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Podcast: A Conversation with Breakup Records’ Sierra Haager

 

breakupSierra Haager is co-founder, along with husband Alex, of year-old Breakup Records, which works with a handful of indie and college-type bands, mostly from the San Francisco area.

The Daily Music Break communicated recently with Sierra via email and in the above podcast. Her message was consistent: Building a successful band takes far more than musical talent. It’s not fun and a lot of it isn’t about the music, at least directly. The payoff isn’t getting rich. It’s the opportunity to do good work.

If people want to have fun, she told me, they should go back to school, into advertising or take another path that is not guaranteed to frustrate. She thinks that the times are changing. The music business is more practical and less romantic:

I think we’ll see the stereotype of the bewildered druggy rock star die over the coming decades. You’re going to have to be the smartest, hardest working band in town to get seen – and thank god! I don’t know if I can survive another garage rock revivalist movement.

Breakup seems to be a sort of one stop shop. It handles PR, social media, digital marketing, booking, festival submission, licensing, strategic release planning, brand, design and budgeting.

That’s the micro picture for Breakup. In the big picture, the description is a good list of the things young bands must master. It’s a big challenge, especially for those who have the naïve idea that being a successful musician is only about good music. Haager offers some advice for young bands or performers interested in becoming professional.

The music at the beginning and end of the podcast is from bed, one of the ten bands with which Breakup works.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Also of Interest

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.