Archive for the ‘Bands’ Category

I’m surrounded by musicians all day, every day. I see their struggles, I know their work habits, I understand their passions and beliefs. And we really need to clear some things up…

It’s not easy surviving as a musician. It never has been, it never will be. Most musicians have been told this their whole lives, but instead of accepting that it’s inherent in the career, they tend to look outside the lifestyle and toward those that listen to, sell, or provide services for music and musicians.

1. Record Labels Are Evil, Greedy Bastards

This is the most commonly spouted belief, and it makes sense why. The labels take a massive percentage of sales, leaving you with little. Not only that, but they have screwed over thousands of hopeful artists!

The Realistic View:

Record labels (generally) aren’t non-profit organizations. They need money to stay afloat. To make money, they need highly marketable artists with huge sales profits. Unfortunately, most of the artists they pick up are NOT cash cows, so the ones who are end up making up for the less successful investments.

Reevaluate:

Think of it as a loan. The record label gives you money to make a record, go on tour, etc. which YOU have to earn back. They aren’t there to hand you free money. You’re an investment. Remember that.

2. Pirating Caused The Industry To Collapse (and must be stopped)

That damn Napster had to start the whole file sharing craze and cause no one to ever want to pay for music again. Anyone who downloads music illegally should be fined thousands of dollars to stand as an example to the others.

Slowpoke: enemy of musicians everywhere

The Realistic View:

This is a huge, tangled ball of finger-pointing, advancing technology, human nature, and old-fashioned beliefs that is really impossible to fully evaluate in a short, 4-point blog post. Pirating isn’t the insanely horrible act that (most) everyone in the industry makes it out to be.

I understand that it seems to have led to a steep decline in CD sales (although, for the record, that is highly debated and there are many other reasons that contributed to the decline,) but the fact of the matter is it comes with the territory. People want accessibility. That’s obvious by how technology is always moving toward ease of use, instant connection with anyone all over the world, and access to information. Facebook, Google, Spotify, they all have different services, but they provide one thing that people want – access.

Reevaluate:

Use (most) people’s natural inclination to pirate (because it’s easier) to your advantage. Find ways to extract valuable information, such as an email address, whenever someone downloads your song (on your site, for free) or make it easy to pay for your music. Downloads for donations are a great way to do this. As Amanda Palmer recently brought to media attention, it’s better to “let” fans pay you than to ask them to pay you. Spotify is another great example, because all it takes is one time to sign up and there are millions of songs at the user’s fingertips. Speaking of Spotify…

3. Spotify (or Pandora, iTunes, etc…) Is The Enemy

A newer cliche, this rant came about when the Internet started to find ways to monetize the digital music revolution. Similar to the record label argument, it claims that Internet streaming and MP3 download companies hog all the profits and only pay artists a pittance for their work. You may see where this is going…

The Realistic View:

Spotify is NOT a bottomless pit of money. In fact, right now they are struggling to find a way to turn a profit and stay afloat (although the situation is constantly improving. Perhaps more on that later.) If we focus on Spotify, we can look at how insanely difficult it is to get labels (and their repertoire) on board for a “fair” royalty rate, which leads to a struggle to get advertisement revenue, which means a smaller amount of money to pay labels, which leads to fewer songs…it’s a pretty vicious cycle.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, each play may earn a VERY small amount of money, but artists do get paid for EACH PLAY. If your songs merit many listens, eventually it will add up.

Reevaluate:

The vicious cycle I brought up earlier can easily be reversed. It just takes a little bit of faith and cooperation from labels. If labels trust Spotify and their ability to attract users and advertisement, then Spotify will have a larger collection to work with, which will lead to more people being interested in the service, which will lead to more advertising revenue (and paid subscribers,) which will lead to more label confidence, more songs, more listeners, etc. It can be reversed, and I believe we’re slowly coming around to the right track.

You, the artist, need to focus on using Spotify as a fantastic marketing tool, and get those listens up as much as possible. Do you put your music on Bandcamp or Soundcloud? Spotify is free for possible fans, and it will automatically pay you. Bandcamp and Soundcloud won’t. There is a small fee for getting your songs up there, but with a big enough fan base, it can easily be worth it.

