THE TIMELORDS

 

T H E

M A N U A L

(HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE THE EASY WAY)

THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU

REVEAL THEIR ZENARCHISTIC METHOD USED

IN MAKING THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPEN.

KLF 009B

 

1988 (YOU KNOW WHAT'S GONE)

 

 

THE MANUAL

(HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE - THE EASY WAY)

TEXT BY:

LORD ROCK AND TIME BOY

A.K.A. THE TIMELORDS

A.K.A. ROCKMAN ROCK AND KINGBOY D.

A.K.A. THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU

A.K.A. THE JAMS

A.K.A. THE KLF

A.K.A. THE FALL

A.K.A. THE FOREVER ANCIENTS LIBERATION LOOPHOLE

KLF PUBLICATIONS 1988

KLF PUBLICATIONS, BOX 283, HP22 5BW

KLF PUBLICATIONS IS A KLF COMMUNlCATIONS COMPANY

KLF COMMUNICATIONS 1988

FIRST PUBUSHED 1988

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRODUCED,

STORED IN A RETRIEVAL SYSTEM OR TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY

MEANS ELECTRONIC, MECHANICAL, PHOTOCOPYING, RECORDING OR OTHERWISE

WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF KLF PUBLICATIONS.

THIS BOOK IS SOLD SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION THAT IT SHALL NOT BY WAY OF

TRADE OR OTHERWISE BE LENT, RESOLD, HIRED OUT OR OTHERWISE CIRCULATED

WITHOUT THE PUBLISHER'S PRIOR CONSENT IN ANY FORM OF BINDING OR COVER

OTHER THAN THAT IN WHICH IT lS PUBLISHED AND WITHOUT A SIMILAR

CONDITION INCLUDING THIS CONDITION BEING IMPOSED IN THE SUBSEOUENT

PUBLISHER.

 

GUARANTEE - HOW TO OBTAIN IT

WE GUARANTEE THAT WE WILL REFUND THE COMPLETE PRICE OF THIS MANUAL IF

YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACHIEVE A NUMBER ONE SINGLE IN THE OFFICIAL (GALLUP)

U.K. CHARTS WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF THE PURCHASE OF THIS MANUAL AND ON

CONDITION THAT YOU HAVE FULFILLED OUR INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER. TO

RECEIVE THIS GUARANTEE PLEASE WRITE TO KLF PUBLICATIONS, BOX 283, HP21

7HG, U.K. WITH YOUR NAME, ADDRESS AND A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PURCHASE

RECEIPT AND AN S.A.E. YOU WlLL RECEIVE YOUR GUARANTEE WITHIN TWENTY

EIGHT DAYS.

 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DON LUCKNOW.

WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK MARIE O'FLAHERTY FOR HER DEDICATION AND HARD

WORK ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY AND WITHOUT WHOM WE WOULD NOT

HAVE COMPLETED THIS MANUAL.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE BEGINNING

 

"HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE - THE EASY WAY"

Be ready to ride the big dipper of the mixed metaphor. Be ready to dip

your hands in the lucky bag of life, gather the storm clouds of

fantasy and anoint your own genius. Because it is only by following

the clear and concise instructions contained in this book that you can

realise your childish fantasies of having a Number One hit single in

the official U.K. Top 40 thus guaranteeing you a place forever in the

sacred annals of Pop History.

Other than achieving a Number One hit single we offer you nothing

else. There will be no endless wealth. Fame will flicker and fade and

sex will still be a problem. What was once yours for a few days will

now enter the public domain.

In parts of this manual we will patronise you. In others we will cheat

you. We will lie to you but we will lie to ourselves as well. You

will, however, see through our lies and grasp the shining truth

within. We will trap ourselves in our own pretensions. Our insights

will be shot through with distort rays and we will revel in our own

inconsistencies. If parts get too boring just fast forward - all the

way to the end if need be.

Now, we all know that pop music is not going to save the world but it

does, undeniably, create a filing system for the memory banks. In

years to come people will stagger home down lonely streets singing

your song to the strains of regurgitated vindaloo, all memory of who

was behind the song lost. It is you, though, who will be responsible

for bringing back those lost tastes, smells, tears, pangs, forgotten

years and missed chances. So enjoy what you can while at Number One.

People equate a Number One with fame, endless wealth and easy sex - a

myth that they want to believe and one that the popular press want to

see continued. Along with the soap stars, sporting heroes and selected

(however distant) members of the Royal Family, pop stars belong to a

glittering world of showbiz parties, at one end of the scale, to

illicit liaisons, at the other, where their lives are dragged up,

dressed up, made up and ultimately destroyed. The celebrated, of

course, are apt to fall into a world of drugs, drink, broken marriages

and bankruptcy but even this is given the glamour treatment instead of

the squalid misery that it is in reality.

Basically, a Number One is seen as the ultimate accolade in pop music.

Winning the Gold Medal. The crowning glory.

The majority of Number One's are achieved early on in the artist's

public career and before they have been able to establish reputations

and build a solid fan base. Most artists are never able to recover

from having one and it becomes the millstone around their necks to

which all subsequent releases are compared. The fact that a record is

Number One automatically means the track is in a very short period of

time going to become over exposed and as worthless as last month's

catchphrase.

Once or twice a decade an act will burst through with a Number One

that hits a national nerve and the public's appetite for the sound and

packaging will not be satisfied with the one record. The formula will

be untampered with and the success will be repeated a second, a third

and sometimes even a fourth time. The prison is then complete; either

the artist will be destroyed in their attempt to prove to the world

that there are other facets to their creativity or they succumb

willingly and spend the rest of their lives as a travelling freak

show, peddling a nostalgia for those now far off, carefree days. These

are the lucky few. Most never have the chance of a repeat performance

and slide ungracefully into years of unpaid tax, desperately delaying

all attempts to come to terms with the only rational thing to do - get

a nine to five job.

Even if the unsuspecting artiste doesn't know the above, rest assured

most of the record business does but for some lemming-like reason

refuses to acknowledge it. They continue to view the act's cheaply

recorded, debut blockbuster as striking gold and will spend the next

few years pumping fortunes into studio time, video budgets and tour

support whilst praying for a repeat of the miracle and the volume

album sales that bring in the real money.

Of course there are those artists that have worked long and hard

building personal artistic confidence, critical acclaim, a loyal

following (all strong foundations) and then have a Number One, that is

that crowning glory. But even then the disgruntled purists amongst the

loyal following desert in disgust at having to share their private

club with the unwashed masses.

So what's left? What's the point? What can be achieved when no great

financial rewards or long term career prospects allowing for creative

freedom can be hoped for, let alone guaranteed? We don't know.

If this book succeeds in becoming Bert Weedon's "Play In A Day" for

some lost month in the late eighties we will be happy. If anybody

actually gets a Number One by following our instructions we promise

them a night out with The JAMS in Madagascar. We will arrange

everything. For those that might be offended please read all "he's",

"hims" and "his"' as "she's", "hers" and "hers"'. Being blokes it was

easier writing it the way we did.

So how do you go about achieving a U.K. Number One? Follow this simple

step by step guide:

Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job

or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote

to see it through. Also, being on the dole gives you a clearer

perspective on how much of society is run. If you are already a

musician stop playing your instrument. Even better, sell the junk. It

will become clearer later on but just take our word for it for the

time being. Sitting around tinkering with the Portastudio or musical

gear (either ancient or modern) just complicates and distracts you

from the main objective. Even worse than being a musician is being a

musician in a band. Real bands never get to Number One - unless they

are puppets.

If you are in a band you will undoubtedly be aware of the petty

squabbles and bitching that develops within them. This only festers

and grows proportionately as the band gets bigger and no band ever

grows out of it. All bands end in tantrums, tears and bitter acrimony.

The myth of a band being gang of lads out "against" the world (read as

"to change", "to shag" or "to save the world") is pure wishful

thinking to keep us all buying the records and reading the journals.

Mind you, it's a myth that many band members want to believe

themselves.

So if in a band, quit. Get out. Now.

That said, it can be very helpful to have a partner, someone who you

can bounce ideas off and vice versa. Any more than two of you and

factions develop and you may as well be in politics. There is no place

for the nostalgia of the four lads who shook the world or the last

gang in town.

Watch Top of the Pops religiously every week and learn from it. When

the time comes it is through T.O.T.P. that you will convince the

largest cross section of the British public to go out and buy your

record. Remember, Top of the Pops is all powerful and has outlasted

all the greats (Cliff being the exception to the rule). Taking the

angst-ridden, "I'm above all this!" outsider stance only gets you so

far and even then takes sodden years and ends up with you alienating

vast chunks of the Great British public who don't want to be

confronted with Jim Reid's skin problem on a Thursday evening. I

repeat, take Top of the Pops to your bosom and learn to love the

platform that matters the most.

 

YOU CAN BEGIN ANY SUNDAY EVENING

 

You can begin any Sunday evening by listening to Bruno Brookes

introducing the Top 40 Show between 4pm and 7pm. You don't have to sit

down and dissect and study it, just have it on and make the tea. After

that do whatever you do on a Sunday evening but before you go to sleep

that night you are going to have to come up with a name for your

record company. Nothing too clever or inspired. Something that sounds

solid. You just want something that's not going to be offensive and

people are going to be happy doing business with.

Monday morning. Check that the company name that you have chosen is

still sound. Be up, dressed and out by 9am. You are going to have to

get used to getting up earlier; no lying in until noon now. From now

on every time you telephone someone on business remember to give them

your name and the company you are from (even though it's only you).

Don't bother getting headed note paper. People waste a lot of time,

effort and money having stationery produced when getting a new

business off the ground. People in the late eighties can see through

the smart graphics.

Spend the remainder of the morning amassing the rest of the tools you

will need for the job in hand. These are:

1. A record player (the crappier the better as long as it actually

works). Mass appeal records can always transcend any apparatus they

are played on; the exp ensive set up is only for judging coffee table

records.

2. Copies of the latest in the series of "Now That's What I Call

Music" and "Hits" LPs.

3. A couple of the most recent dance compilation LPs ("The Techno

Sounds of Dagenham Volume Vl", etc.).

4. All the 7" singles in your house that ever made the Top 5. (If

there are any other records you want to add to the pile make sure

there is a very good reason why they should be there and make sure

they were never released as indie records or had any punky

associations.)

5. A copy of the latest edition of the Guinness Book of British Hit

Singles.

6. A copy of the Music Week Directory. This you will have to send off

for. Address your envelope to: Sylvia Calver, Morgan Grampian Plc,

Royal Sovereign House, 40 Beresford Street, London SE18 6BQ (telephone

01-854-2200) with a cheque or postal order for 15.00. It will take

about ten days to get to you.

7. A hard back note book and a fine point, black ball Pentel.

If you do not already have any of the above, or are unable to borrow

them, then we are afraid you are going to have to spend some real

cash. Hopefully, this will be the last time in the whole project that

you will have to use up some of your Giro, other than the odd bus fare

and phone call.

If you have a telephone where you live and it hasn't been disconnected

yet, great. If not, buy a phone card, the more expensive the better.

Using coin operated telephones is crap for the obvious reasons: there

are usually queues, are often vandalised and the money runs out thus

making you look like an inefficient dick head and not a future Number

One. Another useful phone hint: never leave somebody else's flat,

house or office without first having made and received at least one

call thus spreading your overheads on to some of the people who will

enjoy basking in the reflected glory once you are at Number One.

If you have all that done and it's not yet one o'clock, start

listening to the "Hits" and "Now" compilation LPs from end to end. Of

course, your conditioned brain will tell you it's all a pile of shite

and pale into insignificance compared to the Golden Era in Pop, when

you were on the cusp of your adolescent years. Dig deeper into your

heart and you will know that you are just lying to yourself. All eras

in pop music are golden ages, or will be looked upon as such by the

only generation that matters at any given time. Not only are all ages

in chart pop equal, chart pop never changes, it only appears to change

on its surface level.

Unwrap pop's layers and what we are left with is the same old plate of

meat and two veg that have kept generations of pop pickers well

satisfied. The emotional appetite that chart pop satisfies is

constant. The hunger is forever. What does change is the technology

this is always on the march. At some point in the future science will

develop a commodity that will satisfy this emotional need in a more

efficient way. There was a period in our own prehistory when Top Tens

and Number Ones didn't exist, when tea time on Sunday wasn't

synonymous with the brand new chart run down. For the time being we

have our Top Tens and Number Ones and while science marches to the

beat that will finally destroy it all, it also comes up with the goods

that will satisfy our other endless appetite, that of apparent change.

All records in the Top Ten (especially those that get to Number One)

have far more in common with each other than with whatever genre they

have developed from or sprung out of.

The "cool cats" and hipsters of the early sixties might have thought

modern jazz was going to finally break through when "Take Five" made

the Hit Parade. The blue rinse brigade feared the downfall of decent

society when The Pistols made Number One with "God Save The Queen" or

the musos predicted real music was about to die because of the 1988

rash of DJ records. Had you played some free jazz to ninety five per

cent of the people who had made "Take Five" a smash, they would have

run for cover behind the latest release by Pat Boone. The Pistols

might have been swearing on T.V. inciting a generation of kids to "Get

pissed! Destroy!" but if "God Save The Queen" had not stuck rigidly to

The Golden Rules* (*THESE WILL BE EXPLAINED LATER), The Pistols would

never have seen the inside of the Top Ten.

In certain clubs across our nation in 1988, DJs were playing the

latest 12" acid tracks to packed houses of the drugged and delirious.

If any of these DJs had any ambitions of following in the paths of Tim

Simenon and Mark Moore to the top of the charts they have to

acknowledge the fact that what they have learned out there behind

their Technics can only provide them with the fashionable icing when

it comes to the real action inside the Top Ten and the battle for the

Number One slot is on. They must also follow The Golden Rules.

In our lifetime Great Britain has been pretty good at coming up with

or reinterpreting a constant flow of entertaining subcults that young

people can either lose or find themselves in. With most of these

subcults comes some kind of music. Our cult-hungry media grabs

whatever it is and splatters it all over the place. Whatever music

makers follow in its wake are bid for by the more desperate sections

of the music industry. Once signed, a process will begin in an attempt

to transform whatever noise that was made by the ensembles into

something that will fit The Golden Rules of chart pop. The process

involves plenty of trial and error and huge sums of never seen cash.

So, if one of these ensembles find themselves in the higher regions of

the charts and their sights are set on the Top Spot, their fellow

subcult members interpret this as the Walls of Jericho finally

crumbling, or at the very least, their boys working as moles from the

inside. All that in actual fact has happened is, unwittingly or not,

the Golden Rules have been adhered to and the nouvelle subcult has

attained maximum media exposure. Although the latest subculture might

be useful to give each potential chart record its attitude gloss, it

must be remembered that this particular attitude might put as many

people off the otherwise perfectly acceptable pop record, as be

attracted to it. Another useful hint when it comes to subcult attitude

gloss: it often helps not to be purists. Water it down. Sugar it up.

Some of the above Tony James understood. Some he most definitely did

not.

Of course, there is another argument; "demands are created and

appetites stimulated. Pop music is the worst example of this. There

are wicked music moguls cynically manipulating the hearts and minds of

young teenagers so as to get them to part with their pocket money."

This is a worthless argument pursued by those unlucky ones who have

never really been moved by the glories of pop music. They may as well

have never been teenagers.

 

THE RECORDING STUDIO

 

DON'T BE TEMPTED TO SKIP THIS SECTION ON STUDIOS.

IT MUST BE READ OVER LUNCH - BEFORE BOOKING YOUR STUDIO.

The recording studio is the place where you will record your Number

One hit single. There are hundreds of recording studios scattered

across the country, from the north of Scotland to deepest Cornwall.

THE STUDIO OWNER

The majority of studios are privately owned by someone who is actively

involved in the running of the place on a daily basis. Very few are

owned by the major record companies. These owners are usually very

enthusiastic and encouraging types who have a long, broad and deep

love of all things musical; often they have been musicians themselves

but have decided to knock their days on the road on the head and get

into what they hoped would be the more lucrative and stable business

of owning a studio. Unfortunately for them, this is usually not the

case and they will have to spend the rest of their lives seriously in

debt.

The studio owner will often have a very realistic and pragmatic view

of the musical business. He will have been through the mill, r idden

the rough ride, seen spotty oiks come into his studio hardly able to

roll their own and, within what seems a matter of months, become

internationally reknowned and respected musicians whose opinions are

eagerly sought on anything from the destruction of the Amazon Rain

Forests to the continued subsidy of the local bus service, whilst

developing an unhealthy appetite for cocaine.

A fact that is continually on the studio owner's mind is that there

are far more studios flogging studio time than there are clients

willing to pay for it. This creates a desperate competition between

studios to encourage YOU the client to use them. One outcome of this

competition is for the studios to continually get themselves as far

into hock as their banks will let them go, enabling them to invest in

the latest recording studio hardware. This hardware they hope will act

as the bait to get YOU the client to book the studio. It also fulfils

a secondary role, that of keeping the studio's eager, young, upwardly

mobile engineer loyal to the studio and prevent him defecting to a

better equipped rival. We will go further into the intriguing subject

of the recording studio engineer later on in this book.

THE STUDIO MANAGER

The studio manager (as opposed to the studio owner) is the person who

looks after all aspects of the smooth and efficient running of the

studio. In smaller studios this is often the owner or he has a

personal assistant (P.A.) who handles most of the job for him. In

large studios these are usually a breed of highly efficient women

whose matriarchal presence can be felt in all areas and at all times.

ENGINEERS

There will also be a small posse of recording studio engineers on

call, from the tea boy who started last Monday and hasn't been sacked

yet, to the senior engineer. All engineers start life as tea boys and

are officially called "tape ops" (the person who switches the tape

recorders on and off). To put it simply, the recording studio

engineer's job is to put the noise that musicians create on tape.

