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Acceptance: Be the Bee

Be the Bee Feature image 2

Be the Bee Jungle Love image

Have you ever listened to a song you’ve heard a thousand times and then really “heard” it? Or heard something you’ve never heard before in that song? The other day I was listening to Steve Miller’s “Jungle Love which I’ve heard literally a million times, but this time I HEARD the bass line for the first time. How inspiring and badass!

We are going to do a fun little artistic exercise today

This got me thinking. We are going to do a fun little artistic exercise today. Some of you are aware of the 90’s Seattle band named Blind Melon. Some of you have heard their big hit “No Rain and some of you haven’t.

Be the Bee Blind Melon No Rain image

Here’s the deal. I want you ALL to take a 4:06 artist date with yourself and watch this Blind Melon video right now.

I don’t care if you have heard this song a million times, or seen this video a million times.

Listen to it AGAIN, right now.

Watch it AGAIN, right now

 

Focus on it. Do whatever you have to do to get your head right so you can really experience it for 4 short minutes of your life.

Then I want you to read the rest of this post.

and GO!

We need to belong, we HAVE to belong to something

Part of the human experience on this planet is the hard-wired instinctual need we have for acceptance. We need to belong, we HAVE to belong to something.

To live, we HAVE to feel loved.Be the Bee Desire for Acceptance image

Think about it, this need is so instinctual that we often belong to groups or organizations that are bad for us or beneath us simply because they let us belong and make us feel welcomed.

Many of us never reach our full life potential because we are deathly afraid to leave our comfort zone of acceptance even though we have emotionally surpassed everyone in the group. Everyone has experienced this, is experiencing this, or knows someone right now that is experiencing this.

Some of us don’t leave the hood, some of us don’t leave our small town, some of us don’t move forward for fear of not being accepted somewhere else.

Some of us don’t think we are good enough.

Some of us don’t think we are worthy.

Some of us don’t think we deserve better.

We all secretly want to drink the Kool-Aid and are wired up to mortally fear a lack of Kool-Aid

Be the Bee Kool Aid ImageI believe the video y’all just watched to be a microcosm of the music industry. I see this video as a clever metaphor for our amazing artistic community (and all of life for that matter).

Did you notice that the community did not find our little bee?

Did you notice that our little bee had to find the community?

 

Did you feel for our little bee as she suffered the rejections?

The cool thing about this new music business is that, as artists, we have the ability to find and cultivate our own little, very specific field of bees.

With the access we all have to the internet, we can find the communities that fit our needs as they pertain to our current location on our respective journey.

The old music business created a homogenized, very sterile field of bees that are willing to follow any artist that shows up on their radar screen because that artist can be “force fed” to the bees.

The old music business was about chasing a “formula” that they felt was “guaranteed” to work in the pipeline they created.Be the Bee Control image

The old music industry had the power to control what the field of bees were exposed to.

The old music industry had the power to control who was allowed in the field.

Our core artist in us hates this fact. We don’t want to be forced to compromise our art to gain acceptance amongst the pre-chosen bees. We want to be like the bee in video and find our OWN field of bees who like us just the way we are.

Now you can.

It’s all out there for you and most of it is free; at least the start of it is free.

I got news for y’all, the “powers that be” on radio, television, running record labels, booking agencies, management companies, bloggers and mass media, you know, the ones whose help you need to achieve success they’re bees too.

They want to belong too.

They need to be a part of something.

YOU have to create and distribute your own Kool-Aid just the way you like it.

You have the power to connect with people who are looking for your kind of Kool-Aid; even if they didn’t know it!

If enough people are drinking your Kool-Aid the “powers that be” will too; because they’re just bees like you and I.

Be the bee

 

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Top 10 Cover Songs

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By Johnny Dwinell

Kelly and I are so busy with the marketing and record production duties of Daredevil Production, we don’t get that much of a chance to listen to cool new music.  Enter my cool brother-in-law Randy Ahrens.  Randy is an unusual music consumer, in fact, he is what I have referred to in previous posts as a “Local Tastemaker” and statistically he represents a VERY miniscule part of the music marketplace with regards to purchasing and behavior, but he is extremely influential.  He goes looking specifically for new music on a regular basis via all those crazy algorithm widgets the different music sites use to “market” new music i.e. the “rabbit hole” and “if you like this then you’ll like this” etc..  He’s the guy you grew up with who had all the cool new records and turned you on to all the music that shapes your life.  Randy is to his friends and family what Thom Doucette was to Gregg and Duane Allman; Thom always had the cool records and to some degree shaped the Allman Brothers Band sound by exposing the brothers to the artists that would become their primary influences.

Cover Songs

Whenever our family gets together, Randy and I try to find a little “geek out” time where we turn each other on to the music we have; he shows me new bands and tracks, I show him what Kelly and I have been producing.  Cover Songs Tastemaker lips imageThis last week, up in WI, Randy and I got into a discussion about lame cover song recordings (you may remember my post “How to Record a Cover”)  In it I encouraged artists to be creative and to avoid the lame artistic act of “re-recording” of a cover song copping the exact same licks, tracks, BGV;s, feel, vibe, etc.  Well Randy turned me on to some covers that were not necessarily released in 2013 but I was certainly turned on to them last week.  So here is a list of the top 10 cover songs (that I was turned on to by Randy this year, LOL).  Check these bands out, very interesting and CERTAINLY artistic!

