Category Archives: Music

Your Daily Soundtrack

So much of what we do on a daily basis is one dimensional from a sensory perspective.  As an example, this blog post is one dimensional.

Music/sound can play a huge role in your day, as a dimension overlaid on top of everything else.

For a while, I forgot this.

I was thinking recently while I was writing a deck on marketing technology infrastructure, “what if the brief for the deck included a soundtrack?”  Meaning, what if the tone of the deck took on the tone of a song, such as Poker Face by Lady Gaga or Save the World by Swedish House Mafia?  By doing this, it sets the expectation for how the deck should be written and visualized.

I’ve been listening to music a bit more as well – on the train during my commute and at the gym a few days a week.  It’s added a spark of creativity.

What’s your daily soundtrack?

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Challenge to the Dave Matthews Band and review of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

For those of you who do not know me too well, I’m a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band.  I’ve been to more shows than I can reasonably count, have gigabytes of their live shows, my living room has a framed DMB art collection, and my son is aptly named David Matthew Herman.

For those of you who do know me well, you’ve probably traveled with world with me to see the band in one random location or another.

This post has two parts.  Read both because they compliment each other.

Challenge: Go back into the recording studio and re-record songs from previous albums.  Why am I saying this?  When you guys (members of the band) record your albums, many of the songs are “new” and are not fully baked yet.  Your songs have a tendency to “breathe” (like wine) on tour which gives them new life.  I’d love for you to take an album or two and re-record some of those songs.   Many fans know that album lyrics and concert lyrics are sometimes totally different and would love the updates to studio albums.  In terms of musicianship on the recorded albums, the studio is obviously not The Gorge or Alpine or even SPAC (venues), so this would add a dimension of taking something that’s been on “tour mode” (i.e. Warehouse or All Along the Watchtower) and transition back to “studio mode” and I think this would be  a challenge that you’d all enjoy.  If I could pick the producer:  Rob Cavallo, but beggars can’t be choosers.

If you guys want to take me up on the challenge, you can contact me through the contact section.

Review of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

I waited 5 months to write this review because the album needed to sit and breathe a bit.  I’ve always tended to favor DMB live-shows because of the band’s spontaneity and on-stage energy.  I also favor instrumental-ism over vocalism (is that a term?) and in the live setting, a 20 minute jam during Two Step is not out of the ordinary.

This album breaks the mold.  Big Whiskey has been in my CD Player, HDD Player, and iPhone (ipod) for the past 5 months and only on occasion, have listened to a live show or two.  The album in totality tells a story but each song individually has their own chapter that can stand alone.  This is the first DMB studio album that I’ve gravitated to more than for “casual” listening.

Just like most fans, I initially gravitated to Funny the Way It Is because it was all over the radio and Spaceman because it was played at many of the shows this past tour.  Shake Me Like a Monkey became a favorite around months 3-4 and the back to back combo of Shake Me Like a Monkey + Funny The Way It Is rocks.

Recently (no pun intended), I’ve become a big fan of Lying in the Hands of God and Time Bomb.  Why I Am doesn’t do much for me “yet” though like where Dave has taken the lyrics on the song.

IMHO, the most unfinished but greatest potential song is Alligator Pie.  This song has significant potential.   The song starts strong, builds, has a great “live concert” beat, but doesn’t seem to get anywhere.  Dave comes across very strong in the song almost controlling the instrumentals but I think there is still opportunity for this song to develop.

I’ve given the album out to over a dozen people and most have come back with positive experiences.  I love the sound and the heart of the band that went into the album and can’t wait to hear these songs “breathe” on the 2010 tour (or if I get over to Europe for the upcoming).

You can bet that I’ll be giving some of the albums out for the holidays.

Disrupting a Disrupted Industry

When an industry is in the middle of being disrupted, it’s the perfect time to add more logs to the fire. Today, lets concentrate on the music industry.  While everyone is focusing on distribution, recording, and digital rights, I’m focused on touring and concerts (btw, a money maker).  In the past, I’ve written quite a bit about how important the experience of music is.

 See this idea over at inefficiencies.  Think “living room shows.”   Read the post and would love to hear your thoughts.

Concert Art: Dave Matthews Band Style

It took lots of negotiating to make this happen, but I’ve convinced Sherri to let me professionally frame and hang some of my concert posters of The Dave Matthews Band in our living room.  This is the most used room in our home when guests come (the bar is second) and it’s only fitting to have these gorgeous limited edition pieces of art hang to share with everyone.

