Published on June 13th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Chris Gethard To Host A2IM’s Libera Awards, Talks Finding Success & Jeff Rosenstock
A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 600 independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. Its board of directors includes representatives from Bar/None Records, Tommy Boy Records, Kill Rock Stars, Concord Music Group, Sub Pop Records, Merge Records, Big Machine Label Group, and the Domino Recording Co.
The Libera Awards are the culmination of A2IM’s Indie Week, an annual 4-day gathering of the independent music industry’s most incisive minds and dynamic leaders. The popular conference is a chance for those in the industry to network amongst like-minded peers, attend panels and workshops hosted by experts in the independent music world, while also discussing and discovering current happenings within industry developments, emerging technology and music news. Indie Week 2019 will take place in support of New York’s Music Month, an annual celebration of the thriving and diverse New York City music ecosystem, which also happens to be the world’s highest-grossing music city.
This year’s Libera Awards — as presented by SoundExchange — will be hosted by Chris Gethard. An acclaimed actor, comedian, writer, author and podcaster, Gethard first made people take notice as the host of The Chris Gethard Show. This success of the public access show — which was later turned into a proper cable series — has led the New Jersey native to have an HBO special, launch the Earwolf-produced podcast Beautiful/Anonymous, and write several published books. Simply put, Gethard manages to embody the independent spirit of A2IM while also having a huge global audience.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Gethard by phone about the past, present and future of his career. Transcribed below is a few minutes from our June 2019 chat, while my full interview with Gethard will be broadcasted later next month via the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast. In the meantime, more on Gethard’s various projects can be found online at www.chrisgeth.com.
On when he knew he had a career:
Chris Gethard: Well it’s a really good question because it’s one of those things where I take a step back and look at where I’m at right now and I should think to myself, “OK, there’s some stability here.” I certainly haven’t always felt that. I think probably the simplest answer is 2016. That was the year that a lot of things kind of broke for me, like my podcast came together and the Mike Birbiglia movie came out and Career Suicide kind of ramped up that year and we hit it off-Broadway… All of a sudden that year I was like, “OK, it feels like finally there’s a little bit of a safety net here.” So I think probably 16 years in, although with all that being said… I just signed a new two-year contract for my podcast… I kind of paused and looked at my 8-week old son and I was like, “Oh that’s like super-stable in this line of work.” For most people only having 2 years of work guaranteed is pretty terrifying, so it’s all relative.
On how he likes to be described profession-wise?
Chris Gethard: I’m a comedian. At the end of the day I feel like if you look at the old public access show, that’s not something that looks like a standup special. If you look at Career Suicide it’s certainly standard not your standard stand-up stuff. But at the end of the day, I kind of feel like those things are all containers and I’m just kind of trying to shift what is in my head and in my guts into those different containers, and what I’m pouring into all of that at the end of the day is kind of funny. So hopefully at the end, hopefully on my tombstone that’s what they put, “comedian.” I don’t think the obituary needs to be too much longer than that.
On the influence of musician Jeff Rosenstock on his career:
Chris Gethard: I think we’re definitely kindred spirits. I met Laura Stevenson before I had ever met Jeff and she right away was like, “Oh you and Jeff need to sit down. You guys are very similar people.” I’m very inspired by Jeff… There’s been 3 or 4 times where I’ve needed advice, especially as the Gethard Show went to cable, it had gone from being this countercultural thing to a commercial property. So Jeff was a guy who I called up and said, “How do I sell-out properly? How do I sell-out in a way that’s not totally offensive to all this stuff I’ve claimed about myself?” He really gave me a lot of good advice.
I feel quite lucky to know him and I’m continuously inspired by him. Anytime I feel like I’m kind of straying a little too far from my values, he tends to be somebody that I can text or call and kind of get myself in check, because I feel like he’s sort of like a goofier Ian MacKaye for the current generation. I love the guy.