Thursday, September 17, 2020

Social media gives away your knowledge.

Since I hold a couple of gateways to different things, I get a lot of requests on social media. Most people are of course people I never have met in real life. There are fake accounts so the first thing you look after if the person is real. If we have common friends is a sign that the person is real, not just one common friend but a couple.

Now these common friends also give away a bit what level you are on in the industry. Almost like a fortune teller, I can read what you want and what will happen with your friend’s request. I have been playing with my staff here in the office to see if my theory is right and so far, I have been better than the fortune teller machine Zoltar in the movie “Big”.

One example is when an unknown artist is making a friend’s request. You can see that they are new to the industry, there are few friends and the ones they have is usual local heroes in the area they are from. I usually say yes, and my guess is that that in the first 48 hours I will get a message with a question that they can send a song for me to listen to.

The fun part is that since they are an artist I just go into their accounts and check out what they have so when the question comes, I have usually already seen and heard it. It only takes a couple of minutes. I like those in one way. The problem is usually that they demand a lot of feedback which I really don’t have time to answer on. Unfortunately, my work time is limited to helping you with your new song that is already released.

Then you have a certain area. You get friend’s requests from local industry professionals and you can easily see that all the friends are from an area or a specific country. These usually just say hello and hope that they will meet me on some convention later that are held in their area. The strange part is that they never offer their services or do an exchange thing?

Then you have the bragger. These are usually older people ask for friendship and immediately start boosting about names they have worked with. The main problem with these is that the names they are throwing around are generally not in the industry any longer, a lot of “has been”. The question comes down to that they seek a job or something that we can hire them for. The problem here is that the friend's list gives away that your “best before” date is long overdue and several of the same friends have done the exact same request.

Then you have the spies. The ones that just make a friend’s request. You can see that they hold quite many interesting contacts. These usually just never send you a message. Instead, they are in for keeping an eye on what you are launching and what you are telling. This is the reason why I stopped telling who I meet or when. The only time I do that is if something is already made a decision on and I want to brag.  During on showcase festival, we made the whole page crazy by taking pictures with big companies and posting them on social media and everybody though we did deal with them.

Another cringy one is the artist that runs around like a headless chicken befriending everyone and ask for favors. There you can see that they end up with a list of who is who along with the shady people in the industry. In those cases, I more or less just avoid them. In the end, they will never make it.

This is of course just for fun. The list, later on, can grow and can reveal when a person is getting to a place where they are an influencer in the industry. Still in many cases, if your friends are only bearded men that plays the flute, I know what level you are on. 

Yes, everything can be read in the numbers on the internet.  Still, we can’t seem to get an accurate top chart?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

If you had an opportunity to sit down with an industry executive what is the one question you would ask?

 This week has been so much stupidity that I think I just want to shoot myself. But you must think on the bright side. Use it in your blog and explain the stupidity. So yes, I got a lot of new stories to write.

We start with a Facebook friend of mine asked this question: Artists, if you had an opportunity to sit down with an industry executive what is the one question you would ask?

Kind of interesting what the artist would answer. Of course, this was not a stupid question the stupidity in my life will come later in other chapters. My guess was of course they will be aggressive and start accusing this person because they haven’t succeeded yet. Like that would be this person’s fault? Okey in the old industry there was gatekeepers. That is long gone, everything is really open. The fact is that nowadays it’s not hard to sit down and discuss with even the biggest industry executive.

I stole some of the questions here and try to give my answer on them. I guess you can say I’m one of those industry executives, of course not the biggest one. The biggest one is only hired to build up the company. Most of the time these people are heads over just a company that doesn’t really matter what it is. They recruited from any type of business since it’s all the same, their job is for the company to make more money. Of course, the artist they work for matters, that is like a product that is important for a company. Nowadays though few of them are in the process of choosing the product when they take it it’s already popular. Let’s go back to the questions.

-          I would ask him/her how do they plan on competing and staying relevant in the age of streaming services becoming the modern era record labels.

