I will be in Austin during this year’s SXSW festival. If you will be there and you want to connect with me you can check out one of two very cool events I will be attending there.
A very cool magazine called ProxART is hosting a showcase at the Lomography store on Sunday, March 18th from 11am to 5pm featuring:
Christopher Paul Stelling
Hi Ho Silver Oh
The Stone Foxes
Unicycle Loves You
Miracles of Modern Science
Dry River Yacht Club is playing an unofficial showcase at Hole in the Wall with other bands from Tempe , AZ Friday, March 16th, 11am – 1am. (I wish I knew the exact time).
Dry River Yacht Club is a very unique band with 9 members that is signed to a very unique record label called 80/20 Records.
80/20 Records is one-of-a-kind because unlike most labels, 80/20 gives an 80% royalty to their artists.
Also, Rob Franco from The Venus Illuminato has a new Vegan Food-Truck calledArlo’s, which is brand-new and apparently is already winning awards.
I will try to present any more pertainant information as I get it.
Luke Wieting, a film composer I met at a Saundra Lord networking event sent me a quarterly update email to keep in touch and let me know what he has been working on… and it was the first time I’d EVER been happy to receive an email newsletter. Ever.
Here was the introduction to the email:
You’re receiving this because we’ve corresponded, collaborated, or are otherwise acquainted, and I would like to share my whereabouts with you. This will only go out four times a year, but I don’t want to add another piece of unneeded mail to your inbox, so if you’d rather not be updated, please inform me and I’ll happily take you off the list.
[Luke then goes on to provide links and brief descriptions of his latest 5 scores]
Thanks for listening!
First of all, I remember Luke. We met at a Sandra Lord networking mixer and he made an impression. I enjoyed chatting with him about his composing and I made sure to listen to some work on his website when I got home. I have not had any need for or opportunity to recommend a film composer since we met so we hadn’t reconnected since I first emailed him, but I definately liked his work and wanted to keep in touch.
The problem is, I get TONS of email. Think about it, if you’re like me and you know a lot of artists, what do they all want to do?… get you on their newsletter right? That’s all well and good, except for me, I tend to get visual inbox overload, which makes me miss important emails because I simply do not always see through the weekly clutter. This issue has forced me to unsubscribe to pretty much every newsletter I get, including the non-musical ones.
I now manage all my subscriptions through RSS and only read those in my spare-time. What this means is that I often miss out on shows that my friends are playing close by a lot of times because I simply did not know about them, or if someone has released a new track maybe I catch it on Facebook or Twitter… not that I’d see any of that if I were subscribed to the email list anyway, because there is just too much information to process.
Here’s what I liked about Luke’s email:
1. He let me know it was QUARTERLY. Luke’s resume is not a time-sensitive issue. As a composer he’s not selling me downloads or trying to get me to a show. What’s important for Luke is awareness. In other words does he stick in people’s minds enough to be thought of the next time someone needs scoring for a film. The way he handled this reminder lets me know that he respects my time and that he would appreciate staying in touch with me.
2. He used Blind Carbon Copy (BCC). Luke apparently is not using a mailing list manager. Well and with only 4 emails a year who needs one. One of the biggest and most annoying mistakes people make when sending emails to multiple recipients from their email software is posting multiple recipients in the To or CC fields. This is annoying on two levels, one, what if I don’t want everyone knowing my email address and two, now other people on that list can use and abuse my email address. Luke did it right. He used BCC. BCC means that I can’t see who else is copied on that email and that they can’t see me either. Its a show of respect, and savvy.
3. He kept it brief, but informative. The purpose of his email, besides wanting to stay in touch was to let me know to check out links to his newest scoring projects (which are pretty cool, btw). Besides the links he gave informative descriptions so I knew what I was looking for. For example:
Eclipse Master Class 05/18/11
Fujitsu Ten, Columbia College Chicago and The Fulcrum Point New Music Project teamed up to perform sections from classic soundtracks, and my score for “Beast” with a full orchestra conducted by Stephen Burns. Sound Reinforcement showcased Fujitsu Ten’s ECLIPSE TD speakers; they rock.
4. He let people know they could unsubscribe. This is just a good practice, period.
Had Luke not done any of the above things his email might have gotten marked “white noise” by my brain and been skipped over, or worse deleted or unsubscribed. However, I was so overjoyed with the difference in this case that I felt like I had to write a blog about it!
Good job Luke! Nice work too, by the way.
If you’d like to check out Luke Wieting’s reel go to lukewietingmusic.com.
