Commitment & Hardwork with Ash Avildsen Part 1
I would love to bring on our last guest for the day who is one of the most hard working people in the music industry that I know one of the most creative people in this music industry I know his name's ash adelson he's, the founder of samarian records he's the ceo of sumerian records he started out a za booking agent and worked his way up from there to have his own booking agency and then from having his own booking agency created a record label from the record label. Now he has samarian films he's making movies are working on that on bits all based around his creative passion and some serious serious hard work he's a self made man and you know he's he's somebody who I think is is very inspirational for a lot of people that want to get into this business because it shows for example, how hard work can be inspiring to others his hard work has inspired other people and it continues to inspire other people like myself like mike mallory like nick's torch like the people that you that you m...
et today and that you'll meet tomorrow um, hard work is inspiring and he's a great example of that so I'll introduce you to him and then we can talk about talk about ash and what he does and if you have questions we can challenge him what's up what's up how you doing good man how are you? I'm great good to see him in you too so welcome to the working musician playbook are you in the office today? Are you at home? I am in the office right on there I like your eye you painting behind you that's also yes and also bob marley don't gain the world and lose your soul wisdom is better than silver gold vigario very important words to live by absolutely eso thank you for joining us man I know you're very busy so I really appreciate it but I thought it was important for the online audience and the people here to get to know you a little bit and to hear a bit about your story kind of how you started doing what you're doing you know how really the hard work was a key to your current success and your goals going forward now how you feel about hard work and committing to that so you know, maybe that's a good place to start is just ask you know how do you feel about hard work and commitment what's your what your views on that with with what you've done I definitely think putting in the time on dh you know, perseverance, dedication to anything you're trying to accomplish it is absolutely vital to that att the same time it's important for everyone understand that just because you work really hard doesn't mean you're going to succeed and I do believe in and any form of entertainment, whether it is sports or music or tv and film that it starts and ends with the talent and at the same time I don't want anyone to feel like they're limited I mean, I think there's there's two key things here one is that and a d I y level your limitations are only two things one they could be genetic on dh two it's, whatever you decide your limitations will be with that said, I think it's important to figure out what you do best whether you're trying to be in the industry as as ah person offstage or you're trying to be a person on stage and to identify what you're the most passionate about and why you believe that you're goingto be able to set yourself apart from your peers. In doing that, I started out as a za promoter and a singer in a band d c, maryland, virginia and the way I promoted my show's advertised them, built them started getting other agents to start selling me bigger bands and it grew myself as a promoter and at the same time, you know, I was fortunate to be in a band with some incredible musicians and through hard work and d I y ethics and touring, we started building a name for ourselves on the road and then we got signed I started really learning the booking business just from booking my own band and then people started seeing the shows and opportunities I was getting as a d I y agent booking myself and the other band started asking me to book them as well. And then before I knew it, I was, you know, booking a number of different bands that either were sides, other labels or were unsigned and they all had, you know, fans all over america. And then I built my career as an agent and then when ah bandit on hiatus. In that time I moved to california, I started samarian I emerged basically my bedroom booking agency e booking into a t k o at the time in hollywood and grew substantially there and, uh yeah, so that's kind of like a quick background, but yeah, back to the hard work. I mean, look, I I told myself that I was, you know, in my twenties I was goingto work around the clock, so once I got into my thirties, I could do more things that were a little bit, you know, less stressful, intense like being on this creative life calling, trying to inspire other young people teo to do the same, but I do think it's important that people know it's like you can spend all day promoting yourself on the internet or passing out flyers you know exposure is only a fraction of of of the gate but it all again it all starts and ends with the talent and with the team you know I just spoke on this global rock summit last week in the panel and a lot of people are assassinating the modern day record label and I asked everyone in the room I go yeah it's easy to say you can self release your own album uh and be successful doing so once you've already been built up on a record label before but I asked everyone someone tell me the last rock band that self released their first album without a team and sold out the house of blues on their album cycle and it was cricket silence nobody could say anything because that really has it really happened uh and another example I used was you take a guy like aaron paul aaron paul plays jesse pinkman on breaking bad which is one of the most popular shows in years now the reason I'm doing correlations between music and film because the