Are You Smart Enough?

Are You Smart Enough

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to make records?
Just because you own a Pro-Tools rig and can record music to present to the world doesn’t mean you should; it doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand. OMG, these are GREAT tools for endless exploration. I was, and continue to be fascinated with my rig. I used to fly Kelly out to L.A. and pay him an hourly (bro rate) to help me mix my projects so I could LEARN how to make records! But there is a difference between doodling in your home studio and making records. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will gain some real momentum.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to orchestrate proper arrangements?

I hear the home projects that you put out there for the world. Most of you create arrangements (like we all do when we are beginning) that are WAY too busy with God knows what recorded right over the vocal. They typically don’t work which makes you sound amateur.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

that while art is subjective but it can be objective too?

Some songs just suck.file4671348049272

Some bands just suck.

Some singers just suck.

Some songs say absolutely nothing.

Most songs are overloaded with cliches.

Some recordings are sonically shitateous

Some recordings have terrible performances

Can you really hear the difference?

Do you have the communication skill set to get the most out of your band in a recording situation?

Most of you can hear some of the difference but not all of the difference so stop being so sensitive.

Smart Educatin vs Experience imageIt takes EXPERIENCE to hear if the bass player is locking up with the drummer.

It takes EXPERIENCE to hear when it doesn’t happen and make a performance call on the record.

It takes EXPERIENCE to get to a frame of mind as a songwriter that allows you to judge your own “A” songs from the “B” and “C” songs objectively.

After all, if you put the finger-painting up on the world’s refrigerator, the world is going to judge. The world is not your mother so the world doesn’t care about your feelings, and they will vote by not voting; by not buying. They WILL make a decision about your art based on what they hear.

How are your sales going btw?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to manage your brand?

Putting your home recorded demos, live band rehearsals, partial recordings, home studio recordings, work tapes, song ideas, etc up on Soundcloud and Reverbnation is a HORRIBLE move for your brand and reputation. Imagine if your art were an unfinished prototype car you were presenting to consumers for the purposes of commerce. Now imagine it only had a chasse, 4 tires, 1 seat, a dashboard, a steering wheel, and all the necessary pedals.

Don’t be pissed that consumers will make a judgment because they can’t see your body design.kf174

They can’t see the color it will come in.

They can’t see the rest of the seats to comprehend the functionality of your interior design to their lives.

They are scared because it doesn’t look SAFE without the body around it.

They can’t FEEL, COMPREHEND, UNDERSTAND, and therefore CONSUME your works in progress because it’s still in progress, so WTF are you putting it out there? People will JUDGE based on what they see and hear, not what is in your head!

You can only create a reputation for what you have done, not what you are going to do. Save the works in progress for your band mates and other artist friends who understand the process, they’ll get it; consumers won’t. Hell, I hate bringing A&R reps in until the mix is finished and they’re in the damn business!

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to mix properly?

Smart Mix imageA killer mix is an art form and incredibly important to your dream. A killer mix requires thousands of hours of practice and an expensive rig.

Did you know that mix specialists like Tom Lord-Algeand Chris Lord-Alge sometimes get $5,000 per song and crank out 3 mixes per day? Why could they possibly command this kind of money if what they were offering wasn’t so important?

Did you know that Guns & Roses went through several different mix engineers before settling on Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero? Yes, all of the mix engineers had a pedigree but Thompson and Barbiero got it right. So why are you mixing your project?

MIX for the love of God!! Explore!! Learn!! But learn from people with experience and certainly don’t release your own mixes just yet! Most of you have 1,000 to do before you are going to get any good at it.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

How badly you need a producer?

Just because you or your friend went to recording school doesn’t mean you know how to make records! Producing is its own art form as well! Kelly got a degree sound engineering too, but the only reason he got his first internship was because he outworked all the other interns and had a better attitude. His degree had little to do with it and he didn’t know how to make records right out of school. Besides, why is it that most of the iconic bands you love STILL use producers?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

What producing is exactly?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

the difference between a great live player and a great studio musician?

You may be a killer live band, but some of your members aren’t good enough to be on the record. Live is here and (SNAP) gone, but the record is forever. Stop fighting for the whack_the_bagbrotherhood/sisterhood to stand tall in the face of the ugly music business and start fighting for making the best record possible; it’ll sell better. Don’t worry, if the weak links are dedicated, they will grow into the role over time. Don’t hold your potential momentum hostage over someone’s feelings. You would be astounded at how many of your favorite band’s records didn’t include all the members of your favorite bands.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how much work will be required to make ANY dream like this a reality? (Better stop judging)

Think of YOUR story,

YOUR past,

YOUR history,

Now think of how you would feel about anyone judging your struggle, making statements about what you feel, how easy it was for you, etc. Pissed off yet? How could they possibly know? They weren’t there every day. Guess what, you weren’t in anybody else’s struggle but your own, man, so don’t make the mistake of assuming how “easy” it was for some artists who appeared on your RADAR overnight. It took them forever to get there, and whether you like them or not, they worked harder at it than you are right now, so shut up and get to work!

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

success requires a team?Smart Team A-Team

Nobody can do it alone.

Who is your current team?

Who is your dream team?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

about the value of a mentor? Everybody needs mentorship in everything.

You have to learn to tie your shoes.

You have to learn to count to 10.

Hardcore drug addicts have to learn to do drugs the proper way to avoid infection or death.

You have to learn how to be a master carpenter.

You have to learn how to be a master plumber.

You have to learn how to do your job on the first day, first week, the first month, etc.

Why would you kid yourself that you know enough to put out acompetitive record that you, engineered, produced, wrote, sang, and played all by yourself?

Are you planning to market it yourself? Do you really know what you’re doing?

Don’t you want to learn?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

relationships are mission critical to success?

There are a million singer songwriters far better than the ones that are currently making a great living right now that will, unfortunately, never be heard because they either suck at creating relationships or they truly believe the opportunity they need is going to come knocking at their apartment door one day while they are high on the couch watching TV.

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Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

consistency is the key to success in the music business?

Success in your music career, any career, your life, your relationships, etc is all based on what you do consistently every day. Your relationship with your significant other is not based on one event, one amazing evening, one sentence, one moment, one “big break”, etc. it’s based on all the “little things” you do every day to show your commitment.

Why would you feel that your music career would be any different?

 

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WTF Is Long Tail?

