Interview with Stephen Wrench ( Lynyrd Skynyrd )
I was introduced to Stephen Wrench by Belinda Rogers (manager of Elevation Falls). Belinda came across Stephen’s business website www.musikandfilm.com ( Special offer for Irish Artists at the end of the Post ) some years ago, and was very interested in having the band’s music reach a wider audience as part of her promotional strategy.
Stephen’s business is based in the USA, and can submit tracks to over 250,000 radio stations across the globe, alongside providing a number of other services, such as production, distribution, management, consultancy and video production. In the new digital world Stephen realised that the independent artist needed help, and radio play was one area that could be targeted and optimised.
His business is booming at the moment and he is very happy with the feedback he is getting from the artists all over the world.
We all know that nothing is a sure thing, and there is no guarantee that your music will be selected by every radio station! But having this opportunity available, where your music WILL get listened to and if suitable, will get played, is a very good idea as part of the overall marketing plan for any artist who wants to get their music out to a world audience.
As I delved into Stephen’s career a little more, I found some amazing facts about the man behind this groundbreaking approach to music promotion. He’s coming to Ireland on tour from mid August to mid September, so keep an eye out for dates and venues soon!
Have a listen to some of Stephen’s work
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Stephen Wrench ( Lynyrd Skynyrd ) and here are some of the questions I put to him. It was quite fascinating to talk to a man who has over 50 years in the music business, and has even been a VP at RCA in Nashville. I think you will thoroughly enjoy it.
Michael: A very big welcome from myself and from all the artists in Ireland and the rest of Europe Stephen.
I was delighted to be introduced to you by Belinda Rogers (manager for the Irish rock band Elevation Falls). Can you tell us tell us how you came across this band, and how you feel about their future at this present time?
Stephen: I met Belinda a few years ago when we did a radio promotion for Elevation Falls. How I feel about their music now? I love Hazel’s acoustic songs, and love the band. They’re very much in synch, great sound, great writing abilities. They are definitely contenders.
Michael: You have a long and distinguished career Stephen. I know you were the manager for Lynyrd Skynyrd
Stephen: Yes, I also performed with them on a regular basis, and have worked in the music industry for most of my life!
Michael: Can you tell us how that came about, and what was the music scene like in those times?
Stephen: When I was in high school, I had gathered 5 football scholarships on my way back from Boston College. In the summer of 69, I saw a sign on the NY state freeway that said ‘Rock Concert’. I had some extra time, so I got off the road, and that was Woodstock! It was there I met several people who were later to make their mark in music. Skynyrd was one of them. The music scene at that time was one of wonderment, where every artists did their own thing, like it or not. There wasn’t a 100 genres, all with specific radio stations, there was only one rock station, where you heard James Taylor and Jimi Hendrix on the same station. It was all just good music.
Michael: As your career progressed, what other artists have you worked with, and can you tell us some of the best moments in your career?
Stephen: I have had the pleasure (and sometimes the pain) of working with many notable artists and groups. I have worked with some of the most creative artists on the planet, of which I am honored. It’s hard to remember them all. Here is a partial list of the artists groups I have worked with in some capacity, whether it was as a former member, performer, producer or manager
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toto, Loverboy, Missing Persons, Duran Duran, Eddie and the Cruisers, Dr. Hook, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Bad Company, Tommy Tutone, Survivor, Rossington Collins Band, Rick Springfield, Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill, John Anderson, David Allen Coe, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Ozzy Osbourne, Staind, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Ryan Starr, Travis Tritt, Bonnie Raitt, The Flamingos, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Sister Hazel, Blessid Union of Souls, Craig Campbell, Grand Funk Railroad, ABBA, Chad Brock, Michael Peterson, Daryl Worley, Lonestar, Marilyn Manson, Mona Lisa Twins, Foghat, Shenandoah, Alabama, Toby Keith, Collin Raye
One of the best moments in my career was about 12 years ago, when we put together all the living members of Skynyrd for a tour of Texarkana area. We did about 20 performances. The best was at the Grant Street music hall in Baton Rouge Louisana. When we walked in the dressing room we saw names who signed the wall, such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and many others . The room held 2000 people we had about 4000 there all crammed in. It was one of those nights we could do no wrong. We all felt time stood still, and we were back in the 70’s, we had to play for 60 minutes, but we ended up playing for almost 3 hours!
