Patrick Hertz is part of a small team that runs Tinderbox Music, a promotion and distribution company founded in 2000. While Tinderbox works with all sorts of artists, they specialize in helping newer bands get their material on college radio and television. We recently spoke with Patrick to learn more about how he got to where he is today in the music industry, as well as his advice for artists working with promoters.
How did you get started working in the music industry?
I was still in school at the University of Minnesota when I got my first internship with Tinderbox. They had me stuffing envelopes, recording radio tracking data, cleaning... you know, all the glamorous things an intern does. Since this was my final semester of school, I was already making plans for a summer job and for what I was going to do beyond school. I had a sweet summer job lined up in Door County, Wisconsin, with an apartment lease there and everything, and after the summer gig was over I was planning on heading to Colorado to start a teaching licensing program. One day I came in for my normal shift, and the whole team at Tinderbox was sitting around the main room talking about how our old radio guy Keith was leaving. I sat there trying to mind my own business, but I just wanted to jump right in and say, "I can do that job! Pick me!" Needless to say, I didn't do that. I took a few days, then went up to the owner of Tinderbox and asked him to give me a shot. He reluctantly decided to and it worked out great! I was in the right place at the right time, and just took the opportunity that was there.
What were you doing before that? Have you always wanted to be involved with the business of music?
Before I was at Tinderbox I was getting my BA in music. I have definitely always wanted to be a part of the music business. I grew up playing in a band I started with a close neighbor friend. We learned a ton on our own and we both work in music now. I played in a few different bands in college then, which was all just fun and games because I never really thought I could make a career out of it, but I guess I got lucky to some degree. My whole plan though, moving to the Twin Cities and getting my music degree, was to get plugged into the music scene here and find a way to make a living in music. So I guess that worked out!
Could you tell us a little about how Tinderbox works with musicians?
We are a boutique music marketing firm that focuses on college radio campaigns, national and local press, and TV licensing. Tinderbox was founded back in 2000, so we're just about 14 years now. We work with a lot of young developing bands to try and develop their stories and build their clout. It's been a fun job, I must say.
What has been your favorite part about working for Tinderbox?
I think my favorite part about working for Tinderbox is getting to know people, both clients and other industry professionals. I love hearing people's stories about how they got to where they are, about why they wrote this or that song, and about all the other things in their lives that make them human. Of course, listening to a lot of very new and often unheard music is a part of that too, which is certainly a plus.
Also, it is definitely rewarding when I see one of my bands make it into the CMJ Top 200, or hearing their reaction when they see how many stations have been spinning their record, or seeing their music placed into an episode of a popular TV show, or seeing their name on their favorite music blog. It can also be very frustrating too, because with marketing, sometimes it just doesn't work out the way we all hope! That's just the reality of it, unfortunately. But there are always good things happening that keep us all excited and motivated.
What have you enjoyed most about working with Sonicbids?
The people! I love working with you guys – you're all so pleasant! Seriously though, I hit up my Sonicbids rep sometimes and he is always Johnn- on-the-spot with everything and super helpful. Also, of course, it's such a great way to find new, amazing artists. You guys just cater to serious musicians, and that totally kicks ass.
Do you have any advice you could offer to a band when it comes to working with a promoter in general?
Ask a lot of questions! It's really important as an artist to understand the process as well as the promoter. If you're iffy on anything at all about how something works, then ask – it will not only help you learn and develop more skills for the future, but it will also help you take advantage of the results once you have them. Also, don't be a pest, but do keep in touch. And lastly, be organized and get your materials (CDs, one sheets, etc.) to your promoter in time. You're only shooting yourself in the foot if you're late for your deadlines, and you're frustrating your promoter out of the gate because you can't get your act together. If you're organized, nice and a hard worker, your promoter will want to work extra hard for you! Heck, they might even go above and beyond the call of duty and deliver more opportunities to you in the future.