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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Come into my Web….

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So, my new best friend, Bob Lefsetz, had some interesting thoughts in his blog about Management and Pricing in the music biz. I’ve been contemplating some of this for a while, but this — and our interesting “beauty” conversations — got me to really wondering why most musical artists just don’t “get it”.

I’ve been, what I consider, an early adopter of PC and internet technology as it evolved. However, before last year I generally used the web for news, stock tracking and tips and research for my “real job”. It is my belief that there are/were many folks with similiar “usage”. With the advent of high speed DSL, the proliferation of music sharing sites, and blogs for every topic and occasion, the web has evolved as a true entertainment source — particularly where music is concerned.

While we could spend considerable time talking about this topic, I’d like to focus on how an upcoming artist might take an unconventional, albeit successful, tack in making a successful music career. There’s powerful opportunity in the utilization of the internet to gain exposure, sell CDs, creat dialogue and market an artist. The music industry still has a powerful lock on most artists and the inertia of doing things as they’ve always been done have stifled the real use of the internet as a primary promotional strategy.

As Bob extolls, because of the powerful expense savings of using the internet, pricing for music tracks should be decreasing and creating an opportunity for additional purchases. In my mind, I think that a “new” artist (say Feist) could sustantially increase their awareness and “usage” with a solid Internet strategy. Bear with me, but here’s my Internet Marketing plan:

First, ONE, integrated website that includes an Artist blog updated once per week, Tour schedule with links to ticket sales and venues (including seating charts), photos, promotional videos, and PERHAPS a forum — but totally not a “must have”. Keep the site updated and changing each day, or at the least, two or three times per week.

There should be a concentrated effort by an Internet Channel Manager to research ALL fan sites, make contact with those webmasters and create an “advisory board” of sorts, that would provide a method to disseminate information on sales, tours, merchandise, damage control, etc. Create a two-way relationship that allows them to be a part of the process. Provide an artist interview to different fan sites at different times to keep them — and their readers — engaged.

Offer live performances from various concerts, to download for a cost — a la Widespread Panic. Provide a free on-line concert with promotion on various “friendly” blogs and fansites to create awareness. Optimally, use a site like AT&T’s Blue Room or the artist’s proprietary website.

Embrace bloggers — particularly those who are favorable to the artist. Offer preview mp3’s as exclusives. Create a “law of reciprocity” with these bloggers for favorable treatment with new releases, concert reviews, promotion, merchandise sales, etc.

I’m not opposed to a pay fansite for higher level of access, tickets, or content, but I don’t think a true artist needs to go down that road. In reality, if the artist is good — really good — and gets enough exposure, then they should be able to sell tracks and make a healthy living. If they market themselves right and don’t sell their soul to the devil that is big record labels who act as pimps, they can even get rich. Think of it this way — why can’t a talented artist or group develop and implement a successful targeted internet strategy, by-pass the record labels by providing their music via low cost mp3’s that are marketed through samples and live performance snippets, utilize dedicated fans and low-cost providers for graphics and promotion and provide music for a fraction of what the record companies charge? Just because it’s not been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Utilizing this kind of “out of the box” approach would be substantially less in expenses and allows the artist to be totally in control of their “message” and approach. Additionally, it allows the artist to be nimble enough to change strategies very quickly if something is or isn’t working.

I personally think that we’re at the precipice of change in the music industry concerning how artists are managed and promoted. Of course, it’s slow to change because there is beaucoup money to be lost by agents, promoters, record executives and such — you know, the ones who are getting 50-60% of the artists’ revenue. It really IS time for somebody to wake up and smell the coffee.

I know we’ve got some Marketing geniuses that read this blog….so, what are your thoughts regarding an effective internet strategy to promote a musical artist or group?

ETA: This is somewhat related but an aside….iTunes released iTunes Plus yesterday making hi-res mp3s available for $1.29. But is there a catch? Bob Lefsetz has two great posts on the subject, but warning: Bob is the Dave White of music blogging. Be sure to check out both posts.

 
42 Comments

Posted by on May 30, 2007 in Marketing, music biz

 

Beauty is Skin Deep?

Part of the enjoyment of writing this blog is hearing others’ thoughts on musical issues (and otherwise). Many of you are so very articulate and provide such interesting views. Colette is one such reader. She sent me this post and I think it is very thought provoking.