Long Tail Feature image 2

Long Tail image 2

 Definition of ‘Long Tail’

 

 

long tail

noun

noun: long tail; plural noun: long tails

  1. 1.  (in retail and marketing) used to refer to the large number of products that sell in small quantities, as contrasted with the small number of best-selling products.

In business, long tail is a phrase coined by Chris Anderson, in 2004. Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough

 

Guess what?

 

We are there; it’s called the internet. Most of you seem to understand that concept but still fail to really grasp what it means (crazy dichotomy right?). There is no valuable “shelf space” on the internet. So indie music currently lives and can thrive on the “long tail”.

All the music services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, Deezer, blah, blah, blah promised us EXPOSURE on the long tail through their services but failed to realize (or care) that a small percentage of consumers would try their “Techie” solution for new music discovery and those that did would be burned by shitateously written, weakly recorded, poorly marketed pieces of crap that came up because the algorithm felt it “sounded like this”. But I digress.”head” is defined as the top 20% of music sales or all the major label, major capital, major tour, major hype, major market, major brand, super popular music all of us aspire to be (those of you that say you don’t are liars, you just want to be a huge act on your terms instead of kissing ass and changing any part of your artistic approach, but you secretly want the big time all the same. I mean what a high class problem, right? Having huge success [meaning throngs of people adore you for your music] without kissing any ass?). Just own it.

 

 

The Head is Shrinking

DSC00059This means that the effectiveness of a mass market, mass media pipeline, and thus mass exposure, is continually decreasing through constantly expanding channels of content; it’s fragmenting. Let me explain in terms of television fragmentation and relate it to mass exposure (from which fame is a byproduct). In 1980 there were 3 TV networks (if you were born during or after the 80’s you’re going to have to trust me on this and try to LEARN from this) they were ABC, NBC, and CBS. This means there were 3 main places for the whole country to consume popular TV shows (a.k.a. content).

 

1980 TV Viewership Statistics

Dallas Long Tail imageIf you look at this 1980 TV ratings chart you will see there was an estimated 79.9 million households with a TV (if you average between 1 and 2 kids per household you’ll get pretty close to the 1980 United States population of around 226 million people meaning just about every household had a TV.) I then average the estimated viewership of the top 10 rated shows to be 20.1 million viewers. If you divide that into the estimated number of households with a TV you get a statistic that says the top 10 shows enjoyed an average of 25% of the total TV viewing audience; essentially 25% of the country!

2013 TV Viewership Statistics

If look at this Nielsen Report you will see there was estimated 115.6 million households with a TV in 2013. I then Best of 2013 Long Tail imageaveraged the viewership from this 2013 TV ratings chart show a statistic that says the top 10 TV shows in 2013 averaged 8.9 million viewers. Divide that number into the 115.6 million estimated households with a TV and you get just 7.7% of the total TV audience.

See how it’s fragmenting?

Can you see how being on a hit TV show means you are being exposed to far less people then you were in 1980?

This is what we mean when we say the head is shrinking.

Can you also understand how any “home run” makes you far less famous nowadays?

 

Terrestrial Radio Application

file0001980941201This very dynamic applies to terrestrial radio as well. With all the new “Deckless” cars and smart-phones acting as mobile internet antennae, the consumers now can choose from terrestrial radio, Satellite radio, HD radio, personal playlists on a smart phone, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Slacker, etc.; it’s fragmenting too. Which means the head of music marketing is shrinking too. One could argue that this means the amount of Rockstars is shrinking as well. After all what is the definition of a Rockstar but a music artist that is famous from mass market exposure, right?

 

 

The Long Tail is Growing

And so it goes, the long tail grows making it easier to be exposed but harder to get exposure. Does that make sense? The very market that would LOVE your music is so very reachable, but how do you do it?

 

Conclusions

What exactly does long tail mean for indie music? It means that because the head is shrinking making the mass market less lucrative, and the devaluation of music is making it financially irresponsible for big money to risk developing artists, any plans that rely solely on big money (a.k.a. record labels and big investors) to find you, develop you, and break you are poorly laid. You have a better chance of winning the lottery regardless of your talent. It means that you are now responsible for PROVING your music has value in the marketplace first; it means you are going to have to become a business person and learn to market yourself effectively. Commerce! Ugh…why do we despise that so much? The very term “professional musician”, regardless of the music being high brow or low brow, requires commerce! You better embrace it!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the good news is that it is easier than ever before to define and reach an Digital Rock Star Long Tail imageaudience all over the world. There are 7 billion people on this planet and many of them are connected and reachable! Surely it can’t be that hard to sell 10,000 CDs or downloads if we rethink the approach. Because of this fact, it is easier than ever to make a living as an artist. Hell, just a little business savvy and you could actually create a GROWING Business!

The long tail also means that you can make the music you want to make without interference from meddling record label suits who are trying to direct you to be more “marketable” which means “mass marketable” which means you need to fit into their business model that services only the head. It means your long tail music project could create enough business and momentum to redefine what tomorrow’s “head” will sound like. Just look at acts like The Zac Brown Band who were told by the country music labels they were too “rock & roll” and the rock labels told them they were “too country”. So they took matters into their own hands and became such a huge force to reckon with that they created their own “big break” with probably the best record deal in town. Florida Georgia Line has a similar experience; all the majors DENIED them. They hit the road and worked satellite radio enough to sell 100,000 downloads of “Cruise” which then had all the majors clamoring to sign them. Both of these bands brought their own sound to the mass market and changed the definition amongst the majors as to what the “head” should sound like.

I would also remind you that bands like Rush and Metallica took this same approach touring their asses off, constantly creating, constantly working, and growing huge followings ONE FAN AT A TIME before the internet and social media, “without the help of top 40 radio play!” If you want it, it’s yours to take!

Let’s use the long tail to DOMINATE!!!

Good News For Indie Artists!

Good-News-Feature-image

6 Strategies For Creating Relationships.

Building Relationships feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Youve heard the saying Its all about relationships so much it really doesnt mean much anymore; its clich. The problem is its true. If you think about it, your whole life is about relationships, so why is it such a surprise to some people that the music industry is no different? For some weird reason, people seem to completely understand relationships in their own little world and behave appropriately. However, so many feel like the musicOvernight Success Jobs Relationships image industry is just about what is on your CD (or worse in your head and NOT on a CD!) and one big chance that will change everything. The problem is just like your life; success in the music industry is all about what you do consistently every day and the relationships you make. I assure you that no hit writer or Country superstar waltzed into town, met one person, who was the right person, and became successful overnight.

