Y’all. This is the spring of biting off more than I can chew.
So with that, please accept my humble apologizes for sucking at doing my “insider recaps” in a timely fashion. Finally, I have all of them to date (Season 4, 13-18) here:
Vita playing half-finished “This Old Guitar” in A&R meeting with Rayna: This doesn’t really fit into either category of accurate or not, but here’s a word to the wise:
If you’re an aspiring artist or songwriter meeting with a publisher or label, do not play an unfinished song! Don’t do it! Yes, you might have an outstanding song that needs to be finished. Finish it. Everyone here understands the process, but it would be incredibly unprofessional to play something unfinished in a meeting like this.
Something I wish someone had told me: every impression you make on the industry counts. New artist are often very eager for those high level meetings (understandably), but you don’t want to take meetings like that until you’re really ready. You know the saying: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression?” It’s true. In this town, the mystique of being the new buzz kid can be a huge asset, but you have to use that asset wisely when you start to take meetings.
Obviously the song IS a finished one– and a really well written one, by Chuck Cannon and Chuck Jones.
What They Got Right:
Artists and “diva” behavior: There are two examples in this episode of major artist freak outs: Riff at his rehearsal with Luke’s band, and Layla at her photoshoot.
Here’s the thing. Some artists get the reputation of being difficult, demanding, or exhibiting “diva” behavior. I think sometimes those reputations are warranted. People can be strange. Fame is strange. Extreme success is strange. Here’s what I’ve observed— and I think the show portrays this really well— when you see freak outs (like Riff going off on the band, or Layla acting like a total brat during the photoshoot) usually something else is going on beneath the surface. This is in NO WAY an excuse, hopefully just some insight into human behavior.
When you see an entertainer or model or actor freak out like this it’s usually because they are exposed. They’re uncomfortable and the way their dealing with it is by making a scene or blaming others or blowing up. In my opinion, it’s usually about lack of confidence, or insecurities around getting exposed. My experience is that the people who are truly great, know that they’re good and are confident in that, are not the people that have these huge blow ups. It comes from insecurity that gets out of control.
Also, to Bucky’s credit, he pushes in with Layla about her behavior and asks her what is really going on, which means he’s got some emotional intelligence and is probably a decent manager.
Pre-records: There’s a mention of “pre-records” as a way to solve Riff’s live performance problems. To be honest, I’ve never heard that term used before. It’s referring to what is frequently called “tracks” or “playing to tracks.” Usually that means using some amount (perhaps subtly and perhaps not) of pre-recorded instruments in a live show. The band is usually still playing live, but there might be extra parts (drum loops, synth, extra backing vocals) also coming through the sound system in addition to the music that is being performed live.
I don’t actually know of anyone in country who consistently lip syncs to a pre-recorded vocal track. However, you’ll remember the drama when Rascal Flatt’s got called out for doing this on an ACM performance several years ago—it does seem like that was a major exception because of illness, and not their normal protocol.
What They Got Right:
It’s not that they didn’t get anything “right,” there just wasn’t any thing remarkable that I felt like I needed to comment on.
Layla’s showcase for radio programmers: Rayna, Bucky and LAYLA are all fielding questions at the showcase about the obstacles to Layla getting played country radio. Now, I absolutely think these conversations are going on in real life, but they are never going on in a public performance settling like this. Usually a programmer would not openly tell an artist about their personal objections to playing a song on their station. They might speak honestly with the promo team about this, but they would never tell the artist to their face. It’s just not done. I’m not saying it would be a bad thing, but people are rarely that upfront with an artist.
Also, immediately after the showcase, Rayna announces that they have the “full support of country radio.” There’s just no such thing. And, even if country radio is really enthused about a brand new artist (which is rare), it’s never this clear that radio is supporting or not supporting someone. You do get some commitments from stations ahead of time, but you really never know how much support a song will get at radio. There are two big tests though:
- How many stations “add” the song early on.
- How frequently and for how long those stations play the song as it grow/fails to grow over time.
It’s just never as simple as “we have the support of country radio.” [Sigh]
Headlining act Autumn Chase comes to Layla’s radio showcase: No. You just wouldn’t do that. It’s very rare that an artist would show up at another artist’s promo or publicity event. Now, that doesn’t mean headliners don’t do their research on an act, but this isn’t how they would do it.
What they Got Right:
Layla struggles to find a slot as an opening slot on a major tour: PREACH. In my experience this is can be quite hard. Especially as a woman. Most of the time big acts want to see radio success before they’ll even consider a newcomer for an opening slot on a major tour. And, the number of spaces available in those support slots vary year to year depending on how many major tours are going out that year.
Opry Clip: This is just a quick little flash before Juliette makes an Opry appearance, but it’s so right on. I honestly don’t know who they are or why they’re there, but there are often tap dancers at the Opry, and they’re adorable. (Insert crying laughing emoji here.)