Large studios will have a maintenance engineer. If any malfunction

occurs with the studio hardware it is his job to get it working again

- fast. Smaller studios usually have one on call.

THE STUDIO

Studios are in the most unlikeliest of buildings and the most

unlikeliest of settings. Although all studios want to attract as much

business as possible, they do not want to advertise their presence to

local thugs who might fancy breaking in and getting their hands on a

few thousand pounds worth of gear.

The simplest classification given to studios is the amount of tracks

their tape machines have. This can be either four, eight, sixteen,

twenty four, thirty two or forty eight track studios. Four, eight and

sixteen track are only used for making demos these days and demos are

a thing of the past. You will find engineers everywhere trying to

impress you with the fact that "Sergeant Pepper" was recorded on a

four track. This is of course is as relevant as the fact that no JCB's

were used in the construction of the Great Pyramid.

A twenty four track is what you will need for the initial recording,

thirty two tracks are still pretty rare. Forty eight tracks are where

two twenty four track machines are synchronised together. You might

need one of these when it comes to the final mixing stages of your

future Number One.

A twenty four track means that your engineer will be working with a

multi-track tape recorder that has twenty four separate tracks on

which he can have twenty four individual sounds recorded at any one

time. At the mixing stage these twenty four separate sounds will be

simultaneously channelled through the mixing desk where all these

separate sounds are tampered with and (hopefully) enhanced before

being channelled out again and recorded for posterity by a two track

(stereo) tape machine. This is THE MASTER TAPE.

The other common way that recording studios are classified is whether

the desk is computer assisted or not. For the initial recording you

will only need a manually operated desk. A computer assisted desk is

used when the recording reaches the mixing stage and the engineer is

having to juggle with a minimum of twenty four tracks simultaneously.

The computer will assist by giving the engineer at least an extra

twenty two hands and twenty four perfect memories - an obvious added

bonus in these techno days.

SSL (Solid State Logic) is still the most common computer assisted

make of desk and still the only one to insist upon. But all that could

change in the fast moving world of studio hardware. From now on, we

will refer to all computer desks as SSL (it's a bit of a Hoover/

Sellotape situation).

A traditional recording studio comprises of: THE CONTROL ROOM which

houses the mixing desk, tape machines, outboard gear, engineers and

producers and THE RECORDING ROOM, full of all sorts of strange things

to either deaden the live sound or liven the dead sound. This is where

the traditional musician performs. There will also be a recreation

room with a television, pool table and computer games to keep

musicians amused whilst the traditional producer casts his spells

without being hindered by the traditional musicians' paranoid

presence.

In your case all the action will be taking place in the control room.

The above scenario is almost quaint, but more of all that later in the

"Five Days In A Twenty Four Track Studio" chapter.

Many of the more successful studios have expanded their complexes so

as to contain more than one studio. They might have a number of

studios offering a range of services, from four track to forty eight

track, SSL and manual and, more than likely nowadays, a programming

suite replacing the need for a four/eight/sixteen track demo studio.

The way that recording studios base their rates (what they want you to

pay them) can vary from studio to studio. The standard quoted by each

studio is their hourly rate; for twenty four track this can range from

20 per hour to 150 per hour.

If it were only that simple. The studio manager's only way of proving

his worth to the world is by transforming all the great tracts of

space on his wall chart calendar pinned to the board above his desk

into something that is crammed with blue, yellow, red and green little

bits of sticky back paper, each signifying another session booked.

(Studio managers will hike round a last year's crowded wall chart

calendar as a C.V. when looking for a new job.) This is all good news

for you. That studio manager will be willing to offer you all sorts of

favourable deals just to prevent a day slipping by without the

corresponding box on the calendar not having a coloured sticker on it.

Deals can be based on:-

1. INTRODUCTORY OFFER. This will be an obvious one for

you.

2. DOWN TIME. This is usually the time between when the

official client finishes (usually 2am) and starts again (usually 10am).

3. BLOCK BOOKING. This would only happen if a client wanted

a month or more to record an LP.

4. CANCELLATION TIME. This is when a client has cancelled

studio time at the very last minute and the studio is desperate to sell it

off.

5. REGULAR CUSTOMER RATE. Not applicable to you but just

for reference. By the time you use the same studio for the third time you

should be trying to pull this one.

6. LOCK OUT. This is when, although you may be working in a

studio for ten hours a day, the studio cannot sell off the remaining

fourteen hours as down time to another client. Most lock out deals are

based on them being the equivalent of twelve hours. So, if you were to

work for a sixteen hour stretch you would be getting yourself four free

hours.

The more expensive the hourly rate a studio charges the better

equipped and flash it will be. You won't need an expensive studio.

Expensive studios are for major record companies to put their major

(or would-be major) artists in, where they can spend as long as it

takes to make their internationally-sounding master work, while the

decor and amenities of the place neither challenges their ego or

standing in the market place. These establishments and the engineers

who work in them are only ever interested in the LP that costs at

least 150,000 to make, not a cheeky little record like yours

that's going to surprise everybody by getting to Number One. What you

want is the moderately priced studio whose gear is intact and where

all concerned are as hungry and enthusiastic as you are to prove that

they can do it.

Although a Number One single cannot sound like an indie trash record,

they do not have to sound like they have cost a million to make,

unlike a Number One LP.

 

MONDAY AFTERNOON

(BOOK THE STUDIO NOW)

 

You are going to need to book five consecutive days lock out in a

manual operated (non SSL) desk, twenty four track studio hopefully

starting from the following Monday. Your local studios can be tracked

down in the Yellow Pages under the "Recording Services/Sound" heading.

It should be apparent from the way they list themselves whether they

are twenty four track or not. If by chance there are none in your

area, get straight down to the local reference library where they will

have Yellow Pages covering the whole country. Check the neighbouring

regions for studios and get some names down in your note book. If the

studio you end up using is further than you can travel to on a daily

basis, this will be no problem; all studios are only too willing to

organise accommodation as part of the over all deal.

 

Before you start dialling make a few notes:-

1. Pay no more than 40 per hour (exclusive of VAT) for the basic

rates.

2. Ensure it includes fees for the best available engineer.

3. Be aware that you will also be charged for the tape you use

and extra gear that is hired in specially for your session. Remember to

get the rates for these.

If you smoke it's time to light up, then pick up the telephone and

dial. Ask for the studio manager. Just remember, the studio manager is

going to be out to impress YOU the potential client. They won't be

thinking: "Who's this dick head calling up who doesn't know what

they're talking about?" They will be too worried that you are thinking

they are the total dick head and on that basis will book a rival

studio. Give him your name and the company you are from and with the

information we have already given you start doing your first deal.

First checking to see they have the facilities you require, the studio

will then try to flog you down time or odd days here and there. Hold

firm. You have got to have five clear consecutive days and you want to

start the following Monday with their best in-house engineer. If they

have not got, or are unable to shift any of their other clients to fit

you in, tell them you will have to look elsewhere. They will be

getting nervous now, as they might be just about to lose anything from

1,000 to 100,000 worth or business. So, when he says they do

have the five consecutive days but not starting until the tenth (or

whatever date they quote) tell him to pencil it in ("pencil" means

provisionally booked) and you will get back to him in a couple of days

to let him know either way. It might be worth having a bit of a chat

with him about what other clients they have had in lately. Ask if they

have had any hits come out of the studio, that sort of thing. This

helps you build up a bit of a vibe where the studio's at. Then call

the next studio on your list and repeat the process.

Once you have got through your list of studios in your local(ish) area

go and put the kettle on, take a leak and make yourself a cup of tea

(coffee if you have to) as the next move you have to make has no

simple ABC answer.

Between you sipping this cup of tea and getting to Number One you are

going to be involved with a lot of people along the way and from all

these people you can learn a lot. Whether they are just a tea boy or

an international super star you bump into down at TV. Centre while

doing Top of the Pops, everybody involved in this music game has some

sort of insight or angle on it all. Listen to what they all have to

say but take nothing as gospel; you are going to have to start

building up your own picture of how it all moves.

When you do meet people that have had some sort of success it will be

natural for you to feel impressed and give a lot more credence to what

they have to say, rather than to what the tea boy says. Just remember

that they in reality will have very little genuine idea of how they

arrived at their success or what they should be doing next in their

career to prevent it from crashing to the ground. Under what might

seem their confident exterior will be lurking a severe paranoia that

they will be found out for what they are, a charlatan with a series of

lucky breaks. With all these people you meet you must make them feel

involved and that you respect their opinion and help. Everybody likes

to feel part of a success and you must let them feel that. In doing

this we are not trying to encourage you into becoming an obsequious

slimey toad, but to make you aware that the enthusiasm and goodwill of

all these people is vital to the success of your project. They deserve

your respect.

At times you will be told things, given advice that goes against the

grain of the way you have already been thinking. Your gut reaction

might be "Sod that! I know what I'm doing!" So before blurting out

your condemnation of their ideas, let it filter through you; don't try

and over rationalise or look for the logical answer. Let it simmer for

a bit and then go with your now more balanced gut reaction.

Don't hide behind any naive "no compromise" shields, the only thing

you must not compromise on is your final goal: that Olympian slot on

Top of the Pops.

Only YOU can make each decision along the way. Don't look for others

to make them for you. If something goes wrong remember you are the

only one who is ultimately responsible.

When you have drunk your tea and had a look out the window (just to

check the world is still there) you are going to have to decide which

of the possible studios you are going to commit to. That decision

should not just be based on the studio that can offer you the five

consecutive days the earliest and at the best rate. All that should be

balanced with something in the tone of the studio manager's voice.

The one that sounds understanding. The one that you feel could be on

YOUR side. Then make your telephone call and confirm your booking. If

it is now after 3pm and you have your studio booked, switch on Radio

One and listen to "Steve Wright In The Afternoon". Viewed from a

certain angle the man is a genius. Find that angle and view. He is the

most popular DJ in the country. He has been the heartbeat of the

British psyche since 1985. You don't even have to like him to be awed

by him.

This above paragraph is not an attempt at obvious irony, it is for

real. If you can't find that angle then I am afraid you have wasted

your money in buying this manual.

Spend the rest of the afternoon doing whatever you do that gets your

mind rolling: a bus ride into town, a stride across the moors, a burn

up on the freeway, two hours on the circle line, (whatever it is) and

let your mind ponder on two topics: MONEY and A GROUP NAME.

There will be a group name that will be the obvious one for you.

Nothing too long winded or desperately clever, but at the same time

one that is just right for the times we live in. Don't try too hard,

just let it float up. The other topic, MONEY, we have dedicated the

next chapter to.

 

MONEY

 

Money is a very strange concept. There will be points in the

forthcoming months when you might not have the change in your pockets

to get the bus into town at the same time as you are talking to people

on the telephone in terms of tens of thousands of pounds. Some of the

following might seem contradictory but in matters of money they often

are. We spoke earlier of how being on the dole gives you a clearer

vision of how society works. What it doesn't do is give you a clear

idea of how money works.

After you spend any time on the dole you either resign yourself to the

economic level your life is at and cope - or things start to slide.

The rent gets into the arrears. The electricity goes unpaid. The gas

board threatens to cut you off. When this starts happening a paranoia

begins creeping in telling you modern society is geared to working

against the individual and YOU in particular. The late eighties

reaction to this is invariably to realise that the only way out is for

you to become suddenly very rich and none of this will matter any

more. You will start to fantasise about becoming very wealthy and how

very shortly it will happen to you. You only have to make the smart

move, find the right key, make the right contact, be discovered for

what you are. Your fantasy will be fuelled by everything.

Nobody wins the pools. There is no such thing as a fast buck. Nobody

gets rich quick. El Dorado will never be found. Wealth is a slow

build, an attitude to life. I'm afraid the old adage that if you look

after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves is always

true. That said, you must be willing to risk everything - that's

everything you haven't got as well as you have got - or nothing will

happen.

The reason we say all that stuff above about "there is no such thing

as a fast buck" is because we are bombarded with information about

eternally adolescent pop stars who have just done deals worth "this

much" or have just grossed "that much" on their last U.S. tour.

Firstly, the figures quoted (if true) are always the gross sums, not

what's left after all the necessary expenses have been taken into

account. Secondly they will be encouraged - even pressurised - into

adopting life-styles that will eat through whatever is left of the

vast sums that have been quoted at us in no time at all. Unless they

are able to sustain or repeat at regular intervals their quoted

financial luck they will soon be back to a no money situation. We are

afraid those on the dole who have let their rent go into arrears,

their electricity go unpaid and with the creeping paranoia about this

evil society, will be the same ones who if they were to achieve sudden

wealth would in no time at all be owing insurmountable back debts to

the tax man, have managers demand their percentage long after the

money was spent and swapping their paranoia about society for paranoia

peppered with bitterness that they had been "ripped off" all the way

along the line. Money, as often quoted, is not the root of all evil.

We do know WHAT the root of all evil is. That is to be explained in

one of our future manuals and if we were to tell you the answer now

you would not bother trying to have a Number One.

We do not expect this chapter on money to have fulfilled in any

direct, practical way in making the Number One slot but it might have

helped dispel any illusions you might have had.

 

BANKS AND THEIR DIRECT AND

PRACTICAL FUNCTIONS

 

Our age will be remembered in the future as a period in history when

banks went to ridiculous and unparalleled lengths to compete with each

other to win the allegiances of the young and account free. If future

historians were to base their research on what young Britain was like

in the late eighties solely on the substance of bank adverts, you

would definitely be rated as the most despicable types since we were

kicked out of the Garden.

So please, if you do take any notice of the bank and money ads -

forget it. That said, we are afraid you are going to need a bank

account and the better the relationship you can develop with your bank

the easier things will be. Our relationships with banks have always

been fraught with difficulties.

Banks are in the business of making money by lending it. The more they

lend the more they make. They want us, the punter, to become addicted

for life to the false sense of security it gives us. Banks will go to

extremes thinking up new and ingenious ways of getting us to borrow

money from them. First and foremost they want us to get into property:

"Buy a house," because with your property as security they can always

lend you more and more money. If things were to go badly wrong and you

weren't able to keep up the interest payments they can always force

you out of house and home and get their money back that way.

Of course, it would be bad for the banks if they were seen to be

throwing too many families onto the street or forcing business' to the

wall in order to redeem their loans. They would always prefer to lend

more money so as to help pay off the interest on the earlier loans.

Banks have spent millions over the past few years trying to destroy

the public's old impression of the bank manager in bowler, brolly and

pinstripe, to the approachable and amiable sort of chap who will

attempt at all times to say "Yes!". They have only done this, not

because they like being nicer, but to seduce you into coming in and

borrowing more money. Remember, when you are going in to see a bank

manager you're going to see a pusher; a pusher dealing in one of the

purest, most addictive drugs - money.

If for some reason you already have some property (or have a family

who are foolish enough to indulge your wilder whims and provide you

with collateral) you will be at a disadvantage. As you sit there in

the sucker's seat in the manager's office he will smell the scent of

securities. He will be checking your wrist veins to sink his syringe

in and all the time he will be telling you about the Genesis CD he has

just bought or how you would never guess it, but he used to be a punk

and stills treasures his copy of "Neat Neat Neat" by the Damned.

So it is best to go in there skint and with no securities. Of course

there is no point in asking to borrow any money. Just put yourself in

the bank manager's position; some unlikely youth comes in, looking

like nothing in their ad campaigns and makes some outrageous request

for a 20,000 unguaranteed loan to finance the making of a Number

One hit single. Would you let them have the money? If this lad were to

start brandishing a copy of this publication by The Timelords, you

would advise him that he had been had and should get a refund on the

book instantly before going out to look for an available vacancy on a

youth training scheme.

As we said in the introductory chapter having no money sharpens the

wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision. There is no safety

net to catch you when you fall.

If you already have an account with a bank make the appointment with

the manger or his assistant. If not, get into any branch (the nearest

to where you live will do as long as it's one of the big five). Open a

current account and make that appointment. Do this on Monday afternoon

while you're out and about. The appointment should be for some time

that week. Just tell them you are setting up a small, independent

record label - no big plans yet, just aiming to put out the one single

and see how it goes. Tell him there will be a couple of times when you

will have to issue cheques before others have come in. No big stuff.

You will let him know beforehand. The most important thing is to get a

rapport going with him; attempt to keep him in touch with what is

happening over the next few weeks.

As well as having the pusher's instincts, the bank manager has the

instincts of the old mother hen. The small business accounts are his

baby chicks and he loves to watch them grow. If you were to go in and

try and convince him of world domination plans he could only be

disappointed with whatever results you had. It is necessary that he

should feel part of it all when everything starts to take off. It will

be then that you will need his serious help. It will be then that you

will have to find 17,000 by the end of the week and there is no

sight of anything coming in until the beginning of the next month.

 

MONDAY EVENING

 

Spend Monday evening around at some mate's house. See if he has any

records worth borrowing. More importantly, tell him what you are up to

and see if he has any great ideas worth using. It is a little known

fact but when it comes to creative ideas the majority of people are

creative geniuses. Your mate is bound to be one of them. It's just

that all these folks never dare to translate their creative brilliance

into reality. We guess a couple of libraries could be filled with the

reasons why they never attempt it. Something to do with mother and

when she first said, "No!"

That night, don't forget to set the alarm for 8am the next morning.

Before you do whatever it is you do before you go to sleep, see what

group names are beginning to float up (mates are also a great source

of group names).

