Archive for June, 2012

BAND OF THE WEEK:

Art Decade – Western Sunrise

Genre: Symphonic Rock, Progressive Rock

Listen if you like: The Mars Volta, Muse, Radiohead

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Based in Boston, Art Decade is a titillating combination of Classical, Pop and Punk Rock, known as “Symphonic Rock.” Ben Talmi was raised on classical music and received in-depth classical training while attending Berklee College of Music – and it shows.

Their debut LP, Western Sunrise, starts off with no pretenses – a playfully descending strings line ushers in the beginning of “A Lie” – to let you know this is more than your average rock album. The classical introduction is quickly followed by a high (and highly distorted) vocal line and a rockin’ drum groove to prove it’s inspired by more than Mozart.

The intricacies and layers of each song don’t overshadow the clear rock influences; the epic feel of the album brings to mind the likes of Muse and Radiohead, while the vocals and screaming guitar take us to the Alternative Punk realm of Brand New and Forgive Durden. The thought put into each aspect of the album reflects the band’s understanding of music, and their mastery of both theory and popular music. The title track exemplifies this, with strings woven throughout, supporting and elevating the entire song.

Lyrically, the band sticks to simple ideas, mainly of love, meaning, and hope. The album starts off with a cynical thought, “As usual nothing’s perfect/as usual you’re not there” and stays consistently in a dark place, with such emotional lyrics as “Looking down on myself, it’s clear/I’m not supposed to be here,” until the two final songs, “Daydream” and “Kids and Kings,” end on a more uplifting note.

Despite the technicality of Western Sunrise, it’s not over-thought. Each song manages to meld the multitude of genres together and avoid coming off as pretentious or inaccessible. With the ability to get you singing and nodding along, and the scope to inspire any music scholar,Western Sunrise crosses borders and challenges the status quo of popular music.

Three weeks in and I’m pretty confident about what to expect from day to day at my internships. Time for a sneak peek into the lowest level in the music industry:

Internship #1

The best part about this industry? Waking up early is avoided at all costs. My first internship doesn’t start until 2, so I can either catch up on the sleep I didn’t get over the weekend or wake up and get some shit done before the chaos of the world takes up all my time.

Because it’s a venue, there’s a lot of manual work that has to be done. Here’s my morning checklist:

  • Check messages
  • Rotate posters (get rid of old ones, put up new ones, etc)
  • Write the lineup for the night on the chalkboards (I have horrible handwriting so this rarely goes well)
  • Water and hang the plants

Pretty basic stuff that would be a bit of a hassle for the higher ups. After the checklist is finished, I go to my supervisor for tasks. A lot of the time it’s administrative work, like updating the website, writing tweets, or making new sheets for the sound guys.

The best times are when they ask me to look for musicians that could possibly play a show. That involves looking at a list of blogs that feature local or small bands and listening to the top 10 musicians on each blog. Great for discovery, and I’m ALWAYS down to listen to some music.

Skills Acquired

I’d like to think my handwriting has improved from doing the listings, but sadly that’s not true…I have been learning a lot about what works for bands and what doesn’t though.

  • Bright, professional posters are a must. Make sure to have the date ON the poster. Also it’s better if you don’t send the posters folded, who wants to read a wrinkled poster?
  • For the love of God, PLEASE have more than a MySpace. Put down the whip, that horse is dead. Perfect combination? Website, Facebook, Twitter. And of course you can throw in a sprinkling of other websites if it tickles your fancy.
  • The name of your band can make you impossible to find, or it can make you stick out. Choose wisely.
  • Venues want you to bring a certain amount of people, but most bands don’t live up to their promises. You can use that knowledge to get yourself some more gigs, or pleasantly surprise the venue management.

Internship #2

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably figured out that I intern at Ariel Publicity. I don’t think I’ll have any issues putting that up here because, well, they’re awesome.

