Primus, & Using Willy Wonka to Spice Up Sales

Photo taken from IMDB

Photo taken from IMDB

This one goes out to all my friends that actually appreciated the original version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as my friends that acknowledge crazy bass lines from the experimental, perplexing, and enigmatic rock group known to many crazy people as Primus.  It’s great to see a band pay homage to great film, but they also did it with some serious bank account victories in mind.

If you watched Willy Wonka, you’d know that the story’s premise entails a chocolate maker, arguably diagnosable for schizophrenia, slipping five golden tickets respectively for five lifetime chocolate supplies into his brand of candy bars sold worldwide.  If you haven’t watched Willy Wonka to know of this yet, please educate yourself and watch it so this article doesn’t sound like absolute gibberish.

Primus ties all of this together with their new release, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, which hit stores today.  The reason I gave a summary of the premise to Willy Wonka is Primus decided to, not only pay homage to it with their album title, but employ this concept of golden tickets into their record release.  Yes, there are “golden CD’s” inside random Primus CDs sold at the moment.  If a fan was to purchase a CD and get one of these golden treats, they would be entitled to a lifetime of free Primus concert tickets.  That’s right, a golden CD means you can watch Primus until your eyes or ears give out while your brain kicks the bucket from all the psychadelics you’ve been taking to enjoy the music.

On top of all of this, Primus is now selling Wonka-Primus-hybrid themed chocolate bars at each of their performances.  Titles and flavors of the chocolate bars are designed to pay homage to former Primus releases.  This, combined with the golden CDs, the theme of their album, and the theme of this album cycle’s live shows and presentations, call for one hell of a movie reference that can seriously make headlines.

Now, I’m not sure whether these ideas came from Les Claypool’s… uh, unique school of thinking, or Primus’ management.  Regardless, this whole album setup is a marketing genius move that not only boosts their record sales, but it adds a special element entirely to the Primus experience and discography.  This is a moment that fans will not forget, and certainly something that encourages you to get engaged and maybe look up a recent Wonka-themed Primus show on the internet.  Personally, I’m not a die-hard Primus fan, but I’m 100% behind creativity that marries both artistic expression and marketing success.  This way, the artist is happy with what they created and the management is happy that they don’t have to go bankrupt.  You get a party that can move onto the next big idea with confidence and us fans love that.

Of course, not all bands are all over the place like Primus.  It’s not easy to be this crazy, but that’s what the band specializes in.  They found their niche.  Not everyone has to make a Willy Wonka themed experience.  They just need to engage us fans in a way that suits their band’s style and school of thinking.  You’ll have happy fans and a happy bank account to make happier decisions in the future.  Plenty of happy overload.  Personally, I love it when my favorite bands do this.  So this is my way of saying, I want more.  When can the bands I look up to begin to think outside the box?

@NishadGeorge

Jägermeister, The Defiled, & Icebergs

Acrobatics are still cool!

Acrobatics are still cool!

 

Greetings everyone!  Nishad here writing from the US, and while we are soon approaching the winter season, I came across a story from a place where it’s winter year round.  Enter Greenland, a place where it’s snow every day and you’d be damned if you think you’re going to have a summer day at your local beach.

The Defiled, an industrial metal band on the rise from England, partnered with their sponsorship with Jägermeister, embarked to the land of freezing privates to play a unique 30 minute set for a few natives and a bunch of cameras.  Did I mention that the specific place they chose to play was a moving iceberg?  Yes, they chose to find the perfect broken off piece of ice from their local glacier to set their drums, amps, and PA’s up for a good old fashioned rock and roll show.  I would imagine that tuning their guitars were a nightmare, and their drums probably got cracked.  But it’s all in the name of rock and roll, right?

Now, I’m not going to get carried away and make jokes about playing outdoors winter all day long.  What I’m most interested in this whole deal of things is that the Defiled are a new unique breed of sub-genre popularity.  Their sophomore album “Daggers” was created completely on crowdfunding.  They didn’t have a label for a lot of years, yet they had the cash to continue their day to day operations as a nonstop touring-recording band.  Record label funding is a thing of the past to these guys.  Their virtues came from their partnership with Jägermeister and likely a future in liver failure.

