Just Say Yes To.....Mediocrity? 09/20/2009
In a market oversaturated with clones and zombies; how did we (artists, musicians, etc.) come to become content with sub par (if that) art? Do we point the finger at the corporate elite? Do we point the finger at A&R’s? Or do the point the finger at ourselves?Personally, I don’t believe in the blame game because we’re all held accountable for our own actions.
I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about the younger generation and Hip Hop. They questioned why most (if not all) embrace and/or mimic the South. I simply stated that the south had been producing hit after hit for the past decade. The artists that are entering the music scene now were probably 6-10 years old at the beginning of the South’s reign. In conclusion, they’ve been exposed to a certain sound for most of their life. As for the older generation, mimicking what’s considered a “HIT” will probably get you signed, accepted, and/or better sales. In theory, we either express ourselves to the degree of our influences or we follow suit.
In no way, shape, or form am I saying that the South is mediocre. Throughout Hip Hop and music in general (including the South), we have phenomenal talent. However, as in nature, rare gems aren’t abundant. Does this have to be? If we have the power to transform ourselves, can we begin to mold a new generation of artists and musicians who rise above and beyond what’s considered the norm to greatness?
After the death of one of the most revered and iconic figures in the music world, I dwelled on the question; how can one soar past the heights that Michael Jackson conquered and owned? Well, first and foremost, one has to see the world outside of him/her self. In order for one to succeed, they must transcend ego and culture and embrace the world. For example, look at the content and melodies of Michael Jackson’s songs. People flocked to buy his albums and embraced him because they could relate and his music touched them on a level that most couldn’t fathom.
Kanye West, the new King of Pop (per Liberation Next), has a similar appeal through his music. He has transcended Hip Hop to explore sounds that span across many genres. I debated with another dear friend about Jay-Z’s BP3 album. The content was above Hip Hop’s level of mediocrity; however, the production had an appeal that I haven’t heard from Hip Hop in ages. When I listened to the album in its entirety (excluding a couple of songs) I didn't think Hip Hop, I thought music.
In conclusion, to the artist and/or musician, when it comes to your art, put forth the effort to travel and explore outside of yourself. We must create new sounds and not only that; begin to craft content that epitomizes the art of storytelling, consciousness, and creativity. So when you step in the studio to produce; are you going to say yes to mediocrity? Or will you refrain from the question and let your heart speak?
Blockbuster Music? 09/14/2009
Would it be a good idea to rent music? I dwell on this idea from time to time thinking how this concept would work. The filming and gaming industry have surpassed the music industry by leaps and bounds when it comes to innovation and understanding what their core audience wants: quality. With the filming industry releasing HD, soon to be 3D, DVDs and the gaming industry producing games that are more realistic, engaging, and interactive, this leaves me to question; what is the record industry going to do for its core audience?
Again, using the filming and gaming industry as an example, for over a decade we have been able to go to Blockbuster and rent movies and games. We can test out the products for $4.95/each and if we like, we may purchase it, but we’re not obligated to. Even though the filming industry is a victim to the pirating that has raped the record industry, they still manage to pull through. With sites such as Hulu, it’s safe to say that they understand that times are changing and are willing to embrace change. On the contrary, the record industry still hasn’t answered the call.
So would a Blockbuster Music concept work for the record industry? Well, let’s walk through some scenarios to come to a conclusion.
Scenario #1. I walk into Blockbuster music and go through the endless aisles of music. I find a couple of CDs that I read about in a WaxPoetic magazine and decide I want to check out to see if I like. So I pay $4.95 for both and off I go to listen to them. Four days later I return both and decide to purchase one of the CDs.
There are numerous rental options for this scenario. You can walk into the store, rent through the mail (i.e. Netflix), or you can rent and download DRM MP3s. With this scenario in general I’m able to get the full experience of the CD instead of :30 second snippets. Would this scenario boost sales?
Scenario #2. Instead of paying $4.95 per rental; how about $9.95 for unlimited access? This concept is still in its infancy stages. With such offers such as Nokia’s “Comes With Music”, which has been delayed until 2010 for US subscribers, who knows what this would mean for the record industry. However, if we were able to have this setup at Blockbuster Music with the same options as Scenario # 1 (walk-ins, mail-ins, and digital downloads), would this in turn boost sales?
Even though there is proof that file sharing and online streaming boosts music sales (Last.fm/Harvard case study); when will the record industry begin to embrace change like the filming and gaming industry have done? When will they let go of the past and begin experimenting with new business models and approaches?
One Time At Bandcamp..... 08/24/2009
With MySpace acquiring iLike, this leaves music enthusiast, such as myself, wondering; what does this mean for the future of music? As more and more platforms are created for music artists to upload and distribute their music; how will MySpace compete in the online music market? With artists finding new outlets in droves; what sites and features are attracting them to upload and distribute their music?
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a site called Bandcamp. Bandcamp is a FREE publishing platform that gives bands an opportunity to host their music in ways that most platforms have yet to offer. Below are some of the highlight features that Bandcamp offers:
Various Formats (FLAC, Apple Lossless, ACC, Ogg Vorbis, etc.)
