When You're An Existential Mess, Just Lean Into it

Sweetheart Pubstack #38

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…

Did we really not learn anything?

20 years ago this week I was trying to go back to sleep after my boyfriend left our apartment at 88 Greenwich Street to go to work, but I heard screaming from the hallway outside of our 12th floor apartment, so I jumped up and stuck my eye up to the peephole to see what was going on. My neighbor Chris, the first person who ever showed me what a “mash-up” is, was screaming down the hallway, “DO YOU WANT TO DIE?”

His girlfriend yelled back, “I HAVE TO GET MY ROLLERBLADES!”

My first inclination until she responded was that there was some kind of domestic dispute going on, but her response made me think that it must be something else, and none of my business, so I went back to bed. Within 20 minutes, my entire building shook so hard I fell out of my bed and landed on the floor. 

My boyfriend and I had just moved to the Financial District from Murray Hill. We found a spot in an old art deco bank building that had been gutted and transformed into apartments and most importantly of all, had no broker’s fee. We jumped at the chance to move into a newly renovated 600 square foot flat that was near my boyfriend’s job as a computer programmer at Goldman Sachs, tons of subway stations for my jaunts around the city as a production coordinator at MTV Commercials, and a view of the Statue of Liberty from our single window.

I was 27 and living a life that I had literally dreamed into existence. I had moved to NYC in 1999 to do an internship at MTV after working as a PA at the MTV X Games in Memphis the summer of 1998. I was already 25 years old, I had skipped going straight to college as I just wasn’t interested after high school. I needed a break to figure out what I wanted to do and since I was never a big fan of school, skating by on charming my teachers and enough high profile extracurriculars to scam decent grades, I wanted to see if I could get away without going at all. After my internship, MTV offered me a job and so I decided maybe I COULD get away with not going. I accepted and did not return to school until I returned in 2012 to finish my degree. But I digress.

The week before I was lying half naked on my bedroom floor, the apartment above ours had had a water leak. It creeped down though our ceiling and made the wall above our couch bubble up like a case of leprosy. We’d had the building maintenance crew in and out of our flat daily to fix it. They had just finished repairing it the previous weekend. With this fresh in my mind, my first thought was that our building must be falling down due to shoddy workmanship on the renovations. So, I got up and went straight to the window that overlooked Washington Street, which was more of an alley than a street. We often took it to go buy groceries at the Amish Market a few blocks away.  

I threw open the window and looked straight down to see a street that was usually empty, filled with people looking up to the east. I immediately felt heat on my right cheek. Then, just like out of a scene in a Michael Bay action movie, I slowly turned my head towards the World Trade Center and saw a gaping fiery hole with the backend of a plane hanging out of it. A few floors below there was a person banging on a window. It took a few minutes but the person finally broke through the window. They then grabbed the hand of the person behind them and the two jumped out of the window and slammed into the ground below just a few seconds later. 

That scene has run on a loop in my head for the past two decades. There’s obviously a lot more that happened that day, but I’d have to write a book to explain it all. But the memories I have of how the entire city, and country for that matter, came together to support each other after this tragic event is also always at the forefront of my mind. If you’re over the age of 30, you probably remember this too.

And that’s why I can’t comprehend why this pandemic has driven such a division between people in the U.S. … It’s almost like we didn’t come together in that time in order to help and support other Americans, but rather everyone came together in their hatred of foreigners who attacked the country. Would our country be in better shape if this was a biological weapon wielded against the U.S. in an attempt to overthrow our “freedumb?” Would every American trust our government to create a life-saving vaccine if it would thwart an attack by a country full of people with brown faces? I can’t help thinking that the answer is “yes.”

This has nothing to do with music and also everything to do with it. 

Please get vaccinated.


The Latest

Music Rookie Podcast

This week on The Music Rookie Podcast, Rachel has a conversation with J. Edward Keyes, who is the Editorial Director for BandCamp.  

They discuss the benefits of using Bandcamp as a direct-to-consumer platform for musicians. With their editorial arm Bandcamp Daily and their plethora of artist’s tools, the independent platform gives their users unique ways to connect with fans and allows them to actually make money from their art. We highlight all of the special features that users sometimes overlook. Plus, Jedward shares a way to pitch Bandcamp’s editors that very few users know about.

EP 19: J. Edward Keyes of BandCamp

TikTok of the Week

That Time Rage Against the Machine was banned from SNL

Just for Fun

'Schoolhouse Rock' Turns 50: Artists Share How It Educated Them About Music & the World

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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