Thursday, August 22, 2019

Taking Down a Song Online (Cashbox Story)

It's summer and I thought I would do some reruns (yes I have learned well from my years in the TV industry). This is the chronicle I do in Cashbox Magazine Canada and Record World. It's longer versions of any topic I have done in the blog like I wrote with a deeper dive into the subject.

Here is the link to Cashbox Magazine Canada, visit them to find other writers also.

We received a message last week from an artist that we have with our distribution. “We are going to release some new songs and we want to clean up a bit on our Spotify list, can you take down some songs down before Wednesday?” (we received this request on Tuesday)
Please note that this is not a professional artist and doesn’t have many streams.
With this behavior they will never get anywhere, at least I hope they don’t. One of the critics in the early days of digitalization was just that song you might like will disappear from your collection. And by doing this you fulfill that fear. Before this was much more of a problem since you were giving it out in physical form and harder to erase. Today people seem to think that releasing a song is like making a Facebook post.

Another cliché you get from artists all the time is “this is the best song I have ever written”. The new stuff is always the best. If it was up to the artist, they would in many cases just take everything down so you could only listen to their newest creation “that is the best”.
The fact is that most of the fans would rather listen to that old hit instead of this new song. If the best always was the best, an artist's career would just go straight forward and every new release will be bigger then the last one. Never seen that happen.

Is it unusual that artists hate their old songs? No not really, most of them do. Mainly because they genuinely think the last, they have written is the best. Also they are tired of them (performing as well as hearing), but in some cases the artist is thankful that the song became a hit. I was touring with Motorhead and Lemmy explained in a very sober way his hate/love relationship to “Ace of Spades”. “It’s not the best Motorhead song, but I know that many of the fans are there to hear “Ace of Spades”. I would be stupid to exclude that song off the set list”. Depeche Mode has the same relationship with their breakthrough hit “Just Can’t Get Enough”. It has been on the set list for years, though the band has grown now with totally other styles of music.

The most usual comment on takedowns is “This song is not our style anymore”. If Depeche Mode did that only their last album would be up online. By saying that it’s not your style is also kind of stupid. You can hear if it is Depeche Mode but the style has change with it and people love to follow how an artist develops. There is always a difference between the artist's first product to the last, it would be very strange otherwise.
Then if people like the song it will come back online, if it’s missing it’s always someone that will provide it and it won’t benefit the artist on any monetary level. We have seen stupid attempts to take things off. Remember when Beyoncé found not so that flattering picture of her from Superbowl and tried to ban it from the internet? Suddenly everyone wanted to see the picture and for awhile you could only find that picture of Beyoncé. Even today, if you Google Beyoncé Superbowl you get that picture in the top searches.

Then it can be things that you might don’t want people to see. As a huge Ramones fan my favorite clip is a very early show, it might even have been the first one on CBGB’s. It’s far from the well-oiled machinery that The Ramones became. Still for me as a fan it is still really cool. Look just how Dee Dee are trying to do some cool moves and get lost in the song and smash the mic on the floor. Joey is more of a poser then a singer. How un-tight the playing is. How in the second song, they start arguing what song they are supposed to play. No, you can’t imagine this act doing over 2000 shows and would become one of the most influential bands in the world. I guess the band wouldn’t have been that keen on this coming out. It’s a documentary and you can find small parts that later became this cool things like Dee Dee’s shouting 1,2,3,4 which he actually screws up in this clip.

For me this is the start of the journey, if they don’t want me to see this because they want to be cool all the time, they won't go that far. Still what is cool today will be out of style tomorrow. Just look at pictures from 15 years ago and you are wondering what you were doing. Why that haircut, why that style of clothes? Because its was cool then not now, but there is no reason to go in and destroy all those pictures.

Luckily the reason why songs stay up is usually that the record label or partners around the artist has a say in what is going up and down. Taking down songs is a kind of amateurish move.

In my case, if any of my artists just suddenly want a song off it’s a very clear sign of that their career is over and it’s time to drop that artist. By taking down songs you know that you might have several difficult things ahead of you. This artist does not have what it takes to be a career building artist so just drop them. They are just releasing songs not thinking if they can up to their standard in five years.

No, keep the songs online, the audience knows you are developing. And don’t your best fans deserve to hear your old stuff? Or are you afraid not to look cool?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Crazy people

I had talked to one of my friends that bumped into some crazy shit. I was not surprised after all the years. I'm not surprised by how crazy some people are and how they react. Actually, it's more common that you meet weird people than normal in this business. By then you need to earn your reputation witch many newcomers forget about. So I borrowed some of the things we were discussing in this post.

