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Music Biz Alumni Returned to Share Experiences and Opinions

CONTACT: Bill Giduz

by Emily Drew '04

Four Davidson alumni returned to campus recently to speak about their experiences in the music industry. Russel Carter '75, Terry Hummel '77, Bertis Downs '78, and John Huie '78 shared personal anecdotes and practical lessons acquired throughout their careers in a panel discussion in the College Union 900 Room on September 13. The group also discussed the controversy surrounding napster.com, and suggested possible solutions for the music industry.

Terry Hummel
Terry Hummel '77

Hummel began the discussion by introducing his colleagues and their careers since leaving Davidson. As a former publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, Hummel said that his love of music inspired his activities and career choices. He said his experiences taught him that, "It's not being the most important or the smartest person in the room, its knowing who that person is and then working harder!"

Hummel, Huie, and Downs each recalled serving on Davidson's Concert Committee in the '70s.
John Huie
John Huie '78

Huie, who began cultivating his interest in music management at age nine, joined the committee at the activities fair his freshman year. By his junior year, he was in charge of the program, pulling in acts from around the country and learning valuable negotiation techniques. He made sure to set up opportunities for himself with his contacts in the field, and by graduation he had three job offers. He is now the vice-president of the Artists Management Group, working with country and Christian acts including Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, LeAnne Rimes, Jars of Clay, Faith Hill, and DC Talk.
Bertis Downs
Bertis Downs '78

Downs mentioned lessons that he'd learned with his Concert Committee involvement. "It was the school of hard knocks," he said. He attended law school after graduating and now manages REM.

The three men remembered hosting a bluegrass festival and acts like Livingston Taylor. Though they felt they managed a successful program in the 1970s,they did confess to turning down then-unknown acts like Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, and Steve Martin.
Russel Carter
Russel Carter '75

Carter, although not involved with the Concert Committee, loved music and kept involved by writing concert and record reviews for the Davidsonian. He traveled all over the country to attend shows and once completed a final exam in 30 minutes in order to have enough time to drive to New York for a Bob Dylan concert! Carter eventually set up his own law firm, and he began representing musicians. His management career began several years later with the Indigo Girls, and he has added more clients since then. "Having contract experience as a lawyer is invaluable," he said.

The panelists then turned their talk to the napster.com controversy. Students were asked to interject their opinions on the web-site, where visitors can download copyrighted songs for free.

"There's definitely an ethics question involved," said one student.

The professionals agreed, acknowledging the possible damage that free downloads could inflict on the music industry.

"It's harder now to make it in the business with the fundamental technical changes," said Downs. "Right now there just aren't answers. This is where it's all being sorted out."

The men pointed out that Web sites like napster could result in large financial loss for musicians and recording companies, and also pose other problems. Songs are being distributed before completion, and variations of recordings are being published without permission of the writer.

Before breaking discussion, Huie sent out a challenge to the student audience. "Figure out a way for artists to make money on the Internet from their songs."

Following the talk, the bands Cast Iron Filter and The Blue Dogs performed live for the large student audience.

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