Secondary Ticketing Needs to Change

As an advocate of the future of Live Music as both a consumer and provider I would like to express my frustration in secondary ticketing. In May of 2014 I remember sitting down at my computer to purchase a ticket to my favorite band, Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park. It was an hour after the tickets went on sale that I went to select “purchase” but soon realized I was an hour too late. 70,000 tickets had been sold within thirty minutes. A ticket that went from a reasonable price of $60 with a decent view, quickly jumped to $170.

The secondary ticket market in 2012 was about a $3 billion to $5 billion business, growing at a rate somewhere between 12 percent and 24 percent. As of 2013, only a few states prohibited reselling tickets or made it unreasonable to do so. The practice is prohibited in Kentucky and Michigan, although Kentucky doesn’t establish any penalties for a violation. Massachusetts limits the markup to $2 but allows a broker to add a service charge to recoup the expense of buying the ticket. Rhode Island and North Carolina both limit the amount charged above face value to $3. New Jersey has a more generous policy that enables brokers to charge up to 150 percent of the ticket’s face value. In Hawaii, Indiana, and Maryland it is currently illegal to resell a ticket for a boxing match at more than its face value (according to the Maryland Code, this law only applies if you are an event “promoter”). Indiana also prohibits the resale of tickets to any sparring or other unarmed combat match for more than face value, while Maryland limits it to boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing. Although, selling a ticket for any other type of event is legal in those three states.

Radiohead have announced a partnership with ethical ticketing company Ticket Trust. The issue of secondary ticketing has become a hot topic, with noise being heard far and near, a number of bands have stepped into the fray. Radiohead’s management issued a statement blasting the practice of secondary ticketing. “Secondary ticketing is wrong on so many levels… the band’s enjoyment of their own shows has been marred by the knowledge that a great many of their fans have been obliged to pay well over face value for their tickets”.

With new ethical ticketing companies such as Ticket Trust there is no reason why artist shouldn’t be protecting themselves. If there is money to be had, then the artist is deserving of it. And as an artist supported by fans of all different economic standing,  one would hope to be represented as an artist that doesn’t rip off their fans. Music is to be enjoyed and accessible to all, not survival of the fittest or… the richest.

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How is Music Valued?

At minute 4:24 infamous DJ speaks clearly, “This is a beautiful thing, we all have love and unity… showing your flags, representing your country, WE ARE ONE!”  Music lies at the heart of human emotions and relationships, connecting us all regardless of what language we speak or country we come from. The epicenter of music is emotion and how and what it makes you feel; and that very primal power is where the real value of music lies.

We find ourselves in an up hill battle, where in 2015 music is less valued than ever before. There is a shift from sales to streaming and the dominance of social networks as the channels via which we consume media are diminishing the value of each of these platforms. Because of this downward spiral in revenue, major artist and labels are focusing on one thing, and one thing only, how to make money. Artist need to make a living and are absolutely deserving but I think with this new generation we should reconsider what is truly valued.

With the capabilities and the rapid growth in technology there is still a hope for music to be deeply appreciated both emotionally and financially: Artist-fan relationship, Live concert production, and great music. I am not at all saying these are the three and only three avenues to making money but this is a start. I believe that we should no longer treat an artist and its fan as a product to buy and sell, this is where music has lost its value, but we should treat this love for music as both our weakness and strength.

My first reaction to this was that it is wrong on varying levels. Firstly, the haunting effect of Tupac being back from the dead is absolutely terrifying. I do believe that carrying on a legacy is righteous and if we do so otherwise history could be lost; Eine Kleine Nachtmusikand and the works of Mozart would not have blessed present day society hundreds of years later if human kind did not carry on that legacy. But I do disagree that bringing Tupac back from the dead for his estate to make a profit is horrid. That being said, what if the industry used this technology for current living artist? The idea of a live performance no longer actually being live, sickens a generation such as my parents. They wouldn’t go to the show. But the generation that has grown up in a society where they see the world from behind a screen, may feel differently.
This is where our love and emotional attachment for music is valued differently in every individual. A fan of Tupac that was born a few years too late may have never had the opportunity to see him live in concert but now has that opportunity. A lover of EDM music may not be so concerned about what his favorite DJ is doing up on stage but rather goes to a festival for the pure experience of listening to great music and connecting with others that have similar interest. Music touches us individually and I truly believe there is a way to monetize that love without diminishing the value or reason we listen to music.

Imogen Heap using Blockchain Technology for the Future of the Music Industry

Singer/songwriter Imogen Heap recently is taking a stance to the way in which she wants to sell her music, use her music, and expand her music. Imogen heap is best known for her unique sound and use of musical gloves in recent performances and more importantly an award-winning songwriter and performing who, so far, is the only female artist to have won a Grammy for engineering. After reading an article on The Guardian earlier today I found that Heap, like many artists, is fed up with not being compensated for her work and furthermore not having her work used and listened to as intended. Soon after releasing her album Sparks Heap looked into new ways of releasing her music and came across blockchaining. Blockchaining is broadly used amongst programmers and tech geeks and is used as a peer-to-peer payment system done through a uniquely created database cutting out the extra people involved in a company and instead linking individuals through verifying transactions. In a musical sense, Heap is looking to do this through sharing her music between other artists, film directors, commercial use, and the common music consumer. Through having her music on her own platform, which she calls Mycelia, she can connect one on one with other creators looking to use or branch off of her work. Another benefit to showcasing her work like this is that it also gives the artist more ownership of their work by having simple contracts that state what terms the music would be used to download for. This gives her a record of who is using it for what and a better way to have a latch of her own music. She looks to creating a community of music lovers combined with artists a like to share interest and learn from others work. Heap takes it a step further with making her lyrics, photographs, instruments used, and names of other musicians she’s played with accessible to the public.

More and more artists are taking steps like these to ensure they are getting what they want out of their work and ultimately bringing together a group of people who want to work and learn together. At first it has to start with bigger name artists that have a following and once it is recognized globally newer artists can tag along.

I personal feel that this also gives other in the industry and fans a better understanding of what that artist is like and see a more personable side to them. As is, that is what we are losing a bit more now a days with streaming. Before you would hear a song, look up the artist, listen to more of their songs, buy their album and fall in love with them. We need that back in order for artists work to be appreciated. Fortunately and unfortunately artists have more power than they think, just ask Taylor Swift. They just need to be the ones to make a stance, broadcast it to their fans, and make that difference in the industry we have been waiting for.

If you’d like to hear more about Imogen Heap’s input on the matter along with a team of others in the industry take a look at the video below.

Yeezy Season 2 proves to be anything but Neutral

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Vanity Fair / Karla Otto

The synergies formed when music and fashion intersect are influencing a new form of creation and consumption. While mixing fashion and music is not a new idea, many well known artists and brands (i.e. Puma x Solange, Rihanna x Dior, etc.) have started to capitalize on creating unique experiences that bridge the two worlds together, including potential candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Kanye West.

His latest project Yeezy Season 2, which he presented last week at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), was anything but neutral.  A great example of how the music industry is disrupting the fashion world, Yeezy Season 2 was inspired by North West’s Play Doh creations and featured a breath of neutral monochromatic looks, urban silhouettes and many shades of human.

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Vanity Fair / Karla Otto

…there’s something about the way clothes fit and feel and the emotion that they give you and the details of them that I’ve been passionate about and addicted to since I was five years old.

The central “human” theme of the line, as identified by Kanye in an interview with Vanity Fair, was bought to life not only in the clothes and new song “Fade” dropped during the presentation, but also in the way the show was shared with the world. Streamed in over 40 theaters across the world, Mr. West created a unique experience that has solidified him as a force to be reckoned with in both the fashion and music industries.

While it has taken a few tries for Kanye to get this right, we can definitely learn a lot from his goal of penetrating the fashion world and diversifying his talents as an artist. We can also expect exciting things from him in the future, starting with his mission of transforming sportswear through the influence of music.

Sportswear is less than 100 years old, so we are in the middle of the expression right now for what this will say for human existence. There’s something that the Romans, they presented, that the Egyptians, they presented. With us, we have a time now that’s a mix between music, the advent of rock ’n’ roll to hip-hop, the 808 drum machine, the concept of tennis shoes or the sweatshirt. Where can that go?

Also, check out this brief clip from the presentation:

Prince Royce The Next Latin Crossover King?

We all know the main Latin king and Queen of crossing over to the English pop world and that is Pitbull and Shakira. Now, Prince Royce says he is ready for change and wants to be Latin’s next crossover king. The Bronx/Dominican star Prince Royce known as making his bachata tunes, Darte Un Beso and his rendition of B.B. kings Stand by Me is ready to change his voice (literally) and is officially up for the challenge. Meeting his vocal coach Mauli B. who has worked with Katy perry and Boyz II Men tells Royce to change every syllable with “nay” on his new single with Snoop Dogg, “Stuck on a Feeling.” Coach says, “and put your finger right here,” while Royce presses the tip of his nose.

Royce Rojas first language is English but is famous among spanish people and has four No. 1s on Billboard’s latin songs chart as well as being voted among the most beautiful by People in spanish. He has done all this and more, by singing bachata which is a Dominican folk style filled with acoustic guitars and lots of romance. This April coming up he will be releasing his first English language Pop album with his new label home RCA. He has confirmed to be involved with Chris Brown and Magic singer Nasri and al though a risky move that could upset loyal falls and fail to capture pop lovers, its one he is willing to take. “What i put out in English, that’s who most people are going to think I am – that’s why I’m being so careful,” said in a recent Billboard interview. “I love hip-hop, R&B, techno and Latin,” Which is what Prince Royce grew up listening to and what the album has an overall combination of.

People didn’t always agree with him starting off with Bachata as people warned him that singing pop and doing English joints was the way to go, but he didn’t listen and that was the best thing he could have done. He was first signed to Indie Imprint Top Stop by the Salsa legend Sergio George, who co- produced his first self titled album in 2010. His cover “Stand by Me,” racked up more than 70 million youtube plays and 471 million clicks for his single “Darte un Beso.” He knows crossing over wont be easy, and although artists like Ricky Martin have had a smooth transition going from Spanish pop to English pop, for Royce it’s a different rhythm and a different language which makes it twice the challenge for him.

RCA president Tom Corson knows the risk but he says, “You have to bring them along with you in that journey. Some artists can do it, some can’t – We’re convinced he can.” As far as I see it, he’s doing great so far as his new single “Stuck on a Feeling” is #17 on mainstream Top 40 chart. As a latin woman I am excited to see him on the rise as he begins his journey as an international global star and can’t wait to see what else he does in the near future!

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Check out his latest single here

Nayvia’s recording session at Berklee!

Finally we got to makIMG_5108e the recording of the song Jon composed for Nayvia. I was kind of nervous because this was her first experience in a studio. Actually now that we have had the session I’m very pleased and surprised. There was a point in the session that I actually experienced something really refreshing… I was in the middle of a creative process between my artist and the producer/composer.

I guess this is one of the rewards of working with artist, watching them enjoy what they are doing and rocking while doing it. I’m very happy that in a very busy week I managed to be part of this moment. Nayvia did great even when she had a sore throat. While she was singing I could see her feet dancing.

About this “happy feet” moments, I noticed she does that even whIMG_5102en rehearsing. At the beginning my perception was that she was showing anxiety, nervousness and even I tried to convince Nayvia she was being distracting. Now I realize it is part of her personality as a performer and I’ll supervise the public reaction of it.

Jon told me he was going to mix it and do the master of it as soon as possible. I hope he could have an advance before this week ends to share it with you and my partners in class. Back there in the studio, it was already sounding great. I can’t imagine what Jon will do with the files.

Technology Changes Everything.

If there is one thing that has become quite obvious is that technology has the power to change everything. It has certainly transformed the music industry throughout the years! From the way we make music to the way we produce it. From the way we source music to the way we listen to it. It can be said that technology has affected the music industry in both positive and negative ways. The short clip above provides an excellent example of this.

If you were to type “technology and the music industry” into the multiple search engines that are available to us, you would soon discover that the majority of the articles out there focus on the negative effects technology has brought to the music industry. It is important to point out that technological advances have not only affected music but also publishing, television, radio, and the news. While it is true that perhaps technology has had a negative impact on the music industry (as well as other industries), there are many other changes that have been positive.

Today, I am choosing to focus on the positive as it is important to recognize favorable disruption. Let’s look at the short clip below.

Positive changes in the music industry (thanks to technological advances) include: consumers having access to music more than ever before, online music education availability, new musical instruments, access to digital tools (by both artists and consumers), artist collaboration increase, artistic control and independence, artist and fan communication/interaction via social media channels, crowd funding platforms, etc. All these changes continue to ultimately shape the music industry today.

Though there are many who feel nostalgic when thinking about the way the music industry used to be, it is important to appreciate the way the music industry is now. It will never be the way it used to be. In other words, it is important to see the good and bad (without specifically focusing on the bad). I am not saying the music industry is perfect. In fact, there are many things that could be improved. I am simply saying that technology should not to be seen as evil. It is important to embrace it and welcome the changes technological advances may continue to bring.

From Musician to Cultural Icon in a Technology Driven Age

Have you ever stop to think about what it would be like if the everyone would simply embraced this technology driven age we live in instead of fighting it so much?

Amanda Palmer showed the world the beauty of embracing the unknown. She went from musician to cultural icon when her Kickstarter campaign raised 1.2k!! Pretty impressive, right? Watch her TED talk below as it will help you understand exactly what I mean.

“Palmer is set to join Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as the artists people mention when they talk about the new music business.” — Billboard

While everyone constantly takes the time to put down the online world, and artists like Taylor Swift oppose tech driven services like Spotify for her own personal reasons, Amanda decided to embrace it all. She strongly believed that a strong relationship with her fans is what the music journey should always be about, and emphasized that this technology driven age can allow us all to create deep connections if we are willing to ask.

Palmer has become the poster girl for dipping not only your toe, but your whole body, because you never really know what will happen. In her case, the road less traveled led her to find incredibly positive results. Her kickstarter campaign, TED talk, recently published book, and unique music have all had great success because Amanda took a chance to welcome the changes the technology driven age has introduced instead of questioning them.

Amanda was strategic in her approach though. She made sure to establish a strong fan base before using technology to her advantage. In fact, it is her strong fan base that helped her raised 1.2k via Kickstarter. She beautifully mastered “the art of asking” as she likes to call it. She turned to her fans for help her and they provided more help than she ever imagined. It is very exciting to learn about her story however, it is also important to understand that not everyone will be able to do what she did. Because truth be told, there is only one Amanda Palmer.

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80% of the crowd funding campaigns that manage to be successful only raise about $10,000. This, however, is $10,000 more that artists can receive because of the changes this technology driven age has introduced. Crowd funding is not a magic path to stardom or riches. Artists must work extremely hard for crowd funding campaigns to succeed. Crowd funding platforms and success stories like Amanda Palmer do create a wonderful point though. Technology is not always evil. Technology can be an incredibly good ally. It can allow artists to use the power of music combined with the power of fans to acquire additional funding. Changes like these are why technology continues to shape the music industry.

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Raw talent first performance

I’ve been representing Nayvia for some months now. She’s a talented girl that never took any sort of voice education but still can do what you can see in the video of this post.

It’s a very special and satisfactory challenge that actually demands more patience than it usually needs. It’s special because you’re building an artist from scratch, you’re trying to let the new talent learn a ton of new things, learn how to communicate with musicians that actually have been in the business for a while. It’s a constant struggle with simple but huge insecurities and interests.

It’s satisfactory, because every step Nayvia takes, don’t matter how big it is, it feels like it’s being a huge one. Jon O’Hara and myself are always having our jaw dropped when we hear her during rehearsal. Every time she sings I can see how she gets more and more convinced that maybe her voice it’s her biggest asset, I can see her dancing while practicing her song and having a dumb smile that she can not contain.