 

TUESDAY MORNING

 

The history of pop music has been littered with all sorts of unlikely

people plucked from obscurity and chucked on top of the heap. Pop

music would be thrown out of the Showbiz Ball if it could not provide

its full quota of rags-to-riches stories. We have all heard the old

tale about how it was the downtrodden working class background that

provided the true grit passion in the artist's work that won the

hearts and minds of the masses. The other side of the same coin is

that it is because of the down trodden and working class background

that the smart middle class machine was able to unwittingly, maybe,

but ruthlessly all the same exploit these raw and gullible talents to

the full. With each new generation in pop music there comes along some

sort of revolution where supposedly the kids are able to get up and do

it for themselves: skiffle bands, protest singers, beat groups, punk

rockers, U2 and Casio kids. Of course, the kids do very little for

themselves. They might believe they are. Their public are encouraged

to believe they are. All that is happening is that the new young,

waving fields of corn are allowed to grow full and ripe before a very

strange combined harvester will come along and pick the few lucky ears

of corn while the rest of the field cheer, whither and die. A new

harvest is always needed. 1988 saw the latest wou~d-be revolution

happen in pop music.

The DJ, with his pair of Technics and box of records can make it to

the top with a little help from a sample machine, squiggly bass line

and beat box. Yet again this was interpreted as the masses finally

liberating the means of making music from all the undesirables and now

terminally unhip. These records were reportedly made for very little

money. The common ingredient these records had that was far more

important than the icing of "Now" style that covers the age old Golden

Rules of Pop, is that they are being made by complete unknowns. No

hype. No massive record company advances. No front covers in the rock

papers. No loyal following built up over months of solid touring.

They have all been released by what is commonly known as Indie record

labels (however, this is not the place to define indie). Since the

rise of the indie label in the days of post-punk they have provided a

healthy means for no hopers, outsiders and terminally angry types to

unload their angst. They have also proved rich hunting grounds for the

major record companies looking for fresh meat.

The indie record companies were cottage industries fuelled by

enthusiasm, passion and belief. Some grew, became strong and

established international links, whilst others withered and died. The

strong ones were able to provide plafforms for the artists who were

able to build up large and loyal followings to develop and prosper,

even have moderate hit single success. The Smiths and New Order on

Rough Trade and Factory respectively were the obvious champions in

this.

It was always understood that it was only the major record companies

that had the infrastructure, the money, the efficiency, the might, the

power and the means of persuasion to take singles all the way to THE

TOP. Like the giants of Fleet Street weighed down by ancient union

agreements and strapped to out of date means of production, the major

record companies are beginning to look like lumbering dinosaurs.

Over the past ten years anybody with overtly commercial material would

never have considered using the indie network. Everybody with an eye

on the Top Spot knew that the indie scene was for the spotty and

marginal and people who celebrated the glories of being spotty and

marginal. The majors were secure in their knowledge of this.

All through these years, alongside the scratchy and austere indie

labels, has grown what might be termed the independent service

industries, providing services that previously only the majors could

command: numerous pluggers, publicists, sales forces and, most

important of all, reliable and comprehensive distribution. All of

these independent service industries are now highly organised and

competing to cut deals with YOU the much sought after client. Each of

these individual services will have a section dedicated to their own

peculiar practices.

However efficient and organised these service industries became, they

could only do so much with the spotty and marginal. But it was only a

matter of time before something came along from within the indie scene

that was neither "spotty" nor "marginal" and had definite mass appeal.

That record was "Pump Up The Volume" by MARRS. It was a turning point.

That record not only became Number One in the UK it became an

international smash.

The "indie scene" in this country since then has been filled with a

new found confidence: everything can be achieved. It was as if having

a Number One single was the last bastion of the majors. Certain

cynics will point fingers and whinge that the indies of today will be

just the majors of tomorrow. Wasn't Richard Branson and his Virgin

Records the ultimate hippy ideal in the early seventies? We won't deny

that behind the majority of indie labels is a would-be Branson, whose

stunted megalomania will undoubtedly be reflected on the way he brings

up his children.

From now on, whether or not the technology makes the traditional

musician's craft redundant, the young creative type will become more

aware that he is able to control more areas of the way his music is

communicated to the masses. The manipulation of this control will

become a very important creative form of expression in itself.

Of course there is a place for the major record company in the future

as there is still a place for brass bands, large national orchestras

and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. The precise function the major

record companies will play in the music business as we turn the corner

into the 21 st century is something we are not going to bother

guessing at. One thing they and we suppose all major international

companies are good at is moving the goal posts; probably because they

owned them in the first place.

As more and more creators of music begin to realise that it is

possible to make records themselves and steer those records in

whatever direction they want, at the same time as retaining all the

copyright in the product thus a bigger chunk of the action, the

attractiveness of signing your soul and its products away from now to

eternity (well at least fifty years after the day you die) will become

to look rather silly. Nothing to do with ideology, just straight

forward business sense.

Twenty five years ago no unknown artist signing to a major record

company would dare demand the right to only record their own material.

The success of the Beatles changed that. In the past ten years it has

become the trend for the writer (of songs) to retain the copyright of

their work and either just get the publishers to administrate it, or

have their own accountants do the lot.

If the rise of the UK indie label can be seen as a positive offspring

of punk sensibilities, a very negative one was the cult of the very

big advance. This can be traced back to the supposed situationalist

shenanigans of Malcolm McClaren. The idea that the major record

companies were some how being ripped off and some clever scam was

being pulled was totally false. There was no Great Rock 'n' Roll

Swindle. The four living ex-members of the band have nothing left

except fading memories of their glory days, like fuddled old soldiers;

a front man trapped by his own cynicism and a corpse forever young.

While the record companies and publishers involved are still getting

bigger and stronger and the employees are busy negotiating their next

rise over the expense account lunch. It's as if Malcolm never

understood Faust.

Another point that we can throw in at this juncture is that down

through the history of pop music the cult of the svengali figure has

often risen. Svengalis might be very interesting characters but

invariably make bad businessmen. They spend too much of their time

cultivating their own image and coping with their own creative urges.

We repeat, it has only been possible since the beginning of 1988 to

single-handedly achieve what this manual is all about. The myth of the

major label deal is totally blown. Their might and power is too slow

moving. Their seduction techniques threadbare and dated. The barn

door cannot be closed. While the new technology might be the downfall

of any kinds of standards in the world of television, in both printing

and music the future is ours.

 

JUST AFTER 1 PM TUESDAY

 

Just after 1 pm Tuesday telephone the studio that you have booked and

tell them you are going to need someone who can programme, ideally a

programmer who can play the keyboards. Every studio can get one for

you. This programmer is going to be the person who will provide

sample, originate, compute, even play all the music you will need on

your record. They usually have a boffin's mentality mixed with the

talent of a musical wizard. We are afraid they will not be included in

the price of the studio, but the studio manager should be able to sort

out the going rate for you and cut the deal with him. Get him booked

for the full five days.

Have a spot of lunch and read the following chapter. It will allay any

doubts you might have in your talents as a hit song writer and

explains the Golden Rules. Between now and next Monday morning you are

going to have to come up with the goods. Those goods are out there

waiting for you to find before the others get there.

 

THE GOLDEN RULES

 

Leiber and Stoller, Goffin and King, Berry Gordy, Chinn and Chapman

and Peter Waterman have all understood the Golden Rules thoroughly.

The reason why Waterman will not continue churning out Number Ones

from now until the end of the century and the others had only limited

reigns, was not because lady luck's hand strayed elsewhere or that

fashion moved on, it is because after you have had a run of success

and your coffers are full, keeping strictly to the G.R.'s is boring.

It all becomes empty and meaningless. Some have become emotionally or

business wise embroiled with artists whose own ambitions now lie

elsewhere and far from merely having Number One's. Lieber and Stoller

could walk into a studio tomorrow and have a world wide Number One in

three months if they were so motivated.

The basic Golden Rules as far as they apply to writing a debut single

that can go to Number One in the U.K. Charts are as follows: Do not

attempt the impossible by trying to work the whole thing out before

you go into the studio. Working in a studio has to be a fluid and

creative venture but at all times remember at the end of it you are

going to have to have a 7" version that fulfils all the criteria

perfectly. Do not try and sit down and write a complete song. Songs

that have been written in such a way and reached Number One can only

be done by the true song writing genius and be delivered by artists

with such forceful convincing passion that the world HAS TO listen.

You know the sort of thing, "Sailing" by Rod Stewart, "Without You" by

Nilsson What the Golden Rules can provide you with is a framework that

you can slot the component parts into.

Firstly, it has to have a dance groove that will run all the way

through the record and that the current 7" buying generation will find

irresistible. Secondly, it must be no longer than three minutes and

thirty seconds (just under 3'20 is preferable). If they are any longer

Radio One daytime DJs will start fading early or talking over the end,

when the chorus is finally being hammered home - the most important

part of any record. Thirdly, it must consist of an intro, a verse, a

chorus, second verse, a second chorus, a breakdown section, back into

a double length chorus and outro. Fourthly, lyrics. You will need

some, but not many.

 

CAUSALITY PLUS A PINCH OF MYSTICISM

 

It is going to be a construction job, fitting bits together. You will

have to find the Frankenstein in you to make it work. Your magpie

instincts must come to the fore. If you think this just sounds like a

recipe for some horrific monster, be reassured by us, all music can

only be the sum or part total of what has gone before. Every Number

One song ever written is only made up from bits from other songs.

There is no lost chord. No changes untried. No extra notes to the

scale or hidden beats to the bar. There is no point in searching for

originality. In the past, most writers of songs spent months in their

lonely rooms strumming their guitars or bands in rehearsals have

ground their way through endless riffs before arriving at the song

that takes them to the very top. Of course, most of them would be

mortally upset to be told that all they were doing was leaving it to

chance before they stumbled across the tried and tested. They have to

believe it is through this sojourn they arrive at the grail; the great

and original song that the world will be unable to resist.

So why don't all songs sound the same? Why are some artists great,

write dozens of classics that move you to tears, say it like it's

never been said before, make you laugh, dance, blow your mind, fall in

love, take to the streets and riot? Well, it's because although the

chords, notes, harmonies, beats and words have all been used before

their own soul shines through; their personality demands attention.

This doesn't just come via the great vocalist or virtuoso

instrumentalist. The Techno sound of Detroit, the most totally linear

programmed music ever, lacking any human musicianship in its execution

reeks of sweat, sex and desire. The creators of that music just press

a few buttons and out comes - a million years of pain and lust.

We await the day with relish that somebody dares to make a dance

record that consists of nothing more than an electronically programmed

bass drum beat that continues playing the fours monotonously for eight

minutes. Then, when somebody else brings one out using exactly the

same bass drum sound and at the same beats per minute (B.P.M.), we

will all be able to tell which is the best, which inspires the dance

floor to fill the fastest, which has the most sex and the most soul.

There is no doubt, one will be better than the other. What we are

basically saying is, if you have anything in you, anything unique,

what others might term as originality, it will come through whatever

the component parts used in your future Number One are made up from.

Creators of music who desperately search originality usually end up

with music that has none because no room for their spirit has been

left to get through. The complete history of the blues is based on one

chord structure, hundreds of thousands of songs using the same three

basic chords in the same pattern. Through this seemingly rigid formula

has come some of the twentieth century's greatest music. In our case

we used parts from thrcc very famous songs, Gary Glitter's "Rock 'n'

Roll", "The Doctor Who Theme" and the Sweet's "Blockbuster" and pasted

them together, neither of us playing a note on the record. We know

that the finished record contains as much of us in it as if we had

spent three months locked away somewhere trying to create our

master-work. The people who bought the record and who probably do not

give a blot about the inner souls of Rockman Rock or King Boy D knew

they were getting a record of supreme originality.

Don't worry about being accused of being a thief. Even if you were to,

you have not got the time to take the trial and error route.

The simplest thing to do would be to flick through your copy of the

Guinness Book of Hits, find a smash from a previous era and do a cover

of it, dressing it up in the clothes of today. Every year there is at

least a couple of artists who get their debut Number One this way.

From the eighties we have already had:

 

Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin "It's My Party"

Roxy Music "Jealous Guy"

Soft Cell "Tainted Love"

Paul Young "Wherever I Lay My Hat"

Captain Sensible "Happy Talk"

Neil "Hole In My Shoe"

Tiffany "I Think We're Alone Now"

Wet Wet Wet "With A Little Help"

Yazz "The Only Way Is Up"

 

There are, however, the negative facts in taking this route. Using an

already proven song can give you a false sense of security when you

are in the studio recording. You can end up under the illusion that

the song is such a classic that whatever you do, the song itself will

be able to carry it through. You tend to loose your objectivity in the

production of your version. The all important radio producers hate

nothing more than a classic song covered badly.

The classic oldy, while fulfilling all the Golden Rules in pop,

might have a lyrical content that may only ever relate to one period in

pop history. There have been numerous past Number One's where

this has been the case:

 

Scott McKenzie "San Francisco"

The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations"

The Beatles "All You Need Is Love"

Mott The Hoople "All The Young Dudes"

MARRS "Pump Up the Volume"

 

Unless there is a revival of the zeitgeist of times past where the

lyric in some way makes sense again, these songs should be stayed well

clear of.

Sometimes, almost the opposite can happen. By covering a cleverly

picked old song it can be re-recorded in such a way that it is now

more relevant to today's new record buyers, both lyrically and

musically, than the original was to the past generations of hit

makers. Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" and Yazz's "The Only Way

Is Up" are both perfect examples of this in 1988. The original of "I

Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy Roe and the late seventies cover by

The Rubinoos were classics for the discerning but could not compete in

the U.K. market place of their day.

The other negative in doing a cover version is you loose all the

writing credit. That means you will earn no publishing money on the

record, however many it sells. We will explain later the mysteries of

publishing, but for now just take it from us that having a Number One

with a cover, as opposed to your own song, is the equivalent of

throwing away a minimum of 10,000.

There is no denying that in picking the right smash from the past and

recording it well will result in a sure fire success. The producers of

the day time shows at Radio One will have to only hear 30 the opening

bars of your record to know that there will be a few slots in their

shows for it; "the housewives at home and the husbands on the building

site" will be singing along with it immediately. It's not going to

take them three or four listens before they decide whether they like

the song. That decision was made long before you ever thought of

having a Number One. As for the current 7" single buying generation

who might have never heard the song before, they will automatically be

given the chance to hear the record three or four times on the radio.

If there is not a cover that takes your fancy the trick is to

construct your song out of disguised, modified and enhanced parts of

previous smashes, so that when those Radio One producers, T.V. youth

programme researchers and multiple-chain-record-store stock buyers

will subliminally warm to your track and feel at ease with it.

We obviously took the middle route in not doing a straight cover, but

in doing the above so blatantly that we had to give away the majority

of our publishing thus losing a sizeable chunk of the readies.

 

GROOVE

 

The first of the component parts you are going to need to find is the

irresistible dance floor groove.

Before we go any further we had better define "groove". It is

basically the drum and bass patterns and all the other musical sounds

on the record that are neither hummable or singalongable to. Groove is

the underlying sex element of the record and we are afraid for U.K.

Number Ones this can never be left too rabidly raw on the 7" format.

It upsets our subliminal national moral code. We can cope with smut

but not grind. Of course, there are the odd exceptions.

In the same way that our sexual fantasies change and develop,

sometimes double back over a period of months, so do our dance floor

tastes in groove. It is always on the move, searching for the ultimate

turn on and when you are almost there it's off again and you're left

looking for a new direction.

Black American records have always been the most reliable source of

dance groove. These records down through the years have inevitably

laid so much emphasis on the altar of groove and so very little into

fulfilling the other Golden Rules that they very rarely break through

into the U.K. Top Ten, let alone making the Number One spot. A

by-product of this situation is that gangsters of the groove from Bo

Diddley on down believe they have been ripped off, not only by the

business but by all the artists that have followed on from them. This

is because the copyright laws that have grown over the past one

hundred years have all been developed by whites of European descent

and these laws state that fifty per cent of the copyright of any song

should be for the lyrics, the other fifty per cent for the top line

(sung) melody; groove doesn't even get a look in. If the copyright

laws had been in the hands of blacks of African descent, at least

eighty per cent would have gone to the creators of the groove, the

remainder split between the lyrics and the melody. If perchance you

are reading this and you are both black and a lawyer, make a name for

yourself. Right the wrongs.

The best place to find the groove that 7" single buyers will want to

be tapping their toes to in three months time is to get down to the

hippest club in your part of the country that is playing import

American black dance records. The unknown track the DJ plays that gets

both the biggest response on the floor and has you joining the throng

will have the groove you are looking for. Either try and get the name

of the track that night, or at least remember some stand out feature

of the record. If you are lucky to have a specialist dance shop near

you they should have this record you are after.

If there is neither a suitable club or specialist dance shop in your

part of the country don't throw in the towel as this is where the

dance music compilations we have instructed you to buy on Monday

morning come in. Stick them on the record player, turn it up loud and

get lost in the groove, leave your mind on the bookshelf where it

belongs, feel yourself if need be but keep going until you "feel the

force" and you are "lost in music", when the only answer to the

question "can you feel it" is "yes".

Pure dance music, if it has any lyrical content at all, will only deal

in the emotions experienced within the four walls of a club late at

night; basically desire and, more importantly, that area which is

beyond desire at the very centre of the Human Psyche. Everything else

is meaningless. Any creator of pure dance music that is attempting to

communicate any other subject should be treated with deep suspicion.

With a danger of getting too carried away on our own pretensions we

state that it is through dance music and dancing we are able to get

momentarily back to the Garden. Of course, in the clear light of day

this is all very silly.

At the time of writing it is the Summer of Love 1988 and we would

seriously advise anybody in search of the Groove to spend the night at

the ubiquitous acid house event, drink very little alcohol, loose your

mind on the dance floor and shake your hands in the air 'till you feel

it. Of course drugs are something we cannot be seen to advocate, but

we understand that a certain very expensive narcotic makes this a lot

clearer.

"Can you feel it?". Of course you do.

By the time you read this acid house will already be history but it is

always easy to find out what's happening. There is an army of eager,

young media types out there doing the research for you and writing it

all up in any one of the competing youth-orientated journals.

We of course used the Glitter beat, which was more by accident than

design. It being the most clubfooted white beat going, it goes against

the grain of what we are advising above. We think the British

love/hate relationship with that said beat can only be tried once a

decade. They won't take it any more than that.