It only seems like that when you are outside the business because you dont see the struggle.

You dont see the climb.

You dont see the heartbreak.

You don’t see the small successes along the journey.

Understandably, your perspective is that this person came from nowhere and now they are on your RADAR screen from the BIG success. You weren’t aware of them yesterday and today you are, so it feels like it happened overnight.

Get it?

Every year TONS of hopeful artists and songwriters flock to Nashville for CMA Fest, CRS, Tin Pan South, and several other events that guarantee the presence of many influential people in the music business. Every year we Music Row residents get throngs of writers and artists who just walk into our offices and recording studios without an invitation, referral, or a relationship, CD in hand, hoping to get someone, anyone, to listen to their song and change their life for the better.

Um

This is NOT a smart or effective way to create ANY relationship! Let me give you a personal example. Imagine if there was an unknown person out there who was romantically in love with YOU. Now imagine this person Home Invasion Relationships imagehasnt met you but feels deep down in their soul of souls that once you meet them you are going to fall in love and live happily ever after. Then picture yourself sitting at home when said stranger comes walking through your door, sits down in your living room, presents a gift, and pledges their undying devotion to you. Scared yet?

You were dialing 911 or running the second the door opened, huh? Even if that person WAS in fact your soul-mate you dont freaking care because their stalker-like behavior ruined any possibility of a relationship. The first impression was disturbing and you dont get a second chance to make a first impression.

So you see, it is all about relationships. So is your life. The people you chose to let into your life so far have never come unsolicited! They were referred (a friend of a friend), they offered to help you with a problem you had, you did business with them, you work with them, You went to school with them, you grew up with them, you were at a party with them, etc…Think about it.

So I thought I would share a few ideas on how to create business relationships; some of these might even fall under the umbrella of ice-breakers.

 

Here are 6 Strategies for Creating Relationships

Give, Give, Give

Nobody likes door to door salesmen because nobody wants to be sold. Nobody responds with business reverence to pathetic or downtrodden people with their hats in their hands begging for a favor. You may get Give Relationships imagesomeone to act out of sorrow or empathy, but this would feel like a donation to the giver, NOT the beginning of a healthy working relationship; so in this scenario, even if you win, you lose. If you are asking for something first you should expect to be turned down. Why not give first? What could you offer that, if accepted, would put you on their RADAR screen? The most precious gift you could offer would be your time. Why not shoot a fruit or cookie basket with a coupon for X amount of hours of your time? Attach a note that says, no strings, no catch, I just love the way you do business and would like to help you by ________, how exactly can I lend a hand? Maybe youre a carpenter, an office organizer, a studio runner, a tech, a computer nerd, a hair dresser, photographer, lawyer, doctor, graphic designer, etc. Whatever you do, offer them some hours of your time for free to help them solve a problem they are having right now and expect nothing in return. Its not fool proof, but your odds go up; bottom line, the more you give, the more you receive.

Shut Up and Appear Stupid

Shut Up Relationships imageIf you are green or in a situation/conversation that is over your head, its far better to shut your mouth and appear stupid than to open it up and remove all doubt. People who are constantly growing constantly find themselves in situations that are over their head; it comes with the territory. You cant be judged for something you didnt do or say, you can only be judged for something you did do and/or say. When you keep your mouth shut in a conversation that is above your current skill set or understanding several dynamics begin to take place. First, you listen and therefore learn (what a concept!). Second, the players doing the talking have no idea what you are thinking or how much you know because they cant read minds; you remain a mystery. Third, because of this truth your clout in the conversation does not go down which is a far better position to maintain that opening your mouth making inaccurate statements (because you just dont know) and looking like a moron. Remember people love to talk about themselves and share their knowledge because it makes them feel important. A well place question is extremely effective as it gets you in the conversation and gets the players engaging with you. The more they talk to you, the more they feel important, the more they will like you.

Self Deprecation

Strategic self deprecation can be quite effective at diffusing a tense or uncomfortable situation. Every new relationship starts out uncomfortable until the ice is broken a bit. I remember when I was one of the top sales Self Depricating Homer Simpsion Relationships imagepeople at a massive 34 billion dollar mortgage company back in 2006. There was a gigantic West Coast management coup; my bosss boss was being replaced. Loyalties ran deep in this situation, we loved our old Regional Manager and nobody wanted to like the new guy. The new Regional Manager, Barry, (direct from New York) desperately needed to create relationships with his somewhat hostile California sales force so he could effectively lead them. Barry intelligently chose to meet his new Account Executives at their respective branches as the smaller gathering would facilitate better rapport. He opened his first speech to us (our first impression) by saying in an authoritative voice, Hello. My name is Barry _____, I will be your new Regional Manager, and I got news for youIm not the smartest guy in the room. Then he paused for what seemed an eternity… as he looked around the room and watched those words sink in. WOW! He had my attention. Get it? Sometimes doing or saying the opposite of what people expect can be very disarming which allows your audience to open up and receive whatever information you are disseminating. FYI, dont be too self deprecating as that can quickly become pathetic which is a turn off.

Referral

Referrals Welcome Relationships imageYou are far more likely to accept someone who is a friend of a friend or a friend of a business associate. A referred relationship comes with some sort of clout and instant acceptance (make sure you understand what kind of clout, LOL, dont let a crazy, fanatical person refer you or you will be received as crazy and fanatical too). A songwriter who is introduced to a publishing company by another songwriter is far more likely to get a meeting with the publishing company than someone who just walks in off the street. An Artist who is referred to a producer by another artist the producer knows is going to be taken more seriously as well. How do you create referrals? I recommend making a list of everyone you want to know first. Then make a list of everybody you know who knows those people on the list. Its going to take awhile but it is a great way of starting a relationship and so well worth the time invested. Another great idea is to move to Nashville and get in the mix. Hang out at writers nights like Whiskey Jam on Monday nights at Winners Bar and Grill. Find a writer you like and offer up a drink! Its a welcomed gift and a fantastic way to get a conversation started. Have a CD in hand and suggest a co-write. Maybe youre going to get 20 nos to get to one yes but you only need 1 yes to start. Then there is your chance. 1 “yes” leads to one killer writing session. Now you will be referred to that writer’s friends, etc.