 

Top 10 Cover Songs

  1. Ring of Fire – Social Distortion – When you record a cover, especially a well known cover/mega hit song you better bring something different to the table.  Listen to this track and you can definitely hear the stylistic influence of the band.  Yes it’s a heavier version, but it’s so “Social Distortion” and cool it works.
  2. Sweet Child ‘O’ Mine – Luna – Cover Songs Luna Sweet Child imageThis track rocks.  The vibe is totally different.  The feel is different.  The vocal is an octave lower and clearly the singer took some artistic license with regards to melody and phrasing and decidedly DIDN’T try to cop any of W. Axl Rose’s vocal licks which is refreshing.  Also note that the band eliminated the break down “Where Do We Go Now” portion of the song, it’s these kinds of structural and sometimes melodic artistic licenses that make a cover special
  3. All Mixed Up – Red House Painters – Cover Songs Red House Painters imageWow, this version really spotlights the desperation in the lyrics…it’s almost hard to believe it was a pop song.  I dug this band so much, I listened to more and the Red House Painters CRUSHED it with this next cover.
  4. Long Distance Runaround – Red House Painters – Once again, the Red House Painters bring a very different perspective to a very popular song.  So creative and cool.
  5. Little Wing – Stevie Ray Vaughn – ok so I definitely knew about this cover, but it came up in my conversation with Randy this last week.  This was just such a good idea and so well done, I had to include it.Cover Songs R U A Tastemaker image
  6. Stairway to Heaven – Stanley Jordan – While we’re on the subject of instrumental versions of popular songs, here is a great one with Stanley Jordan.  Enjoy it.
  7. Solitary Man – Crooked Fingers – This is an interesting interpretation, completely different!  Mostly Banjo and a horn section…crazy.  Great song by Neil Diamond.
  8. Miss You – Mirwais – Cover Songs Mirwais imageThis is a killer version of this classic.  TOTALLY Different!  I enjoyed this immensely!  Have fun!
  9. Raspberry Beret – Hindu Love Gods – This track features Warren Zevon on vocals and the members of R.E.M. in the band.  Here is where you can get away with almost any instrumental arrangements if your vocalist is stylistic enough to make people forget about the original track!
  10. Any William Shatner Cover – You either like this or hate this, but this is a very strong example of someone bringing their very stylistic approach to some killer songs and making an effort to create a vastly different perspective.

With any cover song, the most important part of the equation is YOU as an artist!!  Not how well you can cop the original tracks man!  Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!  May you all get closer to your dream in 2014!

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DIY Artist Development

Artist Development Artist development image

By Johnny Dwinell

D.I.Y.

I am really beginning to disdain the term D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself). It should be rephrased to say what it really means which is do it without a record label because nobody does it themselves; which makes that term extremely Artist Development DIY Blackboard imagemisleading. Thats worth repeating, NOBODY makes a living in the music industry all by their lonesome so DIY is misleading. Lets break that down some more. In todays music business YOU are responsible for your development as an artist, as an act, as a business; therefore, YOU are responsible for your own team building. Maybe we should change DIY to BYOT (Build Your Own Team) or DYOA (Develop Your Own Ass) LOL. Since YOU are responsible for ultimately taking yourself from obscurity to a place where you are making a living in the music industry (either as a writer, musician, or artist) the smart people are going to look at the professional approaches that the major labels took to developing acts and try to recreate it. After all, these methods were effective, yes?

You Are Responsible For Your Artist Development

So lets look at how to recreate it. The good news is its easier than ever to recreate it. The bad news is YOU have to recreate it; YOU have to recreate some kind of development pipeline to ensure that you are competing at a professional level. Common sense very simply says that if you do not approach your career this way than you are NOT competing at a professional level; which means youre an amateur. This, in turn, means you suck and you make no money. Btw, if you think that EVERY artist who signs a major label deal isnt dealing with this conversation right here, youre delusional. Welcome to the music business.

YOU need to ensure that your songs are simply incredible.Artist Development Live Show image

YOU need to ensure that your recordings are simply incredible.

YOU need to ensure that your live show is simply incredible.

Then you need to ensure that you have a marketing pipeline and you are moving product. If the song and the recording are really INCREDIBLE people WILL respond. Its that simple (did u like my word structure there?).

THIS EFFORT is going to require a team. I cannot think of one artist EVER in the history of the music business that did it all themselves. They had mentors; they were surrounded by people who were better than they were that showed them the ropes. YOU need to do the same. YOU are green, lets face it. I mean GREEEEEN. I dont care how long you have been playing, have you done 30 shows in a row; in 30 days? No? Then youre GREEN. Your live show will transform after an effort like that. Do you have any hit singles? No? Then youre GREEN. Do you have any Cuts? No? Then youre GREEN. Everybody starts out green. John Lennon and Paul McCartney admit that their first 150 songs or so SUCKED; they were figuring it out, man. Then the Beatles went to Hamburg where they played 8 HOURS A DAY for MONTHS to get their 10,000 hours because they were GREEN. The Rolling Stones first 3 singles were cover tunes because they were GREEN. Their first 2 records were mostly cover tunes because they were GREEN; it wasnt until they wrote Last Time and it became a single that they even thought they could really write well!

