Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Future

 It’s a very uncertain world we live in right now. On one hand, the music industry feels so far away right now. It’s summer and no shows and more or less no releases. At the same time, the whole machinery is going on under the surface. Negotiations with new clubs, festivals, and other outlets. The difference is that you might now if it will happen the dates you are talking about. It will happen, just witch time?

I guess it is all one's death other one's bread. I just got several jobs during this crisis. Probably because people that didn’t make it want over to another business. I guess this is the time where we see who has to be on the stage as a living and who are just there because they think it’s a fun hobby that they just keep up.

The changes will be quite severe. And in many cases in unfavoured for an established big artist that is not in the top 50. Many that are semi-famous or live out of an old career will find themselves in a totally new world. A world that changes in a much more rapid way then we are used to.

Just a simple thing like the American election can change quite much. If Donald Trump gets re-elected. My guess the country will go deeper in the rabbit hole it’s already in. More debts and now with the crises in full swing and china that are in a position to market shares. What would that have for the music industry? Quite an easy choice USA would be the last market to enter. The restrictions would hold on longer and the crisis will prevail and be quite uninteresting to invest money in a career there. Instead, we would go for more secure territories to start invest in.

But USA has the infrastructure you say? Not even developing areas are more interesting since the whole infrastructure is crashed we all have to start all over again.

What happens if Joe Biden becomes president? Then you have a guy that is forced to clean up the mess the former president made. At the same time probably release quite many rescue packages which will tear on the economy. The result is almost the same. It will be kind of hard to invest in USA on a new artist career.

In Sweden we have a saying that however, you turn you always have your ass in the back. Already now I’m looking at witch new territories that are waking up first and also give the money in a smart way to build up a new infrastructure for the live industry. There is where the money will be. That music dies is not even an option. It just will develop but not in the areas we might be used to. 

Don’t even get me started with UK that just left EU and now has to handle the crisis as just one country.

The only good thing about this is that these changes will open up so many new opportunities. The question are you connected enough to grab these opportunities?

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Social media might not be the way for an artist.

I have seen some really smart new things that bigger artists are doing. They just quit the social media frenzy that is going on. I can really see this breaking through in the lifestyle after the pandemic.

As it has been for the past ten years record labels and managers and others have told artists that they should own their fans and a lot of the success has been how many followers you have on different social media accounts. Right now it seems like all the bigger labels have a race to pick up things form TikTok. It has been this way in all parts of the music industry except the live scene.

Why not the live scene. It is here the falseness of social media is shining through. Take an easy example. In the takeout of the Eurovision song contest in Sweden, they started to invite influencers that had music into their social media channels. They hoped that the influencers with their massive accounts could get more viewers to the TV show. Since Eurovision in Sweden has the votes from the audience many artists became nervous to get up against these massive social media account since these people could just send a message and get a lot of people to vote for their song. Over a period of three years, they tried to get these influencers in. None of them even went to the final. Usually beaten by a new artist with no social media followers at all when they entered the stage.

Another thing is also that stars that have a big following also are beaten by a smaller artist with fewer followers. You can fast conclude that the following on social media doesn’t really matter in these cases. It’s still about the performance and the song. People in social media really don't care to vote or do things for artists. They just follow for the posts not for the art they are making.

Same phenomena when a friend of mine signed the third biggest Youtuber in Sweden to his company and started to release music. Yes, the first single became a media frenzy that this Youtube would release music. So many went in and took a listen to it and today it has a bit over five million streams on Spotify. The second single, then people knew that he was releasing music. But with over a million viewers on his channel each mouth my friend calculated that people would still listen. Today that has two million streams. The third single has today just 20 000 streams. My friend, later on, singed more Youtubers but came to the conclusion that the first is always going well, the next will have fifty percent then the first one, then the third will have half of the half. In the end, if they release things they more or less go backward then a normal artist that gains fans on each release.

