A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

An Interview with Stephen Horton on Motivational Radio

I had the pleasure recently of being interviewed by Stephen Horton aka Rezinator on his radio show called The Highway of Dreams. You can hear the interview here. Click on the link under Rezinator speaks with Luigi Cappel. 

I really enjoyed chatting with Stephen who is an excellent musician in his own right. We talked about a number of my experiences over the years and discussed a few of my songs.

You can hear my songs You Oughta Run, which features the awesome sax playing of my friend Charly Nice, Old Flame which I wrote about a school reunion and Rarotonga, which I wrote over there, its a bit in the style of Chet Atkins, one of my heroes in the guitar world. If you’d like to know the stories behind those tracks, listen to the show. You can also hear those tracks on my Reverbnation page.

Telephone Card

Telephone CardI wrote a song several years ago which I wanted to make a musical slide show video out of. Unfortunately I have no idea what happened to the photos. This morning I saw a post on Facebook promoting Twitpic. I haven’t used it for year, so I followed the link and connected it to my Twitter profile and up came two of the photos that I had taken at Chartwell Foursquare for the song along with a pile of other photos that I took a few years ago.

This is the part where the Indian grocer is telling me that if I give him my Seiko watch, he will give me a loan for a $2 telephone card so I can call a cab to get home. Mahesh was wonderful when I asked him to pose for these photos, he thought it was a cool idea. I hope I can find them again. You can hear the song on my Reverbnation page.

Rarotonga is an awesome place to have a relax and get some musical inspiration. I wish I was back there now. I guess I’ll have to think warm (its winter in New Zealand) and enjoy the memories.

 

 

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Who do I sound like?

There are lots of sites where you can post your music and one of the ways people find you is when they are looking for people who sound similar to one of their favourite artists. MySpace has that feature. Last FM is built around that concept.

Last FM is like your own personal radio station that tries to come up with the music you like. It’s free, which is great and when you listen to music you can rate it, love it or ban it and the station will eventually evolve into exactly the kind of music you like. You can get it to start playing music by selecting an artist or a topic. If you want to listen to songs about Christmas, just key in Christmas, if you want to listen to my songs or artists like me, select artist and enter Luigi Cappel.

As a songwriter, artist or band, you can set up your own site where you can upload your music and videos and people can listen to your music. Just go to the Music Manager section and start creating your page. I have 1 1/2 albums up there so far. Greenhouse and Reflections which is only half complete so far.

So here’s the problem. I have entered 3 artists who have influenced me, particularly on certain songs. They are Don Henly (in particular my song Only Memories Survive), Willie Nelson and Jimmy Webb. The problem I have is in being objective when I listen to myself. So perhaps you can have a listen to some of my songs on one of my sites and tell me who you think I sound like. You can here them at Last FM by entereing my name, you can hear some at MySpace and more at Music Forte.

If you can be bothered, it would be great if you can give me feedback on what artists you think I sound like so I can add them into my sites to help people who like those artists find me. I’ll be happy to return the favor of course.

There are many benefits of understanding who you are like. If you know who you sound like, you can look for gigs where people like that kind of music. You can get a better idea of who to pitch your songs to as a songwriter and you can guide potential fans to your music online.

What are A&R People?

I’ve seen a few people find my blog when they are trying to find out about what A & R people do, so I thought I’d blog a little about them, not that I have met many yet. A & R stands for Artists and Repertoire.

Basically they are the talent scounts of the recording industry. Their job is to go out and find future stars that the labels would like to sign up. Not too much different to talent scouts for sports clubs. They look for talent and often are involved in negotiating contracts with the new artists and help them make the transition from independant, to part of the business.

In current days, one of the most famous would be Simon Cowell of American Idol fame and many of the the comments that he makes to would be artists is about their potential as a recording artist.

To get an insite to what A&R people look for, there is a series on the BBC, which you can listen to here.

If you want more information, I found a great site called Getsigned.com. I don’t know anything about their services, but there are some great articles full of excellent information on how to get signed and other aspects of developing your professional career as an artist. Personally, I don’t want to be the artist, I want to write the songs for them.

Here is an interview with Stephan Brower of Vanguard Records

Everybody’s talking about, Slot Music

New York, Paris, London, Munich

Everyone’s talking about, Slot Music.

At least, it finally hit the NZ Herald today . Beaten by downloads affecting retail store sales, major record companies inlcuindg  Sony BMG, Warner and EMI have decided to make their music more accessible by putting it on 1GB Micro SD Cards.

They plan to still put them into CD cases and say that with the extra space, they can include the liner, liner notes and other information. They will be DRM free and you can even play your music on your computer by using the Micro SD Card with a dongle. The music will be in MP3 format at 320kbps they say on the info site, which they say is very high quality music. Really?

The say that hundreds of millions of phones, Personal Computers and in the future lots of car entertainment sytsms will be able to listen to this music.

Well hello! Do you think we consumers are thick? Let’s go back to the future and do a different thing in the same way and charge a premieum for convenience.

So here’s the thing. Back in the day we had audio casettes and vinyl. Audio casettes were cheap because they weren’t going to last long, especially on cheap walkman units that stretched the tape if they got dropped, got hot or for lots of other reasons. Vinyl was great, you got big liner art and photos, quite often big inserts with lyrics, interviews and more photos.

Then came the CD, which they said had far greater sound and extra space to put more information on. In the future, they said, they could include music videos, interviews, games, photos and much more. Of course we had to pay more for this amazing technology but it was going to be worth it. In many cases the quality was superior, even the nice ambience of the needle was no longer there.

