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.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

We need a new top chart!

I’m utterly tired of explaining to idiots that you have millions of streams doesn’t make you a star, or even successful. In the old days, the counting of sales was a good measurement of how popular you were. That is NOT the same as streams. Streams can be anything. A bought physical thing is an action you must do and a lot of thresholds so in the end yes that can prove something. A stream is not even a person pressing a button it can be on a playlist that really no one is listening to is just a background in a store or even on a chine mobile farm. There is no investment from the fan in a stream. And that is why it can never prove any fanbase whatsoever.

So, bragging that you have a couple of million streams is stupid. If you want it to be more stupid those million streams are just on one platform.  The easiest trick is to compare an artist through different platforms. You want to get even more stupid those millions of streams were created before 2019 when you could easily cheat on several playlists.

The industry has left the counting of streams long ago. It only matters if it’s done organically. And that is very seldom that is done organically of the artists that have over a million streams.
No, I’m really fed up with that the media are claiming something just because an artist has millions of streams. It’s not comparable with a million of sales.  The headlines are, “Popular artist done something” and then in the text it says that the artist has millions of streams on Spotify. Well, millions of streams together with all songs. Still the artist has never toured played live or even sold any merch. In fact, I have a hard time even call it an artist. It’s like calling anyone that happens to get a clip viral a movie star.

What we need is a system that also looks on the live side, ticket sales, how many radio plays, all streams from all platforms (to many just looks on that they have millions of streams on Spotify, then they just have a thousand on Youtube and how many do you have on Tiktok?). It all must count in to get a better picture of what is popular. What does the audience really care about? I know there are some out there but they are not good enough and just number crunching from bad sources that can be manipulated. We need something really better.

I know there are several companies working on this right now. My question is though how long it will take us to erase the whole damn conception that a stream is not a sale and that social media is more a filter bubble and nothing that proves that much. So even if that correct top list comes what kind of impact will it have and how threatened will the labels be if they can’t manipulate that chart?
Problems that we deal with later, first we just need another measurement and top chart before we get totally overloaded with a nonsense artist that claim their fame for nothing.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Genre is not needed, haven’t we got further then that!

Genre is not needed, haven’t we got further than that!
The line is from a new artist that was in the pre-selection of the Idol 2015 in Sweden. And now she is doing a comeback with a new totally unknown local record label. And this what she said in the local newspaper.

I guess you can say that genre is not needed but not like this. Spotify found out pretty quick that people didn’t care about genre, instead, mood was something they rather looking for. And yes sad playlists are still very popular.

Then the girl above has no understanding of what the genre is for. She thinks the genre will lock her up in a box and that you can never get out of the box. That is so far from the truth you can come. No one will stop you from doing whatever music you like many artists has a career doing a different project with different styles.  A good example is Sting.

Then of course your fans might expect something. I remember when I got a ballroom dance star in Sweden and she wanted to record some rock albums. Sure, her old audience didn’t like her new stuff and some reviewers didn’t get what she was doing. Still, overall it worked pretty fine. She just has to be honest and really explain I wanted to do this for this period of time.

In this kind of light, trying to fight genre is just plain stupid so when you get the question from a journalist what kind of style you are doing, answering everything is just contra-productive. The same as counterproductive to invent a small own genre like not exists like dishwasher metal.

What you need is kind of a broad description of what it is. As a booker, I really need to know what I’m booking. And with over 3000 artists applying I can’t really go and listen to everyone. And if my stages are dived in sort of genre one pop stage, one for harder metal music, one sing and songwriter, etc. I’m not interested to go through 200 artists that play jazz if I need a metal band. You don’t really need a long exact on-point description.

A to point description can also be misleading. A metal band can play a softer song like Sounds of silence with Disturbed. But still Disturbed is not a pop band. The major part of their repertoire is metal or rock.

Yes, we need genres. Not though that many believe that we go in on Spotify and just write pop and get the perfect song. It’s about when you cannot listen to a song and need a short description here it is handy. Still keep it in the broad not going to deep to try describing your last single with a new genre.
Also don’t try to fit into a genre of you, not that genre. No Nickelback is not a Metal band. Yes, Ramones can be both Punk and a Rock band.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Social media is not the right way to go!

I just read an article around social media on a business site. Really interesting reading. It's in Swedish and you need to subscribe to read it so no point to link it here.