Ariel Publicity is a digital PR company that works with artists to increase their online presence and guide them in the world of social media. We work exclusively online, so I spend a lot of time on my laptop.

There is a lot less every day work to do, so I spend my time on various ongoing projects like

  • Pitching bands to various websites
  • Researching ways to increase the reach of Facebook pages (since they decided to make it extremely difficult recently)
  • Database cleaning (tedious, but seriously necessary)
  • Planning the 2012 Digital Press Conference

If you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot more responsibility working for Ariel. I really feel like I’m personally helping each band I work with (we get to choose) and I’m getting invaluable experience that I can apply to any future endeavor. This is the kind of internship that can lead to a job; not only does it look good on a resume, but it helps add skills and experience that students otherwise don’t get.

Skills Acquired

Too many to list, but here are the main ones.

  • Professional writing skills. I’ve always thought of myself as a decent writer, but the level of thought required to write a compelling pitch has made me up my game like nothing else.
  • New marketing techniques and ways to transfer those skills from one platform to another. The internet is always changing, which means a site that’s popular today could change or disappear at any time. Learning the basics and how to adapt to these changes quickly is what keeps Ariel from becoming obsolete.
  • Website design and HTML. I’ve learned basic HTML before, but having to create and edit pages of the Ariel Publicity website has cemented what I learned and forced me to teach myself skills I didn’t have before.
  • Networking. A lot of social media involves being able to communicate clearly and connect with people online and in person (yes, we do still meet in person on occasion). Personally, this is a difficult area for me, so it’s great to be pushed and surrounded by people who are literally social for a living.

By far the best part of being an intern is the fact that I am constantly surrounded by music. I’ve found some phenomenal music in the past few weeks and the best part is that I can actually have a significant impact on their success.

The insanity of this week was just beyond…everything. I had the New Music Seminar (and work), more open mic nights, and a couple shows. The only way I could be more surrounded by music is if I had a mariachi band as my posse.

I’m okay with that.

Sunday, the New Music Seminar opening party started off with the “Fiery Sensations.” I was not prepared for this:

There were some…interesting people at NMS (press pass ftw)

Monday and Tuesday consisted of a gaggle of music industry people discussing why we’re in such a shithole and how we should dig our way out. The head honchos of Pitchfork, Hypemachine, Fluxblog, and Okayplayer hashed out the role of music discovery blogs in the world on Pandora and Spotify Radio.

My favorite panel was the Social Media Movement, by far. I tweeted a quote from the CEO of ReverbNation and they TOTALLY RETWEETED ME. I was feeling pretty famous for about 5 seconds there.

Social Media powerhouse right here. Representatives for Facebook, Spotify, Reverbnation, Bandpage and more discussed social media tactics and changes. I’ll be posting an article about this panel soon.

My friend scored a gig from an open mic night last week, so our little group headed out to Caffe Vivaldi in the blazing heat to hear his beautiful voice (he totally played The Beer Pong Song)

Back to The Bitter End! I’m starting to really dig that place. My friends Cosmodrome rocked the house (funked the house? idk…) and we met some awesome musicians.

Not Captured in Pictures:

Met a lot of new people this week, which always makes me happy. At NMS, I made friends with a band from Mexico City called The Oats. You should probably check them out if you like The Strokes or The Pixies.

After meeting a musician at an open mic a couple weeks ago, I discovered he actually graduated from Berklee 2 years ago. The vast Berklee network continues to amaze me…

I started contributing to Berklee’s internship blog! Check out my first article and, if you like it, check in every week for another!

Look for my first album review on Thursday!

Is there anything you want to know more about (social media, interning, etc)? Let me know either in the comments or by email to Musikleigh@gmail.com.