If you work in the music industry, you know all about hustlers. These kinds of meetings always have unpredictable outcomes. There are all types of hustlers;  Grifters, scam artists, emotional wrecks,  know-it-alls, and people that just find people try to find a network.  There are also clean hustlers, and decent people just trying to make it out of the maze. The different types just go on and on and have numerous combinations.

The hard part is to know who to let in and who to keep out. But here are some tip-offs that usllay works very well.

1. Be Respectful:
Always. Don't be argumentive, or turn conversations around on people. Don't be an idiot. Have some self-control. Realize you are the food, and they are the fish. Make yourself appealing, be respectful, always. Making small emotional ripples into tidal waves is not business. Yes, in the beginning, you have to get your nose brown, sort to speak.

2. Don't Be Manipulative:
The best thing you can do when creating new relationships is to try to be as transparent as humanly possible. Nobody likes feeling like you are entangling them into something you're trying to control. You don't need to be right to be successful. You need to be successful to be right. Don't go behind peoples backs, it will get back to you later. Sometimes you go behind the back without knowing it. Which can lead to a problem! Many in the industry are because of that over clear what they are doing to their network.

3. Consider Everything:
Before you unleash the beast of rage, or tell someone how to do their job, or try to slander someone to their friends, colleagues, and superiors, try to consider you may not know all the details. Instead of letting these people see the dark side of you and your unstable emotions. Deal with the problem directly. You just have to swallow your pride.

4. Don't Ask For Things Afterwards:
This is so so so bad. If you want to REALLY put a significantly bad taste in someone's mouth; Tell them they owe you, after you already fucked up the relationship (Smooth move..)
Successful people know all about sacrifices. They have either have watched people in their circles make them, or they themselves made them get where they are. If you are looking for more than just merit, or experience, be straight up. If someone makes suggestions and offers, that does NOT mean they are tools to be used against them. Like if they helped you to get a gig and no one shows up on the gig it's not their fault it's you that didn't promote the gig properly.

5. Know Your Role:
You're trying to become useful. You're trying to be valuable. You're trying to be a team player. You're trying to be essential. Okay, got it? Don't be an asshole. Don't step on people. Don't think that you can reinvent the music industry.

6. Have Patience.
The world owes you NOTHING.

In one way when you been around for a while you easily see through this. Still, you encounter them. The person that goes straight to the CEO of the festival trying to book an act, just because they meet the person. A good reason to take off that act from the festival.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mind the Gap

I recently saw a post in a web forum from a manager that was asking for connections to a couple of big publications. His artist had been added to two bigger “editorial” playlists on Spotify and was doing some 100,000 streams.

He was certain that these playlists would get him interest from bigger publications but none of them replied to his emails. And several comments were just that being on playlists you need over 20 million streams on Spotify before things happen.

I did a panel this Spring with the top four bloggers and big publications on a Showcase Festival. One of the quotes was “If you start your mail to us by describing how many Spotify streams you have, that is a good reason right way for us to throw it in the trash.”

This is part of a new problem that has been rising for quite some time now in the music industry. The gap where you get traction is much wider than before. In the ’80s and '90s you signed a band to a very small label that mainly gave out a record with very limited do it yourself PR. That got local attraction and with that, you could move the artist upwards to an Indie company with some national and some limited international connections and PR. There you did like two to three albums and got recognition. From there you could jump on to a major label, and back then there where more than ten of them. And then you got a full PR that was international.

Today you must almost conquer all that the indie labels were doing, by doing it yourself. Which is possible but a very daunting task. The middle section of record labels is gone, either that or they are now depending on a major or has vanished. On the major side, there are only three left (well four if you count some new publishers). All these wait until the artist has the fan-base that they require before they sign anything. But lately when I speak to managers they more or less just say that if this and or that label don’t grab them in next six months, they will keep on doing it and just do the whole journey by themselves. So even these bigger ones are missing out opportunities with the new gap.

This has led to the fact that many don’t understand how much work it is from the start before you get any interest from a bigger company to show interest. Or even any publications or gig places to work.

