Sunday, December 27, 2009


Anti-Industry Attitudes

DaveTDVD asks:

How do you deal with an artist who has talent but has an anti music industry attitude and feelings of mistrust against it?

Hartmann responds:

Here comes Collegiate Rock. The postmodern record business was built around artists who excelled in the local honky-tonks, bars, night clubs and concert halls that proliferate around the country. The best of the best prospered and moved to the big city. From Nashville, New York and L.A. they were assumed into the music industry systems that linked the activities of performing and recording. The singers and songwriters around whom the bands were constructed started young and rose from the streets. Rarely did they stop long enough in their vision quest to acquire an education. Now, thousands of colleges and universities offer courses in the business of music.

It stands to reason that the graduates of these programs are better prepared to address the issues of integrating art and commerce than their predecessors. In the past, artists worked hard for years and eventually figured out how to play the game of showbiz. With a modicum of talent, a lot of aggressive action and a little luck an artist might get "discovered" and have a viable career. The process often relied more on luck than talent; but that won't work in The Music Renaissance.

University educated musicians come to the music indiustry with artistic skills developed over many years. Millions of those little "Guitar Heroes" graduate to real instruments very early and they demonstrate highly advanced writing and performing talent by the time they reach college.

Through university business, marketing and economics programs artists acquire a completely different set of tools with which to engage the challenges of an industry in search of a new business model. These contenders for stardom are not lost in the fog of showbiz. They are not obligated to the systems and mechanics of the postmodern record business. Young artists don't need the established power structure to endorse their talent. They can exploit it themselves.

The paradigm has shifted. The record business has consolidated down to four multi-national corporate giants that control the manufacturing, distirbution, promotion and marketing of ninety percent of records sold through brick and mortar outlets. The glue that holds this system together is broadcast radio, another industry in transition. When every iPod and iPhone is a self programmable, custom radio station, terrestrial radio becomes a default delivery system.

The major labels really don't have much to offer a truly talented artist. If a new act has a certain business acumen and a knowledge of Internet systems and protocols they are better off without a record company. In fact a non-corporate image is uniquely attractive to the potential fan who is often searching for a tribal identity. The public has seen enough cable TV to know that the record companies are the traditional enemy of the artist. The fans prefer to deal directly with the act.

When I meet a young band, the first thing I ask is, "What are your short and long term goals?" When they tell me they want a record deal, I know they haven't got a clue. If they tell me they want to start their own record company and own their copyrights and masters, I know they get it. If they demonstrate a complete distrust of the record business, I think that maybe they have a chance to win in The Music Renaissance. A good business education is the best place to start.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The Future of Music Video

Casares asks:

We were told that music videos, in today's industry, are pertinent to the construction of a fan base as they, along with concerts, attract listeners and sustain their interest. The speaker discussed the problem with music downloading and how it has effected CD sales, arguing that music videos are necessary for artists to gain exposure. However, with MTV/VH1 slowly declining, do you think music videos are as effective as she argues them to be?

Hartmann responds:

Throughout the silent film era live musicians accompanied the action on screen with spontaneous piano or organ performances. The first talking movie, "The Jazz Singer," was a musical. From the earliest days of motion pictures, music has provided a key creative element to the art form. In return movies have been a significant promotional vehicle for songs and recordings of every genre and style. The filming of individual songs is not a new idea.

MTV didn't invent the video, although it did become the home for it. From the moment of its August 1, 1981 launch, music television instantly became the promotional tool that could drive a hit record to the top of the charts. Record company promotion men seeded their "priority" records at rural and suburban radio. The ones that gained traction added stations and gravitated toward the major market super stations. A video component was added to the hit songs and the labels lobbied MTV to put the video into rotation. The exposure was enormous and virtually insured top five status.

The immediate success of MTV inspired a number of additional cable TV channels that were nourished by an endless stream of free content pouring out of the record companies. In the eighties, as the postmodern era was peaking, MTV was struck by the cyber-sword. As the Music Renaissance dawned the record companies tried to destroy digital distribution and in so doing precipitated their own demise. MTV was driven into the ratings game and a struggle to survive.

The life preserver they originated eventually created a major paradigm shift in television programming. The term "reality" entered the video lexicon and the medium became a window into the lives of extraordinary, and sometimes ordinary, people and events. MTV is no longer the primary source of music video. The advent of has introduced a new and powerful weapon into the promotional arsenal of music artists. Video is bigger than ever.

The music industry is in a state of explosion. Each genre of music is engaged in a competition for the attention of a niche audience. The ubiquitous presence of Hip Hop has declined as rap music evolved into its classic form. The vacuum created as the most popular music genre shrinks will be filled by a new contender. History dictates that a superstar will emerge to consolidate the global audience. Every existing genre holds the possibility of being the one to produce a star.

A primary ingredient for any successful artist competing in The Music Renaissance is video. Every new artist must create a video record of their daily activity; and every song should have a video attached to it. The artist's web site should contain the archive and it should be free to all visitors along with the streaming of the music itself. Great thought and care should go into the video concept and execution. Production value will not be as important as creativity and style.

Artists and their management teams must embrace the dual nature of story telling when designing their product. With low cost video and recording readily available, there is no reason not to add a visual aspect to the recorded music. The presentation of image and style is vital in attracting and retaining a fan base. We receive eighty percent of our data through our eyes and what is attractive to any given niche can be analyzed, designed and marketed by that picture that is worth a thousand words. Video is here to stay and it is more important than ever.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

T.A.M.I. Show @ LMU - December 19, 2009



Last night legendary Emmy winning producer-director Steve Binder, (Steve Allen Show, Hullabaloo, the Elvis comeback special, etc.) dazzled John Hartmann's "Rock On Film" class at LMU. Binder screened his 1964 T.A.M.I. Show which has not been seen in public for several decades. After protracted negotiations, the classic concert movie starring The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Chuck Berry and others, will finally be released on DVD in 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Trust In The Artist + Manager Relationship

KDonoho9 asks:

What is the best way to gain the trust of your client? It seems to me that always being straight with your client, sometimes telling them what they don't want to hear, would develop a trusting relationship, but as we've gone over in class some artists are very easily upset when it comes to information they don't want to hear. From your experience, are there any sure-fire ways to develop a strong trust between yourself and a client? If I am the manager I want my client to bring any problem they have to me, regardless of that problem's nature.

Hartmann responds:

Trust is not assigned, or awarded, it is purchased by action, earned through achievement and reinforced over time. Honesty and integrity are vital components of any business relationship and they are requisite ingredients between partners. Performers come to the music industry lost in the fog of showbiz, blinded by self-confidence and driven to succeed. They quickly learn that building a career in music is a team sport. Their first marriage is to a Personal Manager.

The person to whom one entrusts all of his hopes and dreams must demonstrate a myriad of qualities to a potential client. Business acumen is at the forefront of the manager's contribution to the career building process. A combination of social skills, power personality and accumulated knowledge of the historical trajectory prepares managers to conduct the business of music. A clear understanding of the systems and mechanics of the entertainment industry accelerates the growth and development of any commercial enterprise. Most musicians need a business partner.

