Talent is a constant.

November 25, 2008

One of the comments I hear the most from musicians and music industry folk alike regarding music today is “it’s great that there’s so much music around today, but most of it is absolutely crap.” People cite the (completely false and misleading assertion) that because most folks can use ProTools in their bedrooms etc. that there is a saturation of amateurish and horrible music in circulation.

I couldn’t disagree more.

In fact, I’m of the belief that talent is a constant. That genius occurs every single day in music, that songwriters lie in wait to be discovered if you know where to look. Quite contrary to the above assertion, music that will change your life goes unnoticed every single day and songwriters of exceptional talent languish in absolute obscurity for their entire lives.

That said, in today’s world, all of the tools are available for every fan to become a tastemaker and highlight these amazing artists.

My question is this: if you really care about music, about artists and musicians, what are you doing to shed some light on these unsung songsmiths?

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A Little Solidarity…

November 19, 2008

Old man, Ballyknow Quay, River Corrib, Galway,...Image via WikipediaI was fortunate to find myself in the beautiful city of Galway this evening – surrounded by the wild mystery that is the Connemara Gaeltacht, the Atlantic ocean and the rushing river Corrib, this city more than any other I’ve been to reminds me the most of San Francisco.

I was down to have a chat with the fabulous Vertigo Smyth and he was kind enough to introduce me to the guys who run Stress!!, a club night in Galway that’s gone from strength to strength hosting such acts as Daedalus and Scroobius Pip over the past 6 months.

By complete coincidence, Stress!! was hosting the David Lyttle Three. For those of you unfamiliar, David Lyttle is a Belfast-based jazz drummer with one of the most astounding work ethics I’ve ever seen from a musician. The man is EVERYWHERE, converting fans, spreading his music, touring relentlessly (look at the man’s tour history – and he’s only 25!)

But not only is David notable for the work he puts in, but the amazing artists he attracts to these shores. Tonight’s show saw Herbie Hancock’s bass player, Derek Nievergelt, joining David and fellow Belfast native Mark McKnight (Guitar) on stage. Jazz legends such as Jean Touissant, Greg Osby and Michael Janisch, have been convinced to play Ireland by David in the last year.

I’d go so far to say that David IS jazz in Ireland. (feel free to correct me in the comments, of course!)

It’s funny in this far flung place I could yet again be reminded of what Belfast has, what Belfast is doing and how what we’re doing here is special – important, even. The energy I saw, the effusive togetherness of Belfast music I witnessed at A Little Solidarity… this past weekend was utterly mind-blowing, utterly captivating and incredibly inspiring.

And tonight reminded me that this effusiveness is seeping out, beyond our little Northern Irish borders, beyond the borders of genre, thanks to people like David Lyttle, thanks to David Holmes, thanks to everyone who has had enough of hiding all these years.

And watch out – it’s only just begun.


And So I Watch You From Afar play Stress!! @ DeBurgo’s in Galway this Friday, 11/21.

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“It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, then I should get the hell out of the way.”

November 8, 2008

I hate re-posting stuff that’s already on the web – there’s enough noise out there.

But some notes on Ian Roger’s recent talk at MusicTech Seattle say everything I want to say about Penny Distribution and our goals – and indeed, the goals of any music company in the 21st Century:

“Any of us, myself included, that are not either the artist or the fan, are just potentially in the way. So it’s on us to provide value. To provide real value. And that’s fine with me. I’m very happy to say, OK, my company has to provide real value. My company is not about lock-in. It’s not about me owning your masters. It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, well, then I should get the hell out of the way. So I really encourage you, when thinking about the music business, to think about marginal profitability for artists first and foremost, and to think about the companies that enable that, and to forget about the ones that don’t.”

Amen.

If you don’t already, I’d recommend keeping up with Ian at his blog Fistfulayen.com and one of the most exciting new media companies of late, TopSpin Media

Read more at TechFlash, Thanks to Bruce @ Hypebot for the original post…

Update: Dave Allen, over at the awesome Pamplemoose, has some great insight into Ian’s keynote too…

Update II: Looks like the big boys are taking notice of the switch too…EMI are focusing on Fan/Artist relationships now as well.

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Reward the brave, the new, the interesting…

November 4, 2008

WheeeeImage by Pablo Moran Jr. via FlickrThe last few months have seen some really inspired ideas from bands – bands recognizing that the best way to engage with audiences is to do what you do best as an artist i.e. be creative. And we’re not just talking about NIN and Radiohead here –

How about Escape Act‘s incremental release of their new album via various prominent Irish music blogs? Or Deerhoof releasing their first song ON SHEET MUSIC and asking their fans to perform it. Hell, check out the entire roster of CashMusic.org for some amazing new ways of making music mean more to fans.

White Denim’s offer of a $29.99 subscription where you’re peppered with content all year? Check.

Now comes another corker from San Francisco’s Plot Against Rachel. They’re asking their fans and friends, wherever they are in the world, to record a vocal track on their bedroom software to be appended to the final song of their forthcoming full-length. Just go to the site below, download the guide and rough mix, and go wild. Send them the MP3 and you’re in.

Help Plot Against Rachel

Sure, you might say that the last thing you want to do is break out the kazoo and give a song with a 5/4 middle eight a go, and then publish your squeaks for the world to see.

But what do all of these ideas have in common?

If you’re the band, you’re creating a story. If you’re already a fan, if you’re already convinced that this band is someone to keep an eye on, it deepens commitment, band-to-fan interaction and most importantly, draws and keeps attention.

And even if you’re not a fan of the music, you can’t fault acts like these for using the one thing any fan of music wants out of their bands – creativity.

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