Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to chat w/ me. My name is Michael Abiuso, CEO of SwitchBitch (record label / music magazine / recording studio), Behind The Curtains Media (publicity), and musician from the bands Kiss Kiss, The Gay Blades and The Venetia Fair amongst other projects.
What drove you to choose your career path?
I definitely dabble in a few different paths, but essentially it all really comes full circle with a sheer love for music. That sparked when picking up my first instrument (guitar) which immediately lead me to starting and joining bands, some of which were even lucky enough to have gotten signed to record labels (Eyeball Records / Triple Crown Records / RedBlue Records). In working with and looking up to labels I was signed to, I wanted to take what I felt were particularly good aspects of their framework, and apply that model and energy to bands that were special to me, from the people, to their work ethic, to their music. That's where SwitchBitch Records came into play. Keeping a tradition alive, it was named after a Roald Dahl book just as Kiss Kiss was [LINK]. The studio portion was something I had been doing since high school, so I wanted to incorporate it into the label as an in-house tool and service. The Magazine came last as a vessel to promote bands on the label, promote friends in the music field, gain knowledge of how current press releases were written to assist our publicity firm, and keep up to date with the latest music news in general. Not to mention the perks of working with a great staff and getting myself and our crew into shows and festivals in exchange for our time used to provide coverage. Behind The Curtains Media came last which to me was a way to remain connected with the media, assist friends and artists I believe in, dodge label/PR client confusion when reaching out to media, save my band a hefty expense, and provide myself with a job while touring.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
Touring is an amazing thing, and I've been doing it since 2006, but as many musicians know, it may not pay the bills, so when returning home after a month of touring, you will find that rent still needs to be paid along with phone bills, car insurance…the whole nine. I had been fortunate enough to have assistance with some of these bills from time to time, but it was definitely temporary and no lifestyle I was comfortable settling into which is why I set up the label, studio, magazine and publicity company. I was able to jump from job to job and task to task remotely with the help of an amazing crew of interns and employees.
My education consists of a bachelors degree in Music Education with a minor in audio production and performance/composition. I definitely put a lot of the knowledge I gained from college to use, but in all honesty, jumping in and being forced to swim definitely got me fluent in these areas very quickly.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
This fluctuates as freelance is so up and down, but currently we have a ton of campaigns running via Behind The Curtains Media which I disperse to our team, and oversee that all goes smooth. Lately a lot of my personal time has been spent attending audio projects. Mix/mastering jobs have been coming in heavily while my partner and I have also been composing music for commercial and actually just got a job scoring an hour and 45 minute film which is something so new and exciting for me! I recently did an overhaul of the studio so not only am I able to mix/master on the road, but now I can also track professionally on-the-go which is a whole new freedom.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
This depends on the job you are referring to. I know that music as an art form is rarely considered a "real job" even though all serious and passionate musicians work 24-7 and harder than most people with 9-5s. I so frequently get requests to provide free services all across the board which yes, I love what I do, but no, I can't survive off zero income and it's actually offensive putting that price on a craft that takes a life time to develop.
What are your average work hours?
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
I do a lot of my email work from 6:30am-9am and again at 5pm-on, so I don't find every step of my day being side tracked by responding to emails. I state that if something is extremely time sensitive, call me or reach out to one of our employees. This allows full focus on music, audio work, composing etc from 9-5pm which is very important.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I only work with people, artists, musicians and friends that I love, and I do it for a number of reasons. I tend to work harder and with more passion for these clients. That work later translates to some really great results that lead to word-of-mouth building of a brand which to me is the best and most genuine form of promotion.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
Nothing from the band, label, studio, magazine, to publicity are templates. Every job is completely different, customized and catered to accordingly. If you'd like to enlist in our services, we should get together in person, or on the phone, get to know each other and then hand craft the best route to figure out exactly what you are looking for in order to get the best results.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
When anyone is unresponsive. It could be a media outlet, a bandmate, a client, an employee. It's 2015, any email, text, phone call etc should easily be returned within 24 hours unless it's a weekend, then Monday is acceptable even if it's as simple of a response as "I will have this done within the next week", or as unfortunate yet truthful as "I'm not interested". Being responsive and polite is very easy and goes a long way in my book.
Re: How do you deal with it? - Follow ups. Not much else you can really resort to.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Being proud of something you've done and seeing a client happy. 90% of the time these come in pairs.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
If you are an employee, it's determined upon how hard you work, creativity, enthusiasm in helping the team, extra tasks you go out of your way and do and unfortunately yet most importantly, how much money you can generate for the company. If you work 20 hours a day and it brings in nothing, you need to rethink what you are doing.
How do you move up in your field?
Consistent great work, staying up to date with current trends in your field, taking on more and larger projects and/or clients.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
If you think you might enjoy it, you probably won't. If you absolutely know you'd love it, than there's a chance it's a job for you. If you're completely insane and you want to live and breathe this stuff at all times, then this is the place for you, so welcome aboard!
Thank you for taking an interest in what I do and taking the time to chat with me.
Feel free to reach out with any further questions via email which can be found at: