Monday, July 15, 2019

Several nails in the coffin for Spotify

Last week Spotify announced that they are putting down the program where artists could upload themselves straight to Spotify. No explanation was given or how they would deal with their partnership with Distrokid.
This was just the most stupid thing from the beginning so no surprise that it was closed before it even survived a year. I guess they wanted to be able to pick out some good artist straight from a new artist that would upload. The reality is that most artist that has something going is going through a label, most labels wouldn't use a distribution that is open for everyone since they always have the worst percentage and the worst service.

A smart service easily takes off music uploaded from the open distribution systems and gives favors to the more closed ones in the form of PR and exposure. And they do, but no one will ever talk about that. Services like Spinnup, Amuse, Distroskid, CD baby are made for amateurs. No control of the quality. Sure there might be one out of 10 000 that is good, still, the streaming services can easily ignore those few. So just by having their logo around your music easily tell us you are just another happy amateur putting up music like it is a facebook post.

The closed ones are better they put a higher standard on the upload and what should go with it. Here you have Universal, Sony, Kontor New Media, The Orchard, INgrooves and so on. You need to be part professional to upload to these services. with slightly better control over quality. And here they know out of 10 000 it's more than 5000 that is well promoted. Probably as high as 3000 is really good.

If you want good things exposed on your streaming platform yes this is an easy equation. So why did Spotify just open a stupid channel where they would get a lot of crappy music? A guess would be that in the future they would give these few good ones real benefits and then all artist would leave the other systems. The problem here is that is a utopia. The other services at least provide you to all services not just to a single one. So just to the most clueless artist would upload direct.

Here we can move over to the next pin in the Spotify coffin. Uploading just to one service is a doomed project. We can easily see that the music industry itself is going more against Youtube because of reach to potential consumers. Also, the whole game of streaming numbers is dying very fast. Right now you one see amateurs asking for Spotify promotion. Soon we will laugh about these numbers as we are laughing about My Space numbers. The service that grows most in the west is Amazon in an exact manner how Itunes became the biggest at the beginning of the century. Itunes was just opened so Apple could sell iPods and then iPhones. They integrated the technology with the store to purchase it. The consumer was more or less locked to their system and happy with it. Here Amazon has been smart, they go so fast because of the smart speakers that people buy. Well, people like smart easy solutions so Amazon is up 70% in their streaming service. More than Apple that just revealed they will take off Itunes download (thank god) and Spotify.

The third nail in Spotify coffin is that it becomes more and more clear that most of their numbers are built upon bots, not real people. They didn't manage to block out the cheaters. Their system, in the end, is full of crap that is promoted in a sketchy way. The only thing that succeeded with was to prolong the crappy EDM music that still hangs around even though people stopped listening to it.

Will Amazon do the same mistake? Probably not. They don't care to promote the music. All they care is to deliver what the person says to the speaker. My guess is that these top lits will be more accurate then the ones we have right now. Yes, we will find out that many people listen to crap music in their secret world (and prove that people actually is not listening to crappy EDM, more to Spice Girls). The problem the industry will have is how do we reach people to get them to say my artist name and song to the speaker?


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Friday, July 12, 2019

How festivals has changed.

It was a kind of interesting article in a newspaper in Sweden how Swedish festivals has changed over the past 10 years. Before many of the festivals were held in some small town in a muddy field. Camping festivals they wrote them as. Many of them have now been replaced by a large city festival inside parks in the biggest cities.

I don't know if this is just a Swedish phenomenon or if it is a change all over the world?

But another thing struck me when I was on Summerfest the worlds largest festival with a million visitors in Milwaukee in USA. It's not a camping festival but held in a park area in the city. What struck me was the vendors. A part of being on the festival back in the days was that you could buy things around your favorite artists or records like they had on Medimex in Italy where I was at the beginning of the month.

I remember when I went on my first festivals and found vendors selling my favorite band's merch like Ramones, Misfits, 23Till and more. The first festival I bought a Ramones pin that I still have today over twenty years later. Back then it was impossible to find anything like that in my home town Örebro. If you were lucky they carried a best-of compilation with Ramones. The record dealers in that city were just greedy people that didn't care about music. They just sold top ten on the album chart and was walking around like small popes deciding what was good music or not. Mainly they missed by far. Today I'm really happy these horrible people that was an awful gatekeeper has disappeared.

The festival was providing a breathing ground where I could choose my music. Discover new cool stuff. Not just on the stages but also in everything else.

I have been going down on the vendors all this year and here is a big change. All they sell now is nicknack. Had a hard time to find anything music-related. 

At the same time, the internet has changed all that was obscure. Today you find thousands of different Ramones pins on eBay just a click away. The rare bootlegs are on Youtube and sometimes easier to find than the official ones.

Moving the festivals to the city is a part of this. You want it closer and more comfortable. At the same time, it won't be a full experience. Suddenly all the other millions if entertainment that is in the city is also calling for attention. All this is has gotten the audience to be looking for the next thing faster then they can listen to a song that is 3,30 min long. It seems like festivals today is to walk up to the mainstage and take a selfie to prove you where there and then keep your hunt for your next cultural experience kick in a cloud of FOMO.

Nothing is limited any longer for good and bad.

*FOMO=Fear of missing out.


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Thursday, July 11, 2019

If I Can Get Readers, You Can Get Fans (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/if-i-can-get-readers-you-can-get-fans/3293

All this started with yet another one of the artists I manage who complained how hard it is to get fans.Or rather get them to stay and follow them.
My answer was that I could start a blog and be the old grumpy man I am and still get readers and If I can get readers you can get fans. The thing is it would be easier if you are an attractive artist with good songs to get an audience. I’m exactly the opposite, grumpy old guy from the music industry, nagging about things in the music industry.
So, the bet was on. And I started my blog. First thing, where was my audience? I guess my biggest mistake was that I thought I wrote for artists. There are so many blogs online about how the artist struggles. How they don’t understand why people don’t discover them, or why they don’t get this or don’t get that. I thought I could break into that market mainly just pointing out the angle that the industry has. All these questions would find an answer in my blog!

Was I wrong! I didn’t get it in the beginning. I was marketing the blog against the artist community all the time and hoped that people would go in and read it. All I got was silence. I saw that artists would read it but they didn’t comment or come back. I was puzzled. These are the answers on the questions the other was telling in the other blogs or posts I saw online?

Then one day, I was at the Grammy Awards in Sweden and had written a piece of text around a matter that was a bit new but still sensitive inside the industry. Mainly, my thought was to enlighten artists on a certain problem around digital distribution. I was hanging up my coat when the founder and owner of one of the biggest music companies in the world came up to me and asked:
“Is it true what you wrote in the blog around the issue on digital distribution?”
I was probably looking kind of confused. My first thought was, where have you read it? I was a bit surprised that he even had the time to read my nagging online. I was more than impressed that a guy in that position was reading it. But I answered, “oh yes, I got this info from my German counterpart.”

“I read your blog all the time, it’s full of good info and stuff I can get back to my artists.”
Then he got picked up by the CEO of a major label and went off. I then realized that my readers are the music professionals not necessarily the artists. I offer the voice of what they think and how they make decisions and they like to read about how others also look at the same problem.

This insight made me also understand about the artists that always thought that I wrote mean things. Of course, it was mean to them. The industry thinks totally different than the artist does. They both have the same goal - to get the artist’s music out there. But the path is different.

This was the thing I wanted to shed light on. To show this other part to the artist. Still they were not interested in it. It’s a bit safer if everything is magical, I guess. I get that, so I started to promote the blog more to the industry and yes, it took off.
My bet with the artist was to see how fast I can get to 100,000 views. The artist was supposed to, at the same time, get on social media so every post they did in that social media was around 1000 likes, hearts or views. I’m closing in on my goal. I guess it will happen this year.

I just went on that artist page; they have to step it up. Just 56 likes on the last post on Instagram. Like I said if a grumpy old guy can do it, you can do it.





Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The music generations.

When you look back you can see different waves of artists coming and going. Almost like classes graduate.

I found a poster yesterday when I was going through old papers. It was a gala that was held ten years ago. Almost of all the artist did I know or worked with either back then or later in the future. What struck me was that none of them were still active in that constellation on the poster.

Most of them, even how popular they were closed down just two years after. One quit just two years ago from now but on the poster they were really the newcomer. Some of the people in the band went into new bands or even work in the industry. Many just disappeared.

It's never a certain time that gets what builds the classes. Not a certain year. It's a certain period. Right now I feel we are in of those shift from one period from another. I see many acts give up and quit. The other day it was very clear when two acts from two waves ago really giving up on the whole thing.

Like always when these shifts are ongoing you are excited about what you find. At the same time pretty tired that you have to go back and teach the things all over again. In a way, I'm tired to see the artist try to invent the wheel over and over again. Do the same mistakes as the last wave.
A very influential successful friend once gave me the advice to stop working with bands and just work with companies. And yes it's safe to have that. A company that just pile artists in wave after wave living off the long tale. But I really find that boring. I want to find the artist that can stand the pressure.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Some artists really make it difficult.

In the last week, I got a phone call from a manager friend of mine. He wanted to get in an artist at the festival. He had begged me on different channels before but I hadn't come back. Our lineup was almost set and I know this artist and she is really weird and really don't have what it takes to make a career. she has before been kicked from labels. Done strange things and is a bit flaky. But I really like my friend so I gave him an offer on a timeslot since it was late it was a slot that was not the best with venue or time. It was the best I could do. At least he got a spot, many got just a no.

Now a month later the artist came back to me and explained that she couldn't do the festival since she had an agreement with her band that the price we offer was to low, they couldn't lose on to take a gig.

She really diminishes her mangers work. We didn't even want her on, that was really just a favor. Now the mangers reputation is not the best. He tries to book artists and then the artist is trying to negotiate whatever he had agreed on? And I feel that the manger was asked by the artists to check if she could play on the festival.

Also, why have an agreement like that? Since I, in the beginning, didn't think she was worth taking in, well then she really doesn't have a value for a real festival. And looking on her homepage the festivals she does is small things on pretty unknown festivals. In fact, she is the perfect example of how you not getting a career.

In a way, I'm really happy that she went off. Now I can get this slot to some serious artist that actually want to have a career.





Monday, July 8, 2019

Promote everything, not what you think i cool.

Right now in the summertime, I get post after post around the artists build up in front of a summer festival they think is cool. Actually, they are pretty annoying after the 5th message. Already with the first, I know that you will play on this festival that you think is cool (which, in reality, is not that cool, it was cool like five years ago).

This is the mistake, the once the artist usually thinks is so so interesting is actually the one you should promote. The big cool festival that you are playing on already have their support and really don't need the bands to support in that way. The ones that need it the artist mainly ignores and but that is where you would see an effect.

What you should do is promoting each event like it would be the biggest thing since sliced bread.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Here you find the people that has your audience

You won't meet your audience on a showcase festival. You meet the people that have an audience for you. Your job is to persuade them to present you to their audience.

That is why I hate when idiots measure their success in how much audience they had on a showcase. Many times they ask me how good is that big place they are booked to. You know what! If you have 250 people in The room but no one can take you further. That is ok but not good. You play for five people but all can take you further, that is a success.

This is the reality of the showcase. On a normal festival if you draw just five people its a disaster. A full room is really good and you might get rebooked.
If your artist has a hard time to make a good show with just five people in the room. Well, your artist is not in for the task and is not ready to move up in the ranks.

I get too many cocky artists that they think they made it just because they can draw a hundred people in certain cities. Suddenly they have their noses up in the air. And that is the end of their career.
Every new city is a new market. Every country is even a bigger market to conquer. You are starting all over on a new market all the time. When you are too lazy or too cocky to do another territory you just stopped how big you can become you will only redo what you have done before.

Also the reason I don't book the same artists over and over. In the end, my gig would just be a stop in The never-ending same tour system for an artist.



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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I need the bordom.

It's not a lack of gatekeepers that destroy the music industry today. It's the bubble, the lack of what information that reaches me.

The digital highways are so full of information that nowadays the algorithms choose what I should see. Or what it thinks I should see. A lot of new music is passing me by until it becomes a worldwide hit. Why? 
It seems How much I try to get the algorithms to get me info of new music it keeps giving me the info in social media of people I really don't care about. Yes I know I can grade people, but I'm lazy and don't want to do that. In a way that would make my bubble even smaller. Then I would just get info from the very closest of my friends and family.

I was listening on the radio on the car on my way home. Not on the music channels. They just play old hits and the ones that play new stuff is mainly bought and becomes very crappy. So I tuned in The station without music, just talk. Here they presented things I really don't have time to get into. It was a program about lilacs and how they were moved to Sweden. It sounds boring. But it was great. We just planted lilacs outside my house and I found an error we did and now could correct it.