On a far less metaphysical level, groove has to be understood in the

practical terms of beats, bars and BPM's. Except on very rare

occasions all pop music is rhythmically based on having four beats to

the bar. You naturally tap your toe to the beat and every time you tap

your toe four times is one bar, you naturally clap your hands or snap

your fingers on every second beat (twice every bar).

The speed of modern records is measured by the amount of beats per

minute (BPM) there are in any given record. Using BPM's as a

measurement has only come into existence since the early eighties,

since which time nearly all records have been made with the use of a

click track (electronic metronome). This enables any musicians who may

play on a track to keep in perfect time. In bygone times records might

have speeded up and slowed down throughout the performance thus an

accurate BPM could not be quoted. Knowing the BPM of each record in

his collection is all important to a club DJ. So that he can be sure

that when he is programming each section of the night he won't jolt

the dancers on the floor by suddenly dropping from a 124 BPM record

down to an 87 BPM record, then back up to one that is 114 BPM. Heavy

acid sessions the exception.

The different styles in modern club records are usually clustered

around certain BPM's: 120 is the classic BPM for House music and its

various variants, although it is beginning to creep up. Hi NRG is

always above 125 but very rarely has it reached the dizzy heights of

140 BPM's. Rap records traditionally vary between 90 and 110, but in

an attempt to stay with the current (Summer 88) domination of House,

are speeding up. In doing this rap has lost some of its slow, mean and

cool strut feel. LL Cool J or Rakim would never be seen dead trying to

rap at 120 BPM but those whose commercial instincts are more important

than their home boy cool may attempt it to keep their hit single

profile high.

The classic rare groove track that found favour throughout 1987 and

into early '88 were all recorded in the early seventies before click

tracks and drum machines held sway to bay and are all oozing around

and below 90 BPM's, guaranteeing plenty of slippery grunt and grind.

In this day and age no song with a BPM over 135 will ever have a

chance of getting to Number One. The vast majority of regular club

goers will not be able to dance to it and still look cool. The vast

majority of indie bands, however large their cult following is, who

play what various music journalists often describe as "perfect,

classic pop" will never see the inside of the Top Five for one reason

alone: they perform all their songs above the 135 BPM ceiling. Their

love traumas and balls of confusion of hate and bile all rush by at

some immeasurable blur of a BPM.

As we have already mentioned, the Golden Rule for a classic Number One

single is intro, verse one, chorus one, verse two, chorus two,

breakdown section, double chorus, outro.

Each of these sections will be made up of bars in groupings of

multiples of four. So you might have an intro containing four bars, a

verse sixteen bars and a chorus eight bars. At times the first verses

can be double length verses, or the second chorus a double length.

These sort of decisions are not going to have to be finally made until

you reach the mixing stage of the record, when the engineer will have

to start editing the whole track to make it work in the most concise

and exciting way possible within three minutes and thirty seconds.

Hopefully, at sometime over the remaining days of the week, you will

have been able to get out to a club and found the groove you need,

been able to buy it on vinyl and get it home. It has to be the 12"

version as this will have whole great tracts of raw groove where each

of the component parts of the groove are broken down and left exposed

for your engineer and programmer to study and imitate when it comes to

recording your record. Do not make the mistake of "going clubbing" a

habit; it is a way of life that people can get trapped in. They begin

to believe if they are not continually going to clubs they will miss

out on something. The only thing that they do miss out on is

themselves. Once in a club you have to leave your mind outside.

 

CHORUS AND TITLE

 

The next thing you have got to have is a chorus. The chorus is the bit

in the song that you can't help but sing along with. It is the most

important element in a hit single because it is the part that most

people carry around with them in their head, when there is no radio to

be heard, no video on TV. and they are far from the dance floor. It's

the part that nags you while day dreaming in the classroom or at work

or as you walk down the street to sign on. It's the part that finally

convinces the punters to make that trip down to the record shop and

buy it. So, slip on the 12" or your dance compilation and sing along

with the breakdc~wn sections; any old words will do, just whatever

comes out of your mouth. If you have difficulty in forming a tune in

your head or you feel a bit inhibited, flick through your copy of the

Guinness Book of Hits and pick any Top Five record that takes your

fancy and see if you can sing the chorus of it along to the track.

Take for example:

"That's the way a-ha, a-ha

I like it a-ha, a-ha

That's the way a-ha, a-ha

I like it a-ha, a-ha"

by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. That one usually works and should get

you going in the right direction but there are hundreds to choose

from.

The lyrics for the chorus must never deal with anything but the most

basic of human emotions. This is not us trying to be cynical in a

clever sort of way when we say "stick to the cliches". The cliches are

the cliches because they deal with the emotional topics we all feel.

No records are bought in vast quantities because the lyrics are

intellectually clever or deal in strange and new ideas. In fact, the

lyrics can be quite meaningless in a literal sense but still have a

great emotional pull. An obvious example of this was the chorus of our

own record:

"Doctor Who, hey Doctor Who

Doctor Who, in the Tardis

Doctor Who, hey Doctor Who

Doctor Who, Doc, Doctor Who

Doctor Who, Doc, Doctor Who"

Gibberish of course, but every lad in the country under a certain age

related instinctively to what it was about. The ones slightly older

needed a couple of pints inside them to clear away the mind debris

left by the passing years before it made sense. As for girls and our

chorus, we think they must have seen it as pure crap. A fact that must

have limited to zero our chances of staying at The Top for more than

one week.

Stock, Aitkin and Waterman, however, are kings of writing chorus

lyrics that go straight to the emotional heart of the 7" single buying

girls in this country. Their most successful records will kick into

the chorus with a line which encapsulates the entire emotional meaning

of the song. This will obviously be used as the title. As soon as

Rick Astley hit the first line of the chorus on his debut single it

was all over - the Number One position was guaranteed:

"I'm never going to give you up"

It says it all. It's what every girl in the land whatever her age

wants to hear her dream man tell her. Then to follow that line with:

"I'm never gonna let you down

I'm never going to fool around or upset you"

GENIUS.

As soon as they had those lyrics written they must have known they

could have taken out a block booking on the Number One slot. Then

within the next twelve months to have written the chorus:

"I should be so lucky

Luck, lucky, lucky

I should be so lucky in love"

Out of context, as meaningless to lads as our own Doctor Who chorus

was to girls but in those three lines there are for many more meaning

than in the complete collected works of Morrisey. Stock Aitkin and

Waterman are able to spot a phrase, not actually a catchphrase, but a

line that the nation will know exactly what is been talked about and

then use it perfectly:

"Fun Love and Money"

"Showing Out"

"Got To Be Certain"

"Respectable"

"Toy Boy"

"Cross My Broken Heart"

They are ridiculed by much of the media and only have their royalty

statements for comfort. History will put them up there with Spectre

and the boys. Waterman might be a loud mouthed, arrogant, narrow

minded, self publicist, but the man has never outgrown his true, deep

and genuine love of "Now" pop music.

The year that the pair of us spent working with Stock Aitkin and

Waterman pulled into focus what we had learned about pop music

throughout the rest of our lives.

Michael Jackson may be the biggest singing star in the world. Sold

more L.P.s than any other artist at any time in the history of pop but

he has had very few U.K. Number Ones. If he would like to make amends

on this front he should start co-writing with the SAW team or read

this manual. He has quite a bit to learn about the opening line of a

chorus.

We have just taken a coffee break from writing this lot and while in

the cafe have come up with the ultimate Stock Aitkin and Waterman

chorus never written. It's called "Live In Lover", either performed by

Sinitta or ideally by a Dagenham blonde called Sharon:

"Live in lover I want you to be

My live in lover for eternity"

Either use it for yourselves or we will go and blow what last vestiges

of credibility we have and do it ourselves. We can see it now: we'd

call the act "Sharon Meets the KLF" and of course the b-side would

have to be "Sharon Joins The JAMS". If there are any good looking

Sharons out there that want to be pop stars please don't hesitate to

contact us.

We are afraid you can't just go down to the local supermarket and

listen to the check-out girls' talk and hope you can pick up the right

line before Waterman gets to it. The line has to come to you and when

it does you've got to grab it. Mindlessly singing along to the 12"

groove track you have is the best way.

Morrisey has undoubtedly come up with some of the wittiest titles of

the decade. "Shakespeare's Sister", "Girlfriend In A Coma" or "William

It Was Really Nothing" are classic. However, with titles like these he

will always be guaranteed a non Top Five placing.

We made the mistake of calling our Number One "Doctorin' The Tardis".

Obviously, we thought it a clever play on Coldcut's "Doctorin the

House". We had the title before we made the record. If we had had our

wits about us we should have changed it to plain "Doctor Who" or at

least "Hey! Doctor Who". Us trying to be witty- clever must have lost

us a-few all important sales.

Do not attempt writing chorus lyrics that deal in regret, jealousy,

hatred or any other negative emotions. These require a vocal performer

of great depth to put it over well: the epic Euro balladeers or the

kings of Country, the great soul men or the crown prince of hate -

Johnny Rotten. You should stick to nonsense, pleasure, good times, "I

wanna dance all night long, love you forever, or at least until the

morning comes", but nothing too sensual; that too requires too much

performance talent. Just remember there is a difference between bland

cliche and cliche and only you can tell the difference in the context

of the song you are constructing.

So make sure you find a title that can be used as the opening line in

your chorus and that the chorus is no longer than eight bars.

 

SINGING AND SINGERS

(TO SING OR NOT TO SING)

 

You must be worrying by now how you, or if not you, who on earth is

going to front this record! If you already think you are a great

singer and a well happening front person, then we have a problem. It

means you will have the sort of ego that will render it totally

impossible for you to be objective about everything else that has got

to be done. Singers have historically made the worst producers of

their own work. The reason for this is simply that singers have to

become so emotionally involved in their performance it cancels out any

sort of over view. At the very least they need a musical partner that

can give them some direction. If a singer was able to have this

calculated view of their own work the end product would undoubtedly

come over as cold and empty.

So if you do see yourself as a singer, find a partner fast before

going any further.

If you do not have ambitions to sing it looks like you are in luck, as

we have entered a period of pop history where singing as a focal point

to communicate the emotional content of a Number One hit single is not

necessary. The potential of this is something that seems to have been

forgotten since the Beatles took their place on the world stage back

in 1963. Yet again we have to thank the advent of DJ style records for

helping rediscover this fact.

The club D.J. (like his forerunner the dance band leader of the

thirties, forties and fifties) realises that the most important thing

is keeping the dance floor full and the thing that keeps the dancers

dancing now (as it was then) is the music with its underpinning groove

factor. Singing throughout has always just provided a distraction from

the main event - what is happening on the dance floor and not on the

stage.

The balance is to have a vocal chorus with instrumental verses. This

will be the form that a sizeable percentage of chart music will take

for some time to come, long after the novelty of scratching and

blatant sampling has worn off.

With debut records that become big hits it will be even more

noticeable. A debut record on becoming a hit relies totally on its

novelty quality. There is no fan base rushing out to buy it. Instant

voice recognition of the artist doesn't exist. People don't get into

the quality of a singer's voice until they have heard at least three

tracks by him or her.

A quality singer might sell platinum albums and go on to have an

incredibly successful long term career but the sound of their voice

would have never got their debut single to Number One. Benny Hill had

more of a chance getting to Number One with "Ernie" than Aretha

Franklin ever has.

The only way a singer's voice can help it get to Number One is if it

has such a distinctive quality the world can't help but react to it

instantly, almost to the point of inspiring ridicule: Kevin Rowland's

performance of "Geno", "Save Your Love" by Rene and Renate and "With A

Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker are three examples that

spring to mind. We are sure if you check your Guinness Book of Hits

you will find dozens more.

So unless you know of somebody down your way who has got a

ridiculously outrageous voice that's going to grab the punters'

attention with one hearing and work in the context or your record,

forget it. The world is full of competent singers that don't get to

Number One.

The vocals for the chorus of your record are going to be easy enough

to sort out. They need no individual distinctive qualities whatsoever.

When you get into the studio they will be able to book a couple of

backing singers for you. All studios are in touch with numerous local

singers desperate to do any sessions they can; you only have to decide

whether to have male, female or a mixture of both. Of course, if you

want an "all lads together" type chorus like we had with "Doctorin'

The Tardis" you just rope in whoever's hanging around the studio at

the time and record it. That cuts out having to pay proper session

singers. Nobody would dare ask to be paid for having a laugh, acting

the lad - buy them a pint and they will be well happy.

Singers - good or bad - are invariably a problem. They not only make

incredibly bad time keepers which can lead to disasterous consequences

when you are facing a jam-packed schedule during the period when your

record has entered the Top 30 but not yet made Number One, they also

tend to confuse their role as singer of songs with that of would-be

world leaders.

For the majority of people the sound of the vocals and the words that

are being sung throughout the verses just merge into the over all

sound of the track. The words that are being sung could be any old

gibberish, only the words to the chorus have any real importance. Of

course there are the exceptions when the classic narrative song breaks

through and storms the Number One slot These can never be planned and

I'm sure the performers of these freak hits are as surprised as

anybody when it happens. So unless you want to risk everything on some

bizarre tale you have to tell, stick with us.

When it comes to TV. performances singers make obvious focal points

for the cameraman thus the viewers at home are forced to watch. This

is not because what is coming out of their mouths is of any great

importance, it is just the easy option tradition of the medium. In

fact most singers on Top of the Pops make complete prats of

themselves. The viewers at home amuse themselves discussing this

pratishness, either the size of the singer's nose, his taste in

shirts, the dickhead state of his haircut or their shagable qualities.

This last example is usually done in such a disparaging and sexist way

that it hardly inspires any real admiration. That said, you will need

an act to go on TV. with. People will need some sort of human focal

point to relate to. When you get your three minutes of prime time TV.

exposure you are going to have to grab the nation's attention in

whatever way possible and at the same time keep the programme's

director happy. The first half of 1988 saw numerous D.J.s standing

motionless behind their pair of Technics desperately holding onto

their cool. Its novelty value soon wore off.

We will sort out the problem of getting a nation-grabbing act together

in a later chapter, once you have the track written and recorded.

The type of devotion inspired amongst pubescent teenage girls for a

certain singer or band takes effect on the second or third single.

The hype machine is usually only smelling the scent by the second

single and can then only shift into top gear on the third one. The

chapter's precis is the quality of a singer's voice and their

attractiveness is only of any real importance in terms of a follow up

career.

 

THE VERSE (THE BASS RIFF FACTOR)

 

So now you can tackle the construction of the verse without worrying

about singers.

Using the basic groove you have decided upon you are now going to have

to choose a bass line that will work as the basis for the whole song,

or at least the verse sections. We take it there is no point in us

trying to describe what the bass line is in any great detail, but it's

the bit in the record that throbs and keeps the flow going. In days

gone by it was provided by the bass guitar player, now it is all

played by the programmed keyboards. Even if you want it to sound like

a real bass guitar, a sampled sound of a bass guitar will be used,

then programmed. It's easier than getting some thumb-slapping dick

head in.

The groove might already have a killer bass line in there, making the

whole thing happen and to remove it and exchange it for another might

destroy what you have already got. There are plenty of monster bass

lines out there to try. You will know them, they are the ones that you

can almost hum. The great thing about bass lines is that they are in

public domain. Nobody, even if they do recognise it, will seriously

accuse you of ripping somebody else's bass line off.

Michael Jackson, who we cited earlier on for not being that adept at

coming up with the killer Number One hit choruses, CAN come up with

the bass lines. "Billy Jean" was the turning point in Jackson's

career. That song, on his own admission, took him into the mega

strataspheres where his myth now reigns. The fact is, "Billy Jean"

would be nothing without that lynx-on-the-prowl bass line; but he

wasn't the first to use it. It had been featured in numerous dance

tracks by various artists before him. Jackson and Quincy must have

been hanging out around the pool table in their air conditioned dimmed

light atmosphere, L.A. studio one evening wondering: "What next?" when

one of them came up with the idea of using the old lynx- on-the-prowl

standby. Without making that decision back in 1981 there would have

been no Pepsi Cola sponsored jamboree in 1988.

We are not trying to deny any of the very real talent that Jackson

has, just trying to emphasise the possible importance of the killer

bass line.

Serious groove merchants hate it when a song has a dynamite bass line

for the verse and then when the chorus comes the chords change,

dragging the bass away from its "bad self" into having to follow those

limp wristed chords. For them the whole movement of the song is

destroyed for the sake of some nursery rhyme element they would rather

see dumped.

Somehow these two important elements are going to have to be made to

work together without the power of the chorus or the propulsion of

verse bass riff being destroyed. Ideally, when a song hits its chorus

it should feel it's the natural thing to happen, a release from the

tension of the verse. By the end of the chorus you must feel like

nothing is desired more than to slide back down into the vice-like

grip of the bass line.

Some groove merchants have a talent for getting it all their own way

by coming up with a bass riff that never shifts from the beginning of

the song until the end: intro, choruses, verses, breakdowns, outro all

fitting around the same bass riff. For a song to sound like this and

work away from the confines of the dance floor, it is going to have to

be a real mutha of a riff. There must be some pretty insistent action

going on on top of it to keep the casual radio listener interested.

Even on "Billy Jean" they moved off the bass riff for the chorus.

For the time being the only decision you are going to need to make

about the verse is going to be making this decision on which bass riff

is to be used with the other elements in the groove track.

 

THE INTRO

 

This is simple. The classic thing to do is have an instrumental

version of the chorus. Sometimes a record might have a full blown

vocal chorus in the intro, but this is usually considered giving it

all away too soon. The other regular intro used is created at the

mixing stage of the record, where different elements can be thrown in

until the whole track is happening. This is something you can leave to

the engineer who is doing your mixing; they are usually full of

creative ideas on how to start a record off. They usually like to hear

a bit of atmospherics - they tend to think it denotes class. If he

comes up with anything good, use it. This is a route that we

originally took but at a later stage, on the advice of our radio

plugger, we stuck a weirded out version of the chorus on the intro.