If you really want to be a serious artist, you better dive into these records and LISTEN to the development so you can get a real 30,000 foot perspective on what your mission is as an artist with regards to the ART. This task will help you grow.

It will give you validation that #1 you can do this, and #2 you have a lot of work to do but it CAN BE DONE!

All artists need to be developed; they need to be encouraged and inspired to mature. Inspiration comes in many forms, but as a former artist, I can tell you that oftentimes when it comes it takes the form of someone pushing you beyond your comfort zone and it tends to PISS YOU OFF. Jesus, did I get wound up sometimes, but the people pushing me were right; if I wasnt uncomfortable then I wasnt trying anything new, which means I wasnt growing.

If youre not growing youre not serious; period.

Dont get comfortable.

Lets take Bruce Springsteen for example. His big record was Born to Run which was his third record. Most Artist Development Born To Run imagepeople dont remember the first 2 records which were Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Most people DO remember Manfred Manns Earth Band #1 hit Blinded by the Light which was written by Bruce Springsteen and appeared on the Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. record. I remember listening to an interview with the singer from Manfred Mann where he was asked why he stopped covering Bruce Springsteen songs (they also did a version of Spirit in the Night) and he said that after the 2nd record, Bruce had gotten so good at the writing he really couldnt mess around with the songs and make them better anymore. BTW, Bruce wrote Blinded by the Light and Spirit in the Night AFTER he submitted his first record to the label and Columbia said go back and write some songs that can be played on the radio SO YOU CAN COMPETE PROFESSIONALLY (pushing him out of his comfort zone). He was forced to play ball or lose his deal. Are you approaching your career this way? I encourage you to go and listen to the first 2 Springsteen records and write down the lyrics and then see for yourself how he gets it right on the 3rd record; he developed. BTW, the second verse of Blinded by the Light was all about his frustration with getting people in the bars to pay attention to him during his performances proving that he didnt walk onstage for the first time as a ROCK GOD; he developed. Similarly, check out the first 2 Bon Jovi records and compare them to the 3rd record Slippery When Wet. The difference is Polygram (his record label) understood his raw talent and put him with a hit songwriter named Desmond Child to improve the quality of the songs on the 3rd record; consequently Bon Jovi, Sambora, and Child co wrote You Give Love a Bad Name and Livin on a Prayer. These became the 1st 2 singles for the record and they would both go to #1.

You get my point here? YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS! The question is what are YOU doing to behave like the record label? What are YOU doing to surround yourself with people that are BETTER THAN YOU so you can improve?

WTF ARE YOU DOING TO DEVELOP?

I mean youre smart, right? So why would you approach your music any different than, say, a construction gig? You have a vague or nave idea of how to properly frame a door but somebody on the site shows you EXACTLY Artist Development Craftsmanship imagehow to do it; there are tricks to getting it right, there is an art behind crafting that door frame flawlessly. The first day on the job you suck, but then you learn and get better as you acquire knowledge. Music is no different; songwriting is a CRAFT! NOBODY is born a great songwriter. They are born with a need to be artistic and are TAUGHT not to settle for shit. They are TAUGHT not to be lazy! I remember reading an interview with the great Joni Mitchell where she described how she took her songs to her parents and they would say Thats great, baby, now go back and figure out a different way to say it; make it better So make sure you are trying to get with craftsmen to learn the trade! If you feel like you have nothing to learn than you have already failed. Most of you KNOW you have a lot to learn but youre scared; get over it! Its a full contact sport!

Artist Development Requires Mentorship

If you want to be professional (which means if you want to make your living at it) you need to work with professionals.

So why arent you? Where do the professionals live? Why arent you living there? Im sure you all have many reasons why you are not doing these things and the harsh reality is that they are all excuses. My dad always said excuses are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink. Maybe they are valid excuses but valid excuses are still excuses. If you are going to be professional you better get rid of the excuses as these are just reasons to get in your own way; these are reasons not to do a good job. I have so much respect for our artists like Tanya Marie Harris and Neill Skylar. Both of these ladies have young children (less than 3 years old) and STILL they FIND A WAY to come to Nashville and get it done right!! This is what its all about, people, doing it RIGHT! These girls are on a freakin mission, man, make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT!!! Sheesh, Im just glad theyre on our side! LOL

We now have established that you need to seek professional mentors to help you grow as a songwriter. Lets face it; it all starts with the song. It amazes me how many people feel like if they record a shitty song better that it will make the song better; clearly not true.

Your next task is to then take these incredible songs that COMPETE with all the songs you love in your genre and record them properly. Recording them properly requires a killer engineer and producer (sometimes they are both but beware sometimes engineers are ONLY engineers with no artistic input whatsoever.) YOU are responsible for finding your team.