DMB Wall Art

Each of these posters are part of a limited edition (hand signed and numbered) by Methane Studios.  For each concert, Methane creates a totally unique poster and only runs a limited edition of each (250-400).  Generally, these sell out QUICKLY (within 5 mins of the concert doors opening) but you can get them on the second hand market such as eBay.

DMB Long

Each of these posters are extremely intricate and it takes a good 15 minutes to stare at each one to find all of the hidden gems.  I’m always looking to expand the collection and add shows that I may not have, so if you are a collector, please don’t hesitate reaching out.

Everyday

Lefsetz said this extremely well. Everyone should read the full posting.

Jump in the mud, mud
Get your hands filthy, love
Give it up, love
Everyday

Get up from that couch! Go out into the bright sunshine. Dial your crush and ask her for a date. It may be messy, but maybe not. Don’t be somnambulant, get out of your own way, don’t only embrace life, but eat it up. Everyday.

Blogging is the Music Industry All Over Again?

I’ve been thinking about bloggers, blogging, memes, and this entire ecosystem from a macro-POV over the past few days. What caused me to think about it… I’m not sure, but nonetheless, I’m down the path and wanted to throw a few ideas out there.

In early 00s, I spent enough time in the music industry to understand the problems that we hear about everyday. Essentially, the music industry for the most part, relies on the ‘hit’ model, which means that a small portion of their artist roster generates enough revenue to cover the entire roster. (You can also draw a parallel to venture capital, publishing, and other industries)

Because the few chosen artists (signed to major labels) are promoted in such a way that exaggerates their excessive lifestyle, many, many artists (bands) want to be signed to a ‘major’ label because they believe that the clout, promotion, advances, and contacts that the label has within the market will help them to become rock’n’roll hall of fame inductees. Generally, this doesn’t happen. Even signed to a major label doesn’t guarantee you success, it even doesn’t guarantee that they will release your upcoming album.

Musicians use instruments in their craft. These instruments are pretty much worthless without someone playing them. A Fender guitar is nothing but a few strings, some solid wood, and a few screws/glue/etc holding it together. It’s the artist behind the instrument who brings value to the instrument.

In the blogosphere, the platform is the instrument. Whether you have chosen to use TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or any other blogging platform, it’s worthless without someone (or multiple people) behind it producing content. The content producer is the artist (or musician in this instance).  There are a handful of blogs that generate 80% of the buzz (TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Ars Technica, Silicon Alley Insider, VentureBeat, Gizmodo, Engadget, paidContent, Between the Lines, GigaOM, A VC, The Social, TechDirt, etc) but there are millions of blogs who exist as well…

Using the blog/music analogy, the 20% of the blogosphere that generates 80% of the revenue are the blogs signed to major labels. What are these major labels in relationship to the blogosphere? Examples are Federated Media, UTA, WMA, and any other high profile blog representation services. Google Adsense and advertising networks are generating revenue for blogs of all shapes and sizes (majority of the long-tail) and I attribute this to the similarities of CDBaby/Amazon and other online merchandise retailers for the music industry however they are doing it in a passive way.

The music industry has the radio, which helped create hits across the globe. Whether you were a one hit wonder like Marcy Playground (I loved those guys) or a multiple-platinum seller like Coldplay, the radio certainly helped bring their music to the masses. In the blogosphere, you’ve got major influencing sites like TechMeme, TechCrunch, and BoingBoing (amongst others) who help drive traffic that potentially create an opportunity for your blog to transition into the pro-blogging space.

We all live the dream, some to play at MSG in front of 15,000 screaming fans, or a direct link to one of my postings from Robert Scoble, but it’s almost impossible to attain.

Thinking about the business model for bands, you’ve got a few ways to monetize yourself: sell music, sell merchandise, sell concert tickets (play shows), take donations, etc.  The business model for blogs are pay-for-access, advertising, merchandise (maybe this is a way of the future?), or a loss-leader, like this blog is.  I don’t make a dime off of it, but it opens the door to conversations that I’d not normally have.

With so many musicians and bloggers, it’s impossible to follow them all. Look at the amount of music discovery services that have emerged.  Blogging discovering on the way?  Are VC dollars flowing in that direction?  Are micro-blogs like Tumblr essentially “singles”?

