The Nashville Dispatch, Ya gotta love it: The mail room, then and now

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to The Nashville Dispatch, a feature on NRI NOW

In this monthly column submitted by Burrillville native Keith Bradford, we cover topics in the music business designed to inform, entertain, and enlighten people interested in the topic.

The mail room, then and now

Working in a mail room may not sound like an exciting job. I will admit, the repetition of doing the same thing over and over and long hours with little pay wasn’t my brightest moment while living in Nashville after taking up residence. However, I learned so much that it is hard to list everything because some of it still applies today, as it did back then. In those days we were shipping 45 RPM records to radio stations for record companies, producers, publishers, and anyone who wanted the services of the company I was working for. Each package contained a vinyl 45 RPM record, a one sheet – which contained information about the artists and or the song – and two pieces of cardboard to help protect the record from breaking.  

Once a package was sent to every station on the customer’s list, it did not mean we were through with that record. Two weeks after mailing it to the entire list, the customer would bring us in what they called a re-service list. It contained many stations that wanted another copy of the same record. The reasons why they wanted another copy varied. The record might have arrived broken in spite of our very stringent rules how we packaged it, it may have never arrived – according to the radio station program director, and my favorite of all, someone stole it from the station.  

So now, we advance the clock and of course, mail rooms are not servicing radio stations with 45’s anymore. There is no more waiting two weeks after you mail the record to call the station to see if they got it, how they liked it and were they going to play it. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, the majority of radio stations, when asked how they wanted the new songs submitted, said they’d prefer a digital download. Most said they were no longer accepting compact discs. Some even revealed to us that all of the music they play is supplied from an outside source. They are not only sent the songs, but a list of which order they should be played. So, if your song is not on their list, you don’t get played, period.  

Yes, the mail room has changed in the music business a lot since back then. As a matter of fact, the new, “mail room,” on some computers, talks to you. “You’ve got mail,” – or some sound effect – lets you know without fail that something new has just arrived to your in-box.  There is no more struggling to open a package to preview a new song submission, and the delete button is used quite often on a daily basis.

I wish you the best of luck with your new release. 

The Music Business – Ya Gotta Luv It

Keith Bradford is the host of Ya Gotta Love It, a country music show on NBRN based in Nashville, Tenn. Also a singer and song writer, Bradford is the owner and operator of KMA Records in Nashville and brings more than 60 years of industry knowledge to the endeavor.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Every word you said is so true. I don’t play anymore. I think I still could if I chose to, but I have no desire to play in bars. I played enough music for a life time. LOL

  2. Keith…..The LOCAL music business has changed a lot also. The opportunities for local bands to play have been limited by several factors: What we used to call “General Business (GB) gigs have all but disappeared- remember “double showers”?, 50 week clubs? Church celebrations?Etc.? Disc Jockeys have hurt the live music business. They know how to push a button that says “play”, some have great personalities and can get the crowd going. They get big bucks one person at a time. Most of the local business left is in small local bars. Bar owners are tough to deal with. Also two other things have affected our local business…..no smoking regulations and strict drunk driving laws. Maybe the last factor is changes in music…..Disco, Hip-Hop-Rap (well that’s really not music).

    Which all adds up to great musicians working for minimum wage when all factors are considered.

    If it was about money, I wouldn’t still be doing it. It’s called “playing”, not work. I like to play.

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