The team is more important than the studio.

Artist Development Team Building imageThis is true because you are taking your songs and creating a product with them; whether you like that reality or not. If your product is 2nd rate, nobody is going to care; you wont sell anything. If you dont sell anything you wont make a living; so you have a vanity project. Your team will help you decide what songs make the record which means they have the unwelcome task of telling you, the artist, which songs arent cutting it. Your team will help you define your sound and your lane. They will help you decide what keys to record those songs in; keys that are appropriate for your voice and put you in the best light. Your team will then cast the appropriate players to deliver the sound that everyone has agreed upon. Your team should be enthusiastic towards your project; if they are not you have a problem. Nashville is full of burnt out players with great studios who will take your money to press the record button and thats it. Nashville is full of people who dont care about the product anymore; so, I must imagine that everywhere else is the same, either they dont care about it or they dont know how to do it right in the first place. YOU have to find someone that IS enthusiastic; who really cares!

FYI, there are hundreds of producers on Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. Find one that you feel good about!

Yes, you have to pay for a team like this, but you get what you pay for. You have to ask yourself what your goals are. If you wanna do something epic, then youre gonna have to shell out a few bucks. If you wanna cut corners youre recording nothing more than a vanity project. Thats ok as long as you are aware that its a vanity project. The trouble starts when everyone wants to put their vanity project up for sale; a half-assed effort at best. Then they wonder why they arent getting any traction. Dont try and swim in professional circles with that shit, because whether you can hear it or not is irrelevant; the pros can hear the difference and you look like a tool. Imagine the NASCAR driver who wants to tell everyone hes amazing at racing and shows up to the NASCAR race with a rusted out baby-blue Dodge Dart because thats all he wanted to afford. He looks like an idiot because he brought a little knife to a gun fight, ya know?

You more than likely have a job right now and youre good at it Ill bet, just imagine how you feel about people who come into your workplace and simply dont get what you do or what they have to do to get it right. How do you feel about them? Yeah, yeah, you may say I would help them out. Maybe thats your job is training people. Labels, publishers, managers, bloggers, everyone in the professional music industry gets HUNDREDS of submissions a day, so Helping them all out is quite impossible. So you pass because they arent ready.

You wanna be a pro, then look like a pro, sound like a pro, and show up with a professional product and behave like a professional. Take your time looking for your team. Dont just take the first guy down the street who has a pro-tools rig and make him your producer. LISTEN to what he has recorded in the past. Find out what lengths hes willing to go to make something amazing. Make SURE he/she is enthusiastic!!

I remember my 1st recording experience in Milwaukee, WI when I was in High School. We would finish a take and ask the engineer, how was that? He would respond, Did you think it sounded good? We would say, Fuck yeah! Were awesome! We were really good but we were green. We didnt know. There was reverb on the bass guitar for Artist Development Baby O Recorders imageGods sake!!! I remember taking these recordings to LA to get them professionally mixed because WE WANTED TO BE GOOD. I remember the producers I used had mixed Black & Blue, and The Vinnie Vincent Invasion along with some other major label records. I remember making a killer deal on the phone for a flat rate to mix 3 songs (those cost a fortune back then FYI, there was no Pro Tools) and those guy saying, How bad could it be? I remember hanging in the lounge of Baby O Recorders on Sunset next to David Hasselhoff who was also recording there. I remember them coming out of the studio PISSED because there was reverb on the bass LOL. So embarrassing!! Im quite sure they didnt make any money off of me, because it took forever to clean up our stupid mistakes. They did it though. Our recording was kick ass! We ended up getting tons of spins on a local radio station that played the real heavy stuff. We sounded better than most of the other crap they were playing. You get it?

STOP telling yourself why it wont work and START asking, What has to happen to make this a reality?

Henry Ford stated Theres a man who thinks he can and a man who thinks he cant. Both men are right. Which man are you?

All Im saying is if its worth doing, its worth doing right. Let me save you the suspense, you are going to screw it up; but you will LEARN. Get in there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Be fearless!!

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Where Are The Taste Makers?

Tastemaker Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Where are the taste makers? Does anybody take the time to go down the Rabbit Hole on ReverbNation?

Does anybody click on If you like this, then youll like this” on Pandora?

I did once. The song sucked. I never did it again. There’s no filter, man, I don’t have time to risk it.

We Need The Taste Makers

What is really missing in the new music industry is the trusted taste maker, man. We need a taste maker and platform that allows the taste maker to curate. I mean terrestrial radio had the DJs and then the Program Directors thatTaste Makers Radio DJ image ultimately decided what you were going to be exposed to. Of course their filter was the record labels, which was a pretty effective filter as the labels really needed to believe, back in the day, that the artist would break before they sunk 3 albums worth of capital into the project. My buddy Brian down the street who turned me on to all the cool bands was quite effective. I also had MTV (believe it or not they used to only play music videos) which created their playlists using the labels as a filter, a curator, if you will. You either liked it or you hated any new songs BASED ON YOUR TASTE but the quality of the recordings and the quality of the songwriting always had a certain level of professionalism; the bar was high.