Ignoring these guys’ penchant for liquor, it’s easy to see that they have a model that’s successful.  They themselves seem extremely satisfied that, at the moment, the backbone of their rise comes from completely independent direct-to-fan interactions and smart financial moves.  I happened upon an interview with these guys over their early days; and yes, they had the whole story of a terrible past of god-awful label negotations and scumbags for managers.  These guys are cautious when picking their intermediaries.  But the one thing they’re most grateful for?  Jägermeister.  And not just the drinking.  In numerous interviews, you’ll find that The Defiled will thank Jägermeister as “their first real source of money.”  Surely, these guys aren’t loaded, filthy rich, careless rockstars.  But they’re damn close.

Think about it: these guys heavily promote their sponsors.  Maybe that’s not true punk rock.  But they answer to no one when it comes to their explosive and reckless live shows and record making processes.  Literally no one.  And their fans love it.  Their sponsors love it.  They get to work their asses off while a liquor company throws them cash while they get hammered.  Is there anything wrong with that?  Look at that picture again.  These guys are playing on a moving iceberg.  It’s a record: no one has ever done this before.  It’s gonna be huge when they release the concert itself.  How often do you hear a low-tier popularity band doing acrobatic stunts like this without going bankrupt?  I’ll say it again.  Sponsorships are the future.  Look at a Korn video and you’ll see Monster Energy Drink wristbands on frontman Jonathan Davis.  Challenge yourself to find a pop star’s music video that doesn’t feature an iPhone or Beats by Dre.  Numerous heavy metal bands are now sponsored by bodybuilding company Musclepharm.  Hell, even Japanese band Crossfaith have a song called “Jägerbomb” dedicated to their liquor sponsor.

There’s nothing wrong with it: find a brand you like, make the connection, you promote your favorite stuff and the company gets spotlighted.  From what I can see, independent bands that have good relationships with their sponsors and their fans seem to be happier than the ones that are tied down to too many people.  Now watch the documentary below and tell me these guys aren’t having the times of their lives.

@nishadgeorge

Last.FM & Spotify

spotify LASTFM

It’s good to be back!  A couple years ago, I wrote about the emerging importance of Last.fm in today’s industry and how it can greatly impact the listening experience fans get from their music.  From compiling data from your iTunes and Spotify library to keeping you updated on events customized to your library, I was always heavily adamant on everyone joining together in using the app.  Sure enough, Spotify optimized Last.fm to run as a complement to the Spotify app so that users could keep their last.fm profiles up to date even while streaming music.  Part of me always felt that the unity between these two would grow, and surely enough, we have now come to a point where Last.fm and Spotify completely run each other’s services off one another.

Last.fm fell off the map a few years ago when its then-limited streaming capabilities paled in comparison to emerging competitors like Pandora and Spotify.  It was back in the day when music still had a debatable price tag on it; companies refused to admit that the future of music was in free streaming.  Of course, now the business model has been completely workshopped, and Last.fm has done, in my opinion, what it needed to do to survive: it has utilized the well-known Spotify to bring back its once-waning forte of streaming services.

Before the merge, listeners wouldn’t be able to listen to a specific song on Last.fm, unless the artist was offering it for free through promotion, or if the user had a subscription.  Now, you can just head on over to your Last.fm library, click on any artist, and, as long as the track is Spotify-endorsed, listen to any track as you please.  Once you do, a Spotify toolbar will appear in your browser, managing your audio stream for you.  It’s a simple move that has revitalized Last.fm’s website.

Of course, these two have been working into each other for a while now.  Last.fm accounts are now accessible directly in the Spotify listening application as a part of the official Last.fm Spotify app.  Just go on ahead under the “App Finder” category in the left toolbar and you can access a streamlined version of your Last.fm information, through Spotify.  Let’s also not forget that scrobbling features from Spotify can still be enabled from the preferences section.

