Getting Ready for WMC 2014 Gigs

First off I have to say if you missed my Gig on the 21st, but want to see me live again – I will be back at the Chesterfield for the Sunday Cypher WMC Closing Party on Mar 30 Time TBA, so watch my posts on Twitter Etc.
Also shout outs to my Miami’s Vice City Rollers  who beat the Molly’s Marauders 166-137 Last Sat down at “The Roll Cage” in South Miami

It has been a great, if busy week here in the 3-0-5. Winter Music Conference started last Friday and I helped start the festivities at the WMC 2014 Invasion Miami Media Kickoff Party at the Chesterfield Hotel on Collins. SoBe was hopping on Friday, as the first of “Many Parties” fired up and gets everyone lathered up for EDM PLUR Madness that is the ULTRA music Festival Coming up this Weekend (Mar 29).

I had fantastic Set that was book-ended by my buddy Kenichi OHME wailing on the Korg Electribe before I came on and Activated some Retinas and Ears with my Videos and sounds, inclusing a new tune that Made on that Microsoft Surface Remix I won in in Microsofts Video Contest last year.  Then WEHO performed some of her songs as well as that great local EDM Duo of CHRON who did short but Bone-shakin set. Plenty of other acts came on later Like the Nubian Goddess Annish-kah! but I was well into my drinks by that time (Thanks Chris- for the drink Hook-up) and then some Joe’s Stone Crabs with my sweetie.

Blurry Selfi with OHME and CHRON

This week has been a whirlwind of Activity for me as I fashioned a new 4 Mirror Laser Projector and rebuilt / Iterated on the design for my mobile VJ Projector Setup. The new design is More minimalist in some respects and much more portable (yay handles). The new laser projector should be able to to my favorite “Time Vortex” Effect as well as the regular Spirograph style stuff. Oh did I mention I have another 30 minutes of music and Video to mix for the Sunday gig? Man I’m going to need a long nap after this.   VJ Projections at the Chesterfield4 mirror Laser

Driven Music Conference 2013 Florida – Are These Shows Worth It?

Driven Florida Music Conference May 16-19th 2013

On Friday May 17th I went to the Driven Florida music Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Ft Lauderdale. I had the good fortune to be accompanied by local Rapper Kid Berg who was also interested in this more “industry” focused conference.  Kid Berg is a cool cat who I think exemplifies to comfort millenials (Morel like Gen Z because he is very young millenial) have with new media. He is business-savvy, yet unassuming.   When I was talking to the PR guys and some of the artists they were fronting, Kid Berg was merrily texting  away.  But he wasn’t just some kid texting LOLs. When we were finished talking and walking away, he’d casually mention that that so and so is not that impressive because he only has x amount of traffic and followers and a low search ranking while artist Y is not fooling around and has a good online presence and looks like he’s got a grip etc.

Nobody is going to pull the wool over him- Solid B.S Detector.

Anyways as Far as Driven goes  it was OK,  I wish I could have stayed for Saturday and some of the early morning cocktail access to some of the panelists. It was laid back, informal and pretty open. But as a conference I could say that it had a few problems, that are kinda minor and I will get them out of the way quickly.
Sparse Attendance – From an attendee perspective this is not a bad thing as you have more time to interact with the panelists,  and in some ways forced you to be a little more social with other attendees, but it still  had the feeling of “What do we do now?” – that said I picked up a few cards from some interesting people. However from an event sponsor PoV it is not so good- but this is the 2nd or 3rd year here for them so this may have been an improvement.  Also I was only there for the Friday Sessions and Saturday could have been Monster.

Few “booths”-   too bad, would have liked to see reps from gear /Software makers like Ableton and  Korg  showing of some toys (I want to play with some Volcas)  but it was for the most part SAE school and internet marketing (Website promotions)  companies. I understand that this was a business and not a tech show but I think there is room for some of that.
Meager swag   – Not even a USB keychain with some dopey pix or showcase artist demos (That’s what the Internet is for I guess) 😦 Oh well, I can’t complain about the price for the two day conference and live showcases as it  was very reasonable.
Note: I could have paid to put discs and stuff in the bag to pimp my shit but I didn’t. so If your Swag-Bag wasn’t pimp enough for you either, go ahead blame me for not putting one of my discs in there (but you had the same opportunity amirite?!) wtfits

Ok so my complaints are pretty minor and to be fair there was a great legal panel that was scheduled earlier in the day but was moved up to the morning slot which was fine by me. The  Chase Entertainment lawyer (Greg Bloom) was a cool guy and straight shooter it seemed. While the major focus of the panel was on the 360 deal, along the way I learned a few things about copyrights , transfer of ownership, where everybody is on the royalty food chain and who collects what at the end of the day. I also got to meet the guys from “Approaching Nirvana” , another “Cinematic Electronica” band based in Miami. As it turns out there may be more to the Miami “Electronica” scene then the gate keepers at Ultra music and the local clubs would lead you to believe. They talked about marketing and the DIY -perspective and made themselves available after the panel session was over.  For anyone looking to get into the business this panel alone was worth the admission price.