Good question. The major record labels are NOT developing artists, some smaller do, the big ones are mainly taking on artists that are flashing through social media channels or apps like TikTok. Their job is to develop that artist with a fanbase to get more revenue and of course they take a percentage out of that revenue. The problem the majors have is that these careers and platforms change so rapidly that the careers is only available for around a year. Another problem is that the money is not that big and a lot of cheating so most artist on the platforms is not signing up with the label since they can’t afford to share that percentage. This is though much safer to earn some money on an artist for a year then develop an artist for five years and then might get slightly higher revenue. For the companies, this is a safer way to go.

That they are relevant, that can be discussed? But yes they still give sweet deals to a big artist like Talyor Swift, so they won’t disappear in that kind of sense. The streaming services are not acting like record labels, they tried early in their things but realized that they can’t predict anything anyway and all their attempts fail. A reason modern attempt was trying to break Ava Max through Spotify, she has the numbers, but not the fans.

-         -  I would ask, why don't they give back to up and coming artist, who is extremely talented, but don't have a way, or the knowledge to capitalize on their gift.

I guess we already took this one. It’s too much of a risk!

-          - What are you guys actually looking for right now?

I guess I got that one there as well, an artist that already has a fanbase they can capitalize on.

-          - How do I get paid if I am not in charge of Production or Producing my own Material.

Then you are a boyband that is hired as an actor is hired in a movie. You get a salary. If you do your own material, you own it you can then license parts of it to get a better reach. The days when companies invested in recordings and stuff is way over.

-          Get you a lawyer that knows something about the music industry let him ask a question.

That is really the wrong thing. I have met many lawyers that have no clue how the new music business works. Better to let them see the papers when you have them on the table. They are usually good to intemperate the law. Most of them are really lousy to be updated or even have the knowledge inside the industry.

There were more good questions but I will stop there and might come back to them another day.

There were more good questions but I will stop there and might come back to them another day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The headless chicken game!

Another one bites the dust

And another one gone, and another one gone

Another one bites the dust….

Yes, you can hear me like crone that Queen song when I bump into artists or industry professionals that play the headless chicken game. This phrase was invented by an intern many years ago around the behavior of a couple of artists that had screw him over.

“They just run around like headless chicken screwing everyone or screwing each other” he screamed in frustration. And the whole office just laughs out loud.

We all knew what he meant; we all knew the behavior he was trying to set words on. After that, it became the headless chicken game.

So, what it is when a person just runs around and try to use everyone they meet as a steppingstone. At the same time, they try to be friends with everyone. They don’t understand that a lot in this business is about trust and network and friendships. So try to climb the ladder on several different places will be the end result that everything crashes down.

I just bumped into a fresh case of this. A person that I invited to my former festival. This person really doesn’t have anything in the industry to brag about. I merely just gave the person a chance. As soon they got into the festival the person just went for the CEO and started to just groom him. Thinking that the higher up you are the better it is. The problem here is that the CEO is as bright and good as Basil Fawlty. Of course, with that when we left the festival, we took all network with me and just left the person with the CEO. Suddenly all the opportunities that this person usually got were gone.

So, what to do? Well then, the person runs to the next one asking for favors. And this one thought it was ok since the person was in my network. Not long after they realized that this person had gone above them and was now grooming their sponsor. That lead of course them coming back to me asking about the loyalty of this person. I just told them what had happened, and they realized it was not good to have this person in their network.

All doors closed at the same time. The person was suddenly banned from quite much and really didn’t understand why or how.

Same with an artist that was trying to have a manager. As soon the manager gave him a contact, he just grabbed the contact and tried to squeeze the new contact to be him, the new manager. He then did the mistake by playing on the club that the old manager booked of course making the new manager kind of pissed off. Of course, the audience that the artist promised to the old manager was the work of the new manger that really didn’t want to promote the old mangers club. The artist just saw it as another gig. In reality, he pissed off both mangers and the career was kind of over.

