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Phil O'Keefe

Adam Levine on record labels - no one knows what they're doing...

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I thought this article was interesting. Seems like at least some of the judges on the popular TV program The Voice are frustrated that the label involved (UMG, IIRC) isn't doing more with the artists. Which seems weird to me since they're not having to pay for the early marketing and development, and they've already got a market of people who were interested enough in the singers to vote them through to the end.

 

http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2015/...yre-doing.html

 

Are the labels really so clueless and incompetent that they can't do anything with an artist, even when everything is pre-researched, pre-developed, a market created, and the project is handed to them on a silver platter? Sure seems that way...

 

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I was having this discussion two weeks ago with a young female singer I have known since she was 8. She's now in her 1st year of college, studying audio engineering but she also writes her own tunes, and wants to eventually produce. She was asking me what she should do. I told her, "I honestly don`t know what the best approach is now. But if I were you, I would definitely have a YT channel and put up a short 4-5 minute video every week with behind the scenes stuff like you writing or recording or just chilling out with friends. Start there and build up a fan base and ask them to share your videos with others."

 

I think labels are sort of in the same waters… they simply don`t know what is working anymore as far as marketing is concerned and actually selling a record for profit.

 

I think we can all agree that it starts with raw talent and then developing that talent but once you have a product to actually sell, how does anyone go about it in a proven model? I don`t think anyone has the answer to the question right now.

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I'm not even sure about the YT thing, it seems the way to get followers is to do something outrageous. When just about every piece of music since the dawn of time is on there, why would anyone want to listen to yours?

 

Indeed, the industry is in such a state of flux it's hard to know what to recommend. I think the way it will shake out is everything will go to two-tier streaming, free and paid. The paid section will "develop" new talent by letting them post there, not by financing their development. Artists would have money distributed to them similarly to the way ASCAP works.

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I'm not even sure about the YT thing, it seems the way to get followers is to do something outrageous. When just about every piece of music since the dawn of time is on there, why would anyone want to listen to yours?

 

And therein lies the problem. You're not just competing with the best songs of the day/era like you used to, but all the best songs from the entire history of recorded music. The Internet made everything available, and people tend to want to hear the best stuff - and with everything just a couple of mouse clicks or finger taps away, it makes it hard for new stuff to break through. I used to wonder if we'd reach the point where people finally tired of the old stuff and started demanding something new en masse, but now I'm not so sure that's going to happen - at least I'm starting to doubt it will in my lifetime. I think the more likely scenario is that some things will break through the noise, become popular and get added to that great big archive of popular listening material (example - Pharrell's Happy), but the catalog itself will remain important for quite a while, with advertisers and movies reviving and re-using songs from it in a lot of instances instead of using new material.

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I'm not even sure about the YT thing, it seems the way to get followers is to do something outrageous. When just about every piece of music since the dawn of time is on there, why would anyone want to listen to yours?

 

Indeed, the industry is in such a state of flux it's hard to know what to recommend. I think the way it will shake out is everything will go to two-tier streaming, free and paid. The paid section will "develop" new talent by letting them post there, not by financing their development. Artists would have money distributed to them similarly to the way ASCAP works.

 

I think the trick with getting a YT channel started is to stay current and do some covers just to get some subscribers. For example, right not the biggest song is Adeles "Hello" so I would do a cover of that so the title of that video would be: "Adeles Hello (Cover)" because many people are going to type "Adele Hello" when they do a search so you`ll most likely get some traffic and I for one am one of those people who would click on it and listen.

 

The truth is, we`re all clueless. The internet has in a way put us back into the stone age. We`re all trying to figure out where we`re going to get our next meal from. This is a major problem and no one has successfully come up with a solution that works across the board. Pre-internet we made albums, performed, and sold our albums. Easy.

 

Not anymore. The world has completely changed and so has the model of making $$$.

 

Obviously for the touring musician/band, the model is still the same but they too are not selling many hard copies.

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I used to wonder if we'd reach the point where people finally tired of the old stuff and started demanding something new en masse, but now I'm not so sure that's going to happen - at least I'm starting to doubt it will in my lifetime.

 

As NBC used to say in their promos, "If you haven't seen it before, it's new to you!" All you have to do is count the number of teenagers who wear Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin T-shirts...case closed. That music is somewhat timeless, and is constantly being exposed to new generations. As you say, some breakouts will enter that vast body of music, but it will be increasingly difficult to improve on material that's been vetted for, well in the case of say Bach, centuries.

 

 

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Which is why I've decided to diversify

 

People might not want to listen to my songs, but they sure as hell want to watch some extreme sock-puppet violence!