Humor

Everybody loves to laugh. Comedians are usually very dark, disturbed people who harbor a lot of pain, but everybody loves them because they are FUNNY! Comedians know this and use humor to break the ice and be Humor Relationships imageaccepted; they use humor to create relationships. If you have a quick wit, use it to your advantage in a strategic manor. If you dont have a quick wit, or you dont come off as funny, then keep your mouth shut and appear stupid; maintain your clout.

DO BUSINESS WITH THEM!

Do Business Relationships imageThe most effective way to create a relationship is through business. If you are a songwriter, and you want to break into Nashville, you will need to start creating relationships. You are also going to need song demos to shop around town. Why not HIRE some of the people you want to get to know or hire the people who know the people you want to get to know? You are helping them by becoming a part of their cash flow. They are helping you by delivering a killer song demo you need to take your next step. The relationship becomes a by-product of a symbiotic relationship; everybody wins.

 

 

 

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How To Create A Killer EPK

EPK Feature Image

By Johnny Dwinell

These days a killer Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is becoming increasingly necessary as an effective, immediate method to demonstrate yourself as an artist to live venues, booking agents, PR firms, promoters, investors, labels, Lawyers, etc. A good EPK is tricky to put together mostly because artists get confused as to the intent of the EPK, who the audiences will be, and precisely how it will be consumed. Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you like it or not, a poorly or naively constructed EPK is a red flag that defines you immediately. If you want to look professional you better have a professional EPK. Lets define these formerly mentioned items and then Ill break down some solid, common sense strategies on how to create a killer EPK.

What is the Intent of Your EPK?

Intention EPK image

A good EPK is like a mission statement/business plan/band brochure for interested parties that are considering doing business with you. What an EPK is NOT intended for is ego stroking, Behind the Music type documentary content. All too often I see 30 minute long EPKs and they never get consumed when theyre that long, no matter how good the band isso dont waste your time. I promise you that your audiences will not waste theirs. Just think about your own time. Think about when a friend sends a video that is awesome or cool or funny and you see that it is 15 minutes long; you inevitably think ugh and pass on it or stow it away to watch whenever you get more time. I mean, would you watch a documentary of any length from a band you didnt know or are you far more interested in documentaries from bands you LOVE? Get my point?

Who is Your Audience?

 

Audience EPK image

Your audiences are professionals in the music business and they are not only crushed for time with their respective job requirements, but they also have families, private lives, other obligations, charities, etc. so you must respect their time. Your audiences are decidedly NOT consumers, fans, or groupies so they wont consume this material as such. Since the audience for your EPK is professional they are interested in if they can make money working with you and then exactly how that will happen. The more you can stick to business the better off you will be. Not for nothing, but the more you stick to business in your EPK the more professional you will look as well.

How Will Your EPK Be Consumed?

Consumed EPK image

Quickly!

They dont have time. Think of the time factor from their perspective; which means LARGE volume. If they need to experience 500 EPKs per week and they consume just 5 minutes of each EPK thats almost 42 hours per week and I promise you their job description requires far more than just viewing EPKs.

Get it?

They are going to view the most efficient summary of the content (called a One Sheet or Elevator Pitch) and decide if they will commit any more time from there. The bio is the LAST think they will consume and only if they have a slow week or the previous content in the EPK has simply enchanted them. Common sense says spend the time and limited budget on making sure the one sheet is awesome and leave the bio for last as most of your audiences will not to the bio even if they decide to hire you.

8 Points to Creating a KILLER EPK

8 Ball EPK image

Here are 8 essential points to assembling a super effective EPK. I will put them in order of importance the best that I can. I say this because different bands will be stronger with different points so you need to focus on putting your act in the best possible light. If your band is ugly, then photos are necessary but not what you want to lead with and so on.