Recently there has been some comment in the media about how the major record labels only want to sign and back women who are considered “hot” — conventionally very attractive — no matter the strength of their musical gifts. And that today, no woman can win American Idol who isn’t very young and “sexy” by fairly rigid rules.

How would some of the great, great female vocalists of the past have made it in the age of music videos and hotness-hype. Would they be considered too fleshly, too unusual looking, too unfashionable, not provocatively sexy enough, to appeal to those raging teenage hormone cases the record companies are most eager to serve? And the narrow standards of beauty much of the American public has internalized?

So, here are three remarkable, unique women singer-songwriters who had great success in the 1960s and ’70s — would they have been shunted aside today? Whatever the answer, how lucky they weren’t, back when. We still have their music — and at least a little good video of their most moving, captivating songs:

Phoebe Snow: “Poetry Man”

Janis Ian: “At 17′

Laura Nyro: “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Poverty Train” (at Monterey Folk Festival)

Thought provoking, indeed. Before the Music Dies addresses this issue, in spades. This video is a stark illustration of just how shallow the music industry is now. Dear Erika Badu so aptly captures the ludicriousness of the pop-star “machine”, particularly with young women. To quote Erika, all you need to make is “cleavage down to here…..but make it down to here, now because 2006 — it’s butt-naked, Wednesdays.” I heart Erika.

Before the Music Dies – How to Create a Sexy Pop-Star

Sadly, today’s music scene would promptly reject artists like:

Janis Joplin

Mama Cass

and let’s face it, Barbra Streisand, herself would have a tough time breaking into the biz nowadays….

Sadly, the glorification of superficialness by men in an industry that promotes 80 lb. darlings and favors looks over talent is the prevalent thought in today’s music. That’s why it’s time for people who really enjoy music to find the talent, no matter the “look”. Problem is, how many truly talented “ugly ducklings” never even pursue a music career because of the daunting challenges associated with “making it”?

Special thanks to Colette for her contribution.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2007 in Music Today

 

The Blues Brothers

Mr. D received one of the BEST presents he’s ever been given, this weekend. #2 son came to visit and brought along a belated birthday present for Mr. D. Knowing that his father is a big Blues Brothers’ fan and the fact that he’s asked specifically for it for about four years, #2 managed to get a “relation” to paint this wonderful painting.

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The artist is Tony Mose. We are extremely excited to now have a one-of-a-kind commissioned painting by Tony. Of course, #2 just moved way up on the inheritance scale. In recognition of our wonderful new art and Mr. D’s mini-obsession, here’s a dossier on The Blues Brothers.

First, if you haven’t watched this movie lately, do yourself a favor and rent it this week. Of course, the story line is totally irrelevant but the music is in a word….superb. So many great artists and so many great scenes. The “Bluesmobile” is particularly memorable.

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As we follow Jake and Elwood on their “mission from God” to save St. Helen of The Blessed Shroud for “The Penguin”, we get to visit with Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker and the Godfather of Soul hisself, James Brown and be thoroughly entertained by some of the funniest scenes of any movie.

I especially enjoy the “Rawhide” Scene:

as well as this beauty towards the end:

The movie ended up spawning a hit album for Jake and Elwood Blues, titled Briefcase Full of Blues.

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Track Listing:

  1. “Opening: I Can’t Turn You Loose” (Redding) – 1:50
  2. “Hey Bartender” (Dixon) – 3:01
  3. “Messin’ With the Kid” (London) – 3:35
    • Originally by Junior Wells
  4. “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” (Walsh) – 2:50
    • Originally recorded by Toronto’s Downchild Blues Band
  5. “Rubber Biscuit” (Johnson, Levy) – 2:57
    • Originally recorded by The Chips
  6. “Shot Gun Blues” (Walsh) – 5:23
    • Also by Downchild Blues Band
  7. “Groove Me” (Floyd) – 3:46
  8. “I Don’t Know” (Mabon) – 4:14
  9. “Soul Man” (Hayes, Porter) – 3:28
  10. “‘B’ Movie Box Car Blues” (McClinton) – 4:08
  11. “Flip, Flop & Fly” (Calhoun, Turner) – 3:38
  12. “Closing: I Can’t Turn You Loose” (Redding) – 0:51

Although not shown in the movie, Rubber Biscuit became a much loved Blues Brothers’ hit.

and, here’s a rare “live” performance of The Blues Brothers shortly before Belushi’s death in 1980 :

Ackroyd sure blows a mean harp….The Blues Brothers are one of those engimatic symbols of a “time” and a generation. I think it’s summed up best by the Blues Brothers themselves….

