“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
As of THIS writing on September 1st, 2020 the worldwide pandemic known as Covid 19, has effectively shut the live entertainment industry down COMPLETELY since March 15 when the WORLD went on lockdown. The virus has affecting the livelihood of musicians as well as their supporting road crews and live venues by forbidding large gatherings of people. It is estimated that 12million people have become unemployed, many of which (mostly the musicians) are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
So what’s a musician to do?
Become resourceful of course! This is bad for sure, but musicians have been exploited and taken advantage of, throughout history. You’ve heard all the stories… chart busting hits, but bad management and/or recording contracts put profits in everybody else’s pocket BUT the artist themselves. Billy Joel in 1989 filled a 90 million dollar law suit against his very own brother in law/manager for monies owed to him. Taylor Swift, Prince, and even the Beatles have fought their record companies and publishing companies for ownership rights of their own songs. Over time, as these types of shady deals got “the light” shown on them, artists have become savvier and through better information available due to modern technologies, as well as some legislation, the modern artist is less likely to fall into one of those traps.
Covid 19 of course is not man made, and venues are not deliberately conspiring to shut down in order to take advantage of an artist, it’s COMPLETELY different you say… well yes, yes it is. What is NOT different is the overcoming of adversity. During Covid 19, music streaming dropped by 6%, which stands to reason, because people were not in their cars going to work, and overall travelling less. Music VIDEO consumption was UP 8% on the other hand telling us people would rather WATCH their favorite artists, rather than just listen (according to Forbes) In fact; video consumption of music is at an all time high!
“An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill
This is where, I believe BOTH the music fan, and the musicians have a win/win opportunity.
Enter the 1000 true fans theory. The 1000 fans theory was developed by Kevin Kelly in 2008 in an essay he wrote in “Wired” magazine. It is a DIRECT TO FAN model. It states that for every creator (in our case musician) an audience of 1000 people that are willing to spend $100 per year on the art that creator makes, would be enough for THAT artist, to live a reasonably normal, middle class life. That’s basically $8.50 per month…less than the cost of a CD per month. This could go towards the purchase of physical product T-Shirts, Posters, or other “hard merchandise”, or music, videos, pictures, or more and more these days…an all access subscription model that can include all the previously mentioned goody’s PLUS exclusive monthly High Definition audio/video live streams with live chat Q&A, discounts on merchandise and tickets to shows or even special exclusive merchandise, advanced notification to shows that are happening, even “members only” outings like fan club beach parties or barbecues. Imagine the Beatles or Led Zeppelin having given fans THAT kind of access….would you have gone for it?
This model eliminates all “middlemen and gate keepers” like record companies, managers, promoters, booking agents, PR Firms and the like. From that stand point, you might very well be amazed to find out that your direct support puts EVEN A SIGNED TO A RECORD COMPANY ARTIST on a much more stable financial footing, not to mention in a stronger decision making position with regard to what content they want to share without compromise.
Until touring comes back, the connection between artist and fan has the opportunity to strengthen. During which time, that strengthening bond could completely democratize the music business and allow artists to give fans what they want (more content and access) without the record industries gate keepers involved. Wouldn’t you feel great supporting your home town heroes, and knowing your support is 100% going to the artist? In turn, that artist is now 100% self contained and making decisions on his/her art, without some suit that collects 20% off the top, telling the artist that he/she should tailor their art a bit more like (insert name of nauseatingly overplayed pop star here) because it would be more commercial or hip?
Covid is bad, no doubt about it. Covid’s disruption of the music/entertainment business has created one of THE most unique opportunities, for the first industry that shutdown, and probably the last industry to open its doors again…..to reinvent itself. Very possibly on a much better level than it was before.
Just some food for thought.
I am a 57 year old Rock music fan
I grew up buying albums and CD’s because the music meant SO much to me. I went to countless concerts and have seen most of my favorite bands and it was great! To this day, not only do I listen to those foundational for me bands, but I actively seek out new bands and music…. And I do this, of the time.
