What does it take to reach worldwide fame?

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Forty years ago, being talented in your music was enough to become famous if you had the right contacts. Today, being a brilliant musician is necessary, but not enough if you want to be a mainstrea artist. There are too many people who are brilliant musicians. So what makes the difference between the rockstar and the average performer?

Many people say that if you want to be a famous artist nowadays you need to make it when your young. This is only half true. Making it by being young is one way but there are others. The fact of being young is part of a concept that is much more general and important. That concept is about being different, extreme, and interesting. People like extreme cases because they stick out of the boring garbage we see everywhere.

You can differentiate yourself from others by being old. Susan Boyle made a killing on the “America’s got talent” show because she’s an extreme case. She has talent, but she is old and unattractive. How many old people do you know that are trying to become famous artists? This completely set her apart from all her competitors. You can differentiate yourself by being in your own world. Lady gaga didn’t become famous thanks to her voice or her songs. It definitely helped, but one of the main reason she made it is because she was in her own eccentric fashion world. She transformed her world from looking weird into being cool.

Radiohead fans frustrated by Ticketmaster’s paperless system

Thom Yorke of Radiohead at the V Festival

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: attempts to stop touts profiteering from the band’s concerts have rebounded on fans. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty

Radiohead and Ticketmaster have been accused of introducing an unfair ticket system that punishes fans who can no longer make it to the band’s sell-out concerts.

In an attempt to stop touts buying vast numbers of tickets and selling them on at a profit, Radiohead decided to use a “paperless ticketing” policy for their shows at Manchester Arena on 6 October and London’s O2 Arena on 8-9 October.

Tickets for the gigs went on sale via Ticketmaster in March, and can only be collected at the venue on the day of the show by the person who bought them. The credit or debit card used to buy them must be presented on the day, as well as additional ID.

However, since shelling out for tickets, many Radiohead fans have found they are unable to go because of unexpected work or other commitments, and are unable to sell the tickets back to Ticketmaster, or give them to friends or family members. Others have had tickets bought for them by well-meaning parents and are unable to collect them because they are not in their name.

Some people who bought several tickets say that because they now can’t make it, their friends won’t be able to go either, because they have to arrive at the venue with the card-holder.

Richa Manwani, a doctor, bought two tickets for the band’s 8 October concert in London. “I have found out that I am on call that day and am unable to make the event,” she said. “Only I can redeem the tickets on the night of the event with my credit card and photo ID. This means I have no way of selling them on for face value. Ticketmaster offers a no-refunds policy, which means I have lost my money.”

  • She added: “I understand entirely the reason for offering paperless tickets to prevent touting and unreasonable inflation of ticket prices, but I think it is unfair and illogical to punish Radiohead fans and Ticketmaster customers who are unlucky enough not to be able to make the event.”

Paul Chambers wrote to Guardian Money after spending £288 on four tickets for the band’s Manchester show. “I can’t go due to being away at work,” he said. “The tickets are in my name and I can’t pick them up. My wife isn’t keen on going to the concert without me but couldn’t anyway due to my name and bank card being on the bill. I would gladly sell the Radiohead tickets to fans for face value but I can’t due to the restrictions.”

Paul McCarren had tickets for the London show on 9 October, which were bought for him by his mother using her credit card. “According to Ticketmaster, she must now be present at the concert in order [for me] to use the tickets,” he told us. “I live in Northern Ireland and would be flying over for the show; needless to say, she will not be coming over with me.”

Guardian Money first highlighted the problems that some people were experiencing back in July, when our back-page Bachelor & Brignall column featured a letter from “LC” from Aberdeen, who couldn’t make one of the London concerts because he was being sent overseas for work. In his case, Ticketmaster agreed to refund him and sell the tickets on, but its approach to other customers appears to vary widely, depending on which of its agents deals with them.

McCarren has now been able to get the tickets transferred into his name – but not without some effort. “With some luck and a great deal of time spent on the phone, I was able to resolve the issue. Ticketmaster cancelled my previous order and then held the tickets for me, so I could purchase them with my own card. A great result, but not without a lot of hassle and money spent on the phone.”

Another fan, Victoria Spooner, was told by Ticketmaster that there was nothing it could do when she asked if she could pass her tickets on to a friend after she discovered her employer was sending her to Vancouver during the week of the concert. Yet another reader, Stephen Smith, says he was also turned down for an exchange or refund when he attempted to return his tickets for the Manchester concert.

Jon Wiffen, a spokesman for Ticketmaster, told us the company was considering customers on a case by case basis. “Terms and conditions relating to the purchase of paperless tickets are clearly outlined to customers at multiple stages during the purchase process, including the initial purchase page, the shipping page and the billing page. Information relating to their purchase of paperless tickets is also conveyed on the confirmation email they receive.”

He added: “Paperless tickets aren’t transferable because this prevents those tickets being offered in the resale market. However, our dedicated customer services team are happy to work with both customers and our clients, be that the venues or promoters, if a customer’s circumstances change.”

