Bands... I know the bars and venues are open until 4am... and there are bands playing too... but I was shocked at how much space was available at the conference. You complain you can't get people to return your calls or reply to your email (<-- singular), meanwhile, a number of the of people you're trying to get in contact with (or you should be talking to) are speaking on panels. You know who they are and where they'll be.
This is "lead a horse to water" at its best in the music industry.
FACTOR/Grant organization reps.
... and most importantly... full-time artists with experience and knowledge to share.
Advice isn't to tell you what to do, it's to help inform your decision making.
IndieWeek wasn't as big as CMW but it still would've been worth taking a couple days off work to attend (conference really should've been Fri/Sat/Sun). I always question how serious someone is about their music career if they can't get time off work... usually from a job they don't like anyway... that subsidizes their goal of a music career.
... again... very surprised most panels were 40% full.
I heard about several really excellent connections made by people I knew... and these are friends on the actual panels!
(Dirty secret, it was worth their time to show up to meet the other panelists just as much as it was to actually speak!)
So I took some notes on my iPhone. I tried to grab some "quote-esque" quotes and notes that might help spark some ideas or pass along some advice... or deliver a dose of reality.
Here's what I got from the 3 days:
"Consider FACTOR a rebate program... don't let it determine what you can and can not afford to do."
MusicOntario - Sometimes list of grants in newsletter
"Do you need a grant writer? No."
(But you should be getting at least a functional marketing plan from working with your grant writer.)
FACTOR reps will help you with the process.
Develop a relationship with them.
Starmaker vs Pledge Music - If you have the numbers, try for Starmaker
"Look 6-12 months in advance and plan accordingly if you want to apply for grants."
Coffee houses were the alternative to bars if you were underage.
Many things were financed by drug sales.
"Facebook is the water cooler now."
"... is this where the Hair-Club For Men meeting is?"
Producers Panel... :-)
"Co-production usually means they want you to put up all the recording time and expertise at a massive discount."
"Create snippets of songs, we don't need full songs to hear a great song."
"It can be the best song in the world but if there's no structure to support it [marketing/release plan] and get it heard, it doesn't matter."
"Demos, almost the rougher the better if you're shopping for a producer and looking for feedback."
"If you have to remove the shrink wrap from your demo, it's too late for real feedback."
"Don't get in the way of the performance, criticize it after it's over."
"Sometimes these contests offer great connections. It doesn't matter if you win."
"Cast stones and create ripples, be efficient with each new ripple you create and build your relationships."
"Country music needs a Nirvana moment."
"There are 100,000's of singers out there, what makes them want to say 'I want to see them!'"
"We all look the same... we're all blonde good looking girls."
"Programmers don't hold as much power as you think."
"A lot of people will sell you shit. They know they can't do anything for you but will sell you the dream, especially in the radio game."
"In my early 20's I hated the idea of co-writing because I was selfish. I hate myself for being against it all those years."
"Co-writing brings relationships."
"The old model of record company and artist is gone. They're aware of where money is coming in. It's all about business in a 360 deal."
"[Recorded] Music is a loss leader if you compare it to touring."
"It's alright to be yourself and say no."
"Things change so fast and it takes so long to set things up that what's hot today might not be hot tomorrow... and that's where the fear [of development] comes from."
"Learning how it was done doesn't mean that's how we're getting it done today."
"We work 7 days a week in this business. Don't tell me you don't have time. We see how you spend your time on your socials."
"The artist has to be excited to work with you [us/industry]."
"When I don't get results, I try harder to get results."
"You've got to work on your craft every day... regardless if you're 10 days or 10 years in."
"Get places on time. Taylor Swift is never late and she's busy as fuck."
"If you're a band, pick the person who's the best at talking to do the talking."
"When I started, we had no social media. I can't tell an artist what to do if a 12 year old kid can figure it out on their own."
"As soon as artists do all the work we [publicists] tell them to, we're out of a job."
"One bad deal won't ruin your career but doing one shady deal can ruin your rep."