By just get things randomly I find new things. Same with music. The problem now is that I have all the choice in the world. Instead of taking this radio station I could have used an app and tuned in to a pod about one of my special interest like serial killers. Wouldn't learn anything new. Maybe just found a killer I haven't heard of. In the end, you just have heard it all. Special when it's niche areas.
I guess my mind becomes bored. I'm not challenged by random information where I can pick up new things. Now I'm bombarded with the things I really like. But you know what! Those things are starting to get me bored. I'm bored to not find new music. I can't even ask people to send music because the algorithms take off my questions.

I'm stuck in my bubble with real resistance to have my right to feel bored.



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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Check the contract before!

I just got the most stupid mail in a long time. The sad part it's from a professional booking agency. Or well I guess not so professional after all. First, they seem to just hang around on sites like Sonicbids and try to book their acts. Anyway, they found us through one of these sites.

One of the bands sounded really good and would fit a spot in the lineup. It says pretty clearly in our description what kind of festival it is and what the payments are. So we took a chance and sent an agreement to this booking agency. The said yes and signed the deal online.

Then we sent out the gig details to the festival, what stage and what time. The answer we got is:

Great, the times and stages look good, we are free on those dates. This is how much we take for a gig.

Here comes the fun part. In the contract, we already settle how much we would pay. It's not like you can sign a contract and then just put another price tag on it. And by signing the contract you tell us that you are available.

Before we even had a chance to answer on that one the next email came in.

How much to do you pay for flöights, accommodation and what kind of food does the artist get?

This is also very funny. This is actually stated in the contract, all of it. We slowly realized that this booking agency just says yes to everything and then think they can negotiate afterward on everything.

This is the problem we see now in the business. Before a company like this would be taken off. With the new digital highways, they stay ongoing. they have no clue what they are doing and many artists end up in these shit companies hands all the time.

I don't know if I should break the ice to them and just tell them what they signed? Even if it was digitally.


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Monday, July 1, 2019

Why support the useless cases?

I guess when you work with the subject, it is kind of obvious. The hopeless cases are to easy to see but still, people want to push them even if you know this will not go very far.

It starts that someone that is your friend suddenly has seen or met an artist in some unusual place. Weddings or vacations are not that unusual. They think they have found the artist of a lifetime. I guess it is the situation as well. Like when you are on vacation that cheap wine was much better on your vacation then the bottles you bought to bring back home.

Maybe that is the reason why your friend actually thinks that you should all your trust into a 40-year-old sing-songwriter that has been playing in a bar in a tourist hotel for the past seven years. Even if you explain that it's not that good they just roll their eyes and ask what they should do to get this guy on the top chart, he really deserves it.

Of course, this is a hopeless case. The reason he is on this spot is that he hasn't the drive enough. when you work in the business you kind of see that straight away. If he was gods gift to mankind musically he would have gone somewhere.

I was on a showcase in NYC with a very big A&R from a major label. We where backstage talking to a band she was working with. Laster on another artist came in a girl with a guitar. She sat down and played some songs as a warm-up. She talked a bit with us complaining that it was so hard to find the right people in the business especially the A&R:s we kept our poker faces and she played another tune. She was good, I admit it. Then the A&R asked some questions. How long she had been in NYC? The guitar girl told us that she had been in an art school and moved to new york seven years ago. she also revealed that she was 28. The A&R asked a bit of her home town and what inspiration she had. After a while, it was her time to go on stage and she went out.

I looked at my friend and just said: She should just have known what our profession is.
It doesn't matter my friend said. She gave it away quite quickly. I mean if she has spent seven years here in NYC and hasn't gone anywhere it's something wrong with her drive. It should have happened things already if she had what it takes. I mean the songs are good and there is talent there. But she has spent to a long time just wandering around making nothing. So not interesting.

As a professional, you just see it like that. This girl is the person my friend will drag along ten years later. and then it's even more too late.

What really makes me puzzled is when professionals do the same mistake. Especially people that have a job to bring new talent forward. This morning I just had that. A friend that has a job to bring local talent forward. He was presenting new acts for me. The first he brought up was an artist that my friend had on his label some years ago. First of all these persons in this band have had like six different projects. Soon a project is not going good they jump off and just change the name. It's not like we never have seen them in the business before. Then they are 45 and play punk music. Okay, fun but not interesting. On top of that, they have families and can't tour. Why on earth are you presenting this hopeless case to me? Why support something that is really going nowhere?


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