 

BRIDGES

 

Don't even think about them. They are for the more musically mature.

If one happens it will happen in the studio. Your programmer might

come up with an idea for one that helps take the song from the bass

riff of the verse up into the celebration of the chorus. As always, if

it's any good, use it.

Just remember that if somebody else who is directly involved in the

making of your record provides you with chords for a bridge he has

every right to expect a cut in the publishing. Not that giving away

some of the action should deter you from using whatever is going to

turn your recording into a Number one.

 

THE BREAKDOWN SECTION

 

Yet again you don't have to concern yourself with this at the pre-

studio stage. Just account for its length in bars when you map out the

structure of the song. Use the bass riff from the verse or some

enticing variant on it that the programmer can come up with.

When mixing, the engineer should strip the track right back and then

start piling in with the studio wizardry and gimmicks before hammering

into the final chorus'.

In years gone by this was the part of the song that would feature a

solo. Nowadays, solos either get in the way or have to be fabulously

stunning at the same time as being able to fit in with the studio

sculpting that is going on around it. Having some guitarist give you

his interpretation of what a really good guitar solo should sound like

is totally out of the question. Guitar solos only work in modern pop

records when they are over the top things full of hideous histrionics

and lacking in any emotional depth whatsoever. This type of guitar

solo is one of the very few things that heavy metal has given back to

Top Ten chart music. Yet again, Jackson's name comes in here. It all

started when he used Eddie Van Halen on the "Thriller" L.P. So unless

you have a mate that can play just like Eddie - forget it.

The only other reason for having a meaningless solo on your track is

to give the record some instant profile upon the record's release by

making it known in the media that it features a boring but sainted

muso, thus giving it some fake cred. The tried and tested guest

soloists of the late eighties are: Miles Davis on trumpet, Courtney

Pine on saxophone and Stevie Wonder on harmonica. Untried

possibilities that might create some interest would be Jimmy Page or

Junior Walker. But really we would recommend you don't bother - unless

you can get Jimi Hendrix to do it.

The last time the guest solo really helped on a Number One record was

Stevie Wonder on Chakka Kahn's "I Feel For You". In the end it only

provides the D.J. on Radio One with a bit of a talking point or at

best a clincher angle in getting a Newsbeat interview.

When song writers were craftsmen that sat in front of their pianos,

heads filled with melodies and hands searching for chords and long

before multi-tracked recording studios became a vital aid in modern

song construction, they would call this part of the song the "middle

eight" (it had eight bars). They would entertain themselves by

introducing a different chord structure at this point with a

refreshing new melody. This technique still has its charms but you can

leave it to the people who take a pride in writing songs for the sake

of their craft. Even Elton John doesn't bother with them these days.

It's the sort of thing that Green from Scritti has a go at.

 

THE OUTRO

 

Back when whole bands went into a studio to record their songs they

would pride themselves in their tight, well rehearsed, snappy endings.

Either you end on fading over repeated choruses or have a couple of

choruses and sink back into the moody atmospherics that started the

song. Yet again your mix engineer is going to come up with the answer

for you.

 

HANGING BITS

 

In some records there will be one or two bars stuck in between two of

the sections where most of the music stops and a few bits are left

hanging in the air before the whole track comes crashing back into the

next section. We do not know if it has an official name but it serves

the purpose of adding dramatic effect to the song. It is a bit

sophisticated for ourselves but your programmer might recommend it -

give it a go if he does.

That's it. There are no other parts that can possibly exist in Number

One hit records. Relisten to your copies of "Now That's What I Call

Music" or "Hits" and practice picking out the different sections,

counting the bars as you go.

 

KEYS, NOTES AND CHORDS

 

There are twelve different Major keys and twelve different Minor keys.

In each key there is a scale of eight notes, the eighth note being the

same as the first but an octave above. A chord is where two or more

notes are played together. There are three basic Major chords and

three basic Minor chords in each key.

You do not need to know the above but if you do want to, that's it.

Each song is recorded in a particular key. You can get the programmer

to decide what key your song should be in by telling him that you want

it to be the same as the basic groove you have picked. Some Number

Ones change key towards the end. The reason for this is an attempt to

add dramatic effect into a song which is beginning to flag.

Zager and Evans in their staggering "In The Year 2525", a Number One

in 1969, took the unprecedented decision of moving their song up a key

for every new verse. This added to the stunning qualities of the

record. Something that today's 7" single buyers could not handle.

 

FRIDAY MORNING

 

Friday morning. Phone the studio. Check that everything is OK

for starting at 11 am on Monday morning and that the programmer will

be there on time. By Friday night you will have to have got yourself a

title, a groove, a bass line, lyrics and melody for a chorus that you

can sing at the top of your voice in the bath on Sunday evening. Write

down the basic structure of the 7" version in your notebook.

 

THE WEEKEND

 

Take it easy over the weekend. Start fantasising about videos and Top

of the Pops performances, things you will say in interviews and what

your old teachers would think if they knew you had got a Number One.

Have some wild ideas for record sleeves or silly sadistic or sexy

sounds to sample that can be used in the 12" mix. See what crazy ideas

your friends come up with. Don't be proud, use them. They will love

it.

Basically, have a good time Friday night, Saturday and Sunday because

the following week is going to feel like the most dreadful few days in

your life. You are going to wish you had never seen this manual and

rue the day you ever thought you could ever put it into practice. At

times suicide will seem like the only way out. Years of financial

disaster will stretch out ahead. The debtors' gaol your only home.

Up until now you might have felt these chapters have been riddled with

cynicism.

Cynicism is a terrible, disfiguring character trait if used by the

individual who is forced to carry a bitter chip. He will use his

cynicism to cope with the weight of life and all its trials. But

cynicism harnessed to your advantage can help debunk fraudulent

mysteries that prevent us from sharing in what is possible and what is

ours. At all times cynicism must be balanced with a belief and faith

in the intrinsic goodness of our fellow man. Nobody really wants to be

bad, even when they are pulling the trigger or handing out the towels

for the non existent showers.

You are not going to be able to cheat your way to the top. It is only

by nurturing the goodness that everybody wants to express are the

doors going to be held open for you.

We all have the capacity for unlimited fantasy, it is the fuel of

genius. Do not be afraid to turn on the tap and let it flow. As we

discussed before, a record will automatically equal more than the sum

of its parts. However coldly we calculate the making of each part, our

personality will be there on the record for the world to feel.

Fantasy can be a dangerous area to delve into, an unreal place to

escape into. Fantasy is also the place where everything starts from.

The place where a personality can grow. Where "The best-laid schemes

o' Mice an' Men" have all bred before climbing onto the drawing board

and long before the ploughshare has had a chance to lay it all to

ruin. Do not be afraid of your fantasies. Dive into them. Swim far out

and see what other strange fish are swimming with you. Bring what you

can back. It will be these discoveries that you will be able to

channel through the strict Golden Rules of the 7" single.

Without fantasy there would be nothing; man would have stayed up the

trees, never ventured into the cave, Einstein would have foregone his

relativity, Christ his ascension, Leonardo his Mona Lisa, Hitler his

Third Reich and Betty Ford her clinic.

 

SUNDAY NIGHT

 

Sunday night. Remember to listen to Bruno Brookes' Top 40 Show again.

Have a bath; it's the last chance you'll have of one until the end of

the week. Remember to sing your chorus while you scrub your back.

Sleep well.

 

FIVE DAYS IN A TWENTY FOUR TRACK STUDIO

 

Monday morning. There is no turning back now. If you did you would

look like a complete wimp to your mates who although might be telling

you you are a total crackpot ejit for attempting it, will be

harbouring a deep admiration for your gall. Not only that but you will

face a cancellation fee from the studio, which will amount to at least

half the full costs for the week's hire.

Using your chosen mode of transport get there for about quarter to

eleven. Don't forget to bring your records, Guinness Book, note book

and black Pentel.

Don't bring a brief case or a filofax, you would be in danger of

looking like a minor league group manager.

On arriving at the studio introduce yourself to the studio manager,

find out where the kitchen is and put on the kettle. A day's work in

the studio cannot start without first having a cup of tea.

On entering a recording studio for the first time you will naturally

be impressed with all the gear. Do not be intimidated - it is all

there ready to work for you. There will be thousands of dials, knobs

and faders at the engineer's finger tips and he will know what every

one of them does. This might over awe you but just remember he was

most probably reading in Studio Wcekly, only moments before you walked

in, about some new piece of studio hardware that's just come on the

market and that every studio should now have, if if they are to stay

in the race. That studio engineer is going to be worried that you will

notice that they haven't already got it in this backwater of audio

technology.

The programmer should already have arrived and have his gear set up.

Sit down with them both. Get another cup of tea if need be and then be

totally frank with them. Don't try and bluff your way at all. Tell

them that the game plan is to make a future Number One single. Play

them the groove track you want to rip off, sing them your chorus lines

and show them your chart of how the 7" record should be structured.

Get the engineer to give you a quick tour of the studio and a rough

idea of what everything does. Have the programmer explain what his

computer/keyboard/sample linked together can achieve, revel in the

MIDI revolution of it all and then ask the engineer to either turn up

or turn down the air conditioning.

Tell the programmer that he should stretch your 7" calculation up to

about six minutes to allow for the 12" mix then leave the two of them

to get on with it; they will know what to do and you have already

given them enough to keep them busy for the rest of the day. If you

are technically minded feel free to watch them and learn all you can

or just sit back and answer their questions when they ask you. If

something sounds wrong, tell them. If something sounds great, tell

them. At all times encourage them.

If the studio has a tape op he will already be attempting to ply you

with tea. If not, offer to get the engineer and programmer as many

cups of tea as they can possibly consume. To begin with they will look

to you for direction and you can tell them that A, B and C should

sound like X, Y and Z record. Learning the language of making modern

records is learning the language of talking about component parts and

atmospheres of other people's records.

From now on in you will begin to feel the inevitable pull of the

unseen life force of the record you have allowed to be created. It

will be as if you are in a sailing boat and suddenly from nowhere a

wisp of wind fills the sails. Your job is to hold onto the rudder and

at all times never lose sight of the harbour lights. Let the crew bail

out the water. Let the crew trim the sails. Let the crew man the

galley. Remember, if you ever leave go of the rudder to help the crew

all hands may be lost - along with any chance of ever hearing your

record being played at five minutes to seven on Radio One on a Sunday

evening.

From now on in nearly everybody you will be dealing with has the

possibility of becoming a millionaire by what they do. The success of

your record is going to help them get there, even if they don't share

directly in the profits of your little enterprise. It is because of

this that you will not come across any "job's worths". Quite the

opposite; nothing will be too much trouble.

Engineers are a rare breed. They all assume they are the greatest

engincers in the world - or at least the greatest undiscovered

engineers in the world - or at the very least, given the right gear to

work with and a project like the next Sting or Peter Gabriel album,

would soon become the greatest.

The plus side of this is he will work his guts out to prove this is

the case. The down side is that since Sting started making records of

the sound quality the engineer aspires to, he has stopped having U.K.

Number One singles. Those early eighties Police records had a lot more

in there that the Great British singles buying public wanted than on

any of his mature stuff, whatever the calibre of the guest jazz

musicians.

In five days you are not going to make something that is going to be

able to compete with the latest album engineered by Bob Clearmountain

or produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Once the engineer is on your

wavelength and sees that you are dedicated to your cause, he will go

with you.

In their own world, studio engineers can become superstars demanding

points (a percentage of the gross takings) on the mega selling

platinum albums they work on. They can become very rich men. The

great thing about them is they very rarely become openly arrogant; if

one were to he would never get on. The years of making endless cups of

tea for the client has knocked it out of him. Also the successful

engineer knows he doesn't have to be arrogant. His craftmanship on the

records he has worked on does all the talking. Whereas the successful

artist suffers from a continual paranoia that his bluff might be

called and will be seen to be a fake. He needs his arrogance to hide

behind. He will also convince himself that his public expects a

certain amount of arrogance from him. The trouble is, the suckers do.

Your programmer can also become very successful; he will be able to

demand a considerably higher rate once he has been associated with a

hit or two. He will also have the opportunity of getting a cut in the

publishing of the songs where his creative input has been above and

beyond the call of a session fee. They seem to develop the uncanny

knack of suggesting alternative or additional chord structures

guaranteeing them, in law, their fare share of the publishing action.

We would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the studio,

the engineer and the programmer whom we use.

The studio is called The Village and it is stuck on an industrial

estate in Dagenham between a printers and a carpenter's shop.

Whatever we say about Dagenham would do a disservice to the people who

live there. As there are no entertaining distractions in the place it

inspires hard work. Dagenham seems to breed a variety of dope smoking

soul boys addicted to putting highlights in their badly cut hair. The

older males have a constant need to be funny and talk about the price

of second hand cars.

Our engineer, Ian Richardson, is probably a genius. Is probably very

funny. Will take down his trousers at the minimum of provocation. Has

blonde highlights in his hair and has an earring in the wrong ear.

Finds it impossible to talk to girls without at least proposing

marriage. He is a vegetarian and a violent anti- smoker. He drives

second hand Jags and is always rereading a book about the Kray Twins.

He plays drums in the Rubettes.

Our programmer, Nick Coler, is a genius. He can play on the piano

every piece of music ever written, his left hand a blur of fumbled

bass notes, while his spectacles slide down his perspiring nose. His

cathedral choir boy sense of fun has never left him and he sports a

line of strange hand knitted jumpers. Is continually trying out new

haircuts. Drives second hand Audi's. He plays keyboards with the

Rubettes.

Without them, these two would like to think we would be nowhere. We

like to think, not only would we not have to suffer the A13 Daganese

and twenty four hour joke sessions, but we would have not seen our

career take such turns for the dire.

Tony Atkins, who owns the studio, means well. He is lost somewhere

between forty and fifty but is fitter than all of us. Had a minor hit

in the sixties with a band called Spectrum. Made a living out of

producing Euro Disco. Has to talk to his bank manager a lot. Is very

understanding when we haven't got the cash. Drives a second hand Jag

and knows all the members of the Rubettes. The other regular clients

at The Village are Chris Barber and Freddie Starr.

We would like to go on record as saying if you live "out East" and you

want a smash, get down to The Village. If that doesn't get us some

free time, the rest will have to be told.

While the engineer and programmer are hard at it (and make sure they

constantly are) you have to get acclimatised to the fact that you now

have an office for a week. There will be phones you can use, possibly

a fax, telex and photocopying machines and hopefully a pool table to

practice your shot and relieve studio fatigue. If it's a studio that

makes you pay for every game don't forget to stuff up the holes with

newspaper. If your Music Week directory has not arrived yet you will

be able to use theirs. As well as having your record recorded between

Monday and Friday you have to make all the arrangements and

appointments for your visit to London the following week.

You are going to have to get yourself a plugger, an accountant, a

solicitor, a manufacturer and a distributor for your record. The

solicitor comes first. Get talking to the studio owner or manager.

Tell him what you are up to and seek their advice. They should be able

to recommend a solicitor and an accountant for you. They have to be

ones that specialise in the music business; it's no good using some

local chappie, no matter how confident they might seem. Get the owner

or manager talking about independent pluggers and publicists; they

might know nothing but they might know loads. Every studio in the land

has tried their hand at putting out records on their own little

labels. Most fail dismally. A strange fact that we do not fully

understand is, although local studios are in the best position

possible to become aware of young, raw local talent and have them tied

up in a maze of legally binding contracts before they have recorded

their first Peel session, for some reason they always miss the boat.

We suppose this must be a good thing. There have to be hundreds of

studio owners in the country kicking themselves at the memory of the

impressionable would-be megastars willing to sign their names to

anything on the off-chance it may give them a bite of the apple. The

owner somehow lets them slip through his net on their way to fame,

fortune and back tax payments. But that's not your problem.

Your problem is getting some mate or relative that is now living in

London (that's if you don't already live thereabouts) to put you up

for a few days. Telephone the solicitor and the accountant and make

appointments. Tell them on the phone what your situation is, that you

have got this "hot" track, but have no money and you need

representation.

Music business solicitors and accountants are in a very competitive

game. They will be willing to listen to you and give you advice. Not

so much free of charge but on the understanding that if things begin

to happen and money comes in, they start to get paid. They don't want

to miss out on what could be a future mega account earning their

practice hundreds of thousands a year. It's a well acknowledged fact

that every aspiring superstar needs legal representation before they

earn a bean.

Manufacturing and distribution. Without these two you will not have

records made (finished product) or an organisation to get them out to

the record counters across the land. There are a number of independent

manufacturers of records in the south east. If you went directly to

them they would want money you have not got up front before they do a

thing. Then treat you like crap. Manufacturers deal with hundreds of

small time, one-off labels, local bands wanting to press up five

hundred copies of their records to impress their unimpressed

girlfriends or schools pressing up limited quantity L.P.s of their

choir or brass band. They will see you as one of these. The only

people that have any clout with these manufacturers are the major

record companies, who will use independent record manufacturers when

their own plants are working to over capacity and they need to farm

out work. Or the larger established indie labels that provide a steady

flow of reliable business. Even then the pressing plants will lie to

them and generally screw up and pass the buck. The reason for this is

not because they attract the worst kinds of mankind to work for them

but because there are not enough pressing plants to meet the demand. A

ludicrous situation that we are surprised that some enterprising

moneyed individuals have not put to right. A pressing plant somewhere

in the north of England would clean up. This situation has been

arrived at because WEA centralised their European operations sometime

in the early eighties at the height of the recession and closed down

their British pressing plant. The Polygram group of companies did the

same last year. Now both of these companies have begun farming out

much of their work to the remaining independent manufacturers.