Personal values define who we are to our friends, associates and fiduciaries. Our behavior and conversation create the perception of who we are as people. An artist wants his manager to be honest, charming, intelligent, creative, flexible and visionary. If a potential manager advocates honesty, it can be presumed that he values the truth; and that he will be honest in his dealings. If he suggests that you lie , cheat and steal, it should be presumed that he might do that to you.

It is the manager's sacred obligation to always tell his client/partner the facts as he perceives them. Protecting clients from the hard stuff is not doing them a favor. No human enterprise ever goes perfectly well and the best laid plans always go awry. Success accrues to those who can adapt to the changes. When a manager presents the newest problem with the same grace as the last glory, he is preparing the artist to deal with the adversities they will surely face in the future.

Errors and blunders provide opportunities for managers to prove their integrity and honesty to their clients. By claiming responsibility for his mistakes, rather than shifting blame to others, a manager can demonstrate his strength, security and character to his partners. Empathy and caring backed by a twenty-four-seven commitment to the artist's business and personal concerns reinforces the strength of the artist + manager bond. The job is of "personal" service and nothing is off limits. Meticulous care and constant attention are the cornerstones of their relationship.

The trusting is the hard part; everything else needed to build a business around a body of music, can be learned. When choosing business partners, trust carefully, and when you do, trust totally.

Thursday, December 10, 2009



The Record business owes its demise to the criminal infrastructure created by its founders and the failure of the postmodern executive corps to address digimodernization in a timely manner.

The big four stalled at Napster and allowed download distribution to be developed by others. By trying to preserve the highly lucrative CD market they let the big cyber-bucks get away.

The labels' desperate attempt to create a marriage with artists and managers will end in divorce. I'm not saying that 360 degree deals won't work; but why does an artist need a record company to have one? Jimmy, Doug, Lyor et al are lost in the digi-fog and running blind from behind. They have no money to build acts and even if they deliver radio, who is listening? MP3 is here to stay.

The labels have always been the traditional enemy of the artist. They didn't want to be fair and honest in the past and now they demand a place at the artist's table with an equal piece of the pie. However the Internet is the new A&R and promotion mechanism and it is free. The labels have little to offer a new artist. Greed will marginalize their role in The Music Renaissance.

Every act should own their own masters and publishing; these are the permanent assets of their business. They must also have a good live act and a booking system. The Internet enables artists to market their products directly to their fan base. The only accounting will be to themselves.

The remonetization of recorded music will not be dictated from corporate boardrooms down, it will be built by the artists and managers from the cyber-grass-roots up. This liberation is making music bigger than ever. And, it puts the profit where it belongs; with those who earn it.

Never in the history of recorded music has so much been enjoyed by so many and paid for by so few. There is no longer room for a middle-man in this game. Its between the artists and the fans.

Join the revolution at

Saturday, November 28, 2009

MUSIC Q + A - Talent v. Timing - November 28, 2009

MUSIC Q + A - Timing v. Talent

N. Safdari asks:

You mentioned in lecture that there are different methods for an artist to reach success in the music industry. An artist can fit in the category of "Lucky 7", where in, good timing, being at the right place at the right time, can often lead to success. An artist can also obtain success through climbing the stairway, meaning, a grassroots approach is the key. Through maintaining an egg yolk and egg white fan base, the popularity can grow into fame. My question is, do you think the majority of recent artists that have found there way up to the top have been a result of timing or talent?

Hartmann responds:

Talent comes in many shapes and sizes. Digimodernization is redefining how we classify the various skills and techniques employed in the production of recorded music. Pro Tools has enabled anyone with a Mac, a Mic and a Song to make a record. Auto Tune and other digital manipulations can even make those records sound pretty good, if not technically perfect. The low threshold to entry has given millions of artists an opportunity to present their music to the public.

The postmodern record business resulted from the marriage of FM radio, and 331/3 RPM albums. The Beatles drove the format to unprecedented sales and prosperity as an entire generation dreamed of being in a band. But access to the professional arena was an awkward and unpredictable process. The record companies held rigid control over radio promotion, marketing and distribution.

New artists were forced to labor long and hard on their repertoire and technical skills. Only after years of practice and extensive live performing did a new act develop into a commercially viable business entity. The prevailing system put the power into the hands of the labels who maintained expensive A&R divisions to sift through the contenders and decide which artists would get to compete.

Selected singles were offered to radio and the public decided which ones they wanted to hear again. And, if they loved the song enough, they might purchase the artist's album. Ostensibly, they bought ten or more songs to get the one they actually wanted. This created an artificially high profit margin for the record business. Songs that rose in the charts created opportunities for touring acts. The artists kept the box-office receipts and the labels took the lion's share of profits from record sales. Timing played a major role in the game.

Getting signed to a record company was a controlled process that allowed only a fraction of the performers to participate. The managers, agents and producers in power pushed their selections into the system and a formulaic approach dominated the music scene. Originality surrendered to emulation and labels scrambled to clone the latest success offered by their competition. Unable to build a management team that could penetrate the resistance of the status-quo, most artists gave up and went home to resume their day jobs.

The Music Renaissance that has resulted from the marriage of digital distribution and Internet promotion has adjusted the timing involved in the pursuit of careers in music. No longer does an artist need a large advance to make a record. Costly radio promotion campaigns have become irrelevant since the iPod generation has abandoned that particular delivery system.

Today's artist no longer needs to gain the approval of the music industry elite to participate. A free myspace page and a video on youtube gets you into the game. The timing bubble has burst. Careers are instantly established and personally directed. An artist can learn everything he needs to know to build an act at and through thousands of recording arts programs at colleges across the country.

Expertise and experience are no longer mitigating factors. If the music is good and the act motivated a band can generate its own career and build a business without the support of a record company. By owning their masters and controlling the publishing and other income streams artists can reach the profit level sooner. They can start their professional careers when ready and without obligating themselves to managers and labels that promise much and deliver little.

It is important to remember that every song you write is not a crystal tear from the eye of Zeus. It is the nature of music that the players find their work beautiful, but the only true judge is the customer. No matter how great you think your band is, without earning public support and stimulating them to pay for your product, you have no business. Most artists who achieve long term success have been able to consolidate a myriad of factors into the creation of a performing act. Talent TV can produce instant notoriety, but popularity derived from TV exposure does not carry the same weight as a well built fan base gathered over time.

An abundance of one requisite ingredient can compensate for a lack of another. Image can stimulate interest and beauty can overcome a less than great singing voice. Passion can often out run talent allowing the confident, enthusiastic artist to surpass a more gifted peer. No two careers are exactly alike, but playing the percentages and reducing the failure factors can provide some insurance.

By mastering your craft and learning how to mount a live act you can participate. If you build a support team, play the game perfectly well, have an abundance of native talent, and get lucky, you can win. It is more about ability and hard work than time. If you have the talent, the Internet is waiting. The timing is up to you.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

MUSIC QUOTE - Bob Lefsetz - November 26, 2009


"In an era where album sales represent only a fraction of your fan base, you want to get attention where you can. Not by batting people over the head, telling them they must endure you, but by being so provocative, so interesting that they want to tune in."


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - The Economy, MySpace & Music - November 26, 2009

Ray Jimenez asks:

Has the economy and the myspace band explosion had an effect on music?

