About Hoover and Voyno
The New Rockstar Philosophy was started to help artists learn more about what’s going on in the ever-changing music industry, to inspire them to embrace entrepreneurship, and give them them the tools for the present and future.
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Discovered by Captain Cook and named for England’s Queen Victoria, it is still so inimitably British, visitors find it hard to believe its charming amenities are imitations. The Parliament building itself looks like it’s from England and the hotel is the largest in Canada.
Actually too big to capture on camera as it goes at different angles. When I last stayed, there was no air conditioning, so opening a window was a must. A seagull came by and sat on the windowsill just to check us out.
Actually jazz had yet to get cookin’ on the ship, but I found it in Victoria.
This guy had an incredible tone, when I asked him who he played with, he said “no one”. What a shame to be so good and on a street corner for a living.
A few blocks down was a real cat.
He put his trumpet down for a moment, looked at me and said, “You’re a musician, right?” I hope he wasn’t disappointed when I told him I was a drummer.
Back to da boat having not solved the conundrum whether Victoria is more British than Britain. Seattle is next, maybe. Why maybe?
Vine is here, and although it’s not perfect, it’s probably the biggest thing to happen to social media since Instagram. We called it last time, saying that Instagram was going to be huge so trust us and just go download Vine app for your phone.
SO WHAT IS IT? Vine is the best way to share short video. It’s 6 seconds of whatever you like. It’s embedable, it’s muted by default, and Twitter is behind Vine. Who else is going to get video right? Facebook? I don’t think so.
“But wait!” you say, “What about YouTube?” It’s true, Vine is no YouTube replacement, it’s simply the evolution of documenting your life’s experience. Now instead of still life, or only sound, you’re bringing them together in Vine.
So why should you use Vine?
- Twitter owns and runs Vine…Meaning it’s not going anywhere for a while.
- Vine is new and has not hit a saturation point…Meaning you can get followers engaged in your content if you post engaging content
- It’s an easy way to bring video into your world especially if you’ve been weary to try video before.
- It’s Fun.
South by Southwest is so much more than a music conference. It’s an all encompassing music mecca that brings together a rabid international group of music, film, and tech lovers. But having been here multiple years in a row, I can tell you that there are some classic mistakes that fresh bands make. Below is some of them if you happen to be a musician and want to participate in the future.
1. Don’t hand out CDs
There is so much swag coming at a SXSW attendee that your carefully printed cd is probably not only going to miss the mark but most likely it will be discarded within 12hrs.
Solution: Hand out cool download cards. Cheaper for you, easier for fans and a better idea for the earth.
2. Don’t stay at a hotel
Hotels around Austin are understandably quite expensive during SXSW. For many indie musicians this is out of their budget. Especially if you’re anything over a 3 piece.
Solution: Use a service like Air bnb. There are plenty of good Air bnb deals around Austin. It may take some planning and an early booking but it’s worth it. Also it’s very easy to make friends in Austin. Make a real connection and you could have a couch to stay on next year.
3. Don’t forget to document your trip
Take photos and videos of your trip and make sure your fans are updated on the festivities. It’s a no-brainer but in the hunt for free beer you can easily forget to document the whole thing.
Solution: Keep your iPhone close and keep your charger even closer.
4. Don’t forget to connect with your targets
There are plenty of label, management, blog, etc, showcases in Austin. Although it’s fun just to go where the free beer is it’s not necessarily the best career move.
Solution: Pick who you want to connect with and get out to those events and connect with real humans. The attendees of these showcases are naturally talkative, don’t be afraid to ask some question and spread your music.
5. Don’t stress if your showcase isn’t packed
Sometimes, even with a million people on the streets there can still be pockets of empty clubs during certain times. Don’t stress. There’s an ebb and flow to all showcases. Sometimes that one person who stuck around, who you went to introduce yourself to, can be the key to your future.
Solution: Talk to the people that are there.
6. Don’t stress about the sound of your showcase
It’s inevitable that with so many bands, changing over at showcases so quickly, there will be some sound issues. It looks weak if the band gets rattled because of poor sound.
Solution: Keep calm and carry on. You’ll win over more fans if you can roll with it than you will by throwing a temper tantrum.
