Music Video Of The Week – Arcane Roots – Habibty

Music:

Arcane Roots are a British three-piece progressive/alternative rock that sound MASSIVE. I’ve had the opportunity to see them live while I was living in the UK, and boy are they good on stage! They might only be a three-piece but they fill-up the room both sonically and energetically. This song, entitled Habibty, is a hectic number. It shows exactly how well Arcane Roots use dynamics to balance-out their tracks. From heavy polyrhythmic riffs to chime-like clean sections, and soaring hooks to murmured melodies, one sure thing is that they know how to convey guts and passion. Vocals harmonies blend and build-up perfectly into half-time beat-downs played on the crunchiest single-coil tone ever; it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does perfectly.

Video:

The music video for this song was produced by Daryl A and Arcane Roots themselves. The camera work is pure energy, it changes from angle to angle and slow-motion to standard frame-rate in a heartbeat. The desaturated tone of the picture is particularly efficient with the light work going on in the background, and adds to the dramatic and emotional message that the song conveys.

Artist Strategy: Growing Up

Artist Growth

As a musician, I’m familiar with the mindset. Over the years my own musical tastes have shifted, developed, and broadened with the advent of new influences from particular players or entire genres of music. These influences have shaped my creative capabilities into something more eclectic, more expressive, and more-so me. But as artists, we aren’t ever quite satisfied with who we are creatively; there’s always room to grow.

Growth from the perspective of an artist commercially is more complicated. There are a few additional barriers between point A and point B when a musician, or painter, or filmmaker attempts to expand as a service. Without getting into Porters Five Forces, Clustering, or SWOT analyses, we can agree that, generally, making it isn’t as simple as locking oneself away in a shed and repping real book charts until your chops melt.

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One of the most difficult challenges to overcome – the one that most clearly separates professionals and novices in the industry – is the continued expansion of one’s fanbase. The first hundred ‘likes’ may be easy, as they’re often sourced by facebook friends and family out of complicity. The subsequent hundred or two can be earned by playing shows, but the growth regularly stops here. It stops when the same people are coming to your shows and you’ve no more facebook friends to hound. This is the wall that condemned your ska band to high school battle of the bands performances. This is the wall that’s keeping 99% of singer-songwriters off the playlist of my younger sister.

This first few hundred cooperating individuals are what I call an artist’s first sphere of fans – those with whom the artist has personally interacted with in exchange for support. The exponential growth beyond this point and the concept of “blowing up” all come down to an artist’s ability to mobilize these fans to help out. Once the members of an artist’s initial sphere reach out and share to their own personal spheres, that initial hundred becomes a thousand and, with any luck (or talent… right?), more.

Progress-circles

I’m going to ask you to really dig deep to remember this next artist. While he’s phased out of the nation’s musical lexicon since his prime, he’s a perfect example of the difference between Nicki Minaj  and Laybelle.

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His name is Psy and he used to be a pretty big deal.

Psy’s initial following – his fans in South Korea or the savvy goldminers of YouTube who stumbled across his video for Gangnam Style – were quick to relay his work to their own personal networks. His first sphere expanded to a second sphere, which expanded to a third, etc. – outwards to over a billion YouTube views. It helps that his video was optimized for virality, since without something so damn endearing like a round man dancing like a horse it wouldn’t have merited the share in the first place. Nevertheless, from this example we can learn that without something a bit more tangible than a piece of music, it’s quite hard to turn your ‘likes’ into passionate foot-soldiers.

There are no explicit rules to accomplishing this, though there are a few pre-requisites. Firstly, be very sure of what is it you’re trying to say. Be able to say it without needing to take a breath in the middle. One of my favorite examples comes from a songwriter I worked with back in Boston – Dylan Ewen. He said this about his album:

It’s about real life being a bummer, girls that suck, and porn.  I hope you enjoy it.  I really like Bob Dylan.”

Truly beautiful.

From there, you can set out to create something tangible, whether it be a story, a video, a logo, a t-shirt, anything you can achieve. The second imperative is creativity! Keep in mind, when you give someone a cool thing, chances are they want people to know they have it. If it’s something that they can give away without losing their own, they want to be known as the one who found it and the one who gave it away.