strategy and the lessons to be learned here very similar aaron paul it was a very small actor he was like in a hay pre music video he hadn't really had success but he found a role that was great for him to play and threw a director it was incredibly talented through a grate uh, writer scripts and threw a supporting cast. He became a star and I think it's the same thing that can be said for if you're in a band or in the industry it's like yes, you need to work hard to be good at what you do. I do, but there's a lot more that goes into it then then just being oh, I'm good at playing guitar. I'm good at playing drums. You know, a lot of people now are saying, oh, well, you see to get out and play and then it's all gonna work out I mean that's like saying, just get out and put a song upon you too that it's all gonna work out that's? Not really. You know, people think, oh, I'm gonna make this music video go viral like gangnam style or I'm going I'm gonna get this big manager, this big agent or this big record label. Then all of a sudden my success is going to start that's a fairytale once you actually do have real people working for you, whether they're in your banter in the office for your bed. That's when the real struggle begins now you get signed, then you have to prove yourself eso anyway, I don't know how much this is supposed to be back and forth and I don't want to go on a rant here, but I do think it's very important that people understand that one it starts and ends with your talent and everything else is the hard work and dedication you put in to the craft you're trying to build no, that that was that's great that's all very appropriate things to bring up and I think it's fantastic because you know that there is a commitment and what I was talking about before was like it's all about the journey and I think that as part of the journey, if you do get to a point where you get signed and you have a full team working for you that's not when you you know that that that that goal of just getting signed is not like when you say okay, cool I made it I got signed now is when the hard work begins you know you khun set these goals but realize, like I said, it's it's small victories for a career, not one big goal that you reach and then all of a sudden you're just going to be set because you have to continue to prove yourself and as you brought up I mean, what what do you see now in a lot of these younger musicians that well I guess my question is from a commitment standpoint what does it take you know like for you like so as as the head of the label who really decides what bands would get signed what do you look for? What does it take from abandon and how do you determine whether they're going to be committed and they're going to continue to put in the hard work even after they start working with you? What are those signs? One of those things that young bands these days need to do aside from having the talent aside from having the music what else they need to do that's a great question all right, so again I want to separate two things one is the actual music and then two is everything else they're doing for the everything else column you know I don't like to see bands are waiting around for it to happen for themselves I mean periphery did a great job of building their own machine as abandoned as a brand before we did a deal and started becoming partners and because periphery already had some leverage and when I say leverage I mean they already established themselves to a certain degree that gave you guys a better position to get you know what? It really has been probably the one of the most artist friendly deals in cimarron history we're an artist friendly label period but you guys because you already had established yourselves to a certain degree, we gave you a better deal than, say, a band that may have even sold way more records. But at the time they were undiscovered and they were kind of waiting around for it to happen for them. So I think it's great, both for the label to be ableto have something that's already happening, but as well for the artist toe have more control and leverage and making a deal because they've done some things on their own. You know, I think for any band it's it's insane. If you don't have a music video, I mean there's. Just with technology today be creative. Golden, a music video made you know, uh, mtv used to be the gatekeepers. Now there is no gatekeeper because youtube is everywhere. But there there is a double edged sword because there's never it's never been easier to get exposure. But it's also never been harder to make a lasting impact because there's just too much stuff out there. It's sensory overload. I mean on it on your iphone told us when we were ten years old. Everything you could do on this, we would have thought we were in star wars or star trek. So now it's, like there's so much there's, so much content on the internet, so to really make an impact and appears through and have staying power, it has to be excellent. So I think the bar has been set higher than it ever has been onda at the same time, you're able to do so much on your own, but that doesn't mean that is just going to magically happen, and I also think that doesn't mean you don't need a great team, you know, agents, managers, labels, producers, all these people play a part and sure, there always will be those anomalies when someone is able to do it all on their own, but that is a very, very small percentage, and that is not the norm. You know, you can say the yankees can win the world series without a coach, but I guarantee you of coach is going to play a big part and a team winning whatever it is, they're trying to win absolutely so for you, you know, as you build your team, um, what did you look for, you know, in having you know, the right people and you know, how do you push them to continue to work hard? Is this something that you even have to push