Tag: music industry
A long time ago, in the days of vinyl, record albums were made to be “listening experiences.” A lot of time, care, and attention went into every detail of creating these works from the song selection, to the recording and mastering process, to the packaging and artwork. It was meant to be a collection of songs that you could purchase and enjoy listening to many times over. As long as the recording medium itself held up, you had a near lifetime purchase that you could treasure. This idea of creating something that captured your attention and steeped you in enjoyment from beginning to end still held through the age of cassettes and into the CD age. Albums were still created with this great vision of the “experience” in mind.
Now I want to preface this next part with an explanation. “Record companies” have and always have been in the business of selling “records;” that is, the medium used to deliver the sound recording. In the 70′s they were in the business of selling vinyl discs, the 80′s magnetic casette tapes, and by the 90′s the little plastic discs known more commonly as “CD’s.” The fact that they had all of this quality and craftsmanship entering into the creation of the album was probably because at the time, they felt they needed to fill the discs with quality to remain competitive.
Somewhere in the beginning of the 90′s however, record companies started noticing that they could move lots of little plastic discs if a band or act just had a “hit” (radio or otherwise). Since it was far more economical to put one “proven” song on a disc, one they were sure people would want, and fill up the rest of it with “filler,” they began to do exactly that! This began the abominable trend of “let’s throw some crap on there and see what sticks!” They began treating the purchase of a CD album as on impulse buy, and likewise the creation of the CD album became proportionally shoddy, a far cry from the carefully crafted listening experiences of yore. Essentially, they started selling the same “product” at the same price with inferior parts.
This in turn, began creating disappointed customers, who were still buying a CD album expecting a “listening experience;” (and rightly so given that the price of CD’s has never decreased since their introduction) and instead getting one good song and a bunch of crap for upwards of $15. Who would buy that? The worst part, is that with the advent of digital technology in studios, the makers of CD albums did not deviate from this trend but, only cemented it with renewed intensity! Using digital technology, more discs could be churned out for even cheaper; they just started making more crap more cheaply!
So in essence, record companies themselves DEVALUED the CD album, training consumers to believe that at MOST, they could get one good song and at the same price that they used to get a whole recordful! The WORST part, for independent artists anyway, is that music consumers have been experiencing this for over a decade and thus EXPECT a CD, ANY CD, to be full of crap! Therefore, when potential music fans are confronted with the purchase of a CD, in their minds it registers at or near a value of $0 because they’ve been trained that there’s at MOST one good song on it! It is of course, worlds easier just to seek out the one song they want, and not deal with a hunk of plastic that is of no value to them. As a music consumer myself, I don’t blame them one bit.
For this reason, along with taking pride in what I do, any CD that I make, whether it be my own or for someone else, has had a great deal of care and attention given to its production. I’m wholeheartedly trying to provide the listener with an experience that they can enjoy for at least an hour and hopefully more if they love certain songs. I don’t make CD’s as “I slapped this together really quickly; here, support the band” items. They do end up supporting my act, but the primary reason for their existence is for the enjoyment of the listener, the fan, you.
I believe strongly enough in what I create to give away a couple of tracks for free. If you don’t like it, then neither one of us has lost anything. Simply enter your name and e-mail in the box in the upper right sidebar and you’ll get “Radio Commander” for free. A couple of e-mails later, I’ll send you another track from my current CD, “Pocketful of X-Rays,” that people seem to like a lot Thanks for reading my rant and thanks in advance for giving my music a listen.
Having run sound for a small venue for many months, I made a few general observations that bands should try and adhere to if they are serious about creating a career for themselves in the music industry. These have mostly to do with having a professional attitude, and being someone that people look forward to working with.
1. Play to the room. If you’re in a small room, there is no need to play at stadium level. If you’re in a room with a lot of hard surfaces, like concrete and wood, there is no need to crank to stadium level. Let the PA take care of the level of “loud.” Most places have a PA that is in line with what they feel is an appropriate loudness level for the size of their room; it’s not there for you to see if your amp can “beat it.”
I’ve been shocked more than once by musicians who look like they should be serious professionals and play extremely well, but don’t know to turn down in a small room so they don’t drown out the house PA and thus their singer. I’ve also been equally surprised to see rather green-looking bands that understand this concept and thus sounded great in the room with me doing very little. I could write a whole other article on band members listening to each other and not focusing solely on themselves. But, if someone who doesn’t know your music were to see you for the first time, how are they going to get into it if they can’t understand the singer?
2. Be “Scaleable:” There is also no need to bring your full light show and “stage boxes” when the stage isn’t that big. I’ve seen some bands take up a half of the bar floor space in an effort to put on their “show.” They left the audience nowhere to stand, so people just hung out outside and listened (because you could do that in this venue.) When you are in a small place, play with out all the stage props; if you play well, none of that stuff will matter anyway. When you have plenty of room, sure, bring out the extras and wail away!
3. Be easy to work with: Do not abuse equipment, do not swing microphones around (no matter what your favorite artist did in the video) or “grab and yank” mic stands (loosen what you want to adjust first.) Treat the house equipment as you would your own. Entertainment is probably one of the few industries where a positive impression will work in your favor long after you have created it. Everyone remembers the guys/gals that were accommodating, polite and easy to work with. Your reputation will precede you making people excited about booking you and working with you. Likewise, leaving a negative impression will work against you, and frankly, trying to make a living on the road is hard enough without creating more obstacles, isn’t it?