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