Americanafest is next week and we've got some thoughts

Sweetheart Pubstack #39

We’re Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith IV, co-owners of the Sweetheart Pub. We’re music industry veterans with over 30 years of combined experience in the music business, having worked in licensing, talent buying/booking, label management, tour management, and more. Once a week, we’ll publish a new edition of this newsletter, where we’ll share some philosophy and actionable advice on all facets of the music industry. 

We’ve been putting together a weekly playlist of seven songs (just enough to keep your attention) every week — check out The Sweet Spot to hear what we’ve been listening to.'

What we’re thinking about this week…

What would a smart person do in this situation?

Americanafest is next week and we have a handful of clients playing events and showcases. Normally, this is our favorite time of the year, akin to a musical Spring Break. Obviously, this is not a normal year and our anxiety about attending is pretty high.

Last week I wrote about living two blocks from the WTC during the 9/11 attacks. Let me share with you part of the aftermath of that. Our entire building was evacuated and we ended up not being able to return to our apartment for 6 weeks. When we were able to return, and tried to get back to some normalcy, a new issue arose that I had not expected. 

I would often come home after dark from working on various sets around the city for my job as a production coordinator. Sometimes it would be 10 PM or later when I stepped out of the Broadway subway station near Wall Street to walk the last few blocks home. It would be dark and the streets would be mostly empty. The Financial District pretty much closed down by 7 PM. 

The walk to my apartment was only a few blocks and the fence to Ground Zero was literally a few yards from the door to my building. They spent at least a year after the attack digging out bodies and debris, and the work went on around the clock. There were quite a few times that I was walking home that I heard what sounded like a giant explosion.

When they went off, I would stop in my tracks and look around to see if there was anyone else on the street that had heard it too. Mostly though, I found myself alone. So, I would start debating myself in my mind: What would a smart person do in this situation?

It could have been something falling off the back of a truck, or a large piece of a building that got dropped after being raised by a crane, or they could have been using explosives to break up areas. But…it also could have been another terrorist attack. 

We were all on high alert at the time, with military personnel everywhere downtown. There were Marines that stood at the fence right outside my building with machine guns seemingly 24/7. We were constantly being told to call this number or tell the authorities if we saw anything out of the ordinary; there were bomb sniffing dogs in subway stations hunting for suspicious bags and people. 

It wasn’t crazy for me to stop dead in my tracks to wonder: Should I keep walking toward the explosion, or should I run away?

I didn’t want to be someone who became hysterical and scared of everything, but I also didn’t want to be someone who was dumb enough to ignore a clear sign of danger and end up dead.

That’s sort of the feeling I have about going to Americanafest next week. Tennessee is THE biggest hotbed for COVID right now. I am fully vaccinated and plan to wear my mask at all events, but there are breakthrough infections happening and I am scared to death of getting sick. I have made so many life-threatening decisions in my life where I threw caution to the wind, I feel like it would be just desserts for me to end up dying on a ventilator. 

I feel like I am back in New York City, standing on Broadway in the dark, asking myself: What would a smart person do in this situation?

— Rachel

The Latest

Music Rookie Podcast

This week on The Music Rookie Podcast, Frank chats with Justin Black, a Richmond, VA-based independent musician who runs his own label, Crystal Pistol Records, and also works regularly with another Virginia-based label, WarHen Records

Justin’s primary vessel for musical output is under the moniker Saw Black, which we recommend you check out wherever you consume music. 

Our conversation is based around the premise of independent labels — and answering questions we often field from independent artists like...should you start your own label? Should you cut a deal with a small indie? What might that deal look like versus a traditional deal or a "bigger" label deal? We’ll also demystify a lot of the day-to-day of being a successful independent musician.

EP 20: Justin Black (Saw Black, WarHen Records, Crystal Pistol Records)

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Previous Music Rookie Podcasts

Free Advice

Have a follow-up question for one of our guests? Got a tip? Did we (*gasp*) get something wrong? Our line is always open -- hit us up and if we use your question or response in a future newsletter, we’ll give you credit and link your socials.

Don’t Forget!

As we often receive requests to work with artists who don’t have the budget to afford a full campaign, we’re launching an “Office Hours”-style consulting service where you can book us for 30 or 60-minute blocks of one-on-one time. 

You can learn more here (scroll down past campaign details)

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