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Dancing About Architecture
because "....writing about music is like dancing about architecture." -- William S. Burroughs.                 October, 2003


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A big shout out to our close personal friend Marianne Meyers.  For those of you who don't know her, this newsletter is modelled after her Close Personal Friend letters, and we just needed to give her her props.


Short, late edition this month.  Lots to do but not much to talk about.

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Confirmed Book Signings:

October 20, 2003, 7:00 PM
Suffern Free Public Library
210 Lafayette Ave (Rt 59), Suffern, NY 10901

This is likely to be the last signing specific to this project.  But Hank will be talking about (and signing) Bad Moon Rising as well.  Also, he will be previewing material from The Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook and Turning Points of Rock and Roll.



Hank just signed a contract to do a book on Billy Joel.  More on this as it develops.

Hank also FINALLY delivered 20 Turning Points of Rock and Roll.  Slated to be the inaugural edition of Kensington's new Turning Points series (Turning Points in Film is scheduled to be the next one) the book covers everthing from Elvis to Fugazi, wax cylindars to MP3s. The book should hit the streets about ten minutes after it hits the bookstands next August.  Seriously, though, Hank sez it may well be the best thing he ever wrote.  It certainly was the hardest.




Stuff other than the books that you can access on line =

American Idols and others - http://www.sheetmusicmagazine.com/?c1=payperclick&source=google&kw=SMM

Review: Aaron Neville's Nature Boy: The Standards Albumhttp://launch.yahoo.com/read/album.asp?contentID=213953

Review: Bob Marley Live At The Roxy - http://launch.yahoo.com/read/album.asp?contentID=213954

We also had one of the featured items at the new Amazon.com music store - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/4077741



Trust me, you wouldn’t want to deal with a frictionless entertainment environment.  That’s like working in zero-G.  It sounds kinda fun on paper, but nothing works quite right.  Everything is slower, not faster because there’s just more going on and the environment is totally foriegn..

What this is all about, really, is gate-keepers.  Most of us got into this mess because we wanted to be gate keepers.  I ask my bright-eyed Intro To The Music Biz students what they want out of life, and half or more want to do A&R.  Why?  Because there’s a buzz of power in being a gate-keeper.  

Part of the problem with the whole “internet levels the playing field” argument that we all heard/made about five years ago (seems like longer)  is the lack of gate-keeping.  When bombarded with information, HS (that’s homo sapiens) tends to rely on familiar patterns and filter out and discard the rest.  HS COUNTS on gate-keepers, in a sense hires them.  That’s why TV channels work as well as they do.  HS knows that this kind of information is available at this place at this time.   TIVO is the ultimate informational gate-keeper.  With something like that, HS can set it up so all the information is invited when HS wants it. 

Of course, there are levels of gate-keeping.  Life is kinda like a canal system in that way:  Information spills from one lock to another, a cascade.  Unlike a canal, the gate-keeping functions like a series of ever shrinking funnels.  So, at the head of it, various strata of “Hollywood” or its ilk do have “the power.”  As any creative person in the entertainment biz knows, 99% of the ideas bouncing around out there never make it through the first few layers of the gate-keeping process.  Some, the artist rejects with a “well, it sounded good when I thought of it last night, but in the light of day and drought of tequila, I can’t imagine what I was thinking.”  Then, in a gross sense, there’s the money filter level.  Not as big an issue in, say Holland, where the government funds the arts (which in itself is a whole ‘nother world of gate-keeping), this is the level that says “well, what a novel idea, but is there any edifying, enlightening, entertaining, enriching purpose (I call those the four Es of artistic funding, or the greatest of Es for long) in actually doing this?”  Those two filters alone will eliminate the bulk of creative entertainment ideas before anyone outside of those layers is even aware of them.

Of course, with the Scooter Scuderi/Dean Friedman/Todd Rundgren/Jenni Bruce model – what Todd calls “Patronet” – a lot of this layer has not so much been eliminated but worked around, and mostly because the creators want to do the thing so much, they have allowed themselves to become their own gate-keeper and managed to bring their case directly to the audience.  These “by subscription” artists have accomplished several things:

Any artist can do this, but certain art takes more than others.  A recording artist can make a record for the cost of a decent digital recording set-up, if they want to distribute solely electronically, or add on the cost of manufacturing “product” if they want to have some physical manifestation of the intellectual property they’re selling. 

A movie-maker these days can do the same thing, albeit, the stakes are higher.  For one thing, the means of developing an audience that would be willing to go the Patronet route is different, and having only tip-toed around the perimeter of that world, I’m not sure how it would be developed.  Perhaps with events like my former student throws at a local club, showing independent short films every Tuesday night.  Then there’s the means of production.  The Avid or similar software costs much more than the studio stuff, actors have to be paid (or at least fed), but the theory is similar.

There will always be bigger businesses than entertainment.  A company like Gulf and Western or Seagrams or Vivendi can turn Universal into a corporate trading card because to a company that size, that’s what Universal is.  The big fish will always use the little fish as food or bait. 

2003 Bordowitz Media Werx