In the 90s the term "sell-out" was used often. There was a clear social distinction between mainstream bands and indie bands. Sometimes the less known an indie band was, the more "cool" it was. There was a real backlash against popular middle of the road culture.

Today, in America, there is a great urgency and thirst for financial stability and prosperity. Any enterprise that is not a financial success is not deemed truly successful. In the 90s obscurity was not always looked down upon. Since myspace has caused a flood of new bands, has that forced the greater indie acts to seek a larger market so that they may even be considered relevant?

Hartmann responds:

High tides raise all boats. A weak economy affects every business enterprise. If there is less money in play, the amount of disposable income available for music is proportionately and exponentially decreased. A #1 album still reaches the top of the charts weather it sells a hundred thousand CDs or a million. What is drastically impacted is the profit margin. If the same effort produces infinitely less profit the enterprise will fail. This loss of revenue demands a new business model.

The music is the cause not the effect. MySpace and YouTube have become vital links in the chain that will secure the future of popular music. However, they are delivery systems, not sources of artistic product or performing talent. A pure artist walking naked in the woods singing his song with the birds creates the intellectual property called a copyright. As it is composed it becomes the property of the songwriter. Commercial exploitation of that song requires aggressive action.

Artists coming out of the woods, in search of fame and fortune through their music, don't do so in a casual manner. They come bold and obsessed about their greatness. They expect to succeed. In my fifty year career in showbiz I have never met a band that didn't think it was going all the way to The Big Top. Ninety percent of them were totally wrong. Young artists are challenged to reach the first plateau of success, survival. They abandon their anonymity and go public with their dreams. The contest is for the music dollar, the process is building a fan base and support group.

The coolness of singing for woodland creatures, who sing along without judgement, is replaced by the risk of rejection and criticism imposed by the paying public and the industrial punditry. Regardless of how many millions of artists compete for attention on the Internet, only ten percent will reach the survival level. Those acts able to apply sound business principals to the exploitation of their talents will survive the process and get to compete for enduring fame and fortune.

The greatest talents may choose to never leave the woods. However, those that do are dedicated to spreading their music far and wide. They intend to impress their songs into every corner of the Internet, in hopes of reaching a critical mass, and causing a viral explosion around the world.
Because of the low threshold for entry and the minimal cost of participating provided by digimodernization many artists of questionable talent get to compete with the best of the pros.

The public perception of what is acceptable in a cultural hero will be adjudicated by a very sophisticated audience. They know what they like. An artist's repertoire must be seasoned by extensive live performance before the recording begins. The songs should only be recorded when the live arrangement is tested and fixed. Acts must be able to perform their material in concert without excessive technical enhncement. Every band thinks their stuff is great, its part of the intrinsic charm of music, But, most music offered on the web is derivitive and uninspired. It has limited intrinsic value and will neither break an act nor attract a wide audience.

Relevancy is in the mind of the music fan who will first steal the music. That will inspire curiosity and get them to the band's gig. The blood, sweat and tears of a great performance will create a bond with the audience. When they fall in love with your act, they will buy your CD and T-shirt because they now care and want to see you survive. If they come back with their friends to the next gig, make sure you collect their email, because you have made an addition to your fan base.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

HoloGram: The Reflectacles - Viper Room - Debut - Nobvember 21, 2009

Holodigm Media Artists The Reflectacles Rocking at The Viper Room on Sunset Strip. Saturday night's packed house urged the L.A. based folk rock band to perform an encore to close out their one hour set. Opening for Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, the six piece group earned cheers and extended applause for the high energy performance of their original repertoire. It was the band's first appearance on the famed Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - Can Your BFF Manage Your Music Business? - November 17, 2009


Can Your BFF Manage Your Music Business?

A. Witter asks:

When choosing a Manager, would it be best for an Artist to select a friend to fill that role, or would it be best to bring in an outside party to become the manager? A friend would be more concerned with the artist as a person and would be highly devoted to the relationship between Manager and Artist, but may lack necessary skills needed to make the Artist a success. An outside party would most likely have these necessary skills, but may not be able to forge the same kind of relationship with the artist that the friend would have. Both have their pros and cons, but which one do you think would be the better match?

Hartmann responds:

The postmodern record business is in a state of collapse. The paradigm has shifted and the foundations of the new structure for marketing music are being born. As fear and despair reverberate around the music industry the rats are scrambling to get off the sinking ship. Every mid-level executive from the decaying record business is seeking a new way to exploit his experience and reputation. The primary consideration is where to go. Who will rescue the millions of singers and bands on and and the rest of the web?

Will personal managers with experience and relationships scour the Internet for the next big thing? Probably not. It is just too difficult to evaluate an artist's potential from their online presentation. The established managers are not really interested in "baby bands" and are not the likely source of management for beginners. Until an act has a solid Internet presence with a large following of unique visitors they aren't going to get much attention from the professionals.

The Holodigm system is designed to create personal managers as well as competitive artists. The most required characteristics for managers is trust. That is most often found among your family and friends. If you were going to open a candy store, you would find someone you trust to be your partner. You would create a game plan and rent a store. Then you would buy some candy, sell it and pay your bills. The partnership would split the profits. Why should the music industry be different? It shouldn't. The new paradigm follows a new formula: 1 Artist + 1 Manager = 1 Enterprise. The manager is a permanent partner in the building of any new music business.

Every enterprise needs a CEO and the manager is the ideal person to run the business of the company. The artist is the creator of the product that will be produced and purveyed by the company. Success in The music Renaissance will be extremely elusive and a part-time effort will not get the job done. A manager with a string of artists will defuse his energy and fail to deliver for any one of them. When the managers survival depends on your success you have a chance to win.

The Holodigm Seminars will teach every interested artist and entrepreneur everything they need to know to start their music business. Our training, coaching and management systems help the members stay focused on what counts while avoiding the pitfalls of the dying record business.

The good news is that the live concert business is stronger than ever. It is from this source that the baby bands will rise to maturity. Since there is no template for how to build a career in the new paradigm experience is not a prerequisite. Managers and bands must take control of the entire process by building performing acts that can market their music and merch through their live appearances. There are no guarantees, only the most talented will survive and make a profit.

It is a long, hard road and having a good friend by your side will make the battle easier. Find someone who wants to be your partner in a music business and form an L.L.C. The job is much too difficult for your manager to be told his contract ran out after you make it. By sharing in the equity of the company the manager knows that his efforts are not in vain. If he owns a piece of the enterprise he is helping to build he will be driven to work harder and protect your asset. By forming your own publishing and record companies you retain control of the major income streams and will reach profit sooner. The Holodigm, artistic talent and business acumen are all you need. We will teach you how to play the game and win at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - How Do I start My Music Business? - November, 15, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do I get started?

O'Shea Finn asks:

I am busy absorbing the many hours of lectures and endless text on The Holodigm web site. I want to apply the lessons to getting my band out of the garage. How can I get started? What do I do first? What is a simple game plan in a short form?

Hartmann responds:

If you can mount a band playing your music to a focused niche fan-base, you could build a business. The style is dictated by your core audience and success is directly relative to your talent. Your potential fans look and are like you. Once you are accepted as part of a fan's music community you have an ally in their world. Find the music mavens in your core genre.