Michael: Can you tell us what you think of today’s music industry and how it has affected the independent artist?
Stephen: Today’s industry is no friend to the indie artist. About 7 years ago, the international press of Sony stated publicly that indies were becoming competition and they were going to level the playing field. A month or so after that, they cut their first deal with a new company called Spotify. Sony took several million as a sign on bonus that was shared with no one. Every year all the majors take sign on bonuses to allow streaming companies to be able to stream their catalog. None of this is shared with the artists. The above and streaming has killed any potential income as an indie artist. This leaves live performances and merchandising for artist income. The artist today has to act as their own label and perform all the services a label once did such as radio promotion, PR, etc.
Michael: Can you advise on measures the artists should be considering, for a more successful campaign in today’s music industry? I remember from our previous conversation, you mentioned that artists are not spending enough on their marketing for EP and Album launches. Can you elaborate a bit on this?
Stephen: Artists, remember you are acting as your own record label! Just creating great music is not enough. You need the world to know you are out there creating great music. You have to promote yourself as labels once did. You need to have a budget for world radio releases, publicity and work your social media. Then, and only then will the world know you are out there. Plus radio play will give you the ability to tour the areas you are getting airplay in successfully.
Michael: I learned that you have being trying to assist artists with a more successful approach to their marketing? Can you tell us a little about this and has it helped artists in anyway to date?
Stephen: We released an artist from the UK about 8 months ago, Kirby Frost. No one ever heard of her. She charted in the US top 10, and in Europe Top 10. BBC radio picked her up. The UK winner of the X Factor Sam Bailey heard her and asked her to tour with her. She is now cutting a major deal with Universal. Kirby really worked her social media, and we worked her airplay and success.
Michael: How important is radio play in the current music industry? And what other points are crucial when launching your music?
Stephen: Radio is still the best medium to get your music heard around the world, pick up fans, and airplay will allow you to successfully tour the areas you are getting played in.
Michael: You told me that you visited Ireland about 14 years ago. Can to tell me about your experience of Ireland and the people you met? I believe you went to see Van Morrison and have other connections here within the music industry?
Stephen: I fell in love with Ireland. The countryside, the people, all were fantastic. We drove out of Dublin and around to Connemara and back to Dublin. I played a show in Dublin with Van, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Michael: I believe you are coming over to us again this year, and that you’re also singer/songwriter yourself? Can you tell us a little about your songwriting and what to expect from your concerts? I understand that the band Elevation Falls are touring with you? This sounds like a very Interesting show. Will you be performing with the band also?
Stephen: I am really looking forward to coming back to Ireland. I expect to tell the stories behind the songs and entertain all who come to hear me perform. I’ll be doing a few Q&A sessions too. I’ll be performing with Elevation Falls, they were kind enough to want to back me as a band. Also I’m looking forward to doing a few duets with lead singer Hazel, what a great voice! I may have a few other surprise guests along the way, with some other great musicians joining me.
Michael: Finally Stephen, I would like to thank you for all the work you have done and are still doing for artists all over the world. Can I ask you what keeps you motivated and so passionate about the music industry?
Stephen: I create music not for money, but for the love of music. It’s something inside of me I have to let out. I have to write and create, and I always will till the day I die. Music is an emotion within your soul. Creators of music just let their soul out of their body when they create and perform.
Michael: Would you like to add any final points or advice for us on anything that we haven’t discussed here?
Stephen: Yes, artists don’t change a thing your doing musically! I remember Skynyrd getting stuff thrown at the band and people yelling “you suck! get off the stage”. That’s because we did something different, we weren’t country and weren’t rock. We created a genre, Southern Rock. So whatever you are creating musically don’t change it, it came from within, perform it proudly!
So there you have it Guys. Quite a fascinating Man with a world of experience under his belt. Before I finished chatting with Stephen, I asked him would it be possible for him to give the artists in Ireland a discount. He has made an exclusive offer for the Irish Artist only through this Irish website . So if you are interested in one of his packages you can get a 5% discount through the musibiz website . These packages are not cheap guys as there is a tremendous amount of work involved with each Track. Take a look and if you want to take the plunge then be sure to contact us here first to avail of this discount..