4. I Create Music, I Deserve Compensation

Musicians say that they should be paid because they make music. They spent time and creative energy to put out a piece of work and now they deserve their reward, dammit! People don’t steal coffee right? Why is it ok to steal music?

Let’s really think about this for a minute

The Realistic View:

That statement is unrealistic. Yes, you put time and effort into your music. Yes, it’s shitty when you don’t get paid for all of that effort. But listen, it’s not about how much work you put in – It’s about supply and demand. If people don’t feel that your music is worth paying for, sorry, it’s not. As for the coffee thing…coffee is a tangible object, it is far more difficult to steal a cup of coffee from Starbucks than it is to download a file. It’s apples and oranges really.

Reevaluate:

Again, it’s all supply and demand. Give the fans a reason to pay you for your time – use human nature to your advantage. After the very base needs and safety, humans crave love and belonging. They want to feel like they are part of something and it’s your job to inspire those feelings. Music, at it’s core, isn’t a product for a base need like food or shelter. It is there because we need more than that. It elicits feelings of every kind – joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, understanding, remorse – and YOU are the ones that create it. The fans want you to know how your songs make them feel…but more importantly, they want you to live up to those feelings. To understand them like the songs do.

Make them feel understood and they will give you their last dollar without question.


Musicians do wonderful  and inspiring work. Music has led me through every chapter of my life and will be with me until the day I die. But the fact that you are part of that mystical community that creates art, doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the economy. There is a business behind music and, as much as it may pain your artistic nature, you’re going to have to deal with it if you want to make this your life’s work. Otherwise, maybe it’s better as a hobby.

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Band of The Week: Mojo Kick

Genre: Blues Rock, Grunge Rock, Punk Blues

Listen If You Like: Jack White, The Black keys, Crash Kings
 
 
 
 
 
 

You may (or maybe not) remember from when I first started blogging that I love going to shows. If I can find a good show for every night of the week, it’s been a fucking fantastic week. There was a blizzard (snowpocalypse? yay sensationalism) this past weekend and the worst part wasn’t that every place to get food was closed or that I could barely walk anywhere, it was that the shows I was excited for were canceled.

Pictured: not me

That being said, there are so many shows each week that I have to pick and choose. And I’ve noticed some patterns in the shows that get the shaft. So here are some reasons I won’t be going to your band’s next show:

1. You Had A Show A Week Ago

And have one next week too. Even if I haven’t been to any of your shows, I’m more likely to see the band who plays, at MOST, every two weeks than someone I know I can just wait to see next week.

If I have seen your show, playing so often provides no distinction between each performance. It’s better to play a show, then take the time to develop your songs, performance, or stage presence, and THEN play a show. That way it feels completely new and interesting and I’ll actually be interested to see what you have planned for next time.

2. I Have No Idea What You Sound Like

This baffles me. Fans don’t become fans by finding you on Facebook and waiting until they can go to a show to hear your music. Fans are formed with the least effort (for them) possible. Put up at least one song before you start playing out – unless you’re playing open mic nights where there’s a guaranteed audience.

3. It’s In Another State

Facebook has ways to sort your friends for a reason. If I’m in Boston and your show is in Rhode Island, there’s no way I’ll be coming…just don’t even invite me. I’ll get all excited for it and then realize it’s definitely not walking distance. If you want to offer me a ride and place to stay, that’s a different story…I’m always down for a good adventure 😉

4. You’re strategy consists of PLEASE PLEASE COME TO OUR AWESOME SHOW WE’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER!

You cannot annoy me into attending your show. And for the love of god, don’t send me a personal message unless we are close enough that we’ve shared a fork.

 

Now here are some tips from my favorite Internet places:

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/11/how-do-bands-promote-custom-tabs-on-facebook.html

http://howtorunaband.com/10-ideas-to-promote-a-show-in-a-different-city/

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/10/how-to-promote-a-show-you-may-not-like-what-youre-about-to-read.html

http://schiffblog.com/2012/03/18/the-aar-cycle/

Band of The Week: The Von Bondies

Genre: Alternative Rock, Garage Rock, Punk Blues

Listen If You Like: The Dead Weather, Harvey Danger, Them Crooked Vultures

 

 

 

 

 

Band of The Week: Opium Symphony

Genre: Hard Rock, Metal

Listen If You Like: Stone Temple Pilots, Audioslave, Jane’s Addiction

 

 

 

 

In the world of music, “Hard Rock” has taken a turn for the worse. It’s been diluted, altered, and fed back to us as a shell of its former self. However, I was recently introduced to a band that brings back aspects of the Hard Rock genre in the best way possible. Opium Symphony is a band who understands that “The idea that ‘rock is dead’ is almost as old as the genre itself,” and is striving to make sure that idea remains as ridiculous as it was in 1958.
 