There is a musical leader in every tribal group that the rest of the tribe follows. Read The Holodigm "Blog" posts on "Do-it-Yourself" and "Branding Your Band." Build a repertoire and create a live act. Only after the music is seasoned by many rehearsals and live performances, should you record it. Release your product on your own record label and sell the records at your gigs and online. Add appropriate merchandise items to your product line as the budget allows and the fans demand. Establish a booking mechanism and do a continuous stream of concerts

Promote it all on the Internet. Give downloads of the single songs away for free on your web site. Sell the EPs and LPs with creative packaging, and promotional features, directly to the fan base. Control all income streams. Review The Holodigm Seminars to help create your long term game plan. When in doubt, email me. When the poop hits the fan, call me.

If you don't give up, you'll make it.

Never stop writing.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Branding Your Band - How To Build A Fan Base - November 12, 2009


How To Build A Fan Base

Performing artists pursue specific paths through a myriad of creative and entrepreneurial career options in The Music Renaissance. Competing musicians, singers and bands face the same set of obstacles and function within well defined parameters. There are two primary activities to be addressed: Recording & Performing. The skilfull balancing of these functions combined with the business of songwriting and music publishing form the cornerstones of the music industry.

In a reality programming and social networked era of hyper communication, digimodernism is not just about geeks and super tech. There is a prevailing mind set among the cyber-youth as they stream into their futures. They see the powers that control the health of the planet are in conflict with their very survival. It has shaken a generation's survival instinct and inspired an artistic and cultural movement to self preserve. The clearest evidence of that is a core militancy to fix what is broken. Artists seeking to enroll high school and college age fans better have their acts together because they will be required to endure a continuous and unmerciful scrutiny of their chracter.

Considering that I've never met a group that didn't think it was going all the way to The Big Top, I assume that you and your friends believe its time to turn your campus band into a business. You are ready to trade those music lessons, that equipment you hustled out of Mom, and the garage space you converted to a studio, for fame and fortune. You have built a repertoire and performed it extensively in front of live audiences. You've recorded it on your MAC and have CDs for sale.

Your band is your marketing force. The product is the recorded music, and packaging, as well as acceptable merchandise. There is a threshold of dignity attached to what is an appropriate product line for any given artist. Downloads, CDs, T-shirts and caps are more or less acceptable as grass roots marketing and are generally perceived as promotional items. Exploitation into key chains and bobble-dolls is definitely crossing a line. Band jackets and other logo related, insider items and symbols might be leaked to the merch table if there is a demand from the fan base.

The starting point is the Internet and viral marketing. A clear definition of your target audience is imperative. In The Music Renaissance it would be assumed that everyone under thirty has total access to all music ever recorded twenty four seven for free. Because of ubiquitous access the available fan-pool has splintered into a myriad of niche markets. Music fans are free to select a specific color from the rainbow of choices. Focus on the existing audience for your genre or style.

The people who are most likely to focus on you are your peer group. This is an age and culture thing. If you can't make it at home, you can't make it anywhere. If you can make it at home, you can make it everywhere. Start your career in your home town with your friends and school mates. If you become a dominant musical force within a one hundred mile radius of your home you can survive and make a profit. If you can accomplish that a universe of opportunities will follow.

The postmodern record business is in a state of decline for a variety of reason none of which is relevant to branding your band and building your fan base. Forget chasing a record deal. The big four record companies are frozen like dear in the head lights. They aren't going to sign you. The good news is you don't need them. If you are going to survive in the digital music industry you will have to control and nurture all income streams just to pay your bills and keep the band alive.

AM and FM radio are obsolete. Nobody is listening. In the wake of the demise of broadcast radio also expiring is the long playing album as an artistic body of music. The primary distribution mechanism for music on the Intenet is peer-to-peer file sharing. Previously music fans were forced to buy ten songs or more to get the one they wanted. However, when music is free for the taking, with no moral integrity at stake, it beomes a one song at a time business. Nobody steals anything that he doesn't want and every song written is not a crystal tear from the eye of Zeus.

Remember the values and integrity of your core audience and design your music, image and product line to attract their interest. The fan's investment of his emotional identity, entertainment time and disposable income is your life line. Every band has an evolving purity factor that is continuously evaluated by the fan base. Building a following is about inspiring people to enroll their friends in your tribal community. If the band maintains the purity that attracts a fan base in the first place their following will continue to grow. A continuous flow of product is imperative.

A band that can hold its most ardent fans over the long term has the best chance of building a viable personal appearance career. Artistic and personal integrity dictate the effect of the music and the artist's lifestyle on the fan-pool. No two careers endure the same precise circumstances. And, its not so much what you do as how you handle what you get caught doing that holds the affection of your followers. The magnetism is strengthened by constant maintenance of the artist + fan bond. Build an online, interactive relationship with your fans that enlists their support.

An arist's music should be released in a string of individual records that are streamed one at a time into the Internet in a linear fashion. They should be radiated into the web by free downloads and permanently available. Present one song a month and work each as deeply into cyber-space as possible. When you have four songs in play package your first extended play record (EP) and sell it at gigs and online. Feed the next four records into the system in the same manner and add another EP to your catalog. Release a third EP and a compilation album of all three a month later. Offer the EPs at five dollars each and ask fifteen for the compact disc on your own record label.

The skillful marketing of these four products and a T-shirt will create a vital income stream and system for exposing your brand and furthering your enterprise. The primary tool is the live event. This is where the bonding experience is most intense. The energy and excitement of electric instruments and amplification, combined with a party atmosphere, can create a permanent attachment between audience and artist. Fans probably already have your music, or why are they there in the first place? However, they took it from the Internet when they didn't care about you.

Through the live experience the fans fall in love with the act, maybe its the music or the beer, or the one you came with, but it happens. They saw MTV and know that buying your CD and merch keeps you alive. If they love you they'll pay and that is where your business machinery starts to generate a profit. Promoting and marketing your band, gigs and merchandise online puts the responsibility directly on you. Direct your energy at your age group and younger. Offer free downloads for email addresses at your shows. Get them to join your club and treat them well.

QUOTE ME - Bob Lefsetz - November 12, 2009


Once you start protecting what you've got, trying to deny the future, keeping people locked into old ways, you're on the way to decline. Remember this. Bob Lefsetz

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HoloGram - The Reflectacles Win Best Original Soundtrack - November 10, 2009

HoloGram: The Reflectacles Win Best Soundtrack

Photo by Henry Diltz

Join The Revolution in The Music Renaissance.

Holodigm artists The Reflectacles' music recently won Best Original Soundtrack at BestFest Film Festival for writing the "Turn Me On Dead Man" soundtrack! The Five songs and original score were written and produced by Logan Metz and Lincoln Mendell. The Reflectacles music provides the driving force for Director Adam Blake Carver's short film about a major pop band's struggle to survive the passing of one of its members.

