Tag Archive for: Nashville Recording

David Bowie Feature Image

Sorry this post took a while. I was a little devastated. I’m unsure as to whether I knew about David Bowie and his battle with cancer and ignored it or simply didn’t know. Either way, I felt blindsided. This is a tremendous loss for the artistic community. He was super intelligent. A visionary. Mostly he was an artist right up until the end.David Bowie Interview

 

 

Watch this 2000 interview with David Bowie. Here he begins to predict the power of the internet to change the music industry in the future.

 

 

 

David Bowie Exhilarating Ying Yang

 

 

 

“I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society – both good and bad – is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

 

“The monopolies do not have a monopoly:”

 

David Bowie No Monopoly

 

Pretty spot on, huh? Hard to imagine it was 16 years ago that he gave this interview.

 

I want to discuss the “exhilarating and terrifying” part of that quote.

 

 

We need to touch a little on the terrifying to truly find an accurate perspective of the exhilaration counterpart that accompanies it.

 

The terrifying has manifested itself in many ways, hasn’t it? Free tracks have temporarily devalued music but artists like Taylor Swift have proven that when you embrace the new methods you can still sell 8.6 million records. Which blows the whole “if they can get it for free they won’t buy it” argument right out of the water; now THAT’S exhilarating!David Bowie Wolfman Jack

 

If she can sell 8.6 million records when the ENTIRE industry can’t really crack 1 million in sales, YOU can certainly make a living. Oh, and she’s clearly doing something different than the rest of the industry.

 

It’s terrifying that our tried and true methodologies of curation have broken down. It used to be that a trusted DJ in a market would spin something that moved him and if it was good (which it usually was because of the hurdles an artist had to overcome to get their song to the DJ to begin with), the world would catch on. Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” both broke in this fashion. They started abnormally in the Midwest and caught fire moving outwardly to the coasts. FYI, Pink Floyd’s single became viral in spite of a power play by The Syndicate (a group of 6 men that controlled radio in the 70’s) to keep Floyd OFF the air in an attempt to prove their power eclipsed their ability to get a song played.

 

It’s exhilarating that artists like Karmin, Noah, and Macklemore can find a huge audience without the corporate amen from the powers that be at terrestrial radio or major record labels.

David Bowie Karmin

 

 

It’s terrifying that records used to cost the 2016 equivalent of $29 and now they only cost $10.99.

 

It’s exhilarating that proper marketing can not only bring record sales back, but monetize the tremendous talents of artists in many brand new ways.

 

 

 

 

Unimaginable was what Bowie said, I believe.

David Bowie Unimaginable MEME

 

 

It’s terrifying that the record labels are so broke they no longer develop talent anymore. The methods artists used for 7 decades to get their music made and heard no longer apply. This is foreign and foreign creates feelings that range from the uncomfortable to downright scary.

 

 

It’s exhilarating that there is a new frontier with an embarrassment of artistic and monetary riches that waits for the pioneers that are willing to learn. It’s never been easier and this inexpensive to target, connect, and create relationships with your fans.

 

As David Bowie said in the interview, music is now a community experience.David Bowie Community

 

 

It used to be an artist would get distribution overseas and have no choice but to trust the suits that their music “wasn’t really selling”.

 

 

It used to be that an artist would sell 8 million records and never fully “recoup” the budget put forth by a record label because they could hide the money and screw the artist in perpetuity.

 

David Bowie Beggar

 

Now, we can track everything digitally. There is no reason for an artist to have to “trust” anyone. Now artists can “trust but verify”.

 

The monopolies no longer have a monopoly.

 

 

You don’t need a record label or radio to find your audience, you can find your own fans at your fingertips and it’s basically a free exercise.

 

You don’t need a record label or radio to create a buzz about your artistic efforts.

 

David Bowie Bailey JamesDaredevil artist Bailey James has at least 14 independently created social media accounts. They were created by fans. 12 on Instagram and 2 on Twitter last time I checked.