  1. One Sheet A one sheet is the summary of everything about your act on one sheet. In the world of business plans this is called an executive summary. This is the first thing your audiences will see in your EPK but should be the last item you create for your EPK because you will need to view all the necessary components of your EPK to get a feel for strengths and weaknesses to create a potent one sheet that has sizzle. Your one sheet should have a few of the following items:
    1. A great photo
    2. Quick list of milestones/accomplishments
    3. Press quotes
    4. Contact info for:
      i. Band
      ii. Management
      iii. PR
      iv. etc
    5. Band member names and instruments they play.
    6. Links to your 2 or 3 most popular songs (dont attach anything or they wont get downloaded due to fear of viruses)
    7. Link to live video
    8. Link to press page on your website or links to a few choice reviews or press interviews, etc.
    9. Social Media links These should demonstrate your popularity on whatever social media sites you choose to be on.
    10. Check out a decent one sheet HERE
  2. Great Photo A photo is worth 1,000 words. Learn it. Live it. Love it. This is usually the first way in which you will communicate with your audience; thus, its THE most important way to communicate. GoodPhotography EPK image photos = more press. Bad photos = no press, no listens, judgments that you are unprofessional. Your photo immediately defines you; think about that for a second. If you were a hippie, folksy, organic, acoustic band you wouldnt take a photo in biker leathers and boots like a heavy metal band, right? HELL NO, it would give people the wrong first impression. BTW, up and coming photographers are always looking for good content so dont be afraid to ask for a deal, man! The worst thing anyone can say is no but if you serve it up like your band could add quality content with the photographers talent to the photographers portfolio, you just might get a deal. If you have friends that are a bigger act than you are, ask them to piggy back on a killer photo shoot. My band was shot by Princes photographer (3-rolls of film) with Princes make-up lady for just $600 because my buddy who had the budget was shooting with the photographer earlier that day and lined up a bonus deal for me. Here are some important points to remember:
    1. Your photo has to be awesome its the first line of communication!
    2. Dont waste time or money on a crappy photo.
    3. Dont use a friend to save money, use a professional
    4. Check out an example of a killer creative photographer HERE
    5. Check out an example of a killer live photographer HERE
  3. Press Press quotes offer social proof that you are making a dent in the music scene. This is what will get promoters excited to work with you. Do NOT put quotes in from friends or family as this will make you look unprofessional. More press = better no matter how small the periodical or blog may be. When you list the press quotes, list the most important press first and least important last, etc. If it is possible, provide the quote in the form of a hyperlink to the actual quote to offer a quick 1-click method to corroborate your story with the truth; again, think time constraints here. I would include:
    1. CD reviews
    2. Live Show Reviews
  4. Music Video – this is super important, especially for the live venues. If your audience is a booking agent for Music Videos EPK imagea live venue it stands to reason that they would want to see videos of you performing for a packed house, right? You definitely wanna show your band in front of a jam-packed house. If you dont have a big draw, then make sure you are in a super small club or a friends basement, LOL. If the club isnt standing room only get good angles so it seems like its crammed! Getting good talent to shoot your video can be a bit of a challenge. I recommend scouring your local universities for film students who are looking for some content. You can also check out a pretty cool website called Radar Music Videos. This web site puts directors all over the world with bands and their respective budgets. Pretty cool open source opportunity. Live videos show that:
    1. You can actually play live
    2. You have a draw
    3. Your Stage Presence
    4. Professionalism
    5. NOTE: dont show any overtly violent mosh pit shots, instrument destruction, etc. Its much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  5. MP3s Next I would put the music in there. Definitely do NOT attach mp3s as you will likely get most of your EPKs deleted due to fear of viruses. Simply provide links to 3 of your very best songs on your website, MP3 Audio EPK imageSoundcloud, Reverbnation, etc. Unless they are sporting some killer consumption statistics, I always advise our artists to link to mp3s on their own website as there are no metrics to judge how many people have listened. Perception is reality. Your EPK is not the place to put demos, or iPhone recordings or anything unprofessional. There is simply no excuse for sonically crappy recordings anymore so if you dont have good recordings you really dont need an EPK. You will be judged. Again, remember how many EPKs your audiences are consuming every week. Every other band is professional you had better be too. If you think because they are professional promoters that they are going to hear past crappy production you are nave.
  6. Gig/Tour Calendar – This is obviously important. The more gigs you have the more attractive you look. If you dont have a ton of gigs yet, dont put the calendar in the EPK. If you do have some pending dates make sure:
    1. The gigs are constantly up to date. Dont blow this off or you will look like an idiot. Consider listing a few shows in the EPK and a link to your tour/gig dates on your site.
    2. Define types of venues, frequency, etc.
    3. Remember that you are looking for appropriate venues, not to win over everybody.
  7. Social Media Links These demonstrate your marketing prowess and marketing momentum. These links will show how many fans you have and demonstrate how engaged they are. For instance, if you have 100,000 Twitter followers but all your tweets only get retweeted or replied to 5 times, there is a problem.
  8. Bio This bio should be short and sweet. Nobody cares about your whole story until youre famous. I thinkBio EPK image of the scene in the movie Bull Durham where Kevin Costner is preparing Tim Robbins for the major leagues. He says, Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win twenty in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win twenty in the show, however, it means you are a slob. Unless your story is super compelling AND famous I would stick to the basics. A bio should have the following:
    1. Where your based
    2. Short summary on your professional milestones/work accomplishments
    3. Band member names and instruments they play
    4. Nobody cares about your struggle

Conclusions

Here are some quick points to think about in conclusion:

  • You should always be looking at other peoples EPKs to keep up with the latest trends. Good artists borrow; great artists STEAL.
  • Keep your EPK short; no more than 5 minutes. An EPK is NOT A MOVIE; it wont be consumed as such. So keep a Directors cut to scratch your filmmaker itch if necessary but deliver a short, potent, EPK for business purposes; remember that all your audiences HATE reviewing EPKs so make it as painless as possible.
  • I recommend that your first draft have everything you want in it and then chunk it down to 5 minutes from there. If you have to make decisions on eliminating quality content, this is called a High Class Problem.
  • Constantly cultivate your EPK by replacing old content with more up-to-date substance.
  • Take higher profile gigs regardless of financial compensation to bolster the legitimacy of your EPK.

 

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There Is No EZ Button!

EZ Button 1 Epic Event Image

By Johnny Dwinell

The music business, like your life, is all about how much work you put into it.

There is No EZ Button!

Our personal and professional lives are shaped and determined by what we do consistently, not any one event. We work, or choose not to work, every day on our relationships, our jobs, and our dreams. Single, positive, epic 1 Epic Event imageincidents put emphasis on our momentum and feel really good, especially when we are truly prepared to take full advantage of the serendipitous event. Single positive epic incidents also happen when we are not prepared to take full advantage of them. These feel good and we feel validated, but they are short-lived and we gain little from them. Conversely, a single negative or devastating occurrence can temporarily spoil our forward progress but we continue on, we move forward, because we must. We still have to wake up, we still have to go to work, we still have to raise our kids. The show must go on! Our lives are no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

Many of us are thriving at a job right now that we got because a friend referred us or made us aware of it. We got the opportunity because of our relationship and the job because of our talent and personality. Life is about relationships. The music business is no different.

There is No EZ Button!

Every day we go to work and perform our daily tasks to execute our job requirements. We would be FIRED if we told our boss that we were waiting for a big break which entailed someone coming in and doing our job for us. Our job is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

(What are your artistic daily job requirements? Just a thought.)

 

EZ Button Lottery imageYou work every day to create monthly cash flow because your landlord or your mortgage company will not wait for a big break in your life, like winning the lottery. Can you imagine? Yes Mr. Landlord, I understand I am 2 months late but you dont understand, I am super talented/lucky and I am going to win the lotteryTHEN I will pay you! Your housing situation is no different from the music business.

 

There is No EZ Button!

We have to raise our kids ourselves. Some of us really care about our kids, and as a result we are constantly trying to learn and improve our parenting skills. We are also learning from our kids and improving as humans from the time spent. Some of us dont give a shit and those kids will grow up to be terrorists. Raising kids requires constant attention and consistency. Raising kids is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

Every one of us has had to deal with a terrible loss: a family member, a friend, a lover, a band member. It hurts. We loved them. Losing a loved one is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

One of the hardest lessons any of us has to learn is how and when to let a friend go. Its extremely difficult to shift gears in a long-valued relationship when the other person stops bringing any value to it. The music business is no different.

There is No EZ Button!

The very first day on our job, we were a rookie and we felt vulnerable and certainly uncomfortable because every EZ Button First Day Imagejob feels foreign on the first day. We went the second day because we had faith we would learn, we had faith it would get better with time, we had courage! Now we OWN our job. Now we are a valued member of the team. Now, we have mastered our exact job description, daily requirements, office politics, upper management assholes, insubordinate underlings, glass ceilings, self-solving IT issues, software workarounds, where to park, where everyone eats, who needs schmoozing, who needs to be left alone, the sharks, the dolphins, and all the little things we do that help us excel. The music business is no different from our current job because it entails all these things.