Good. Stuff.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2007 in blues brothers, Movie Soundtracks

 

Rouge, Blanc et Bleu

I’m a sap. I admit it.

I’m patriotric to a fault. And, Memorial Day is particularly thought-provoking for me. When Mini-DD was but a boy, I would talk to him on Memorial Day to discuss the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. Memorial Day is when we honor those who have died defending our freedoms and way of life. Veterans’ Day honors all those who have fought to defend, living or dead. Subtle, yet significant difference.

I learned the difference when I was 19. As hard as it is for me to admit, 25 years ago last Saturday, I graduated from high school (Geaux Spartans!). Growing up in Southwest Louisiana, we didn’t miss much fun. Our class was particularly great and in that summer of 1982, we set out to conquer the world. I went straight to work and prepared to be married in the fall. (Yes, I WAS that stupid.) We partied all summer and in September, had a hum-dinger of a party to send one of our best friends off into the Marine Corps.

He and I had been friends since 9th grade Algebra. I “liked” him, liked him but he was pretty shy and reserved and didn’t reciprocate, so after a short time we became good friends instead. We were in the same homeroom and we shared classes through the years. Virtually every weekend, our big group of friends “hung out” together and enivitably, he and I would end up paling around. He even set me up with his totally cute cousin for one particular party.

Of course, we were all gung ho and Semper Fi about our friend joining the Marines. At that time, joining the Marines was somewhat of a different tack for folks our age, but we thought it was honorable and cool. And we threw one hell of a going away party. Then, one short year later, this..

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In the early morning hours of October 23rd, 1983, a lone driver in a yellow Mercedes drove 12,000 lbs. of explosives into the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Mercifully, my friend, Lex David Trahan, slept in his bunk only a few hundred yards from impact, so he likely didn’t even know what hit him. However, in the blink of an eye, he was gone. This only child, who was due to ship home five days later never made it home for his extensively planned welcome home party. A couple of days later a Marine Chaplain and Lex’s recruiter drove up to his parents’ home to deliver the devastating news. Two days after that, his trunk of belongings arrived at his parents home. He had sent them ahead of his departure from Lebanon, anticipating that he’d catch up to them in a few short days.

It was tragic and devastating. It was the first time I had really experienced sudden death of someone so young and full of life, and so close to me. I have never forgotten Lex. I tell my son about him every Memorial Day and some nice fall October days when the wind blows and the leaves start to change. And, I will never forget. Without getting political, when people ask if we should be in Iraq or if we are really in a war with terrorists, I generally just answer yes, without letting them know that Lex’s bright shining blue eyes are staring at me in my mind.

There are so many Lexs in our country’s history. Please take a little time this weekend to reflect on all of those young lives that have been lost to protect our way of life.

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In honor of Memorial Day, here are a few songs to reflect upon. This one is likely my most favorite Ray Charles song of all.

 

My favorite version of the Star Spangled Banner

 

And….for Lex– We remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on May 24, 2007 in memories, Uncategorized

 

Shrekalicious!

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Every once in a while, there’s a movie that changes the landscape. One such movie, is the Shrek series – one of my FAVORITES! Shrek forever changed animated films and fairytales. It’s virtually impossible now for Disney to create a classic fairy tale movie like Cinderella or Snow White, as folks would constantly be wondering “where’s the beef” and expecting pop culture references as well as hip music and double entendres. Last Friday, Shrek the Third opened in movie theatres and took in $122 million, breaking the record for an animation film.

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The Shrek formula has worked brilliantly. It attracts children of all ages with the animation, the story and a bit of juvenile humor; while attracting parents of these children with sub-adult jokes that only the adults “get”. This installment brings more of our favorite characters: Shrek & Fiona, Donkey, and my favorite, Puss — in boots. They are joined by Justin Timberlake as “Cousin Artie”, a play on King Arthur. I won’t give away the plot but looks like there’s plenty of room for the wonderful subtle humor that we’ve seen in previous Shrek pictures.

 

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And, Mike Myers is a genius. As if Austin Powers wasn’t enough, he brings us Shrek. While the Shrek movies are completely funny and entertaining, part of Shrek’s vast appeal is the use of music. So, in honor of Shrek the Third’s opening last Friday…..I give you Shrek, the Music.