The question now arises: what is in the future of Last.fm’s radio features?  I remember the radio war between Pandora and Last.fm, and it should be noted that the Last.fm Scrobbler app still will not play radio without an account subscription.  It brings up a point that Last.fm has merged with a company that just has a better business model.  Subscribing to last.fm just guarantees you a decent quality radio stream, but you can get that out of Spotify for free.  A subscription to Spotify also gives you playlists you can use during offline mobile access.  Let’s also not forget the free radio services offered by both Pandora and the developing iTunes Radio.  So, to me, it just sounds a lot like a “if you can’t beat them, join them” effort from Last.fm.  Don’t get me wrong, both of these companies are largely responsible for my satisfactory music listening experience in the past few years, so, while this is a dream come true for me, it’s hard for me to see the bigger picture with Last.fm at the moment.

My guess is that Last.fm will just have to keep merging itself slowly into Spotify.  I can’t imagine its subscription feature keeping it on its feet when its users are referred directly to a better service in Spotify.  There are still a lot of personalized features that Last.fm offers almost exclusively, but these are all free, and, as I wrote before, we all know that free in the music industry should be always looked upon as a contingency plan, not a means to an end.

-@NishadGeorge

Why Twitter is Necessary in Today’s Music Industry

Twitter

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a completely irrelevant thought that sounds like a diary entry!  Yes, that’s Twitter to the common eye.  Believe me, for the longest time I thought that Twitter was the one of the lamest things to ever hit the music industry.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Why?

Well for one, I always thought that Facebook was a more varied version of it.  Why should you be limited to 140 characters to post, not have thumbnail displayed photo previews, why not have extra pages like downloads or band pages, and why not just freakin’ have some privacy?  I mean, what ever happened to the mysterious rock star?  The icon that was either so DIY or so busy that the only time you could see them and hear them talk was that magical hour and a half on stage?  That was a rock and roll icon to me.  They were a mystery until you had to go out to their live show.

Unfortunately, I got slapped in the face with reality when I found out that this is 2012, and the Backstreet Boys are way past the Backstreet Men phase, making me one old bastard for the times.  It came time that I had to embrace this fancy new technology of the youth, and I fumbled for a while until I figured out it’s pure gold in today’s industry

You could say I have no clue what the @#$% I'm doing.

You could say I have no clue what the @#$% I’m doing.

1)  Twitter maintains your relevance in every day.  We live in a generation of instant-gratification.  If you can’t appease your blood thirsty shirt-ripping music-pillaging hounds of fans, you can sure bet they’re going to go and feast on the next target they see since you’re clearly not putting out.  Before you know it, your fans forget about who you are just because you’re not updating them on a day to day basis.  You’d be surprised how true it is.

2) You can create a short statement swift to the point that’ll be immediately received by all.  While 140 characters seems constricting, it actually aids you, the reader, or your fans.  How often will your fans stop what they’re doing to read that giant Shakespearean essay you posted on Facebook?  Most likely, they’ll just skip through it; in fact they probably won’t even see it.  Twitter guarantees your tweets will appear in the streams of your followers (Unless they’re following an insane amount of tweeters), whereas Facebook posts actually have never reached more than an average of 15% of their fans.

Don't worry, we're not "liking" your photo of breakfast because we hate you, we just don't give a shit about you enough to show up in our feed.

Don’t worry, it’s not that we’re not “liking” your photo of breakfast because we hate you, we just don’t give a shit about you enough to have you show up in our feed.

3)  Searching buzzes on Twitter is more effective than using Google.  Please re-read that so you don’t assume I just said Twitter is better than Google for information.  I said searching for buzzes: do you know how many people tweet about the silliest things you can’t find on Google?  When Facebook was down, Google wasn’t telling me anything.  But all I had to do was search “Facebook” on Twitter; and I’ll tell you, Twitter exploded about it.  It’s not that Google fails or anything of the sort, it’s just that the way the search engine is configured, Twitter sifts through much less  and more relevant information to produce its Tweet results as opposed to Google.

4) In addition to #3, you can create the buzz yourself.  Trends and re-tweets are very helpful in that the fans do some of the promotion for you.  Let’s say you’ve got 900 followers, and one of them re-tweets your post to their 300 separate followers.  You’ve opened your chances of getting seen from 1/3 more of your own followers, and from one fan.  It’s extremely helpful, not to mention if your fan base is loyal enough, you can even trend your product locally for everyone to see on their home page.  Remember, this is ALL free.