7. Don’t forget to budget cash
Although there is a glut of free food and beer, you will be spending money on that sort of stuff, plus transportation and other obvious expenses.
Solution: Having a budget and sticking to it will help you immensely as the days and nights go on.
8. Don’t forget to put some sort of visual sign on stage
So many people swing by showcases randomly because they like what they hear. Who the band is, is often not obvious. Big hype bands can get away with having no signage but you’re at SXSW to gain fans.
Solution: Your band’s name on a drum skin, a tasteful banner, or any other cool simple way of having your band’s name on stage while your playing is a must. Make it easy for them. Have your band’s name displayed somewhere.
9. Don’t forget to come early and connect with Tech folks
Tech is where the money is. Coming earlier in the week is a good idea. Playing earlier in the week for the tech folks is even a better one. This trend of blending Tech and Music is becoming more apparent every year because it’s a good idea.
Solution: Come for the last few days of Tech.
10. Don’t expect to blow up from your SXSW showcase
Finally remember that SXSW doesn’t launch careers like it used to. If you have hype coming into the event, expect it to grow but don’t expect to be on the front page of Pitchfork from one showcase.
Solution: Keep your goals in check and keep a positive attitude and you’ll go far.
During Break Out West this year I had a chance to speak with Joel Baskin and Chad Richarson, Creative Director of Ole. I got a ton of great information from them but when I asked about how to “Start a music scene in your city” both said the same thing:
—-Don’t create a scene, be the scene and it will be created around you —–
Woah. That’s some Yoda wisdom. This advice is so obviously simple yet totally overlooked. It’s a powerful idea and when I discussed the Toronto scene (Arts&Crafts/Broken Social Scene) , the Montreal scene (Arcade Fire, Wold Parade) etc, we found that in all the cases, the bands that are still around, still have a career, were the ones who blew up from their own quality work and were less reliant on a so called “scene.”
They worked on themselves first THEN the “scene” was able to expand around them.
So are you trying to start a scene?
Well there is no TRY there is only DO or DO NOT, and the thing with a “scene” is that it’s made up of many people….
So the only thing you REALLY have control over is your OWN SHIT. Don’t worry about the rest because everyone should be focused on their own piece of the artistic pie and less about what others are doing.
Do Your Work!
Of course this is easier to say then to do but at least now you know you’re not a freakin’ cat herder! Work on your own sound.
“We all know this is expected to fail,” Vener said in an e-mail to Wired, in which he discussed MySpace’s latest makeover. “With those low expectations comes a lot of freedom. Cool is what happens when you get creative and have nothing to lose.”
Wired: What can you tell us about the new MySpace? What kind of features can we expect?
Vener: A simple design with a persistent music player that allows you to create, discover and consume playlists no matter what else you happen to be doing. Easier ways to find and create mixes. Plus, I had no idea how large the music and video catalogs were prior to coming over here. The new site will make it much easier to tap into them.
The analytics. There’s a lot of focus being directed to recommendations and insights. For example, there’s a metric (Affinity) that shows people to what degree they’ll like something, making it easier for people to discover the things they’ll actually enjoy. Top 8 is back.
-Wired: Obviously you picked out the music for the new promotional video (embedded above), which you’re also featured in, but what else does your job entail?
Vener: Helping curate the artists featured in our various music programs and recruiting artists back to the site. Beyond that, as we’re building the new site, my job is to speak on behalf of the unsigned, up-and-coming artists and represent their voice and needs within MySpace.
…I can’t wait to use this platform to identify emerging artists and help fans connect to their music. Who knows, maybe their stuff will end up on the upcoming Entourage movie soundtrack (shameless plug).
Recently, Kreayshawn’s debut album dropped, an artist that deftly used the internet, where her colourful personality, an active web presence, and one smash hit song “Gucci, Gucci”+ video to create a career that had her fighting for “Best New Artist” at the MTV VMA’s.
Within days of posting “Gucci Gucci” it spread virally across the internet and within months she was signed to a major label and work was started on her debut album.
I have been watching Kreayshawn’s career throughout the last year and when I saw that her anticipated debut album got a 3.0 on Pitchfork I realized that her abysmal rating on the hugely powerful website doesn’t really matter. It’s true that although a large part of her original fanbase won’t be interested in her debut album she STILL will have an audience.