Opium Symphony manages to walk the line of reminding its listeners of the brilliance of bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Audioslave, and Jane’s Addiction, while at the same time avoiding cliches that come with the Hard Rock territory. They’re recently released CD, “Blame It On The Radio,” is filled with heavy drums and gritty vocals – staples of Hard Rock – while maintaining an individuality that keeps it from being a mockery of the genre’s former glory, instead creating something that’s unique to themselves.

 

 

I’ve switched into vacation mode. It always happens when I go back to Ohio for breaks in between semesters. BUT I’m getting back into it, finding time between relaxing and working for my parents’ sandwich shop to write to you beautiful people. The posts may be a little scattered for the next couple weeks, but there will definitely be a schedule once again when I’m back in Boston and in school.

The end of my internship was August 13th…it was bitter sweet to say the least. I learned so much this summer and am really happy to have found such a phenomenal place to work, but I was ready for a break.

A couple weeks before the end of my time there, they had their annual Digital Press Conference (which was sponsored by Reverbnation, so that’s cool). I was lucky enough to be able to interview all the artists that performed, so here’s an overview of the day!

The schedule was packed full of amazing musicians. I asked each of them to describe their music in one word – here’s what they said:

3:15 Amy Lynn & The Gunshow – Sassy-fresh
3:40 Tom Fuller Band – Brilliant
4:05 Jesse Terry – Timeless
4:30 David Bronson – Honest
4:55 Crazy Mary – Psychedelic
5:45 October Project – Romantic
6:10 Block – Complicated
6:35 Jenn Summers – Colbie collait/Jack Johnson driving down the PCH in a VW van heading to a Beach Boys concert
7:00 The Plaine Truth – Soul-Rock
7:25 Trew Music – Alternative Hip-Hop
7:50 Pete Herger – Rock & Roll

Some of them took creative liberty on the definition of “one,” but hey, they’re musicians.

I also asked the artists what methods – online or offline – bring them the most fans. The most popular answer was, in fact, live music! It makes sense to me, because I’ve found many bands that way. The second most popular was using social media sites and actually connecting with people. Tweet conversations, responding to Facebook comments, etc. Also, not surprising. It’s good to know that connection is still that important.

Being way up on the third floor, I was slightly separated from the chaos of the main floor, which was good for me, because it was pretty intense! There were 30+ people in the living room, kitchen, and back yard when I finally made my way down to the action. I staked my claim by the hummus and Stacey’s Pita chips (seriously, I could eat two bags of these), and mostly observed.

Each performer had the stage (the raised section of Ariel’s living room – awesome) for 15 minutes. In that time, the acts that I was able to see managed to get their essence across and blow everyone away. The two that stick out most were The Plaine Truth – with powerful female/male vocals – and Trew Music – with an attitude of someone doing exactly what they should be.

Trew Music!

The Plaine Truth rockin’ out

Trew also premiered his music video right after his performance. He started it with a warning that it’s not the usual music video, which I had a hard time believing, but he was right. It had a futuristic narrator that took us to different sections of the song, and the story it told. You can check it out here and let me know what you think!

The music video director himself. Trew’s entire crew were incredibly close and just seemed like great people.

The staff at Ariel Publicity ended up staying until around 10:30, which left us all exhausted the next day, but it was a great experience and I met some people I hope to meet up with whenever we manage to be in the same city! Couldn’t ask for more than that.

Oh and every aspect of the house was utilized to accommodate all the people – including the roof.

The staff of Cyber PR, ladies and gentlemen

BAND OF THE WEEK:

Jacob Jeffries Band – Crazy Under The Moon

Genre: Pop/Rock

Listen if you like: I don’t even know what to compare this to…catchy, upbeat, good pop/rock songs