Dear Musician hiring a tracker:
I've bit my tongue for the solid part of a decade on this, but today was a dark day. I received a call from a tracker regarding a single from a new artist. While listening to the song, I started asking simple questions... "Where is this artist from? What's their story?" - while neither of those questions would determine whether or not the song would be added, it would be nice to get a back story on the performer I was listening to.
The "tracker" then replied with "We sent that in a press release, I don't know. You'd have to ask my boss". As the conversation progressed, I admitted that I was going to give about as much interest to this song as the tracker was giving it. They followed with, "So is that a 'pass'?"... to which I regrettably had to say, "Yes".
Now, I'm not the be-all end-all of Music Directors, and today happened to be a day where I had a LOT of things on the go. Still, when I have the time to really look into an act, I will - and I have a long list of people who can attest to me listening to their songs on the phone with them or in person to try and offer whatever advice I might have - good or bad.
One thing I've ALWAYS appreciated is that when an artist takes the courage, time, and MONEY to release a song to radio, they do so in the hopes of accomplishing their goals. If any feedback I give can help with that, I've done my job.
There is nothing sadder than witnessing an act, big or small, get duped into being told their song is "radio ready", when realistically it probably doesn't stand a chance.
I won't go into much more detail because it isn't fair to the artist who trusted these people with their money and their brand, but I will say this... Please... for the love of all things holy... DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
3 EASY steps to picking someone to toss money at to represent you:
1) What is their track record?
2) When was the last time they actually got a song to chart on a chart that actually matters?
3) What kind of REALISTIC feedback are they offering you?
Remember, if you're going about this yourself, you are the boss. Start with those 3 questions and go from there!
Some of the BEST trackers I know in the business turn down more songs than they take... others take everybody they can and "make no promises". Can you imagine any other business besides a casino that would tell you that? "Well, thanks for all this cash, but I don't like your odds"... While there's no guarantees in life, a good tracker will at least give you some realistic expectations, rather than toss their hands up and give an "I dunno!"
In keeping with my own personal beliefs that people don't go to work and say "How can I screw up someone's life today?", I'm simply saying, 'watch out for yourself'.
There are many new trackers out there that are putting in the work and while they may not have big success on commercial radio, they still put in the effort and form those relationships necessary to better represent artists. They should be commended, and if you do a little bit of legwork, you will find them.
Keep making music, keep doing what you do, and keep reminding yourself, "I'm in charge here".
Some of my tracker friends who are still waiting for feedback on songs - you know it's coming. As for the person that called me today...
If you're representing an act whose money you're taking and you can't even tell me what damn city they're from... just get out... NOW.