Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Five Rules Of Modern Music Business

1.) Nothing is EVER the fans fault: If you’re not selling music, sell something else. If nobody comes to your shows, make sure more people know about them. If everyone in town knows you have a show, stop sucking.

2.) You can’t sell digital music: If you put a price on it, they’ll steal it. The person that buys it is a person that genuinely wants to contribute to your success, but is only a small percentage of your fan base. CD’s can be sold because they are a tangible object and people can relate an emotion or an experience to a CD. Same with vinyl, t-shirts, stickers, or the bumper on the band tour van. It’s worth something to people. A computer file isn’t.

3.) You are always presenting and representing: You should have an elevator pitch about your band or business memorized at all times, CD’s and stickers in your backpack or laptop bag, you should always listen to anyone who wants to speak to you, and you should always be kind, friendly, and responsive. You may not know who you’re talking to and you never know what people may become. You should also have a proper EPK and hard copy press kit, photos, music, past press features, and schedule in the arsenal.

4.) Your success is your responsibility: Don’t expect things to just happen. You know how all those big stars got those lucky breaks, when they just happened to be playing a show at a shitty bar where a top A&R rep was having a drink? That only happened because that band decided to take a gig at a shitty bar at six o’clock on a Wednesday night. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Your career is a path, and you don’t get to one checkpoint without reaching the one behind it first.

5.) Be Humble: Every band has a list of other bands that suck. Tear that list up right now. Every single musician out there has achieved SOMETHING or you wouldn’t know about them. Chances are, the bands you’re hating on have achieved something you haven’t. So talk less and observe more. Network. Think of Nickelback; as much as they suck, they’ve sold exponentially more records than you have. They didn’t buy all those albums themselves.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is Music Piracy Hurting Artists?

I sat on the computer today and watched a complete argument unfold on Facebook over music piracy. One person had the stance that people need to stop pirating and start buying, and that piracy is the reason music is so shitty. The other person took the stance that piracy has virtually no effect on the artists income.

Here’s my opinion based on both knowledge and assumption.

Piracy doesn’t do shit to anybody but the labels, and labels are the very thing that people complain about when they’re not bitching about piracy. If you took percentage of sales taken by labels, managers, PR, booking agents, and the other random job titles that can be done by a smaller team if not the artists themselves, and redistributed to the actual musicians and producers, they would be making money from albums. But never in the history of big business music has an artist relied on album sales to live. They have NEVER made any money from albums sold. They made money and continue to make money from live performances, merchandise, use licenses, books, reality shows, and other random ventures you can pursue once famous.

Granted, a label put the advertising out there for the fame in exchange for the money from albums sold. But artists can do the same publicity themselves if labels can’t meet demand.

Here’s my first rule of working in the music business: NOTHING is EVER the fans fault.
If they want to pirate music, find another way to make money.
If they aren’t coming to your shows, figure out a way to bring them.
If you have tried everything and still no fans, then realize that you suck and change yourself. If you really didn’t care about money and fame then you wouldn’t care that nobody wanted to support you.

A record label getting mad that people pirate music is irresponsible. It is a labels responsibility to use creativity and initiative to find a new product or a new way to market an old product that will create revenue. If a business starts bitching about its customers, it doesn’t deserve to be in business.

So there’s my opinion on that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"The Importance Of An Amazing Live Show" by

