Do The Devil’s Work For Him: How To Make It In The Music Industry (And Stay In It)
“How do I get into the music industry?” You may have asked this question to yourself at one time or another. For Amy Sciarretto and Rick Florino, authors of the book Do The Devil’s Work For Him: How To Make It In The Music Industry (And Stay In It), it’s a question they hear constantly. They decided it was time to take things into their own hands.
Both successful in an industry that can sometimes be unkind; they’ve worked their way up to a place where they are now willing to share their combined knowledge with the masses. The pair take their own real life experiences in the industry and give you the survival skills necessary to make it. Welcome to the Jungle baby….
Covering an array of topics from publicity to freelance writing this book really is the go-to read for anyone who ever felt that passion in their belly. They take into consideration the constant changes in the industry and the current economic impact as well as the core values necessary for anyone to stand out above the crowd.
The best thing about this book is that it’s written by people who are out there in the trenches on a daily basis and who are not just giving you a bunch of manufactured boardroom bunk, they’re giving you advice based off of their own personal experiences in a fun and entertaining way coupled with advice from members of bands like Korn, System of a Down and Mastodon.
Co-authors Amy Sciarretto and Rick Florino took some time to talk to us about the book and how it all fell into place.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | June 2009
Let’s start off with the basics, what inspired the two of you to write a book and why this topic?
Amy: The cardinal rule of writing is write what you know. Music business, writing, networking, interning, being versatile, doing a lot of things at once. That’s what we know. Constant requests for the information – emails, Facebook, MySpace messages, asking ‘How do I get my foot in the door?’ constantly found their way to us. So there was a need for the information. So we put it in a book.
Rick: In 2006, I started a hard rock magazine called Ruin that was in Hot Topic nationally. I was 21 at the time, and I did everything for the magazine. I sold all of the ads, wrote most of the articles and even took many of the photos! It covered hard rock from the extreme to mainstream. We featured everyone from Rob Zombie and Tool to Slayer and The Red Chord. The magazine was my gateway into the industry. Because of it, I developed long-standing relationships and friendships with every major label, management company and publicity firm. I also became friends with many of my favorite bands. However, the publisher that I was working with decided to no longer proceed with the magazine a year after it debuted. We published three phenomenal issues that all proved massively successful at Hot Topic. I also began to build my personal brand with the magazine. After I found out that the magazine was not going to continue, I wanted to catalog my experience. The year and a half that I ran Ruin was incredible. I had so many experiences that helped shape me as a writer, a professional and a man. I grew up immensely, and I wanted to write a book that basically said, “If you have passion and you love music, movies, fashion, art, etc., just do something!” You can be a part of the industry that you dream of working in, but you just need to pursue your dream.
I moved to Los Angeles in 2004, and I didn’t know a soul. I had no connections in the music or movie industry. I was 19, and I’d just gotten my degree from Boston University, but I knew that I belonged in the entertainment business. I kept knocking on the door and eventually I burst right through it with Ruin. Consequentially, Ruin was also how I met Amy. I was a fan of her writing, and I convinced her to write for the magazine! After the Ruin era ended, I decided to write this book. However, I wanted more than one perspective, so Amy was the first person that came to mind. Then I thought it would be even better to get perspectives from people in the industry that I admired and looked up to. So I called up my favorite singer ever, Deftones mainman Chino Moreno, Munky from KoRn, Shavo from System of a Down and Matt Sorum from Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver as well of a host of other inspring musicians such as Dez Fafara from Devildriver, Troy from Mastodon and many others. Because I’d worked so closely with all of these bands and developed personal relationships with them, they all were psyched to be a part of this book. I had pictures of every one of those musicians on my wall growing up in Boston, now they’re in this book with me. I feel blessed, and it brings things full circle in a beautiful way. Ultimately, I wanted to show kids that if they have passion and want to be a part of this business, they can, they just have to work, hustle and believe.
For people who may not know you, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today?
Rick: I was the founder and editor of Ruin Magazine from 2006-2007. I’ve worked for New Line Cinema. I was an editor for Citysearch.com from 2006-2007. In 2007, I became content editor at ARTISTdirect.com and I supervise the creation of all their music and movies content. I interview everyone from A-list film talent to multi-platinum Grammy winning music acts, and it’s a great gig! I always wrote a lot, and ARTISTdirect.com gives me a chance to be extremely prolific as I post interviews on a near daily basis. I’m also entertainment editor for the official magazine of Los Angeles International Airport LAX. Plus I’ve written for Revolver, Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Inked, BPM and various other publications. Every job built on the one before. I interned at New Line and got hired there. A friend at New Line introduced me to Paul Gargano the editor of Metal Edge in 2005, and Paul got me into Citysearch. Everything happens organically in this business. If you’re nice and you work hard, you’ll go far!
The book is described as a “He-said/ She-said” Survival Guide. Did it take you long to figure out the style in which you wanted to write the book or was it a clear vision from the start?
Amy: It was definitely clear. We played off one another’s style and energy. It was a very simple collaboration, in my mind.
Rick: It was a clear vision from the start. When I first approached Amy with the idea, I knew that I wanted a second perspective, and I couldn’t think of a better or more informed perspective than hers. Also, it was different than mine. Her experience is very varied, and I knew that would make for a much better overall product.
You’re both very successful writers (among other things!) how did the collaboration between the two of you fall into place?
Amy: We’ve been friends since Rick stared his magazine Ruin. We’ve worked together in the past and have complementary styles, so it made sense. When Rick tossed the idea at me, it was a no-brainer. It made total sense.