This techie, algorithm crap that keeps getting shoved down our throats by EVERY ONE of these startup internet radio companies SUCKS. It is NOT EFFECTIVE. Want proof? What band has ever BROKE on internet radio? What artist has ever been launched into orbit after being discovered on Spotify, or Pandora, or Slacker, or Deezer, or any of these other dumb-ass online sites? Its definitely happened on YouTube but that isnt really internet radio, although it can behave as such. The video aspect of it helps create the viral effect. Many artists have broken on YouTube, btw; new, incredibly talented artists. This doesnt happen with the websites that are audio only.

Theyre fucking it up.

Music is personal. Music is spiritual. Music is emotional. They will never invent the perfect algorithm that takes the place of the taste maker. They dont realize this because theyre techies. Trust me; this isnt the first time that a bunch of engineers have thought that the solution was all scientific. Without Steve Jobs understanding the need for both science and control, Apple products would suck just as much as your Android and PC do; and they do suck, you just dont want to admit it.

CONSUMERS DONT HAVE TIME TO GO DIGGING DOWN SOME SHITTY RABBIT HOLE TO FIND THE NEXT BIG ARTIST THEY WILL SUPPORT! They will only continue to visit these sites to hear the crusty old songs they are searching for.

And theres the rub. You have to be exposed to something that you like first, before you go searching for it. So to me, every one of these sites is nothing more that big-ass, worldwide Tower Records Store. I never went into Tower Records (back in the day they used to have record stores and stuff, they were massive like Wal-Mart spaces with Taste Maker MTV image

droves of music available to purchase) to aimlessly walk around looking at random Album or CD cases to find some cool music, I actually had an agenda. I actually KNEW what I was looking for, because I was exposed to it via terrestrial radio, MTV, or my good buddy, Brian. OK, there was a little stretch of time where I went into the Mom & Pop record store in Lake Geneva, WI to aimlessly meander around and look at CD covers, but thats because I was in love with Nancy the check out girl; I was trying to get laid! FYI, she was really hotand really crazy.

I realize there are some of you ARE the person that would buy music based on the album art, and you what I would define as the local TASTE MAKER. You are the one that always has the killer new CD first before anyone else on the block did. Brian was my local taste maker and a trusted friend but even he didn’t consume music by searching for it, he had an older brother and sister that turned HIM onto the good stuff. However, while this local tastemaker is an important role to be sure, mass consumers do not consume music this. They simply dont have the time. So why are we consistently setting up the new internet radio sites to enable mass consumers to behave like a local taste maker?

Curating

Who will be the first company to create an internet radio that is for just the indie artists?

Who will be the first company to pick good, solid, NEW music and market it online to the world? I mean, creating web traffic is not as much of a mystery these days as it once was, right?

Am I that far off to believe that once you build something like this, provided the quality of the music is GOOD, people would catch on? I think about this on a business level often. New York City is the #1 radio market in America. With some 14 million people living there, how many of them are listening to the Rock or Country station at any given time? More so during drive time to be sure, maybe a few million? 750,000? Once this WiFi thing becomes ubiquitous in automobiles (say 5-7 years), a REAL Internet radio station could do some serious damage. Creating a listenership that would dwarf any station in New York, or L.A., or Mexico City.

We need a site with a program director that pours over countless entries and DECIDES what artist is good in their own opinion.

We get that started, with some serious capital to promote it and BOOM! The 22 immutable laws of marketing will Taste Makers 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing imagetake effect, its better to be first then to be better!

We simply dont need another site that requires us to dig or do any work to be turned on to cool, new music. Create a playlist and PLAY IT for the love of Pete!! Use a good ear to decide who will make it on the station. People that tune in wont have a choice as to what they hear, other than genre.

This is what we need.

I wanna COOL station to listen to, man.

I wanna trust you, Mr. DJ. I wanna be turned on and inspired by your next selection.

This whole business of allowing everybody the space just results in too much noise on the radar screen. My ex-wife is a TV producer so I have tons of friends in the TV industry. Did you know that if you say NO to a project someone is pitching you will be statistically right 80%-90% of the time? This is a fact they actually teach!! This is because most people suck at art. That is why we are so blown away by the people who excel at art; its why music is so fascinating! There has to be a filter of sorts to weed out the dregs. Additionally, we will grow to LIKE some of these taste makers, well, taste! I predict this is the way that new artists will be able to break to a mass audience again.

It will come around, eventually. Lets face it, 90% of the indie crap that is on these online radio stations is shitateous. They consist of absolutely horrible songwriting, horrible performances, horrible recording quality, just plain horrible. Ugh.

Could you imagine if TV was set up and distributed like these online radio stations?? Oh wait, it is, its called local cable access and it BLOWS.
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PANDORA BLOWS

Pandora inet radio image

By Johnny Dwinell

Pandora Blows. Ohand they certainly dont give a shit about you. Not for one second.