tl;dr “360” deals are here to stay. Nobody is just going to give you money so you can go be an artist- they want ROI from all the ways your work can be monetized. Good thing for you is that  you get to negotiate with labels on bigger variety of items, from merch to live shows, streaming rights, synch rights etc, and you can negotiate different rates on each part so you can give a little on one thing put potentially do quite well on another, for example the percentage between streaming revenue and concert tour revenue. Also If you decide to go label hunting, having all these different revenue streams under your control will make you look more together and appealing as a business investment (Because that is what your are to them, never forget that).  FYI if all this talk about “Product” and “Monetization” bugs the “Artist of the peoples”  in you perhaps you should consider another line of work. If becoming some kind of “commercial success” (and I will define this as “Getting paid some amount of money to do what you love” ) important to  you then you kinda have to think in these terms, failure to do so will most likely leave you unhappy.

Bottom line; little plastic discs are tanking and the major record industry has collapsed into 3 or four major labels. As such,  labels look to maximize the artist’s total revenue stream. What does that entail? Well before, the record company basically paid for the record production and derived royalty payments from sale of that. Other revenue streams were not counted. Publishers actually made a shit-ton of money. (See this Primer from Tunecore). <—That primer or something like that should have been handout at this session,  Bloom and company reinforced the concepts there.
However, artists  have a wide variety or revenue streams open to us depending on the use of our Intellectual Property. (E.G. Don’t think of your music as just songs or video think of the broader use your work.) The goal here is to get yourself in a position to leverage the strengths of all of your work be it ringtones or commercial soundtrack.
Now let me stop for sec here and change gears for minute. Part of the focus on this event is to get a picture of how the industry looks today. This includes what it takes, the “things you need to know” about the industry. So there was a some focus on the traditional record deal with a label. But I would be doing the conference a disservice if I didn’t say that there was huge representation of the DIY side. This was not Big label Rah Rah. This was definitely letting artists know that with the digital age and social media.  Artists have more avenues for expression and connecting with their audiences in different ways than ever in the history of man.
But…
Everyone is out to make a buck and frankly some artists will need resources to help with the parts that they don’t know, (I’m still not sure what Moozar really brings to the table). It’s like the insides of a major label threw up on to the internet and each dept can now help you with monetizing all your revenue streams…. for a small fee.  That’s  where all your internet marketing companies I mentioned earlier come in.  From Soundcloud Wannabe’s to All in One Promotion shops, you could spend a ton of money trying to pimp your work and if your not careful lose it, in Nickel and dime fashion in all this freedom. Many of the services are good but they will sell to anyone who can pay. There are also free services too, use the hell out of them if it makes sense and drop it if it doesn’t.

The Take Away

So what does that mean? In practical terms it means, use the free tools that are out there to find and know your market/audience before your start paying someone to spam what your THINK might be your audience.  Some of the best promotional tools are free- Youtube and Google analytics. Facebook accounts are good for a presence but for music promotion it is a veritable wasteland (or so they pointed out at the conference).  Soundcloud is a good place but it still has that kinda musician-to-musician vibe. YouTube however is king, get a good following there and you will have a solid lead.  However, you should think of these places as  a place where you would link your content to from your site, because those “free services” could disappear and all your work, leads and info gone in the wink of a press release, (Think Google RSS and Buzz).

Website’s ? What? People still have those?

Speaking of Driving traffic to your site, all the panelists agreed that owning your own site is super important to maintain control over your online brand or presence.  It’s where you collect emails and increasingly cell phone numbers and twitter feeds as email is for old people apparently. The importance of the Website may be a little diminished as a communication tool but it’s still seen as a requirement to show that your are “serious” More importantly it is the destination to which you can drive all traffic to from whatever the “Flavor of the Month” Social media site there is.  This is where you can keep and or direct access to your core content. If /when your social media picks become non relevant (6degrees, Friendster, Old MySpace where art thou?) where will your fans go? Do you want to put all your eggs (and contacts and marketing data) in one basket controlled by someone else who at the end of the day doesn’t give a shit about you and your data?

So All in all the Friday at Driven was good, there was the Big Panel at the end talking about Concepts,tours, and marketing which was also good but it was very wide and not too deep. I would have like to have stayed longer but we had a tight schedule to keep.  Lot’s of idea juice was picked up and made a few contacts.  Let’s hope they come back next year.

Album Review: Minutia by Madeleine Bloom

Here is some stuff that been on my playlist for a bit now while I wait for her Deluxe Edition CD in the mail. I have mentioned her on Twitter or Facebook before but I thought that I would like to put down something a little more substantial. I also want to point out that I didn’t find out about this artist through “traditional” media sources but through “New Media”.  Madeleine Bloom came to me via Twitter and then a secondary connection was discovered via the Hobnox Artist collaboration site. 

