Cowboy Mouth and the Gin Blossoms
Last night I was out in the field getting content for Cowboy Mouth. Whenever possible I try to meet clients at their shows to record a bunch of video, take a number of photos... raw content that can then be edited and posted in the months ahead.
For this show Cowboy Mouth opened for the Gin Blossoms. The two bands have known each other for a long time and the Gin Blossoms invited Fred to sit in on drums for the song "Found Out About You".
It was an opportune time to test out this new microphone I got that plugs into cell phones. It allows you to record in stereo. It can also handle intense volume without getting overwhelmed like the built in microphone will. I think it worked pretty well. It is obviously not professional quality, but it is much better than the average cell phone recording. Plus I have noticed that the video resolution on newer cell phones is really great and can handle the ever-changing concert lighting. - Cris
Social Media Amplifies
Security personnel at a concert can be a good source of information. Not to mention pepper spray. They often know the easiest way from Point A to Point B, what might be a good place to take photos from, who in the crowd is most likely to vomit, etc.
They can also assess overall situations pretty well. A friend of mine struck up a conversation with a security guard at the Austin City Limits music festival. He said he liked working that event because the people were genuinely there for the music. They were well-behaved and into the performances.
In contrast he said that another Texas music festival was a nightmare. Not just a bad dream, but a scene from a Stephen King story. Attendees at that event were not there for the music. They were there to be seen, to brag that they were there, to party, and possibly to feed on the blood of normal people.
May your concerts be ones that security likes to work. - Cris
Focus On What You Can Control
This article points out that not only do social media sites have algorithms that limit the audience of your content, but there are also people behind the scenes doing even more string pulling. Some people see this as just the price of doing business. Others see it as a sign that many tech companies need to have an exorcism.
I think the big takeaway should be that very few things are within your control. This is true in social media, sports, and chainsaw juggling, as many emergency room doctors can attest to. Many companies would love to force people to adore their content. For instance, it is not uncommon for a Hollywood studio to spend millions of dollars both making and promoting a movie, only to have it seen by five people. Similarly I have seen businesses spend a lot of money on promoted posts only to have the comments for that post filled with lewd suggestions about the company CEO and various farm animals.
For the most part, all you can control is the effort and attention you put into your content. But if you focus on that instead of the many aspects of social media you can't control, you could achieve some pretty impressive results.
This was the end of the Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert at Red Rocks in 2015. The weather that day had been a mix of... everything. There was sun, blue sky, clouds, lightning, drizzle, a downpour. We were just missing snow, hail, and a swarm of locusts. Maybe that was after the show.
The backstage area is cool because one wall of each dressing room consists of the natural rock formations. It's like they hired a decorator who was obsessed with The Flintstones. You expect the faucet in the bathroom to be a woolly mammoth snout.
Luckily there was a car that shuttled people from the parking lot to the backstage area, because it is a steep hike. I think it is a training area for people who want to summit Everest. Halfway up you see discarded oxygen tanks.
I especially liked the visitors center at the top of the hill. It features plaques that list every artist who played Red Rocks in a given year. For an information junkie like myself, that was fantastic. I could have spent hours just looking over the lists. I wish more venues would put together something like that.
Getting Your New Music Out There
What if bands charged an extra few dollars for each concert ticket and gave everyone at the shows a compact disc or a thumb drive of their latest album or EP? It could be that some artists are already doing this. But I have not heard of it happening.
I know that some bands already give thumb drive recordings of that night's show to people who pay extra, but I am talking about new recorded material. And I know of bands who give people a code for a free download. However, that is usually just for a single song and often people lose or throw away the paper with the code.
The band would probably not make a profit with this venture, but they could at least break even if they worked it right. This way their latest music would be out there in the hands of people who are interested in the band. Some fans might throw the music away and some might treasure it for the rest of their lives.
I am not thinking of this as a way to get around piracy. It is still too easy to steal music. If someone just wants to steal a song rather paying $1.26 for a download, he's going to do it. (As I have said before, if you could steal a car as easily as you can steal a song, Ferraris would be sold by the Spotify Automotive Dealership for 5 cents a piece.)
But this could be a good way for a band to get people to listen to their new music. I'm not talking about the upper 1%, the artists whose latest release makes international news. I'm thinking of this for everyone else, all of those artists whose albums are not a trending topic on Facebook.
Now there are issues I am not sure how to deal with yet. For instance, what if true fans pay to download the album the day it is released? Will they be angry that you are then giving out copies at the show? Will they be angry that they are essentially be charged for the album as part of their ticket price even though they already bought the album?
Will there be people who are happy to go to the show, but don't want to pay the slightly higher ticket price for the new work? Will some people be annoyed that they are being given the new songs at all? Theoretically people are happy to receive an album for free. However, when Apple gave every iTunes subscriber a free copy of U2's new album, people were outraged. “How dare you give me a free album!”
And my intention with this idea is not to force music on people who don't want it. I am just trying to think of ways that bands can get their new music into the hands of people who might be interested in it. After all, despite the massive disruption to the music industry, the music landscape is still far from flat. The top 1% still get the bulk of the attention. And this is not to say that they are not talented, that their music shouldn't be heard. But I would argue that, for a lot of it, the attention those albums receive is not proportional to their quality.
I'm not suggesting people need to revolt and overthrow the current top artists. I'm just looking for a way that the other quality bands can get a bit more attention, can have a chance to be heard by a few more people. I think there is room enough to raise the attention of these other artists without diminishing the work of the top 1%.
Periscope, the live streaming app, has a comment function. Based on live streams I have watched, this feature is specifically for people who are not listening to what you are saying and just want to insult your appearance or make sexual requests. "Periscope: when you want to experience hate in real time."
For a more detailed look at what it is like, check out this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Back when I was in college I worked as an intern for the radio DJ Jim Ladd. Jim was friends with Roger Waters, founding member of Pink Floyd. One day Jim said, “I spoke to Roger last night. He's writing love poems.”
I said, “Really?”
He said, “Yeah. I mean, it's Roger, so they are about the end of the world, but they're love poems.”
With social media, I find it is good to experiment as often as you can. It does not have to be a radical change. These can just be small tweaks here and there. If you stumble across something cool, it could really propel your work forward. And usually the result of a failed experiment is that people ignore it. Thus there is not much at risk.
Facebook Video Tags
When you upload a video directly to Facebook, it gives you the option of adding video tags. These can be specific, like the name of the band, or general, like the style of music being played. To be honest, I have not found any evidence that these tags do anything. I have done searches in Facebook for the tags I have used that were not part of the video title or accompanying text. The videos I put the tags with never come up in search results, even videos that have been shared by people hundreds of times.