CMJ 2011: Interview With Danny Ross

The Spotlight

Danny Ross the government employee has a had a rough week. Danny Ross, the Beatles-inspired singer-songwriter, has had a week of new found freedom. Before embarking on a mini East Coast tour (the “Laid Off Tour”) that begins on the last night of CMJ, Danny took a few minutes out of his recently opened schedule to chat about the music industry, its position in a suffocated economy, and what CMJ really means to musicians. Hey Danny, can you give us a quick introduction to you and your music?
Danny Ross: I can, but I won’t.

MP3: What can a potential audience expect from your live performances?
DR: Okay fine, let me bring in my publicist.

“Melding lyrical honesty with ambitious arrangements and pure imagination, Danny Ross builds a sound that’s completely his own – and yet awfully familiar. Like some refreshing hybrid of Paul McCartney‘s sophisticated 60s pop, Springsteen’s American rock n roll, and Ryan Adams’ alt-country twang. And like his heroes, he somehow retains a uniquely identifiable voice. His explosive live show with the 9-piece band and horns is coming to your town.”

I like to say the live performances are like an exotic animal farm in Cleveland. You just hope the audiences don’t end up shot on the freeway… I immediately regret this crass attempt at current event humor.

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MP3: We hear you’ve experienced a recent employment snafu. What happened?

DR: It’s true. You take home one too many stapler-removers and people start to notice.

I worked 5 years for a US Congressman while pursuing music and it was a common case of cost-cutting layoffs. I recommend you read the blog post to get my full spiel on our generation, politics, the Wall Street Occupation and how it relates to music. But let’s just say I have too much to say on the topic, and none of it substantive.

MP3:You mention in your blog post that “the walls of access…to the American Dream are too high.” How do you think this relates to musicians?
DR: Ah, this one I can answer earnestly. The music industry used to invest in the recruitment of emerging artists. But because of the downfall of the record industry, profits can only be made on a sure bet. This puts the emerging artist in the position of having to look, sound, feel and grow into a fully developed artist before a company can throw its weight around.

So the young musician today who wants to give it a real go has to invest their own dime in making a record, which includes band members, studio time, production, post-production and artwork. There’s publicity costs, websites and touring with huge expenses and no intake. And that doesn’t include lessons in voice, or composition if you’re still interested in learning. The real kicker is after all that, there’s still no guarantee! After five years, you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars in loss with basically no recoupment. I know it was never easy, but it’s impossible to do today without a starting sum, which is what I mean by the walls of access to the American dream closing in.

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