Gatekeepers Begone



J. Michael Dolan

BACK IN THE DAY, my publishing company was just down the hall from HTA, one of the top commercial talent agencies in Hollywood. I became lifelong friends with Herb Tannen, the CEO of the company. I used to walk down the hall to his office and hang out with him as he sorted through 20 to 50 headshots of actors whome he’d ultimately choose to go on interviews. He’d say to me, “How about that one, or that one, or that one?” Within 10 to 15 minutes he’d choose two or three of the lucky actors to be sent on the audition. He had a trained eye and knew what he was looking for. He was a gatekeeper.

I spent lunchtimes with many A&R execs, including Ron Oberman, who was the head honcho of A&R at CBS records. He would fast-forward through a selection of demo tapes so quickly, he would barely get to the bridge before going on to the next song. He had a trained ear. He knew what he was looking for. He was a gatekeeper.

Heck, for nearly three decades I was a gatekeeper. When everyone wanted to be on the cover of Music Connection or Songwriter magazine, my editors and I held a firm grip on the keys to that gate.

Thank God, the greedy, antique methods and protocols of showbiz are waning and the locks on the gates of entry have begun to rust. You have now been given the job as gatekeeper of your own network, your own promotion company, your own publishing firm, your own record company, your own empire, and your own independent career. What the new revolution provides are the tech-tools to build your unique brand; the networking opportunities to promote it; and revolutionaries to help you get there—experts, coaches, consultants, savvy managers. All you need, nouveau entrepreneur, are sensational ideas, jaw-dropping art, innovative and worthwhile products and services. And the courage to step out of the past and into the present. Don’t flinch. You’re a crazy genius artist, a risk-taking “trep.” You can do this!

Truth is, you’re either part of the current “connection revolution,” or you’re standing on the sidelines scratching your head, waiting and hoping it will end soon.

Best-selling author—and founder of Music Connection magazine—J. Michael Dolan continues to augment a successful entertainment industry career with publishing, coaching, teaching, producing, blogging, graphic arts, digital media and performing. In the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s he worked at literally every major motion picture studio and every major television network in Hollywood, gaining valuable knowledge and experience along the way. Read more by Michael at or contact him at

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Forty Forward!

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