If you are like me…a true music fan who loves an amazing live show…this article is for you!
Before I begin writing this article, I am going to turn on some really cool background music to set the right mood for myself. My goal tonight is to get thru this writing experience without it turning into a long winded –soapbox preaching – pontificating diatribe filled with expletive peppered rants. This is one of those subject matters (next to songwriting) that I am very passionate about..because next to music is one of the only revenue streams left for Bands and Solo Artists to make a living from that they have 100% control of.
Ok…are you ready? Here we go!
I want you to close your eyes and imagine the first concert that you ever went to…you saved your money for weeks to buy a ticket and to have some extra money to get a concert shirt to commemorate the whole experience. Now without sounding like I am trying to hypnotize you…I want to you to remember how you felt during the performance…the goose bumps that you got….the “holy shit” I can’t believe I am watching them perform feeling…that feeling you got like they were performing and singing to just you. Feels good huh? I too have the same memories of my first concert..I truly felt like I was part of something much bigger than such a great feeling!
Now….let’s fast forward thru your prepubescent days to today!
You are now on stage performing your carefully crafted songs to an audience that is just standing there watching you…they are emotionless and ready to fall over from boredom….some of these fine folks are texting their friends..or better yet…they are Twittering about how bad your performance is to anyone who will listen to them. You of course are telling yourself in your head that the crowd sucks tonight and how the previous band really screwed up the mood in the venue tonight. Sucks huh?
But wait there’s more!
The rest of the band isn’t helping you…the bass player has his head up in the air during the whole performance (I think he is daydreaming about what is on TV right now). Your lead guitarist has been looking at his shoes the whole time and hasn’t once looked up to see what’s going on. Your drummer is in his own world theorizing macro-economics and parallel universes.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Your performance sounds like a train wreck…but do not fret…it is all fixable!
Ok…quick flash back to your first concert experience…let’s analyze why it was such an amazing experience so we can push your live show over the top.
Do you remember when you felt like you were the only person that they were performing and singing to in the venue? There is a reason for that!
The key to communication on stage is eye contact and body language…in other words…it’s not what you say…but how you say it or in this case…. sing it/perform it.
The reason why you felt like they were singing and performing to you is because the band mastered these performance principals. The lead singer when they looked at you while singing…he/she was also looking at the people behind you and to those to the left and right of you….everyone in the crowd felt a part of the experience. The rest of the musicians in the band also did this and you didn’t even realize it. Always remember that when you are on stage performing, the second you break eye contact with the audience…the communication with them stops.
As for body language, the correct body movements, hand gestures (reaching out to the crowd), hand on heart..etc….needs to be practiced before using in front of an audience (don’t want to look like a tool on stage). Have your band mates watch you perform for them and have them let you know if you are any good at it….practice makes perfect.
I recommend that you Google “Eye Contact” and “Body Language” for further tips and explanations on these subject matters since I can spend hours telling what you need to know.
I am going to be blunt here….
If you are not spending a lot of time pushing your live show performances to the limit, you are ripping off your customers and you should be ashamed of yourself. Every show that you perform has to be better than your previous one….why you ask? Because if it isn’t your audience will get bored of you and will stop coming to see you perform. Don’t you get bored? I love meatloaf….but I will be damned if I have to eat the same meatloaf 7 days a week for the rest of my life for dinner. So why should your audience have to as well?
What you need to do is this…start video taping your live shows and analyze them like you are in a Pro Football Team…find out what worked and what didn’t work from the audience’s perspective. Did you look like a tool on stage? Was someone playing sloppy on stage? Did your songs connect with the audience?
To truly make it as a live performance artist, you need to step up your game and make it a memorable “holy shit” experience for everyone involved.
Well…that’s all I have for you…hope you got something out of this article!
Daily Unsigned

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm Stuck In Blogging On Music Topics

Everyone, comment here on what I should write about music related. Topics, bands, albums, radio, ideas, theories, whatever.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Artist Vs. Song

I recently asked for blog post suggestions on Facebook, and Kyle Gardner suggested a very interesting topic. Here is what he said:
"My Dad always said in his day songs were popular not artists. Artists would remake the same song. I always thought it would be interesting to research this. I like the idea that the music is the star not simply the musician."

I like this. This has always been an interesting concept to me. Why is it that these days everyone knows about Britney Spears, but only a handful of people know more than 10 songs she has released? On the flip side, why does everyone know the song "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" but few people know who wrote it?
Obviously those are just general examples, but there is a point behind it.
These days, money is poured into people or acts with the proper image, top notch performance ability, and talent. Many writers may go into composing one Justin Bieber song.
Back in the day, things were different. One person would write great music, and perform it brilliantly. These people caught the attention of record labels, who might offer some extra income by selling recorded music.
Written music was extremely flexible. Take, for example, "Ain't No Grave" If you're thinking Johnny Cash, then yeah, that song. But that's a pretty modern way of thinking.

You see, "Ain't No Grave" was written by a 12 year old boy named Claude Ely in 1934. He was sick and bedridden, so he taught himself how to play the guitar. When he was told that he would be dying soon, he said "No I most certainly am not" and played what would become known as "Ain't No Grave." He got better, attributed his health to an act of God, and went on to become a travelling preacher playing that song frequently.
This song has been released dozens of times by dozens of chart-topping bands and artists from a wide array of genres.

