing. In this day and age, being a go-to person is absolutely, unequivocally crucial. And as I said, you can have an area of expertise that is enhanced by being really damn good at other things, too. Being a writer has made me a better publicist. Being an editor and a former Sirius DJ has made me a better writer. All of the areas I have worked in have contributed to where I am today. I love all my jobs. I am lucky to represent the bands on Roadrunner Records and am honored to be able to expose bands and turn people on to them.
How does the metal music industry differ from the rest of the general music industry? Is there a different approach for those with their heart set on metal?
The metal scene is more familial and close-knit. Most of us travel in the same circles, go to the same shows and deal with the same people. I don’t necessarily think there is a different approach for a genre or even sphere of the entertainment industry. But there is something to be said for preparing yourself for the area of work you go into. Loving the music is important and when you have that knowledge and passion, and you apply it to executing marketing plans and launching careers, you are doubly rewarded. There is a scene in Little Miss Sunshine that sums up how I look at my career, which is a lifestyle. “Love what you do… fuck the rest.” That’s how you should think when working in the music business.
Who did you write this book for?
The target audience is the teenager entering college or the college student who wants to work in the entertainment business. It’s meant to give them a bit of “If only I knew then, what I know now…” type of head start. I must get 15-20 Facebook, MySpace, and email requests a day asking me for tips on how to get started or how I got started. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always flattering when an aspiring writer, especially a female, tells me, “I want your career!” I am happy to pass along what I know. Karma, you know? Plus this business needs good, motivated, passionate people. I am always happy to help the like-minded and like-hearted out. People did it for me, so I am glad to pass the torch, so to speak. You’d be surprised how much people who aren’t in this business don’t know! And as Voltaire said, common sense is not so common. This book is meant to lay it all on the line.
You interview many well known musicians in this book. Traditionally musicians are not the business people, what kinds of valuable information can they provide?
True, but many are involved in the business of being in a band. Touring and performing may not seem like a traditional business, but it is, especially when the band is starting out. They can provide information, anecdotes, laughs and because musicians are creative types that fans look up to and want to hear from, we believe that allowing them to express their opinions is important as they can impact the reader as well. It was also a good idea to provide a sample of opinions outside of our own and to let our friends speak in the book, too!
How has the dynamic of the industry and trying to break in changed today as opposed to 10 years ago?
A decade ago, there were more labels, bands, jobs and people trying to get jobs. It was super competitive, and remains so. With physical CD sales declining, things have tightened up. But there is always room for rebounding and new model of business to emerge. I am optimistic. But I do feel it is harder, you have to be more versatile, and remember that not only in New Jersey do the strong survive. If you put your heart, soul and sweat into this business, you will be rewarded. It may take time, but start early and do a lot. Remember those songs that were like lifelines in those dark, adolescent days. And make yourself indispensable. Trust me, it works. I did it.