 

BAND OF THE WEEK:

Trampled By Turtles – Wait So Long

Genre: Folk, Bluegrass

Listen if you like: Punch Brothers, Three Tall Pines, insane finger picking

 

 

 

As someone who really prefers to take on my own projects and would rather work in isolation than with a group of like-minded people, being an intern is a bit of a struggle. There isn’t much choice in the tasks you’re assigned (unless you’re lucky) and a lot of the time there are tasks and projects that have to be split with the other interns. If you work well in this environment, you’ll have no problems. For those of you who prefer a different work situation, I’ve come up with some tips to make the (likely unpaid) internship work for you.

1. Learn From The Little Things

Expect to have a lot of tasks that are time consuming but fairly mindless (more lovingly known as “bitch work”). Taking down messages, updating inventories and databases, running out to get various items, etc. The good thing about these tasks? You can learn a LOT about what really goes into a business. It’s not all about ideas and the “big picture.” All of the tasks that are a little less exciting are essential to making the business run, and even make the company come across as more professional.

2. Don’t Wait Around: Be Proactive

Besides the daily tasks, there are likely projects that you’ll be assigned. Sometimes they are repetitive clerical type projects, but often you’ll get a more creative assignment. There’s actually a lot of opportunity at this point to learn and to prove yourself. If you can come up with an idea for a project that could help the company, you’re a step ahead of the majority of interns. It will also guarantee two things: 1. You’ll get to work on a project that actually interests you and 2. your supervisor will see that you can think for yourself, instead of waiting around for a set of instructions, which goes a long way when looking for a job.

3. USE Their Connections

In all likelihood, the company you work for has a ton of connections in the industry, or they wouldn’t be where they are today. Take advantage of this as much as possible. Any parties, shows, or networking events they host or attend, be in a position to be invited and meet some people! You’d be surprised how many people are as eager to meet (and guide) interns as interns are to meet them. Have a card, and have a smile. It’s hard to go wrong with that.

*The one thing with this is to not push too hard. If it seems like a “staff only” or upper management thing, don’t ask if you can go directly. Also, don’t promote yourself too hard when networking, it should feel like a normal conversation, not a sales pitch

4. Make Friends With Other Interns

They may not have business experience right now, but they are the future of the industry, and it’s always good to have friends who know and trust you. Internships can be competitive, and it can create an atmosphere that fosters animosity, but you can help prevent or reverse that by reaching out and showing that you aren’t a threat. Everyone in this industry has to work together, not tear each other down, if we want to build it up to the giant it used to be.

5. Ask ALL The Questions

Seriously. Your employer and the rest of the workers at the company have so much knowledge. Even if it’s something you’re not directly interested in, learning the ins and outs of the company is essential to succeeding. It shows that you go above and beyond, and (between you and me) can help shine a light on systems in the company that might not be working…which you can then help to fix. End result? They’ll either hire you or find you someplace that will.

I kept it to 5 of the basics, but here are a few articles with a lot more advice:

Internship Success

Advice For Interns

Second week down! I can’t believe I’ve even been here that long. This week was fairly insane; I didn’t have two seconds to myself, and I loved it (for the most part). Here are some pictures to recap:

Went to about 4 open mic nights this week. I never thought I’d have friends so talented.

Walked nearly four miles in the rain…for no reason. The life of an intern.

Berklee was here…

Got to see Lara Marling for free in Prospect Park! She’s pretty badass, and she has an English accent.

Met a goat on the street. NBD.

Couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my time than playing some music next to that skyline

Tip for making friends: Play music in the hallways for about an hour. Some people may quietly hate you, but the music lovers will come out in droves.

Tuesday I’ll give you guys a peak at the daily life of an intern in the music business, so if you’re thinking about interning at some point, you might want to check it out!

I’ll leave you with this:

I’d like to clarify something from Sunday’s post: when I say harassment, I mean the anonymous, on-the-street catcall kind. Not the work kind. Everyone’s been awesome and I don’t want there to be any confusion.

Now that that’s cleared up, here’s the band of the week!

BAND OF THE WEEK:

Nina Simone – Feeling Good

Genre: Jazz, Blues

Listen if you like: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald