The LIVE SOUND MIXING
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All Rights Reserved © 1993 Duncan R Fry
When I was young and foolish, (as opposed to now, when I'm just foolish) I worked for a major record company for a few years.
Picture this; me as a fresh faced young rep, (I know this is stretching the bounds of credibility) and I'm up in the Sydney head office for my first sales conference. The National Sales Manager asks the question "Who can tell me what our business is?"
Eager beaver Dunk shoots up his hand "Making records and tapes?" I answer.
"No", comes the reply, "Making money!" The whole conference pisses itself laughing at me as I slump dejectedly back in my seat. The Sales Manager continues, rubbing it in as I squirm there listening. "At the moment we make money by selling records and tapes, but that can change. We'll make whatever people want to buy, so never forget that the main business of the company is to make money, not records."
It's a lesson I never forgot, and a comment that shows the true nature of large record companies.
The company had just signed an up-and-coming local artist to a contract, and so while we were up at head office they took everyone along to the curry house where she had a regular gig, to hear her sing and get vibed up about selling some product. Now, I'm a bit of a curry fan myself, but this night for some reason I didn't fancy one, so I had steak and chips instead.
And just as well I did. Everyone else had the house special curry, and the next day at the sales conference all 30 or 40 of them had a 'burning ring of fire!' Honestly, every toilet in the whole factory was filled with a constant stream of green faced reps doing the Calcutta Two Step. The seats never had a chance to cool down all day! The conference was abandoned in the afternoon since there were never enough people sitting down long enough for anything to be discussed.
When I was a record rep, my territory was the city. It was April 1st, and I was keen to have some fun at the retailers expense. In Australia, record retailers were continually bitching that they were stuck with whatever stock they bought, unlike in the USA, where there was on open returns policy and they could send back records that didn't sell.
So, I walked into my first call, a trendy record boutique called Penetration Records (honestly!). The owner dabbled in importing records himself, and was always complaining to me about our non return policy.
"Great news, Mike," I said as I walked in the door, "From now on the company has decided that all stock you buy will be on complete Sale or Return! Whatever you don't sell, just send it back, the same as in the States."
His greedy little eyes lit up like a jackpot on a one arm bandit.
"At last," he said, "Your company's finally learned how to do business, and about time too." He disappeared into the back of the shop, returning with an order that would have filled my budget for the next 6 months!
Then he hesitated. "Hadn't I better have something in writing?" he asked.
"Yes, sure," I replied, "I've got the paperwork here; I'll just fill it in for you." I opened up my briefcase, and shielded from his eyes by the lid, I scribbled APRIL FOOL on a piece of paper, folded it in half and gave it to him.
"Here it is,"
"Thanks," he said "Here's the order"
I started jotting down record numbers, watching out of the corner of my eye as he sat down on a stool and idly opened up the sheet of paper and read it. His eyes popped out of his head and he leaped off the stool.
"Get out," he yelled, "Get out, go on, out out out!"
Laughing so much I could hardly stand up, I closed my briefcase and staggered out of the shop while he continued haranguing me down the street, yelling abuse at me until I was out of sight.
It was two weeks before he let me back in. Some people have no sense of humour!
A modified version of this story first appeared in Connections magazine