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Superior Sound” from the Patchwerk’s elite. Most sites offer only MP3 downloads. If you know like I know, MP3 is low a quality sound. Giving your fans the option to select from various formats to download gives you a more worldly appeal.
If you have read my article, “Free Is Dead”, you know that there is a debate over the issue of artists giving away their music for free to attract more fans. Trent Reznor, frontman for the NIN (Nine-Inch-Nails) released the bands album, Ghost I-IV, using a tiered model, where fans received more music, content, and memorabilia as they paid more. The “name-your-price” option puts you in the driver seat to determine your music’s worth.
Do you want to stand out from your counterparts in the music industry? I feel that having a download codes personalizes the music experience for most fans. Instead of allowing anyone to download your music, giving fans their own download code will possibly open the doors for future purchases. I’ve always stressed that artists should begin building better relationships with their fans. Offering download codes can also help to build your mailing list, which is another important factor for artists.
Search Engine Optimized
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is perhaps the most talked about subject when it comes to marketing online. With most music sites, you will have to hire a pro or DIY (Do-It-Yourself) to optimize your presence online. With Bandcamp, they handle the SEO mumbo jumbo for you.
Sell in (Just About) Any Currency
With international markets emerging and most being exposed to the world wide web, it would be a wise decision to not only attract fans overseas, but to include them in the purchasing process. With Bandcamp, you can price your goods in US Dollars, Pounds, Sterling, Canadian Dollars, Euros, Australian Dollars, Israeli New Sheqels or any of 12 other currencies.
Creative Commons Integration
Are you familiar with Creative Commons (CC)? We’re all familiar with the © (All Rights Reserved) symbol. Well, with the Creative Commons licenses, you’re able to give fans permission to download and share your content. Bandcamp integrates with the CC imprint to give your fans the freedom to do what they want with your work of art.
Those were some of the top features on Bandcamp that I felt stood out. For more info about the other features, click here.
Bandcamp is revolutionary in its attempt to give artists and bands a user-friendly platform to upload and distribute their music, as well as allow them to concentrate on their music while they (Bandcamp) handles the technical aspects of running their site. I encourage artists and bands to begin exploring and experimenting with new concepts, platforms, and models because in this Information/Digital Age you have to be highly innovative and distinct to gain attention.
Below is an introduction video from the Bandcamp site:
Investing 101: Where Music and Sponsors Meet 08/23/2009
In my articles, “Investors for Your Music” and “Show Discipline and Success & Providers Will Invest”, I stressed the importance of building your web presence and brand and knowing your worth before asking for a sponsor or an investor to invest in you. Well, once you have those and other essential factors established; where do you go in search of sponsorship and/or investors? With the internet becoming more reliable and convenient for connecting with people, interests, and information, there’s no reason not to take full advantage of these opportunities.
A month ago, I stumbled upon a site that could bridge the gap between brands and sponsors. Groupable is a community of groups and sponsors looking to match interests, goals, passions, and needs. The Groupable platform can also track statistics on sponsorships, map out group locations, manage sponsorship levels, and even can take sponsorship donations via credit card. Below is the Groupable dashboard:
Like most social networking sites, the registration process is FREE and SIMPLE: sign up, find a sponsor and connect. Also, if you want to sponsor or invest in a group, you’re given an equally impressive platform that allows you to create a profile, add multimedia, and track groups.
Being that Groupable is a startup company, the only disadvantage for brands looking for sponsorship would be that there aren’t many sponsors in their system. However, understanding how social media will play a dominating role in the future of business and how investors may depend and rely more on niche markets and brands in the future of investing, Groupable would definitely be an avenue to consider once you’ve established a foundation for your brand.
Below are some videos from the Groupable site to give you more insight as to the nature of their community.
Networking 101: The Twellow Pages 08/23/2009
With social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, it’s a challenge to find people who share the same interests as you or who can be of assistance to your career. In the past, I would find myself searching through endless profiles hoping to find local music artists, music journalists, podcasters, and PR and marketing consultants that I could converse with and begin building my network. I found people here and there; however, there was a lot of time and energy put into making that happen.
With the internet becoming more intelligent, I knew there was something out there that could cut the time and energy spent in searching for A-alikes in half. Almost a month ago, I stumbled upon The Twellow Pages. If I need to find a company and how to contact them in the “real world”, I would use the Yellow Pages (I would actually use the internet, but let’s use this as an example). That’s the concept of Twellow Pages, but for the “virtual world”.
Twellow grabs publicly available messages from Twitter.com, analyzes and categorizes each of the users responsible for those messages into the various categories found at Twellow. This allows you to cut through the clutter by narrowing your search into specific niches.
The most amazing feature found on the site is “Twellow Hood”. It allows you to find people within your region, state or city.
If you’re not on Twellow, all you need to do is connect your Twitter account to the platform. Once you’ve done that, setup a profile and specify which categories (up to 10) in which you belong. You can also post other social networking sites you subscribe to. This is one of the best ways for people to find you, as well as NETWORK!
FYI DIY 06/28/2009
Investors for Your Music 06/28/2009
The Art of Diversity 06/28/2009