QUESTION OF THE DAY - Is Electronica the Next Big Music Genre? - November 10, 2009

Electronic Dance Music

Jose Garcia asks:

Electronica has been gaining a lot of popularity these days. I've been a fan of electronica and its different varieties of genres such as, Trance, Techno, House, and Hardstyle. What I see these days, is that they are only a few "big" stars in this genre only, Tiesto, and Armin Van Buuren. Both have millions upon millions of views on youtube, and thousands flock to there rave/concerts. My question is if there is a future where a huge star would rise? Mainly because these are two of the most popular Electronic Dance Music DJ's/producers.

Hartmann responds:

Electronic music has been around for decades. The great artist, musician and record producer Leon Russel created an all electronic album back in the early sixties called "The Underground 12." Since then there have been many thousands of recordings made that feature electronic sounds to compose orchestral music. In the past decade the audience for electronic dance music has grown considerably. This music appeals to our primordial need to get up on our feet and move to the beat. Until a superstar emerges who demonstrates the style through original songs the movement is likely to remain dormant gliding below the surface of ubiquitous popularity.

The formula that is presently employed by the DJs who promote this genre does not rely on original material. The DJ is acting as a delivery system to present a collection of songs he feels is an entertaining package to an audience interested more in dancing than listening to lyrics. Lady Ga Ga with her hybrid style of electronic-pop has created the most success so far. She has produced a good body of material well produced and she is the only new artist with a Platinum album on the charts.

The object of personal management is to build duration into the act. It remains to be seen if Lady G2 will be around in ten or twenty years. To accomplish long term survival an artist must come with consistently evolving, high quality material, over an extended series of recordings. If the act can develop a loyal fan base and continue to please their live audiences they can survive. The artist who can continuously add new fans to their core following can grow beyond the survival level and enjoy wider popularity. This can develop into a solid business enterprise that has the potential to turn into fame and fortune.

The next great music wave could come from electronica but it doesn't have to emanate from that source. It could evolve from a dormant, established genre or from a new musical style. These movements always emerge when least expected and usually from one or more acts gaining a following in a given community. There is a prevailing surge toward folk rock and singer/songwriter bands emerging on the Internet and in the live arena. When a great attraction, with strong songs, evolved performing skills, charisma and sex appeal arrives, they will find an eager public ready to participate. Such an act could start a whole new movement that many will be sure to follow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

HoloGram: The Reflectacles Win Battle of Bands - November 8,2009

HoloGram: The Reflectacles Battle to be The Band

Photo by Henry Diltz

Join the revolution in The Music Renaissance. Hartmann

Cal State University Northridge's Music Industry Studies program held its "Artist of the Year" search with a "playoff" on campus Thursday. LMU's The Reflectacles took home the top prize after competing with three other finalists. Each performed a four song set before students and staff. The voters favored the bright original songs and the intense performance style of The Reflectacles. The band will return to CSUN for a major concert appearance. To learn more, log onto

Thursday, November 5, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - The Disney Monster - November 5, 2009

Chris Vaughn asks:

I know that a ton of young artists get a start through Disney. However I also know that Disney runs things like a Nazi and takes most everything the artist earns. A friend of mine is managing his two younger brothers and a girl who is a close family friend of theirs and they are talking to Disney a bit, I'm pretty sure they even have a music video on one of Disney's new channels. Do you think that they should pursue any talks with Disney as a great career starter that they can later branch off from, or should they try to go a different route?

Hartmann responds:

Careers are like fingerprints; from a distance they all look the same, up close each is different. Every genre and style has an appropriate avenue to travel in pursuit of popularity and success. American Idol does afford an opportunity for certain artists to get exposure and initiate their careers. Disney films, television, radio and record labels provide many artists with a testing ground for their talents. The process is more about "celebrity" than music.

Talent TV provides quick access to the public view and more often than not comes with a speedy exit attached. Considering the thousands of artists who have participated in the various reality shows about the music business a relatively small number have achieved sustained success. Most Idol contestants achieve brief notice and many enjoy a few weeks of attention, most learn that they have no commercially viable talent and slip back into the obscurity from whence they came.

Those that rise to the top become ensnared in a web of contractual obligations that place their careers in the hands of third parties. They end up being owned and operated by the producers of the shows that made them attractive to the public. These artists have management and record companies imposed on them and their music becomes the property of the producers. They are usually paid a small salary and told what material they will record and what personal appearances they will make. The truly talented will have enduring careers and eventually outlive the original contracts.

I expect that Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Mylie Cyrus are not complaining about the role television played in their success. Undoubtedly there were circumstances they had to overcome and undesirable options they were forced to endure. Fortunately personal services contracts cannot exceed seven years in California, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is also the ability to "renegotiate" when leverage is gained. If you are making Disney a lot of money, and they need your cooperation, you do have the ability to ask for a larger share of the profits.

The Disney machine is content specific. The Mouse House has an image and style that is popular among the younger demographic. They fiercely protect their reputation and keep a wholesome, family oriented array of content. The integration of their contract artists into the various media outlets they control has enabled the rise of performers with a certain look. These acts are funneled into formats that impose the Disney style on the artist rather than being allowed to demonstrate original music. Such artists will find it difficult to shake off that image in later years.

The postmodern record business is in a state of decline and it will not likely survive in its current form. A digimodernist paradigm is emerging and with it comes a new sensibility about who artists are and what they represent in today's society. If an act is attractive to Disney, they must be presenting certain characteristics that fit the Disney formula. This most likely focuses them on the preteen demographic and these same qualities will limit their appeal to other age groups.

The power of Disney's radio network, and American Idol's massive audience can be valuable in the early stages of a career. The multi-media exposure they can offer guarantees a certain amount of noteriety. Good looks and a modest sexuality can carry an artist a long way quickly, but only quality music and practiced performance skills will build an enduring career in entertainment.

The object of personal management is to build longevity into the act. Audiences grow up fast and as they become more musically sophisticated their tastes change. They will demand more from their musical heroes and the corporate based artists will lose their allure. It is doubtful that
a manufactured attraction like The Jonas Brothers will be working in showbiz a decade from now.

The use of celebrity television to gain popularity is a judgement call that artists and managers must make when the opportunities present themselves. This stairway to heaven comes with the obligation to understand the depth and term of the commitment and requires an evaluation of the artist's long term goals and native talent. If one chooses to join such a system, read and understand the array of contracts that will govern the artist's professional activities.

Personal managers must be conscious of the need to build a team of players, from the eight core professions of entertainment, that will carry on the artist's career when the obligation to their corporate masters expires. When signing the requisite pile of contracts the TV producers will submit to the potential winners, consider doing so without using legal representation. This can provide a legal safety net that leaves the door cracked for a possible renegotiation. When fame accrues everything changes. The power of the artist, which is minimal at the beginning, is greatly enhanced when the public embraces the rising star.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - Meeting Other Musicians - November 4, 2009

E. Fiedler asks:

When looking at artists I like and listen to most seem to tell of how they met their band-mates in school at some point and decided to form a bad. However it seems that everyone I meet has never picked up an instrument or has no interest in learning how to play one. Though I have not been playing for a long time, I would love to be able to sit down with some friends and just jam for a while.

I believe my question to be very straight forward and simple. What is the best means to find other musicians to play with in order to potentially start a band and start the musical journey? Also, if you have heard of any strange/unique circumstances under which bands have met and been formed I would love to hear of them.