What you are going to need is a distributor that will handle your

manufacturing as well. The three main independent distributors in the

U.K. at the time of writing are Pinnacle, Spartan and the Cartel. Both

Pinnacle and Spartan are based in the south east and both have a

healthy C.V. of numerous past hits. The Cartel is, as the name

implies, a group of independent distributors across the country who

work in conjunction with each other providing a solid network of

distribution without stepping on each other's toes. We are distributed

by the Cartel.

One thing that the Cartel has that might be favourable for yourselves,

is that each of the separate distributors that make up the Cartel are

able to take on a record or label to manufacture and distribute

themselves and the rest of the Cartel is obliged to distribute it. If

there are one of these members of the Cartel near where you live you

should make an appointment to see them first. If they were to handle

your manufacturing and distribution you would be able to keep in far

closer contact with what's going on. Also, Rough Trade distribution,

who are the south east's member of the Cartel, are over loaded. In the

first seven months of 1988 they alone had four Number One's. All the

other members of the Cartel are hungry to prove they can do just as

well. The companies that make up the Cartel are:

Fast Forward, Edinburgh

Red Rhino, York

Backs, Norwich

Revolver, Bristol

Nine Mile, Warwick

Rough Trade, London

As always, you can get their telephone numbers from the Music Week

directory.

Have a chat with the people at the studio about it; see if they can

make any introductions for you. Go out and put the kettle on, make

some tea and go and see how they are getting on in the control room.

Try not to spend too much of your time actually in the control room as

you need to be able to hear things afresh every time you go in. If you

get too sucked into the actual crafting of the sounds you will lose

the vital objective over view of what is going on.

Don't smoke any dope or drink more than two pints in any one day all

week. If the engineer or programmer starts smoking dope or drinking

you are in serious trouble and will have to have it stamped out

immediately. The vast majority of engineers are very professional and

conscientious about this and do not indulge themselves on the job.

The same goes for any other narcotics stronger than coffee.

Be ready for vast depression on Tuesday. Black clouds will gather and

there is nothing you can do about it. After what seemed a promising

start on Monday, when you first got over your nerves and realised

things could be done, people in fact took you seriously and carried

out your suggestions. Tuesday will be Big Doubt City and nothing's

going to change that. What stuff you have got down is sounding like

total crap. It's not just your paranoia that's telling you its crap.

It is crap.

There is no way out and you will have to plough on.

The cynic in you must, by now, be thinking, "What are these dick head

Timelords on about? They haven't told us one concrete thing to do

since we've been in the studio other than, 'Leave it to the engineer

and programmer!' If it was that easy, everybody would be having

sodding Number Ones. This manual is a con. Just like all those 'get

rich quick' and 'keep young and beautiful' books. Just another part of

the late eighties sham. The fag end of Thatcherism. Full of

patronising prose and cheap metaphors. I mean, for God's sake, The

Timelords! They've only had the one hit and that was pure fluke. A

pair of ageing fakers and now they're trying to take the piss by

writing this load of crap."

We don't think we could argue our way out of the above other than to

say that some time between mid-Tuesday evening and late Wednesday

afternoon something will happen and everything will start to make

sense again. The track will begin coming together. By Wednesday

evening you will know you are on to a winner. There is nothing more

that we can tell you, even if we were there with you in the studio.

Just hold on to your fantasy. Roll around on the floor and scream if

need be, because it's all too late now. Ideas will come out of you

that you never thought were there, just let them flow. Don't get too

ahead of the game. Don't get carried away thinking your record is

going to change the face of pop music.

Watch desperation bear fruit and keep making cups of tea for the team.

Every second of the track has got to grab your attention and never let

go. Always go for the hookiest hook, the lowest common denominator,

the one you can't believe you're using. Take it and shake it and cry

when you hear it.

"It's going to be a monster!" somebody will say. It could be you, but

whoever said it, you know they are speaking the truth. A week ago

there was nothing: just you, the dole and the rent in the arrears -

and now this.

Don't work later than midnight, however well the track is going.

Everybody's brain begins to work on half capacity even though at the

time it is telling you different. You will just end up paying for a

lot of studio time that was badly used. Obviously, this temptation

might not arise if you are having to use public transport to get home.

Thursday morning. Everybody at the studio will be becoming aware of

the track's possibilities. Have a talk with them all about mixing on

an SSL desk. If the studio complex you are using has not got SSL

facilities they will tend to think they are not really necessary. They

are. If they have got SSL, fine, you will be able to mix it there. If

not, take their advice on choosing another studio that has. See if you

can get them to book the other studio for you. They should be able to

cut a better deal with them than you can. You will need to book two

days: one for the 7" and one for the 12" mix. It will seem to be a

phenomenal amount of money to be shelling out for something that

others might be advising you you don't need. Make sure you give

yourself at least a week between finishing the recording and starting

the mixing. A lot has to be done in that time. Your mind has to settle

before going in for the final mix.

The sticky subject of money - and the lack of it - should be dealt

with about now. As we said earlier in the bit about booking studios

they will want you to pay up before taking the tapes away. See if you

can talk to the studio owner directly - preferably alone. Tell him how

you are obviously working on a very limited budget and now that it

would seem that everybody is in agreement you have the makings of a

smash it would be totally stupid not to take the logical steps and

have the tracks properly mixed. He is bound to agree with you. Tell

him if you were to pay them their bill at the end of the week you

would not have the finances to take the project any further and ask to

be given a twenty eight day invoice to settle up. If he doesn't agree

to this he will be a total sponge brain. If need be, remind him how

major record companies take at least three months to settle their

accounts, but as he will now be wanting your record to happen as much

as you do, we are convinced that he will see sense in granting your

request. Another problem might arise here where you are going to have

to use all your tact to tiptoe through and get out of with every body

still on your side; the studio owner might come up with some ideas in

the way of help he can offer you. Naturally, as a business man he is

going to want to see if there is any way that he can get involved with

what you are doing that could profitably be turned to his advantage.

His instincts will already be telling him you are somebody on the way

up. He won't be too sure in what way, but he would like to be there

when the cake gets cut.

The three possibilities he could offer you are: one, assign the

copyright to his publishing company. Two, let them put the track out

on their own indie label. Three, let him shop the track around the

majors for you. He will indicate that he knows a few A&R men and drop

names with whom he has contact with at the various companies. It could

also be some concoction of the three.

On the first one, publishing, this is the one area that you might be

able to make some real money from the whole venture. To give that away

now for nothing when your hand is at its weakest is at the very least

a shame.

To put the record out on the studio's own label would be to assign

yourself to the terminally unhip. Now we know being unhip has nothing

to do with chart potential, but the hackneyed graphics and the memory

of previous releases on the label will all count against you when your

record is out there needing all the bonus points it can get.

The third suggestion that he shop the track around for you. The reason

why this route is definitely not got to be taken is although he does

undoubtedly know the said A&R men, it will never happen. Your track

will just become one of a thousand cassettes lost somewhere between

telephone calls, lunches, meetings and gigs in the expense account

world of the successful A&R man. Even if he were able to get a deal

for the track worth a couple of grand advance, that money would

instantly be swallowed up in the recording costs incurred. Your track

would also be way down the priority list of the major record company,

whose main job is establishing and sustaining their international mega

acts. Your record would be seen as some cheap acquisition; if it

happens, all well and groovy for them, but nothing more than "better

than a poke in the eye".

The trouble is, any one of these propositions could be the instant

answer to all your prayers. Your burdens transferred in exchange for

one of these three, the studio will waive its fee or at least put it

down as a recoupable cost to be accounted for at some unstated date in

the future. Your ego will be flattered that somebody "in authority" is

taking what you are doing as a serious proposition. But please, we

beseech you to hold out on all three counts. Giving in on the second

or third will definitely consign you to never making Number One. The

first could certainly lessen the chances and, as we stated above,

doesn't make financial sense. Remember at all times, even if the

studio owner has no direct stake in your record, he will want to see

it do well for the sake of the studio's credibility.

The one late eighties exception to the above that we can think of is

the Fon set up in Sheffield. Through that studio have come two of the

big hits in the previous twelve months (from writing): "House Arrest"

and "Funky Worm", with groovy graphics and sounds that are hip to the

beat in the very month of release. Both of which the Fon boss, Amrik,

has licensed to majors.

Tell the studio boss you want to get the track finished before you

make any decisions and then you would not do anything without first

seeking the advice of your solicitor. It might not be what he would

like to hear from you, but will respect you all the more for it.

Now that's sorted out, back into the studio. Backing singers, wild and

weird samples, events you never planned, whole new directions, these

sort of things will be happening now.

Friday. Daytime. This is your last chance to make whatever

arrangements will have to be made for your week in London. Friday

evening. Get a 7" rough mix of the track done. Leave the building that

night with at least half a dozen cassettes of it.

You will feel good.

At home over the weekend you will play the track constantly. You will

be beside yourself with confidence.

 

LONDON

 

Monday morning. A rain drenched hitch, an Intercity Saver, motorway

mayhem with the added bonus of contraflow hold-ups. Whatever way you

get there, London is still a big city. The pavements paved with gold

are heavily disguised and the legions of winos prick your conscience,

outrage your sense of social justice and remind you of what the future

has in store for you. You pass them by on the other side and go for

coffee in some Italian cafe. You buy a copy of the Face, just in case.

Solicitors. We spoke a little of them earlier on. The quote: "Don't

move without first checking with your solicitor is the fastest way of

making him a very rich man. But definitely do not go a block without

first giving him a call", is true.

From now on in you will be asked to sign various agreements, side

letters and amendments. Don't sign any of them without your solicitor

first reading it through and taking account of his advice. The trouble

is, solicitors become addictive. He will be the one person in London

who will always be on your side and see your point of view. Talking

to him will give you a sense of warmth and comfort - just like heroin.

But remember, his services will cost you at least 50 per hour,

even if it's on the pay later scheme.

Things to watch out for with solicitors. Young ones are often eager

and angry men. They were wimps at school and now with all their

learning behind them, they are out to show the world what they knew

all along. They will hint at the fortunes to be had. They will throw

their hands up in horror at the undotted "i's" and uncrossed "t's" in

proposed contracts. "Whoever drew up this contract hasn't got a clue!"

is a favourite expression. This young, eager, go-getting type might

seem to be the one you feel you can relate to in some way. Be warned.

He is as likely to lead you into deep water or scare off potential

offers. Our advice would be to go with the slightly more mature

solicitor. The wiser one. The one who knows how people's hearts and

minds work, not just the sub clauses and bottom lines. No matter if he

isn't concerned about hearing your track, as long as he will listen to

the way you want to do things.

Ask him to explain what the following things mean: points,

percentages, copyright, publishing, on ninety, PRS, MCPS, PPL, VPL,

BPI, MU and territories. Ask him to sort out your membership of what

you (or your record label) needs to become a member of. Tell him the

name of the accountant that the studio owner has recommended. See if

he knows him. Who would he recommend?

The accountant should be your next appointment. Much of what has been

said about solicitors applies to accountants.

He will recommend you register for VAT. He will tell you to keep your

receipts (even those you get when you buy a newspaper or a cup of

coffee). Listen and learn. It will make no sense. He will show you

petty cash books with empty columns waiting for figures. His world

will seem incredibly important to him. To you it will look meaningless

and have little to do with the reality of people going into shops in

their thousands to buy your record. If you are not willing to accept

that his world IS important you could find yourself in five months

time, after all the glory of having a Number One single has blown away

down the gutter with the MacDonalds wrappers and squashed Diet Coke

cans, left owing what seems like the whole world hundreds of thousands

of pounds that you never saw in the first place. Judge neither the

solicitor or the accountant by the cut of their suits or the decor of

their offices and don't ne embarrassed by the framed photos of their

families that they will have about the place.

Time to move on.

Other things to be done this week. Get your distribution and

manufacturing sorted out. You should have made your appointment when

you were at the studio. If it was a localish distributor you were

going to try (one of the members of the Cartel) you should have gone

to see them before you headed down/up to London.

Distributors, if they are interested (after they hear your rough mix

they cannot afford not to be) will want you to sign a contract giving

them exclusive rights to distribute your label's product for a minimum

of one year. They will also want to take about thirty per cent

commission from what they get for selling the records to the

retailers. Try and get that figure reduced to below thirty per cent.

Don't let them have any more than that.

To get them to handle the manufacturing as well might take a little

more persuasion, but they will see the logic if the track is to stand

any chance of being a hit. In no way could you alone have the clout

with the pressing plants and it is in their interest that the record

does as well as possible. Of course they will have accounts with the

pressing plants and you will not have to front the money to have your

record pressed. This will be deducted from your royalties along with

their distribution percentage and further small percentage for

organising the manufacturing.

Our experience was with Rough Trade. When we went to them with our

first record on KLF they didn't want to know. They saw it as something

that might sell five hundred copies, the bulk of those going to

unsuspecting export accounts. This record then received good reviews

in the rock press so they agreed to distribute it. It was not until we

were about to record our second LP that they considered it worth their

while to handle the manufacturing as well. In your situation time

cannot be wasted like this. You have got to get in there and have them

committed. The thing that you have in your favour that we didn't when

we started back in early 1987, is that then nobody was expecting hits

to be coming from nowhere. Now they can come from anywhere. They are

on their guard and waiting. Get them to send their proposed agreement

to your solicitor.

The other things you can talk to them about are pluggers, release

schedules, sleeves, sales forces and club promotion. On all these

topics they will have useful things to say and will actively be very

helpful.

Although you want to get your record out as soon as possible, to

release it at the wrong time of year can totally destroy its chart

potential. No point in releasing it in November or December; it would

be lost in the deluge of the heavy weight and seasonal releases.

Distributors also have to take account of what other releases they

will have coming up. You will want to make sure it has their full

force and support behind it. There is no point in competing with their

other priority releases.

Artwork, sleeves and labels. We are sure you have a lot of ideas about

that already. It will be no good getting some mate to do it because

he's good at drawing. Both artwork for the sleeves and labels must be

set out professionally for the printers to make any sense of it and do

the job properly. The distributor should recommend a graphic artist

for you to meet up with. Use their phones and make an appointment to

see him as soon as you can.

Pluggers. They should be able to recommend at least one for you.

Angela, who became our label manager at Rough Trade, recommended we

talk to a strange American man called Scott Piering, who runs the

ouffit "Appearing Music & Media Management". It might have been a

mistake but we took him on. You must have a meeting with at least one

plugger by the end of this week.

Sales forces. Both tricky and very expensive but you won't have to

talk to any until you have your track completed. We will tell you all

about them later.

The same goes for club promotion.

Who knows what difference a sleeve for a single makes? Go into a

record shop, look at what the Top Twenty has for sleeves - pretty much

of a nothing when you see them all in their racks. People worry over

graphics. They bleed over them. They devote their lives to them. The

graphics that a band use go a long way into building up the "attitude"

their would-be following can relate to.

You don't need any of that. Just make sure that it's bright and

colourful and that the name of the song and the act jumps out of the

front cover. No great concepts. Just good, clean, clear graphics. On

the back cover you can stick in more in-depth information: credits,

attempts at wit, that sort of thing. The label artwork should contain

all the technical blurb that you can find on any record label. It

might be worthwhile checking with your solicitor if you are unsure

about any of it.

 

Don't bother using a photograph. They just mean trouble and involve

expensive, time wasting photo sessions. Mind you, we used one to

supposedly great effect but it cost us a fortune.

Ninety nine per cent of graphic artists are good blokes, even if you

don't like the way they dress or the glasses that they wear. They will

care about your sleeve, listen to what you have to say and get the job

done properly. Ask them to liaise with whoever is handling the

manufacturing at your distributors about flap sizes and where

camera-ready artwork should be delivered. We are afraid this can cost

you as much as 400 for a seven and twelve inch sleeve. Tell them

to keep the budget as tight as possible. His invoice, when he gets

round to sending it to you, will be one that allows for twenty eight

days to pay.

Next. Your plugger. The man responsible for getting the nation to hear

your record. From now on in this man will undoubtedly be the most

important person in the jigsaw. Without his faith, vision and

understanding of the fastest lane in this particular rat race, you

will be nowhere.

There are no more than half a dozen independent pluggers in London who

are worth using at any one time. There is no point in us recommending

any one or more of them as the plugger league table is always in a

state of flux.

We went with Scott without talking to anyone else. We would like to

refute what we said about him on the previous page; it was not a

mistake. It was one of the great moves we made.

So go with the plugger that's got the faith, vision and understanding -

indefinable qualities - but you will know within five minutes of

meeting them if they have it. Top grade bull is something else they

should have. The plugger will try and explain what his job is. Each

of them view their role differently but all must be able to deliver

the following:

1. Concrete advice on what has to be brought out on your record for

him to be able to do his job.

2. Appointments with Radio One producers where he is able to get them

to listen to your record under the most favourable light.

3. Advice and help in putting together a video that will be

acceptable for children's television and a lead on some of the hungry

young video makers who are out there.

4. Willing to work twenty four hours a day and be willing to be

contactable in any one of those hours that you choose.

Nobody can make a person like a record that they would otherwise hate,

but it is not good enough for a plugger to think he has completed his

task in just getting a Radio One producer to hear your record. The

plugger has to understand everything that goes to make up a Radio One

producer's personality. Understand the pressure and the

responsibilities he has within Broadcasting House and to the nation's

listeners. Understand why he loathes the whole concept of pluggers,

but at the same time find certain ones likeable, even lovable. The

larger record companies are able to spend fortunes on producers

picking up restaurant tabs, taking them horse riding, power boat

racing, hang gliding, jet packing and getting involved in all other

kinds of pranks and japes. All this buying of favours (even when

engineered very subtly) generates a self loathing within the producer

which will in turn find self expression in being redirected back at

the plugger.

The law of diminishing returns always rules.OB

Being a plugger or a Radio One producer is a dangerous game to be in.

