Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Self-sabotage and the damager.

-We had a discussion and feel that posting on social media is not our thing. We more like to be a secret band and people post more about us!

The band I worked with had one of those famous meetings. The ones when they sit in the rehearsal room picking up things from some random dude, like the clerk at the local music store, that gave them some tipoff that is totally insane.

Yes it sounds like a cool idea to be this secret band. In reality its a career suicide. Why is it attractive? The main reason is that the band is lazy and really doesn't have the stamina to keep things up and alive. Then this stupid idea sounds really attractive.

As a manager, I can fight this idea. Then, of course, I'm the idiot that doesn't get this new cool thing. Or I can let them try it and slow down their career with a couple of years. And then its always a possibility that they quit.

The problem is also that I will lose sponsors that realize that doing that kind of trick is pointless. And it will be really tough to get them back when suddenly some random dude will tell the band that posting things all the time is the right method. And suddenly they are doing the opposite what they said from the beginning.

I don't know how many careers that are going down the drain of fatal small decision that are discussions in different places of boredom like touring, studios and rehearsal rooms. And you get them a lot. Here are two other famous ones.

- Oh! No one is released during the Xmas holidays. No pr person is willing to help so I will release on my own with no pr at Xmas eve as a gift for my fans!

- No I rather stay at home rehearsal and write songs then play on that showcase and make new connections.

I don't know, but it seems like a mechanism to sabotage your own career. The plunge is too scary so instead, you just take this crazy idea. I just got the feeling that is the case, self-sabotage. Of course, people have released on Xmas before, why you don't know it is because it's almost never successful since most people are on holiday. Sam by staying home writing songs, those artists never leave the rehearsal room and never get anything done. Maybe it's the fear of success taht is creeping on.

Then you have the other side when the manager just goes on any trend that comes around and adapts it for a month or two making the artist waste time on building stuff that never comes to use. I think it was Nikky Sixx that came up with the expression "we don't have a manager we have damager". Yes, history is full of these fatal mistakes as well. Like why have dinosaurs with sombreros on the front cover of Ramone's last album? Threat the Police in the south of USA in front of the record label president? Or how many were not just following when all managers saw that mid-tempo songs worked best on Spotify and ordered everybody to do the same formula?

Here the band has to be creative and do something new, prove it to work to get the manager on the right track. Same here is the manager fast enough to adapt or does it take to long so its time to change?

In the end the best is if everyone is on the same page. Not easy, but in the most successful careers, it is what seems to work.

Friday, February 14, 2020

New station manager!

So it's Valentine's day. No! I'm stuck in front of the computer and fixing things for the release of the new radio station where I'm now station manger. Suddenly Bryan Adams is playing "Heaven". Here it is Valentine's day! And on the other side, my girlfriend is in the other room doing invoices for the company. Both work in the music industry both in our own companies.

Complaining, hell no! I wouldn't have it another way. If I wanted a romantic dinner or anything else I have the freedom to shut everything off and just do that. This is a lifestyle. I'm still in front of the computer is because I have so much fun. I have had skype and messenger phonecalls from around the world today. I got on a couple of new cool jobs that will bring me around the globe again. I don't care that it's soon the weekend. I long for Monday since then  I can start all the things I like again.

Yes working in the music industry is a jungle, really welcome to the jungle. Many don't survive. It's really a lifestyle.

Well now I need to get things going on the new station should work fine by mid of March when we start to promote. If you want to prelisten we are already up at www.cashboxradio.ca then you can hear all our small mistakes that are in trimming. The station is also on the blog page in the top right corner. Love has to wait!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

This is the reason why you don’t get an answer.

We got a mail to our festival the other day. First with the totally wrong name on the festival. Sure, that can happen in all your cut and paste. Then the letter continues by asking questions that obvious is on our homepage, things like which dates the festival is, what kind of genre do we prefer, how much do we pay for each band. I mean why should I go through the process answering questions like this for a band that we probably are not interested in booking?

So, I just write back a link where all the info around our application process is. And told them that our real name is this.

To be honest, I think we are pretty good to answer these emails. We actually get thousands of just mails from bands/bookers/pr people just sending out from different mailing lists not knowing where and to whom they are sending. It’s part of the game, and that is why I guess 99% are just deleting the emails and don’t answer them. We try at least to give you the right info even though we know it’s just another mass mail out.

Then now two days later the artist goes on to our Facebook page writing nasty things just because we answered back with some info.  This is the reason why so many have stopped writing back. Now we must deal with an artist that is not even in the closest chance to be booked being annoying in our official channels. Yes, it’s much easier to just delete the mails.

This is also, the reason why you never give feedback to anyone sending in a song. Most people probably would be thankful and nice but this small group of idiots that would start to mess up things or start to answer back that you are wrong. You have really no time to give feedback in the first place. Now you are in a position that you should defend your opinions.

So, when you are annoyed that you never get any answers. Here are some tip-offs. Try to be personal. We all hate those mass emails, yes, they are easy and convenient to send out. But you rarely get answers on them.  Okay, it will be quite massive to be personal, but it’s the only way to get a response. I have an e-mail list of over 300 supervisors around the world. Yes, it would be darn easy to just make a send out with a generic email. But I spend two days sending the info as the generic email but add two personal sentences at the top.