So why is it that once a song is released these days, no one is allowed to touch it? Why should that be ruled off limits for promotional purposes? Why do we let the artists become the stars rather than the music?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ark Music Factory: The Demise of Music

I'm not even going to ask, I already know the answer. You've heard "Friday" by Rebecca Black. With that, there is a 99% chance that you also agree it is probably one of the worst songs ever made. But if you're like me, you also noticed that the production of the song is really good, the video is pretty legit, and it is undeniable that it is way too catchy. These signs led me to one question; "Who is behind this catastrophe?"

Ark Music Factory. Thank you Google. Ark Music Factory is basically a team that finds kids with rich parents that want to be famous, get a check from those parents for a few grand, and then go make a song. As you can tell from "Friday", the songs are generally catchy, marketable to teeny-boppers, and suck.

Here's my thoughts: If they can do all this marketing and production for a horrible artist with a horrible song for a $4,000 check, why doesn't someone invest in the good artists with a catalogue of good music and make more money off the royalties? The risk and math lean toward the good music.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lady Gaga "Judas" - Song Meaning?

It kind of says something about Lady Gaga when I write two blogs about her. She's cool and all, but after the last one I thought that would be the last you heard of Lady Gaga from me. Then, on April 15th, 2011, she released the song "Judas".
The single is off of her upcoming album Born This Way. If you haven't been keeping track of the pre-production, production, and promotion, here's all you need to know:
The first single released was the title track, "Born This Way"
The second single is this song, "Judas"
She has described it as, (parental advisory) "something so much deeper than a wig or lipstick or a fucking meat dress"

A little crucial background info on Lady Gaga: She is absolutely a performance artist, 110% of her body is composed of creativity, she is unafraid of criticism, she loves her fans, and even her most mainstream, pop-ish songs have an often startling underlying layer of raw realness. So raw and real in fact, that the Catholic church has condemned her.

Okay so here's the classic Sam DeCross, Mixed In The Music artist/music breakdown. Ready? Go.

Lady Gaga, after repeatedly causing controversy and shocking the press by her repeated wild costumes, rumors, truths, etc; announces an album called Born This Way.
Lady Gaga releases the single conveniently named "Born This Way." Here it is below.

Now, the thing about Lady Gaga's lyrical content and presentation through her music usually seems like she's throwing it in your face as if she's saying "THIS IS ME, DEAL WITH IT." I've always perceived it as if she was just in that awkward situation where someone puts you on the spot and you freeze, but as soon as you walk away your head starts whirling in that "I'll tell you what I think, I'm on top of the world and I'm not afraid to tell anyone what's what in my book" kind of thing. I think this is why her followers find something to relate to in the meat-dress wearing pop star. For the 3 minutes of a Lady Gaga song, you don't even have to vent. She'll do it for you. I think the song "Born This Way" was the peak of that mindset. Let out everything that you are too afraid to show publicly because of what others might think.
In a more literal sense as I interpreted from the lyrics, she's saying "There is nothing wrong with who I am. I am what I am, God made me this way. If God decided I was the kind of person he would allow on Earth then who are you to challenge that?"
This obviously hit a nerve with a lot of people. Once that happened, all it did was prove the point that just because you make a point doesn't mean that you are forgiven. Even after she pointed out that, "Hey, I was born this way" she was still attacked and criticized for the same old things and more.

Cue the song "Judas". Here it is below.

The first time I heard it, I was like "Wow." I immediately thought of the scenes in Get Him To The Greek where Jackie O is singing those raunchy songs full of sexual innuendos that were so offensive it came out comical. So, I listened again and payed closer attention to the lyrics. It was then that I realized, "Wait... I know who Judas is!" Obviously she can't LITERALLY be saying she's in love with the biblical figure Judas, the man who turned Jesus over to be crucified.
Her "Judas" ties right into "Born This Way." Now this isn't going to keep the Catholic church away, but if God created her the way she is, why is it the people that criticize her the most are those who claim to represent God? Her Judas is the very way that God made her. Her Judas is her passion, her free spirit, her open support for the LGBT community, her standing up for the outcasts, her open raw reality that she shares with whoever listens.

I wonder what the next chapter in the Lady Gaga Born This Way tell-all will be...

Special thanks to Melissa for suggesting this topic. Good call.