The inflexibility of paperless tickets is likely to become more of a problem as more bands and promoters start to use them to tackle the problem of touts. At present, Ticketmaster’s UK arm is only offering paperless tickets for the Radiohead gigs and some of Michael McIntyre’s shows, but it has used them for several other events during the past three years.

In America, paperless ticketing is much more common. Fans there have set up the Fan Freedom Project, which is lobbying venues, sports teams and, in particular, Ticketmaster, about paperless ticketing. “Paperless tickets sound convenient. But in truth, they’re a nightmare for fans,” its founders say on its website. “As fans, restrictive paperless tickets mean less control, more hassles, no price competition and more fees paid to paperless ticketing companies like Ticketmaster.”

Ex-Interscope artist’s side project goes DIY and succeeds

Ex-Interscope artist’s side project goes DIY and succeeds

Now, I’m really mixed about Interscope.  In the late 90’s/early years of the 21st century, they had some real breakthroughs in music, usually due to artists that really thought outside the box and seized the media and its audience by storm.  I’m talking about guys like Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Marilyn Manson: in today’s world, the idea of any of those three guys doing what they did musically and in the media back then and still remaining signed to a major label is a little bit ridiculous.  The only artist that really expresses her freedom on that sort of thing while still remaining on Interscope due to her success and ability to have such a dedicated fan following is Lady Gaga: though she really is a child of Marilyn Manson and Madonna.  I’m not saying that a label like Interscope is terrible or anything, its just that they’re a little more tame these days.

Now, if the idea of a late 90’s Eminem still trying to work a record deal with Interscope was a little perplexing, the idea of an indie signed warped-tour ex skater rock and roll band who didnt even sell Gold is even more perplexing.  I personally am not a huge fan, but a couple friends are diehards of a band known as Escape the Fate, a band who, around 2007, was garnering a little success on their way up.  Interscope noticed this, and I would assume they decided to take a chance with them. We’re talking about an artist that was just never really known for its sales charting up anything big. So how did it go?

For a while this band was actually on an even bigger rise than they were before.  I’d assume that compared to one of their old friends on the road, Avenged Sevenfold (now extremely happy with their major deal with Warner) they probably thought that going big was the way to go next.  Their album released on interscope in 2010 represented that they still had quite a bit of control over their singles and their creativity; however, in 2012 things started getting a little weird.

The band released footage and information that a new album would be released via Interscope Records in October of 2012, but eventually they dropped off the grid for a bit; no posts on Twitter or Facebook or anything.  Eventually the band came out and explained their situation, saying that they were “unhappy” with their record label and that they were now beginning to stress on Escape the Fate making a certain product with their album that they no longer agreed with, but really, how could they?  They come from a scene that just doesn’t function all too well with majors.  The band are now signed to Eleven Seven music.

In the midst of all this going on, frontman Craig Mabbitt announced that he would be doing a side project, known as Dead Rabbitts, that would be released via Interscope records and completely separate from his main project.  He announced that it would be produced by his friend, Caleb Shomo.  However, once this fallout with his major band occurred, there must have been something in his contract that ruined his plans to release his side project.  He too dropped off the grid for a bit, and then later came back with a message for his fans,

When the EP was ready for the world, and I was finally tired of dealing with the #!*$ record labels put me through, I just decided I would bring you the music directly. Cut out the middle man and bring you along for the ride. That’s the plan.

Mabbitt then posted links, ONLY via his PERSONAL social media accounts, to this link to Pledgemusic above.  Pledgemusic functions similar to Kickstarter in that it’s a pledge based make-your-claim buying service filled with customized exclusives for fans to get their money’s worth.  Mabbitt also worked a deal that if he reached 100% of his target, part of the money accumulated from the pledges will go to a nonprofit known as “To Write Love on her Arms,” which focuses on helping teens struggling with depression.  Mabbitt shockingly went up to 95% of his target in less than a month, bringing up high expectations for his new side project to be released.

Now, as I said earlier, I’m not a diehard for this band nor its frontman, but I thought this was really something.  A band gone DIY, signed indie and still fairly DIY, signs Major, falls out with major, and goes direct with an album release, and manages to pull it off?  Now I know that his pledge goal probably would not be like one if an artist like Rihanna decided to make a pledge, but regardless of numbers, it’s obvious that this guy, throughout his career has focused on building relationships with his fans strong enough for him to pull off something like this.  Again, this side project release is strictly DIY, produced by his friends and with Craig as its sole marketer through social media.  I am not making a claim that he did this by himself, Interscope probably helped out a lot; but in the end he built off the correct relationships during his journey through all the different record labels and got, what I believe matters most in the long term, the reward that keeps paying: a large and extremely loyal fan base.