The music industry once catered to me on bended knee. Not so much anymore, even though they bred me to be this way. I am not complaining about that, I own it. Where I do believe the music industry dropped the ball is, they constantly shun me for the “pop” fan of whatever is “hot” at the moment. Sounds like evolution right? It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Here is how it does not. Sure trends and radio evolve… I get that… And the industry is right and SHOULD cater to that pop fan, that’s the nature of the biz. I will now ask you this? Who’s got more discretionary cash? Me or the teen? Who is more likely to buy a VERY high profit physical product versus “streaming” the hit instead of only the hit song? That would be me again. Here’s the kicker…who is more likely to attend a live show WITH a friend or significant other and come home with two tee shirts, posters and perhaps even another CD from the merchandise table? Duh…me. (I spent $300 in beer, food and merch at the most recent Stones concert, above and beyond the cost of the ticket)
Would it take a lot of resources for record companies to market bands that THEY SIGN ANYWAY who sound very retro and up my alley? I mean, every year…I make “best of” compilations of my favorite albums that came out and every year at least HALF of the bands are new. With all this recognition tracking (let’s face it google knows what you need and serves you ads for it all the time) why does it not come up in any of my social media streams, that such and such a band exists, that sounds like they picked up where one of my other favorite bands left off? Why don’t I even get an email? The numbers of people in my generation and one generation older are staggering. You know how much buying power boomers and gen x’ers have? I am CERTAIN I am not the only one who feels this way.
Evidence of how much of a starved market we are can be found in the amount of seats sold for touring tribute acts last year and in years prior. My generation PACKS theaters to see a recreation of their favorite rock bands on a regular basis and has been A CASH cow for that industry.
Fortunately, for us (the fans) there are many resources for us to find our treasure. The first one is in our own back yard. Almost every region has a band that’s doing everything right. Find out who they are via word of mouth. I recommend a local, entertainment journalist. We have some GREAT artist friendly journalist in Sarasota. Bless you all.
Today, as it was not so long ago, record labels are more and more starting to specialize in genres. For me, (I am a lover of that very big, 80’s, anthemic, arena rock, hard edged music) I find that I like almost EVERYTHING “Frontiers Records” puts out. I also find myself getting lots music from “Melodic Rock Records”. These record companies deal with some of my favorite legacy artists, but they also find new artists in the genre and distribute their music, put them on festival tours and get them press.
If your tastes are a bit heavier, I would recommend “Metal Blade Records” , or “Roadrunner Records”. If your tastes are more middle of the road, say Blues based, “Fat Possum Records” has a long history. You pretty much, get the idea. It’s all one google search away as long as you know where to look.
One place I would NOT search is the big, terrestrial radio stations, who are mostly ALL programmed from one location with pretty much a playlist dictated by the giant record companies who think they know what you should be listening to. They made Beiber, Cardi B , and Kanye SUPERSTARS!! These include the iheart radio network and clearchannel network. In some markets, such as ours here in the Sarasota area, we are blessed with some dynamite, independently owned, operated and programmed stations that offer music outside of the mainstream. My only wish for them is that more of them focus more on giving exposure, to more of our local talent. It feels like our area has a handful of “darling” local artists, and they are all you hear about. That’s a disservice to the local artists (there are many talented artists here) AND to their very own listening public.
I’m not trying to be some old guy yelling “get off my lawn” here. I think every genre of music deserves this kind of infrastructure. While I am not a fool, and know some genres will obviously be bigger than others, music is a worldwide market. There are resources for every niche. Some are more “hidden” than others. It’s YOUR job to “mine” them. Your reward will be a treasure trove of some of your favorite future jams. Mark my words….Rock is FAR from dead. There are tons of talented bands and artists out there making brand new music that’s as good as any of your favorite iconic songs of the past. Promise.
Those crazy kids and their apps, it seems like a never ending cavalcade of info overload. Who has time to even keep up? Sure, we all have the facebook app, but then came twitter, then intstagram, whats App, snapchat, tik tok, it never ends! Of course we all have our go to apps that we use every day…bank apps, and job specific apps, music streaming, video streaming, shopping apps, oh THE JOY of setting up apps….Isn’t it a tremendous feeling of excitement and anticipation?