 

That’s buzz

 

She hasn’t even released her record yet.

 

It’s real, man.

 

About 6 months ago, Bailey posted a cover of Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” on her YouTube channel. This song was chosen simply for the traffic value we felt it would bring and it didn’t disappoint. However, this cover was the first that created some real controversy. The reaction to the video was split down the middle with as many people hating it (whether it was Bailey’s performance of it or the song itself I’m still unsure) as loving it. Bailey’s father was systematically removing the negativity in an understandable paternal effort to protect his little girl (she was 12 years old).

 

I told both parents to keep it real and leave the negative comments up. I said this because there were people that were actually listening to our artist expecting a train wreck (due to the negative comments) that were blown away by her vocal prowess and therefore baffled at the negative commentary.

 

They commented as much.

David Bowie Bailey James YouTube 3

Now they’re fans and subscribers to Bailey’s channel.

 

Some of the best, deepest relationships in life are forged from adversity. If the adverse reactions were allowed to stay, I said, her fans would come to her defense.

 

What makes you believe something deeper than defending it? Psychologically, that has a subconscious positive effect on the defenders; a bond is created between the defenders and the defended.David Bowie Scary

 

Last week a little girl made the sorry mistake of posting an Instagram message calling Bailey James a “bitch”.

 

Papa bear let it ride.

 

Whoa. The fans SKEWERED that little girl who left the bitch comment so much I felt bad for her. She digressed and said it was some boy on the bus who posted the comment without her knowledge or approval so it wasn’t her fault.

David Bowie Bailey James Bitch

 

I think all those protectors will buy the record when it is released, don’t you?

 

They’re passionate now. Definitely more passionate than before the bitch comment.

 

All this is possible from a laptop or smartphone.

 

You can create your own demand.

 

You don’t need a record label to make a living making music, everything you need, including the education on how to do it, is right at your fingertips and instantly available for those who know to ask the right questions.

 

You don’t need a record label to monitor your money for you. In fact, collection agencies like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are all feeling the pain of maintaining their relevance in this new digital age.

 

 

 

You don’t need 1 million dollars to make your music and market it these days. You just need to want to do it enough to venture forth into the unknown and learn some new skills.

 

That’s what I did.

 

You need to be bold instead of whiney.

 

You need to be courageous instead of fearful.

 

You need to be curious instead of lazy.

 

Embrace the change.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streetsDavid Bowie Young Americans
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace timeDavid Bowie Hollywood Star

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace timeDavid Bowie Patch

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

 

You were a true genius, Davie Bowie.

 

Thanks for the great music, man.

 

God Speed.

 

Now any artist can make true art without corporate intervention and bring it to the world without corporate intervention.

That is, if they really want to.

 

When you can have complete control over your art and your cash, why would you place your future in the hands of 2 different committees (record labels and radio) whose businesses are dying right before your eyes?

 

Why on Earth would you want to do it the old way?

 

Stay

In

Tune

 

Derivatives Mona Lisa Selfie

I get about 3-8 emails every week where people send me music and ask for advice.  These artists come from many different genres.  I’m generalizing to be sure when I say they mostly suffer from the same issue, they’re derivative.

They’re mostly derivative, right?

Don’t be derivative.

Look, don’t get me wrong, if a derivative artist has a budget we’ll record them, that’s just business.

I’m talking about real art here, though.

I’m talking about future icons.

I’m talking about a way to break through the noise on the market RADAR screen.

Strictly on a business level, if you don’t have a MAJOR financial backer who can capitalize on a market trend, what exactly are you exploiting?

What’s the point?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s laziness.  I wonder that because I certainly suffered through my share of lethargy in my artist years if I’m being honest. Initially my main goal was to be on MTV.  Once I got access to our producer’s “other band”, The Allman Brothers, I realized it didn’t have anything to do with MTV.  I was being lazy.  I needed to dig deeper.  We all have to go through that door at some point.

