David Barbe Reflects on Performing in His 60s, Industry Changes

David Barbe is the director of the University of Georgia Music Business Program and the owner of the Athens recording studio, Chase Park Transduction, which has recorded prominent bands such as R.E.M. and the Drive-By Truckers.

Q: In an interview with Flagpole, you said that in your career, you’re “‘constantly moving on.’” Why has that been your approach in your music endeavors?

Forward’s just the more interesting direction for me. I’m too busy moving forwards to look back. There’s always something new. There’s a limited amount of time in the world. There’s a lot of cool people, a lot of cool ideas, a lot of interesting things. I just want to taste a little bit of all of it.

Q: You performed four back-to-back sets at the 40 Watt Club for your 60th birthday. How did you physically prepare for that?

A three-hour show when I’m 60 years old, like my own version of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour? That was my motivation to get up and exercise every morning, which I kind of do anyway. A lot of time on a bike and the music, for sure. Just physical stamina, just plenty of exercise every day. Eyes on the prize, knowing that I’ve got this big thing coming up. The last song’s got to be as good as the first one.

Q: On your bio on the Chase Park Transduction website, you say your method to creating music is, “In any creative endeavor, the answer should never be ‘No.’” What do you mean by that?

The artist has these brilliant ideas in their head, and the idea is to try and get them out. Sometimes, people have these seemingly crazy ideas or an idea that they’ll say, “This might be a bad idea. This might not make any sense. I don’t know if this is going to work.” My answer is always, “Why don’t you tell me what it is, and let’s try it and see? You don’t know. You might get something cool. You don’t know what something tastes like until you stick it in your mouth.”

Q: You keep pictures of your former students on the wall of the music business office. Why?

Somebody in the business sent me a message saying “Hey, we need to hire somebody who’s got these skills. I got a text last night about a very specific, really great job in Nashville. I’m going to walk out there and look at the pictures. And then I’m just going to go, “You know she’d be great. He’s a good candidate too.” It’s just all about the people. Students pay tuition. The university pays me. Therefore, I work for them, not the other way around. 

Q: As your students continue to enter the music industry, what changes do you hope that they will make?

Changes that are already moving along and continuing, which are working to find ways where the people that create the music can make more money from it. That’s it. That is business number one. Streaming has radically changed the landscape of how people make money on music. As they move into their careers, they can embrace an understanding that the correct amount of money to have in this world is enough.

Comments trimmed for length and clarity.

Andy Wyatt is a public relations and political science major covering local music.


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