Of course, you can be discovered but then you are owned by the major label. Here I’m talking about real artists not made up boybands and projects from talent shows on TV.
I get many artists telling me that they would like to send their lastest recording to record labels. My answer is that yes if you have good songs, but more important is future plans or proof on the fanbase. My latest signings with record labels have been on the story and what is coming up, in some cases they didn’t even care to listen to the music before signing.
To sum it up we are all looking for the fanbase. Real fanbase. I was at a showcase festival and was hanging with a couple of A&R reps from the top ten biggest labels. Of course, they started bragging about their latest signings.

-“I just signed a band that have 6 million streams on Spotify alone.”

Everybody rolled their eyes, and you could really see no one was impressed.

- “None of the streams are from playlisting.” The guy added.

Suddenly everybody was listening.
Are you sure it’s real fanbase streams?
- “Yes, we force them to show us their Spotify artist page and we collaborate it against Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and they match. They have been working hard to get real superfans and have a phenomenal dedicated following.”

There you have it. You need to get a fanbase that can generate 6 million streams on a single in around two months. No playlisting or other fake things. I would guess in the old days it was equivalent with 500,000 streams in a half-year or even so low as 100,000 in two months. This gap just gets wider and wider, because the market is not local it’s international.

With all this, I’m glad that some people open up places where you can get that fanbase, like Cashbox Radio ( where they will play the new music for the audience to find it. Not caring so much about a fanbase. Like my great friend, Sandy Graham, who started Cashbox Radio says “Someone has to play a hit song for the first time. I want that to be our radio station.”

We really need this.

This one was posted on Cashbox Magazine Canada first

Monday, August 19, 2019

Back to work

Yes, I have been a bit slow past two weeks. Quite much work with Live at Heart and me trying to have some vacation (which didn't succeed with) I now have figured what's next on the whole blog and other things. I guess the things people really want to read is the drama or something that can relate to them. So more drama and more persons.

From time to time I also tried to introduce new music in the blog. I feel I failed in that. It's a lot about the industry but really whats drive the industry is the music. I also feel that I get less and less exposed to new music.

So just posting once a week, and this time with marketing. See how it goes. And then we get it on with our new thing. I got my own radio show on Cashbox radio. Last time I had a radio show was like 25 years ago. It was a student radio show at a school and we were just mainly talking rubbish on air. This time it will change. I want to have the drama, I want to have new music.

So yes I want to interview your band. Or you as a person if you are working in the music industry. But you have to be prepared to answer the hard questions.

So my premiere? You know ....I have to start this series with an interview with Dee Dee Ramone. I have been holding this gem in the drawer for almost twenty years. I just finished editing the stuff. Soon it will be the start of my new radio show.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Feminism till salu?

This one will be in Swedish mainly because it's a Swedish phenomenon.

Jag läser om rasande besökare som inte fått mat under Smash X Robin på Sjöhistoriska i Stockholm. Kanske var det en urusel organiserad festival, eller bara besökare som inte fattar bättre? Jag var själv inte där så jag kan inte uttala mig.

Det som är mer intressant är dock att evenemanget görs av Woha Dad ett bolag som drogs mycket i smutsen och fick mycket anklagelser under #Metoo perioden. Speciellt en av ägarna fick många anklagelser och många historier var just om dem. Samma sak här var också sånt som skvallrades om bakom låsta facebook konton. Vissa saker läckte ut men kan inte verifieras.

Vad som kan verifieras är att Robyn ställde upp med SKAP om att ta fram kvinnor i branschen. SKAP lanserade stort hur de brydde sig om feminism och kvinnor i musikbranschen 2014. Robyn var ju själva sinnebilden av feministisk musikbranschen som SKAP slog upp det ihop med Lina Thomsgård som då var PR person för Robyn. Där jag själv upptäckte hur mycket pengar Robyn och Lina Thomsgårds bolag Rättviseförmedlingen skulle ha för att ställa upp. Vilket jag skrev om i en debattartikel om hur man kan tydligen köpa ett budskap som fick Lina att ringa och försöka tysta mig.

Det jag regerade på då var att de kvinnor som fanns i branschen och var framgångsrika var inte inbjudna. Istället var det kvinnor som var påläggskalvar som egentligen bara hade en sak gemensamt de ingick i posset kring Robyn och Lina Thomsgård. När jag frågade insatta kvinnor ville de inte ens gå på evenemanget. De tyckte det var köpt och stärkte inte deras positioner. Jag var där och det var bedrövligt låg nivå och inte stärkte det några kvinnliga positioner heller. Så de hade rätt. I princip var det SKAP som skaffade sig ett dyrt alibi för att de då bara hade män i styrelsen.