This is because in the age of the internet the idea of a one hit wonder is gone. Disappeared. At least in our traditional definition.
You see, One Hit Wonders of yesteryear were limited and stifled by the record industry, not by their songwriting skills. Either the record label, or radio, would not let their next song reach a larger audience because essentially their careers, the way their music reached their fans, was something that they could not control. The gatekeepers said no.
BUT because Kreayshawn had enough sense and value to invest in:
- A Mailing list
- More videos/songs/content
- An active and engaging online presence including – Tumblr, Twitter, + Facebook
She’s reaping the rewards and now has a fanbase that is listening…more or less. I’m not saying she’s as big as she once was, but I am saying that as a modern “One Hit Wonder” she now has the capacity and tools to at the very least to keep her “artistry” going (keep her content coming).
She can use the fans she still has to get noticed on a bigger scale and as a previous One Hit Wonder she will still be able to get people interested because of what she once acomplished. I would argue a similar career path is in store for Gotye, Carley Rae Jepsen, and maybe even Cee-lo…. The age of the One Hit Wonder is dead now the One Hit Wonder just has the capacity to build on what they’ve already created. We’ve now entered the age of the “One Hit Starter”….. mmmkay maybe the name needs some help but you get it right.
About once a year I watch a well meaning music festival launch and fail spectacularly. I’m sure you’ve heard of similar such events in your city.
For some reason there is a thought, with some novice promoters, that just because you put on a festival, people will automatically show up. Our friends at Ominocity recently reminded me of how often people make that mistake.
Part one is getting the bands together (which is harder than you think).
Part two is getting the people together.
Unfortunately for promoters there are so many festivals happening that to find an audience you need to market appropriately and have a large-ish headliner to get a decent amount of people out.
All these festivals are great for bands, as now they have more opportunities to play, but unless you’re in a band with a bigger draw the pay can still be quite small. Still it could be worth it when you see your band’s name on a bill with a bigger band.
When someone makes this type of investment you have to market appropriately and make sure you leave room to grow. Your first festival doesn’t have to be 4 days and 60 bands, it could be one day and 5 bands. As long as the festival is curated appropriately, has its own flavor, and you market the hell out of it, people should come. But never get caught thinking that just because you’ve created something, people will automatically care, because they won’t.
D’Angelo is one of those rare artists to have everything that the public believes a true genius should have. Incredible talent, incredible demons, incredible stories, and a sort of underdog quality that everyone roots for. After years of being out of the public’s eye, he’s finally coming back around, and most importantly, he’s making music again.
GQ has a great piece on D’Angelo. It’s a worth while read for anyone who’s wondered where he’s been and why a man with so much talent could stay silent for so long. Excerpts below:
He was once hailed as the next Marvin Gaye. Then, after his ripped body threatened to overshadow his music, he vanished into addiction …
What finally made him see, he says, was the passing of J Dilla, the revered hip-hop producer, on February 10, 2006. They’d just talked on the phone, D’Angelo says, when suddenly, J Dilla was gone at 32 after a long battle with lupus. It was like a blinding light had been switched on.
Why did so many black artists die so young? He’d been haunted by this thought for years. Marvin. Jimi. Biggie. “I felt like I was going to be next. I ain’t bullshitting. I was scared then,” he says, recalling how shame engulfed him, preventing him from attending the funeral. “I was so fucked-up, I couldn’t go.”
Questlove believes D’s “eleven-year freeze” must end, not just for the artist’s sake, but for the culture’s. “I’ve told him: He is literally holding the oxygen supply that music lovers breathe,” Questlove says. “At first, it was cute—’Oh, he’s bashful.’ But now he’s, like, selfish. I’m like, ‘Look, dude, we’re starving.’ When D starts singing, all is right with the world.”
…..the video would be the only thing many fans remembered. “The video was the line of demarcation,” says Harris. “It sent him spinning out of control.”
…a lot of motherfuckers, they just fall right into line.” D has a term for artists like this: “minstrelsy.” If he’s learned nothing, he’s learned this: He’s no minstrel.