Pink Floyd Blasts Pandora

Pandora Pink Floyd image

Pink Floyd wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today blasting Pandora and their douche-bag CEO Tim Westergren for essentially tricking musicians into signing a petition disguised as a letter of support for internet radio that was REALLY about slashing musician royalty rates by 85%. Read it HERE

Pandora Digital Music News imageI initially read about it HERE in Digital Music News. Btw, if you intend to make a living in the music business, youre a moron if you dont subscribe to this magazine. Someone has to at least attempt to keep their eye on the moving target.

So, we have to get educated on this people. The world is changing; fast. Ultimately for the better with regards to the music industry as it relates to indie artists, but we cant let the freakin wolves guard the henhouse any longer.

 

You can thank Sean Parker and Steve Jobs. Yes, I mean thank them. Thank them for actually making it unbelievably easier to make a living in the NEW music business. Right after you thank Sean you can kick him in the balls for stealing the music and making it worthless in the marketplace, well, at least he won, right? Hes rich at our expense; stealing is stealing and Parker is SHADY. What he did do was prove to the world that digital music was happening right now and put the train on the tracks in a very public way for digital distribution; which is mission critical to our survival as indie musicians. Digital distribution creates real revenue.

Steve Jobs put it all together in a neat little amazing package and got the artists PAID. Steve Jobs believed in artists and liberal arts. Kelly and I just listened to his biography on a long drive home from a WI visit. The reinvention of Apple was based on the intersection of art and technology; around CREATIVES and CREATION.

Eventually the dust will settle on some pretty great new soon-to-be VERY popular delivery methods of music; new and old. Until then, the shakedown will continue. We will continue to have companies who come in and exploit musicians by making millions on their music and paying NOTHING in return.

This is not news. Its been going on for decades.

Record labels have done it. Terrestrial radio has done it, MTV did it, Sean Parker and Napster did it, and now Pandora, Spotify, and a host of other companies are doing it; doing it to us.

The essence of the Pandora shakedown is to convince our Government that they are paying too much money to license your music, which generates all their revenue; thus,

Pandora cant be profitable!

But heres the rub for us. This is really important yall. THINK ABOUT THIS.

Ubiquity is gone. Get over it.

Sadly, the days of the Rockstar are gone. You really have to get over it! If you are truly over the dream of becoming rich and famous as an artist you will damn sure be paying more attention to what is going on right now with your future revenue so you can at least get paid!

As we now have literally thousands of immediately accessible internet storefronts from which to be exposed to and ultimately consume music (although the exposure comes in the form of shitateous algorithms made by techies that are as effective as screen doors on a submarineI mean if you like this then you will like this..WTF, whenever someone figures out that 99% of music consumers dont have time to search for new music, they just want to be EXPOSED to GOOD music, the world will be a better place; and someone will be super rich. But I digress) the market place is fragmented.

When its this fragmented the BIG exposure business model disintegrates and the marketplace descends down into lots of little profit centers. We have already seen it happen with television. In 1979 there were 3 stations. The US Pnadora Farrah Fawcett imagepopulation in 1980 was 226 Million people that 3 networks divided up between them; this is the definition of ubiquitous. If you were lucky enough to be, say Farrah Fawcett, on a hit TV show in the 70s you were HUGE. You were FAMOUS. You were RICH. Everyone knew who you were, what else were they gonna watch? You had a 33% chance of viewership; thats freaking huge! Nowadays, if you are a star on TV you just dont have that kind of exposure because there are 500 channels. Therefore you cant possibly be as famous. Make sense? You cant possibly be as huge. Its impossible to be ubiquitous.

 

So what DO we have?

We have clicks.

We have tribes.

We have cult followings that REAL GOOD content attracts.

Did you hear that? We have tribes, clicks, and cults, oh my. You are exposed to the actors from the shows you like but you are completely unaware of actors on shows that you do not watch because there is just too much content to be able to keep track of 10% of it all, and have a life.

Back to ubiquitous. In the 70s, if you didnt watch Farrah (or any TV star because you preferred a competing program in the time slot) YOU KNEW WHO SHE WAS, because your friends were talking about her. Everyone knew ALL the TV stars then whether they watched the shows or not. Remember Battle of the Network Stars?? They had all the biggies on one competition show and it got great ratings! Now we dont, there are just too many shows and too many actors to keep track of; too much noise on the radar screen.

So goes the music business. Get it?

The thing is, TV actors get paid. All 500 TV networks understand that the actors are going to get paid so they can create interesting content that they can broadcast to generate advertising revenue.

Tim Westergren wants to make sure that doesnt happen to you. He wants your money. He wants to literally take the food off your plate, man.

You are not going to be famous.

But you can make a living. As long as you dont allow assholes like Tim Westergren to screw you out of the revenue he creates from YOUR hard work!

If you wanna be famous, be crazy on a reality TV show, its a long shot but far better odds than getting famous in the music business. Please, do that, and leave the music business to people who really have talent and NEED to create to keep from climbing a tower with a gun. It belongs to us, and eventually this new business model will weed out the wankers and the posers.