So, to wrap this up, I found that Twitter isn’t the enemy.  It’s helped me keep up very closely with the DIY bands that I really like without having to go through an intense effort to get updates from them.  At the same time, it’s helped me stay in contact with a lot of people.  Of course there’s people on Twitter that tweet 100% bull-shit or re-tweet philosophy because they think they’re the next Confucious to their 2 followers.  Stuff like that exists on every platform: there’s really no escaping that one person eventually, but hey, you can always un-follow them.  Personal Twitters can be great when you want to establish that artist-to-fan relationship.

Oh dang!  Eric had eggs for breakfast again! BIG @#!$#ING SURPRISE.

Oh dang! Eric had eggs for breakfast again! BIG @#!$#ING SURPRISE.

So start now: You don’t even need to start tweeting or anything of the sort.  It’s just very helpful to get your domain set so that you can use it any time in the future.  Just remember that it just could be that helpful edge you get down the road.  And hey, as far as that mysterious rockstar thing goes, most professional Twitters of the big stars aren’t even running their Twitters: it’s usually just a social media promotions guy taking control of it.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve always signed off with my name, so don’t think this is some advertising, it’s just habitual.  Til next time

– @NishadGeorge

Streaming Rates: Get the Facts, Get My Opinion

I don't even understand how you don't already

I don’t even understand how you don’t already…

Let’s face it, in today’s music industry going digital and with the existence of genius and authorized sources of information (Like this blog… right??) I see a lot of people arguing over important topics but none of them seem to have their facts right.  More importantly, it seems like people are just missing the point.  So, I’ll address both in this post.

I found a neat article off Digital Music News that took the sales of individual artists and did the math themselves based on the royalties the artist received.  The averages rounded out to the numbers in this post.  Please tell me you already knew most of these don’t make more than a third of a cent, or you’ve got Jackie Chan up at the top of this post to give you my response to that…

SPOTIFY:  $0.005 Per Play

RHAPSODY:  $0.013 Per Play

NAPSTER (It still exists… Sorry Lars Ulrich):  $0.016 Per Play

ZUNE (Microsoft):  $0.028 Per Play

So, if you were to use some common math there, you’d find out that Spotify is actually one of the digital streaming service providers that provides the least.  And, if you weren’t surprised that Napster even still existed despite the Rhapsody buyout, it’s actually making more money than Rhapsody.  To drive that one deeper, Zune, the online service you totally knew existed, makes an artist the most revenue per play.

 But wait! This means we all have GOT to hop on the Zune now right?  If we all hop onto the streaming service that pays out the most, then we’ll provide better support to the artist and then we can fix the industry, right?!  Well… my facial expression would be:

You had to irritate me enough to pull out CARTOON Jackie on your ass.

You had to irritate me enough bring CARTOON Jackie into this.

It’s not a question of what is the “better” streaming service.  For too long I’ve scoured these online blogs and sites and seen people jabbing back and forth about which streaming service is going to save the music industry, or that streaming altogether is the cure to the industry situation.  It’s really not.  It’s the industry’s last stand.  If shelling out tons of cash on a vinyl didn’t work, we advanced with technology to make $10 CD’s to appease the solution.  When $10 CDs were too much, we hopped onto iTunes for digital downloads.  When music going on digital meant we wanted it all free, we gave them streaming.  Streaming is a compromise, NOT a solution.  The music industry has only been piggy backing on the innovations and evolutions of technology.

You can disagree with me as much as we want, but the numbers don’t lie.  The future of the industry lie in VIP packages and live shows, not streaming.  And even then, we have to play the live music game very carefully; something I’ll cover later on.

Take it from Lady Gaga, integrating her fans into one website online, combining the online social instant gratitude into a unified fan base that share interest into her.  Of course I’m not the biggest Lady Gaga fan around, but I know a damn good idea when I see one and she’s laughing herself to the bank

Only an obscene amount of cocaine could front an idea like that.

Only an obscene amount of cocaine could front an idea like that.

Again I’ll say it again, you don’t have to agree with me, but let’s face the facts.  Instead of arguing over what streaming service works better, or what are the current flaws in the streaming model, we gotta get on thinking on alternatives.  For too long the music industry has been riding on technology’s progress.