This was influencers though that did something else and then was given songs. We see the same though on artists that are artists in their channels on the live side. Artists with millions of followers that are praised for their music won’t sell any live tickets. Many of the booking agency went into that trap in the beginning. Now it’s almost like a bad word telling people that they have a good social media account. The only thing the booker looks at is the ticket sales from the last concert in that area. same here people liked the songs in the posts but wouldn't see them live. It's two different media situations.

I get the feeling that influencers are more or fewer artists in their own field. A bit like in the 80:s when either artist would do an acting career that never went off, or the opposite when actors should do an artist career. They were good at their field, stick to it. Same here stick on to what you good at.

Of course you need to use your social media. When you release something it’s a good way to spread the word. The problem is when you start to use the account like the influencers. Suddenly you are more busy making updates then doing music. Your fans will read more about your cat and what you ate for breakfast then what they really came to know about you. My feeling is that also all this posting makes the stress level on the artist really high. In the long run, it prevents the artist's top focus to write a really good song. In the middle of your inspiration ( what happen to me right now) is that your phone makes a beep and you pick it up to see the latest message or point these systems give out. And gone is the inspiration!

My guess right now is that a real artist must make a choice. Are you communicating with music and songs, then social media should not be acted out as a big influencer account! If you are communicating through an account and people like it that way, well you are then an influencer, not an artist. And not just that you find a good producer and songwriter to co-lab with makes you an artist. Don Johnson is still just and acter though he wanted to be a rock star.

The problem in the industry has been that the live side hasn’t had a major changeover in the past 50 years. Now we see the big leap and in that leap, my guess is that your live performance will be more crucial than ever. You will not have time to make corrected posts. Instead, you need to be great at writing songs and perform them in an amazing way for a real live audience. The changes in the live industry will be with new venues, new networks and that will be a career of its own, With or without social media number.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

I put a lot of hope on my musician friends

I actually had the time to clean out the old shed that or on our backyard. That is the last thing you really cleanout. I can’t even remember if I have ever cleaned it out since we moved here thirteen years ago.

I also had time to sort out my comic book collection and put the ones with value in plastic sheets. You know when you have time to do things like this you really have too much time on your hands. Lockdown was not fun, but right now my house looks as best as it ever did, I even had time to build my greenhouse.

But now I feel the time really has gone too far. I have my projects rolling, many though standstill because of the holidays. I finally feel kind of bored. I was thinking to myself, why do I feel bored? You have all these small projects that never end, and you are not in stress. First, I could not pinpoint what it was. Then it hit me.

I am not exposed to any new music. With the whole thing of Corona, I have been less and less exposed to new music. No, I don’t sit on any digital channel and flipping through songs just to find something new. It’s too much crap music for doing this. Instead, I have been listing to music that already knows. After been listing to that, I feel tweel I have heard this so I’m fine with it and started to cut down with listening without thinking about it. I just checked for the past week I haven’t listen to music at all. I have done some playlisting on the radio station, but that has just been old hits that I knew from before. So not just that I’m not exposed to new music I’m really not listening to music anyway.

And with the new numbers that come out from different places you can see that I’m not alone on this phenomenon It seems most people are getting off from the music. It’s not that they feel like they can enjoy the silence. My guess is that music is something you on a large scale do together. No party music since you are in lockdown and don’t really have any parties. You don’t put on party music with yourself. Same with concerts and other things the music is where you gather people, not so much alone.

I see many of my friends has turned over to audiobooks. They had a lot of time listening to books they haven’t got time for before. Same here you would never go to a party and listen to an audiobook that is something you do when you are alone.

But now I feel empty. I have done the things that I was behind with. Now I want to get exposed to new music. Sure, there is a lot of showcase festivals that are online. But to tell the truth, see live streaming by myself is not an option to bury this empty feeling. We just must wait until the world is ready again. Then I will meet all my friends and indulge in some new great music. I just hope my musician’s friends have prepared a lot of it during this time. I put a lot of hope to them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Tik Tok death

Another clickbait headlines. Yes, I have been experimenting with things like that. But the whole new world that we see after Corona starts to be interesting.