US Terrestrial Radio Stations Do Not Pay Mechanicals

This is why this article is so important. You cannot trust the Government to think for us no matter which side of the isle you sit on. They gave terrestrial radio a pass on mechanical royalties back in the 40s; we songwriters and musicians paid for that. How important were the mechanicals? Heres a great example. Remember the 80s band Kix? The bass player wrote all the songs for that band. They had a triple platinum record, lived the Rockstar lifestyle, but the bass player was the only one that got paid because he was the writer; the rest of the band made $400 weekno mechanical royalties were paid by radio. Due to the fact that the US terrestrial radio stations dont pay mechanicals royalties and European terrestrial radio does, American artists DO NOT get paid mechanical royalties from European radio spins simply because we do not pay European artists mechanical royalties. See how huge this decision was?

Our Government gave MTV a pass on ALL royalties until they were operating in the black which magically never happened; we musicians paid for that too (although MTV really did have the power to break a band wide open, huh?). MTV was so ubiquitous, it made the non-payment of royalties worthwhile, but stillthey build a whole network on just music back in 1980 and didnt pay a dime for it.

Now here is another really important fact. MTV was so POWERFUL that they single handedly broke Guns & Roses. You know the story, 1 spin of Sweet Child o Mine at 3am on a Saturday morning and BOOM, the phones blew up! Heavy rotation followed and they were huge; Guns & Roses was saved by MTV. Would have never happened without MTV because as you may or may not know, the Appetite For Destruction record had been out for a year at that point; the band was over. Believe me the labels all quietly argued that MTV should pay royalties but didnt want to piss anyone off over there because they were so ubiquitous; they had the power to seriously launch band up to the stratosphere. MTVs argument to the government included New Technology and Massive Exposure components as they spun a tale of how important these things would ultimately be to the music industry. MTV was right. They were that important.

Paul Westergren (aka Fuckface Von Shitstick) is making the same argument with the Government that MTV did. He is working the New Technology argument, and the exposure argument. MTV was exposure. Pandora is a cacophony of noise on the radar screen that exposes nobody. You really have to be looking for a song to get to it. This is not exposure; its distribution. Westergren really believes that the search algorithms which allow people to discover new music based on what they are currently listening to is exposure. It isnt. How long has Pandora been around? Which bands EXACTLY broke to worldwide success by being played on Pandora? Come on, name ONE!!! I sure as hell cant and Im in the business. So they suck, plain and simple; there is no exposure. Pandora is essentially providing a huge haystack for artists to hide their proverbial needle and calling it important because its possible to be heard there. Ugh.

Isnt it already quite clear that if we are not paying attention to this next congressional episode headed up by Tim Pandora Inet Fairness Act ImageWestergren for Pandora, the Government will do the same thing; cave to big money. How the fuck can you really sell music for a living and go to the Government and tell them that you pay too much for the products you sell and ask THEM to change the rules? How about CHANGE THE BUSINESS MODEL!

How is this different than TV manufacturers saying we cant make a profit on flat screens so you need to tell the parts makers we are cutting their pricing by 85%?

How is this different than your boss going to the Government and saying Im paying too much for labor, so I need you to mandate a wage cut of 85% so I can make more money?

How is this even the Governments problem?

HOW IS THIS EVEN ON THE TABLE FOR DISCUSSION??

I mean, Pandora has literally doubled their subscribership in the last 2 years but 70% of their subscribers become ghosts. Again, I reiterate, NO EXPOSURE.

Pandora is a hustle, a farce. Why?

No new bands will break worldwide as a result of the worldwide exposure Pandora is giving them. So the whole business will die with the old music that creates the traffic which in turn pays the advertising revenue. Why else would all the executives immediately exercise their options and sell them?

European radio stations pay writers royalties AND mechanical royalties and manage to make a living and keep the businesses going for decades. The business model of profiting off of creatives while the creatives get paid is not a fantasy. It happens every day, just not here in America.

Steve Jobs managed to put together a new platform that pays royalties to artists and writers AND make a profit.

So I would like to say this to Tim Westergren: STFU

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Want The Good News?

Good News feature image

Where There Is Blood In The Streets There Is Money To Be Made!

by Johnny Dwinell

Good News Blood in the streets image

There is truly more good news than bad news in todays music business for both artists and songwriters. I will get to that in a second, but first lets address a few things with regard to some of the feedback I have already received about my last blog post.

Ok, so some of the provocative responses to said blog post were based from fear, but most people (and I report this next part enthusiastically) were undeterred; motivated even!

Tenacity! I LOVE IT BECAUSE ITS A MISSION CRITICAL JOB REQUIREMENT in this business.

I should clarify a few things for yall though. The last blog entry entitled TERRESTRIAL RADIO IS DEAD was aimed at new artists; not songwriters looking to get cuts. Look, this was not meant to scare anyone, but to LOUDLY emphasize that if your business model as an artist is to get a record deal and break (i.e. get your initial exposure) on the radio, youre too late; its over for the most part. I chose to be this aggressive with the language content because Kelly and I constantly run into people who still think of a record deal and the promise of subsequent radio play as the measurement of making it; and anything outside that box or dream, as it were, is some kind of failure. The reality here is that MOST artists with a Record Deal end up in debt to the label and do not make it; around 90% or so at most labels over the last 40 years. ANY ARTIST who wants to truly make a living playing their music can now do so and guess whatShhhh.you dont need a deal; you just need to be a business person too.