But how will I be personal with all these 300 have I meet them all? Many I have met but even if I meet them it’s very few I know that well. Instead, I also spend time going to their homepages or social media and check for updates. You pick up that they just moved or a reason success placement almost anything and you do a nice comment on that. Like: I saw that you just moved office, how is the new place?

You will directly stand out. It’s hard to ignore when a thing like that comes in. Then you also have to get that when they answer back: Thanks, the new place is really great. That it’s not an opening to have a long chat around the music that you sent in. You know they have seen it. So after the answer just put it down until they contact you. Though in many cases I get back other things like, The new office is great, listened to your music do you have more songs with this artist? Then, of course, you are in to send some more.

Yes, this is painstaking to do. At the same time, you also get info. Maybe your contact has left the company and has a new position. Voila, you get in the new person in the first company and hunt after your old contact with the new company that now has a better position. You can also find out other things Like if a festival has changed style, it has a new theme. Information that is good to know.
I wish it could be less time consuming, but some a-holes have made it into what it’s easier to just delete emails.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A festival needs curation! Bigger is not better!

I just got an mail from a band that has played one of the bigger showcase festivals in Europe. Before playing at that festival it was a mark that this artist was going somewhere. I meet the booker from that festival last year at another festival talking about an act that really goes well all over Europe and with easy should make the lineup. The booker had a problem though that only around 20% was curated the rest was bought up by export offices. So, it was hard to even get a band that should be on there.  And when I got the link of this artist today, I can really see it. This artist has no value right now. It is not interesting in any way for the festivals. And has no real leverage right now. A typical buy-in for an export office.

And I see export offices with a large amount of money just buy in spots at the festivals. I have seen these artists and they not even ready. In the end, it really lowers the value of the festival. Sure, it takes time for the brand of the festival to fade away, but when it really starts to happen it goes fast. Midem is a great example. A must go in the 90:s and was so powerful you couldn’t ignore it. Suddenly because of really bad decisions in curation, the festival became nothing.

Midem tries hard to turn it around and there are some good things happening but the brand is now almost acquainted to be a place where old publishers that still trade photos and cd:s and drink wine. It’s not, I know that (not all of the participants, in some cases accurate though) since I was there last year, but most of the people I meet in the industry has that vision still. The struggle to reverse that trend is hard.

And I see this problem in several of the big showcase festivals. The curation is really bad, almost non-existing. A large buy up from export offices from very small undeveloped countries thinking that they enter a marketplace where they can export. They are buying a spot trying to shine in the festival brand. This affects the showcases brand and several now seem to be heading the same way as the trust of the numbers on Spotify, straight down the drain. I just saw an offer to pay and play on one handled by amateur organizations in Sweden for a big festival in Europe. The lineup will be not even close to good. The value is definitely gone and in the end, the reputation for the festival is fading away. The real industry people are also talking, that playing on these festivals was before a certain way to get booking now it’s just an expensive adventure.

Then I can also see the point of the festival. Here comes someone with not ready artists but pays half the festival expenses. Showcase is really not a goldmine. The money is really needed. So, at the expense of the quality, you have to do it. And I know everybody is doing that. The feeling I get right now is that it’s has gone over proportion. Two of the biggest ones in Europe is now just "pay and play". What's needed is that at least half is curated or even a bit more.

My reaction is to more or less try to avoid the bigger ones and head for the smaller ones. Many times, better curation. The big favor also is that the smaller ones have much better chances to do business. I rather do really good business than just saying that I sipped drinks at the biggest festival. For those who know if you just attend the big ones you are not important enough for the real industry people. When I write this, I’m on my way to MENT, a good festival with the right size.

And the artist that sent the mail. Yes, the fact that they bragged about playing that showcase festival made me suspicious and probably looked on their stuff with critical eyes. And I just make a mark not to see that show and also take out some festival names out of my band's bio pages.Bigger is not better in this case.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Cashbox Radio discover MENT Festival 2020

If you missed it on Cashbox Radio our special show around MENT festival. Here you have the pod/playlist version both on Spotify and Youtube, I would recommend Youtube since that contains all songs and you can see all the lovely videos.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

You can always trust data.

Last week Swedish radio took off their Digilist, the top list over most streamed songs. This after a couple of weeks with rumors around cheating. Then an artist did a experiment and showed in a big newspaper how easy it was to buy 100 000 streams in a two week period.

To be honest, I don’t know why this comes up right now. Already in 2013, I knew about some serious cheating done to both Itunes and Spotify. My guess is that this is because the cheating has escalated so much that even the majors are beaten in the game.

“You can trust data”, was Jay Frank's comment. And was said during Billboards new prize The Jay Frank Award to honor a digital music pioneer. And I would have loved to have a discussion with Jay around this situation, I still miss those talks. We had them before, so I somehow know the answer. When the Bulgarian guy was cheating a couple of years ago, we had that discussion. Jay just laughed and said, it’s like pointing a finger against a lonely guy with a handgun while you have twenty-five super big cannons shooting in the background.