It’s something to consider – while a truly great song can be your ticket, sometimes it takes a little something provocative to get things rolling. Be inspired, be creative, and consider how you can add something tangible to what you do.

THINKBAND 8: Meet Charlie Parra, the guitar (and social media) wizard.

There’s a lot of unsigned guitar enthusiasts out there with millions of Youtube views, but just a few get the following in say, less than 3 years:

  • Endorsement of one of the most important guitar makers: Kramer Guitars (yes, the guitar brand that Eddie Van Halen used in his early recordings).
  • Endorsement of Laney Amplifiers.
  • Endorsement of EMG pickups (Metallica’s choice)
  • Sign to a major label and start a world tour with one of Canada’s most promising bands: Kobra and the Lotus (discovered by Gene Simmons).
  • Get sold out gigs in USA, Canada and Europe.

This is the story of Charlie Parra, a peruvian guitar player that did all of the above on his own, without a manager but with clear goals.

His strategy was based in engaging his music through social media on a regular basis. Also, his competitive advantage was the skill to play a cover song of almost every style (from Lady Gaga to classical to Peruvian cumbia) but transforming it into metal shredding. Then his solo album was released and was available in almost every music streaming service, iTunes and promo videos for every song with huge success.

Creation, performance, distribution and marketing strategies. All done by a guy that picked up the guitar for the first time because his school psychologist told him that it would help his “lack of concentration issues”.

THINKBAND 7: CONQUER YOUR AUDIENCE.

Why are vikings so cool in the metal scene? The answer might be in Carl Jung’s collective unconscious theory in which he proposed that there’s a common language between every human being throughout the times and places in the world. This language is formed by primitive symbols that go beyond reason, he called them archetypes.
One of these archetypes is the warrior; “a person who shows great vigour, courage or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”

Amon Amarth is regarded as THE viking metal band despite that many bands included the “viking” thematic many years before them (Bathory, Enslaved and even Manowar). They are one of the most successful metal bands right now with a never ending tour agenda around the world. But it’s not the fact that they were the first ones or not to come with the concept; it’s what they’ve done with it, for example look at the brand experience they set up in their live performances (or battles):

Although there has been quite a few musicians that had developed their brand image and experience in a sensational way more than 40 years ago (Pink Floyd, for example), the challenge comes nowadays that there is too much music to listen and too little time to hear them all. In that sense, Amon Amarth is a really great example of what BRAND EQUITY can do for you. This kind of performance makes their fans to enter into a true catharsis and release emotions in a positive way, giving the band a unique added value that it’s then transformed in record and ticket sales to their loyal fans around the world. They are Amon Amarth fans beyond reason.

To all professional musicians out there: practicing/composing/learning music all day is a GREAT idea. But have you thought about giving your music a concept? Can you describe your music in one UNIQUE word that nobody else could really have or at least its not generic like “soulful”, “inspired”, “aggressive”, “deep” or, to say the least “post-experimental”. None of these terms will really help you. You need to think about this in order to effectively approach to your audience.

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?

Thinkband 5: A story to sell.

In ancient times when a plebeian tried to approach the king to ask for something he had to make an offering. This offerings could be slaves, state of the art weapons, land, or just gold. Despite that the plebeian had the opportunity to talk with the king, nothing was taken for granted, it was just a right to talk to the majesty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it’d be interesting to have some lands for my own negotiation purposes, I’d prefer to talk about a similar story that might interest you as possible band managers: two weeks ago a couple of colleagues and me went to a venue we targeted to show the managers/owners a new startup band that we are promoting called Puerto Argento. We felt more than confident since this band has three conservatory members with undoubtedly quality in terms of musicianship, performance and charisma. I had a well prepared speech to talk about how good they are, the possible negotiation to set up the show, the benefits for the venue and even some small talk to break the ice. What could go wrong?

After waiting for 20 minutes we finally approached to this guy and start talking about business, I spent a few minutes introducing myself and my colleagues, describing the band and talking about how this band could be beneficial for both sides. Although he was paying attention and making eye contact, some problems appeared just when I was starting to describe the band’s musical style. His cellphone rings 3 times in a row, he answers them all, one of the waiters rush to give him a document and two people interrupt my speech with effusive smiles and handshakes. At the end of the conversation he had no idea how the band looked and sounded like, therefore no negotiation could be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One week later we had our first EPK ready for Puerto Argento so we grabbed an iPad and approached to a similar venue and showed it to the owner. In just seconds he turned off the cellphone ring, called their 2 waitress and said “hey guys, check this out”, then 30 seconds later he whispers to himself “look at the singer, she has a beautiful voice”. He shown immediate interest in booking the band gave me his business card for the follow up coordinations. Now we are closing the deal with really good benefits for this promising band in the long term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the EPK we used as today’s plebeians:

Thinkband 4: The best ideas come from the most basic questions.