Hartmann responds:

There is a classic joke about the hipster standing on the corner of Broadway and 59th Street in New York City right in front of Carnegie Hall. A shiny young musician asks him, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall." The hipster responds, "Practice, man, practice." This sentiment is echoed in the Malcolm Gladwell book, "Outliers" in which he professes that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become good at anything. Novice musicians must remember these directives. There is no substitute for practice.

Talent is attracted to talent. And, only the talented are qualified to truly judge the talent of others. B.B. King is the best judge of just how talented Eric Clapton might be. B.B. knows what it takes to be a great guitar player and he knows one when he sees him. Young musicians seeking to develop their playing skills should seek out other players with whom they can practice.

There will always be someone less talented than you, and there will always be someone who is better. Seek the latter. The superior player has more to teach you than a fellow beginner. The best players push you to reach beyond your skill level and they force you to grow. Virtuosity is a technical achievement that, like any craft, improves with repetition. If you aren't in love with the feel of your instrument in your hand greatness will probably elude you.

The most talented musicians I have worked with rarely were far from their instruments. Neil Young and Stephen Stills are master guitar players. They are constantly picking, experimenting and exercising their "chops." The ability to translate the music they hear in their heads through their instruments into the audio spectrum is their essential talent. The integration of truthful lyrics into song is a demonstration of their artistic integrity.

For beginners the best place to start is in school where it is not difficult to focus in on the musicians among your peer group. Hairstyles, logos on t-shirts and guitar cases strapped to backs clearly identify who the musicians on campus might be. If you want to be noticed by them, carry your books around in a guitar case. You will find each other and a jam session will not be far behind. These early connections often lead to life long relationships and professional careers in music.

Look for virtuosity and develop your own performing skills. Watch documentary films on your musical heroes and emulate their actions. Most importantly try to find the talented song writers in your peer group. These are the people around whom bands are built. The cornerstone of the music industry is song writing and music publishing. The public is attracted to the lyrical content enthroned in the music and the resultant copyright provides the vehicle for long term earnings.

The music fan is subconsciously embraced by the the three "Ms" of songwriting: melody, meter and message. Melody is the cerebral tickling of the mental atmosphere. Meter inspires the involuntary physical participation demonstrated by the dance. The message is the essential truth embedded in the poetry of the lyrics. The skillful blending of these three phenomena creates the mathematical narcotic of music to which we are gloriously addicted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - Facebook & Myspace - November 2, 2009

Facebook & Myspace

andswenson asks:

I know someone else said that an artist uses a website such as facebook or myspace to put their music out in order to get fans. However, I think that it's just the opposite. There are so many new bands and individuals who post their work up on these site who never even go anywhere. And even the ones who do get some fan base don't really go anywhere. So my question to you is do sites like facebook and myspace really help start an artist's career and do they help managers find "the band" that they are looking for?

Hartmann responds:

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. allow bands to build and service a list of followers who support their music. These web sites are not of themselves anything more than conduits to reach and nourish a fan base. Like any other tool they are only as good as the user. Easy access to low cost recording and free Internet distribution allow any one to participate. This does not mean that all participants have the talent and other key ingredients required to achieve commercial success. In fact most music artists have no redeeming originality or value.

The shear number of artists and managers posting and surfing the Internet makes the process of finding the truly gifted artist extremely difficult. However, music fans searching for new music need these sources in order to conduct their search. Artists should use as many popular sites as possible and all roads should lead to the Band's personal site where the bulk of their interactivity and information resides. This is your promotional system and it is only as efficient as the person operating it. It is imperative that bands treat their business in a professional manner and use all methods available to get their music out to the widest possible audience. If the music is good the public will spread the word and the fan base will grow accordingly.

QUESTION OF THE DAY - The Next Big Superstar - November 3, 2009

The Next Big Superstar

Daniel Watters asks:

In your lectures, you often talk about the next artist that everyone will unite under and a new genre will be born. However, i am a little speculative about this. A phenomenon like The Beatles could likely not happen in today's age because people are simply exposed to too much information and media via the Internet. And at the dusk of the post modern record industry, there is no longer any money to advertise and force artists down the throat of consumers. So at this point, what people listen to is becoming more of their own choice (or the choice of bloggers who advise the public). So in an age where customization and niche marketing (Have it your way!) dominate, doesn't it make sense that people will be more inclined to develop smaller niche "Idols" that they associate with more personally than a one all-consuming superstar?

Hartmann responds:

There will be a next big thing. It would defy history for that not to occur. Digital technology has leveled the playing field and exposed The Music Renaissance. There is more music in play, across more genres and into more listening devices than ever before. Access is instant and free to the taker.

The traditional format for the postmodern record business was to select and push certain songs through radio to a thirsty audience. The listeners in turn selected from the short list what would become their favorite songs. Those are called hits. This system still dominates the top of the charts, but does not accrue high volume sales as in the past. There is only one platinum album from a new artist in the Billboard top 100 for the entire year.

The Internet provides an easy access, facile system for exposing new artists and their songs. This is the new radio. The main difference is there are an infinite number of stations where one can access their music choices. This creates a niche marketplace where any style of music can be explored and distributed to an infinitely broad base of music fans.

Low cost recording and easy promotional systems put the artist in charge of his own destiny. He no longer needs endorsement from an archaic system. He can invent himself on the Internet. If he has talent his music will be spread by armies of music mavens who want to discover the next big thing first. All that it will take to succeed is a vigilant interactivity that puts the artist in direct contact with the potential fan base for his music. Quality will tell the rest of the tale.

Even though millions of artists participate, the percentage of viable professionals will remain low. Approximately ten percent of the contenders will earn one hundred percent of the money. Those who succeed in making it to the survival plateau will compete for a ubiquitous audience. Sooner or later a supremely gifted artist will offer the right songs in the right package and it will spread around the Internet in a virtual explosion of enthusiastic file sharing. This will begin in a niche market, even from an obscure or original genre, but when that superstar rises everybody will know about it, and many will follow, creating the next big music movement. It will take a lot of telnet, charisma, sex appeal and luck, but it will happen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Reflectacles - Current Events - November 3, 2009

Holodigm Artists The Reflectacles will perform live:

Cal State Northridge - TODAY - November 3, 2009
The Stronghold - Venice CA - Saturday, November 7, 2009
The Viper Room - West Hollywood - November 21, 2009

Come join The ReflectaFolk at these exiting shows.

Photo by the legendary photographer Henry Diltz.

Join the revolution in The music Renaissance. Hartmann

Monday, October 12, 2009



mmv724 asks:

I have never been the type to claim that "music these days sucks," but I have often felt conflicted with the fact that almost all of the leading acts these days lack any real talent. While I do enjoy popular pop and hip-hop music, most bands that I find to be truly inspiring and talented are in the underground, independent, or alternative scenes.

How does one look at this from a manager's perspective (popularity vs. personal preference)? Do you think it is still possible for a popular mainstream act to be talented, classic, and genuinely good? Do these more "underground" acts purposefully choose the off-beaten or less mainstream career paths in order to make an artistic statement? What are the advantages/disadvantages of this path?

