Final Words…

So, now that we have reached the end, it is time to talk a little bit about my posts.

I think that at this time in the music industry, we can all agree that things are moving very fast, and in directions that we are not used to. Artists used to make music as a creative art that was sold for profit, and now recorded music acts as promotional tools. People will agree and disagree for years to come, but no matter what position you take on piracy and file sharing, at this point it is virtually unavoidable.

Personally, I believe that this main hurdle has changed EVERY part of the industry, including the artist, and all music intermediaries. I believe that because recorded music has become only a piece of the “artist” today, that people have to work harder to make money. Lately, the expression “put the r in band…brand” is constantly being thrown around, but I believe that it is true. The music industry is so much more than simply creating music. It is more than managers consulting, agents booking, and musicians playing. People within the industry have to be multi faceted. There isn’t room or money for little pop princesses with just a pretty face.

Musicians are becoming their own team and their own music intermediary. Managers and Agents are doing more than ever, and big agencies are getting involved in anything possible. I read today that the Windish Agency now has started a performing arts division. I think this is great, but I also think this proves that a smart business person or company has to keep all doors open to new ideas and new business ventures. People need to be better than phone applications, artists need to be open to multiple genres and creative (and somewhat embarrassing) promotional strategies, and promoters and agents need to look at the art of live shows as more than just a show. Everything in the industry today has to work together to provide a bigger picture, and a more successful career for the artist.

Everyone in the industry has to be able to wear lots of different hats.

The definition of a “music intermediary” gets broader everyday, and it is a beautiful and scary thing. Although things are evolving within the industry in an unorthodox way, the most fantastic thing is that the real talents of today are being showcased. Not only in the creation of music, but in the messy web that connects the music to people all over the world. The messy web that is music intermediaries.

One Man’s Joke is Another Band’s Promotion!

Today, I was spending some of my morning brousing facebook, and I ended up getting a friendly facebook chat message from an old friend that I hadn’t talked to in a while. We hadn’t talked in a good six months, so we had a lot to discuss. In our banter, I learned something that I HAD to blog about. My friend Sean Robinson is a senior at Berklee, and is in a new band called “Mirror Lady”. The Indie Rock band has done well, with a tour and a nice little stop at South By Southwest. However, what really caught my attention was an accidental promotional scheme that got the band 15,000 hits on their presskit site.
Sean’s story begins about 5 months ago when he got out of a pretty serious relationship. His friends thought he had had enough time umm…by himself…..so they decided to “help” him out. The created a website called “sinceseanbanged.com”. The website says a little about sean, and has a timer for how long it has been “sinceseanbanged”. This funny joke turned into much more due to the fact that within the bio was an embedded link to the “Mirror Lady” site.
Basically, long story short, the website ended up going viral and getting over 300000 hits, and because of this, 15,000 hits on the presskit site!
Inspiration can spark from everywhere, and promotion can come from all outlets. This comical way of creating a buzz did some real good for the band’s popularity, and image. The whole idea of being “remarkable” is so accurate in this situation. A funny joke turned into something that people wanted to talk about, thus bringing them more listeners, and because Mirror Lady is actually talented, more fans.

Check out sinceseanbanged.com for a good laugh, and http://presskit.to/mirrorlady#media for some good music by “Mirror Lady”

* Sean would like everyone to know that the timer on the website is no longer accurate. Since the website launched, he has met a “hot Harvard dancer girl” and the band cannot figure out how to reset the timer. “We just don’t know how to update it in a way that will garner attention.” Smart idea.

Tour Promotion OR Touring FOR Promotion?

Thus far in my posts, I have explored the importance of the manager and artist to keep up to date will multiple facets of a career, but I have yet to expose the talents that today’s agent must have in order to stat current in the industry.
It is obvious that touring is one of the most (if not THE most) significant ways to make money in the industry. Touring is not just a revenue booster for an artist, but all of the intermediary players as well. Because live shows are so detrimental to an artist’s team, the agent and promoter cannot just be thinking about shows, they also have to be thinking about the entire career of the artist. Shows are not just shows anymore, but rather a whole process of promotion, and image marketing. In a blog post on hypebot.com by Brian Thompson, he agrees in this theory as well.

“The music industry is nothing more than a world of recommendations.
In order to survive you need to be talked about”

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/04/touring-isnt-just-about-ticket-merch-sales.html#more

Everyone in the industry today talks about being “remarkable” and in the end, that remarkable quality is what makes money. Everyone within the artist’s team has to be constantly thinking of ways to get people talking about the artist! The agent today has to be an expert at planning shows that will create a buzz in the right places at the right time.

