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Musical Integrity: Should Performers Only Be Creators?

Abstract: The music industry has always looked down on musical ‘faces’ who have nothing to do with music production or creation. Is this snobbery justified or are they different skills that should be treated with different forms of appreciation? Or should this distinction warrant a new kind of appreciation for creators – one that’s separate from admiration of the performer?

Here’s a (probably) familiar situation for any independent music fan (you are Y):

rihanna performing liveX: I love Rihanna; she’s so great

Y: Yeah, her music’s pretty fun, but she doesn’t write any of it so…

X: Who cares? She’s way better than [insert cool unsigned artist Y likes here]

Y: Well, at least they write their own music though – like, I have way more respect for people who actually write their own stuff.

X: But Rihanna’s such a great performer – she’s a part of the music without being a part of the music, if you get me.

Y’s defence is one I have used more times than I can count in my lifetime, and I doubt it’s one I’m likely to stop using, but, to be totally honest, it’s not one I’ve actually examined in much detail at all.

Objectivity and taste: Should unpopular music mean worse?

I often read interviews in which musicians say things along the lines of ‘I only care about my fans – I don’t make music for critics; it’s all for the fans, man.’

While I am obviously a crazed music lover, I don’t often pay much attention to the ins and outs of what musicians say, unless I believe it will endow me with some insight and understanding of their music that I couldn’t get at from listening alone. This opinion, however, is far from uncommon in the music world and it got me thinking about the way we think about the quality of music and our judgement thereof.

As an independent music fan, it can be tempting to think of chart music as inferior, somehow in virtue of its wide appeal. Now, as unpleasant and snobby as this view undeniably is, what’s the alternative? To think of the charts and musical popularity as some kind of quality indicator? HA! No way.

xand yBut hang on! Why not?! Well, let me examine that. Here’s a few things we’ll need to have in place before I get going:

1. X is a major label artist who writes their own songs

Pixies and their influence on the independent music scene

A week or so ago I received an email from Pixies’ mailing list. This was monumental enough in and of itself because I have been on Pixies’ mailing list for approximately a million years, and they send somewhere in the region of 2.2 emails a year, if that. The email was about their first new material in nine years, ‘Bagboy’, which in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I’ll post here, because it has honestly been traveling through cyberspace faster than TRON (apologies to any sci-fi purists who don’t think this is an adequate or correct use of a TRON metaphor).

The Fate of the Music Industry – A Musician’s Bedtime Story

the web wizardOnce upon a time, there was brilliant and wonderful wizard who created a magical technology called the internet. The great minds of the time were so excited about the new technology, they decided to join forces and work together in harmony, for the good of the people. There job; to make the internet accessible to the working class and to discover a new way of connecting villages throughout the land. The collection of great minds hailed their breakthrough as, The World Wide Web.

Just as the great technologies before it, many artisans, musicians, craftsmen and businessmen saw great opportunity for wealth, at a time when there was none. They created games, digital music boxes, moving pictures, and knowledge gateways. They launched magnificent and wondrous portals into the human experience. A wave of renaissance spread through the land as the people shared technology and ideas. There was a long and prosperous period when a vast number of new businesses and people flourished. In time, many businessmen grew wealthy beyond their dreams.

What do the Great Music Producers have in common? The producer profile.

music producer musicianMusic Producer; it sounds that nowadays, everybody is reinventing themselves music producers. The danger for indie artists is that they may start working with a producer who is just starting out and doesn’t know much, or again a rip-off simply trying to steal your money. The fact that many music producers also operate online and offer ‘professionally produced tracks’ if you send them your demos via email and pay them through PayPal is also not helping the wealth of indie musicians trying desperately to get the greatest sounding demo they can. The truth is, if you take a good look at many of the most renowned past and present music producers, they all seem to have some of the same characteristics and skills; let’s profile a few of the best in the industry to figure out what you should look for in a good music producer.

George Martin

Let’s face it, everybody knows George Martin. Perhaps one of the most famed and acclaimed producer of Rock n’ Roll history, George Martin is responsible for many successful Beatles albums. Born in the mid-1920s, Martin learned how to play the piano and the oboe, eventually studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He started out his career recording classical music for Parlophone Records before being introduced to the Beatles by Brian Epstein – the rest is history.

Top 50 influential independent and underground hip hop artists/rappers 2012 and Beyond

underground hip hopIt doesn’t matter where you hang out on the web, when it comes to news about your favorite artist, somebody has got it covered. Whether it is a new album release, new tattoo, haircut, fashion miss, who is dating who or an artist embroiled in controversy; the web is really good at getting it in your face – all the time!

But if you part of the growing segment of the population looking for alternatives other than mainstream entertainment, you have to do a little digging.

The best underground hip hop artists?

Well, finding them is not as easy as going to your neighborhood iTunes and picking them out from a ready made list. One must seek out the experts/gurus/enthusiasts in the niche music blogosphere, forums, boards and popular social media channels. The journey doesn’t end there. Why? Because each expert has a different opinion or opposing view on who is who on the web. Lists vary from one site expert to the next.

Tips to using and posting on Craigslist and the Musicians section

craigslist-musicians tipsI’ve been on Craigslist to sell my stuff, to buy some more stuff, to hire people, to get odd jobs, etc. I’ve also been on Craigslist to network with musicians and get hired as a pianist. Is the ratio of time spent browsing ads to money made through gigs on Craigslist worth it? That’s highly debatable. We all know what Craigslist is all about and we also know that anybody can post an ad or reply to an ad, which makes it a less than desirable marketplace more often than not. Is the “Musicians” section really worth your time as an indie musician? Should you really browse through it or post in it or should you just concentrate your efforts somewhere else? It depends on your perspective of things.

From my original point of view, I thought Craigslist was a complete waste of time for serious musicians. I had the firm belief that everyone that was on there was your friend’s cousin’s little brother who wanted to start a garage band. Needless to say, I stayed away from anything music related on Craigslist for the longest time. I have a degree, after all! As time went by, I started finding a few more opportunities; I got hired as a musical director, accompanist and restaurant pianist through ads placed on Craigslist. However, these opportunities never really came from the so-called “Musicians” section, but more from anything in gigs and jobs. So what about the “Musicians” section? What’s on there?

Why Artists and Musicians should hire a Music Public Relations Professional or Agent

Music Public RelationsAs an independent artist, you thrive at doing it all yourself; you write your own music, created your own blog or website and love working on all aspects of your ‘business’. However, it can sometimes be more than beneficial to work with experts in their field. When it comes to Public Relations, working with a professional can certainly serve you well. Why? Because while you may think that public relations is merely serving a marketing purpose, something you try to do on your own, it is so much more than that. Read below to find out more about what PR really is and how you can use it to your advantage by hiring an expert.

An Overview of Public Relations

By definition, PR is used to enhance the reputation of a company or individual and better make the connection between the company or individual and the public. For example in the music industry, PR experts are often asked to organize events, such as a CD release party, showcases or any other event that could lead to more visibility for an artist or band. So, in short, PR does look like a marketing machine at first. But have you ever heard of a PR professional’s Rolodex? The Rolodex is a prized possession (or at least it used to be before everything switched to digital!) for any PR professional and includes the contact info for all their connections in various industries. This means that while PR seems to be only a boost in marketing, your PR firm or expert can get in touch with reputable individuals or companies that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to approach on your own.