or is that something that is that a quality that you look for, where you can say let's, get this done? And everybody is willing tio to vote their time to make it happen? What? It's definitely it's definitely something that I constantly want to push and engage my staff. I mean, the two people that have been long been with me the longest, who are now both vice presidents at samarian records and entertainment are sean keith and a man. If you're a sean, I knew because he was my most loyal client as, uh, well, we met on the road touring together, but he was in a band, he was extremely loyal when I was an independent agent, and I've had so many bands over the years before I established myself and I lost them not because I didn't do a bad job, what was because I didn't have a fancy email address and I wasn't at a larger company. I can go through a list of bands that have sold a ridiculous amount of records and take it, and I still have great relationships of all of them, but shawn's always loyal, so one loyalty was important. To the fact that he had experience and he was the business guy and the twenty four hour grinder, if you will, of his ban. So he lived and breathed it the way I did my band in my label. So I brought him in. He had the road experience he had, he was a fellow musician, and he also had the drive and determination. He moved out here on a whim. No salary mattress on the floor in my spare bedroom, honest room in my dining room with the lap times an all right life. Here you go. We got two thousand faceless and stick to your guns back order on were sore running our own merch store at the time. And I was just like, here's. How you don't pay, pal, get all this stuff shipped out. Here's the plan, you know, let's. Go and have a great idea, I think is able to do it and even longer than him. Amanda smith being on the booking side of things. And I knew amanda as an acquaintance just because I was a promoter should always be it shows. But I remember that she was always coming to the shows. She liked a lot of the same bands I liked, which I considered ok, she has, you know, good taste and she was constantly trying to just promote she had a sight I think was called nifty local bands dot com and she was really involved in the seven oh three three oh one scene maryland virginia and she was receptions of patriot center at the time but she loved music and I got her recommended to me by my former assistant who was about to go on tour in a band called time of cholera and he said, hey, you know this my friend she's really organized very detail oriented loves music very passionate you should meet with her so we ended up becoming friends she worked actually from virginia while I was living in california for multiple years and finally when I was at a certain level of t k oh was able to move her out here and she took the next step in her career and personal life toe relocate california and the rest is history and she's been with me now for eight years, but I definitely look forward you know, passion, you can't put a price on that, you know you can you can have a bachelor's degree in and music business from whatever you know, you know, a credible university but that doesn't mean you you have passion, you know, at the same time you could have a ton of road experience and you you could have you could have all these relationships with different people in the business but that doesn't mean you have passion and I think passion is something you can't put a price on and the most successful people in this business or people that are really really passionate because you have to be it's ah it's a roller coaster you know and you have to want to be on that roller coaster otherwise you're not going to enjoy it just like a theme park you don't want to be standing in line having a panic attack on dude I don't want to be here this is not what I want to be you have to want to just completely engulf yourself in it it is a very crazy business but uh you know there's a lot of extreme highs and extreme lows and if you love what you're doing then you can say you never worked a day in your life that's awesome so that a couple more questions that I have in regards to this so like when you when you were were working really hard getting things going obviously still worked very, very hard you know what air is cem I guess my question is what are some smaller steps for those people that maybe have commitment issues you know there's a lot of people out there who don't understand the value of commitment maybe it's just because their parents never taught them maybe maybe they never had the right influences in their life, you know, what are some smaller steps that you think that can help people get better at commitment and eventually taking that step to fully dive in and get on that roller coaster if they are anxious that they are worried about, you know, the little things that a lot of people do worry about being able to do on a daily basis? Well, when I I dropped out of college, but I couldn't afford I was going to george attack, and I love living in atlanta, but I couldn't afford it out of state tuition, and at the same time, I had an opportunity to start playing some local shows with my band, uh, and I basically had to choose between music or going back to school, and I said, ok, I'll take a year off and I'll try and use it, but there was there was no way for me to afford my life, just doing music, you know? We weren't established, we didn't make money playing, so I got a tempting job. Well, I got a full time job in a temping agency so I would go and work a different companies for two months here, three weeks there, doing different stuff in the office because I was a fast, hyper and I was computer savvy, what I found my spare time to work on music and to learn how to be a promoter. You know the best advice I could give someone that's trying, teo, be in the music business, don't just go quit your