What they got wrong:
Tour “hang time”: I can’t make heads or tails of the amount hang time happening between Autumn and both of the Exes. Yes, there is a lot of weird down time on tour. But, because of the way your day is set-up (from load in, to sound checks, to the different show times, not to mention any other radio or meet & greet obligations you might have) there’s not actually that much time to hang with the other acts. You might sit next to them at catering during lunch, or all go to the gym for an hour, but once the afternoon hits the schedules get a little wacky. As an opening act, you’re on pretty early, so you’re probably not gonna eat dinner with everyone else. Your down time is really before soundcheck, and then after your show while the middle act, and headliner are on stage. Yes, you sometimes hang a little bit at the end of the night, but unless you have a very short drive to the next city, you’re gonna need to be rolling out on your (separate) buses by 1am in order to get to the next stop in time for load in. It just seems like there’s way too much interaction happening between the headliner and opening act here.
Maddie’s bar scene: I absolutely LOVE the way this scene is shot. It’s beautiful, and Lennon sounds stellar on “Wildcard,” but someone please tell me if there is a bar (in any town) where the whole place will be silent and gather round for a singer-songwriter and her acoustic guitar…because that might just be heaven. #bourbonandsilence
What They Got Right:
Avery’s quick thinking amid concerns that the Luke wheeler show will be cancelled: Layla is concerned that they’ve hired a team to film her show, but now the show may not happen— and Avery suggests they film her soundcheck. This idea from Avery feels realistic to me. Stuff happens with live shows. People get sick, tour buses break down, and you have to be very adaptable and creative about how you handle all kinds of bumps along the way. Now, you usually don’t have very long for a sound check (sometimes on a tight arena schedule only a few minutes,) so that might make this scenario a little less likely, but I’m looking the other way on that. Good job Avery for being resourceful and thinking on your feet.
“It could sink us if he misses the first show.” Luke’s team is freaking out about Riff being MIA. Yes, you’d be concerned about the show. You’d be worried about him, but the show is sold out. Sold Out. It didn’t sell out because of the support act.
There is too much emphasis on the importance of Riff as an opening act making or breaking the tour. Shit happens, but you just find someone to fill in. It may not be ideal, but it is not the end of the world. And a situation like this (if the show actually was in Nashville) is a huge opportunity to invite out bunch of local special guests and make a big story out of it. Or the headliner could do something special like play a longer set, or do an acoustic set. There are all kinds of ways to make lemonade out of lemons. (Catch that reference Bey-hive?) The show must go on. And it nearly always does.
Layla’s complete tour bus re-build to accommodate Avery & baby: Sorry, but no. It takes months to plan and customize tour buses. And brand new acts don’t get customized tour buses. They get whatever is available and somewhat affordable.
The Sony deal: “Apparently this wasn’t just any record deal. Big advance, the works. They want to make you the next Taylor,” says Cash. Sony is a great company, and I’m sure they can offer some very appealing record deals, but no record deal is that good. Here’s why: deals do not make stars.
What They Got Right:
Photoshoot in Rayna’s & Deacon’s home: First of all, as any bonafide southern gal knows, this is actually Sid Evans, editor of Southern Living. I haven’t done a lot of shoots for magazines, so I can’t really comment on how likely it would be that the editor-in-chief would be on location, but that seems reasonable depending on how important the feature is.
The magazine pushes in about whether the kids are available to be photographed, and manager Bucky steps in saying the publicist has already covered this. These kinds of questions would absolutely have been handled ahead of time. Now, that doesn’t mean a photographer won’t ask—it’s kind of their job—but you can guarantee who/what is being photographed (especially in the case of kiddos) has been negotiated ahead of time.
Will’s showcase for radio programmers at the Bluebird: I love the Bluebird (!!) and used to play their open mic nights when I first moved back home to Nashville after college, but this is a very unlikely location for a radio showcase. These events are usually flashy. A lot of times they’re planned in big cities, or exciting locations. It’s really hard to get a bunch of radio PD’s to come to a showcase unless it’s pitched as part of a really special event. So this just doesn’t seem a realistic choice for this kind of event.
What They Got Right:
Tour Manager pounding on Scarlett’s hotel room: Well, depending on how much fun the band had the night before…yes, sometimes someone has to come a-knockin’ on your hotel room to wake you up. Bourbon happens. Phone batteries die. Alarms fail to go off. People oversleep.
Rolling Stone interview with the Exes: First of all, this interview lasts ALL DAY. Maybe that would happen with a really really big star, but this would be very unusual for a brand new act. Also, the whole interview seems to be personal questions about the Exes’ relationships in stead of about music. Yes, sometimes people try to “get you” to say something personal, shocking, or comment on current events, but usually major media outlets focus on the music, and music related stuff. This piece seems to only be about their romantic involvement. Also, if this was happening, a manager or publicist would step in.
WHEW>>>>>>We’re caught up. Now, I gotta stay on track. Thanks for reading. Xo