We both knew how much the majors were cheating. We all know they did it on a big scale and with different methods. When some creative person did it, well then Spotify acted. Neither Jay nor I approved of the cheating. Instead, Jay looked on a tool that was genuine to get real listeners and real fans and build Digmark a PR service to get playlisted in real playlists.

What happened two years ago inside Spotify, nobody knows. Suddenly all human playlisters jumped off. Everything became algorithm-driven. And it seems like o no one reacted on cheating. I spoke to several distributors that said the same. Less notice of cheating coming from Spotify. And we saw more and more unknown artist just sail on to the charts. All this time no one said anything, so my puzzle is why know?

So, can we trust data? Jay would have laughed at this one as well. Yes, you can. Already now there are several services that can measure data from several points. Look on post a couple weeks ago around that we need a new top chart. Like I wrote there things are ongoing. If you cheat on your numbers on one field, let’s take Spotify as an example, other figures give it away. Your Facebook/Instagram followers are intact and won’t move. Or your streams on YouTube won’t move. And your name is not mentioned in social media. Yet your Spotify streams are on full rise!
All this can be measured easily by these new services and for free. It’s kind of easy to check if your numbers in several ways. If you do it for real, the numbers add up. You cheat, and it will cost you so much to keep everything on track. Yes, all these numbers can be manipulated but it’s very hard and costly to do all of them at the same time.

The data is why you cheat, it also gives away that you cheat. Data just tells what’s in there. But this is the same as you are buying a “real” Chanel bag from the guy on the street for a fraction of the price of the ones in a real Chanel store. The risk that an unknown Canadian rapper has millions of streams, but no one knows him (Hello Manafest!) is too good to be true. And no, these cheaters will not make a career. In the end the game comes back and bites them in the rear. Their songs are not good enough neither their live shows. A career is built on trust with a real audience. 

The problem we have right now is that money is going to the pockets that should not have them. The part of the industry that has shoveled their heads in the sand, telling us that the problem is not that big (Hello PRS:s, Ifpi, Spotify) has just by ignoring probably crashed the path for several artists that was up and coming and really had what it took but didn’t cheat and because of that never saw the light to a bigger audience.

I just wish I was wrong on the last one, but I guess not. In the end, yes you can trust data, so use the data to flush the cheaters out. You can do that and yes you will be stepping on toes. Still can you please add in the majors. It’s not fair they have a monopoly on cheating.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The algorithm can’t predict the future!

Well the tech guys want us to believe that the algorithm is that magic that it actually can predict the future in the big data. Maybe in a George Orwell future, it can, but I really don’t want to live there.

I got this idea for this text from a press release of another company doing site with an algorithm that goes on the mood. In this case for sync placements. For me, that feels like 2010 when several companies did that. If you really want that search engine goes top Spotify that found out that people that want playlists just want mood playlists. And yes, sad playlists are the most popular right after workout playlists. The problem that now occurring on Spotify is that the audience is not6 listening to the music they just use it as background music on other things. It’s like the music in the ceiling of the supermarket. It’s there but no one really don’t care what it is you are too busy shopping.

What an advertising firm really want is not just mood music, it’s a cool artist with it. And if they can find someone cool as Taylor Swift for no money at all they will take it. But how can an algorithm find a cool artist? And especially cool artist when you have a low budget?

It’s all about the future. Let say I have an unknown Canadian band with a really nice song. But I also know that this band is booked for these three cool festivals. Also, I know they are recording for a new album that is released around the same time as the commercial and on top of that, I know they will be in the sofa of the best morning show. This info is really crucial. But the algorithm will only find out this (if ever) when it already has happened. This is not written in any public records. And when it has happened it’s dead on arrival. Yes, knowledge is power.

So, the only way an algorithm would know if its ear dropped on you. Or for speaking out loud, spying on you. Yes, we have all that experience that you talked to a friend about new speakers for the living room and boom hours later you get online commercials just around speakers. We know that big companies listen to us with their speakers, on our phones, etc. Even though none of them would admit it.

But that is the only way that an algorithm would have a chance to predict any future. Because if it just gets to the info when you search for these speakers online. The chance is just that you also bought them and the commercial you get later on is just annoying since you just bought your new speakers.
This only goes for really big companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft. It won’t work when you need special people like supervisors. That is too narrow to get into. Spotify is to small to eardrop on you. And how on earth would they find out when you really start to like a song or a new artist? If that is going to happen the algorithm has to be implemented in your brain. And I hope we have sense enough to stay away from that.

The algorithms today mainly just goes on old info. The algorithms would say that this artist is totally out, but don’t know that the artist might just wrote the song of their lives. In that way recommended the whole wrong thing to the buyer. They would have loved to be part of that great song that just was written and have their brand connected to it. The artist might have liked the brand and could get some extra marketing money for it. I would have seen the algorithm that could predict that Queen was taking over Live Aid 1985. They were counted out as going away. But their live experience took over and they came out as a new hot band.

I hope we never goes so far that the algorithm should be able to predict the future. It’s enough that it spies on what we do and learn from that. That is still a guess, to leap that it can read us is not a pleasant thought.