Redan där tyckte jag det verkade som Karabuda och gubbarna betalde för att få sitta på stolarna. Vilket några år senare visade sig stämma när de blev dömda för mutbrott för sina extravaganza julfester och mutor till politiker.

Vad har det här med katastrofspelningen på sjöhistoriska? Jo plötsligen slår det mig. Robyn som är så feministisk och driver kvinnofrågor plötsligen slår sig i slang med Woha Dad? Man tycker att flera kvinnliga artister borde ha tagit avstånd då det var så mycket som osade just där. Men som jag skrivit tidigare, snacka går ju men trots allt pengar är pengar.

Blev nyss kontaktad av en feministisk skribent som ville belysa problematiken med få kvinnor i musikbranschen. Lite som att jag skulle behöva det beskyddet. Beskyddet kostade också. För att göra en liten föreläsning skulle skribenten ha 8500 kr plus resa och hotell. Jag påpekade att jag bara kan ge resa och hotell. Våra andra föreläsare som är klart bättre på att hjälpa fram kvinnor i branschen kommer gratis mot just resa och boende. Fick vi bara svaret, jag jobbar inte gratis. Tydligen var inte budskapet viktigt, bara pengarna.

Tydligen är feminism en handelsvara i musikbranschen i Sverige. Man köper sig ett märke att hänga på jackan. Lite som att man sätter in lite pengar till någon insamlingsgala för att bedöva sitt dåliga samvete.

Jag kommer inte göra så. Jag kommer skapa ett ställe där jag samlar de som verkligen bryr sig och på så sätt kan få bort de "dåliga" feministerna och ta fram de som verkligen jobbar för saken.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Is Social Media Killing The Rock Star? (Cashbox Story)

It's summer and I thought I would do some reruns (yes I have learned well from my years in the TV industry). This is the chronicle I do in Cashbox Magazine Canada and Record World. It's longer versions of any topic I have done in the blog like I wrote with a deeper dive into the subject.

Here is the link to Cashbox Magazine Canada, visit them to find other writers also.'

Many of the older A&Rs (read grumpy old men) are blaming social media for killing the rock star. That social media is taking off the magic away from the artist. At the same time many of the old rock stars were assholes, but in the media they were nice.
I heard so many times that John Lennon was an asshole. Maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t. I don't know since I never met him and can only tell from the interviews and stories that people in the industry tell me who had met him. The interviews I have seen are, of course, controlled so it can’t give the true picture. It was under control so he was playing the role of the perfect nice guy. Someone that you would have to like.

During the past decade most stars were undergoing media training to look and act perfect when the cameras were rolling. They were different when the cameras were shut off. And this is why the people now say that social media is killing the star. Social media is like having a camera on all the time. If you are a creep it will shine through. Another aspect is that you come closer all the time. Many times, when you get starstruck and then spend some time with the star and you realize they are just a normal person, very talented, but still just a person, the icon and the status is falling.

Is this right? I don't know but what I can see is that interviews are rarer today with artists, especially around their work. What has replaced this in the media is more writings what they say on social media. Not unusual that a whole article is about a tweet of a famous artist. Today the media get the most information from Donald Trump in form of tweets!
Most careers are in very short forms.

Still the stars are closer now. I can join Taylor Swift’s social media accounts and follow her 24/7. Yes, a star like Taylor will post what she wants you to see. Many of the pictures are taken by professional photographers. One of my friends makes her livelihood by just going around and shooting photos for the stars. She is a photographer for Vogue and other big magazines. A major part of her income comes now from stars who want perfect pictures for their social media. But the pictures should not be so perfect in the sense of a photo shoot. But still better than your regular cell phone picture. And you can take off the ugly ones. You always look good. You then fill them up with some personalized shots.

You need to keep the facade up all the time. And in the end, you will be demystified.
I spent time with an influencer last year on a video shoot. She posted a picture of herself on the street and in 5 minutes she had over 5000 comments, not likes, comments. At the same time, she is not famous but she has over a million followers on different social media though. During dinner, we were talking about one of my bands and she was really impressed and told me that this band was really big. I told her that they not even had 20,000 followers on all their social media. Yes, she said but they do big things and they write interviews with them. She explained how the followers were not anything that really goes into media until you are a name. And to get the name you need to do extra good things. You need the normal interviews. You need the stardom and cool things still to become a household name that gets the chances to sit in front of the same cameras as a John Lennon.

