Among the most passionate people about music are those who work in the music industry: at labels, as press relation people, as concert promoters, as booking agents, as managers, as music critics, and so on. RREVERB proposes to its readers a series of interviews with passionate music artisans.
Today, we meet…

CHIP SCHUTZMAN

What’s your name, what’s your role in the company you are presently working at, and since when are you working there? Where are you from and where do you live now?

My name is Chip Schutzman and I run a digital and social marketing agency called Miles High Productions and started my company in 2001 and 900 clients later, we are still here to help serve artists in all shapes and sizes for digital strategy and promotions.  I am originally from New York and Philadelphia and currently live in Los Angeles.

Is it very different to manage social media for artists & musicians vs cosmetics, gaming, sports and other industries you work with? I sometimes feel that musicians think “marketing is evil” and “not pure”, as if they should be discovered by the sole attraction of their art. Do you get that type of reactions?

Yes and no.  Yes in the sense you have a different product and demo audience and lifestyle/user habits online that curve and shape each area into a different definition of use, goals, strategy and direction.  Cosmetics and sports and gaming all have very segmented loyal audiences and I find they are easier or have more content to work with as opposed to newer or independent artists who are just starting out and defining their brand online.

When have you started to work in the music business?

I started to work in the music business when I was 16.  I started at a local radio station called WCOJ and did news broadcasting at 5am and then proceeded to attend school afterwards.

At what age have you started to love music?

I received my first LP phonograph on my 2nd birthday.  By the time I was 6, I had collected over 700 albums in every music culture and genre there is known.  I wanted to absorb myself into all different recorded sounds and styles.  I started to love music before I entered this earth and lifetime.

How on Earth did you get 700 albums by age 6? 🙂

Farmer’s markets.  My dad used to go to garage sales on weekends and swap meets and we’d always come home with about 10-30 Albums a weekend.  Music of all sorts:  Greek folklore, Spanish Flamenco, Russian Orchestral to 60s/70s pop-rock.  I absorbed it all – the sounds were all so invigorating and exciting to listen to as a child.

When you were 20, what was your dream (in the music world)?

At 20, I had had several jobs already as an on-air talent and was having a career midlife moment after realizing it was going to be very difficult to support myself as a part time on air talent.  My dream at the time though was to work in some form of the music industry – perhaps at a record label or with a touring crew unit.

Have you ever been a musician? Tell us about your career.

Yes – in grammar and high school, I learned the piano, drums, violin, viola, tuba, French horn, clarinet and vocals.  Vocals is still the one instrument I practice frequently.

ABOUT THE MUSIC BUSINESS

Do you live from it?

Yes.

Is it still possible to make a living with music today? What do you need to do to make ends meet?

Depends on what you’re looking for and what genre of music you are performing in and also a critical factor is if the artist can make a living via touring.  I see both – impossible and possible pending on what you’re looking to do and how you plan to achieve it and what style of music and how big your demographic audience will be.  All factors to today’s reality.

Who did you meet in your musical path that was key to your development / success?

Working with talented on air announcers and artists such as Whitney Houston and Bruce Springsteen and Madonna at early stages of their careers.

Photo by Richard Corman

Photo by Richard Corman

Were you star-struck when meeting with some of the stars you met? If so, which? If not, why not? How is it to meet “pop machines” like Britney who must have entourage, managers, paparazzi, security…

I have never been starstruck.  My second day at CBS News, I met Bruce Springsteen and it was at that moment, I told myself that he is just like anyone else in the world and I instantly from that point forward, was never starstruck with anyone I ever met.  I look at the pop machines as a music business.  They must have that type of engine to produce such a big show or production.  It’s like Cirque du Soleil or a Symphony.  It’s just equivalence of pop culture that magnifies that perception due to sales and impressions in media and television.

Photo by Art Maillett

Photo by Art Maillett

What do you like about your current position?

The ability to oversee all aspects of client relations, brand building, business development and fostering great media relationships are all areas I particularly enjoy as a business owner.

What would you change about the music business today?

There is a lot to change.  Perception of old school values in the music industry.  Devalue of music amongst streaming services.  How music is exposed, promoted and absorbed by younger generations and consumers.  Streaming service curators and playlists.  I would change a lot and have more promotional channels for newer music artists.

Which great personal goal have you not achieved yet?

To operate and run/manage a record label.

Vinyl, cassette, CD or digital?

Vinyl – til death do us part

ON ARTISTS AND MUSIC

What are your preferred music genres? Was it always the case through your life?

Guilty pleasures:  Classic Rock and EDM and 60s pop and female jazz vocalists.  Pop was always the mainframe format growing up.  I used to always read Billboard Magazine growing up and influenced by the Top 100 songs chart.

On a desert island you bring those 5 albums (no more!)
a.     Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
b.     Escapology – Robbie Williams
c.      One Love – David Guetta
d.     Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
e.     Ray Of Light – Madonna

Playlist!

 

Who is the friendliest artist/music celebrity you’ve met?

Too many to mention
Annie Lennox
Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart
Terri Nunn (From Berlin)
Kate and Cindy – The B-52s
System Of A Down (Serj)
Jonathan Davis (from Korn)
Britney Spears
Buddy Guy

Chip with Sarah McLachlan

Chip with Sarah McLachlan

Some artists weren’t friendly nor easy to work with. Can you pinpoint why or the circumstances of a negative experience? Is ego always the problem?

Two bands come to mind.  One had a frontman who had an ego the size of the United States.  Not a memorable 90s pop-rock band.
The other was known for giving interviewers a hard time purposely.  He enjoyed doing interviews making interviewer squirm.  80s/90s heavy metal band.

Another music industry expert once told me that artists that had big hits long ago were the toughest to work with, as they still think they command the price they were once worth. Did you run into the same situation?

Sometimes.  It depends on the individual.  Some have shifted with the digital times.  Others have gotten lost in understanding how they are not making the same amount they used to or have to work harder to make what they used to make or charge more for their shows over longevity of time.  If they are willing to learn and understand the changes – I find they are more apt to be creative and be more in the “present” with the state of the music industry in 2015 – rather than 1985.

Which brilliant artist should have made it big, but didn’t (yet)?

Kfir – this artist you heard here first.  He has the drive and the talent.

 

Who would you like to meet? What would you tell/ask them?

I’ve met everyone I care to meet…..except Freddie Mercury of Queen who passed many years ago.  I’d want to know how he learned the great showmanship of entertaining an audience.  I feel he was one of the first to be “entertaining by way of music performance”

Thank you Chip!

Follow Chip’s activities, check out Miles High Productions by clicking on their logo.

miles high prod

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur en chef
Google+

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 4 500 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Nicolas a publié "Les perles rares et les grands crus de la musique" en janvier 2013, un ouvrage de 1250 pages en deux tomes.