There is No EZ Button!

EZ Button Every Time You Spend Money image

To get any decent paying job we have to spend money. We spend a lot of money on a college education, clothes, tools, power tools, trucks, cars, qualified leads, advertising, supplies, continuing education, child care, transportation, travel, paid coaching seminars, trade shows, technology, etc. The music business is no different from any other business because it costs money if you want to do it right.

There is No EZ Button!

An ungodly percentage of us have received a degree, and while it helped qualify us for our current job and maybe taught us to think (maybe!), we dont use our degree to make a living. Those of us who do use our degree and those of us who dont use our degree realized the first day we got our job that we didnt know anything. We realized it takes WAY more than school to be good at what we do. The music business experience is no different from your job experience.

There is No EZ Button!

EZ Button Dent in the Universe imagePeople judge/evaluate us at our current job, even its a menial job. Were perceived somewhere on this continuum: as a rock star who always excels, as a mediocre worker who never rocks the boat, or as a lazy one who lingers at the bottom, skating by, always about to get fired. Our artistic dream of creating a dent in the Universe reflects the exact same work ethic. No matter the job: if its worth doing, its worth doing well! Of course, the music business is no different. We will be judged and evaluated.

There is No EZ Button!

We enjoy being with our friends and (sometimes) with our family because we love them and they are a great hang. We work at deepening these relationships by providing value or we ignore these relationships and constantly float on their periphery. We despise time spent with people who steal our energy and suck up all the air in the room; we avoid that scene at all costs. The music business dynamic is no different. So, be a great hang, not someone who sucks all the energy out of the room.

There is No EZ Button!

We all need love. We all need to be loved. All of us have had romantic relationships that were complete disasters. From this point we either choose to be a victim and wallow in the sorrow & despair or we choose to learn and move past it. We can choose to grow. Those of us who choose to learn and grow realize that we were partly responsible for the tender wreckage regardless of how it manifested itself or in spite of getting screwed. We choose to be accountable for the mess. Then we move on and try again because we all need love. We all need to be loved. We decide to be bitter and closed off, willing to be vulnerable again, or we learn to be willing to be vulnerable again. Love is always a risk. Still, we do it, dont we? The music business is no different from your love life; its COMPLICATED!

There is No EZ Button!

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5 Twitter Marketing Strategies

5 Twitter image

By Johnny Dwinell

Twitter is an awesome surgical marketing tool

Twitter

With over 250 million active users, you have an amazing FREE tool for finding people that are like-minded and connecting with them; like a cocktail party of sorts.  After you have recorded your masterpiece, you need to bring it to the world.  Twitter allows you to find people that are predisposed to liking your kind of music and facilitates a relationship if you have the balls to reach out and the brains to do it intelligently.  Here are 5 Twitter marketing strategies to help you get your music out there and build a tribe

Define And Find Your Audience

Who is your audience?  Is it EDM?  Is it Metal?  Is it Folk?  Is it Country?  Twitter even allows you to find sub genres within a certain genre, like Pop-Country, Country-Rock, Death Metal, Black Metal, etc.  I always tell file0002005996090my artists to think of what artist they would love to open for if they could be on any tour.  Typically this is going to get the artist thinking of the type of audience that would most likely dig their music.  For instance, if you are a Metal band and think that Metallica fans would love your bands music as well, then an opening slot on a Metallica tour would be super beneficial to your band, right?  Well Metallica has about 2 million Twitter followers that you can connect with.  Simply go to the search bar and type in Metallica.  You will then pull up their Twitter account.  Now, click on “Followers” and you have all their followers at your fingertips.

Twitter # Search and @Search

file3371281797656Continuing on with the Metallica example, anybody on Twitter that is talking about Metallica would probably like your music as well, yes?  So if you go to the search bar and type in @Metallica you will bring up many different Twitter accounts that have recently posted a comment about Metallica.  You can also use this same method for #Metallica.  What if you have a song that has the same vibe as a certain song, say like “Margaritaville”.  Simply type in #Margaritaville and you will find a slew of people who just used #Margaritaville in a recent tweet.

FOLLOW THEM!

Now you need to follow these people.  If you have a relatively new account you can start by following 30 people per day for a month and avoid account suspension.  Then Twitter Follow imagebump that number up to 60 people per day for a month then you can safely follow up to 120 people per day and not be suspended.  If your account is older than 1 year and seasoned (meaning you have been tweeting every now and again) then you can start following 60 per day for a month and then bump up to 120 people per day.  This is called the “follow first” method.  Think of it as an introduction and a handshake.  A certain percentage of these people will follow you back.  Then you will want to Unfollow the people who don’t follow you back.  I would only Unfollow as many people as you follow each day.  Tweepi, FriendorFollow, Tweetdeck, Hootesuite, are all different sites that will allow you to easily discover who is following and who isn’t; they all have free account levels for you to try out.

Content, Content, Content

The more you tweet with content that you like the more you will build your Twitter Content imageTwitter tribe.  For instance, live footage from shows, BTS (behind the scenes) footage backstage at a show, videos of music you like, videos or links to your favorite movie scenes, links to other artists you like, inspirational quotes or quotes that resonate with you are really good content that tends to get retweeted often.  Avoid hype for your band.  Hype works when you are using a branding marketing approach because there are tons of eyeballs or ears that are watching or listening to one message at the same time.  Please understand that hype doesn’t work on social media because everyone’s experience is 1 on 1.  If you use hype on any social media platform you will just look like an idiot; total turn off.  This content will begin to foster and deepen relationships with people online.  At Daredevil Production  we blog every week so this provides content that people like to consume.

Expose Your Music

HINT: Start THANKING and stop asking.  I hate it when someone follows me on Twitter or when I follow them and they come right out of the box with “Check out my music”; it’s annoyingTwitter Exposure Hand image.  Even if they ask politely it’s a total turnoff.  It’s REALLY EFFING annoying when they panhandle, like “I really need help PLEASE check out my music”; ugh.  Think of it this way, you meet someone for the first time at a cocktail party and you say “Pull your pants down I want to have sex”.  Oh wait, you ask POLITELY for them to pull their pants down because you want to have sex.  99.99% of the time it’s not gonna work man.  Twitter is the same way.  Think of it as a cocktail party.  I recommend you start THANKING people and give something back.  You are NOT using social media to sell so much as you are using it to create relationships.  GIVING is a great way to start a relationship.  Send a DM or Tweet “Wow!  Thank you so much for the follow.  I want you to have 7 free songs!  Enjoy!”  Watch how many downloads you get!  Now, assuming you are not sending out total crap, you will begin to develop a following.