– @NishadGeorge

ARK MUSIC FACTORY

If you didn't know it already, it's not for the faint of heart

If you didn’t know it already, it’s not for the faint of heart

2011 was a great year for music, and when I say it was a great year, I mean it was awesome because all of the modern late 2012 artists invading today’s radio had their breakout year in 2011.

Ah yes, breaking mainstream: the dream of all aspiring musicians who want to become rockstars.  It is an accomplishment where all the blood, sweat, and tears of constant touring, recording, and promotion culminate into fame and fortune: that is when you realize that you’re a rockstar who deserves the title.  If you asked me who was the biggest rockstar of 2011, my answer would be :

PSYCHE!

PSYCHE!

Now to be fair, I don’t know Rebecca Black personally.  I don’t even know where she lives, and I’m sure a lot of people want to know so they can make more death threats.  I’m not here to rag on Rebecca Black at all because I don’t want to upset big Katy; and honestly I don’t have anything against her at all.  I’m here to take some playful jabs at the production company that creates tons of kid pop-stars like toys in a factory (I’m so punny.)  I realize that this particular Youtube sensation is of old news, but I was surprised how many people did not know about the company that created (and still continues to create) this brand of “artists.” (If you don’t believe me saying it still happens, skip to the end of this blog post to find out the recent sensation…)

In case you didn’t get the memo, this production company is also known as Ark Music Factory.  They’re a Los Angeles based music production company that basically accepts a sum of money, reportedly between $2,000 to $4,000, from parents who have aspiring and beautiful children and can’t wait for their kids to become little child pop stars so everyone at school wants their autograph.  The package includes image consulting, photo shoots, a music video, and promotion.  While it is listed as a composition and production company, it “acts” as if it were the kid artist’s record label in day to day work.

What are the perks?  Well, lets go back one year to Rebecca Black’s hit “Friday.”  Multiple videos of the song have been put up onto Youtube, and each one has gotten at least eight figures for views.  Let’s also not forget that it actually had a lot of momentum on iTunes: it broke a million downloads online in early 2011 while having an unfixed-yet-existant position on the billboard charts for downloads.  With all this success, everything should be easy, right?

It sounds like it would be until Black had legality issues with the company over ownership of the songs and its profits.  Turns out that it’s pretty tough to get the masters and the publishing rights to a song you didn’t even write nor have control over its promotion.  In fact, Ark’s current policy retains that they now keep all of the publishing rights as well as profits that come from it in exchange for giving the artist ownership of the master recording.

But now you ask me, “Nishad, who is the diabolical mastermind behind this evil establishment?” Well the genius behind all this happens to be…

I always knew when I saw Madagascar that animals would take over the world.

I KNEW that animals would take over the world! But turkeys?! DAMN IT!

Meet Patrice Wilson, the CEO of Ark Music Factory as well as working as one of its primary songwriters, at one point alongside business and music partner Clarence Jey.  Patrice Wilson founded Ark in Los Angeles in the year 2010.  Along with working as the company CEO, writing the lyrics to these songs, and promoting the artists, he also is infamous for his cliche cameos in each of these kids’ music videos: usually as either an actor cameo or a rapping feature in the song itself.

If I didn't know any better, I'd call the police.  WHERE DID ALL OF THESE KIDS' PARENTS GO?! WHO IS THIS GUY?!

CALL THE POLICE. WHO IS THIS GUY?! WHERE ARE THESE KIDS’ PARENTS?!

To be honest, if Ark Music Factory didn’t seem like an exploit, I’d actually really have a lot of respect for the guy.  He did not grow up in the United States and actually went to school in Europe before realizing that music was his passion; and now he’s worked his way to Los Angeles in an attempt to give these kids an opportunity to play music since he didn’t really have one when he was younger.  He insists that he “just wants to help make these kids’ dreams come true on some level” and that he’s “not trying to exploit anyone.”

I’d almost believe it except company partner Clarence Jey left the company citing that Patrice blocked him from using the company website during a possible lawsuit with Rebecca Black.  Jey also happens to no longer be a part of Ark.  Whoops.

To the parents of these children: Why not just pay to ship them off to the North Pole if you’re in the mood to make decisions that could scar them for life? They’d at least get a chance to find out that Santa Claus isn’t real and learn something from such a trip.  Hell, have you seen How I Met Your Mother?  I don’t think women in their late 20’s will be excited to tell everyone about their somewhat embarrassing past as a corny music act.