Women Music Producers

Image      Every time I search for articles on female music producers, in the results are a lot of articles and blogs on the lack of well known female producers in the industry. Apparently less than 5 percent of producers in the entire industry are women. It’s an interesting number, but certainly sexism is not the only reason this number is so low. One theory is that besides that, major labels want to hire people who have already produced hit records, which have historically been produced majorly by men.

There are women, like Beyonce, who have a role in production of some of todays greatest hit records, but are co-producers of their own music. Often, media fails to give these women credit for any of the production, assuming that all of the production has been done by another better known producer, who is usually male. There have been few women in the past who have completely produced hit records. I would like to hear about more women producers like Linda Perry, who lately hasn’t really been in the foreground of music production, but has an extensive discography of hit singles she worked on with other artists as a producer. The music industry either lacks role models like her for other women who aspire to become producers, or the media isn’t giving them enough credit. You always hear about “super producers” like Max Martin and Dr. Luke, but never that Bjork may have actually produced her 2001 album Vespertine and not producer Valgeir Sigurdsson, as Icelandic newspaper Grapevine made the mistake of saying.

I think it would be interesting to find a female producer to blog about each week. Here are some up and coming female producers worth listening to: http://www.mtviggy.com/lists/10-female-producers-youve-got-to-have-heard/ 

The Works of a New MySpace?

Just a few days ago, a sneak preview of the layout of the new MySpace was released. Musician and actor, Justin Timberlake has his hand in the new MySpace as an investor. Now tell me… Is this really possible to make a come-back with all the other social networks at its peak? For instance, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr.

Even though many companies have made attempts at making a thrilling and entertaining social network, MySpace has been a platform for musicians. And even as other networks have come along and taken a lot of it’s attention, it has still been used as a platform for many musicians to reach out to their fans. (That’s where Justin Timberlake come’s along)

“In a single sentence, it’s a social network for the creative community to connect to their fans,” Myspace owner Tim Vanderhook told the Hollywood Reporter. The new layout looks familiar to some social network users eyes actually. I think its a mashup of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr all in one. But, its main focus is on music. I personally think that it could make a wonderful comeback and be a helpful platform for thriving musicians all over the world.

Release date has not been announced.

Can MySpace really make a comeback?

LETS WAIT AND SEE!

TreG Music

Black and White Makes Grey

“When you hear a riff similar to your own, your first feeling is ‘rip-off.’ After you’ve got over it you think, ‘Look at that, someone’s noticed that riff’… Imitation is the highest form of flattery!”
– Paul McCartney

Chances are this is old news to a lot of people, but I just heard about it yesterday so I’m betting there must be some people out there as oblivious as me. In 2004 a man by the name of Brian Burton, or more commonly known as DJ Danger Mouse, released an album called the Grey Album. There are a few remarkable things about this album I would like to outline in this post.

Content

The Grey Album is a mashup between an a capella version of Jay-Z’s iconic Black Album and the Beatles’ timeless White Album. The Grey Album is more than just a slovenly thrown together mash up of the two albums, it is a complete breakdown and reconstruction of the music that creates something completely unique and different. Doing something like this is not easy, it takes enormous amounts of vision, skill, and talent. When listening there are parts where it is hard to believe that what Danger Mouse is creating came from only the two albums and no other outside sources or samples.

Context

Danger Mouse has done something in 2004 that I believe is still far beyond our times even today. What is essentially being proven through this album is that recreating is in fact creating something new (hence black and white makes grey). And even further by that notion, that computers can be used as a tool to create music. Another way to put it would be that computers are valid and useful musical instruments that through mash-ups can most definitely be used to “promote the progress of useful arts.” Though the a capella version of Jay Z’s Black Album was released with the intention for it to be remixed, Danger Mouse did not have permission to use the work from the White Album. Within the context of copyright law this album was illegal and due to its popularity and hype, EMI ordered its distribution to be terminated. This album is ahead of its time both technically and in context with the legal boundaries it crossed. What I mean by that is that in the very near future, it is my belief that those legal boundaries will not exist. After all, the album did “promote the progress of useful arts”.

Concomitants

The album left a legacy.  It influenced some controversy with the law through an event not directly affiliated with Danger Mouse that was known as “Grey Tuesday”. On February 24th 2004 an activist group by the name of “Downhill Battle” organized an online protest. This was a protest against EMI’s attempts at halting the distribution of the album, as well as a general act against the structure of the music industry. Several free copies were released on over 170 websites to promote the idea that artists should be free to sample. Over 100,000 copies of the Grey Album were downloaded that day alone. Even more pertinent to creativity, the Grey Album inspired musicians all over the world to create several new mashups of Jay-Z’s music with artists including Radiohead, Metallica, Weezer, Wu-Tang Clan and others alike.

Whether or not record companies agree with sampling and remix, it is a large part of the future of music and it is important for music intermediaries to understand this. Changes in the law are most likely right around the corner and this means a world of both difference and opportunity in management, publishing, promoting and especially lawyering.

Phillip Richard