 

[video=youtube;kaIo-1o7asg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaIo-1o7asg

 

Your post points to another "issue" that I have been discussing for some time and that is, the Internet has created very short attention spans.

 

Unless your song has hooks every few seconds, you`re doomed. And you my friend, are doomed.

 

btw- after 4 seconds, I wanted to fast forward that video because I was getting impatient. :philpalm:

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[...] The Voice judge and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine [...]

 

I had to stop reading right there because I couldn't see the screen from the floor where I'd fallen, rolling around laughing.

 

They use an Auto-Tune band vocalist as a judge on a singing show?

 

Edited by blue2blue
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What is the label supposed to do with a glorified karaoke singer?

 

Are all singers who are not also songwriters "glorified karaoke singers"? What about someone like Barbra Streisand or Linda Ronstadt? Is there any place or room for them in today's music world?

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Speaking very abstractly here I don't think doing covers and coming on the scene as a regular guy/gal has ever worked. What the industry has lost is the art of mystery and intrigue. People want something from "Somewhere else." "Familiarity breeds contempt" is really a paraphrase of Christ's words, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” So appear to come out of a fog or another planet. The last thing you want to do is be just one of the guys. Even the music itself is secondary to the perception people have of something new and exciting from a person or a group that is mysterious and somewhat out of reach. So it's not only the availability of all the music under the sun that comes into play here, but also the over accessibility to the artist. The super stars of the past when record labels knew how to make super stars were above and out of reach of the masses.

Edited by Beck
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Speaking very abstractly here I don't think doing covers and coming on the scene as a regular guy/gal has ever worked. What the industry has lost is the art of mystery and intrigue. People want something from "Somewhere else." "Familiarity breeds contempt" is really a paraphrase of Christ's words' date=' “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” So appear to come out of a fog or another planet. The last thing you want to do is be just one of the guys. Even the music itself is secondary to the perception people have of something new and exciting from a person or a group that is mysterious and somewhat out of reach. So it's not only the availability of all the music under the sun that comes into play here, but also the over accessibility to the artist. The super stars of the past when record labels knew how to make super stars were above and out of reach of the masses.[/quote']

 

I agree with a lot of that Beck. I just don`t know how possible it is to create mystique today with all the social media.

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I agree with a lot of that Beck. I just don`t know how possible it is to create mystique today with all the social media.

 

Take a look at Star Wars. They have everyone on the edge of their seat. In large part because they build up till the release date, and don't let everything out of the bag too soon. And the movie business is almost as bad as the music business

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Are all singers who are not also songwriters "glorified karaoke singers"? What about someone like Barbra Streisand or Linda Ronstadt? Is there any place or room for them in today's music world?

 

I dunno. Frank Sinatra is mighty popular this week (his 100th birthday, I think) and he didn't write his own material. He had a great band, great arrangements, and good material. He also put on a good show and had plenty of publicity - both good and bad. He didn't need to be a writer, too.

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I agree with a lot of that Beck. I just don`t know how possible it is to create mystique today with all the social media.

 

Yes that is a valid point, my friend. But that's always the challenge for the genius in us. The next big idea that we don't quite have grasp of yet, but when someone pulls it off we''ll all be saying, "Why didn't think of that?" In my observation that mystique that is so crucial is much the same in a new love relationship. The audience is a woman and we woo her with the prospect of new love... different and better than she's had before, and we are sincere in wanting to be different and better... tap into her secret dreams and make them come true. Politics is similar, and no one did it better in recent history than President Obama. Either he or his advisers had this down. So we can connect seemingly unrelated dots, drawing from things as different as love and politics for starters. I'm still speaking in a the abstract. I don't even have an outline at this point, but I think that is better than no clue at all. It's an idea for an idea.

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Edited by blue2blue

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Take a look at Star Wars. They have everyone on the edge of their seat. In large part because they build up till the release date, and don't let everything out of the bag too soon. And the movie business is almost as bad as the music business

 

Star Wars is definitely an outlier… always has been. I`m still not sure comparing movies to music is the same. A movie like Star Wars is an event. Something about seeing it and hearing it on an iMax screen is really exciting. I`m not sure seeing Adele or U2 or Jay Z is going to have the same buildup of excitement if it was held in an iMax theatre.

 

Also, I think its hard to build an emotional attachment between the listener and artist through a 3-4 minute song, whereas with an album, it can happen. I really do think attention span has a lot to do with this and listening to music is actually work whereas watching a movie is mostly entertaining. Depends on the movie but Star Wars once again combines story with entertainment element and I think that is way it works and still connects almost 40 years later.