Terrestrial Radio

In this new market the Record Deal and Radio Promotion are rapidly becoming irrelevant; but as humans I guess we tend to hold onto the past as change is always uncomfortable. With the exception of Country music artists, the rest of you will have to break online (like YouTube think Karmin, PSY, or Macklemore) or on TV (either via song placement or popular talent shows like The Voice and American Idol) and THEN terrestrial radio will pick you up AFTER you are already popular, but terrestrial radio wont break you in the rock or pop genres. Moving on to Country music and the old music business model, once again, all the major labels are still running at the industry standard 90% failure rate. Just go to Curb Records artist page HERE and look at every artist

How many of them do you know?Good News Curb Records Image

How many of them have put out a record in the last 5 years?

See what I mean? This isnt just Curb, it has been industry standard on all major labels for decades90% of major label artists fail; their money losers, and in debt. In the old (now dying business model) 10% of the artists were SO LUCRATIVE, that the revenue created would pay for all the other losses.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as The Artist Protection Program LOL.

So why is this still the dream when the numbers are decidedly horrific AND there is a better, more mathematically predictable way to make a living as an artist??

As of May 1st, Warner Bros Records is utilizing Kickstarter.com to fund record projects; WTF?? You heard me Good News Warner Bros imagecorrectly. Warner Bros is so broke it seems they will no longer be spending their own money on their artists recording projectsthey will spend the artists money for them. In fact, if you are able to start a Kickstarter.com campaign and get 1000 people to back you, you automatically qualify for a Warner Bros Records deal. If you can manage to get $100,000 in backing on a Kickstarter.com campaign you automatically qualify for a Warner Bros Record Deal. Crazy! So for some, this is good news. For the artists or bands that can get $100,000 worth of backing from a crowdfunding source, why get a record deal? You will probably make more money selling 70,000 copies of your own CD (which is SO DOABLE with a little budget) than selling 700,000 under a label. Do the math.and include the numbers you dont know about yet.

SO WHATS THE GOOD NEWS????

Well, for songwriters looking to get current artists to cut their songs, YOU will most likely get on the radio before any new artists do. If Tim McGraw wants to cut your song and the label makes it a single, youre getting paid and youre getting on the radio. Congrats! That will open many doors and launch your career to be sure.

The good news for artists is that while you may or may not become famous like the rock stars of 20 years ago, but you can absolutely make a living at itright now. We (at Daredevil Production) have a couple artists who just 2 or 3 years ago were writing in town, with day jobs, broke, trying to make itsound familiar?? Now, WITHOUT a major Good News DDP imagerecord deal, they are making a living. Touring over 250 dates a year, with a band, selling 6,000-10,000 CDs per year from the stage (Thats enough to afford to make another record, people) making money and living the dream. Just without a jet, and stadiums for now. Once these artists get their heads around how to match their live CD sales with online CD sales, they will make even more money; thats the rub. Btw, these kinds of artists, the ones who have profitable, successful small businesses are the artists most likely to get signed by a major label these days, or most likely to get a big money backer. Its about the business not about the music to them. I get it, I get it, I was an artist too back in the day, it about the music NOT the business to you!

Artistic Communication

Let me give you some food for thoughtMusic is about communication, right?

Communication is defined by the information RECEIVED, not the intent behind the information. Think about that.re read that line.say it out loud and listen to the words.

If you are a true artist and write KILLER songs but your lack of business skills keeps the world from RECEIVING the information are you communicating?

You may be lost in the delusion that back in the day it was just about the music and not business; thats BS. All the artists read from the same talking points to make you believe that OR while they were busy believing its all about the music, someone who was doing the necessary business was ripping them off. It is about the music, but without business no one hears the music. So its about the business. And if you truly have music that will profoundly touch consumers, then your business is now about EXPOSURE.

Big money investors like to see and invest in profitable small businesses. They like to see artists that can take care Good News Big Money imageof themselves; not artists who are detached, inaccessible, and a mess. Big money will come to back your project in 1 of 2 forms: Private investors or Major Record Labels. Both would like to add financial fuel to a fire that is already stoked. Get it? You gotta make waves, man, you gotta have a BIG buzz about you first. YOU HAVE TO BE DEVELOPED because they wont develop you; they cant afford it and even if they could, theyve lost touch with what that even means anymore or how to do it. Which means if you can develop yourself, you have a far greater chance of getting a deal, and you can actually make a living.

So the #1 headline of GOOD NEWS for artists is that if you are smart enough to know that you HAVE TO BE AWESOME in this market, if you are willing to hit the road and outwork everyone else, if you can surround yourself with a team of people who believe you, if you can run a small businessyou are going to make wavescertainly a living. Period.

YOU CAN MAKE A LIVING PLAYING YOUR MUSIC!!!

I managed to do it when I was an artist 20 years ago, but it is SO much easier now!

If you just want to be famous, that space is now relegated to reality show stars; Warhol was right. So common sense says if you need to be famous go for the reality show. If you live to play write music, then go for making a living; common sense again!

Please share this post if you like it!

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