There are quite a few apps and websites that I can’t live without right now, all of them share something in common: they were born from very basic questions that we all ask ourselves everyday. It’s hard to believe that some of these ideas were created just about a couple of years ago (months in some cases). Since you are probably a musician or a music fan I’ll show you a couple of great apps/websites that came from these basic needs.

MUSICIANS
Question: ¿Where can I find a drummer that shares my music taste, live in a nearby area and is available RIGHT NOW?
Idea- Fandalism: gives you the ideal band member in just seconds, you can do the search with lots of relevant filters to match style, area, age, amongst others.


Q: ¿Where can I find REAL backing tracks? (if you are a musician you know what I mean, we all hate midi-based backing tracks)
I: Jammit: gives you the possibility of having the actual songs of your preference by channels, in an exclusive mixing software platform. If you are a musician you’ll love it:

FANS

Q: ¿When is my favourite artist going to play here, in my city? (without having to surf for each artist’s tour)
I- Bandsintown: gives you the chance to track your favourite artists in a one-only step for the first time, then it uses the built in GPS to determine your exact position, giving you the dates, prices and, since it’s integrated with Facebook, you can see which of your friends are also attending the desired gig.

Finally, I’d like to share a few questions that I have right now:

Q: Which bands will open for Fear Factory’s concert here in Valencia? (I did my research and couldn’t find anything about this, as usual for startup bands)
I: A community for bands that are just starting out and are opening for big artists that you are tracking on Bandsintown, so a partnership with them can be convenient for promoting this soon-to-be-wellknown bands.

Q: Am I the only one going to Barcelona to see Steve Vai in December?
I: A Facebook app that detects the friends of your friends that are planning to take a short/long trip to see their favourite artists, so your direct friends can introduce them and have a safe new musical friendship that can last just for the concert or for life.

Q: Where can I find a place to play with my band right now?
I: Yes, Tickstage again, but I still have the same question: thinkband-open-think-tank-for-the-music-industry

What kind of questions do YOU have right now? You may become a successful music entrepreneur soon.

Thinkband 3: Opening for a supergroup (even if your band is just starting out)

Not even an album in the market and an almost unknown Peruvian metal band The Fallen Symmetry is already playing in the same stage with THE multimillion selling metal band from Sweden: Arch Enemy. So how could that happen? I had the chance to interview the vocalist of TFS, the band I managed just a couple of months ago.

Jaime: Hi Gustavo, what’s the secret to play alongside Arch Enemy without even having released any album in the market?

Gustavo: It`s all about hard work and seeking opportunity. You have to be ready when the chance comes knocking at your door. We did not had our album out yet when it happened, but we played some good gigs, we had a pretty professional sounding demo out and we even had a Video of one of the songs of our demo. So, looking back, even if we did not had a official LP out, we did had material and had worked pretty hard for the last year as a band. Now, besides that, I guess there´s a matter of luck too, we were in the right place at the right time. But I guess that´s how things work, as I said before, you have to be ready when the train of opportunity passes by.


J: Your fan is a very special one: you don’t have a big amount of clicks in your Facebook fanpage or Twitter account, but I know your live shows always get packed, what do you think about this?

G: We as a band, exist for just over a year, so we are in the process of building our fan base. The thing about the metal genre is that fans are pretty loyal, they will go out and check out new bands, even if they don´t know you, of course, after that you have to make your thing so they become fans of your band, so they leave the show and go to their houses and look for your fanpage or webpage and stick with you in future shows. It´s a slow and hard road to make a name in the scene, but every show is a wonderful chance to gain more fans, for me, if at least only one person leaves the show in love with the band waiting for the next show, I´m happy.

J: Not so many long ago we did together some PR for the band having El Comercio (Peru’s most important newspaper) with positive reviews about the band’s debut videoclip, what are your plans now?