Yes, the social media is bringing us closer to the fans. At the same time, you can still fake it to a certain point and right now we see a lot of reports of influencers that just have faked it. The question is if you can build up a star with a kind of mystic aura around them in the new environment?

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The grass is not greener on the other side

I stole my friend Nelson's (i hope he doesn't mind) post on Facebook today. He hs a band called We Bless This Mess witch I really love. It's a great project and they are working their asses off. Still, they seem to fall in the trap I see many artists fall into. That the grass is greener on the other side or that somehow it would be easier for me as a label/industry person to do things. So here it is, with my *** inputs:

We Bless This Mess is looking for an agency and/or a record label to work with 2020. Any suggestions?

*** Yes anyone that would like a really hard-working cool band. Go ahead this is really something. maybe someone sees it here in the blog :)

We've been pretty active on touring, releasing stuff, doing our own booking and promotion for years.
It's been 5 amazing years but it's been hardcore work for me and my bandmates.

*** Yes and to be honest for a label it would be the same. Or they would demand even that you work hard if that even is possible.

I want grow this band step by step and I've always wanted to keep this band DIY but at some point I feel that if we don't play the industry game we put our careers in risk.

*** To be honest on this one. That career choice was done five years ago. You really can't turn a DIY band into the commercial mold. Partly because it will kill the fanbase. But in this case, it will kill part of what We Bless This Mess is. Suddenly you have to change your lyrics, music into something that fits the market. Let the market fit you! You won't be the biggest band on earth, but to be semi-big like Ramones yes totally possible. So you need someone that would love the music much as you do.

I've always played music and been active in the scene because I love this but honestly I feel drained, that's why I think this is the time to ask for recommendations and help.

*** Oh boy do I feel drained. I do all the time and with bands quitting all the time or doing silly mistakes is not getting med feel less drained. This feeling we that work in the professional industry feel all the time. The thing you need to do is focus on what you are doing and what is working and just do more of that. The passion will come back. It's all about never give up.

Obviously, I'm super thankful for all the help and support fans, family and friends have been giving to We Bless This Mess, and I'm really looking forward to recording this new album that people crowdfunded.

But again... we're putting all our effort and energy on this record and it's just a little bit frustrating the fact that after we're done with the recording we need to go to the "office" one more time and do it all by ourselves again

*** I can tell you a worse feeling. that is if you come back to the office and discover that all that work you have been done some have taken it and put a Tuba-solo all over it so it is impossible to work with, and still you have to work with something that was great before but now destroyed. This is the reason why professionals whats to interfere in the creative process. As DIY you actually don't have to care on that level. Sometimes that is good sometimes that is bad.

... and as a DIY band it's hard to get good support tours, slots in festivals, or even get a fair amount of cash to play.

*** Oh, so me as a label I just snap my fingers and hey Glastonbury here we come? One phone call and we have this super support slot to Green Days Next tour? Even if I have that you know how many times the artist will complain that it's not good enough. They rather have a support slot on Cardi B:s new tour since that is cooler. And Glastonbury, hell no the new cool festival is Lollapalooza. 

This is not easier for a label or agency. nd my guess is that 95% of them actually can't do it better then We Bless This Mess. It's all about networking and that can be done by a DIY artist as well. In fact, that is probably easier. Still, you need to put in a hell of a lot of time and money. probably all that money that went to production. Twice that for networking is probably necessary.

Then, of course, you can buy it. But then we are back that you have to bring that money back. Suddenly you have to fit the mold really really much and hey let's write a song about Big Mac on Mc Donalds.  

I'm trying to be honest here and this is not a post to discuss morals and ethics about how to do things DIY/independent/Major. It's just a post to get recommendations.

*** Yes same here. I really hope someone finds We Bless this Mess and can help them get bigger. They deserve it. 

It's just been hard doing this by ourselves lately, we all have side works beside music and we just want to keep doing what we love to do.

*** Same as me, I have to get in my money and slave on jobs inside the music industry that drives me nuts. Tomorrow is another stupid meeting in another town that probably will give me a week's headache. I rather would promote some good new single just in the pace and feel I like, but it will never happen. I wish I just had an artist that breakthrough and got so much money that I would never have to work again :)

But now, here is We Bless This Mess, I know you are out there, grab the band and help them out. They are genuine people and fantastic.

Ps if you want to reach them just contact me and I pass them on.