"There's worse things to do in life than have to take your own drums down."
"In the beginning, if there was 50 people there, we'd talk to 50 people, if there was 100, we'd talk to 100, and did that until it was just too much to deal with."
"Every band is going to split up at some point... maybe it's not a bad idea to finish on a high point."
"If it's not in writing, it doesn't mean a fuck really."
"It's sometimes better to fill a smaller venue than have empty seats in a bigger place."
"Document all songwriting shares and performance shares on all recordings as you go or before you release."
"A drink and a handshake can count as intent to do business... but it's not a contract."
"This is a great time to be an artist because there's no rules and that creates huge opportunity for an entrepreneur."
"I've done all the bad stuff [touring/visas] and the internet doesn't let you do that anymore. They Google you, and you're screwed."
"You get to a certain level [in your career] where insurance needs to be in your budget."
"You hire us. We work for you. If you're not happy with the supplier, punt them. Find someone else because there's lots of great people in this business."
Everything You Need To Know About The Music Business - Canadian Edition
"If you walk into a bar or restaurant and they're playing cd's or iTunes, they are screwed [if not signed up to pay royalties]."
"Do your paperwork, get paid."
(re: SOCAN, neighbouring rights)
"The reach of radio is massive, but listening time is short, maybe 9 minutes at a time, that's why we play the hits so often."
"Most radio programmers are old and believe the best music was in the 70's and 80's, and everything new is crap."
"Until they [radio programmers] retire or die off, we're kinda stuck in a rut."
(re: new music on the radio)
"There use to be 100's of people making 1,000,000's of dollars, now there's 1,000,000's of people making 100's of dollars."
"Don't aim for the big markets when starting out pitching to radio. Smaller markets/unrated radio stations are a better place to grind early on."
(but you won't chart because they don't report)
"Play. Play, play, play, play... play 150+ shows a year and you'll build a fanbase from the ground up."
"Radio guys will tell you what you need to hear to get you off the phone. But they'll tell me [radio tracker] your song is crap."
(digital music delivery service)
"Don't spend all your money on recording if you don't have any to promote it."
"Don't be afraid of the hometown play."
"There's not a lot of local feel to a nationally syndicated radio station."
"We all love food. Bring some food and it's easier to make time to talk."
"Often you don't know what your record needs to sound like to get played on the radio."
"We don't exactly get the giraffe money we used to with sync and royalties... you know... enough money we could be buy a giraffe because hey! We have that kinda money now!"
"A lot of the bands we work with come in through people we trust."
Emerging Artist Program
"Play show, after show, after show... bands will talk, people will talk."
"Be in the mix, be out there."
"Cold calling doesn't work because we're busy talking to people we know and don't pick up the phone from people we don't know."
"Send it with a link... I won't take 10 minutes to Google your band."
"Blast emails suck. And we can tell when we get one."
"50-60 shows on the road will change a band."
"Your branding needs to be professional. We need to be able to sell you to an audience."
"We don't have that power anymore... we can't make stars anymore."
"You'll get to quality [live show] through quantity. After you have quality, then you can start turning down shows."
"You have a day job?? Sorry I thought you have a publishing deal and want to have a career as a songwriter."
"Don't go to friends and family for feedback."
"I usually open and close with something positive, but I put what I think in the middle."
"You usually get one shot... the first impression always factors into future consideration."
"Do not make it personal, do not get mad at us for our opinions. You came to us for help and advice. We don't owe you anything."
"Let the radio stations know where you are, try and arrange to stop by. It'll be a treat especially in the smaller markets."
"What's in it for me? What's in it for me and my company? Have something to show me that's good for me and my company! Prove it!"
"An agent wants to hear on the recording what they're going to hear live."
"I listen to everyone through my laptop speakers. That's the first test."
#DearBands - If you want a career in music, do what you can to cross paths with people who do music for a living.
- Mike :-)
... picture taken from the Demo Listening panel I was on. Good times.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!