Rick: It was easy once we started. I sent the first chapter, and she sent me back her take on the topic. Then for about 3 months we sent ideas back and forth. We’d choose one umbrella topic like “Internships” and both give our experiences and thoughts. It was a lot of fun, and I think the end result shows we were having fun recounting all of theses experiences.
For someone who may be on the fence about buying the book vs. say….”Music Industry for Dummies” (Because sadly, that probably exists!) why should they grab yours?
Amy: Because there is humor, there is real-life experience and there are interviews with people in very successful bands also offering their take on how to survive. There’s more than just the standard rundown. We put you in the action with us, riding sidecar as you read.
Rick: They should buy it because it’s not just one view on how to get into the industry. It’s got over 20 different takes on this game. Not only from us but from members of some of the biggest and best hard rock acts of all time and industry professionals. This book is really inspired and written by the music industry itself from the acts on stage to the suits backstage to me and Amy..
We all know that the entertainment industry can be a bitch to succeed in and stay successful in, your book promises to help people with that, can you give us one teaser example of how?
Amy: One key example is to make yourself versatile. Do one thing, do it well, master it and then move on and do something new. Do it well. Master it, add it to your list of skills and talents and then take on something new. Be willing to adapt with the model as it changes.
Rick: There’s a reason people always say “Never Give Up,” and that’s because there’s no truer statement. I feel like that’s the secret of the book. Keep trying. If two million doors close or won’t open for you, it doesn’t matter, you just need one, and if you keep banging on it, it will open. Also, diversify, try different things too. Don’t just have one internship, get two, you’ve got time–put down the Wii controller and get to work….
Do you feel like you’re just giving away some solid industry secrets that took you years to learn?
Amy: Not so much giving them away as guiding people to them. You can lead a horse to water…
Rick: I don’t. I feel like it does take some time to recognize certain things now. It’s a very simple industry at the end of the day, but keep in mind, it’s all really about working hard.
You also had some input from several bands that have seen their own share of success from System of a Down to KoRn, how did they get involved and what’s their role in the book?
Amy: We’ve both been interviewing bands forever, so we’ve nurtured relationships over the course of a long time. The people we helped out were happy to return the favor!
Rick: Honestly, they’re some of my favorite bands and I’ve cultivated close friendships with most of them. So when it came time to do this book and we decided to have interviews, I just called everyone and asked if they’d be into it, they were! Their role is to give another set of perspectives. This book is a collective more than anything. There’s not one right way to get into the entertainment business. There’s no degree you can get that guarantees a job. You have to follow your own path, and every musician in this book exemplifies that. A guy like Chino Moreno has NEVER sacrificed his artist integrity, and that inspires me every day. He’s always been true to himself and his art, and that’s crucial to success. Be true to yourself first and others will follow. Shavo Odadjian is one of the most vibrant and passionate souls I’ve ever had the privelege of meeting. He’s inspiring as well. Again, he’s always been true to himself and his art. Munky bleeds on every riff that he plays. He’s bared his soul in every song, and that to me is incredible. Matt Sorum just blows me away too. He played in Guns N’ Roses! He’s in Velvet Revolver, he owns a fantastic boutique in Beverly Hills called Sorum Noce he manages and produces The Darling Stilettos and he’s just such a nice, charismatic and talented guy. Dez Fafara blows me away with how passionate he is and how caring he is…I could go on and on, but each one of these individuals gives something crucial to the book.
Is someone ever too old to break into this business?
Amy: Never. As trite as it sounds, follow your dreams!
Rick: There are no rules in the entertainment business. You’re never too old if you have a fire and a passion for it!
What have been a few of the highlights for you over the course of your career?
Amy: Being able to start columns in Revolver, writing cover stories for Kerrang, the international rock Bible, getting Roadrunner bands on the covers of magazines, being asked to blog for AOL’s metal blog, having a band sing to me from the stage on my bday or sing my name in a song (that has happened four times and I blush every time and love every second of it), convincing people to play my bands on the radio or write about my bands in magazines, or anytime a female says she wants her career to resemble mine, as she is starting out. I always love that!
Rick: Releasing this book is a HUGE highlight. Ever since I was four years old and my dad took me to see Tango and Cash and played Back In Black for me, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. I have my first book out now, and I couldn’t feel more blessed or excited. I thank God every day for bringing things full circle for me. I saw Goodfellas with my dad at six-years-old and I got to interview Ray Liotta this year. Every day, there’s something amazing! I still love this as much as I did when I was a kid. You have to. Releasing the first Ruin was incredible for me. I knew I wanted to write and I’m doing it. I have the first in a series of ten illustrated novels coming out in October. I’m beyond thrilled about that. It’s called “Lila” and it’s art of a larger series, called Dolor. Everyone is going to trip on this. It’s dark, creepy and very very infectious. You’re going to love it! I know I do…
What’s the best advice ever given to you regarding the industry?
Amy: Do the devil’s work for him – hence, the title of the book. When I was sending resumes out in 1998, I asked an editor of a magazine if I should send copies to her boss, who was hiring. She said, “Do the work for him – send clips, send the resume, send the references. Don’t make him ask. Give to him in one fell swoop.” I got the job.
Rick: If you believe you can do it, just do it! It’s so true. Envision yourself there, and you’ll get there. Be positive.
I’m sure you get asked for advice on a daily basis….what’s one of the strangest things anyone has ever asked you?
Amy: People have flat out asked me to do things for them when I have never even met them! Definitely a no-no!
Rick: Someone asked me, “How do I get my own groupies?” I still don’t know the answer to that one…
When, where, and how can people order/buy your book?
Big thanks to Rick and Amy! We’ve come to know, love and respect Amy through our work with her over the years and we hope this book is a smashing success because we can’t think of anyone more deserving!