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article imageCatching up with Kirt Webster: Music industry executive Special

By Markos Papadatos     Dec 23, 2020 in Music
Nashville - Kirt Webster, one of the most powerful music industry executives in Nashville, chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about how the entertainment business has changed in the digital age, and he shared his plans for 2021 and beyond.
"2020 started off with a bang," he exclaimed. "This Coronavirus has put a damper on everyone’s lives and it's just horrible to think of how many people have been affected by it."
On being a publicist and talent rep in the digital age, he noted that he has witnessed remarkable changes. "I was a publicist for about 23 years and built an incredible business. I represented some amazing artists from Grand Ole Opry stars to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members to Country Music Hall of Fame members. That background in PR has given me a tremendous springboard and advantage in now using my knowledge to help advance my clients' agendas while keeping expectations realistic," he said.
"Through my tenure as a publicist, I saw a massive shift in the way publicity has been handled over the years," he said. "When I first started, we were taping photos to a sheet of paper with a cutline printed on it and mailing them out. Then, we progressed with technology to scanning photos and emailing them."
Webster continued, "Now, anyone can take a photo on their phone and text or email it to someone. Everyone is a reporter as long as you have a phone. The days of issuing a photo pass for a concert are meaningless. The digital age has made everything instant. Breaking news is the word of the day and messaging can literally be around the globe in a matter of seconds."
On his use of technology in his daily work routine, he said, "Like everyone, I use technology as my key business connector. I get about 400 emails in a day, yet my phone rings maybe 10 times in a day. Back in the day, the phone rang non-stop and the emails were minimal. We have all obviously adapted to this new way of doing business over emails, Facebook Messenger, texting, and social platforms."
He opened up about the recent passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), which protects artists, songwriters, and creators in the digital age. "I am extremely happy about this. Joyce Moore, the wife of music legend Sam Moore, who is a client and partner of mine on various projects was very instrumental in getting that agenda pushed through. She has been an advocate for artists and their rights for years," he said.
"Sam Moore remains a valued client with whom I consult so Joyce and I have ongoing business," he said. "We enjoy a unique work code. I always tease her because she is much like me, like sushi. You either love us or hate us. There is no middle ground. We fight for what we believe in and don't really give a damn what others think. We take a stand while others waffle to keep people happy. The MMA is going to help lots of artists that were being forgotten and not making the money they should have been making over the years."
When asked if there were any moments in his career that helped define him, Webster said, "There were many things during my 23 years as a publicist that helped me understand what was right and what was wrong, who are real friends and who are only friendly because they want something from you. I got into the business because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted a purpose in life."
Webster continued, "My great uncle had a very successful career in the carnival business and very early on I realized I had inherited a gene for show business—that flair that sets creative people apart. I started out in PR being bold beyond my years and being able to say crazy funny things that sometimes raised eyebrows. It worked for me. Yes, I probably offended some people with my crass jokes or statements, but the intent was not to be offensive, but to be funny, and memorable and most of all to gain attention for my work. We all must remember that awards are highlighted for a short period of time, how you are remembered will be for a lifetime."
A few years back, allegations surfaced against Webster and he shared that it was a valuable learning experience. "I've definitely learned who my friends are—and who they never were. I've also learned that 'innocent until proven guilty' means nothing. You can be innocent and remain guilty in the minds of those who never knew the truth and never choose to seek it out. Most of all, I learned to keep moving forward on to bigger and better things and that is what I have chosen to do," he said.
Regarding the key to longevity in the music and entertainment business, he explained, "Passion for what you do and what you represent. I get up every day instantly on the move and I never stop thinking of how to work smarter and better on every project. It's not an easy business and there is no such thing as 'cruise control' on the vehicle of success in the entertainment business. Whether on the artist side or the business side of the equation, success is all about constant reinvention."
On the title of the current chapter of his life, he said, "The old song Johnny Cash did so well… 'A Satisfied Mind'… those are the lyrics of my life today."
Webster defined the word success as "living life to its fullest and leaving footprints of good influence for others coming behind me."
To learn more about Kirt Webster, check out his official website.
Kirt Webster
Kirt Webster
Photo Courtesy of Kirt Webster
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