I'm in a secret forum with other people in the music industry and there the chatter right now is much how low Spotify still is in their payment per stream. At the same time, Spotify just launched that you could have one account for two people to the price of one. That will not get more money into Spotify to raise the other. And as many had said the streams are going down during the crisis since people have stopped listening to music to work and from work, since they’re not traveling that much.

The other thing I have seen a lot is how the major companies have embraced Tik Tok all of them have employed you people that are experts on this new app. We can also see that they are cheating for artists on there. Saw moderate Swedish artists that no one knows about and is average a couple of hundred streams on Spotify (with extra help from the recordable wink wink). Suddenly her American label has put in, so she has over 2 million followers on Tik Tok, though she really has done nothing new. 

Another big label builds special camps for their artist to go and learn from Tik Tok stars and of course make collaborations. And yes Doja Cat is one of the stars that come from this new fun app.

It all feels like okey 2020n is here, let's get rid of the old stuff. Facebook is for old people. I mean people. Instagram is for the hipsters taht think they’re cool but now is actually too old. Twitter is just going down and just alive for celebrities. No, the young generation that you can fill some shit music on is Tik Tok. 

Still, will it come back and bit their ass? Just a few days ago India just banned Tik Tok and a couple of other apps. They said they were dangerous. Instead, it's more to get with the incidents in Himalaya where India and China are not that good friends. Suddenly this app becomes politics. Even Trump considers banning Tik Tok a guarantee that he will have two million small kids in front of the white house threatening to kill his whole generation. And what about that he should close twitter just a couple a weeks ago, has he forgot that?

Now to the point. Okay there no proof that Tik Tok is sending data to China. No proof that Spotify does it either. Neither that Zoom does it. I had a meeting with some Chinese record label people and nothing that secret or and political stuff. Mainly a trading thing with festivals. But all of them declined to have the meeting on Zoom. Instead, they use a whole other app. an old one that I have forgotten but still exists. In my third meeting, I had to ask why they did not go for Zoom. The answer was simple if you talk china does not do it in the chine partly own apps. They will get the data.

I guess right now the big labels are in turmoil and just seek out short-lived careers. Who blames them fast money seems to be the thing! But when they invest so hard in this app and then suddenly it gets band or even the Chinese get the info to use against them. Yes, what can they do against an artist that uses the freedom of speech, yes let them sink or disappear on the channel they have their fans? Or they can use blackmail to tell how the company has cheated or prove fake numbers, even if they are not fake numbers.

Yes, the channels have now become political bats, and that environment and artists should be edgy, good luck with that.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Businesses without new knowledge and network will go under

Imagine that you are going on a hike to climb a high mountain like Mont Blanc. You have got in some cool friends and you have a great team that has a good chance to actually reach the top. All people in the team know what to do and how to do it, they are specialists in their own way. 

Then suddenly your old dad calls you up. By mistake, you had posted on Facebook (only old people use Facebook) that you are about to climb this mountain. Of course, old pap really wants to join in on this climb. In the hight of his career, he claimed mountains. Mont Blanc was one of them. But that is back in the days and the routes he took are not available any longer. You are taking a totally different route. The equipment that is used is different. On top of that old dad is walking with a cane and will just start nagging around things he did over thirty years ago.

Now you face a dilemma. Sure, you want to have your father on there, but you also know that he will just be a burden. He can't really supply anything to the team. This mission also must be fast. It's really not a wonderful vacation. It's a mission that you need to get to that point. He walks slow. The info he got is outdated. Still, you feel a bit like in the song "Cats in the cradle", you have grown up to be just like him.

The problem is just how you break the ice. How you move forward. Whatever your decision is, it will be the wrong one in his eyes. 

Of course, this story has nothing to do with age. It has to do with ability. Sure, with age, there is a lot that changes, and some ability is no longer there. I started in the music industry noticeably young. Right now, I'm standing with one foot in the new world. The world that will be totally new after the Covid 19 crisis. One foot in the old world where many of the people that have been my mentors and my friends will see their enterprises and empires just crumble to ashes.