But I digress.

Derivative anti cliche imageI hear male country artists singing “Bro-Country” about tailgates, tan legs, barbed wire fences and beers in the console.

I hear female country artists singing hostile ex-girlfriend lyrics trying to outdo Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert.

I hear endless rap artists who cannot seem to avoid the most obvious lyrical clichés like “bitches”, “ho’s”, and “n****s”, etc.

In the 80’s we all had long hair, ear rings, and leather pants.  In 2014 every hipster has a close cropped haircut and beard the size of Texas with 60’s styled horn rimmed glasses.  (Will that hairdo be remembered as some sort of 2010 version of the 80’s/90’s mullet?)

Every genre has it, man.

Every generation has it.

Every Iconic Artist found themselves at some point

I’m simplifying once again by this statement, but every iconic artist found themselves at some point.  They found their own unique take on a derivative tangent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWait, huh?

C’mon you mean you really can’t tell how badly Petty wants to be Dylan?

Dylan wants to be Woody Guthrie.

Clapton wants to be Muddy Waters, etc.

Realistically the only way to avoid being derivative is to be yourself.  The most interesting artists are telling their own story.

Being Derivative is a timeless artistic problem

Being derivative is a timeless artistic problem deeply rooted in every artist’s beginnings and nurtured by label suits afraid to take a chance in artist careers for fear of a poor quarterly report.  (Don’t hate them, that’s just business.  If you’re smart enough to play the game professionally, you get that.)

Think about it, we all begin as artists imitating our heroes; this is necessary.  It’s the first inspiration. We artists connect strongly with the superstars whose message and image speaks to us.  We relate to them and pay homage, right?

So where then does the imitation stop and the originality begin?

The “me-too” acts with talent, money, savvy, gumption, and connections will probably get their 15 minutes of fame but they will be forgotten.

It’s the originals that we rememberDerivative 100 percent ORIGINAL stamp

It’s the originals that we aspire to be

It’s the originals that become icons

So what is the road map to true artistic innovation?

Work.

Work is the one thing most people aren’t willing to do that much of in any industry, unfortunately.

Artists especially avoid this act because unlike a regular job where you are compensated regularly for your effort, the artist must continue to invest time, money, and their spirit into a massively delayed settlement arrangement.

justiceDelayed financial, spiritual, and social reimbursement means you pay it all up front for a chance at evening the scales later on…usually much later on.

So naturally, most artists seek the path of least resistance and fall into an uninspired creative rut; this is human nature.

If you don’t want to spend too much time writing (working), you copy what you hear.

Instant gratification.

We covet what we see every day.

The original artists are constantly creating, always working.  The work provides the necessary steps to uncover the real artist deep down inside.

Every song is a stepping stone towards something greater.

The roots come up to meet the inspirational artistic input and they weave a new, unique fabric.

The work IS the compensation.  It has to be. If an artists doesn’t feel like that then the business model is doomed to fail.

This is who will create real impact.

That’s terrifying to an artist.  It requires removing your mask and being truly exposed.  Most artists who claim to be vulnerable really aren’t; at least they choose not to be in their art.

When you’re not vulnerable in your art, you’re derivative.

 

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Myths-Feature-image-2

I was reading a Bob Lefsetz blog post called “Myths” the other day and it got me thinking (btw, you should subscribe and be reading Lefsetz too) Bob’s a little negative sometimes but there is good, ACCURATE information in there. It’s free, we can never have enough education).

Here are 6 additional myths I thought I would add to the mix with specific regards to the music industry.

Myth #1

Good music will find its own audience. This is categorically untrue.

  • Step 1: make good music!file00041345220
  • Step 2: you have to expose that good music to TONS of people and THEN they will respond to you.
  • In other words YOU have to find your audience.
  • There is a flashpoint somewhere after a massive amount of people are exposed to good music and it takes on a life of its own.
  • It doesn’t happen “magically” on the merits of the music alone, sorry

Myth #2

Your music video will possibly go viral on YouTube.

