Over the weekend 80/20 Records celebrated its’ 8th anniversary. Our fearless leader Mike Zimmerlich reflected on the past 8 years and listed the top 8 things he’s learned.
1. You wear a lot of hats
Besides wearing a fedora (bad joke) I’ve performed many roles for the label. Over the years I’ve been a manager, boom mic operator, music video producer, booking agent, promoter, event organizer, public speaker, music video extra, background vocalist, PR agent, therapist, accountant, roadie, merch guy, social media expert, crowdfunding advisor, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
2. Most things won’t work out and that’s ok
If I listed the number of things that didn’t go the way I expected it to it would probably be a whole novel. Needless to say that I’m still here moving forward despite all the setbacks. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right and an idea you had doesn’t come to life. Perhaps you were teaming up with someone on a project and even though both were extremely excited it doesn’t come out the way you expected. I try not to have many regrets, only mistakes that I can learn from.
3. Nobody really knows what lies ahead
I’ve talked with everyone from local artists just getting started to A&R veterans from major labels and one thing has become abundantly clear. Nobody really knows what the future is going to be like for the music industry. Sure many have their predictions that seem sound but we’re in a very interesting time right now for entertainment and what it means to consume it. For many this is a very scary proposition when it’s their living on the line, but it’s also extremely enthralling as the possibilities are literally endless.
4. Signing an artist is starting a relationship
I’m not referring to a business relationship but more closely to a romantic one. There’s the excitement of being with someone new, also known as the “honeymoon” period. But once that is over it takes a lot of work to maintain the relationship. Because you are involved with someone’s creativity it becomes very personal and intimate. In addition, just like any relationship, it has to be built on trust and communication.
5. The music industry is not as cutthroat as people make it out to be
I’ve come across people that will not think twice before throwing you under the bus. But I find this to the be the exception and not the rule. The majority just want to be supportive, they understand that we’re all in this industry together and all of us are trying to be successful.
6. There is a lot of bullshit out there
Although the music industry thrives with people who want to support you there are plenty of services and products that are just complete bullshit. Sometimes the people behind it are just getting their feet wet and don’t know what they’re doing. Others are just looking to make a dollar whether what they’re offering is effective or not. I’ve learned to be very cautious when looking into these things and if they will make a difference. Otherwise I would’ve been very broke years ago.
7. It’s ok to be friends with your colleagues
Something I’ve been told over and over again is to not get close to people who you work for. However I find this to be not entirely correct, some of the closest and most profound friendships that I have are from the bands that the label represents. Don’t get me wrong this can be risky especially if and when there are bumps along the road, however the rewards can be far greater. The people that I vow to support also supports me. Something like that is truly priceless.
8. I’m still learning a lot
Each day comes with new challenges to face, which is why I find running a record label so exciting. There’s so much to the music industry to learn and understand. Second to only the relationships that I’ve forged it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of creating and running 80/20 Records. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as well as the people who’ve helped me get this far. But the most exciting part is that I’ve only just begun.