It is one of the fastest ways of loosing contact with what ever finer

qualities your soul might have had. The sight of embarrassingly

dressed, middle aged men racing around clutching seven inch pieces of

plastic desperately trying to convince each other that they contain

something of historical importance, something that the Great British

public need to hear, can be very sad.

Please. Listen to everything your plugger has to say. No matter what

he looks like he should be the one person who should understand what

is actually going on in the heart of the beast. Years of reading the

NME, Smash Hits and Thrasher will never ever give you an insight into

the sickness of the human soul and the ways of pop that this man will

have. If he doesn't have that insight - dump him.

Our man, Scott Piering, had all these qualities and more. He lives

life on the edge of complete mental and physical breakdown. This finds

expression in some strange ways: his car does most of the actual

breaking down for him, thus enabling him to use mindless physical

violence against it in an attempt to get it going again. Of course, it

does not, but it is better than if he were to collapse in the middle

of the road himself and proceed to beat his body with a lump hammer.

Scott has, what we would call, a cow's lick; a piece of hair at the

front that refuses to be combed in any sensible direction. When

reaching any points of nervous excitement Scott will find it necessary

to attempt to quell the lick's wayward ways by constantly twiddling it

and patting it down, in a most desperate manner.

Next there is his bright purple jumper. His alternative flag to

tastelessness. It makes Mark E. Smith's shirts look like pure Paul

Smith. But strangest of all is the chain. This chain is worn tightly

around his thick set neck and there is some sort of implement attached

to it that digs incessantly into his flesh. Although there are no

visible running sores or flesh wounds, this indulgence in open and

unashamed masochism must serve some purpose. We never dared to ask. He

also indulges himself in a temperament that would shame the best prima

donnas.

Without him this book would have to be retitled "How To Get To Number

47 - With A Certain Amount of Difficulty".

The man is a true star.

Money and pluggers. They will want a lot and when your record starts

happening pluggers will want more. Scott wanted a thousand pounds to

start working the record and then all sorts of bonuses related to our

record reaching certain positions on the charts. We had to pay him

five grand altogether once it had made Number One. He had a lot of

costs and his team worked flat out for it, but we had to give him the

first thousand the day of release. We had a couple of months to pay

the other four. Anybody who can do it much cheaper won't be much good.

Like the blokes who own the studios pluggers often have their fingers

in other pies. They might want to get their sticky fingers in yours -

so watch it.

Without having some sort of video a plugger will be pretty restricted

in what he can do for you as far as television goes. Even if videos

don't get used for transmission they are very good for pluggers to

send out to people and get them interested in your track. But more of

videos when you have done the final mix.

Within their set-up independent pluggers usually have someone who

handles press: A PRESS OFFICER. The up market title for this person is

A PUBLICIST. To put it bluntly, their job is to get as much acreage in

all forms of printed media. Publicists have to understand journalists

and editors in the way the plugger understands radio producers. The

publicist's role in the success of this operation is secondary.

Turning a well-planned strategy into a reality through the press can

be the best way to build a career - but this is done over months and

years. For the sort of runaway success you will be after, reviews in

the music papers - bad or good - are meaningless; your vanity will be

the only thing affected by them. Not appearing in certain publications

is as important as appearing in others.

What you will need a publicist for is feeding the tabloids and teen

mags with pictures, titbits and the odd silly quote once the record is

zooming. He will also help in organising photo sessions and cutting

deals with photographers and photographic studios.

Pluggers and publicists usually view each other with a certain amount

of contempt. The publicist can represent an act who regularly makes

the front covers of the rock press while the plugger for the same act

will not be able to get a sniff down at Radio One outside of the

confines of the evening shows. The publicist will think the plugger is

useless.

Or the reversal. Where a plugger has a client who has just had their

second Number One while the publicist can get no more than a half page

in the Melody Maker. The plugger thinks the publicist is useless.

There are countless of obvious examples: Dinosaur Junior will never

make the Breakfast Show and Rick Astley never make the cover of

Sounds.

One of us has been involved with one publicist for nine years. It is

this publicist who handles our stuff. His name is Mick Houghton

(pronounced How-ton). He is a reformed drug fiend, a would-be crime

writer, a cricket fanatic and he also awaits the day the Grateful Dead

will deliver a half decent LP. He is a realist. Gives no bullshit.

Represents a lot of acts who get loads of front covers but never get

on the A List down at Radio One.

We know sod all about other publicists or how to judge them on first

meeting them. So ask your plugger to recommend one if he hasn't

already got one on the pay roll.

Publicists want money as well. We paid Mick Houghton 1,000 for

doing our single. He will hate us saying this but he gets a lot less

than the plugger because he had a lot less overheads and had to put in

a lot less man hours.

The tools of a publicist's trade are a telephone, a photocoping

machine and a capacity to lie.

Friday. Take the weekend off and worry about all the wheels you have

set in motion and all the invoices that will be winging their way to

you over the next few weeks.

By the end of this, the third week, you should now have had meetings

with solicitors, accountants, distributors, designers, pluggers and

publicists. You should have confirmed and put into motion your

relationship with each of them. Your solicitor should already be

looking over the proposed agreement from your distributor, getting

your membership of various organisations organised and clearances

gained for whatever samples you have used in your track. The

accountant should be applying for VAT registration and contacting your

bank manager. You should be shagged out.

Friday afternoon. Contact the studio you have booked to mix your track

and confirm everything is O.K. for the Monday and Tuesday of the

following week. Make sure that the multi-track is going to be there on

time. Have a chat with the engineer and make sure he has ordered any

bits of outboard gear that he will be wanting to play with.

 

THE FOURTH WEEK

 

Monday morning. Mixing. It's one of those words that you hear all over

the place from people who don't know what it means. If we have not

told you before, mixing is taking what is on the multi-track tape,

deciding which bits and in what order you want to use them while

enhancing all the sounds and making a load of decisions, then

recording what's left on to a two-track, stereo master tape. This is

what the record is cut from. This is almost what the world will hear.

"It's all in the mix!"

"It will be alright at the mix!"

is the sort of crap you will hear people saying. Mix Fear is a big

thing with a lot of people; the final moment of truth. This is where,

if you don't get it right first time, you have wasted two thousand

pounds.

Spend the first day doing the twelve inch. Leave most of it to the

engineer, throw in some ideas, play some records to him that give him

some idea of where you think it should be going. Get back to boiling

the kettle and brewing the tea.

When he gets the drum tracks up and and has done some work on their

sound it has to be the most mind numbing, danceable thing you have

ever heard. These drums alone should sound like they could go on all

night in a club and the floor would never be less than a writhing mess

of flesh.

Take risks. Have him drop all sorts of things out and stick repeat

echoes on everything. Don't stop the beat. Don't loose the beat. Don't

mistreat the beat. If you have time to do a another mix that is

radically different, do it. Don't be afraid to have next to nothing in

it. Worship at the feet of the primeval goddess of Groove.

Edits. Get the engineer to try weird and wonderful edits with his

razors. A good mixing engineer likes nothing better than to get

lengths of tape stuck all over the place waiting to be edited back

together again in some unlikely but glorious reincarnation.

The next day. Tuesday. The seven inch mix. The attitude to mixing the

seven inch l1as to be a lot more controlled. We are afraid there is

not the room for the wild creative gestures of the 12" mix, where the

only constraints are that the physical and sexual elements of the

track are left naked and the dancer should never be let free from the

grip of the groove.

The seven inch should very definitely be mixed using the small

speakers in the studio. Don't get lost in the illusion of power that

the big studio monitors will give any track. At all points hooks must

be there screaming at the casual listeners. Some ideas might have come

up in the twelve inch mix that could be tried out in the seven inch,

especially for the breakdown section. Never forget, by the end of the

day it has to all work in less than three minutes and thirty seconds.

If your track has vocals on it, make sure you do an identical

instrumental version. This might be needed for overseas television

shows. Make sure the studio keeps safety copies of each mix you do.

Have half a dozen cassettes copied, each containing all the mixes.

They will be needed.

Wednesday. Take it easy. Have a lie-in. Check the post. Sign on if you

have to. Take a stroll down to the shops and get some provisions in.

The day will be overcast and grey; probably a spot of rain. If there

is a test match going on England will be doing moderately well. A

minor tragedy will have happened somewhere in the world: Metro crash

in Paris, a fairground disaster at the Tivali Gardens in Copenhagen,

that sort of thing.

It's time to play old records and reflect on the strangeness of life

and wonder if that one-night-stand still remembers you. In the

afternoon make some telephone calls. Chase up the artwork, check in

with your solicitor and do your laundry. Telephone the distributors

and get them to book some cutting time for you at the cutting room of

your mix engineer's choice. Go outside and watch a plane cross the

sky. Wonder where it's going and about the lives of the people on

board and why doesn't the plane just drop out of the sky and what you

would do if it did.

Let Thursday be a similar sort of day to Wednesday (bar the minor

tragedy). You will have to package and post cassettes of your record

to your plugger, publicist and key person at the distributors.

Thursday evening. A cosy mild depression will settle in. Watch Top of

the Pops. Read a music paper. Then let Friday roll by at its own

speed.

On Saturday an aeroplane crashes minutes after take-off. When the

black box is found will it reveal that you were to blame? Probably

not.

 

THE FIFTH WEEK

 

The fifth week. The fifth week is another action packed week. It's

back down/up to London. Agreements to sign. The record to cut. Meet

up with club promotion people and sales force people.

Having a record cut means taking your master tape to a cutting room

where a cutting engineer will play your tape, make some bizarre

comments about its quality then using his machinery will equalise the

sounds coming off your tape (this has to be done because only sounds

within a certain range can be committed to vinyl or broadcast by

radio) before recording them on to a new tape of his. There is a

tendency to make the sound more compact. The cutting engineer will

then cut a Lacquer from this tape. A Lacquer is a metal disc, evenly

coated in a black lacquer, that is placed on the most expensive record

deck you will ever have seen.

 

To be honest, we are totally bored with telling you about cutting.

Cutting records is boring. So are cutting rooms and the bulk of

cutting engineers are boring with opinions totally irrelevant to

what's going down. If we had our way we would just quit writing the

bulk of the rest of this book now and just tell you how to smuggle

people into the Top of the Pops studios and just call it a day. Just

get the book printed as it is.

We will try and be reasonable and professional about this. But we want

this book finished by the end of the week. We want to get on with what

we are doing next. We have this new gear that is providing us with a

lot of fun. There's at least a half a dozen LPs and two films to make,

an art exhibition and a ship we want to buy - all by the end of the

year and here we are wasting our time writing a book that will be

completely redundant within twelve months. An obsolete artefact. It's

only use being a bit of a social history that records the aspirations

of a certain strata in British society in the late eighties. Nothing

that any Sunday supplement advertisement could not already tell them.

It's obvious that in a very short space of time the Japanese will have

delivered the technology and then brought the price of it down so that

you can do the whole thing at home. Then you will be able to sod off

all that crap about going into studios.

We have been doing all this writing in a county library in an old

English market town. The place is crammed with dirty great books.

Loads of them with more than five hundred pages in. All written

properly. People must have sweated for years to write some of these

books and we can't be bothered with finishing this skimpy thing

properly.

We found a book this morning. "A Dictionary of Similes". Printed in

1917. Thought there might be something in it to spice up our writing

style. Every page is a winner. We shall let it fall open. It's page

two hundred and sixty five. MONEY TO MOTIONLESS and what do we read:

Monotonous as the dress of charity children. (Anon).

Moody as a poet. (Thomas Shadwell)

Mope like birds that are changing feather. (Longfellow)

I am as mopish as if I were married and lived in a provincial town. (G.H.

Lewis)

Moral as a peppermint. (Anon)

Moral as a peppermint!

Moral as a peppermint?

Moral as a sodding peppermint???

Obviously the word peppermint had some unusual connotation back in

1917 that has been lost down through the intervening years.

Back in 1917, when peppermint was moral, there were no pluggers or

sales forces helping to hype the week's hot new releases. You would

be out there in the trenches knee-deep in death, scribbling whatever

feeling you had left into some dog- eared notebook and we would be

writing:

"How To Become A Reknowned War Poet - The Easy Way"

"Tommy this and Tommy that

And Tommy feels no pain

For it's over the top for Tommy

Where Tommy takes the blame

While Fritz the Hun feeds Fritz the cat

And Kaiser sits on throne

Then Fritz chats to Tommy boy

About his Fraulein back at home"

That's the one that took us to The Top, up there with Owen and

Service, Sassoon and Graves.

"Cut the crap!" we hear you say. Alright.

Your distributors will organise getting the Lacquer to the pressing

plant. A few days later they will get some test pressings (T.P.'s)

back. You have to listen to them and say: "That sounds O.K. by me."

They can then go ahead pressing up the initial quantities. Check over

the finished artwork before it is sent off to the printers. As with

the T.P., a slick* (*SLEEVE PROOF) of the finished sleeve will be

printed for you to pass judgement on before they go ahead with the

rest of the run.

 

CLUB PROMOTION

 

Club promotion. There are companies that specialise in mailing out

records to clubs. The clubs get the records for nothing and in return

have to fill out reaction sheets, reporting back how each individual

record is going down with their punters out on their dance floor.

Lots of records are initially broken on the dance floor. It's all a

cliche now, but it still works. A record is mailed out to the

taste-making clubs four weeks before release as a white label or a

fake American import (for DJ elitist credibility). Two weeks before

release it gets mailed to the rest of the clubs and specialist dance

record shops. James Hamilton starts writing about the track in his

Record Mirror column. On the week of release the record bombs into the

national chart. This is how records you have never heard, by artists

you have never heard of, are suddenly appearing in the Top 40.

We used a company called Rush Release and we would recommend them to

anyone. They are based in South London. Find their telephone number in

the Music Week Directory. Make an appointment. Get down there wit~ a

T.P. Play it to them. Listen to their advice - and take it.

These promoters have various lists of clubs and DJs that are

applicable for sending every type of record to. If they think it's

only worth your while sending out only one hundred and fifty records

they will tell you, even if by sending out three hundred they get

twice as much money. For them to mail out three hundred records is

going to cost you five hundred pounds (1988 rates). That's the amount

we sent out for "Doctorin' The Tardis".

They will demand cash up front. They will tell you of the numerous

times they have been let down by small companies who have gone bust

owing them hundreds. Give them your hard luck story. Ask for a twenty

eight day invoice and let them get on with their job. Inform your

distributor that Rush Release are on your case and they need to have

three hundred stickered, white labels A.S.A.P.

Organise your release schedule with your distributors. Make sure the

plugger and publicist are supplied with white labels. Keep talking

with everybody. Keep the vibe building. Don't be bullied into taking

out adverts in any of the music papers; waste of time, waste of money.

Keep using other people's telephones and don't take taxis. Don't stop

thinking about videos, photo sessions and Top of the Pops

performances. Hold hands with Heaven and take a tea break because

things are beginning to get out of control again.

 

CHARTS

 

Have we told you how our national charts are compiled yet? The ones

that the BBC use. The only ones that Music Week prints. The only

charts in this country that are worth taking seriously. The market

research people, GALLUP, put them together.

There are six hundred record shops sprinkled across the country that

are lucky enough to have little computers in them. Each time somebody

buys a single from any one of these shops, the shop assistant is

supposed to tap into the computer the catalogue number of the record

sold. These are the CHART RETURN SHOPS. After the close of play on

each Saturday evening and before the broadcasting of the new charts on

Radio One on Sunday evening, GALLUP will randomly choose two hundred

or more from these six hundred shops, add up the score on their

computers and with these figures base the chart.

The reason why these six hundred shops are so lucky (even though it is

a bind having to type in catalogue numbers all the time) is because

they become the focal point of all the record companies' in-store

promotion. The record companies will stop at nothing to get the punter

to buy the initial quantities of any would-be chart-bound releases

from one of these shops. It is for this very reason that fate has

decreed that chart return shops have all the double packs, limited

editions, gatefolds, twelve inch remixes, the shaped and picture

discs, the CD singles and all the other loss leaders desperately

trying to grab your attention from display boxes littered around

counters and dangling from ceilings.

 

SALES FORCES

 

Each sales force is made up of a team of a dozen or more salesmen who

each have their chunk of the kingdom to cover. Within their territory

they have to call on each chart return shop once a week. From Monday

to Friday, 9am to 6pm, armies of these salesmen tear from one chart

return shop to another, giving away goodies, doing one-on-one deals,

asking about the kids, leaving ten singles on the counter: "Well,

we'll forget about the invoice if it makes Number One."

These are desperate men. Leading desperate lives. These men are in a

league table and nobody wants to be left in the relegation zone. None

want to be back selling spark plugs. They want the glamour. They want

to meet the stars. They want to be down there in London working in the

record company's central office surrounded by all the dolly bird

secretaries. "Make more room at the top - I'm on my way!" How can

they fail? Chase that bonus. Make that sale. Crack that joke and

"Please! Just one more number in the computer and we're almost there!"

Over the Pennines and out across the Fens, winding up the Welsh

valleys are estate cars piled high with boxes of the week's priority

releases, all searching for the extra panel sale. These men have a job

to do. Fair means or foul. They are the foot soldiers and are out

there week after week in the front line. They spend their lives

waiting for exam results that are published every Sunday. Then there

are the midweeks on Thursdays and predictions on Fridays and on and on

it goes. GALLUP provides the industry with midweek chart positions on

Thursdays and predictions on Friday of what they think the charts will

be like on Sunday. These are not published or broadcast for public

consumption. It is they who get the chop when the whistle is blown and

somebody shouts "Unfair marketing!". Yes, the record company gets

fined but they loose their job - and it's back to selling spark plugs.

Without such a team of men no record stands a chance of charting, no

matter how much radio play or club action it's having. A distributor

can only supply a demand, they don't go out there and sell, sell,

sell.