  • Again, 99.9999% of the time the viral videos are from artists (like Karmin [90 million views now] andNoah Myth Viral Video image[21 million views]) that built up a solid foundation of subscribers through consistent WORK and content before their big video went viral.
  • There are always exceptions to the rule, but if your business model is founded on the success of these very rare occurrences you’re naive; you’re setting yourself up for needless disappointment.
  • FYI, the algorithms change, ranking you higher on YouTube, when a large amount of people view a video within hours of it being posted.
  • The better ranking can post you on the front page of YouTube thus creating a ton of organic traffic.
  • Then it takes on a life of its own when corporate money comes in.

Myth #3

If you make a “demo” of your music then “shop” it to the labels you might get a record deal.

  • Myth Record Labels imageThis procedure was once the normal protocol but that process died 15-20 years ago, seriously. Anybody telling you this is the way to go is out of touch by a decade or two.
  • Of course there are VERY rare exceptions to the rule, but again, if you are basing your future on these exceptions you are betting your entire future on winning the lottery. I mean, it COULD happen, right?
  • Record labels don’t really develop talent like they used to because they can’t afford it anymore.
  • EXAMPLE: In 1978 when Tom Petty released “Damn the Torpedoes” it cost $8.00, that’s the same as $27.14 today.
  • Multiply $27.14 times 500,000, then 1 million, then 10 million. Get it?
  • You are going to have to figure out how to create real momentum on your own.
  • You are going to have to be at least a regional success with a profitable business model before you get your major label deal.
  • FYI, by that time, you probably won’t need the majors anyway. LOL.

Myth #4

Once You get a record deal life will be easier; you’ve made it, you’re finally getting paid. This is so wrong!

  • With the current business model of every record label, once you are signed you now enter into a club where Myth Easy Street imageonly 10% of the artists make money and succeed. The remaining 90% reside in the “artist protection program”; meaning they don’t make money and often can’t get out of their deal.
  • The work STARTS once you get your deal and by that time you better have your team-building, business savvy, and communication skill sets at a very high level or you will be forgotten and put aside; there are just too many people who know how to play the game better than you, that are waiting to take your place.

Myth #5

Artists like Taylor Swift and Trent Reznor made it because they were rich so if you had their money you would make it too. FALSE!

  • Yes, they were rich.
  • Taylor’s father invested GREATLY in her career and Trent is a descendant of the Reznor Air Conditioning Company.file3061238876703
  • Yes, money doesn’t hurt your chances but it isn’t everything.
  • Consider this; there is no shortage of money.
  • If it were just about cash everyone with money who wanted to be a star would be one.
  • It takes WAY more than just money; you have to be the right person in the right place at the right time. (that line is stolen from former Taylor Swift manager Rick Barker)
  • I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone throw PANT-LOADS of money at a career and nothing happens.
  • I’ve seen parents spend over $100,000 on a record for their children with the best producers and nothing happened with it.
  • I’ve seen a father spend $500k to get his daughter on a major tour with a country legend and nothing happened.
  • I’ve seen an artist get an investor with $850K, blow the marketing money on a tour bus (yes, that’s right, a depreciating asset with no tour to use it on because no demand was created, so no revenue stream was produced) and then get an additional $1,000,000.00 and a major label deal (you’ve never heard of this artist, probably never will.)
  • I promise you that Trent Reznor and Taylor Swift have outworked all of you.
  • Trent got a job at a recording studio in Cleveland in the mid-80’s to gain access to the recording equipment late at night where he created the first Nine Inch Nails record, when did he sleep?
  • Taylor had TENS OF THOUSANDS of MySpace fans long before she ever recorded her first song for a record label. She constantly asked the fans what they wanted her to write about; THIS is how she found her audience and connected with them.
  • Think about all work these artists did with little or no immediate return on the time invested.
  • Do you have that kind of resolve about your music?

