If “Anything For A Hit” was written by a man it would be a best-seller.
Every, and I mean EVERY wannabe should devour this book. Because it delineates the game and how it is played, and it’s much worse than you’ve ever dreamed.
Oldsters know all that. But they’ll read for the salacious details anyway, mostly about Ahmet Ertegun, who is dead.
This book is not what it was billed as. It’s not the sexual harassment expose. I’m not saying there’s not a lot of bad behavior, even actionable behavior revealed, but that’s not what the book is really about.
It’s the first half that will have you glued.
Dorothy Carvello’s time at Atlantic. Which is run like a family, a highly dysfunctional one where executives are underpaid and illegalities are rampant but fun is job one.
This is why people wanted to be in the record business. The endless money, the endless dope, the endless trips, the famous people, the high living. Yup, just as Dorothy tells it, that’s the way it was, and she’s not even bragging!
This is not a self-congratulatory autobiography like Clive’s unreadable “Soundtrack of My Life.” You won’t be able to put “Anything For A Hit” down, I devoured it and finished it all in one day, today, hell, it’s 2:25 AM, I should be in bed, but I’m all fired up!
Carvello is no picnic, but as Don Henley sang, it’s one of the things they loved about her. She’s sassy, alive, a good hang. One of the boys. And believe me, to make it back then you had to be one of the boys, or be the mistress of one of the boys.
But she’s also clueless. When one A&R guy labels her “relentless,” you come to believe it. She’s constantly misreading the signals, working against her own interests.
But don’t we all. I certainly have. Took me DECADES to figure out how this world worked. And I too credit therapy for opening my eyes. After Carvello goes to the shrink, on the advice of Tim Collins, a good man who’s been exiled from the business, we’ve got no space for them here, she changes, she mellows, she understands the game.
Not that the people on top do. They’re playing a completely different game, three-dimensional chess. Which is why you have to decide who you want to be, the boss or the employee. The boss can get away with it, the employee cannot.
And if you’re not the boss, you’re gonna lose your job in the music business. Eventually the bosses do too, but they last longer.
You’ll be horrified at Ahmet’s behavior, but those who knew him admit the man was charming.
And Carvello’s distribution of anger and praise will make insiders laugh. Be nice to her and you get a pass, are these passes deserved? I’ll let you read and decide, assuming you know the players.
And she makes a classic mistake, working without a contract. And believing her lawyer is loyal to her, not the industry. Acts come and go, the business remains. Stand up for yourself, tell the truth, and you’re history.
At least you were.
That business doesn’t exist anymore. Never mind label head, you don’t even want to be a rock star…a techie, even a financier lives a better life. The banker stays home most of the time, and he always flies private, and despite the illusion most musicians do not, often it’s somebody else’s plane they’re hitching a ride on.
Music is mature. It’s dead. The action is all on the promotion side. It’s much harder to get a record deal than a date. And at that date promoters can see whether the audience reacts, they’re the first ones to know whether you’re hot. And they speak with agents, not lawyers. The whole business has flipped.
And a hit is not what it used to be. You can be number one and most of America has never heard of you.
And you can be reviewed in “Variety,” “Billboard,” “The Daily Mail”… I figured this book was a stiff because it was published by an indie. But the hype has been as good as that for a book from a major.
But there’s no reaction. Because those outlets don’t sell books anymore.
Maybe you were old enough to remember when “Hit Men” came out, the industry all bought and read it in a week. This is the most honest music business book since, but no one cares.
Because the audience is being fed salacious details 24/7 on TMZ. Because we’re a long way from Christopher Moltisanti noting Tommy Motttola waltzing by the velvet rope into a New York club. Because everything unknown spreads slowly in this world of cacophony. Getting traction is nearly impossible, but once you get some, it builds.
This is a sexist business. And to a great degree, it’s eluded the #MeToo movement. Because everybody involved loves working in it and knows if they blow this whistle they’re out. Is this right? Of course not. But it’s the truth.
Buy this immediately.
Like I said, the second half drifts and is dispensable, although you read it anyway, but the first half…
It was written about the heyday, when music still drove the culture, when MTV was God, when CDs rained down cash.
I can’t tell you about what’s coming in the future, but…
“Anything For A Hit” is definitely how it was in the past.