I’ll have you know that it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to enjoy these videos.  So hey, if you’re an aspiring parent and you’ve got some extra cash to burn on something that isn’t an investment in remodeling part of your house (or music school, hah! I crack myself up), Ark Music Factory is the place to make your kids’ dreams come true!  Just remember, they’ll be recognized instantly in public and have lots of fame! After all, theres no such thing as bad publicity! Right? Right?!

I’ll leave you with Ark Music Factory’s most recent smash hit: You’ll never enjoy Thanksgiving in America the same way ever again.

Cheers,

– @NishadGeorge

CDs, the Zombies of the Music Industry

No matter how hard we try to kill it, it just doesn’t stay down

If you were born in the early 90’s or the late 80’s, it’s very possible you have the option to list that you’ve got both a collection of CD’s at home and a lot of digital downloads on your computer.  Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re very into music and it possibly broadens the chances of this being the case.  What’s most unique about the late 80’s and 90’s generation is that, with our growing up to see the rise of digital, we have developed very strong opinions on whether to accept or reject the digital format versus the CD format.

In case you were saying “It doesn’t matter, CD’s are dead now,” well, I have a refreshing and shocking statistic for you.  In the United States as of 2011, CD sales were still more than 66% of purchased music over digital downloads, which were only a bit over 30%.  1% of music purchased is in vinyl (sorry my hip friends, it’s just that Vinyl is only for the die-hards these days).  Strangely enough though, in the first quarter of 2012 in the United Kingdom, digital sales actually out performed CD sales (an article I read credits Adele’s success and XL records to be part of the reason for this).  So, why are America and the UK’s takes on CD’s so different?

I didn’t understand this until I came to Spain to study abroad (I’m from the United States).  There wasn’t a single record store I could find, which is insane because the US still has record stores here and there.  Eventually, I found out that the general department store has a decent music section.  I found the album I was looking for, but amazingly enough, it was 20 euros!

If you live in Europe and you think that’s ridiculous, think about my take on it.  In the United States, the cost of an album on iTunes is usually a dollar more or less than a physical CD.  It’s roughly $9.99 per album, maybe more depending on deluxe or whether it’s a huge amount of songs.  At that point, you might as well just not be lazy and walk down to your local Newbury Comics/Rasputnam/(insert indie CD store that still somehow exists), and buy the album in CD format for the same price; but the exception here is that you get a nice physical booklet along with it, lyrics, and some physical artwork to use.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying CDs are an obvious choice here, it’s just that in the US it seems a bit more cost efficient to get more for what you pay for.  In Europe, the few times I have been to France, Spain, and England, the CD prices are far more expensive than the cost of downloading things digitally.  From what I hear from Japanese friends, the records there don’t come cheap either.

For this reason, I say that the United States will probably not adapt to going fully digital as fast as the rest of the world will.  It just doesn’t seem possible when prices are very close with each other.  For the rest of the world, I do believe that digital will be making its take over within the decade, especially with the statistic from the beginning of this year.  However, with major labels still running the business, I feel that the physical CD will always have its place in the business.  The major label has always had distribution as one of its largest advantages: they will not leave behind the CD format so easily as it is still considered a partial advantage especially in a place like the United States.  It’s also a possible part of the reason why it’s so hard to break through in the United States.

Therefore, in a way, we could say that the relationship to CDs in the market and major record labels (pardon me, Entertainment Groups) are completely direct proportions, with independent music and digital being the other direct proportion as well.  This is made clear with Adele and XL Records: I’ll place bets that the rise of digital in the UK earlier this year has something to do with two of Adele’s albums placing in the top 10 albums sold in the year.

Personally, I love CD’s, but I’ve come to accept that their time is running out.  What do you think?

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120104twothirds

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/uk-digital-music-sales-first-quarter-332180

Who Killed the M in MTV?

Replace that “M” with an “R” sometime soon.