Hartmann responds:

If you go on what is happening today, it will be over before you catch up. The fact is ninety percent of the music posted on the Internet lacks enduring value. Only ten percent of the competing artists will create a large enough fan base to reach the first level of success. The initial goal is survival, as a musical attraction, without a day job. If this can be accomplished in your home market, it is possible to spread that popularity from local success to regional, state-wide, national and global popularity. If you can't make it at home, the world will not likely follow.

With the advent of peer-to-peer file sharing all genres of music, and virtually every record ever made, are readily available to the fan base. No longer can record companies effectively funnel their preferences through radio airplay to an eager public. Music lovers promote preferred songs through instant messaging and texting, from iPods and iPhones, to their friends free of charge. this has taken the discovery of new artists out of the hands of A&R executives and placed it directly under the control of the fans themselves.

Most creative musicians search for innovations in the musical styles of established genres. Lyricists give voice to the truth as they see it. This medium is constantly changing to keep up with the social concerns of each succeeding generation. Artists speak the concerns of their time. They incite a need for listeners to search for and discover songwriters and performers with whom they can personally identify.

Young people always go through a generational rebellion. They abandon the music of their parents and choose the soundtracks of their own lives. This is a perennial process that compels every generation to select its musical heroes and join their tribe. Although the promotional mechanism has changed from broadcast radio to Internet exploitation, the digital process has liberated music and handed the digital youth the most powerful distribution mechanism ever. The best part of it all is that the talented are no longer suppressed by the corporate status-quo.

Creative musicians can now make low cost records and introduce them to the public through Internet marketing systems free of charge. They can attack niche markets through underground channels that focus on their particular style of music. The principals of natural selection still prevail. Only the most talented musicians vigorously pursuing online marketing will survive. The additional ingredient of a strong live performing act is an imperative necessity for building a large enough following to make a living in the music renaissance.

QUESTION OF THE DAY - LADY GAGA - October 12, 2009


Adam Handwerker asks:

In class you shared with us your opinion on the future of music and who or what would be the forerunners in the art. Lady Gaga was one of the artists you mentioned in the genre of electronica. Though you expressed a slight distaste for her in terms of music preference do you think she is the next superstar that will catapult music into a new era?

Hartmann responds:

Her Ladyship may not be your personal cup of tea, however she is undeniably popular. She has the only platinum album from a new artist so far this year. Her foundation as a songwriter drives her performance art which demonstrates a certain courage and creative audacity. Strong songs and good records coupled with an entertaining live show and a strong dance component are a proven combination for success. Madonna, Britney and Christina have all enjoyed fame and fortune exploiting these ingredients.

In the case of The Material Girl there was an additional skill employed to extend her career over several decades. She had an uncanny business acumen that built an empire around her musical success that extended into the establishment of Maverick Records and a film production company.

It remains to be seen if Lady GaGa can build duration into her act and compound the initial success into a life long career. Her electonica hybrid style could be the vehicle that eventually brings this musical genre to ubiquitous popularity. This long bubbling under style needs a superstar to create a universal audience. There is always the possibility that the emergence of a great star performing in a new or dormant genre, could eclipse the ultimate popularity of electronic music. However, at this time electronica appears to be the most likely source of the next big thing in pop music.

New experiments in Hip Hop have recently produced a sensation called The Jerk which with catchy beats and an innovative dance step, continue to gain popularity. This Southern California phenomenon is spreading around the globe via the Internet. Whatever catches on first, this is the process that will expose the new artists to the world wide fan base. Careers in the music renaissance will not be built from the record company penthouse down; it will evolve from the cyber-grass-roots up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009



P. Rhee asks:

Why is it that bands and artists are having trouble establishing themselves as respected musicians? You hardly see them having the same impact as some bands from the 80's and early 90's. It seems that more than ever, bands and singers are becoming quick fads and a strong reputation is a thing of the past. Bands like Pearl Jam, Social Distortion, and even deceased ones like Nirvana and Sublime last longer and have more airtime than current ones that will hit the top of the charts for a few weeks, than disappear. Is there an inside industry answer to this?

Hartmann responds:

Colonel Tom Parker told me that the object of personal management is to build duration into the act. Considering the enduring post mortem success of his client, Elvis Presley, The Colonel certainly accomplished that goal. Career longevity is the result of a combination of circumstances. Talent is the primary ingredient. The mysterious combination of great songs, singing and playing virtuosity, charisma and sex appeal combine with media image to create an enduring attraction.

In the early days of the modern record business native talent found expression through 45 RPM singles exposed on AM radio airplay. The raw energy and power of Rock & Roll drove the baby boomers to embrace a myriad of artists who best demonstrated this new music genre. The originators were Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. White artists emulating their style and often duplicating their performances with cover records established the new musical form.

In the postmodern era The Beatles married long playing 331/3 RPM albums to FM radio and brought a new standard of quality to the game. Playing and performance talents reached unprecedented heights of skill and the public grew more sophisticated in its musical taste. The standards for quality have remained very high making it more difficult for new artists to compete.

Neophyte artists pursuing careers in the music renaissance of the digital age have a low threshold to entry. Cheap digital record production and free Internet promotion have changed the playing field. Many more artists can enter the competition; but the governing principals have remained unchanged. Even though more artists compete, the number of bands achieving commercial success will still be restricted to about ten percent of the acts participating. High artistic standards will limit the endorsement of the universal fan base to those artists demonstrating superior talent.

New artists have difficulty establishing themselves even in a system that makes all music free for the taking. This is directly related to the lack of basic songwriting, singing and playing skills. All talent is not equal and a discerning public, familiar with the best of the best, only chooses music of the highest quality. Most artists posting songs and videos on the Internet do not have enough experience in the game to create universally appealing product. The fans are the only true judge.

One hit wonders regularly achieve temporary success online and on the charts, but a good recording of one quality song does not a career make. Only truly talented songwriters packaged in a commercially viable act can create long running careers. This requires a series of great records presented over years of live performing. The bonding experience that occurs in concert situations excites support from the fan base. A succession of hits, achieved over a long period of time, will extend the audience's identification with a specific artist and keep them coming back for more. Multiple hits reinforce the connection and ensure a long term personal appearance career.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY - NEW ARTISTS - September 26, 2009


Jeff McMahon asks:

On indie news site, the following was one of the day's featured quotes: "'You might not care about this, but the more difficult it is for new artists to make it, the less new artists you'll see and the more British music will be nothing but puppets paid for by Simon Cowell.'-- Lily Allen, countering the Featured Artists Coalition's argument that piracy is actually good for music. (via Lily's MySpace blog)". I can personally think of many reasons why Ms. Allen is incorrect. Just the fact that she is signed to Capitol alone tells me that she has an extremely vested interest in what she is saying. What is your take on this and in what ways can/have record labels hurt new artists?

Hartmann responds:

Regardless of the reasoning, or source of their attraction, record companies in the postmodern record business offered a series of incentives to induce artists to sign with them. First and foremost they provided a recording fund that usually included a cash advance to the act. Other considerations for promotion, tour support and video production were also negotiated. Curiously, no obligation to actually release the records was part of the deal.

The primary method of promoting a record was conducted at broadcast radio with singles being presented to the program directors on a priority basis designated by the label. The system was expensive and usually involved some form of payola that gave the priority record a better chance of being added at radio. A successful single usually stimulated album sales which provided very high profits to the labels.