job and start taking an internship and end up, you know, homeless or living on someone's couch miserable. I mean, you need to be strategic and, uh, responsible as you as you divide up your time to learn about the music business, but I think something that's really important is figuring out what you wanted I do, and that's that's, not something that's very easy. I mean, this is one of the reasons I'm considering turning my record store into ah ah, part time music business school is because when I was coming up and I taught most of the stuff I know my own through trial and error, I didn't know the difference between a booking agent to a manager, tupelo promoter, to a record label, and are teo tour manager all these different things? I mean, I had an idea, but there wasn't like a tv show are something that I could just watch and really understand what those words. So I think for someone that wants to be in the music business, whether it's playing in a band or being, you know, on the industry side, you really gotta figure out that well on you are passionate about it a lot of times, even with guys and bands, I mean, you know, they go on tour, they think that's what they want and they get out there and they do it, they're like, I don't like, you know, being away from home or pee in a bottle in a van are, you know, not being around my family or my girlfriend or all these sacrifices, you know, having to eat a dollar menu at three in the morning because I can just open up my fridge, it makes something that I would prefer to eat all these different day. So, uh, you know, I guess to circle back to your questions to your question, a little advice is just be be very conscious of what you're doing and make sure that it is what you want to do, and I think, you know, tuning into things like you're doing, you know, with van happy and creative, live is a great way. I wish there was stuff like this out there when I was starting to promote shows and learning how to book and trying to be in a band, but I wish his trial and error man and I looked back stuff I did when I was nineteen twenty, twenty one years old and I was like, oh, that was just that was such a mess, you know? I mean, I was just completely off with what I was trying to accomplish what you know trial and error is a great way to learn, but if I could go back in time I wish there were other things like this that I could have been informed on it so I think it's a great thing of what you're doing and I'm happy to be here to give my hopeful helpful two cents to it all but yeah again to go back to hard work it's a lot of work and there's no guarantees you know, people say all working in music or tv or film that's the coolest thing you could do the coolest job in the world I'm not saying whether it is or isn't but you know I'm very grateful to be able to work and entertainment and make my living, you know, helping inspire people through music and art and it's a really it's it's harder than ever to sustain in that just because the business has changed and unfortunately the mute the people in the music business and I wish I would have been involved ten or twelve years ago, we didn't jump in on the text up you know, now that the tech community has completely blown away the entertainment business and the's detect people are creative geniuses in their own right now by making movies or albums but by by programming my coding, you know, like just like people would say you are misha our toast are virtuosos that your instruments there's virtuosos, that coding, which is its own world and because we didn't get in on it soon enough. Now the tech community is way more profitable off of entertainment than the actual entertainers and it's it's a crazy, crazy time to be in right now and hopefully, you know, the entertainment community will be able to get more of a stranglehold all in the tech business or that we're not, you know, solely at the whim of the computer wizard, so to speak no, absolutely, you know, and with that in mind, you know, how important do you think it is for a lot of these, um, working musicians or, you know, up and coming industry professionals how important you think it is for them to educate themselves on the current landscape? You know, I think a lot of people want to do this, and I think obviously look, I mean, if you if you gave a kid an option when they're a kid to say, hey, do you want to be a someone that works on computers and eyes in an office all day just typing up reports or do you want to be a rock star or do you wantto run a record label? I think more people would choose the creative side at a young age it's it's very it's a very attractive thing which means there's more competition which means there is more as you said there's so much more awesome stuff out there but how do you decide for how do you pick through it? So I guess what I'm what I'm saying is knowing that how important do you think it is for you know, people to tune in to class is like this or to get involved with you know if you were toe have soundcheck become a music education type times far for the business how important is that for people and and and how much of an edge you think that khun give um you know, these these younger are up and coming musicians or industry professionals I think I think it's it's beyond you can't put a price on it and I believe knowledge is power at the same time there's there's going to be a certain element just like you're playing ability or your singing ability you know, on industry side charisma, articulation these things are important when when you're sitting down with an artist and trying to get them to want to be in business with you you know I've been fortunate to side some people recently that if you would have told my teenage self that I was going to be their label you know ceo and owner and there a and r guy I would've peed myself I mean I grew up I still love deftones you know gina morales on