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)

Revisionist History – WET PAINT and Hot Lesbian Bandmates

No, no this isn’t about how the “Proggressive”  left is re-writing history to cover up their own fascist sins (obviously), Glenn Beck is that-a-way LOL–>.  No this is about how your mind revises your own personal history. About how easy it is to “fill in the blanks” when you don’t think the principals are watching.  But to be honest, with many of the people I hung around with in my past, I never thought we’d be here to have to worry about it. What am I talking about?   I am talking about one of the coolest events in my young life.

1987-My first real “gig”. Yes, it was a party and no it was not a paying gig (unless you include booze and drugs as your payment).  Now I won’t relate the story here,( it is buried on my website which I will leave you to go and find). No, what this is about is what happens when you realize that your recollection of twenty year old events may not survive impact with the memory of it other participants.  You swear you memory of the events is real and you are so sure of it but it turns out that you are just wrong or confused. 

I was talking with my older brother Alex, about people on Facebook he’s hooked up with and how he has found many folk from “the old days”. Now he and I did not share too many freinds but then he mentioned that “Inger” was on. Now Inger was this beautiful blonde who, many parties ago, was the lead singer in a band that we (my brother and I) started as an Art House party project @ WET PAINT house back in 1987. She had a BFF name Marrianne who played bass for us.   He (Alex) swore up and down that it was not her and they weren’t “the hot chix in the band”. So I looked her up in his FB friends list and she responded back confirming my version.  (BTW  HOO-Fuucking RAY for FB. I know it sounds Corny but I love finding my old peeps even if its just to say “hello”.  I HATE farmville and the rest of the crap there though.)

 But then I thought, “Hmm I was right about band but what about the specifics?”   As it turned out I was wrong about a lot so not wanting to turn this into some kind of horrible HBO shit-com gone wrong,  I did  a bit revising and made it a bit less salacious/sophomoric (IE removing the Hot Lesbian Bandmates reference),  before I gave her the URL.  Of course after some email exchanges I realized that aside from some facts like place names and such I really didn’t need to do that editing anyways as my perceptions about what I thought was real were good enough despite some inaccuracies. (It turns out everybody though they were lesbians when in fact, only the girl I was “crushing on” was and still is gay.)  So in the end I was worried about nothing really, though I don’t mind doing the editing as I think the cleanup help the writing a bit.  I will probably repost that story later on here since these blogging tools make it easier to do stuff like that and I’d like to give others who might have been there an opportunity share their memories.

Appeal for Photos

I am looking for picture of Rodolfo “UFO” Tejera’s old WET PAINT house on Edgewater Drive from Miami in the Mid to late 80s. that place was the scene of a lot of madness and was quite a fixture in those days, a far cry from the almost sterile and well moneyed Art Basel and stuff we now get.

Out with the Old or whats in a Name?

I recently received an email from Matt “Threv” Simpson,  he is a great DJ out of Atlanta @ WREK 91.1 FM. He has a show on Wed nights called, “The Mobius”.  He is also an accomplished laptop musician who uses Ableton Live.You can catch his stuff at http://www.threv.net . Who knew there would be 2 electronic music types with the same Odd name in the South East.  Now there is a little bit of background here but to make a long story short he found about me (this other Threv) and we were able to hook up and chat via email. Now for a longtime (Since the GEnie days) I have going  by the handle Threv and people asked where that came from.  I used to change stage names for my different projects as I have always been fond of “Alter-Egos” long before the Web came into vogue. So when I was with Bergasse 19 in the early nineties I decided to get a new stage name. This was the 3rd time or Revision of my Stage persona and the Geek in me said “3REV” hey thats “cyber punky”, works for me!   So my bandmates got used to using that name but after a night of hard partying the 3REV turned into THHRREV eventually. Which actually solved anopther problem.   At the time the new public online services like GEnie and AOL did not allow numbers in the email/ login name. I like 3REV so much I wanted keep it (personal branding you know), but I couldn’t so I settled for the next best thing… Drunken 3REV =threv= Good Email Addy!

Well Matt started using Threv (short for The Reverend)  awhile back as well. So what to do? There is the temptation to get all indignant and be a dickhead but TBH what purpose would that serve? Its not like I’m “Somebody” and this guys has his own show so arguing over it would be silly. Besides it not like millions in Trademark are at stake.  Anyway back to the orignal story, Matt and I had a great series of mail exchanges and he really digs my music. I told him that I’ve already switched back to using my original 3REV nick name and as soon as my DNS Registration is up he can have threv.com (though I’m keeping Threvworld.com as I have a lot of old stuff that is linked to that.)     As a super cool gesture he played 6 of my songs on his radio program last Wednesday. Thanks very much Matt!   Hopefully we can hook up one of these days and crank out some furious beats.