G: Just work and try to do things right. We are always looking for the next step for the band. We release our first album in a month time, we have 3 shows this month, after that we have the Arch Enemy show and 2 weeks after that, we headline one of the biggest local metal festivals in Lima, so we have no stop until the end of the year. We plan on shooting a video early next year for one of the album singles and then we want to record the band playing the whole album live on a location soon to be picked. so, actually we don´t have a PR plan, we just believe in doing things the best we can, and releasing the best material we can do, and with a little luck, word will pass along. There´s always space in the music business for bands who make a good job, we believe in that.

J: What do you think of festivals? What does Metal Madness mean? Tell us if you see potential of getting it outside Peru.

G: Festivals are always awesome. It´s pretty sweet to share the stage with other bands, listen to them, getting to know great musicians and all the vibe around what a festival represents. It´s also a great chance to bring your music to people who do not know. The Metal Madness Festival is pretty important for us because we along with 3 other bands are the promoters. It´s our way to thank everyone who support and listens to us. We put the best equipment we can, we put on the absolute best conditions we can even if we don´t get the money back. As I said, it´s our way to thank our fans and the people who support us in any and every way. It’s still a very early stage to say we’re gonna export this festival outside Peru but we never close any doors.

J: What does “artist management” means to you? Do you think a manager is a vital part of your business or do you believe more in the DIY culture?

G: Of course it´s super important to have a manager. As a musician, it´s vital to have your head on the music. Nothing else, nothing more. You, as an artist, have to be focused on your craft, that´s a main thing if you want to reach certain level. Of course, in the beginning, it´s not easy and you have to do things for yourself until someone checks you out and wants to take a chance with you, that may take some time, so it´s always very important to know how to move your band in the market until someone wants to do business with you. You have to know how to do things for yourself first, then delegate…

THINKBAND 2: Be a 121 musician and start making money NOW.

If you liked the idea of TICKSTAGE from my last post (https://intermediaries.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/thinkband-open-think-tank-for-the-music-industry) but thought that it would be only possible to reach for rich investors or wealthy entrepreneurs well, this time I’ll be discussing about a very simple idea, affordable for most musicians: 121 strategy to sell your music directly to your client’s needs.

But let’s focus on the problem set first:

PROBLEM

Bands aren’t making (enough) money. The times of playing in big arenas are part of the past. And we all think: wouldn’t it be nice to receive a fair amount of money just like any other job? But wait, what if you start working with your band as a real job? For example, freelance designers work their $·”$ses off to get paid, and they usually start making projects for their friends, relatives and network in general. Now, what if people pay for something they really, really want to hear from you? If you have a band with very TALENTED musicians on board continue reading, if you are not sure GET some good musicians first and continue reading…

IDEA

Some basics to get birth to the idea: people love seeing themselves in multimedia content that is RELEVANT for them, some of these contents are special occasions as birthdays, weddings, welcome parties, you name it. That is no other than creating EXPERIENCE. Now, everyone is talking about brand experience but just a few brands had been able to develop 121 marketing, with name and surname products or campaigns on it. BUT, actually musicians can do it in a very clever, creative way.
So here’s the idea: make your friends your first clients, pick 5 of them and charge $50 to make the song they NEED to accomplish something, for example a guy that wants to apologize to her girlfriend but doesn’t know how, or a girl that just wants to say something but is not sure about how to say it, or even a couple that want to make their recently born baby a very special song. You new clients will have the right to pick the subject and MAYBE some lines for the lyrics, the music should be ENTIRELY yours and your friends should know about it, obviously they have to like the kind of music you are doing. Then you can make multimedia content in Youtube (about 1 day of work with iMovie and some photos or videoclips your clients can facilitate) and the people for whom you made it will take care of getting it viral: they will share it everywhere with everyone.

RESULTS

Now you made $250 for this experiment. In worst cases you’ll feel it’s not your thing but still earned some cash to get new lovely gear. In best cases you’ll find that more and more people is getting into your proposal of custom made music (thanks to viral factors) and you’ll have a lot of work and nice amount of money by the end of the month, that is what it’s all about right?

Note: his is a think tank post series to get your mind outside the box, not a secret formula. This ideas MAY work if you develop them with ideas of your own.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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