Are you using Twitter to expose people to your music?

Are you thinking of Twitter as an appreciating asset?

With this method and CONSISTENT cultivation and Twitter activity you can gain at least 1,000 new, targeted followers each and every month.  I can tell you that Daredevil Production gains a solid 1,800 per month so 1,000 per month is easily doable.  Do the math, man, that’s 12,000 followers per year; and it’s constantly growing.

P.S. if you use Tweepi you can find your audience and then sort by location.  Think about that, you can use it to follow every like minded Twitter user in your region to help boost your live following!

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Don’t Sing On Your Song Demo Dummy!

By Johnny Dwinell

Don’t sing your song demo dummy!

If you do, especially if you’re a novice at creating song demos (not necessarily singing), you will inevitably limit your opportunities to file000819242154sell the song; you will end up casting a “smaller net” regardless of your vocal ability.   All too often, I see aspiring songwriters who haven’t really gotten the performing/recording artist bug out of their system spend good money and confuse the intent of a song demo with that of an artist track.  They want to sing, I suppose, to scratch their respective artist “itch” and I TOTALLY get that!  Just make sure you are clear on what you need.  One can’t expect a minivan, which is super effective for hauling groceries and kids, to perform like a Ferrari and take corners at 90 mph.  Conversely, one cannot be upset that a Ferrari will not hold 4 kids and all the groceries.

Huh?

Listen; whenever you spend money, especially when there is little money to spend (which requires you to make decisions), you need to ensure you are spending wisely.  So the first thing you need to ask yourself is what is the intent of the recording?  What function is the recording supposed to serve?

Let’s break them both down.

 

Artist Tracks

The intent of an artist track is to sell the track and the artist.

A producer’s job is to put the artist in the best possible light sonically & artistically and blow people away so that they will spend money purchasing the product (aka the CD); this is selling the artist.  This takes more time and certainly expertise in the studio.  More time and expertise in the studio cost more money.

As an artist, you intend to sell the track.  Higher union rates will apply if the intent of the recording is to generate revenue; again, more money.

If your band will actually be doing the recording then you will need a combo platter of multiple takes during tracking session to get the recording tight and probably some editing on the back end to help, depending_DSC6357 on the musicianship of the players.  Either of these two actions requires time and expertise in the studio which requires more money.

You want people to say “Wow!  Who the hell is that singing?”  This means your producer better be crafting a KILLER vocal track, man; make no mistake this is an art form.  This art form requires time & expertise and that costs money.

You want people to say, “That unexpected band break is freaking COOL MAN!”  This means your producer is allowing the band the time they need to craft something unique and special.  You guessed it, that extra time costs more money.

20131129_140442As the artist you make choices with regards to arrangement, song structure, song choice, production, genre, key, vibe, etc. that are consonant to you artistically and refined to your lane; which is more subjective than objective by definition.  Ultimately the intent of the recording is to move people with your unique artistic stamp.  If you are a professional artist the track must generate revenue by definition. This activity will hopefully generate additional returns through sales of subsequent merchandise, concert tickets, sponsorships, endorsements, etc.

The juice should be worth the squeeze financially, but you get the picture, right?  An artist track is all about YOU.

 

Song Demos

The intent of a song demo is to sell the song, specifically the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song to a major label producer, a major label A&R exec, a publishing company, or a major label artist.  A song demo is not supposed to Song Demo Melodyspotlight YOU in any way as an artist as they fully intend to re-cut the song with their band and their artist on the mic.  It is naïve to hope that an amazing vocal performance would possibly get a producer interested in working with you (as an artist) seeing as they are focused on finding songs for the project currently at hand. Statistically, this is just a distraction from your mission, which is the song pitch.  Remember, in the new music market the responsibility for artist development falls on the artist there is very little ROI for producers and labels to develop acts anymore as the business model has simply changed; they just aren’t equipped to do it.  So a tactic like this is a high percentage shot, like a full court basketball shot that’s nothing-but-net; possible but highly unlikely.  A better tactic would be to make the most effective song demo you could and increase your chances to get the cut!  That will garner more attention from more people who could help your career than betting the farm on a limited set of ears that you are engaging with because they are focused on entirely different projects.  Simply put, getting a cut gets your talent far more exposure than crossing your fingers that the few people who hear the demo will defocus from their current job to explore a relationship with you as an artist.  Make sense?

 

If you are a GREAT singer

You will have a unique stylistic approach to your song.  Yes the vocal track will be amazing but what if your style doesn’t resonate with the major label artist you are pitching it to?  What if the producer recognizes that phrasing the vocal in a different manner could make the song become viable for multiple genres or lanes within a certain genre; thus creating more opportunities for the song to get cut?  Could you effortlessly change your phrasing?  You want a cut, right?

 

If you are an AVERAGE singer

(Like me) you will have a unique stylistic approach to your song.  You will end up spending more money on the demo on multiple vocal takes during the session and in post production (vocal tuning) time to make it less sucky.  This will needlessly increase the cost of your demo. file0001596147731A song demo shouldn’t result in some epic production with the track because that’s too subjective for the intent.

What if the artist you are pitching too doesn’t like your taste in production, will that color their decision to cut your song?

What if the artist you are pitching too loves your taste in production but their project is going a different way, will that affect their ability to “hear” themselves singing your song for this particular project?

Will the production you create “date” the track making the demo recording less durable over time?

If you have artist tracks that you wish to use a song pitches, you might consider spending a few extra bucks to get a pro singer to cut the vocal and a new mix solely for the song demo.

The song demo is all about the SONG; keep it there.

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What’s In Your Toolbox?

By Johnny Dwinell

What’s in your toolbox?  What’s in your emotional toolbox, your artistic toolbox, your business toolbox, your marketing toolbox?

Huh?

I used to have a huge fear of commitment.

OMG, what??

Years ago after I got off the road as the lead singer for a hair band I realized I was having challenges creating relationships with file6161313070963women that were deeper than just sex.  I was really worried that I would end up old and alone with a house full of cats (LOL, I’m TOTALLY a dog person, but you get the point).  As you can imagine after a good 7 years as a full time 80’s-rock-band-front-man-on-permanent-tour, I had encountered many women. I also managed to experience some longer, emotionally profound relationships with a few quality women who I found intriguing, smart, and captivating; but still, scared to commit. Yikes!