This would have happened anyway. I know that but this crisis will be a catalyst that will propeller things much faster. Things that would take years now will go in one year. In a panic, I get these "dads" calling me up and want to join in on my next event. What they don't understand is that this has been planned in several months, even before the crisis. Also, some of them were invited but uninterested since they were relying on their empire to just keep doing the same. My project was a bit too small for them. Suddenly my project is a great threat to them.

The fact is that I can only carry people that will bring something for the team on this mountain trip. It's about surviving, and the music industry is not like the Green Beret where no one is left behind. The music industry is much more a jungle. it's eating or be eaten. We can't carry any dead weight on this journey.

But knowledge doesn't weigh anything. No, it doesn't. But old wrong knowledge can lead to the wrong path and is a burden. Sorry to say, but the new network of the music industry was started to be planned already two weeks after shutdown. If you didn't get the invitation or where part in the secret zoom meetings. That is a good indicator you are not in the teams that are now starting to climb. Businesses that were already weak will go under. Businesses without new knowledge and network will also go under. I think it's time for you my friend, to stop pretending that you are a movie star like Harpo sang in your golden age.

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Friday, July 3, 2020

This is the worst song ever!

Yes, you who wrote another song around Covid -19. No there is NOBODY who wants to hear your feelings around Covid -19, sorry. Writing in the intro text that the song is about that is just begging the intake on anything to just put it in the trashcan.

In the past days, I have already got fifteen of them. And most is a smelly cat* or smelly dog* crying how lonely they are. Yes, I know that you should be writing stuff about things that you really know. The problem here is that everybody has their own version on Covid -19. And they are so busy that they won't take in what you are singing about. In the truth, we really don't want to be reminded about it either. So my suggestion goes back and writes a happy tune seeing and meet people because that is what people are longing for. Another song that we should come together and break walls, stand up be courageous, been there done that.

If you are a small artist it is even worse because so many famous artists have got together and already done this. And to be honest the famous ones can't even make this a hit anyway. You need to be first. Like Bob Geldof when he did "Do they know it's Christmas" well after that many tried to do the same thing. Okay America with USA for Africa made it a good second, but who remembers the Swedish Hardrock initiative, or Band Aid II or all the others doing the same thing?

Too many are just dead fishes following the stream. If everybody is doing live streaming then they all jump on. Same with topics and release plans. The most amazing is that the artist that always claim to be one of a kind or special in one way are the ones taht are the hardest to convince that you need to get out of that box to be able to get something new. Like everything else, you need to create and be there from the beginning to be able to get something out of it.

So every new thing that comes around in sites, it's only, in the beginning, you have a chance to be there. Like Tik Tok if you think now it's new you are out of your mind. Now it's over, the artists on Tik Tok is already gone and done. We are chasing the next thing.

But the majority of the artists are in that way they are slow they are still on the playlist things on Spotify not realizing that Youtube just got Googel play into Youtube music and slowly like a giant prepare to crush the green bug. Will it happen? We have to wait and see. My guess though is that many "famous" artists disappear. Their fame is just a base on an algorithm on a certain platform.

To be famous in a real way, you have to break out of that box. Try things and fail and then learn from them. It takes time and you have to be doing it over and over. So forget that Covid 19 song and that you are gonna live stream it. That is almost half a year ago.

*Smelly cat or dog is an expression on our A&R teams for bad sing and songwriters, a cat is a sad girl on guitar and a dog is a sad guy on guitar. Hailing from the TV series "Friends" where Phoebe got a hit with the song smelly cat 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Don't underestimate the people you pass on your way up.

When I do consult missions with different artists, I usually get claims and dreams from them that are from the past. Things that are no longer relevant. I usually say that the audience that is really young and update is in front run the people inside the music industry that are on conferences are one or two years behind what is really happening. People that are working in the industry and not going to conferences are usually four to five years behind. Artists are around ten years behind. The general public many times over twenty years behind. Of course, this is individual, and all is about how interested you are.

