Saturday, 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?
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 www.HolodigmMusic.com 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 ANALYSIS: Bob Lefsetz
"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
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?
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
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
ARTIST + MANAGER RELATIONSHIP
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?
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 myspace.com and youtube.com 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 http://www.holodigmmusic.com/.
Sunday, 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?
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 http://www.musicindustrystudies.com/.
Thursday, 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?
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
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.
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
Facebook & Myspace
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?
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.
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?
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.