Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Music Biz from someone who went to class

In a recent digital exchange, Jen reamed me for inaccuracies that had crept into my review of her book. So here it is - corrected and republished. And let it be said - even when kicking someone's a**, Ms. Trynin rocks.

In her sharply witty memoir - Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale - singer songwriter Jen Trynin takes us through her journey as a shooting star in the music business firmament. It's a rocky, emotionally draining, educational and bitter journey. And as with all such material, it makes for a hugely entertaining book.

Jen Trynin had a brief career as the Indie It girl between the years of 1995 and 1997. It all began when she recorded an EP in 1988 called Trespassing on the defunt jazz label Pathfinder Records and mass mailed copies to as many influential people she could in an effort to get airplay and live gigs. She then recorded a full length album Cockamamie on her own label, Squint Records.

Her hugely catchy song Better Than Nothing caught some airplay at the right time in an industry looking for the next success story as the indie music scene scaled unprecedented heights in the US.

In a blur of auditions - conducted during gigs, meetings and negotiations, Trynin signed both an agent and a contract with Warner Records. Her CD was re-released in 1997 to warm reviews and Better Than Nothing started climbing the charts. But then things didn't go according to plan. Her single and CD stalled on the charts. Other female acts got in the game (most damagingly for Trynin, Alanis Morisette exploded on the scene). Trynin tried another album with Warner, the gorgeous Gun Shy Trigger Happy . Unfortunately big numbers that Warner expected the CD to generate never came. Her contract died on the vine.

Trynin - who has a degree in creative writing - is not afraid to spin her fall from grace into writing gold. Her journals provide insight into the life of a struggling musician and also nicely maps the Boston music scene. She is particularly adept at taking us - always with self-deprecating humor - through the whiz and whirl of bar gigs. But her book really captured my attention when she described the process of signing the contract and ultimately its contents. Better yet, she further describes how the contract actually works, how royalties are collected and how artists are billed against the royalties by the music label.

Somewhat disappointingly, Trynin pulls punches. Perhaps she is just too nice to dole the dirt on the many people she encountered and dealt with. She drops a few names half-heartedly to indicate she was in the company of famous people. It doesn't matter much, because the book stands really well as a musician's journal of how she became almost-famous.

You can enjoy Trynin reading passages from her book on


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Carlos said...


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