Because of the wealth of information, I’m going to break this post up into three sections. The first will be the original Shrek movie soundtrack. What are your recollections of first seeing Shrek and of it’s different humor and wonderful choice of music?

SHREK – The Original — 2.4 million records sold

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“All Star”
(1999)
Performed by ‘Smash Mouth’
I love this song….

“On the Road Again”
(1976)
Written by ‘Willie Nelson’
Performed by ‘Eddie Murphy (I)’

“Friends”
(1969)
Performed by ‘Eddie Murphy (I)’

“Whipped Cream” — The Newlywed Game Theme
(1952)
Performed by ‘Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’

“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”
(1975)
Written and Performed by ‘Rupert Holmes’

“My Beloved Monster”
(1996)
Performed by eels

“You Belong to Me” — sound familiar?
(1952)
Performed by ‘Jason Wade (II)’

“Hallelujah”
(1985)
Written by ‘Leonard Cohen (I)’
Performed by ‘John Cale’ but actually Rufus Wainwright version is used in the movie.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…..

“Try a Little Tenderness”
(1932)
Performed by ‘Eddie Murphy (I)’

“I’m a Believer” There is just something SOOO right about The Monkees
(1966)
Words and Music by ‘Neil Diamond’ who knew?
Performed by ‘Smash Mouth’

“Meditation”
(1963)
Performed by ‘Antonio Carlos Jobim’

“Welcome to Duloc”
(2001)

“Bad Reputation”
(1981)

Performed by ‘Joan Jett’

“I’m on My Way”
(1988)
Performed by ‘The Proclaimers’

“Merry Men”
(2001)
Performed by ‘Vincent Cassel’

“Stay Home”
(2001)
Performed by ‘Self’

“Best Years Of Our Lives”
Performed by ‘Baha Men’

“Like Wow!”
(2001)
Performed by ‘Leslie Carter’

“It Is You (I Have Loved)”
(2001)
Performed by ‘Dana Glover (I)’

Added Bonus…..Shrek’s Karaoke Dance Party

Isn’t that ending familiar? Seems as though I’ve heard that somewhere……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
17 Comments

Posted by on May 22, 2007 in Movie Soundtracks

 

For Shelley…Nobody else better be laughing.

I swear…if I catch wind of any kind of snark, I will personally fly to your city, knock on your door, and whip your butt. All in all, this ain’t bad for having a 4 month old baby. But man, my hair must have touched the door frames.

 

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This one was from a few years prior…Me and Mr. D at Pat O’s. Can the glasses be any bigger? And just what IS up with that perm….holy cow.

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Hope this makes Shelley feel better. The rest of you….shut it. Go and comment on the Shrek thread.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on May 22, 2007 in Funny, Uncategorized

 

BOLD as Love…what do it mean?!?

Time for another Johnny Boy perusal. John Mayer covers Jimi Hendrix’s Bold as Love on his Continuum CD. Written by Jimi Hendrix in 1967, there is much speculation as to what the song is trying to convey. The lyrics, included below, are very interesting and revolve around the colors of the rainbow….think ROYGBIV from 7th grade.

Tell me your thoughts on the Mayer vs. Hendrix versions as well as your interpretation of what Jimi was trying to say and maybe, why John Mayer chose to include it on Continuum.

Bold As Love – John Mayer

Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix

Oh, and…..just who IS “the axis”?

Bold As Love lyrics

Anger he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted,
They quietly understand
Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready,
But wonder why the fight is on

But theyre all bold as love, yes, theyre all bold as love
Yeah, theyre all bold as love
Just ask the axis

My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war and
Ribbons of euphoria
Orange is young, full of daring,
But very unsteady for the first go round
My yellow in this case is not so mellow
In fact Im trying to say its frigthened like me
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me from, eh,
Giving my life to a rainbow like you
But, Im eh , yeah, Im bold as love
Yeah, yeah
Well Im bold, bold as love (hear me talking, girl)
Im bold as love
Just ask the axis (he knows everything)
Yeah, yeah, yeah

ETA: Perhaps the album cover may hold clues.

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Today’s Trivia: Jimi Hendrix’s idol and a heavy influence was one Mr. Elvis Presley….thank ya, thank ya vary much.

Today’s Trivia 2: Jimi Hendrix played gee-tar for a short time in Little Richard’s Band….makes ma toe shoot up in ma boot.

 
 
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