the label I loved ice tea both as an actor as a rapper as a metal front man you know body count is on the label now all these things that are that are happening and we have some other really exciting things to announce over the next few months but you know knowledge is really important man you can't and it's not about it's not about reading a book that came out fifteen years ago I mean that's good for the storytelling aspect of it but it's all about okay what's relevant right now who knows how it's working right now you know and it's fascinating t meet with people that we had had a big moment fifteen twenty years ago and it's even more fascinating those people are still doing well in the climate today but you know don't waste time I feel like now it's so interesting it's me that right now there's so much knowledge available through the internet through stuff like this and not just for music I mean in life in general you know but I feel like people spend more time right now squandering their time than ever before? I mean, most people I feel like something people don't even read books anymore. They're out reading, engaging articles. I mean, I couldn't believe people I knew that didn't even know about the flight three, seventy thing, but I'm sure they were on instagram and twitter like looking at other people's junk, you know, like the hole up, social media has made people obsessed with with narcissism and lurking, you know, narcissism in the sense that selfie was oxford dictionary word of the year you're taking pictures of yourself lurking is the fact that people just want to see all what are they doing? What they mean? But the average teenagers said, ok, how many hours do I spend on the internet doing things that are gonna benefit my future? You know, if you just cut out all that stuff, you know, cut out all of the time you spend paying attention, other people's business and focusing on your own business, I think you would be amazed at what you can accomplish, you know? And I'm grateful that I didn't have all those distractions when I was getting my feet wet, you know, it's very distracting, social media is one of the most time consuming things there is that don't really pay off unless you're doing it to further your career so you know toe people they're trying to get their start in the business you know, in a band or or in the industry like spend your free time doing what's gonna benefit you now what's going to entertain you for five minutes or give you gossip that's very important I agree that's that's a very good point um so I have another question for you and then I want to see if there's any questions in the audience both online or in the studio but hopefully it's okay to talk about this but so you are now kind of also getting into film on dh extending on the samarian brand to samarian films it's something that you've I know you've announced andi that's amazing and I guess my question is for you and for for the other creative people that are there watching this you know how I guess you've set a goal? Obviously you've set multiple goals for film now for what you want to do with that how do you sort of see it going like have you set a realistic goal that says, you know what? I'm going to dedicate my time over the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty years what however long it takes like are you as committed to that as you have been, what you know, everything you've been doing till now and how do you envision yourself? You know if you could inspire others to do that kind of hard work how do you envision yourself changing even your lifestyle potentially are doing things differently tio really take that gold to the next level is I guess does that make sense? Yeah absolutely. I mean time management is ah is a huge part of of success you know, I was fortunate enough t get sent off to a military school because I when I was in sixth grade I was skipping school smoking cigarettes and like eleven years old doing graffiti all this stuff because I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and then my family shipped me off to a military school which was co ed thank god but the big thing that they caught you was it what was time manage and you know and that you could only really rely on yourself and another thing that really got embedded into me which I think has helped miht be a leader in my company and also an a team work environments that they did group punishment now I don't do group punishment in my office but it it's understanding that same thing in a band or on a management team our record label it's like if somebody messed up in your flight your flight was air force school your flight was like your hall with your you're basically your team, your squad and somebody you know I was late or their uniform didn't look right or their room was message in pass inspection or whatever these things happened everyone got punished or like norman pile and full metal jacket that's a much more dark morbid wave of yeah but yeah but dad's thing and it's the same thing uh in a band you know I mean if your guitar player you know just is playing out of tune and listen to his guitar and people in the audience are are noticing it and all of a sudden you're set isn't is good or anyone that you know the drummer messes up singer messes up the whole team suffers because you're going to sell less merge you're going to get a bad review and that's your livelihood you know if the press and the fans are talking about how that sets sucked well then that's a problem you know if if someone at on the team you know messes up cem cem meta data putting in a record and all of a sudden you know an album a song that's clipped off wrong or something like that everyone's got to suffer from that so I've been fortunate enough to to find very talent people that just like a band it's a unit it's a team and I'm very proud of of the people I have the work it's samarian records