We caught up with our Music Industry Studies instructor Barton Dahl and picked his brain on his career, his role at DIME and tips on succeeding in the music industry.
What is your role with DIME Denver?
Music Industry Studies Instructor.
What is your current role in the music industry?
Manager, sometimes agent, shoulder to cry on, and free advice giver!
How did you establish yourself as an industry professional?
After getting my foot in the door at a management company I was able to sign a couple artists that found success, kind of proved my worth using my ear and gut.
Who were some of your influences as you progressed as a music professional?
Mike Luba is someone whom I admire to no end. He is always developing projects and pushing the industry forward. He has a level head, he’s nice and he’s a visionary.
What was the first record you ever bought?
I bought an early Beatles album, I think it was Please Please Me while on vacation with my family in Brazil in the late 1980’s. At the time I was really into blank cassettes and radio pop, so I would create mix tapes from radio broadcasts, lots of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and stuff like that.
What was your best experience in music – (recording, live performance, participant, audience etc.)?
There are too many to mention, but a couple highlights include tour managing for a band that played some shows with U2. I grew up as a huge U2 fan so to see the inner workings of their world was pretty mind-boggling. The band was so nice to us and treated us like kings, that was special. Another formative experience was watching Green Day in early 1994 by myself (because none of my friends wanted to spend $5 on a band they’d never heard of) – that show was probably the best show I’ve ever seen. I knew that I was witnessing something special, I knew they were going to be huge. I could tell tour stories for days and days.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
The U2 thing was a moment where I felt I’d “made it” even though I was riding coattails. I guess helping to get Dinosaur Jr back together was pretty special. I’d been managing J Mascis (solo) and me and my partner created a scenario in which he was willing to do a reunion. I got to be in the room when the band played together for the first time in almost 20 years. Literally until they were together to rehearse they hadn’t spoken to each other about the reunion, I was the intermediary. As a huge fan of the band I knew how special it was to witness that moment. I can still vividly see it in my mind. It was loud. Loud and amazing.
What gear, equipment, websites, publications etc. are you using?
I look at some websites that tout up and coming musicians, but frankly I haven’t found a source that feels consistently valuable in terms of content. I look at Billboard.com for major industry news, but most of what I hear in terms of new bands is via word of mouth.
What are your top tips for young musicians and budding entrepreneurs wanting to be in the music industry nowadays?
I think that formal education through a program like DIME is a great way to achieve knowledge about the industry as a whole but I also believe in trial-by-fire. I think any aspiring band manager or agent should find a band they love and just start doing it with them, learn the ins and outs by jumping in head first. A band needs to be a solid unit with goals.
Any last words?