Thursday, September 5, 2019

Why I Go to Showcase Festivals, Forget Facebook Time (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.
https://cashboxcanada.ca/features-music/why-i-go-showcase-festivals-forget-facebook-time/3366

I did two festivals on the same weekend. First Focus Wales where The Magnettes was playing. Then New Skool Rules where Adée and Tale the Rapper where playing. So, during six hectic days I did two panels, two speed meetings sessions, over 30 booked meetings sessions. Traveled to two countries and two cities. Saw over 50 showcases and meet people. Yes, it is a hectic time right now. And it di not stop there. Many more festivals came in May and they all collided. Youbloom in Dublin, Midem in Cannes and Medimex in Bari and of course Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan at the end of June.

Some people ask why I'm doing so many festivals. I guess we can reveal now why. Three years ago I decided to build a network all over the world so I have the contacts myself to evaluate different offers and situations. In the end, I want to have such a vast network that I can break an artist on a global scale. I guess right now I'm pretty close. They have been joking around me in meetings I always answer, well I know someone that can provide that if they asked a specific knowledge or service in a certain area.

The thing is that we are all connected digitally. A rather interesting discussion came up during Enea Springbreak, the importance of the physical meeting. It seems like some people mainly think if you are friends on Facebook they are included in your network.I feel that Facebook is a good tool to just keep up but the real stuff where things happen is live face to face. It is in these situations you find these small but crucial leads will go to something bigger. Just the way people say stuff is revealing. All that is lost in social media. And you can easily see when a person is out networking in a physical world move very much faster than the ones that rely most on social media contacts.

If your manager, booker, record label only visits one event in the year and it's always the same, you probably have hit a dead end. That was the old days when you just needed to go to Midem once a year and do your business. Today that is not good enough. Yes, Midem is a crucial meeting point but the industry is going so fast that if you only do it once a year you will miss out on so much new fast information that is not on social media. They are just in the discussion between people in the industry on these events.

It seems like the industry have seen my work with this network going on and now we are getting more and more projects that are based on this whole concept. Today’s music industry is built on opportunities not a built-in same old system like in the 90’s where if you have distribution and a co-publishing in an area was enough. Times have changed and we need more real facetime not social media time.

Still, a lot of work must be done. Specially to maintain the whole thing. I guess I must wait and see when enough is enough.




Thursday, August 29, 2019

Risk Is Part of the Game (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.
https://cashboxcanada.ca/features-music/risk-part-game/3346


I often hear from artists that I work with these two questions. #1: Is this good for us, I mean the best we can put our money into? #2 How big are the chances we get something out of it?

It doesn’t matter what the topic is. The only time they gladly spend money is when they buy new instruments or record, sometimes even videos since it’s fun and centers around them. When it comes to PR, traveling, meetings and other activities that cost money, these questions arise. I’m fascinated that it’s only in the creative business I experience this. It is the same in the movie industry, but I never really got that in the normal startup race that is out there.

If you start a company, you must, in most cases, invest money. Let say you have opened a small shop selling clothes not in the center of town but on a backstreet. It goes pretty well. Suddenly you get an opportunity to get a good spot at the top of the busiest streets in town. You also get to double your floor space. It's a great opportunity. Of course, you need to invest in the new store if you take the space. You would have to buy more inventory, hire more staff and with expansion, you must do PR for your new location. A lot of work and risk.You can be safe keep your old shop, just keep going. Or take the chance and start something bigger.

Would you expect the landlord of the new space to get you the store free from rent in 6 months? I mean you take a risk by moving there! Of course not, and most people don’t think that would work. In the first place, the landlord doesn't give a damn of your risk. He has space and takes a risk by not having it rented out. And you are a risk too. If you fail in your expansion you might quit, and he must look for another tenant and that can make him lose money.

This is pretty simple stuff, huh?
Why on earth is the same concept so hard to grasp around a creative career? Yes, you need to invest to make your career bigger. The more risk the faster things go. No risk at all and you keep it on the same small level.

Think about the big store as a showcase festival. No, they don't want to hear your whining on investment. They can easily replace you like the landlord can choose another tenant. Yes, if you are important it’s a different story. If it is an apple store being opened the landlord probably can let it go free in a couple of months for longer tenancy. But you are not, you are the small store getting an opportunity.

Can the landlord tell you that it will be risk-free to move in? Or if it is the best choice?
Of course not. It's a risk that you can never calculate. Maybe the city makes some changes in the plan out and suddenly this busy street becomes quiet. Maybe other stores move in and the area is not hip right now and people go in other directions. Or people are buying things online and they won't visit your store. No one knows if it is worth it, it's a gut feeling. Best choice? Well, maybe you get an offer from an even better location pretty soon. But it has taken you four years just to get this offer, so it's not likely that it will happen. Same here, you must have a gut feeling.

Same with a showcase festival. No one will know in advance what the outcome will be. You must have a gut feeling, a mind to take a risk and be a doer to get something done. In all these cases to minimize the risk you must work hard. Hard work will always bring the risk down. A good way to not take a risk is to not do anything special and just go with the flow.
No, we don't care that you take a risk. The days when you have grown bigger the less risk you have to calculate. But stop whining about it. You don't hear shopkeeper going around complaining around the risk they have to take. To them it's natural. It should be natural for people in the creative industry too.

Risk is always part of the game.


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.
https://cashboxcanada.ca/features-music/taking-down-song-online/3320

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 (https://www.cashboxradio.ca/) 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.