Each of the major record companies have their sales forces. We

mentioned earlier that until a few years ago nobody outside of the

majors had access to this form of weight. But now we have a number of

independent sales forces that are breaking records from the

independent sector at an almost monotonous rate. We should have made

it clear that these independent sales forces do most of their work for

the majors; they are hired to work on priority releases as a back up,

ensuring each chart return shop gets a visit h~ice a week by a

salesman pushing the same record.

These men are not motivated by any altruistic ideals. They are a

phenomena of the Thatcher years. They are there for you to use and

they will welcome working with you once they hear your record.

There are three heavy weight sales forces you should contact: Impulse,

Bullet and Platinum. They have all had Number One's in 1988. Phone

them up and see if you can get an appointment. Send them each a white

label. Go witn which ever one shows the most interest. We were in the

lucky position of having all three wanting to work our record. Each of

them use different strategies, each offer different deals. They cost a

lot of money. If they want five grand from you for working the life of

a record, tell them it's got to be three grand. They will want chart

bonuses just like the plugger. By the time you get to Number One you

will be owing them ten grand. A lot of money, but it is what you have

got to pay. There is no other way around it. The great thing is they

will all, when slightly pushed, let you do a deal where you don't have

to pay until your money starts coming through from the distributors.

You might be wondering, "Why do we have to pay these sales forces to

sell our records? Why can't they just take a commission on the amount

of records they sell?". When we said "sell, sell, sell" earlier, it is

not that straight forward. They are not out there really selling

records, they are out there buying catalogue numbers going into

computers, buying display space and rack visibility. They need tools.

They need your help: they need free records to give away - thousands

if you'll let them. Favours need to be won. Your real record sales

only start happening once the record is off and running. That's when

the vast bulk of orders start pouring in direct to the distributors.

Yeah, we know you must be bored hearing about salesmen but we have to

hammer it home. These are the men that make the hits. Without them

there would be nothing. Even if everybody stopped buying singles for a

month there would still be numbers going into GALLUP computers. Still

midweeks on Thursday and predictions on Friday and charts on Sunday.

Nothing would change.

It is only these people who can push, pull or scrape a record from

being at forty one in the predictions on Friday and over the great

divide and into the land of plenty at thirty nine on Sunday evening.

There, safe in the bosom of the Top of the Pops Top 40 chart run down,

the new entry plays on Radio One, the automatic national recognition.

It's there - a hit for all to see. All because a few extra favours

were pulled in Doncaster on a wet Friday afternoon.

We are not saying these men don't love music as much as the next man,

they do; their in-car stereos are never left to cool. When they are

working a record it doesn't matter if it's Glen Medeiros, Public

Enemy, Fields of the Nephilim or Sabrina, they don't have the

pretensions of the plugger or the crackable credibility of the

publicist. In the final analysis these are the men. Why should any

shop waste their time pressing catalogue numbers into machines if it

wasn't for the goodies that these men bring them for doing so? Without

these numbers being tapped in there would be no charts.

Nothing.

The whole charade would not exist.

Do you get the picture?

Bonus or no bonus - that is the question.

 

COUNT DOBOWN

 

Release date is looming. The right clubs are playing your record. The

plugger has already had a meeting with a very close friend up at Radio

One. The publicist keeps telling you he's got to have some photos and

some sort of biog. You know you need a video.

Those pay-up dates on the invoices are looming larger than the release

date. They were adding up to 12,000 at the last count. You need to

get your hands on twenty thousand pounds - fast. No muggable pensioner

is carrying that much cash about with them and it's not as if

borrowing a fiver from mum is going to make any difference. Enterprise

Allowance Scheme? Why didn't you think of that before! Because you are

not thick.

You are going to have to hold tight.

Check in with your solicitor. Check in with your accountant.

Start the countdown.

Sleep becomes erratic.

If you are a dope smoker you will find yourself skinning up before

breakfast. You will almost have a nervous breakdown over the sleeve

when you realise it is completely crap. "Nobody would want to buy a

record that looked like that!" and you will hear yourself sob:

"They'll just laugh at it and leave it in the racks."

And: "Why does the world need this record?"

We offer you no answers.

"Any record?"

Still no answer.

"The mix is crap. It needs a re-mix. Should I stop everything now,

have all the copies that are already pressed destroyed and re-mix?"

The plugger is screaming at you for a video.

"Let me back in the womb."

Three. Two. One. Oh no! Here we go - ZERO!

Monday morning. Ten thirty and you are still in bed. There are

record shops all over the country already open with your record in it. Is

there anybody out there who has actually gone out and bought it?

"Why should they?"

You switch on Radio One. You almost explode. They're playing it -

Simon Bates is playing your record!

"Oh my God! Oh my God why? why? why?" screams a voice inside your

head.

It sounds crap one second and brilliant the next.

You start to shake. The telephone rings. You hide under the covers.

The telephone stops ringing.

Simon Bates starts talking over the fade. "The bastard."

What does he say?

He likes it. Thinks it could be a chart bound sound and tells a few

million people they will be hearing that one again. The telephone

rings. It's your plugger asking if you heard it; he thought it sounded

great. He tells you it has been scripted for the Gary Davis Show that

afternoon. He tells you he had been trying to get you over the weekend

to let you know that the record has been put on the C LIST.

 

PLAYLISTS

 

Radio One operates a playlist system. All the producers meet on a

Monday, listen to the new releases and discuss which ones should go on

or come off their playlist. The playlist is divided into A, B and C

Lists. Records on the A List are the ones that get played on what

seems like every day time show, but in reality rarely more than twenty

times a week. B listed records are ones that the producers are

recommended to script in the shows; these can end up getting as many

as fourteen plays in a week, more than many A Listed records. A record

on the C List is one that can be considered for scripting; more down

to the individual producer or D.J.

And of course Radio One has its usual quota of Golden Oldies, album

track spots and request slots that take a fair chunk of the day's

needle time. The fact that your record may not have gone straight on

the A List should not bother you unduly. Our record spent only one

week on the A List - the week we were at Number One. When we entered

at Number 22 we were not even on the C List. Other records can go

straight on the A List, get played to death and still do nothing chart

wise.

In the life of most Number One records all this radio play and

playlist stuff would have been off and running at least a week

earlier, but because you are not a name act, a heavy weight record

label (or even a slim trim indie with good track record) nobody up at

Radio One is taking your record that seriously - even though they like

it.

The telephone rings again. It's some mate or your mother (or cousin)

phoning to tell you they've heard the record.

You get dressed and don't know what to do with yourself.

No milk in the fridge.

For the next few days you will be scared to call anyone and no one

will call you. On Wednesday you will probably be tempted to go down to

the local newsagents to see if any of the music papers are in and, if

so, have they reviewed your record.

Probably only one of them will have a review and that just a couple of

lines lumped in with three other records two thirds down the page;

nothing that positive, but not too negative, just stating that it's

more of the same and where will it all end. Don't try and read any

significance into these meagre words. The reviewer will have forgotten

what they said seconds after their hands finished typing it. You,

however, may carry those words around with you in your head for the

rest of your life - don't let that be a problem.

Wednesday. Late afternoon. Call the sales force. They should have a

fair idea of how it's going by now. It will be going well, it's

already starting to fly. They want to know about radio play and have

you made a video yet. Call the distributors. Orders are beginning to

come in.

"All the signs are there - it's going to be a big one!" They were

telling you this last week and the week before and they are telling it

to you again.

Call the plugger's office. he won't be there but his assistant will

tell you they have already had five plays this week so far. It's going

to be on "Singled Out" on Friday. They are expecting about ten to

twelve plays by the end of the week. "It's going to be a big one!" she

will tell you. The plugger will want to call you back later in the

afternoon. He does.

"We gotta have a video. Look, this record could be huge. Without a

video we're looking at a record that will peek at twenty eight - if

we're lucky. And have you sorted out what kind of performance you'll

be doing for Top of the Pops? All the signs are this record could

enter The Forty on Sunday. If the predictions on Friday confirm it

I've got to tell the Pops' production meeting on Friday what your act

is all about. They'll need to see there's a video, know that it's

M.U. cleared."

He will go on and on. You will have to come clean and tell him you may

have the greatest ideas in the world but no money. Nothing. You can't

conjure up a video out of thin air.

He won't like to hear this because you already owe him a thousand

pounds that he should have got before last Monday. He will ask you if

you have asked for any sort of cash advance from the distributors yet.

You answer no. He will advise you to do that. They are bound to let

you have it, sceing as the record is all ready to explode.

Call the distributors before they sod off home. They will know all

about the radio play and the reaction from the sales force. Get

straight to the point: you need money to see this thing through

properly.

"How much?"

"Twenty thousand pounds."

They will understand your situation and ask you to call back in the

morning. You call back the next morning just after 10am. (This, by the

way, is the only [probably] long distance call in the whole exercise

that you need to make during peek rate with you having to pay for it).

They agree to give it to you.

Call your bank manager. Tell him what is happening. Tell him you want

to draw out two hundred pounds now. He will say yes. Go to the bank

and draw out the cash. This money is not needed for any instant

purpose, but if you are going to be given a cheque for twenty thousand

pounds you want to feel some of it there in your pocket - now. Get

down (or up) to London as fast as you can. You have to get that cheque

into a bank before three thirty. If you have time, go to a cafe by

yourself and have a coffee and just look at the noughts on that

cheque.

After the bank, get round to your plugger's to talk video with him. It

could already be too late. You should really have had a finished video

over a week ago. You are going to have to have yours done by the

following Thursday. That is shot, edited, dubbed, union cleared - the

lot - and ready for transmission.

Call your accountant. Tell him about the money. Get him to issue

cheques to settle all your outstanding bills.

You will now once again feel like a free man.

We have to take a break here because we hate video. As a medium it

stinks. It is almost totally out of your control and it costs a

fortune. Video production companies are full of the people you never

want to meet. They are leeches. Spending their lives trying to

ingratiate themselves with anyone who they think might have a few

grand to spend.

Videos are the disease of our time; adverts pretending to be art, made

by arseholes pretending to be artists. Of course, the lovers of kitch

in the next century will adore them, social historians dissect them.

Shoot the lot we say.

Other than that, spend no more than ten thousand pounds (and don't

forget the VAT). Don't make a prat of yourself and don't attempt a

pastiche of some movie genre.

For our video we were lucky. We had a mate who had a director's

ticket. He was not a regular video director. We had a lot of fun

making it. Although it did not look like it, it cost us over eight

thousand pounds, most of which went on hiring the helicopter for the

aerial shots.

Listen to what your plugger has to say on the subject. Let his office

be the centre of operations for getting it all together. Make

decisions and get it done. Who knows? You might even enjoy it.

Next.

What's your angle? What's going to happen on Top of the Pops? What are

you going to say on "Newsbeat"? What are you going to use for photos

for Smash Hits?

Like the video you have left it all too late but there was nothing you

could have done about that because it's only now that you have got the

money.

In this whole area we went well overboard, spending a lot of money

that we could have saved for other things. We had radically different

concepts each and every new day, each more complicated than the

previous, each just adding to the confusion. We thought we were being

clever. We were being twats.

An after-the-fact fact that became clear to us was that our record

could have been sold in brown paper bags with no wacky "car makes

record" scam and it would still have got to number one. The record was

bigger than all of us. It knew where it had to get to. Us? We just

tried to keep up with it, hoping people would notice our crazy asides

and metaphysical jibes as the whole thing fire-balled itself to The

Top.

The "car makes record" thing was all very last minute and we won't go

into what other ideas we had before and how it all came about. Our

engineer became the car. He was christened Ford Timelord. It could

have been Timmy Timelord or Tyrone Timelord. He did all the

interviews, providing a character that was an extension of his own.

This left us free to just watch and assess. When it came to Top of the

Pops we went through a myriad of mind blowing scenarios for our

performance. When we first came up with our car-as-front-man idea we

just wanted to have the car sitting there in the Top of the Pops

studio, our track playing and nothing else happening - all very Andy

Warhol. "Boring," we were told. So we got a choreographer and four

dancing girls and put them on a retainer for a month. That cost two

thousand five hundred pounds. Called them the Escorts. Had a stylist

make them costumes. That cost one thousand pounds. Then we did a photo

session with them. That was another one thousand pounds.

The Escorts were like a latter day Pans People, whs: danced around

Ford Timelord's more laid back cool and somewhat stationary

performance. They provided fast fun and frolicsome sexuality. Tongue

firmly in cheek for all to see; pure Sunday Sport.

We loved it.

Top of the Pops said: "No way! If we want dancers on our show we'll

provide them."

It was some time around this point that we became aware of a

resistance to our record and on the whole way we were promoting it.

The tabloids, radio and pop TV. all smelt a rat. They thought we were

attempting to take the piss, that we were trying to hijack their media

for our own ends. That we were not playing the game according to the

rules.

We thought we were giving them what they wanted: something inane,

breezy, with a bit of safe, silly sex thrown in.

The Sun and The Mirror took this especially badly. They inferred we

were not only insulting them as journalists if we thought they would

do an interview with a car, we were also told that if they were to run

such an interview they would loose their credibility with their

readers, who in future would begin to doubt all their other pop piffle

stories about "Bananarama Girl Splits With Sting" and "Sultry Sade in

Secret Affair With Bonking Mad Cliff". Instead, they tried to expose

us, the men behind the record. "Who wants to read about reality?" we

thought. "Bill Drummond. Ageing rocker." All that kind of stuff.

We thought they would want to do centre spreads with Ford Timelord

with his lovely Escorts draped over his long, dark, sleek body. They

did not. They hated it.

Don't make the mistakes we did. Save your money.

Mind you, things tend to get completely out of control - so even if

you learn from our mistakes you will create plenty of your own.

Always find the positive angle. Always run the risk.

We originally wanted the record fronted by real Daleks. We could not

get permission. It was after that we came up with our car idea. We

then wanted to smash the car into Stone Henge or have a helicopter

place it on two of the vertical stones whose horizontal was missing.

We thought of dragging it to the top of Silbury Hill, digging a hole

and tipping the car in, nose first, with about four feet stuck in the

ground and the rest stuck in the air, so that it looked like we had

just arrived from outer space.

One of us is sort of related to one of the lesbians that absailed into

the House of Commons in early '88. They advised us against digging a

hole in Silbury Hill as it is sort of special to them. This gang of

anarchic lesbians said they would help us break into Stone Henge one

night, paint all the stones black and white, knock a few over and

remind the world about evolution. The girls were angry about something

and we were not, so they went off and broke into News At Ten. Us,

being boys, went off and made Daleks in true Blue Peter style. As

these Daleks were so far removed from the original designs they did

not infringe any copyright laws. Bill Butt, who was the director,

attempted to pool together all our various strands of boyish

behaviour, our love of shallow symbolism, heavy mysticism and American

cars and we made our video.

Confusion.

What has all this got to do with you and our supposed concise

instructions on how to make that last leap to pole position?

Everything.

Because it's only through mastering the art of having complete control

when you are at the same time totally out of control. You must hold

the reigns tighter than you have ever held them before but let the

chariot head over the cliff top. The abyss is calling.

Clutch at straws. Build castles on clay. Let the quick sand tell you

lies. Take the scenic route. Be there on time. Use two drummers if

need be. Fill out forms. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Midweeks and

predictions. Fall, spin, turn and dive. Sign cheques. Solicitor doing

deals with "Hits" and "Now". Sleep at night. Black to white. Highest

new entry. Good to bad. Fast forward. Top of the Pops. Re-read this

book, whatever it takes. No, don't. You already know all there is to

know. Faster. Faster. Faster. Give everything. Just give everything.

This is the beautiful end.

Sunday evening. Five minutes to seven. You are now at Number One. This

is forever. It is now totally out of your hands. Your body still looks

the same but everything inside it is a million miles apart. Sunday

evening. Twenty past seven. Rockman opens another bottle of Champagne.

King Boy watches lapwings fly past the setting Sun.

You do what you need to do. There was nothing behind the green door

but an old piano. So why? What have you learnt? If you can have a

Number One, anything is possible. Don't forget to sign on.

 

POSTSCRIPT

 

A couple of people have read through what we have written to check on

the spelling and to see if we should be sticking in any more

punctuation. They were disappointed with the way we ended it. We don't

know what they expected, or what you expected. We certainly did not

know what we expected. Maybe an attempt at metaphysical wit. "Expect

nothing, accept everything", something like that.

"It's all left up in the air. Out of focus. You never even told us how

to smuggle people through the BBC security into Top of the Pops or

about Gary Glitter. We want to know about Gary Glitter." They said.

To be honest (or at least an attempt at it) we think the reason we

wrote this manual was to try and understand the whole process

ourselves, make sense, unravel the mess of confusing strands. All the

lies and logic, morals and myths and the difference between "yes" and

"no".

Empiricals. Forget it.

Nothing ever resolves itself. You must know that by now. We just chose

a cut off point. No point in us telling you how we attempted staying

at Number One for a further week and failed or how Top of the Pops

wouldn't let us go on with Gary Glitter the week we were at Number

One. Or how we wanted to swap our Number One with Morrisey's "Everyday

Is Like Sunday" and GALLUP wouldn't have it. To quote the most heart

shuddering moment in teenage pop, the closing line in "Past Present

and Future" performed by the Shangri Las, written and produced by

Shadow Morton, "It will never never happen again." If we do have

Empiricals that line is it. We would never be allowed to get away with

it a second time.

I am sure there are dozens more handy hints we could give you. You

will have to give them to yourself instead. It's all obvious stuff.

"Public Enemy" bring out a record called "Don't Believe The Hype". A

white U.K. rock journalist tells us they are the greatest rock band in

the world. A lad on the tube is wearing a Public Enemy bomber jacket

and Def Jam baseball cap. Must have cost him twenty quid. How deep

does the irony have to go before we all drown? Time for tea. We've

had enough. Just show us where the door is. The White Room is calling.

Yours (Empirically)

The Justified Ancients of MuMu

P.S. GOOD LUCK