Still, it really got my attention because it enlighted a phenomenon I have been watching for some time but hasn't got to the music industry yet. The music industry is not leading the media any longer, is just a follower. The death of reach in social media. In the article, they compare posts that got viral 2017 with today just two years later and new algorithms make it's impossible to get viral. Same that big number of followers would help. And an account with millions of followers has the same problem as a small account. Yes, we are back to where your My Space page is as powerful as the rest of your social media channels. We are going back to basics here.

This is the death of many of the theories in the music industry. Something I more or less predicted when many were talking that you can do a career in big data. With a landscape that is in constant change, the data also lose value very quickly. It is not that effective. At least not for an upcoming artist. The stupid Spotify numbers you get are totally useless. I saw an old dude that gives out crappy country songs being over happy that people from 56 countries had streamed his songs. The big problem he doesn't know who they are, how they streamed it or if they are even real. My guess is they are mainly miss streamed on a playlist somewhere. The music is really crap. My guess is also that these people never listen again or skipped after 30 seconds. In the end, it's just useless data.

So if Spotify is useless. Social media is useless. What is there? Of course real fanbase. But how do you get that? Real networking. The digital things are just good tools to communicate with people that you already have got in your circles. It's not so much a tool to reach people any longer. On if you do it with real people with real feelings.

Three years ago I already had a hunch around this. Instead, I saw a need to talk to people in person. The human contact is unbeatable in the digital world. I sat out to build the biggest network I could for three years. Actually, I put in a five-year plan but my gut feeling says that it's ready for a beta test right now.

For the past three years, I have been visiting fifty showcase festivals. Being networking my ass off. Meet wonderful people from around the world. My guess is that I have one of the stronger networks in the industry right now. Lets put everything to a test.

I will be totally open in the blog over the next half-year on how I will work an artist career. And everything in the new system where data is secondary.

So who is the artist? I have chosen The Magnettes because they are on their second album and have a spot that will suit this mission.

I know this is really risky. This can easily crash. Then you will follow a crash in real time. Still, my gut feeling to be able to make things work the human connection is a must. Time to prove all computer geeks that so far its just empty words. We still have many years until this can be done by big data or social media. So I post this on the first post of the new year. And let the ball run.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Don't force me to listen to your songs!

You can't force people to listen to your music! The worst thing is when I'm forced to listen to shows or even worse forced to sit down and listen to some songs of a band. I have to be in the mood to find new stuff.
Like sometimes you just feel like having something simple as a burger and fries. Not a special burger composed by some famous chefs with special sweet potato fries. That is good too but you really want a classic burger. If you then are forced to eat a small gourmet restaurant dish you are not satisfied. Sometimes you just urge for a special thing. Same with music sometimes I just want to hear music that I recognize. Forcing on new music can be like be forced on the food you don't feel like.

So forcing people in the wrong time and space can be very contra-productive. I cringe when i think of the times I had to sit down with an artist and listen to three really crappy songs. Already ten seconds in I can tell this is wrong. Still, I have to sit there and in agony listen to the rest. Then afterward the artist just thinks that I will praise it to something better than sliced bread. And since its most of the time already out on CD or in the digital channels to do some constructive criticism is not to think of, what is done is done.

No, I want to choose what to see and what to listen to at the right moment. If I'm sad I really don't want a bunch of happy songs. Opposit around when I'm really happy to sit and listen to a depressed sad guy on guitar.  I guess it the reason also why you need five times before you recognize a song. Also a good reason for not expecting someone to really love a song after one listening.

People are also some kind of frightened when I say no to their free CD. There is a really big chance that I will never listen to taht CD when I come back. Mostly because I don't have a CD player. And i'm too busy with other things to just sit down and listen to a CD taht I have no clue what it's all about. here the digital links are better. No, don't give me a download card that is so many steps to get that I will not do it. Here you have to get my info channels and then present it to me and I will listen to it in my normal routine.

To find me in the right mode you have to be very lucky. No, it's always better to leave it to me when I should listen to your tracks. If you have forced it on me there is a big chance that I will say no just because I have to say something. Just because I have heard your music is no guarantee that I will like it.

Monday, December 23, 2019

You won't be disappointed

Come by to our show! We have the best show ever! You won't be disappointed!
If I had a euro for every time I get this kind of promise I could buy a small country like Lichtenstein. Yes in most cases they disappoint me.

The reason why I get disappointed varies but I have a theory about it. On the panel I was participating in the last conference we discussed how important it was to get your local market and then work outward. I agree with that. The local market is great to lean back on. The problem is that you start to think that just because you are great in your home town you are God's gift to music. When you then move up a level you confronted with other bands that are best in their town. Suddenly your special show is not top-notch any longer. I see the same pattern in sports. A kid that is great in his home area will not be certain a spot in the country Olympic team.