I’m sure if I asked you all who remembered the glory days of MTV, I’d get a response along the line of “coming home after school (or work) to check out the artists that are currently popular, or if my favorites released any new music videos.”  If you would not give me an answer like that, then, well, points to you for using your time more wisely or using it to watch Dragon Ball Z instead.  If I asked anyone today under the age of 16 of what they’ll remember of their youth regarding MTV, their answer would be drastically different.  MTV has slowly taken its shift away from promoting artists and showcasing the artists’ lifestyles to subjectively odd reality television.  The smoking gun has been a missing item to the uninformed for years now.

To put this into perspective, lets backtrack a bit to an artist that didn’t quite follow the standards of “radio friendly,” in that they wouldn’t pass for listenable content in today’s mainstream audience: we’ll use rock artist Marilyn Manson, an artist known for his controversial and grotesque theatrics, as an easy example.

When Manson first started making music, he released three music videos from his debut album.  When he had his mainstream breakthrough in Antichrist Superstar, his second album, he released a total of seven music videos off that album.  If you thought that was a large number, his second album, Mechanical Animals had six music videos off of it.  It stretches further, as his Holy Wood album would release the same number of music videos, and his greatest hits album would spawn two more despite featuring older songs.  Each of these videos would hit MTV, garner an insane amount of views, and create amazing record sales for a controversial artist who had trouble playing live shows or getting airplay in certain areas.  Since then, however, he’s only released two to three videos per album, with one of each being a live concert music video.

The same goes for artists like Eminem, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Bullet for My Valentine, and even pop acts like Britney Spears.  If you go on a by-year analysis, current pop artists such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga don’t even release music videos as fast as these artists did in their golden days, and most of these don’t even garner the majority of their views off of MTV.  It doesn’t have as much to do with the artist going out of style as you’d think.  So what was the cause of this, you ask?  The irate angsty young teenager would go “It’s all MTV’s fault.  If they still played music videos nowadays, there’d still be a reason to make music videos reach out to a bigger audience!”

Well, I’d say that’s a bit of a harsh response.  The truth of the matter is that everything in business can be changed by a single catalyst.  ONE shift can alter nearly every industry and the media, because everything in pop culture and its businesses feeds and buys off each other to survive.  I was going to explain it to you, but a terrific and hilarious video came out less than a week ago that I believe can explain it better than me.

The video will show you what has truly affected the business of showing music videos on television.

Yep, you heard it.  The combination of piracy and the rise of the internet has virtually destroyed any necessity in premiering music videos on MTV.  Sure, they still show them, but only in their dead hours between say, 12AM and 7AM when they don’t need to offer anything to a viewing audience.

A great point is raised though; why would you sit in front of your TV and wait for your music video to come on when you could just get the instant gratification by going on the internet and seeing it for yourself?  A decade ago, you had to subscribe to magazines, scour news articles, and listen to the radio to find out information on your favorite artists.  Now, if you so much as enter “One Direction” into your search bar, you’re peppered with hundreds of google pages, from Tumblrs to Twitters to Youtube videos to Facebook pages to iTunes to Spotify: the amount of things you can find out about a band at the click of a button is absolutely mind blowing.  Why would you sit in front of a TV when Youtube exists?

Illegal downloads have not only backed MTV into resorting to playing IQ dropping shows like Jersey Shore to recoup money, but they’ve also shattered the possibilites of making a good music video anymore.  Eminem’s videos were always a treat to see, or watching Ozzy Osbourne and his crazy antics composed into a music video were always creatively presented.  The budgets are too low to make anything as mindblowing as it once was before: something that is a shame as we now have the tech to make something really amazing.

I don’t think we’re getting old by seeing stuff like this, it’s just a matter of making room for the next era.  The “age of the internet” has caused many changes that we have to soon get very used to, or else we won’t be able to keep up in the business.  MTV is simply adapting by letting its “M” die out.  Would I want the old MTV back? Of course.  Is it practical? The answer today is “absolutely not. RIP.”  Sorry folks.

My Tour Manager: Another Step Towards the DIY World

My Tour Manager: Another Step Towards the DIY World

I will say, I’ve taken quite a satirical approach to the music business in my previous posts.  Contract riders, punk bands, and social media for annoying your friends: they were, and were meant to be, very casual and fun reads meant purely for reader enjoyment along with an informative touch.  Today, however, I’ll bring up something nifty but more towards the realm of serious.