So, what do I mean by being after? I had a conversation with a friend that I the general public, he is middle age and fairly interested in music. One of the artists I work with just had released a new album and he asked when the CD was out. I explained that you didn't do CD: s any longer. But in his world when he was a young witch is in the 90: s the release is not real until you have a physical copy. On top of that, he also claimed that the big artists like Taylor Swift released her music on CD!

And they do that! Big artists have such a big fanbase they even release cassettes or minidiscs, but it's in small quantity and it's just to satisfy that part of the audience that is even beyond twenty years. Still this I can see in artists over thirty just using Facebook, they always ask about releasing on CD, but since CD is really out they also go back and try to do vinyl since it has a better and warm sound. Vinyl has that if you have done the recording in that way. Unfortunately, these people have a budget recording done on a computer with extremely poor mics and with a sound engineer that is totally used to work to get the music on to the digital channels. In the end, the vinyl will sound crappier than the song on Youtube. No, the pressing is because the artist is still in the world that if the product is not in something that you can hold in your hand, then it's not finished.

It's about dreams, I guess. If your dream and picture in your head have been to hold a printed record in your hand, exactly like your childhood artist-hero. You haven't fulfilled your dream buy just putting your new song on Soundcloud.

Here we have the newer generation the artist that is twenty-five and up. The ones that are laughing reading the text above. Their goal is to get the song on Spotify and get many streams. If your song has a hundred million streams, you’re a star. This is proven wrong time after time and the industry in the front has already left this number-crunching because of the new statistic tools. But the artist is still there, looking at how their idols during 2010 just went online and got a million streams the first day. That it was all cheating and that it was just one platform they don't want to hear. When you work with them the only thing that matter is how many streams they get. They are also very centred around Spotify. That you can compare numbers against Youtube or that Apple is already bigger than Spotify in USA goes by deaf ears.

I had a funny conversation with a young punk band. First, I was commenting on that their music sounded like in the beginning in the 90: s. They were very flattered because they really embraced all those punk bands from that era. I explained that those band had developed the punk sound from the late seventies. And they need to update their sound to today instead of trying to sound like some 50-year-old dude that is still up there doing punk songs from the 90: s. 
Nope, they wanted the whole package. The next goal was to play on CBGB: s. I just had to explain that CBGB: s had closed several years ago. It was like killing their dream. They had seen themselves going into CBGB: s and play. I just had to tell them that the early punk bands didn't play on CBGB: s because it was cool. It was the only place they could have a gig on. Then they made the whole thing cool. When I spoke about CBGB: s with these bands like Ramones, Television and Blondie they were looking out and wanted to go beyond CBGB: s. 

This is part of the problem I have when I consult. In many cases, the dreams can't be matched. Today you as an artist must create the new CBGB: s if it's online or in the physical world. The problem is to have clear goals since the industry is changing very quickly. Right now, for some of us, it looks like Spotify has been there forever it just ten years. Ten years ago, we had MySpace and you think that is old. 

Jumping trends though never work. Right now, everybody is talking TikTok. At the same time, we see the stars of Snapchat dying. Also, each platform contains its generation. Facebook is for people over forty. Instagram for people over 25. TikTok for people just become a teenager. Then you have Twitter which is only if you are famous in some other field. So, jump from your fanbase at Facebook to TikTok, nah it won't work.

It's all about the dreams that you have in your head. The older you get the older the dream becomes, or should I say expectations. In reality have the dreams it's what keeps you going. Still have in mind that the things that you create will be someone else's dream. This crappy gig place or festival might later become legendary. No CBGB: s or Woodstock was not cool when it started, it has built its legacy.

So, to be able to make it you need to see the smaller outlets as the next thing. That blog, that radio station might be big in a year or two. Don’t just aim for the big shows or the big outlets, that is already done and are reserved for the big ones. Don't underestimate the people you pass on your way up. And don't just do the things that you think is cool. It's a big chance that what you think is cool is already out.