 

I definitely needed some help so I sought out therapy at the brazen request of a freshly-fired girlfriend who assumed she was leaving Nashville with me to move to California (I still don’t know how the hell she thought that, man, it wasn’t like we were living together or dating that long, but I digress).  She actually handed me a number of a therapist in Pasadena (SO RANDOM) and sternly told me to call him the minute I got out there.

I did call him and I recommend therapy for everyone.  Therapy is like college for your own soul. Therapy is all about finding out who YOU are and feeling comfortable in your own skin; which I desperately needed.  This therapist, Stan, was amazing and is still a great friend and spiritual adviser to me.  During the first session he asked me why I was there and I explained.  As the session ended he said, “Johnny, I’m gonna bet that you don’t have sisters or if you do, they are younger and by at least 4 years.”

I said, “WTF??  How do you know that?” (Not expecting the fortune telling element at all…he was right, I have 2 amazing sisters 4 years and 7 years younger than me)

He replied, “Because you don’t know shit about women.”

I laughed out loud at the silly man!  “Stan, I have forgotten about more women than most men will ever have.”

Stan countered, “Yeah, I’m sure that’s true, man, but you still don’t know shit about women so you’re scared to death of getting too close to them.”

Game! Set! Match!

I was cornered with logic. He went on to explain that a boy with older sisters or sisters who are closer to his age (close enough that they are in his social/peer groups growing up) offer a front row seat to the trials and tribulations of romantic relationships from the female perspective that said boy is more inclined to respect, internalize and learn from.  When the sisters are younger and out of your peer group they are just a nuisance.assorted_tools

True story again!

I was essentially lacking a tool in my emotional toolbox and I had just defined exactly what tool was missing.  You see, that was half the battle.  Now I could move forward with a clear plan to improve my life.  Identifying the missing tool actually got me excited to learn about the ever fearful unknown.  I was totally stoked to explore, which lessened the fear of the unknown.  This internal encouragement couldn’t have happened had I not understood that I was lacking somewhere.  Get it?

You Have To Find the Missing Tools In Your Toolbox

As humans and especially artists we are (hopefully) inclined to constantly improve.  We want, need, and search for new steps in the staircase of development that lead us to higher plateaus of emotional and artistic impeccability.  However, this requires change to occur.  As humans and especially artists, we are quite resistant to change; this results in pain and suffering.  This pain and suffering causes stagnation, idle artistry, and (gasp) mediocrity!

The thing is, our lives and our art can be constantly improving if we understand one simple concept; you’re human so you never have all the tools you need.  I find this to be a common roadblock with the talent we work with as they have a naive understanding of (or simply ignore) the process of artistic development; it IS A PROCESS and it takes time.

The main part of the process is to be open to the process.

Part of the process is to understand your strengths and capitalize on them.Toolbox process image

Part of the process is to recognize your weaknesses and improve upon them.

Part of the process is unfettered exploration; the constant search for tools you don’t have and the curiosity to discover how they will benefit your journey.

Part of the process is to identify mentors.

Part of the process is to allow yourself to be mentored artistically, businesswise, relationship-wise, marketwise, communication-wise, etc.

Part of the process is humility.

Part of the process is acceptance.

You are born with some great tools. Maybe you have incredible talent, maybe you have incredible drive, maybe you’re an expert politician, maybe you’re a good leader, maybe you’re good at creating relationships, and maybe you understand business.

But you don’t have all the tools.

What are you missing?

Do you need:

  • Business acumen?
  • Marketing expertise?
  • Vocal lessons?
  • Recording experience?
  • Better people-skills?
  • Communication skills?
  • Songwriting proficiency? (It’s not magic it’s a CRAFT!)
  • Stage presence?
  • Attitude adjustments?
  • Ego check?
  • More practice?
  • More knowledge?
  • Focus?
  • Clarity?

So which ones are you missing?

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Are You A Rip-Off Artist?

Rip-Off Artist Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Rip-Off Artist alert image

Are you a rip-off artist?

Huh?

Yeah, man, John Lennon wasn’t the first to say, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

Beethoven took from:

  • Mozart (they arguably met and Mozart arguably gave Beethoven lessons)

Tom Petty took from:

  • Bob Dylan – this one’s obvious, right??Rip-Off Artist Tom petty image
  • The Continentals (feat. Don Felder [Eagles])
  • The Beatles

Bob Dylan took from:

David Lee Roth took from:

The Beatles took from:

  • Little Richard
  • Elvis
  • Chuck Berry

Elvis took from (his live show was so based on this vibe):

Chuck Berry took from:

  • T-Bone Walker
  • The Fiddlin’ Powers Family –  Maybellene (his 1st #1 circa 1955) was inspired by “Ida Red” circa 1924 (this was covered and used quite often with many artists btw.)

Rip-Off Artist Willie Dixon image

Led Zeppelin literally PLAGIARIZED (and settled out of court…we DON’T recommend this BTW):

Willie Dixon took from:

Little Brother Montgomery took from:

Rip-Off Artist Little Brother Montgomery image

 

Eric Clapton took from:

 

Muddy Waters took from:

 

Robert Johnson took from:

 

Joan Baez took from:

Rip-Off Artist Pete Seeger image

Pete Seeger took from:

 

 

You get it?

Anyone who is talking about how another artist “ripped off” this artist or that artist … is right. Something had to inspire the artist. Most artists try to emulate something that resonates with them. As a result, they end up with their own style.

So what? Shut up and own up to it!

Make good music. Grow from your influences! USE your influences as a muse!

I submit to all you writers and artists that you are unique. So aside from actually plagiarizing (again, we DON’T condone this behavior), setting out to write your favorite artist’s song will lead you to your own twisted version that is quite exceptional and distinctive. Not for nothing, but it’s a pretty good writing exercise!

Rick Rubin loves to hand out writing assignments to his artists, typically right before they are about toRip-Off Artist Pour some sugar image begin recording, so the pressure is really on. Rick told Rivers Cuomo from Weezer to write a song with the beat from Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me and that assignment ended up being the inspiration for Beverly Hills. Rick also told Tom Petty to do the same exact thing and that was the inspiration for It’s Good To Be King.

 

 

Now go play pretty for the world.

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