Larry David is a real Ground Breaker…NOT

OK this one I will try and keep short.  Why is there a hub-bub over Larry David peeing on an image of Christ? Ever since I was old enough to go to art galleries and any kind of art appreciation class, it seems like there was always some “Artist” who wanted to make a “Shocking” statement about Christian religion. So many artists, visual, musical, etc have trodden this ground in the late 20th Century that there is nothing new here. This whole Larry David Pee thing is so lame it is boring!  Did he REALLY think it was truly controversial? Was getting a 45 second blurb on the 24 hour news cycle worth the effort it took  create that scene? Did he think he was being “risky”?

More like, “Risky Free” as the Nigerian 419 scammers are fond of saying.

Making fun of Christianity is, dare I say it? Passe’ worn, tired, totally played out. It’s like spitting on a toothless tiger from behind bulletproof glass. Oh sure some Catholic Defence group will wag their fingers but in day or two (if that) the episode will be relegated to the dustbin of history. It’s not funny, not provocative and as a matter of fact it pretty much caters to an audience that already makes jokes about christians anyway. It’s as safe as playing to the crowd can be.  Now let him do schtick about peeing on the Koran or spreading feces on an effigy of Mohammed, or that clubbing baby seals for fur is fun, THAT’S risky!   Shit, he would get a Fatwah issued on his Jewish* ass so fast it would make his head spin. HBO would probably not air it because it might “offend” someone. 

Let me rephrase that; It might piss off people who would cut your fucking  head off on TV, car bomb your office and eviscerate your children.  And for those of you thinking that I am being your typical American Racist. FUCK YOU! Yes I said it!  Look at the news and compare how often extremist Christians behead artists who make fun of them or blow themselves up in markets vs their extremist Muslim counterparts. Only a fool would deny it but the world is full of fools tools isn’t it?  But I digress,  the point is, if Larry David wants to pee on a picture of Zombie Jesus he can, but don’t think he is actually making a statement or think he is being “Edgy” because it isn’t. Larry, you’re just being a tired old comedy hack milking a dead cow for people who like rotten milk.  You want to be “Edgy”? Poke fun at people who can hurt you  and your benefactors “for real”. Not a religion that has not seriously persecuted anyone for over century. But you won’t,  because their religion is more to them, than your “art” is to you, and they are more likely to make you pay more for your “art” than you are willing to give.

*disclaimer I’m married to a Jew and raise my children Jewish and at this point in my life have probably seen the insides of more Temples than Churches so if you have a problem with the quip, well you know where to go and how fast you can get there.

Put Balloon Boy’s Parents in jail?

I was on my Facebook page and of course I get polls from friends about well, whatever. Most of the time it is bullshit but this one caught my eye as I was very interested in the Balloon Boy story. The poll was about whether or not Balloon Boys parents should go to jail.  Apparently I am in the Minority about Balloon Boys Parents. Look people, take it from me JAIL SUCKS. As general rule It helps NO ONE and should only be a place to put violent sub-human animals who are menace to society, and Bernie Madoff and his ilk :). Not irresponsible parents and Fame Whores mmmkaay? (or people who drive suspended licences or people busted for Pot etc). It’s a sad fact that America already puts too many people in Jail for Bullshit. It’s not rehabilitation its revenge.

Jail should be reserved for “Real Criminals” and Violent offenders (I don’t have a revenge problem there, but unlike most of our society I’m willing to admit it). Not people who are basically a danger to themselves. America is incarceration happy and people do need to be punished when they fuck up but is jail the answer? Will getting abused by guards and molested by fellow prisoners REALLY help them? Or will it lead to more resentment of society and anti-social behavior? Now having them pay stiff fines (but nothing that they can’t realistically pay back without jeopardizing their ability to take care of their family), or better yet perform meaningful community service is better. I have a dim view of counseling BTW, thats just a head game where you sit there and you agree unil your time is up. Now Pavlovian behavioral modification, that might work but we get into “A Clockwork Orange territory there. It would certainly be more useful than paying to keep them locked up.  Incarceration costs money and keeping idiots locked up is not how I want my tax dollars spent.  To be honest, the harshest punishment would be to have their children removed from their custody until such time as they can get their shit together. That would probably be the biggest slap back to reality they could face and hopefully make them better parents.

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