Today I received a CD copy of a heavy metal project I worked on calledFarewell to Graveland by Martyn Lucifer. It was a project that was recorded internationally with vocals, guitars and keyboards recorded in Italy, Bass in Ukraine, and drums recorded both in London and here at my studio with my friend drummer “Grom” Meraviglia.
When I worked on it it was very basic, just some midi drums and guitars to a click track as placeholders for Grom to drum to, so of course it had come a very long way when I heard it again the following year.
What impressed me the most was not only how well the album turned out but also the album sleeve. Not only were there full liner notes with credits and thank you’s but the artist also included lyrics with creative artwork as well as photos of all the players! Even down to the detail of which tracks Grom drummed on as opposed to which Adrian Erlandsson tracked in London.
It was very enjoyable listening through the tracks while absorbing the liner notes as they were intended. However, I am finding this is becoming a rare thing.
I think too many artists these days skimp out on the liner notes on their releases and I think its sad. To me, lyrics, notes, credits, artwork and the like give me the listener more levels to connect with you the artist while listening to your album. It adds the sensations of feeling and looking to the listening experience, making more concrete my mental connection with your music.
Sure it costs a couple more bucks to make, requires more time in design and demands that you carefully curate credits and proof read your revisions, but it also tells a story. And in the end, isn’t that what we do?
Today I was asked a question I get sometimes, do I go by Steve or Steven?
The answer is, well, both. I guess. I mean, I don’t really care. Most of my friends and family call me Steve and I put Steven on my stationary. I’m pretty used to hearing “Hey Steve!” although when working with more than one “Steve” in the same place I will often not respond at all, but only after one too many times of thinking they meant me. In that case, call me Stevie or Bob, or anything unique.
Apparently getting this right is a big deal for some Stevens, who prefer to be called Stephen, or even Stefan. I mean, Stephen Jobs? Doesn’t that sound a little weird? How about Steven Urkel? I mean, to him, variations on his name were like alter-egos. “Yeah, I went to sleep and Stevil made a guest appearance.” “Stevil was back and he was coming for my soul!”
And who could forget how smooth and suave Urkel became when he was Stefan? Oh Laura.
When I was eight I got to meet Bill Murray on the set of Ghostbusters II. You could imagine how excited I was to meet Venkman! He asked me my name and I told him “Steven.” “Steven?” he said, “isn’t that a dog’s name?”
Oh yeah, he was joking. He’s a comedian, that’s what he does. Took me a second though, I was eight.
I think shortly after that I started going by Steve…
While listening to one of my Podcasts on Stitcher Radio This Week In Venture Capital I was very pleased to come across this interview with TopSpin Media founder Ian Rogers.
The music industry has been in such a prolonged conundrum that I’ve been seeking perspective lately from outside the music industry. That’s how I came across This Week In Venture Capital. Host Mark Suster talks to various successful entrepreneurs about their business, how they started, and how they eventually became successful.
Mark talked with Ian Rogers who got his start working with The Beastie Boys during the late 90s. While managing an FAQ for a Beastie Boys newsgroup Mark got asked by the band’s management to do their official website. Eventually he ended up working with Yahoo! Music at a time when companies were first trying to innovate with music on the web.
Mark and Ian get into some nuts and bolts about how and where money is being made on YouTube, how publishing rights issues have killed many a music startup, and how email is still the most effective way to directly reach fans. They also talk about Ian’s venture TopSpin Media which sounds like a killer tool for musicians.
The Venus Illuminato in the studio at the Stunt Lab recording Civil War Ballad from their new EP Children of the Earth.
The single I produced for Testing Tomorrow called Deriva is now available on iTunes! Please support the band on iTunes if you’re a fan of hard-rock/metal.
If you love it please write a review.
Testing tomorrow did an amazing job putting together this making of video for our sessions of Deriva. It is a great montage showing a good portion of the production process.
The Venus Illuminato recorded Company With Kings with me in 2008 and Children of the Earth in 2011 and have received some great reviews along the way.
- Children of the Earth review – Grimy Goods
- Children of the Earth review – The Mad Notes
- Review – You Crazy Dreamers
[This post was originally written in 2008.]
I know the two ideas above seem diametrically opposed to one another. I often wonder… in a “chicken or the egg” kind of way… Are musicians flaky by nature or does the world of music just tend to attract flaky people?
I mention this because I just sat on a panel of music producers at the Independent Music Conference this weekend, and a question brought up by an audience member made me think. “What about integrity in the music industry? How do you find those people, and shouldn’t a conference like this one be promoting such values?”
The moderator (Noel Ramos) shook his head and told a great story about how the first year of the conference he put together a great panel on integrity, with honest panelists in respectable positions who had great points to make on the subject… but no one showed up to listen.