“Touring isn’t just about ticket and merch sales. It’s about being a part of the local What’s Happening conversation. It’s about being newsworthy. It’s about being remarkable (worth remarking on).”

The booking agent is not just booking shows anymore, but helping plan and shape an entire career. Immediate gratification is something our generation is used to, but the music industry is going through a phase where patience is key. The entire team has so be crafty, and creative in the long road to generating a profit. The creativity, intellect, expertise, and promotional savvy that a booking agent and promoter need proves that these people have to be “renaissance men” in order to survive the industry.

“The Flaming Lips” are Working With Who??!!

The Flaming Lips have been writing and performing their imaginatively indie, yet undeniably catchy music since the early 80s. Not many bands can say they have lasted through decades, but this longevity is more than deserved for this crazy group. However, as their original fan base gets older along with the band members, The Flaming Lips, although very well known, still need to find ways to connect to a newer, younger, and broader audience.
The beautiful thing about The Flaming Lips is that they have managed to keep their same unique sound throughout the decades, but keep it current. Recently, they have taken genius steps into keeping their image and sound fresh by collaborating with some interesting personalities over the past year. A relatively new indie band called Neon Indian was an obvious and suitable choice. The two bands have a similar make up, and the fans who like The Flaming Lips would probably enjoy Neon Indian as well. The Lips have had collaborations with other befitting artists, however they have also ventured into some other not so familiar genres.
Bon Iver is an artist who has really paved his way in the industry within the past few years. He has released two amazing albums while also collaborating on huge hip hop tracks with Kanye West and Jay-Z. Bon Iver has proved to be diverse, so it is understandable as to why a collaboration with The Flaming Lips would make sense in a way, while not being an obvious pick.
Even so, the list of collaborators only gets stranger…
Erykah Badu could very well be the queen of Neo-Soul. She oozes hip hop, and steals the attention of any person who has seen her on stage. I would probably never think of pairing this amazing songstress with the eccentric Flaming Lips, however, she too has spent some time working with the band.
But it gets stranger even still….
Ke$ha. The woman has a dollar sign in her name. She has had multiple top 40 hits, and likes to sing about brushing her teeth with whiskey. She relates to the party goers of the pop world, and has everyone from the ages of 12-25 singing along with her on the radio.

“Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round”

“Do You Realize” -The Flaming Lips

vs.

“Ain’t got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain’t got no money in my pocket, but I’m already here
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger”

“Tik Tok” – Ke$ha

I believe the comparison of those two lyric samples say enough about the two artists.
However, the Lips have still managed to find common ground and even record multiple songs with this pop princess!
After reading about this, and thinking about it, and thinking some more…it sort of makes sense. As I have stated before, it takes a Renaissance Man to stay alive in the music industry today. Not only in the business world, but as a musician as well. Honestly, all of these musicians sticking their toes in each others genres together is opening up opportunities for broader fan bases. The industry is so insane right now, but that does not mean that the fun, and creativity has been taken out! If The Flaming Lips are talented enough to work in multiple genres then why shouldn’t they?
Diversity, openness, and capability to venture into other musical paths will keep this band alive for even more decades to come. The industry does not have time for single minded creatures anymore, and The Flaming Lips have realized this, and are rollin’ with it.

Check out a more detailed interview with Wayne Cohen (The lead singer of The Flaming Lips) on PitchFork! http://pitchfork.com/news/46048-wayne-coyne-talks-new-flaming-lips-album-working-with-keha-and-coldplay-blood/

Where Have All The Managers Gone???

Hello students, faculty, and all other who are LOVIN’ reading this blog!

As time has progressed in my educational career, I have learned, read, and experienced many things involving the music industry and the music intermediaries who make it all turn round.

We all know and accept that social media, and technology have taken over, and many jobs have been stated unnecessary, while new jobs have been created. People say that labels are dying, and “Do It Yourself” is the only way. BUT, when does the “do it yourself” mentality become noise? When will the only music intermediary be the Internet? I would not say we are close to getting rid of manager or agents, or lawyers, but after an article I discovered on Hypebot.com, I have found that we may be closer than we think.

The article is titled “Artist Growth Launches Musician Career Management Platform With Mobile Tool” by Hisham Dahud

Check it out on Hypebot here….

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/01/musician-career-management-platform-artist-growth-launches-with-mobile-tools.html

The article talks about a cloud based platform that basically acts as your own manager.

