While working for Billboard Magazine in 1997, I attended the now defunct, Philadelphia Music Conference. The conference was geared towards the more indie side of the business, and for the most part, it was fairly lackluster. Truth be told, it wasn’t really set up very well for performances, with bands playing in stark, fluorescent-lit conference rooms in a hotel. When you factor in the lack of enthusiasm that is commonplace with music industry audiences, the chance of finding an impact performance was very slim. However, one performance blew me away!
It was the middle of the day as I was walking past one of the conference rooms on the way back to my hotel room. The walls were shaking from thunderous drums, distorted guitars and the heavy bottom of the bass. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that the guttural growls over the music were coming from someone being tortured. I couldn’t believe that so much sound was coming from four guys on a makeshift stage in a conference room. This kind of intensity was very out of place at the conference, so it really stood out as extraordinary.
I entered the half-filled room, which couldn’t have had more than 50 people or so in attendance. As soon as the band finished their set, I went up to them, introduced myself, and told them how much I liked their performance. In what had to have been an otherwise disappointing conference for them, they were happy to meet someone from Billboard Magazine.
The band and I instantly clicked, and we ended up spending the night hanging out in Philly together, enjoying some of the more talented “dancers” in the area. The night continued with a healthy amount of beer back at the hotel after the bars closed. By the time that I left Philadelphia, I was in discussions with this incredible band to manage their career and help find them a record deal.
While the band and I had a great connection, they did not have the same feeling about the person that I was going to partner with to help manage them. It wasn’t long before the negotiations broke down, as their attorney also didn’t have a good feeling about my partner. In retrospect, their instincts were better than mine, as I watched him proceed to over-promise and under-deliver on a regular basis before we eventually stop communicating altogether.
Fast-forward to 2009. The band that I discovered playing to a near-empty conference room in Philadelphia released their fifth studio album. To date, they have sold over 6 million records worldwide.
Usually, “the one that got away” is a term used by regretful people who let love slip through their hands. In my case, “the one that got away” was not a girl, but a metal band from Peoria, IL called…(scroll down for the answer)