The Root Of It All

The world is undeniably in deep turmoil. For many years most of the trouble seemed to stem from foreign soil.  The roots of injustice belonged to someone else. With 2016  in full throttle, it’s obvious there is trouble everywhere. The trouble stems not only from injustice, but deep veins of unjust behavior and oppression that have been going on for decades if not centuries.

Music is a great healer and has been written to soothe the weary soul for millennia. It is the tradition of many cultures to sing together creating one voice in an attempt to engender a better future. Music from the church, music from buskers, peacekeepers, activists, and the oppressed bring us together with myriad sentiments carried forward through the ages.

So go back. Go back in time and bring out traditional folk music for live performance and engage an audience to sing with you. This is the time to grow an incredible audience and earn a living as a musician without writing all the music yourself. That singular fact has been a  form of oppression in this industry for much too long. As we all know the best paid musicians do not write their own music, much of which bows to romantic vanity.

I can’t find a credible source to reference who first said:

“Change does not take place easily. Anyone who’s read history understands that.”

But of course, it’s true. Be the change for the sake of music.

Here’s a great source to help find traditional songs in public domain that can help you build a set list: http://www.pdinfo.com Be sure to read the disclaimer at the top of the page. There are songs from many genres or you can write your own arrangement to fit a more contemporary style.

In its purest form, music is clearly intended to bring people together. Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez are great references for folk tunes that made a point while urging people to come together for the good of humanity.

We shall overcome.

We shall live in peace.

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No Rx – Artist Heal Thy Self

If there’s one unbelievably exciting thing to embrace about marketing and PR, it’s this: There is no prescribed method that will fix everything in the same way. There is no one size fits all. When it comes to music, this realization is truly a remarkable gift.

But not everyone thinks so.

If you’re a country music artist, why should the methods and strategies you follow be the exact same as those for a pop music outfit? Should country artists, for example, run a digital campaign? My feeling is no. Traditional marketing reaches traditional country fans on their terms. They don’t singularly engage in, nor trust, digital marketing.

If The Impressionists Movement were happening today, would they be content showing Monet, Cezanne, Degas, and Renoir’s work in traditional venues? No, because they created their own revolutionary success on their own terms.

We’re in the same kind of revolution, but the results have fallen way short. Because — YouTube, ReverbNation, Spotify, Pandora.

This is a revolution on someone else’s terms.

Unless the top music reviewer of Rolling Stone is an avid fan of your music, why should you expect they’ll write a review? It’s the prescribed method that says the Holy Grail of approval for music comes from someone you’ve never met. But is that realistic?

It’s true everyone is seeking the same end result and approval. How to achieve that result is never, ever going to be realized in exactly the same way. Just because municipalities, institutionalized media, and the mainstream create an infrastructure to fit into doesn’t mean your art will be a shoo-in. Find a way to build your own infrastructure where you can stand alone.

Art is not regressive. Art is not reproductive.

Art is progressive. Art is productive.

True art is very rarely mainstream in the beginning. It can reach critical mass only if a great deal of thought and effort goes into the process to make it so. The possibilities are endlessly exciting!

 

 

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Cheap Tricks

 

 

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Elvis Presley

Not every artist is a musician.

Not every musician is an artist.

The imitators are everywhere.

And that makes them irrelevant.

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PC = Political Correctness

Being on social media is a head trip like no other. You get into people’s heads quickly on a variety of meaningful, as well as meaningless topics. There’s a lot to be learned about human nature in 140 characters or more.

A pattern I’ve seen over the years is most people have grown afraid to say what they really think about the state of music, politicians, our economy, or other sensitive issues in favor of political correctness. They will, however, post photos and graphics of puppies and kittens and flowers as a way of engaging with their fan base.

Social media is precisely where we should have discussions about national and global issues. But it’s not comfortable if someone decides to bash someone else for their opinion. And then there’s the controversial idea that our data is collected and stored which makes everyone uncomfortable.