“At its core, Artist Growth is a software platform that provides artists with streamlined career management tools that track daily business activities and coordinate projects,all in one place. The aim is to help artists better manage their own careers by monitoring revenue goals, expenses, and keeps track of the overall data their music trends. Essentially, the goal with AG is to empower the artist with tools to remain as independent, organized, and economically responsible as possible.”

This $4.99 a month application could end up saving artists thousands of dollars that they would normally pay to a manager. Applications like these are making it easier and easier for musicians to do their own work. Artists can record studio-quality records in their bedroom, book their own shows, and now have a computer manage their entire workload. I have heard from many industry professionals that they believe technology is the brightest point in the industry today, but it could be the downfall of some seriously substantial occupations.

Only time will tell, but for now, everybody needs to be thinking about what is next to come, and be prepared for change.

If you want to be in the Industry, now more than ever, you have got to be a Renaissance Man.

Interview with a manager

Hello Intermediaries class, Berklee people, and any other readers!

The Music Intermediaries class has really allowed all of us to better understand the workings of an Artist’s team, and even inspired some of us to get involved with the band Nanai! Nanai is an amazing group who has allowed us to help them along with multiple aspects of their present career. In all of our class discussions, and hands on work helping the band, lots of questions have come up. In life, most of us strive to do work the “right” way, but in the industry, is there really a right way? What are the rules within the industry? What makes a good manager? What does it mean to be a hard-working artist? What defines success? There are many more questions, and many diverse answers, but I figured for this week, I would reach out to a manager and see what he has to say.

Colin Ramsay, a 21 year old 6th semester student at Berklee College of Music, is one of the nicest, smartest, and most hardworking people I have ever met. He is the exact person you would want managing your career, and he began managing his best friends a little over a year ago. Colin GRACIOUSLY gave me a few minutes of his time to answer some questions I had about his experience being a manager.

Tell me about the band you manage?

I manage Bear Language, a rock and funk trio from Boston along the lines of Radiohead, Muse, Mars Volta, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The group formed in early 2011 between three friends and has grown steadily since. We released a self titled EP in September of 2011, are about to release our second EP the Ventriloquist, and are beginning work on a full length album and a summer East coast tour.

What is your favorite part about being a manager?

My favorite part about being a manager is getting to be involved in all aspects of the bands career from recording music, to putting on shows, managing their presence online, etc. In a way I’m almost the fourth band member because besides actually playing the music, I’m involved in every aspect of the band. It’s extremely rewarding to help take a raw musical product and turn it into something bigger that people want to pay money for.

What is your least favorite part about being a manager?

There’s nothing that I “hate” about management, but there are a lot of challenges that you have to deal with. For one, it’s a 24/7 job. A “work day” doesn’t really exist. It can also be stressful simply because you’re at the center of all aspects of the bands career. You can’t just focus on one thing, you have to juggle making sure upcoming shows are promoted while you’re scheduling time for the band to record their album, coordinating merch orders, etc. This also means that you have to put yourself at the forefront of all these things and take the shit when it comes. As a manager, you work for the band so sometimes you have to shoulder the blame and handle a problem you didn’t cause, or be willing to do unglamorous things like get waters for the band or call them early in the morning and piss them off to make sure they’re awake for an engagement.

Is it difficult to manage your best friends?

Managing my best friends is awesome while simultaneously being awful. I spend all my time hanging out with my best friends which is hard to complain about, but it can be difficult to balance and differentiate between business and personal relationships or business and personal time. When I get in a fight with a band member that’s completely unrelated to the band, it’s difficult to put that aside and put myself in a business mindset. Similarly, when we hang out all the time, dedicating time specifically for band work or meetings can be challenging. I’ve spoken with a lot of managers that are obviously friendly with their clients but try to keep their relationship professional just to avoid these problems. I think the other argument is that a businessman can look more objectively at the band and do the job of making them money better as they’re not clouded by friendship. Ultimately though, I put up with all the stress and bullshit I go through because they’re my best friends and no one’s more pysched on the music than I am.

Do you believe you have to love the music of the band in order to manage them properly?

I don’t think you have to love the music of the artist you’re working with. It’s a definite plus because it gets you excited to work with them, but the more practical situation is that you believe in the music and understand the market. Plenty of pop artists are managed by people who in all likelihood don’t go home at the end of the day and put on Katy Perry. They do, however, understand the value of the music and artist they’re working for, and they have the business savvy to propel their career forward.

What makes a good manager?

Magic.

Check out Bear Language if you want to listen to a great new band!