April 30, 2010

Change in the Music Industry

The digital revolution and the internet age have flipped many industries on their head, but, arguably, the music business is feeling the effects the most.

How to summarise the change in the music industry? I has become immensely complicated, fragmented, and involves huge amounts of hard work. It may have involved a lot of time an energy in the past, but it used to be relatively simple; you formed a band, you get signed, your label gets AM/FM airplay, you go on tour, and people went out and bought your records. That was pretty much it for about 50 years; it was spelled out for you. Fail any of those and you fall back (at least) one step in the process and (hopefully) try again.

None of that stands today. There is no 'way' to make it. There isn't really a 'make it' anymore. 'Making it' will likely consist of selling a few thousands items that are a sideline to recording music, and simply earning a living doing something that you enjoy.

A band can / should / needs to consist of a web designer, graphic artist, marketing graduate, VC investor, manager, creative director, technology advocate and more. Without being signed you need to organise your own recording session, production and distribution, online and offline marketing strategies, photography & video sessions, press interviews and reviews, design, manufacture and sell merchandise, establish venue and promoter contacts, publish gig information, and hire any outside help with any of the above areas. You should still try to get AM/FM airplay, but also internet radio play, podcast inclusions, music blog recommendations, LastFM/Spotify/Myspace Music plays, DJ chart positions and more. Oh, and by the way.....


April 19, 2010

The Future of Music is Primal

(Photo via See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Is music returning to its roots of being a non-recording based culture?

The primal idea of music was a as participatory experience; there was no production and no punter, people joined in with chanting, clapping, percussion and dancing. It was shared freely and willingly taught. It was meant for as many people to enjoy as possible. Today, with the aid of all kinds of technology, more people in more places are listening to and enjoying more music than ever before, and for that we should be happy and seek possibilities within this.

The way that modern indie artists relate to this, is touring. Being able to share a musical experience with an artist rather than obtaining 'just another disposable digital file' is becoming more valuable. Personal interaction and genuine emotion is a big part of a fan-artist relationship, and while it may not be exactly the 'get up and join in' tribal experience of old (obviously having 250 people on stage is a bit manic), the most successful shows are the ones that replicate this the closest. A performance where a sax player weaves through the dancefloor, adding flurries and sharing smiles, surely sound like a good time.


April 15, 2010

Independent Record Store Day: this weekend, Sat 17th April 2010

Artists, stores and communities are putting together all kinds of packages and treats for this year's Independent Record Store Day, from limited pressings of coloured 12" Vinyl, to CDs of live shows, to special edition T-shirts, to full-on in-store parties and more.

I've spelled out how I feel about Saving the Record Store; I truly love them. And as the trailer above and forthcoming film shows, they have had a rough time in this new digital-driven world. They are fighting back, with various plans of attack, and with varying results.

Features such as the (kinda) recent Lost My Dog 'Connect' event at Swag Records in London are an interesting take, using independent artists and labels to unite and draw in a switched on crowd that want to meet, network and just chill with some of the music creators, distributors, retailers and generally be a supportive part of the music scene.

Here in Chicago, Gramaphone Records have tried to expand their vinyl junkie customer base by reaching out directly to independent artists on the rise and trying to work a deal for them to sell CDs of their digital work in the store. They also have an amazing collection of hard to find, highly desirable vinyl from the past 4 decades and a good website alongside, attracting attention of online buyers from across the globe. Also worth noting - they have announced that they are discounting all vinyl by $2 on Independent Record Store Day - a decent saving, so that you can now either buy six records for the normal price of five, or you can buy Michael a much deserved beer next time you see him ;)


April 08, 2010

Tour:Smart PLUS April '10

Tour:Smart is the brainchild of Martin Atkins and the Revolution Number 3 crew. It is a book, a variety of speaking events, a blog, videos, and a whole heap of advice aimed at helping you avoid falling off the radar and into the bottomless pit of wannabee musicians in the new music industry.

The three day in-depth seminar known as Tour:Smart PLUS is a whirlwind of mini-events that will teach you everything you need to prepare yourself for a career in the battlefield that is the music industry, from online marketing to printing your own T-shirts, to touring the Mid-west and much more. The knowledge and tips at the weekend will change the way you view your music and the way you approach every part of being a musician in the most modern and complete sense of the word. How do I know this? I attended a Tour:Smart PLUS last year.

This weekend, starting 7pm Friday (9th), and lasting until 7pm Sunday (11th), sees another flurry of activity, and this time I've been asked to contribute as part of the 7-11 panel. Myself and several other panelists each have 11 minutes to share our '7 tips for the music industry'. Having a pretty free role, I will be sharing advice on marketing for the independent musician, touching on work ethics, social media and more.


April 01, 2010

Lee J the DJ Mar'10 - Pelicans, Pool Parties and Pina Coladas, oh Miami!

March was all about the WMC in Miami: officially running from Tuesday 23rd - Sunday 27th, but with so many other parties and events running around the same time, and some of the most talented and friendliest DJs / label heads / clubbing folk that I know.

We stayed at The Pelican Hotel on Ocean and 8th, it was very cool, and was right in the middle of all the parties we wanted to check out.

Musical highlight? Possibly the Nic Fanciulli or Dennis Ferrer sets at DJ Mag pool party...