But does playing nice instead of taking an even slightly harder line accomplish anything?

We don’t have to go so far as to remain anonymous, but we all sound like lapdog”yes” people. We don’t differentiate much between the next guy when we’re all so politically correct. What’s wrong with a vigorous and passionate discussion? Isn’t that who we are? Shouldn’t we be able to do that compassionately? Really intelligent people out there are making excellent points without hurting anyone. That’s the way it should be.

My apologies to anyone who engages with me on social media if I stand very firmly on certain issues. Staying on message is horribly yawning and one dimensional all the time.

What occurs to me more than anything if we are simply parroting other people’s content, mannerisms, and attitudes, do we not run the risk of becoming totally controllable?

For one, I have lived in a very free society where my opinions may not be popular or mainstream all the time, or at any time for that matter. But blending into the landscape was never an option. To be undistinguishable from every other voice is a form of one-dimensional oppression creatives cannot afford.

Remaining ambiguous, predictable and complacent has never helped anyone grow into something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Experimenting: The most beautiful thing about creating something

By definition an artist is not a follower. Artists are trendsetters who color outside the lines and raise the evolutionary bar. Trendsetting artists create messages that allow their followers to think and to dream about their own lives and aspirations. True artists comment on our culture with enough significance more than just a few people get it.

For years I’ve sat very quietly wondering why Musician A does almost precisely what Musicians B through Z do with the expectation that something like osmosis will prove they are better than the rest.

“Get us in 863 Magazine. My friends from Band H are in it. We should be in there too.”

“We don’t want people to know we’re married. It would just seem disingenuous.”

“Did you contact the Morning Show? Everyone who’s anyone in town is on it.”

“Just post my tour dates to Facebook and Twitter from ReverbNation like everyone else.”

Guiding clients through the matrix of traditional music into digital models with the intent of making their art stand out almost always results in doing what the competition does at the client’s insistence. Insecurity morphs the would-be artist into a stubbornly petulant knock off of the original trendsetter.

The most beautiful thing about creating something is being able to experiment with everything.

 

The sudden death of David Robert Jones aka David Bowie took the world by storm because David was never satisfied with ordinary being good enough. He wouldn’t entertain it. He was the Picasso of Pop, which may be best summarized by Will Gompertz who wrote:

“David Bowie became a pop icon, but underneath all the mascara and make-believe was still a man called David Jones from south London: an ordinary chap who did extraordinary things.”

 

 

 

 

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The Difference Between Traditional and Digital Media

In its prime traditional media was a Biblical force. There was little reason to question it. Very few did. There was little reason to ignore headlines. They were powerful and academic. There was an absolute authoritative voice behind the investigative copy professionally positioned on the airwaves and in print media.

Things have changed to the degree it makes you wonder what kind of authority freedom of the press will serve. What kind of authority will a free press serve? It begs the question.

A plaintiff wail now overshadows journalism that stood firmly on news fully researched with the austere approval of an editor.

True journalism does not ask, or tell. It shows with verifiable facts. Educated writers do not stoop to publishing unvetted facts. Journalistic integrity could not, and cannot, afford amateurish headlines that beg for attention. Disciplined journalism demands every reader’s attention.

When we allow our informational landscape to remain clogged to the point of stagnation with novice, even amateur ideals, we cannot grow out of the circumstances our culture throws in our path. We need to grow. We need to become stronger. We cannot afford, nor do we deserve to live in a society overrun with rag-style publication.

The printed word is invaluable. If you’ve got something valuable to say, hire a trained, educated writer to provide content with truth, logic, and verifiable facts.

As Walter Cronkite, one of the world’s most trusted journalist said at the end of every broadcast for CBS News, “And that’s the way it is.” And before him, Edward R. Murrow closed each broadcast with, “Goodnight and good luck.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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O Big Brother Rolls Over Beethoven

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Wondering what the next big thing in music is for 2016?