The advent of digital distribution has completely altered the systems and protocols of the record business. No longer are large cash advances offered, or necessary. Anybody with a Mac a mic and a song can make a record, virtually for free. An ambitious and Internet savvy act can promote their records online at little or no cost. The game has completely changed for the better.

With the advent of peer-to-peer file sharing, and ubiquitous iPod use, new music is discovered and disseminated instantly without record company participation. The radio has become irrelevant since it is now a default mechanism for music acquisition and has little or no room for new artists. The power of record labels to manipulate the selection process has disappeared.

The fans are now in charge of the A&R process. The record companies are the last to find out what is popular. New artists created through talent TV and movies may or may not be demonstrating enduring skills. They are more a product of instant celebrity than quality music. This empowers TV and film producers with some control over the new talent. However, considering the number of artists exposed, and the minuscule number of successful careers produced from these sources, this method of discovering new artists will not support the long term survival of the record business.

The four major record companies will survive for some time on the low cost digital distribution of their catalogs and publishing holdings. If they continue to offer digital downloads at the same price as CDs they will eventually fade as a music delivery system. New artists careers will not be built from the record company penthouse down; they will be developed from the cyber-grass-roots up.

The major labels will follow the progress of artists growing their fan bases on the Internet and eventually offer huge advances to corral the best. This will be tempting to the rising artists who will be forced to choose between the high profits of personal sales, made directly to their fans at gigs and online, in return for a large payday that puts their catalog in the hands of third parties.

By the time new acts reach a level of success that makes them attractive to a label, they may prefer to own their records and publishing. By building an array of recordings that can be continuously offered to a growing fan base a permanent annuity will accrue to the artist. If an act has real talent and long term potential this may well be the best way to go.

Most hard CD sales for new artists will not be through the few remaining retail outlets. Superstores like Wal Mart, Best Buy and Target cater to established artists and generally offer a limited range of product that rarely includes new acts. Regardless of the outcome the challenge is to create an Internet profile that involves the development of a large fan base that results in millions of web hits.

Offering music free online is a key element in the promotion process for new artists. File sharing is the best thing that ever happened to musicians and their fans. It places the record labels on the back burner and gives the power of choice to the fan. All the extant content in every genre is available free to the customer; just like in the days of broadcast radio promotion dominance.

The cream will rise to the top of the Internet by the process of natural selection. If the talent is there, the fame will accrue and a demand for live performances will result. That's where the new artists can compete on a level ground under their own control. Successful artists will need to be proactive on the web and maintain a direct connection with their fans through Internet activity.

Monday, September 21, 2009

QUOTE ME! - CAREERS - September 21, 2009


McJob: A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector.

Douglas Copeland 1961 -

QUESTION OF THE DAY - MAKING IT BIG - September 21, 2009


Lindsay Stanger asks:

It seems as though... 30 years ago when a band got signed to a major record label they were bound to at least be a one hit wonder if not a superstar. I have some friends that are either solo artists or in bands that were signed to major record labels and even offered a pretty hefty signing bonus...why is it that nothing ever seems to happen for them after they are signed?? Does the record label give up on them even after originally seeing potential? Is this common?

Hartmann responds:

The postmodern record business was born of the marriage between AM radio and 331/3 R.P.M. long playing albums. The Beatles were the superstar attraction that exploded this format into the global popular culture. Their extraordinary songwriting talents, combined with unbridled charisma and social upheaval all contributed to rocketing the Fab Four into an international phenomenon that came to be known as Beatlmania.

Initially successful in the United Kingdom, The Beatles were slow off the launching pad in the United States. The catalytic event that launched their early success was the assassination Of JFK. In the beginning almost every major record company passed on them. However, they were steadily building a cult following in America in the early 60s. When Kennedy was killed, the baby boomers took it personally and rejected the materialistic values of their parents generation and embraced those mop tops from England. The Beatles replaced the leaders and the rest is history.

The record industry infrastructure that was created by unprecedented album sales was nourished by the British Invasion that followed. One after another the great musical attractions emerged and albums sold like never before. Every major music genre was effected and the record business grew to be a multi billion dollar enterprise. What followed was the most productive era in the history of popular music. An entire generation embraced music as its driving force.

Major international corporations were quick to recognize this highly lucrative business where fans would purchase albums as badges of honor and personal identification with their musical heroes. A counter culture was born in resistance to the Viet Nam war and this rebellion further fueled the growth of a music driven society of youth. The entire movement was driven by an anti-war mind set and the ubiquitous use of cannabis, psychedelic and eventually hard drugs.

Many observers and participants attributed the burst of creative expression to the throwing open of the doors of perception that massive drug taking provoked. The Hippie movement that resulted in the demise of the war was inspired by the protest songs of The Beatles and their emulators. Universal drug abuse led to the deaths of three of musics greatest talents in 1969.

Superstars Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all expired from accidental overdoses as experimentation transcended drugs as tools and turned to narcotics as fuels. Many other artists lives were cut short and careers interrupted by the insidious use of cocaine and heroin. There were other climactic moments when drug induced behavior led to the murder at Altamont and the Manson tragedy. Suddenly excessive drug use lost its charm and music has not been the same since.

The myriad of record labels condensed down to four major companies. In the 80s, sales of their vast catalogs of masters were reinvigorated by the invention of the compact disc known in the vernacular as the CD. This new technology inspired the greatest boom in recorded music ever. Entire record collections were replaced with the new digital format at no additional cost to the manufacturers. The music was already owned, controlled and paid for and now presented as brand new product. The power slipped away from the artists and accrued to the music giants.

What followed was unprecedented prosperity and tighter controls on the system. The formulaic approach ultimately led to a decline in musical quality and the birth of the independant record lable movement. Companies that had previously embraced artistic integrity and long term development of artists surrendered to the hunt for instant success and platinum status. New originators were left by the wayside or confined to micro-labels and limited success. If an artist didn't achieve an immediate hit they were abandoned by their record companies and declared instant failures.

What the record companies offered was a large recording budget and a one shot attack at radio. The artists they signed were mostly copies of yesterdays successes. The free form expression once offered by FM radio surrendered to the limited product offered by the labels and promoted primarily an AM. No longer was the concept of career building a consideration.

As the digital age progressed and universal, high speed, Internet access prevailed, the other side of the digital sword surfaced. Peer-to-peer file sharing abolished the label's dictation of what music was avaialable to compete for popularity. The fan base is now empowered to choose from the vast array of music from every extant genre now proliferating on the world wide web.

Today the power is with the people, who can acquire music freely from the Internet, which offers a promotional medium infinitely more accessible than broadcast airwaves. The cost of promotion is negligible; and with digital recording, so is the creation of recorded music. This has brought the postmodern record industry to its knees and thrown open the participation to anybody with a Mac a mic and a song.

No longer will artists be dependant on the approval of A&R committees. Now they can build their careers from the cyber-grass-roots up and own their masters, publishing and the lion's share of the income. Talent is still the primary criterion for success and survival is the challenge. Only ten percent of the artists will make a profit and ninety percent of the money will be earned by one percent of the acts. Only the most driven will reach the professional realm and only the great ones will prevail.