Screen Reviews
#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent

Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent

written by Eric Sarafin

Over ten years ago, Eric Sarafin (aka Mixerman) anonymously published a series of posts on a long-forgotten audio engineering message board that spread like wildfire. Mixerman’s account of a troubled, nay, plagued, nay, CURSED recording session with a band that was sure to be the Next Big Thing was a parade of personalities, from the band members to the industry types to the experts that were called in, sauntering through a backdrop of studios, cruise ships, limousines, and so on. The sort of stuff so ridiculously illogical it makes perfect sense. The posts were gathered together and edited somewhat into a book (The Adventures of Mixerman).

Now it’s 2015, and the so-called industry that spawned that epic tale of a musical odyssey has been rent by technology, and is in the process of (to put it delicately) aggregating its fecal matter. Just as the railroad robber barons enjoyed a period of monopoly before trains were overtaken by other forms of transportation, the free-spending icons of the Business of Music are now facing the loss of their stranglehold on distribution, despite the fact that things are still getting from one place to the other. And nobody has their ear on the rails like Sarafin.

After much speculation on the identity of Mixerman, Eric Sarafin outed himself as the author of the series and book, remained busy with production and engineering duties, and authored a steady stream of text on related topics, before returning to form earlier this year with a new web serial, “#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent”. This time, the episodes are released as blog rather than forum posts, merely a format change. The music industry of 2015 has changed drastically, but its capacity for farce has not.

Our story begins with Mixerman scraping by as former torrents of high-paying work have slowed to a trickle. The gear required to put out a recording good enough to chart has become hundreds of times more affordable, and the general expectation is that the expertise to run it should be discounted accordingly. The labels and other industry institutions are facing incomes drained away by streaming, other media, and illicit downloads, and it’s getting harder and harder to properly rip off the Artist every day.

In the middle of this dubious proposition comes “Kanish Kanish- son of Paneer Kanish.” (not his real name), the son of an Indian tech billionaire. His wealthy and demanding father is going to make a Bollywood producer out of him by securing Mixerman’s mentoring services with a healthy payment. All our narrator has to do is host this young scion and teach him everything he knows. And write about it as he did in Adventures, for the old man is savvy to the value of this type of publicity.

Kanish arrives at Mixerman’s incognito suburban Los Angeles home in a car way too fancy for the neighborhood, with a chauffeur, a cook, and a complement of four turbaned Sikh bodyguards. Things take off from there, as our heroes navigate, sometimes with difficulty, sometimes with surprising ease, the complicated pathway of American Fortune (Music Edition).

As before, there are many twists and turns to the story, and Mixerman often uses the narrative to give background to his perspective on a changing music industry and social landscape. The Adventures serial was the tale that unfolded at the peak – the Business was ready and willing to wager anything and everything on the artists they felt were a sure bet. A decade later, the bets are smaller and less sure, and this tale starts out from the base camp. Sure, this expedition is better-equipped than most, what with Mixerman’s talents and network, Kanish and everything his station in life provides, and tremendous amounts of chutzpah all around. But it’s still not going to be easy.

As our team assembles its members, puts together a potential hit, secures a distribution deal, and then fends off the competition (not necessarily in that order), we get Mixerman’s commentary on how things work (or don’t), most of the time as it relates to the music biz, but now and then only tangentially so. It’s a good mix of cliff-hanging narrative, no-holds-barred exposé, and intimate from-the-control-room perspective. Episodes (eighteen at this writing, about 30 are expected) sometimes overflow with the sort of consumptive excess that begs for MTV to purchase the option already – Bentleys, one-ounce-blunts and illicit Canadian hooch. In spite of the designer-rags-to-riches arc of the story, each episode sees our heroes hustling at their finest, and ends with a daily lesson, as given by Guru Mixerman to his charge Kanish. My favorite so far: “Every day is a lucky day for an industrious man. Only fools wait for a lucky day.”

Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent:

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