He then began to talk about how musicians themselves tend to be very selfish creatures. And its true. I believe that some artists become artists just to say “look at me, aren’t I great?” I know that there are many exceptions to this, but sometimes it just seems like the bad stories stay with us far more readily that the good.
Several of the managers on another panel commented on how clients often failed to simply say “thank you” to them for their hard work and efforts. Others mentioned how they had put their whole heart and soul into breaking a client only to see them jump-ship the moment they are wooed by a larger firm enticing them with big promises.
Managers, producers, and other industry professionals can often be very loyal members of a new artist’s team and often take on substantial risks by putting in valuable time, energy, and promotion working with someone who is generally unknown. New artists typically make little or no money with their music which means they usually don’t have a lot to pay anyone who is helping them out.
Yet I know a lot of great, honest people who continue to help unknown artists because they love what they do. These are special people who believe in artists and are willing to take a chance on them before they become a success.
If you know any of these great people, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.
However, as many artists know, selfishness and careless self-interest often come from the “artist services” side of the business as well.
During the Women in Music panel, someone asked “How come every time I try and have a business relationship with a man in this business he expects me to have sex with him?”
Are there really still men who act like this? Even with the laws against this sort of behavior in the workplace apparently the idea of expecting sex in exchange for career advancement still exists. What a shame!
I realize people are human and they make mistakes but sex is not a valid form of payment. Making a pass at a client is just plain stupid! An even if a client were to try and provoke this sort of behavior a true professional should maintain a basic human respect for all his clients no matter what. Such a self-serving advance is extremely degrading and shows a total lack of respect. As far as I’m concerned, people in the music making business should be in it for the music, not just for themselves.
This got me thinking of another “Hollywood” issue; the live booking scene.
Anyone who has played a gig in Hollywood knows how it goes. You as an artist bring 22 of your closest friends from 50 miles in all directions to some hole-in-the-wall venue in LA. The promoter or the club takes most of the door, telling you that they were disappointed with the turnout.
You have brought the club patrons it would not have had who are expected to order two overpriced drinks and leave immediately after your set is over. Your friends are sure to leave once the next band arrives, because the next band (and their crowd) have nothing in common with yours. You go home after paying for your gas, parking, and the extra players you hired out of the $8 you made from those two tickets you actually got paid for. Because as you know the first 20 tickets go to cover the cost of the sound engineer, or whatever else you’re told.
Don’t like it? That’s okay. There are a hundred other people willing to sign up for your gig.
This very situation preys on the fact that artists tend to be in it for the attention. “You want your moment on our stage? Either bring us patrons or pay up.” Now I’m sure people will correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t promoting used to be the Promoter’s job?
Now of course a venue needs to make money or it won’t stay open. But when I think of any truly innovative and successful business who’s success depends on their customers I notice that the good ones always pay attention to the satisfaction that their guests receive.
So what if artists and promoters alike were in it for the audience? What if number one goal was to put on a great show?
Selflessness and Community
I believe that most of us who make music have the desire within to inspire others and even ourselves. I know having been a part of the Don’t Call Us Torishowcases that I am regularly inspired by the musicians we’ve worked with. And when I’ve found myself thus inspired all I want to do is share that music with others. So when audience member comes up to me or Shannon to say “thank you, this music was just what I needed today,” I feel complete.
Consider how us Angelinos drive past hundreds of people in our cars every day. Yet how many people do we actually get to connect to? So many people here remain disconnected from one another and many feel hopelessly alone.
But music connects people to one another. Music draws people together.
So why don’t we try to create a little more sense of community? Tired of schlepping to a gig that’s 30 miles away? Start something local.
I feel that we need to sponsor more actual human contact, more events that bring people together.
Our collective sense of empathy is fostered by the idea that we can do-it-together, that we can help each other. Our sense of community will grow by cultivating cooperation and friendship.
As we support each other that the community will grow and the vampires that try to suck the life out of everyone will have much less power.
But in order bring people together in this way, it will require integrity. Because for community to work it can’t just be all about you.
We all have our faults and weaknesses. Misunderstandings happen. People get angry and hurt each other. But the question is will you be the first one to practice kindness instead of malice? Will you be patient with people who don’t really deserve it? Will you refrain from putting down someone who offended you? Will you practice forgiveness?
After all, its easy to be nice to someone who’s nice to you, but how do you hold up when people get on your nerves? It is the true test of character. By being our best to each other we create beauty in the world. Even if only one person were to be affected by your kindness, you never know how deeply your kindness may inspire that person down the line.
I personally would like to meet more of you good people in music. Let’s get together, work together, encourage each other, and continue to bring other kind people like us into our circle.