Disclaimer: I have been following her on twitter and we have had nice little tweets and discussions about her creative process, the industry, her trials and tribulations her good days and not so good days. It has been very cool to watch her do her thing, getting her album out, sweating over the details. From fretting about the neighbors and getting the right sound to scoring a gig as an opener for Imogen Heap’s Berlin show, it’s been way cool to see it happen and be able to chat with her about it. Sure its just little 140 char. messages and an occasional email, but it is person to person contact; one to one and one to many at the same time. She manages it well letting us know what’s up in her life but leaving out stuff that is TMI, (Twittering celebs should take note). Perhaps without realizing it she has become an example of how an artist connects with her fans and builds a relationship. You love the music sure, and you can listen to for free on Soundcloud,  but it is the relationship she has built with her fans that is important. It is such that you want to spend the money and buy the plastic or high quality download (in whatever flavor you like it seems), you truly want her to succeed. Madeleine Bloom has been a good example of how a musician can use all the new  tools available to her to find and keep her audience engaged while getting her music out, and what great music it is.

Madeleine Bloom Minutia:   

What can I say? Madeleine is so cool, ice bows down before her but she is far from cold, she is a refreshing and open person who is inviting you into her musical world. She recently opened up for Imogen Heap in Berlin and is supporting her new Album “Minutia”. This chanteuse from Berlin is a creative whirlwind, producing intricately crafted songs with her panoply of  instrumentation, field recordings, intricate arrangements, not to mention her beautiful voice and quirky lyrics,  all produced in her living room/studio. She is an excellent example of the DIY trend in music today that is setting the new paradigm for how we produce and consume our media. To be honest, that 30 second blurb doesn’t even cover it.

The album is just really cool to listen to. It is aptly named as it is all about the details. Minutia as word often gets a bad rap, generally because of its  relationship with administrivia and bullshit. However Madeleine reminds us that life is made up of minutia, the little things that happen everyday between “The Big Things”. These are the little things that surround us and that give color to our lives . She tells us that beauty is in the details (as well as the devil).

 While it is stereotyping to talk about German precision and craftsmanship there is a reason those stereotypes exist I suppose.  Maddie commands her sonic space with grace and skill. Even if she created something by accident it sounds perfectly in place.  The opening tracks Webs and Euphoria,  draw you in with clockwork grace, “The Tide” changes Mood  with its harpsichord and somber arrangement but then “Zero Tolerance” picks it back up again.  One song that surprised me was the Jazzy “Chaos and Order”. Her percussive use of cue balls*  in the Break creates a tempo shift that changes the whole nature of the song and gives it a real snap and immediacy, it rapidly became a favorite.  All the songs are crafted like that though, with her use of found sounds reinforcing or echoing the song themes, I.E. the sounds of rhythmically torn paper in the “Paperheart”.  I could go on and rave about it but it’s just easier to tell you to click the link to her site so you can check her out yourself.  She has made it easy fo you to enter her world, all you have to do is open the door and step through.

*(Note: Its little stones actually sez Maddie)

Shameless Self Promotion and Order Fulfillment

I’ve noticed  that many of the sites like Bandcamp and Tunecore offer many of the web services I do for myself. I’ve had my own website for years (sorry I didn’t “get” Myspace until it lost its relevance) and managed OK. I’m now using WIX for a flash based site that looks nice but I know I could use a snappy web designer to bring it all together in one spot. I kind of wished I saw bandcamp and stuff BEFORE I did my site. I don’t feel like switching everything over now. Next time when I revamp my Web Presence, I’ll find Pro I can hopefully afford.

As nice as those musician sites are I noticed that while these sites handle the music side (which TBH is the reason you go to one of these places.)  They don’t seem to handle the other merch like this (not that I could tell):

3ReV Water Bottle

Yes, for shits and giggles I setup a CafePress storefront to sell 3ReV Gear. The setup is easy and the variety of products is wide. But the profit margin for me is so slim it is almost not worth having. Now I understand that their prices are due to the fact that I can order 1 or 1000 at the drop of hat because of the  just-in-time sourcing and distribution and supply chains that they setup. I get that. But then I think of my Sister-In-Law who  has a t-shirt business that I would rather use. While they can make shirts and stuff for me cheap they are not a fulfillment center.  which means I have deal with regular old school logistics like; having a minimum order and worry about multiple sizes, colors,returns, keeping stock and taking orders from the website, security on the e-commerce side etc.

  So in light of that, Cafepress gets my business.  I’m going to keep shopping around for a better deal and research the DIY options for non-music related merch. Luckily my wife has decided that she would like to be a digital shopkeeper and will handle the merchandising side of things should people actually decide to buy stuff. She’s actually very good at that. (Look she is a wiz with Girls Scout Cookie sales and THAT my friends, is a hard and near thankless job for a Troop Leader.) At any rate it will be one less thing to have to worry about and it is one more way the love of my life can share in my dream. What with all this Web designing, Social Networking and Business Plan Development, I have not had time to do what it is I’m supposed be doing.. Making music dammit!