No, you shouldn’t run around like a headless chicken and try every opportunity there is. Quite many carers both for artist and industry people have gone down the drain because of that. Don’t forget who brought you in.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The format is not your enemy, it’s free to break the rules but know why.

Many artists follow all the rules and advice that are given to them at conferences, online or in workshops, etc. One rule seems though hard for them to understand, format.

Format is how the general audience listens and is presented to music. You have every artistic right and freedom to not follow these format rules. You need to be aware that you are excluding yourself from a lot of listeners. No, you cannot change people. Either you change for them or you accept a smaller range of audiences. Either way is the right way for you, it's your choice. Right now however I have too many people that have chosen to leave formats and then doing PR and efforts that are in a format world, and then complaining that they don’t get the same chance as other artists and that the world is to shallow.

What are the format rules? It varies, but I can take an example. I got in a demo from an artist. Every song was over six minutes long and an album of ten songs. Me working on the radio know that you need to make a really good exemption to play songs over 4:30 minutes. Why this rule? Studies have shown that the audience starts to change the channel if there is a song playing for too long that they don’t like. Of course, there are exemptions like Don Mcleans, American Pie that is eight minutes long. But then they usually fade it in the middle. And if you look at online radio, fading is not that easy to do, so you rather stay in the format of three minutes to four minutes. This is that the audience hangs on. Playing long songs is risky for me as a radio producer. If you then do songs that don’t fit that it’s my artistic freedom to choose to not play them. It’s your artistic freedom to release longer songs because they should be that way. You take a bigger chance though by leaving the format that I will play it.

Same rule that you should release it on a Friday. Friday is the official release day of music in the world. Many blogs, magazines, and stations has built up their release systems around that. Their working schedule is put that way. Many algorithms are programmed that way. You can release on a Tuesday you have to full right to do that. Don’t expect that all these people should change their schedules just because you don’t want to stay in the format. You can release it on a Tuesday but take a chance that you are not picked since it won't fit the editor's schedule.

A lot of complaining I seen the past weeks has just been around this. Either the artist didn’t know or understand that they broke a format rule, or they just wanted to be cool and different and think that would help them to reach an audience. The choice is simple. You lock your self inside the format and try to be creative inside that. Or be totally outside the rules. Whatever you do don't try to do it halfway that just gonna make people take things off.

If the things you release is mediocre, well then it doesn’t matter if you follow the format or not. It won’t fly. It’s only if it’s great and you follow the rules you might have a bigger chance if you also follow the format.

It’s no rules, it’s a choice but don’t complain about the system or if people mark it out.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Why music lost value.

 It seems like we need to know what value things have. Salt had huge value in the middle ages. Today you can buy salt pretty cheap. Things that used to have value might lose it. That is how to look at recordings. Just thirty years ago recording was expensive. You needed quite much financial backup to do a record of a lot of money involved. And then you also thought twice what to record.

Today I could just go down to the local electronic store buy a kind of cheap microphone (or just take the microphone that is built in a laptop) and just record a song. And then just put it on any social media channel in seconds, and even get it out on Spotify in 24 hours.

The problem here is that many think that the value of that recording is the same as the recordings of The Beatles on Abby Road. It’s not. Technology has given us to have better equipment to record then The Beatles had just dreamt about when they recorded on Abby Road. With that came though the price that everyone thinks they can write a song like “Yesterday”.

Since the price is so low to produce things then the value of the product also sinks. But there is a problem with music. The recording is just part of the product. There is a difference in skills to write songs. Skills of writing lyrics. To be honest “Yesterday” is still a great song even if I would mistreat it in a recording with a mic on my laptop. Also, I believe that the Beatles would record the song great through the mic of my laptop.

My recording though doesn’t have much value, only as proof of that, I should not be recording Beatles songs. But the recording of “Yesterday” original is worth millions.

Just because you have created something it’s not worth the money you think it’s worth. The value is decided on how many people that is prepared to pay for it. Today also the time, money, and effort that is put in behind a song are many times a lot less then it was 25 years ago. The whole process has made that music has lost value.