Myth #6

Writing a hit song happens magically.

  • Look sometimes this does happen but not until the writers understand and honor the fact that songwriting is aMyth Billboard image craft.
  • They KNOW how to toil over the lyrics, melodies, chord changes and work their butts off to do it right.
  • Once you get this concept and put in some serious time, the Gods just might throw a 5-minute hit song in your lap. Yes that song “wrote itself” but it takes a lifetime of work to make it that easy.

 

 

 

 

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Success feature

By Johnny Dwinell

 

Answer:  True Grit

Success True GritFor months now I have been telling y’all that you should be reading the Lefsetz Letter.  Bottom line, if you’re in the music business, Bob Lefsetz always provides and intelligent perspective for indie artists backed up by real data.  I REALLY want to share this blog that Lefsetz posted in September (I just got around to reading it last night as I caught up on all my blog subscriptions via a nasty bout of insomnia) regarding a study about how grit trumps talent.  I’m gonna offer up a few comments and strongly suggest you read the Lefsetz post and subscribe if you already haven’t.

Success Study Shows Grit Is The Best Predictor of Success

The headline here is a study done by University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth where 100% of the 2,800 subjects studied showed that grit, which is defined as passion and perseverance over long-term goals, is the best predictor of success.  Wow, read that again because it’s so important!  Grit is the best predictor of success even when negatively offset with poor/mediocre talent!  (I proved this my damn self, LOL)

I can tell you with absolute certainty that my experiences as an artist, songwriter, and a producer constantly confirm that in the entertainment world, sticking around longer than everyone else is willing to, will pay off eventually.  Frankly, the longer you have to wait for the “big break” the more prepared you will be to handle it emotionally and business wise.  .

Truthfully, in my artist career, I wasn’t going to EVER win a vocal talent contest; I was a very mediocre singer.  I was really pitchy and I took tons of lessons to get my voice to a point where I could pull it off live without driving people out of the club; I literally clawed my way to “middle management” as I like to say.  Since my voice was mediocre, that meant I had to write good songs with lush background harmonies in the choruses, have a KILLER band around me (all of whom were better musicians than me), and be fascinating on stage to offset my ho-hum vocal ability.  It was time and perseverance that allowed me to learn my lane (i.e. my strengths and weaknesses) and adapt to formulate my portion of our act that was going to keep people coming back.  We were 4 kids from small towns in Southeastern Wisconsin who somehow managed to make a living touring for the better part of 6 years; all because we had grit.

We took risks.

We weren’t afraid to fail.  Did we fail?  HELL YES!  FYI, our first Midwest tour in 1988 lasted about a year and grossed around $120,000 (about $240,000 today)…it cost $128,000!!!  After that, we KNEW how to be profitable; we LEARNED from our mistakes and continued on.

Admittedly, back then, speed bumps pissed me off.  I was so damn negative in my head (like mostSuccess True Grit artists) but we still moved forward.  We all learned to EXPECT challenges on a daily basis and eat them for breakfast.  We learned that negativity was nonproductive; focusing on exploiting what we had instead of bitching about what we thought we needed turned out to be far more productive.

Ya know something else that comes to mind?  Grit spawns at least 1 immediate tangible benefit; respect.  When we moved to Florida to be developed by Bud Snyder with the Allman Brothers, we were blessed to be the recipients of constant good will from every angle simply because people respected that we had the balls to move down to Florida to follow our dream.  Many mission critical favors were handed to us simply because people knew or felt that we had grit.

Winston Churchill said “Responsibility is the price of greatness”.  The longer you continue to pursue excellence in the music business, the more you learn about how much responsibility is required to make it happen; the closer you get to greatness.

I hope you take a few minutes and read this post from Lefsetz.  I hope you realize that despite the negative voices in your head, which we ALL have, you can make a living in the music business.  Job requirement #1 is grit.

How bad do you want it?

Get to the Lefsetz post HERE.

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