It's about celebrating this moment that we have here. Tomorrow might be rough but this moment right now is great simply because we decide it is. - Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth
(photo: Alicia Neely)
Cris: Who do you listen to as far as bass players go?
Rob from Big Head Todd and the Monsters: I don't know that I listen particularly to bass players. I'm more of an overall music fan. My favorite artist is Springsteen. I love his bass player, but I love his entire band. I'm more of a music fan as opposed to listening to particular bass players.
Cris: How much does the setting affect how you play?
Sean Paddock (drummer for Kenny Chesney): The setting has everything to do with how I play. What am I provided with today? An indoor setting might have an echo. It might have more ambiance. With an outdoor setting there are more temperature variables. How hot is it? How cold is it? All of that affects your playing.
The other day I sent an article about the streaming music mess to my clients. Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth had this response ...
The problem goes all the way back to when the major labels were not willing to allow for the possibility of digital music distribution in the first place, wishing to hold onto the paradigm of a music fan paying $15 for a CD to hear one song. Obviously these guys were not in it for the long haul, and DEFINITELY not in it it for the "love of music."
When the bean counters (another word for accountants) took over the music biz in the late 80s / early 90s, you saw a HUGE shift from music biz types who viewed music careers as long term investment propositions to those who didn't understand that letting a Springsteen develop as an artist over his first 2 albums could potentially produce a "Born To Run" and eventually a "Born In The USA."; letting an artist grow over a period of time to where their journey and the journey of their audience matched up, producing huge benefits for all involved. That's why entertainment has gotten so formulaic as of late; it's run by people who won't / can't take artistic chances.
Anybody with half a brain saw the digital revolution coming for music distribution by the early 90s (I did say half a brain. I'm sure many others saw it sooner). What would've been the smart move for the labels to do would have been to each embrace the coming digital distribution, setting up their own domains and selling their music from there. Profits could have remained in-house and they could have continued to function as separate business entities, instead of being at the mercy of an Apple, Amazon, or Spotify, just to name a few.
Alas, it was not to be ... So instead of spending quality time investing in the future, they proposed to bully their customer base into accepting an unsustainable past ... but lawyers can only do so much. Like the line from Jurassic Park clearly states, "life finds a way." Hence, Napster and all of the activity thereafter.
Ultimately the labels lost control ... which is not a bad thing, if you ask me. But is what has come since better? Depends on who you ask. The customer probably likes getting music for free, or at least a relative equivalent.
But the artist continues to find new challenges in the pursuit of a professional creative life. The grand utopia that was promised via the unlimited creative freedom of the Internet has not completely panned out, per se, at least not on a monetary level. I was either very lucky or very smart (either is debatable) in that I saw that the only thing that couldn't be stolen from me IS me. I've concentrated my energy on being a live performer and still am able to do that successfully to this day.
Although I've made many albums I'm very proud of, my thought process was always that the recordings sell the live show, NOT the other way around. Not being the typical performer of the day made me understand that the opportunities that came my way would be sparse, at best. So it was up to me to make the most of whatever came my way, which I think I've done.
Not possessing much in the way of business acumen over the years has cost me control of some of my own work, but that's ultimately no one's fault but mine. As I've said many times over the years, if I wanted to jump in the shark tank, then I can't complain about being bitten. I also remember the band's business jumping a good bit during the Napster era precisely because so many more people had free access to our music, fair or not.
Do I think artists should be paid? Hell yea! Do I long for some sort of physical paper trail to account for anything I've sold? Of course. I'd be a fool not to. But the genie is out of the bottle, and it seems those days may be gone. The streaming services are an economic model that is here to stay, consumer-wise. Of course, the Taylor Swifts of the world (with her huge sales and her father's powerful Wall St banking connections) will make sure that they get a big slice of the pie. And the record labels are back to the size they were back in the 40s and 50s, small businesses satisfying a certain niche market, as opposed to the money losing monoliths they became in the late 80s into the early 2000s. So maybe they are just shrinking back to their natural size. Who knows?
All I know for sure is that when my band plays a quality kick-ass rock n roll show, there is usually a line of folks who are willing to pony up a few bucks in order to hear an album we have for sale. Hand-to-hand, the way I've pretty much always done it. And glad to still be doing it. - Fred
(photo: Alicia Neely)
According to an industry consultant, your song needs to be streamed 100 million times for it to really pay off.
Also, this reporter apparently could not find anyone who has a pay subscription to a streaming music service.
Read more in this USA Today article - Streaming music: To make money, you better be a superstar
I don't just use social media. I study it. Sometimes I forget this is rare. A huge number of people use social media. Very few people work to learn its rules and quirks.
Thus, there are practices that I think are obvious. But looking at other people's properties, I get the feeling that is not the case. So to help share what I have learned, I am going to occasionally state the "obvious".
For instance, if on your band page on Facebook you have a post that is only text, the Facebook algorithm will squash it. It will limit the number of people who see that post to even fewer than normal. So make sure every post on your public page features:
To succeed in the social media realm, you need to have stamina. You need to be in it for the long haul. So many people jump into it with a flurry of activity and excitement ... and then they burn out after just a couple of weeks.
They heard about a video that went viral overnight and they mistakenly believe that such a thing is the norm. In part this is because the media runs headlines like "Band's new video gets 1 million views overnight". If they presented both sides of the story, they should post another headline that says "Hundreds of thousands of people posted videos yesterday; Most were seen by about 5 people."
Just as most bands don't start playing arenas by their third show, most bands don't have a large, devoted following online after just a month. Whether you regularly want to pack the comments section of your posts or pack the seats at a nice-sized theater, you will need to work on it consistently over a long period of time.
Cris: How have you changed as a drummer over the years?
Troy Luccketta of Tesla: Well, if you want to go back to where I started, I was pretty much self-taught. So what happens is, you get better in time. You have all that young, raw energy that you just play music and you play what you hear. And there's a sense of heart and feel that goes with that, without technique. And as you mature as a player, you gain more technique. So obviously my technique has improved dramatically.
From USA Today - "Hey now! Smash Mouth singer flips as fans throw bread"
According to the news report, people in the audience started throwing bread at the singer. "Harwell caused quite a stir during the band's performance, first yelling profanities at the crowd, then being subdued by a security guard and finally walking off the stage ahead of the encore."
I was not at the show, so I don't know how things really transpired. The point to take away from this, though, is that news of such incidents travel rapidly via social media. Yesterday it was a trending topic on Facebook. Suddenly a performance that might not have even been covered by local press is national news.
It is something to keep in the back of your mind every time you take the stage. Had Harwell kept his cool, it would probably have been a non-story or the headlines would have been "Band Remains Professional In Front Of Crowd Of Losers".
I had an incident with a client where a misunderstanding by a fan during a concert turned into a wildfire of negativity and misinformation on social media. Myself and the band worked our asses off for two days responding to every comment to explain what really happened. In the end, the people who started it all publicly apologized and said how bad they felt for misunderstanding.
Is it fair that an isolated incident can receive so much attention? No. But it is the reality. You need to be ready to deal with it.
Most musicians I have met could easily write a formulaic, vacuous pop song. But they don't. They don't because they do not want something like that associated with their name. They don't want people linking them with music that is cheap, plastic.
However, some of these same musicians will post cheap, plastic content on social media in a desperate attempt to gain followers and attention.
That's like having an organic food company, but posting pictures of dollar store candy because "it might boost my numbers a little."
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