Book Review – Anything for a Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story of Surviving the Music Industry – Dorothy Carvello (Non-Fiction)


My Review:

It was my dream to work in the music industry as a young adult. I always had an ear for music and thought being an A&R executive would be the perfect job. This was in the late 80s/early 90s – around the same time Dorothy Carvello was beginning her career in the music business.

She began her wild ride as the secretary for Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun was the legendary president of Atlantic Records who signed the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Aretha Franklin and created the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. This began a decades-long relationship with the man who would be her mentor, confidant, and tormentor. To say it was complicated would be an understatement.

Her desire to move up the ranks led to the discovery of Skid Row. While she did not get credit for signing the band, it did allow her to become the first female A&R executive for Atlantic Records.

Anything For A Hit takes the reader inside the offices of the biggest record labels and provides a jaw dropping look at what really happens behind closed (and sometimes open) doors. The book describes many of the underhanded tactics executives would take at the expense of others.

Carvello gives a honest account about her childhood growing up in Brooklyn, her alliances and adversaries in the workplace, loves and heartbreaks, and lessons learned.

Additionally, the book provides interesting narratives about members of Bon Jovi, Skid Row, The Rolling Stones, and INXS.

My path did not lead to a job at a record label. I worked full-time at an insurance company and as a freelance music journalist. I’m not sure I would last in Dorothy’s position for more reasons than one. I am thankful she made it out fairly unscathed and can be happy doing what she loves without the toxic environment.

Carvello penned this memoir prior to the #MeToo movement, but it opens up a conversation in an industry that’s been widely overlooked. She does acknowledge the music business has gotten better with the treatment of women and men who being harassed but could use some work.

Anything For A Hit is a must-have if you are interested in the music business, climate in the workplace, or enjoy the unfiltered truth with a splash or humor.

Buy the book here: Amazon

Book Description:

Dorothy Carvello knows all about the music biz. She was the first female A&R executive at Atlantic Records, and one of the few in the room at RCA and Columbia. But before that, she was secretary to Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic’s infamous president, who signed acts like Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin, negotiated distribution deals with Mick Jagger, and added Neil Young to Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The stories she tells about the kingmakers of the music industry are outrageous, but it is her sinuous friendship with Ahmet that frames her narrative. He was notoriously abusive, sexually harassing Dorothy on a daily basis. Still, when he neared his end, sad and alone, Dorothy had no hatred toward him—only a strange kind of loyalty. Carvello reveals here how she flipped the script and showed Ertegun and every other man who tried to control her that a woman can be just as willing to do what it takes to get a hit.
Featuring never-before-heard stories about artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi, INXS, Marc Anthony, Phil Collins, and many more, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered what it’s really like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.

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