Music as a Muse: “I’m not There”

I’m Not There is a biographical musical film inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan, among the most quintessential figures of the music world. i'm not there portada Among the key motifs of the film is the idea that Bob Dylan is everyone.  That Bob Dylan is no one.  This is best epitomized though the portrayal of the protagonist through six different actors, including women and small African American children, who all communicate different aspects of his life, personally and musically.  Incidentally, after the caption at the introduction of the film, his name is not mentioned in the entire film. The film narrates the plot with non-traditional techniques, most notably the intercutting of the stories from the six different characters (who are all in their essence Dylan, even though they all sport distinct monikers.)  At several distinct moments, the protagonist is placed at a crossroads, at which point he transforms and becomes a new actor, an innovative cinematographic concept, contributing to the films reputation and the overall exposure.

The film derives its title from an unreleased recording that Dylan made in 1967 from “The Basement Sessions”, “I’m Not There”.  It was not until the release of this film and the accompanying soundtrack that this song was ever published. (

The soundtrack, as the film, is in its vast majority composed of recreations by other artists, sporting artistic contributions from budding artists and superstars alike, including The Million Dollar Bashers, a rock supergroup composed of Sonic Youth members Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, keyboardist John Medeski, guitarist Smoke Hormel, and Wilco guitarist Nels Garnier.  Other artists who contributed to the album include Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Calexico, Cat Power, Los Lobos, Willie Nelson, Sufjan Stevens, Mason Jennings, and The Black Keys. (

i'm not there cdAlbum cover for the soundtrack

 “I’m not there” was generally very well received by critics, with numerous accolades including Golden Globes and an Oscar nomination for Kate Blanchet’s performance, although the film was widely criticized for its lack of accessibility to the spectator who was not intimately familiar with the life and works of Bob Dylan.  Beyond the opinions of critics, the true test is Dylan’s own opinion.  Dylan was interviewed in Rolling Stone magazine by journalist Mikal Gilmore in the September issue of 2012 about his opinion of the film.  He commented, “Yeah, I thought it was all right. Do you think that the director was worried that people would understand it or not? I don’t think he cared one bit. I just think he wanted to make a good movie. I thought it looked good, and those actors were incredible.” ( Regardless of the film’s critical reception and box office success, the most notable effect that the film brought about was an increased awareness to Bob Dylan as an artist and performer.  After the release of the film, he enjoyed a noteworthy spike in album sales as well as royalties from the soundtrack itself, of which he was the sole composer of all 34 songs on two disks.

The film concludes with a clip of Dylan on the harmonica from a documentary, “Eat the Document” and fades out.

“Bey Great!”–Beyoncé Releases Surprise Visual Album

beyonce-booklet-main-picThe internet went into a frenzy on midnight, Friday the 13th when music icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter released an unexpected self-titled, visual album with absolutely NO PROMO OR MARKETING!! Her eager fans (The BeyHive) shut down iTunes while waiting to purchase her album for $15.99 (14 songs/17 music videos).  The digital version was released today, but physical copies (CD/DVD formats) will not be available in stores until December 21st  (Just in time for the holiday season!–A great stocking stuffer for Bey fans!)

It’s amazing that no one caught wind of her project and that it was kept a secret! Beyoncé managed to film 17 videos around the world from Houston to New York City to Paris, and Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, all before the album’s release. Impressive!


Track listing:
01 Pretty Hurts
02 Haunted
03 Drunk In Love [ft. Jay Z]
04 Blow
05 No Angel
06 Partition
07 Jealous
08 Rocket
09 Mine [ft. Drake]
10 XO
11Flawless [ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche]
12 Superpower [ft. Frank Ocean]
13 Heaven
14 Blue [ft. Blue Ivy]

Here’s what Bey had to say about her new visual album:

“I see music, it’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to music.”


“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”–Beyoncé

Check out an more in-depth exclusive video that Bey released in her own words about her new album, as well as previews of ALL of the videos that she has made available to her fans from her official YouTube channel.

Some of my faves so far: “Drunk In Love” ft. Jay-Z, Flawless,” and “Blow”

To get a sneak peep at the album booklet photos click here!
Purchase the album now on iTunes!

Bey Great!

Case Study: Staying Close to Fans – while still being super cool.

It’s all about finding a balance. How can you make the artist-fan relationship personal, while still keeping that mysterious and glorifying vibe that comes from putting our favorite artists up on a pedestal? It indeed takes both of these elements to create increase the percentage of your fans that are “superfans” but they are seemingly contradictory.

I want to show a case study of a relatively small yet successful band that has built itself off of dedicated superfans.

Urban Cone is a band based out of Stockholm, Sweden. They have been working hard toward releasing their first album “Our Youth” and now that it is ready to be released out into the world they are putting the power of actually releasing it into the hands of their fans. Here is how they did it and why it is so clever.

First of all, the band has branded themselves with the ever so hip pine cone. Which for marketing purposes is very important on its own, but that’s not the point here. Basically what they have done, is take five pine cones for each track on their album. Painted them gold. Tied a number and a code to each one. They then released “the album” through pine cones in five major european cities: Stockholm, London, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Paris. Once a fan finds a cone they take a picture of it and upload it to Instagram – the corresponding track is released in that country on Spotify.

Sounds risky right? It also sounds like a lot of work for the fan. Like really, you need to have a lot of faith in your fans to make a public contest like this. Some potential issues that come to mind are, what if nobody cares enough to go out and do this? What if a cone is blown away or lost or found by someone who has no idea what the contest is about and just takes the damn thing cause it looks pretty? What if the fans that do go out become discouraged because finding a gold cone in the city of london honestly sounds like the hardest thing I can think of. But nonetheless, it is working for them. Out of the 25 gold cones released into the world 20 of them have already been found and the tracks have been released.

This risky strategy creates a direct relationship with the fans and the music, while making the artist seem elusive and attractive and worthy of time and effort. The fact that the band is able to pull this off shows that the fans they do have are more than willing to put in some work to get their album. It shows that they have something unique to offer the fans and that they have a strong faith in their fan base that also leads inevitably to fan loyalty. And that is what is important.

It is difficult to come up with interesting new ways to get involved with your fans other than simply tweeting at them once in a while, but innovation in this field is almost a surefire way to making a career out of your art.

Phillip Richard