No, it won’t be better if people started to put time and effort into the songs. Today’s climate demand that we should give out music at a fast speed. The artist that tries to do real songs is in jeopardy that they are forgotten between the releases.

Are they? I’m not sure I think it’s time to stop listening to social media. It’s time to invest in songs and taking back the old saying “writing is rewriting”

With good technology, we can do cheaper recordings, but we still have to do the handicraft of a good song. A good song holds off on a bad recording a good song is not holding up on a super good recording. If music wants to get back it’s the value we need to create things that have value.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The production capitalism is destroying the artist!

 We all know that we are consuming too much for the planet we have. A third of all food we produce is thrown away as waste. That is 50 000kg or 110231lb a second thrown away as waste in the world and as Greta Thunberg has pointed out it’s not sustainable.

In an interview not long ago Marcus Ek from Spotify told that artists need to release more content when he the question that Spotify paid out to low to artists.

I just feel that we are doing the same stupid mistake in the music business as we do in the food consumption. The new streaming economy is just one click and then forget. Same as the food we produce a mountain of apples so you can have one. The same here we produce a mountain of songs for you to listen to one. Of course, this will affect the quality. To be able to produce a mountain you start to give fertilizer to the project, and you need everything to grow faster. Yes, you will get a decent product but it is not that perfect product that you had before.

During the pandemic now people suddenly got more time to grow their own things. Even I bought a greenhouse and now the harvest comes. Yes, my slow grown tomatoes, cucumber, and chilies taste much more and better than the ones I buy in the supermarket. Probably also that I put in quite much love into growing these vegetables. I have been out there every day watering and cutting off bad leaves and stuff. The end result is better then if just had grown a thing in less nutrient soil and just gone for fertilizer to grow it fast to just consume it.

It feels as the new space for creating music are more and more going this way. But why is that necessary? Easy the music that you create and produce is driving the systems. You are not an art creator you are a content creator. We if we stopped feeding posts on Facebook and Instagram. Stopped put up videos on Youtube and TikTok and music and pods on Spotify. They won’t exist. They need all people to give them free content.

Also, they are feeding on you in a very strange way. If you have a fan base on these sites. They only let around 10% of these fans see that you have released a new song in the mountain of songs the expect you to produce. If you should reach more you need to pay. Funny thing it’s like the apple producer to grow the apples then after that when they sold 10 apples has to pay extra fees to sell more apples. At the end that just leaves you to produce with less quality or just leave the whole thing since you won’t be proud of what you produce.

Question, do you really need these sites? In a way yes streaming music is around 25% of the economy of the music industry. The live side though has been 50%. We don’t know what happens after the pandemic. But I can easily say that music won’t die and the live scene won’t be replaced by streaming content. We have a great opportunity to build up the new live industry, so it benefits the artist that just release every third year. The ones that want slow quality music should have a chance here to perform quality art. the ones that want to leave the hamster wheel of social media.

We know for sure that even if you have millions of Spotify streams don’t mean that you will draw thousands of people to the concert. Almost the opposite around. We can easily see that the mass consumption of music in just the form of a post on social media is just fun for the audience in a couple of seconds. A concert is something that contains fun for hours. You might meet up with good friends before.  You go out and eat and then go and listen to quality music. That might be a whole evening to sustain your mind. Not just ten seconds click.

I have a good hunch that the stress and mental illness around the music community have two things. One is that we start talking about it. Witch is really great. The other is that stress of making content for a non-stoppable social media. I start though to see artists that more or less leave the race. And I think they are right. I don’t need a post from my favorite artist every day. But I need a function so when you release a song, I would be certain to see that post. Yes, that could be done by social media sites. Or I would love to get the knowledge that you play live close where I am so I can see your performance. We need that kind of system too.

I guess this will never happen. We just have to look at how we restart the live industry and start to build it so the artists can have a chance to write and record quality music and have time to rehearse a great live show. My mind needs more of that quality, the same with this planet. We need more sustainable plans.

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?