So what is the topic of this blog? Yep, you guessed it… another freaking app! This one though, is pretty amazing if you are a music lover. ESPECIALLY if you are a relatively older music lover (like me), that has a life… you know what I mean, a job, a wife, kids, and “things to do as well as places to be”. Chances are, if you fall into this category, your passion for music started a long time ago, BEFORE you had a life. I don’t know about you, but back then, my circle of friends was in large part determined by the music I listened to. As a result, I knew, through someone in that circle, when my favorite band’s next album was coming out, but more importantly when they were coming to my town and where they were playing. Then, as other things took priority, keeping up with your favorite artist, became more like pleasantly being surprised by a chance newspaper article or advertisement that you “happened upon”.
Enter “Bands in Town”. According to their website “Bandsintown” is a unique, multisided, data-driven platform at the core of the fast-growing music market, enabling artists, superfans & brands to connect. The site allows users to receive notifications about shows and live streams that match their music DNA and or location” There are currently 55 million registered concert goers and 530,000 artists on the platform. The app uses an algorithm that scans your facebook, spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Soundcloud (and others) usage, and serves you information based on your listening habits. So you will know when your favorite artist is putting on a live, or live streamed show.
The SUPER great thing about the app that I love, is that if your favorite, hometown local artists is on Bands in town as an artist (it involves them simply setting up an “artist” on the platform) you can get notifications on THEM too! It’s like “mission control” for all of your favorite performers!
Just in case you were thinking I am somehow endorsed, or compensated for this glowing review, let me just say…I am in no way financially affiliated with them or compensated for this. I am a registered “artist” on the platform though. I am simply putting out what I consider to be a “Public Service Announcement” for my fellow music nerds.
You got nothing to lose by checking it out, the app is free. Give it a shot, if you like it you can thank me later (maybe even follow me, I am “Robert Garcia Solo Act” I’d appreciate that)
Mind you…at the time of THIS writing…Covid has pretty much shut down the ENTIRE live entertainment industry. I am dead certain that there will come a time when both fans and artists will be brought together again. When that time comes…having Bandsintown set up on your devices might be one of the best apps you’ve ever installed.
Franki Valli’s Secret Meatballs Recipe
A “whole-lotta” fresh breadcrumbs (about 1½ cups)
About 1 cup milk (warm)
1 lb. ground beef
½ lb. ground pork or veal
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cloves of minced garlic
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Step (1) Remove all jewelry, especially rings – wash hands
Step (2) Soak breadcrumbs in warm milk for a few minutes
Step (3) Add the remaining ingredients and combine with jewelry-free, clean hands
Step (4) Roll mixture into sizeable balls (about 2 inches in diameter)
Step (5) Brown meatballs well in frying pan with olive oil – finish cooking in a simmering pan of Italian gravy (i.e. tomato sauce)
Step (6) Serve meatballs (garnish with parsley, freshly grated parmesan) over pasta with a piece of crusty bread on the side
The Jukebox Assassins
Are going to play their first gig on October 31st at Sandbar, Manasota Key at 1pm.
“Halloween seemed perfect!” – Robert Garcia. “What better date to come out for a rock band in 2020?”
The band plays original music AND “Rocked out” versions of popular cover songs.
The band consists of three members. Robert Garcia (Guitars) Norris “The Naz” Smith (Bass) and Peter John Colon II (we call him Jr. ‘cause he’s the youngest) on Drums.
Everybody sings all the time. Our vocals have kind of become a fourth instrument.
We want you to come down to see us, but also to be transformed back to a time when rock n roll was an exciting part of your life.
The band is SO new, that as of this writing, they are still in the process of designing their website, however you can stay in the loop, by subscribing to Rob Garcia’s (the band’s founding member) newsletter at: www.rgsoloact.com or send him your email address directly to Wenlock1@hotmail.com
That’s it for now. But if you made it this far down, I’m assumming you dig what we’re doing. We’d love for you to help us out. We desperately need to get the word out, and if you could help us, we’d really appreaciate it. So much so, that if you could get your friends to email Wenlock1@hotmail.com to get on this email list…. with YOUR name as a referral, I will send the TOP 10 people with the most referrals, a “Rock n Roll Love Letter ” T Shirt.
We wanna build this BIG. Right now, there’s about 4000 of you. I would LOVE to double that, with YOUR friends. We’re planning on doing some trips, some beach BBQ’s, and lot’s more in the future. But only with our inner circle. That’s what this is all about.
See ya next month. Thanks