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Take a look at Star Wars. They have everyone on the edge of their seat. In large part because they build up till the release date, and don't let everything out of the bag too soon. And the movie business is almost as bad as the music business

 

This is how the promotional industry and its handmaiden, the general interest press, works -- for fairly obvious reasons. It's why writers who really shouldn't care at all only want to review or write about artists with new product coming out -- because there will be someone to reward them or their publications with advertising, promotional goodies, and, of course, selected items from that big, black bag of often illicit goodies, 'other promotional considerations.'

 

 

PS... not everyone. Definitely, not everyone.

Edited by blue2blue

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I`m not sure seeing Adele or U2 or Jay Z is going to have the same buildup of excitement if it was held in an iMax theatre.
I don't even like those artists and I'd rather go see any of them than have to sit through another Star Wars movie. I was a fan of the first, thought the second did it's job nicely, was completely unimpressed by the third and read the reviews of the first 'prequel.' And that was pretty much it. Also, by that time, having grown up reading classic, 'thinking man's' sci-fi (as opposed to 'space operas' and fantasy sagas*), and being profoundly underwhelmed by most film sci-fi by the 1980's when CG was coming in, I pretty much moved sci-fi to the bottom of my reading and viewing lists.

 

I recently saw a trailer for the latest Star Wars in the ad space on the YouTube landing page and thought the CG looked generic and kind of cheap and all the 'action' looked annoyingly frenetic and very re-hashy.

 

 

*I did have a soft spot for Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars stuff, John Carter and all that. Something about an earthman with a .45 and a tommy gun dispatching Martian bad buys tickled the soft spot I got watching Commando Cody serials when I was a tyke. I did -- and still do -- love me my Commando Cody. Worst acting ever -- but best flying-man sequences. I could never understand why the ('50s) Superman TV show flying sequences were so incredibly lame when this cheezball Saturday matinee serial could get the flying man so right.

Edited by blue2blue

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Are all singers who are not also songwriters "glorified karaoke singers"? What about someone like Barbra Streisand or Linda Ronstadt? Is there any place or room for them in today's music world?

 

There will always be room for someone with a unique, compelling voice no matter whose material is being sung. I have not noticed that the Voice favors that kind of contestant. From what little I've seen of the show, the unique voices get weeded out and the derivative, showy voices prevail. Linda Ronstadt would not win the Voice today. Barbra Streisand might if she went into her full over the top show tunes mode.

Edited by Zooey

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I had to stop reading right there because I couldn't see the screen from the floor where I'd fallen, rolling around laughing.

 

They use an Auto-Tune band vocalist as a judge on a singing show?

 

Yeah, and one of the members of his "team" was the winner this year.

 

And actually, the guy who "won" The Voice this season (Jordan Smith) is a darned good singer. But the label will probably never do anything with him because they can't fit him into one of their pre-formatted boxes.

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Speaking very abstractly here I don't think doing covers and coming on the scene as a regular guy/gal has ever worked. What the industry has lost is the art of mystery and intrigue. People want something from "Somewhere else." "Familiarity breeds contempt" is really a paraphrase of Christ's words' date=' “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” So appear to come out of a fog or another planet. The last thing you want to do is be just one of the guys. Even the music itself is secondary to the perception people have of something new and exciting from a person or a group that is mysterious and somewhat out of reach. So it's not only the availability of all the music under the sun that comes into play here, but also the over accessibility to the artist. The super stars of the past when record labels knew how to make super stars were above and out of reach of the masses.[/quote']

 

I agree with a lot of what you're saying here Tim, but OTOH, I think in today's world, fans want accessibility. There's certainly a lot of "we're all in this together" going on too, but I do agree that maybe having too much access, too much knowledge and not enough mystery isn't always a good thing. As with spelling out the meaning of the lyrics of a song, or creating a specific visualization for it with a video, it may take the imagination of the listener out of the equation too much. Maybe we need to leave enough room for them to decide what it means to them instead of telling them what it means.

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I dunno. Frank Sinatra is mighty popular this week (his 100th birthday, I think) and he didn't write his own material. He had a great band, great arrangements, and good material. He also put on a good show and had plenty of publicity - both good and bad. He didn't need to be a writer, too.

 

Good point, and I totally agree Mike. My question was more rhetorical in nature - I for one think there should be room in the world for great singers who don't write their own material, and Sinatra is an excellent example of just such a talent. I certainly don't consider him to have been a glorified karaoke singer simply because he wasn't a composer.

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