and entertainment and that's enabled me to spend more time with big picture and less time on things that are more day today oration I mean, look, there was a point when it was just me in my bedroom with a bunch of boxes of cds in my tiny little venice beach studio apartment, you know, and I had my mom doing male lawyer like there I had nothing and I built it from that and have gone through each time whether I signed a band or I hired another person it was all strategic and now it's gotten to the point where I could focus on the big picture which is working with the artists on the music, the music video concepts, the identity, the branding, what tours to do all of those things and I'm not at a point where I have to deal with all of the day to day operations because I have talented, smart people that can handle that. So going into samarian films and tv, I believe that video content is going to play a huge part in the future of the music business and I've always been passionate about tv and film, but I never wanted to b I know will one because of who my father is and I have no relationship with him I didn't want people would just be like oh he's trying to emulate his dad because he has his dad's last name and even when I was still a promoter before I never started samarian you know, one thing I want to tell people is that there's all if no ones hating on you you're not making an impact don't let the haters impact you like if no one's talking crap then you're not making a big enough oven impact because as soon as I started book and bigger shows on the east coast, people would say, oh it's because of of who his father is and even though I am from all my friends on these message boards would be like dude, he doesn't even know his dad like he has no relationship. So anyway, back to samarian films, I told myself that once I established myself in the music business and I had reached a certain level of success with music because that was my first passion that I would be able to then either used my own money to invest into tv film projects or uh, my credibility as a creative person I would be able to get funding and I've been fortunate enough to have both of those things happened recently, so I'm shooting I'm writing and I've already written the script gotten it funded I'm directing my first movie in june there's going to be different people from the music community in it there are some music undertones, but it is a comedy movie and I'm also developing four different tv shows some of them are reality shows that are based around uh different things in the business, one of them is I don't wanna give away too many ideas on this, but I can tell you that there's going to be a lot of things that are going to give people a new home to tune into whether this is a samarian tv network like vince mcmahon dislodged the w w e, or these are different shows that we place on different pre existing networks, but the beauty of technology is just like exchange the music business it's changing the tv film business. I mean, netflix now is the number one paid subscription tv service, which has surpassed hbo that's never happened before, and you can get things on netflix if they think the product's good just like you can get it on youtube all it's a little more difficult netflix, but netflix is becoming, you know, the new form of tv, and with with the tv film projects I'm doing, I really want to have some of these tv projects be focused on different angles of the music business. One of them's going to be a scripted siri's called when the music's over, which is going to show the ends and outs of how it all works now, still just like with music, it starts and ends with the songs you know you're only as big as your biggest song. With with tv and film you're only as good as your best character and story lines so it's not going to be like documentary stuff it's going to be things with characters that you can identify with and a lot of the stories we're going to be based on real things that have happened within the samarian community and with another people that I know and also some things that are just great stories. For instance peter grant who managed led zeppelin this is one of my favorite stories of a manager ever there were headlining a festival and the promoter said that there was on ly I believe one hundred thousand people there and the manager did he called b s you is there's no way there's more people but if you didn't click of the door is one hundred thousand people in a field how you then tell other than argue with them are speculating this is what going through the extra mile you want to talk about hard work and determination peter grant gets a helicopter, goes up in a helicopter, takes aerial photos of the entire festival, has them analysed and then sure enough there were twice as many people at the festival than what the promoter told him and he got lets up on their money that is hard work and determination and it's those type of things that will make people want to stay with you loyalty for years and years, because you go above and beyond for that. But back to tv and film, I'm very excited about it. I think that there's a huge opening right now because no one's really focused on that. And while I commend andy xuan and puff daddy for launching revolt tv, I hope it works. But I have a hard time believing that on ly showing music videos is a sustainable format for network television and that's because of youtube, because as soon as that video comes up that you're not feeling, I don't want to sit through this, I'm just going to click the channel and go on to the next thing s o, you know, my content, it's going to be really focused on characters and on, you know, different scripted and reality programs that you're going to feel engaged and want to tune into, but always with, you know, ah, background on music and you know, I'm really excited about that. So thank you for asking.