Because I think they are not over bragging when they tell me that they are gods gift to music. They probably are, but only in their area. Outside there they are just an ok band. What they forget is that just this year I have seen over 500 acts. And I visit a festival a week. With that I become picky. You need to be better than the whole country to start to be in level. 
It's not easy to explain to someone that belive their own press that sorry it's not good enough. You need more practice hours. You need to stand out, have more contact with the audience. The biggest problem you have to perform well without those screaming fans that you have locally.

All this mainly leads down to the acts that I usually find at a festival is not the acts from the country its in. Usually, it's the bands from abroad that shine. Mainly because they are picked among the best bands in their country. The local bands are picked more on connections and favors and they have more space for local acts.  And yes the bands that promise that they are great live tends to be local. Another reason is that they are usually on their first showcase and want it to be successful. The abroad bands already had their success by being chosen from abroad. 

For me personally, the promises usually are a marker of uncertainty. You don't need to add that you have a great show. If you have a great show you just explain the main features and I should be interested just by that. The warning sign is when I ask back what exactly is great about the show and you can't explain why just that its good.

Of course, it's a different story if its someone that has nothing to do with the band or gain from it tells me that a show is great. Then you don't have to explain, that is what you think. And your personal taste. I guess the best promotion is the get other people to talk great about your show.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Here is the secret how to break!

No there is no one that can fix your career. Stop looking! The time where an artist could just be on for the ride and do drugs and just have a party is no longer there. Yes, it was in the 80:s and 90:s mainly because you could write off things as tax defaults. Today that is no longer possible.

There is no secret label that can fix your career. You have to do the work yourself. the closest you get to someone to fix your career is the manger, but that person needs help to keep the wheels turning.

A band that I know was in this discussion. Their friends had been signed to one of the three majors. And my band thought it was cool as hell. I just told them taht it won't make any difference. The band is totally unknown and the major can only operate on their local market. The chances that this will go further is so slim taht I cit's a bigger chance that they get an offer to play on the mainstage of Swedens biggest festival. Still, the band thought it was a cool thing.

Now a year later we have the outcome. The band I had have done gigs in front of thousands of people in both USA, Asia and Europe. They have released four singles with full promotion on everyone just with the help of their management that really cares. The other band just showed up with an application for my company looking for a new A&R. My guess they already have been dropped by the record company. The only thing that happened was that the band was slowed down for a year doing nothing and in the end, the major released their songs without any PR and just some adds on some of Spotifys more horrible playlists with background music and the major labels own playlists with fake users. Okey the playlists get you numbers but in reality, the major signed band has only 500 followers and the other band has 750 followers. Nothing that really affects your career in any way.

The thing that affects you is where you have played and where you are going. Actually, the major signed band is still unknown none of the bookers at my festival did know about them. The other band they had seen in several places and considered a band to reckon with.

The funny part is that when the band was looking for an A&R they mentioned that they had seen the success from the other band as a reason to seek us out.

I see this problem every day. Actually, it was not the major company's fault that the band was failing. They should have kept on going and do the same things as the other band. Instead, they sat on the sofa and thought everything was clear, their job done, they were signed.

I guess that is what people are looking for someone to just fix your career. That magical person that just does everything and you just tag along and become rich and famous. I see this issue every day.

Yesterday it was an artist that wanted to get signed. Why? I asked. Well, he had done all the things himself and could only reach this level. Now he needed someone to take it further. Not bad thinking. But here is the problem. If he was good enough it would actually happen by itself. he has been around so much that it would have hit someone that could do something. The reason why it didn't happen is that he is just ok, nothing more. Is not utterly bad like Eilert Pilarm

And he is not super good as Elvis so a bad Dj twenty years cand do a great remix.

No, he is just ok. Not good, not bad. That is the big issue and that is the reason why he doesn't move forward. Nobody can help that position. There is no magical label or person that can fix a mediocre artist.

Then it was the old guy that was asking me if there were a lot of industry people are these days, Midem, SXSW? Yes, there is but not for an artist that only does three shows a year and has a problem to tour because they are involved in so many other projects. There is no reality for a professional to work with an artist in those conditions. It doesn't matter if the band is really really good, they are not in for taking the risk And that is the reason why they never meet any industry professionals. They won't show up for a thing like that.

The secret of how to break is to become better and better. Then surround you with people that can get you opportunities, not big ones, just opportunities in a steady stream. Then take action to these opportunities to collect the people that like what you do. This is how you break. Yes, it's brutally hard work that is on the line.