Two kinds of BIG will seep into the mainstream of music in 2016 that are  game changers on the industry side of the equation. While these changes won’t directly affect fans for now, they will have an effect over the long run.

Perhaps the biggest idea of all is a gigantic swing into the realm of streaming and tracking listening habits, genre preferences, and thanks to Taylor Swift, even pulse rates at concerts. Additionally, The Tennessean says the world’s largest concert promoter is weighing in heavily on Nashville venues and Bonnaroo. As an international hub of all things music, what happens in Nashville will affect things everywhere.

From a capitalist’s point of view,  you could ask yourself, “What’s the big deal?”

Over the history of contemporary music, radio has been the dispatch or dispensary from which people discover new music. It’s a medium that loosely measures listenership  and radio charts are the historical benchmark for songs and albums that receive the most airplay. These measurements are still the threshold that attract advertisers, concert promoters, booking agents, journalists and other professionals to the artist.

According to Forbes the music police will be leaning in closely to gather data on everything  relevant to your listening habits; or the habits of your fans. This is nothing new in technology realms that gather inbound and outbound data from iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But it’s a strategically new phenom to zero in on listener’s patterns and inbound data. If there’s an upshot, it’s that  nobody’s hiding in the shadows — that we know of anyway.

The difference between measuring radio airplay and collecting data are very significant. It’s much more personal on the data end. People you don’t know and will never meet will have a microscopic view into much of what you do. Whatever devices you choose to listen to music through are the tracking devices into a very intimate part of  your life.

For better or for worse, music is an emotional experience. Music defines an emotional state no matter how you decipher your mood. If for some reason  music doesn’t suit our mood we simply change the channel until we find corresponding frequencies.

This concept was plainly illustrated in a 2010 CNBC special, “Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$” where Brokaw talked to Tom Hanks (among others) about popular culture of that generation. “I always knew what time it was by the television,” Hanks said. “But I knew how I felt by the music.”

So instead of traditional marketing research which defines buying, spending, and selling habits, music is now the catalyst to  delving into your emotional landscape. Whereas subliminal marketing exposes us to various messages we are unaware of, the music you listen to will unwittingly provide a picture of your emotional makeup. Another baseline technology offers up because it can.

If O, [Big] Brother Where Art Thou, creeps onto your radar, the remedy is pretty simple. Switch over to the analog model. Digital be damned. The expense of vinyl products that so many anguish over has a flip side. Serious music fans purchase vinyl for collections and superior sound quality; and there’s no need to fret about data being collected from what you create, or what your audience feels like listening to.

David and Goliath Tie The Knot

When a homegrown international hub like Nashville hands over the reins to the world’s largest concert promoter to book and promote much of the live music scene, the ripple effect will be wide.In an era when we know mass marketing has been replaced with niche marketing, and arena shows have a seat on the bus reserved for A Listers, the world’s largest concert promoter is climbing in bed with Nashville.

Nashville has opened its doors to Live Nation in a big way, and several venues within the metro area have deals for at least five years with the promoter. This means the indies will have to either be diligent about obtaining gigs in town through strong networks, or go out of town regularly to build their audiences because they won’t be able to compete locally with top names.

The only leverage indies will have is at the price point in small intimate venues as Live Nation promotes big ticket tours. That means a deep entrepreneurial adjustment to indie strategies in terms of when, where, and how much, and especially for the mid-level artists who’ve already walked through some fire and brimstone.

To the fans, it could mean a more diverse offering in large venues. Only time will tell if there is enough logic in this decision for a balance between promoter, venue, artist, and fan Hopefully the offerings don’t amount to a regular circuit of acts that resemble something like The Greatest Show On Earth.

At this fork in the road we’ll see what kind of integrity headliners have with regard to their fans and to music itself. And we’ll see what kind of artistry indies pull out of their hats to keep the magic alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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