Today, getting those gigs isn’t any easier than it was a few years ago.  With Livenation and AEG dominating the touring world, the common DIY punk band will scratch their head and go, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to start using the phone and calling up some venues.”  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the way I’ve done it and it’s the way it’s gotta be done to get your foot in the door and your name out.  After all, if every no name up and coming band could score the big gig that Lady Gaga could score, everyone would be musicians.  To quote an incredibly cheesy and overly abused rock and roll quote, it’s (always) “a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.”

However, with everything getting so digital these days, why can’t the booking process be digital?  That’s where My Tour Manager kicks in.  This is a touring site based in France, so it’s not quite released out to the English (or other) language speaking worlds.  Basically, the way this site works is that you get to choose your shoes as the tour manager/booking agent, or as the artist looking for gigs.  You register onto the site, and then, if you choose the shoes of an artist, locate concert venues and promoters to get a booking.  If you are the agent, it’s the opposite: you get to look through the selection of registered artists on the site and it’s smooth sailing from there.  This is virtually the Craigslist without the creepy sections and black and white format.  It’s a neat flashy way to get it across.  If you’ve found other sites dedicated to booking artists, you’ll find that they are not usually organized or do not give you the option of presenting yourself in a flashy and interesting way.

While this site is great, it is not truly optimal.  Again, it’s France based.  It is, on the other hand, a step in the right direction.  From here on out, it’s all digital, and we have to face that; so why not take advantage of that fact, face it, and use it to get solutions in the future?  If this is one site, why not create more flashy online booking sites?  Has no one thought of integrating social media for bands into an online entity?  This is the future of the DIY artist.  Yes, digital has wrecked the old music business model, but it has opened many doors for recognition from the bands that we’d always whine “deserved more credit.”  

Sites like this are just the beginning.  The more we progress into the future, the more the independent, DIY artist is able to expand his reach just a little more.  Does this mean that majors are truly outdated?  Not exactly.  To be honest, the worldwide promotion you get from major companies could also be combined with this digital age.  It’s really up to the band in the end.  Regardless, no band starts out signed to a major record label with global reach in this age: so online booking sites are critical.  I’m eager to an age where you can contact everyone that you need to book for a tour from your bedroom.  Could it ever be that simple?

Movies: The Next Direction for Music Promotion?

I never quite understood the appeal of a “triple threat” popstar, Lindsey Lohan and Miley Cyrus were always actors in my sight. I never once considered them musicians or pop stars when they ended up releasing their auto-tuned outside-written money-milkin’ pop records solely because what they were known and (debatably) good for was acting in their movies. Then again, if you’re really enthused by Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman singing and dancing instead of starring their iconic roles as Barney Stinson and the Wolverine respectively, that’s an opinion we don’t quite share. Granted, it’s always cool to know that your favorite stars are multifaceted.

With this video I believe we’re entering a realm where not only do we promote our music through branding and products, but now we have artists that are moving their album themes to the big screen. Hollywood’s Black Veil Brides announced that their 19 track up and coming thematic concept album would have a spot in theaters.

Now, if this was something that Rihanna or Ke$ha were doing, I would not be too thrilled, solely because their music and image don’t really represent something theatrical to be put on screen. In my opinion, it’s just milking the cash cow if there was no spirit behind it. Here, however, I think there is a creativity as a force behind creating this film. The movie, titled “Legion of the Black” will apparently be based on the concept behind their album: as their new album will be focusing on rebels who are oppressed from a society called “F.E.A.R”. So no, it’s not looking to be like Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” or Katy Perry’s “Part of Me”; this movie is looking to be fully based on the creative material within the album.

Marilyn Manson attempted something like this a few years back, something excited a lot of people due to his shock rock theatrical image. Unfortunately for him, it just did not seem to pan out. Perhaps Black Veil Brides will have a little more luck than Manson in that they’ll be able to successfully deliver this. We’ll just have to wait for the results in 2013.

Do you think it’s a good idea? Personally I think it is. I always wanted to delve into the meaning of an album and why the music is written the way it is, what the lyrics of a song mean, and how the delivery of the overall album depicts its own story. I believe representing it in a movie is the next level from that.