Would love to hear your thoughts…

Here’s a starting question:

1.  Who will be the RCRD LBL of the blogosphere

The Music World is Fascinating

GirlTalk

Strange thing happened… I was reading the Wall Street Journal during my commute this morning and there was a music article (and recommendation) so I went to find out a lot more about the artist (Girl Talk) as the technology behind the music sounded interesting to me.  Who knew that the business centric WSJ was going to look in-depth at music sampling?

Anyway, I went to check out Girl Talk’s website and it’s pointed to a MySpace page where you can click a link to buy the album.  Following the similar format of Radiohead’s latest release, you can pay whatever you’d like for the album.  I chose to put in $0.00 and on the next screen, the band asks why I was not inclined to pay but they still allowed me to download the album.  Screen shot below… though this was very interesting.

The data they get from this is invaluable.  I’d love to see the breakdown of what people say.

Music Business Rant: U2

Let me start prefacing this posting by stating that I’m a huge fan of U2.  The band has tons of charisma, energy, and an amazing “show” that is similar to the aesthetics of the Dave Matthews Band.  U2 is one of the top selling acts of all time including tour attendance and record sales.  They generate income.  A lot of it.  Bono’s sunglasses aren’t cheap.

I was reading my daily newspaper (Techmeme) this morning and an article caught my attention, entitled, “U2 Manager slams Internet providers.”  Naturally, I’m fascinated by this because I love the music industry and digital media is my passion.

I read the article and it’s essentially stating that their manager, Paul McGuinness, while talking at a music conference in Hong Kong, accused the ISPs of strangling the music industry.  “ISPs” were compared to shoplifters.  You get where it’s going from here and can read the rest of the article, but now, I’d like to voice my opinion.

Let me preface my opinion by stating the following:

  1. I ran a music marketing and technology company in 2001-2003
  2. I downloaded music from P2P networks in the mid to late 90s
  3. I stopped downloading illegal (important word) music in 2000
  4. Without confirming, I’ve probably purchased 500 songs off iTunes since it’s launch

Now that I’ve given you a bit of background, my opinion is as follows:  adapt.

The world is becoming increasingly digital and new ways of distribution are going to disrupt MANY industries.  It just so happens, that the music industry is being hit hard, but as bandwidth proliferates more homes and people have faster access, Hollywood is next.  In some respects, Hollywood is being heavily disrupted as well as people download movies instead of going to the theaters.

I know in theory, adaptation seems easy.  Practicality – it’s not.  However, if we don’t start adapting and finding new business models… we’re doomed.  The folks holding the purse strings for the music world and the ancillary businesses touching it need to step outside their comfort zone and try new models.  Business will change.  I can guarantee that.

U2 makes a lot of money and they are trying to protect their livelihood.  For a band that is SO progressive, why are they being so conservative?  This is an opportunity for U2 to create revenue streams outside of the traditional record store.

McGuinness, you’re a manager.  You’re responsible for the future of the band and their business.  Instead of complaining and trying to shutdown ISPs, why not embrace the fact that people WANT U2 music and find ways to get compensated for them.  Just walk around the SXSW Music Festival hangouts and you’re bound to run into really innovative people trying to change the business.  U2 is a business/band that can make a difference.  Put yourself out there.

Unofficial 6th Member of DMB Leaves

Just days before the 2008 Summer Tour kicks off, the unofficial 6th member of the Dave Matthews Band, Butch Taylor (keyboardist) has suddenly left the band.  There has not been much else released besides this, but we all hope him well for the future!

Speculation on some of the fan boards have been about Butch getting back to his own band (bt3), being marginalized on stage and quitting after a fall-out, health reasons (family), and others.  I want to wish him the best on his future endeavors as he’s provided tons of enjoyment over the past years.

Who will play keys for the upcoming tour?  Any thoughts?

Butch Taylor

When the market fragments

When I want to download music, I really don’t care what label the band is on.  Honestly, most of the time, I don’t really know if it’s Universal or Sony BMG or Saddle Creek, etc.  iTunes is great because the majority (note, not all) of what I listen to is listed and available.  Sony BMG is now developing their own music service…. I’m calling it’s demise now.  Why?  Because it’s going to fragment the market and listeners have to worry about which labels their artists are signed to.  Yikes.