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Interview with Rick Goetz, Music Coach

Posted in A Day in the Life, Future Legends, Indie Music, Interviews | 2 Comments »

The Rock Star Life Lessons Blog Interview with Rick Goetz by Carla Lynne Hall

Rick Goetz

Rock Star Life Lessons: How did you decide to be a musician’s coach?

Rick Goetz: I’m not really sure I decided it… It just kind of happened or maybe the profession picked me.

I was first and foremost a bass player as a younger man but I kind of fell into A&R at Major labels (Atlantic & Elektra) for just under ten years by way of playing in bands and booking and managing artists in college. For whatever reason I have had the same cell number since 1998. After my last A&R job people stopped calling me for record deals on that number but people never stopped calling me for advice on what to do with their careers both as musicians and as music executives. For the most part I was always happy to help (except for the occasional stoned guy who would call at 3 AM with questions that couldn’t wait) but it was surprising to me that people would seek me out.

After doing A&R I took some time off to work on various TV projects and ran a digital label in the EMI family and wound up putting together a consulting business handling licensing for tech start ups. The beginning of 2009 rolled around and eight out of my ten clients either went under or flaked out in spite of signed contracts. Around March of 2009 I got a call from someone needing help with their career and in a panic about money I replied that I’d love to help but I was spending all of my time trying to replace the clients I had just lost… They volunteered to pay me for my help which completely caught me off guard. I never wanted to manage artists (Tried it once in earnest after college and got calls from jail- no thanks) but the coaching/consulting relationship on a project by project basis makes a great deal of sense to me.

I also have an amazing coach in my life that helps me sort out all of the insanity and fear that goes on between my ears on a daily basis so I am a real believer in relying on someone who has been down a similar path who can be objective when you can’t see the forest for the trees.

RSLL: How has being a reality show producer affected your approach to the music business (if at all)?

RG: Well, I only got as far as getting a developmental deal for one project so I can’t speak volumes about the TV business but it taught me a ton. I got represented by ICM as a producer when I was in A&R at Elektra and had been very much used to being on the buy side of most business transactions. Going into Networks and pitching people about my ideas was not only remarkably humbling but caused me to re-evaluate the way I treated people in general. It taught me about sales and it made me realize that hearing pitches every day made me much better at pitching myself. It was helpful in realizing that while I have always looked at music as the slightly slow kid brother of the film and TV businesses there are ways you can apply the musician and music business skill sets to other businesses if you are willing to admit what you don’t know and partner with people who know more than you do.

RSLL: Is it more difficult for musicians to get synch licenses since the majors are doing it too?

RG: It’s difficult in general I guess. Put yourself in the shoes of a music supervisor – the phone rings and it’s an artist who just released their 2nd album and they play music of a certain style and the second line rings and it’s Sony who has some of the marquis acts in all of Western Music. Who do you call back knowing that at some point you WILL need the relationship with a label or a publisher that has that kind of market share? What I mean by that is I think to get songs licensed is a full time job and a really hard one if you have a small catalog. If you are part of a bigger catalog not only will the representative be taken more seriously but such representatives will already be in conversations with supervisors about other opportunities for a piece of music that you would never fit the bill for when a call comes in about something that will work for you. So yea- if we are talking about licensing original music as opposed to work for hire? Sure it’s more difficult but there are the options of being a part of licensing libraries like Pump Audio or Crucial Music etc etc…

RSLL: What has been some of your most rewarding moments as a coach so far?

RG: There are a few – I don’t discuss specifics about my clients publically without their permission but there have been several little victories for people who I have helped and most recently I started working with Tim Latham as a client and has always worked on some of my favorite records – everything from Tribe called quest to Lou Reed… That’s been very rewarding.

RSLL: Do you miss performing?

RG: Being on stage and feeling the adrenaline and the excitement? Sure! All the time. I still play from time to time but I really don’t miss the work and the struggle that went into making those moments happen.

RSLL: What is one action a musician can take to build their music business?

RG: Collaboration. Co-writing, session work, guest appearances on other people’s records. All huge steps in community building if done correctly.

RSLL: Do you think that live shows are still important in the internet age?

RG: Absolutely. For big artists they are also one of the few reliable ways to make money. The internet is a wonderful tool but if you have a show that is beyond music – if you have a show that is truly entertainment I think that won’t be replaced any time soon.

RSLL: Do you think that social media marketing may be a bit too distracting for musicians?

RG: I know it is for me. I’m a bit obsessive so I can get really caught up into mindless repetitive tasks that have a grading system. If you find your self esteem too closely tied to how many twitter followers you have it’s time to limit the amount of time you spend on social networking and dedicate any remaining time to shedding.

RSLL: If you were starting all over today as a musician, what would you focus on?

RG: First and foremost having fun. If you are doing music and it feels like a day job (and I don’t mean the paranoia about money part – I mean the work) then something somewhere has gone wrong. I find it’s considerably less fun for an audience if it’s not fun for the players.

Secondly I would really focus on my craft – I mean really shutting off the internet connection and the cell phone and doing all the boring work I glossed over that made my playing less than it could have been.

Third- joining or building a community of musicians to work with…

RSLL: Is there anything else that you think musicians should know?

RG: Some of the obvious apply – know all about how to set up your business correctly and work with a lawyer to do that. Know the ins and the outs of how money is made with music. I think above all else it’s important to remember that there really isn’t any one person out there who will make your career…except you.


Rick Goetz (center), flanked by Ahmet Ertegun (left) and Jason Flom (right)

Rick Goetz is a musician’s life coach with deep roots in the music industry. Throughout his music career he has been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label. Because of his varied experience he understands the complexities of making music and making a living making music from both the artist and executive perspectives.

As a musician’s coach, Rick provides strategic consulting for musicians, songwriters and entertainment executives. For artists he is able to speak from first-hand experience about how to expose their music to a wider audience. For executives he can advise on the politics of working with art and how to create more opportunities for them, and their clients or customers.

Rick’s Musician Coaching Site
Rick on Twitter