Jon O’Hara, just finished Nayvia’s first song, they have been rehearsing and working on its details. In less than a month they will be recording it in a professional studio with some professional artist and professional sound engineers. I’m not sure if she realizes how big is this recording going to be. Jon and myself are convincing some artists from Berklee to get involved in this project and we are getting good response so this dream is about to come true.

Next step it’s making a photo shoot to Nayvia so hopefully next time you read something from me, you’ll see a beautiful picture of her in the post.

Lecrae, Part II: Laying the Groundwork (albums 1-5)

Today, we are examining Lecrae’s musical development in his early career. I’ve picked one song from each album as a representative of Lecrae’s style for that album.

We’ll be listening to:

Take Me As I Am (Real Talk)

Prayin’ for You (After the Music Stops)

Don’t Waste Your Live (Rebel)

Just Like You (Rehab)

Battle Song (Rehab: The Overdose)

Lecrae’s first two albums, Real Talk and After the Music Stops were his introduction as a rapper to the Christian community. Released in 2005 and 2006, they maintain solid technique and his lyrics demonstrate the elements Lecrae held most valuable: his faith.

Let’s listen to “Take Me As I Am” from Lecrae’s first album, Real Talk:

As with many of he songs on this album, “Take Me As I Am” is autobiographical, and is themed around a biblical message. His beats are comfortable, though not particularly exciting; and his songs are primarily rhythmic with very little melodic or harmonic work (there’s a basic underlying chord structure, and a brief reoccurring melody in the synth).

Lecrae’s biggest selling point on Real Talk is the style and content of the rapping itself. He has an enjoyable flow and presentation, and manages to take the style of rap where it hand never been successfully exploited before: the Christian and Gospel audience. Because Lecrae raps about deep struggles he remains authentic to the themes of rap, even though the struggles his lyrics allude to are spiritual as opposed to more common themes.

Lecrae’s style doesn’t change very much for his second album, After the Music Stops. The main differences you can note by listening to “Prayin’ for You,” are the inclusion of a female vocalist in the background, as well as a few extra instruments.

“Prayin’ for You” from After the Music Stops:

The first remarkable stylistic change doesn’t come until Lecrae’s third album, Rebel. When you listen to “Don’t Waste Your Life,” you’ll notice something new: the chorus is sung. In addition, the underlying beats have a much more robust harmonic structure and instrumentation – Lecrae is expanding and developing his musical style. I believe that his expanding musical style is what helped him to be well received in the 8 different charts he made it onto (see Part I).

Take a listen to “Don’t Waste Your Life” from Rebel:

In Rehab, Lecrae makes a huge stylistic change, which I enjoy. We’ll listen to “Just Like You” first, then discuss.

“Just Like You” from Rehab:

I love what Lecrae has done with the introduction of this song… he’s incorporated a beautiful instrumental, then a sung melody. It is expressive and musical. He still raps for the bulk of it, but he is intentional about using his rapping style to control the mood of the piece.

Even though his style is growing in harmony, melody, and instrumentation; and even though he us making different artistic choices about how he uses his voice when he raps; Lecrae holds true to the autobiographical and religious themes he has aligned with since the beginning of his career.

To me, this development is a sign of artistry. It is one thing to be good enough at rapping (or any skill, for that matter), but it is true artistry when you are able to alter how you use that skill in order to more effectively communicate through your craft. With the huge artistic strides Lecrae made in Rehab, is no surprise that he was nominated for a Grammy, or that he topped 3 charts (Gospel, Christian, and Independent). It should be noted that Lecrae collaborated with several other artists for Rehab.

These musical styles and collaborations continue to grow Lecrae’s follow up album, Rehab: The Overdose. Check out “Battle Song,” featuring Suzy Rock as an example.

Tracing back to Real Talk (Lecrae’s first album), you can hear a dramatic shift in the harmonic and melodic elements, as well as Lecrae’s developing artistry as a rapper. In Part III, we will examine the albums to follow.

To be continued…