But the extras? Well they are the exception rather than the rule. In most cases we got less liner information, because of the size. Inserts happened sometimes but not very often and the additional material? Sometimes there was a hidden track, that was fun. Occassionally someone would add a music video and a few like BB King, put out a CD ROM with interviews, games and lots more. I still have mine, it was cool. Of course I don’t play it any more, but I felt I got my money’s worth and was chuffed that an old timer like The King could do something so modern.

So here’s my take on this. I have large quantities of CD’s and DVD’s pressed, not of my music unfortunately, but for car navigation. I also have large quantities of SD Cards duplicated, also for car navigation. Firstly, even at volume pricing SD Cards are much more expensive than CD’s or DVD’s.

Universal Music is going to release about 30 ‘Slots’ to start with, from their eLabs Digital Music Unit. Sounds more like a test to me, but anyway, I do applaud them for trying new technology. I think it’s a good idea to try new technology, given that CD’s are losing ground rapidly to downloads.

Will they add extra information to the SD Cards? Maybe for some of those first 30, but then it wil be the same old story, new media for a premium price (for the convenience) and nothing more. If they had listened to people like me 10 years ago (Netguide wouldn’t publish my opinion), they could have reinvented a format giving loads of extra value, far more than people could afford to download and created a whole new generation of fans and collectors. But no, they just wanted to increase cash flow and profit. After all, they knew far better than we consumers, what was good for us.

In my humble opinion, they created the monster we have today where people download and share music for free. And it is a monster friends, because what is happening is people are downloading music for free and the poor songwriters and performers are getting ripped off.  Sure there are big bands making truckloads of money for themselves and their promotors, but they are the minority. Most of the people in your favorite bands have to work a day job in order to be able to write and perform music at night. This might not be the case if they got fair remuneration for their work.

I ask you this. Do you work for free? Do you expect to go to work and build widgets or whatever you do and expect other people to reproduce them for peanuts and give them to your mates? Will you accept a 90% reduction in your income because people have found a way to clone your products? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, after that minor digression, this is a storm in a slot. Sure they will make some of these. Then they will cry foul when people copy them (if they can be bothered). They will weep when these cards don’t get sold, except on eBay, Craig’s List or Trade Me after people have copied the music onto their computers and shared them with their mates.

I love new technology, but when I can go to iTunes and for a couple of dollars, buy the only song as a track that I like (because I am happy for the band to make some money from it), why would I buy a little SD Card that I will probably lose.

In my humble opinion, the music industry got this one wrong. Can they redeem it? Only if they figure a way to genuinely add value. They want to offer the music on iGB SD Cards. (Interesting that I struggle to even buy 1GB SD Cards anymore.) Why not do something smart and offer us real value. Do what you should have done years ago and you might find a couple of years of legs in this yet. Use 4GB cards. Load it with the music, the live performance video, the interviews, the music video, lyric sheets (the mechanical rights people can still get a share) and a personal spoken message from the band or artist. You could sell that for a premium and create collectors items that people will want to keep.

Of course when real broadband arrives, people are no longer going to buy music in hard copy. I’m sorry but they won’t. Why would you. The other day I sat down in front of YouTube an had a great afternoon watching videos and listening to music of my favourite bands of the past and the present. All it cost me was a bit of internet access (and I do have ADSL 2 from Orcon so speed wasn’t an issue.

I think the future will be:

New York, Paris, London, Munich, Nobody’s talking about Slot Music.

Radioscope – Another Great Music Site

I said I would tell you about some more sites that might be of interest to your songwriting career. Radioscope is really an industry website for broadcast radio in New Zealand. So why should you care about it?

If you recall in previous blogs, I said that the best way to get journalists to write about you is to get to know them, find out what they are interested in, what they like, read their stories, develop a relationship.

Radioscope is where a lot of media people go for their news. At least I think they do, because they haven’t put anything new on the front page since July. They do have links to new stories, so maybe it is just “technical difficulties”. Therein does lie a lesson. If you have date stamped information on your web site, keep it current!

On a deeper look, I suspect someone has left the organisation and perhaps only current feeds like the charts are being updated.

One thing that is really good is the Chart Feeds. You can find the latest in a range of charts including singles, albums, DVD, compilations, Top 40 Airplay, Pop, Rock, Urban, Juice, MTV, C4, Alt, pretty much every chart you want. A great feature is that you can download them as an Excel File.

You may recall in a previous blog about Hit Songs I suggested that ir you want to write a Hit Song, you need a pretty good idea of what people are listening to in your genre. This a great place to look for if you are wanting to write a hit song for the New Zealand market in one of the genres covered on New Zealand radio.

There are lots of reasons songs become hits, many that you have little control over as a songwriter. The record companies, song pluggers, DJ’s, concert or tour promoters and even the media and advertisers are influential. Look at what the Cadbury’s ad did for Phil Collins. When “In the Air Tonight” came out, it peaked at Number 2 in the charts, Since the Cadbury Gorilla Ad, the song has gone to Number One, years after the original song.

There are some other useful things on RadioScope. There is a large list of bands and recording artistsalong with their Label. There are also links to their web pages.

If you have an RSS Aggregator (I use iGoogle. You can access anything from their site that gets updated without actually having to keep visiting the site.

There is a weekly blog called ChartBitz by Andrew Miller which is a quick update on who’s hit the charts and other relevant news.

Another excellent feature is a listing of Labels with links to their websites. They have the 4 major labels as well as 31 Indies and 2 Distribution Companies.

There are lots of places you can go once you have written your songs. If you know who a target artist that you have written a song for is signed with, this is one way of pitching it. Go to their label. One comment on that, never send them anything unsolicited because it will probably end up in File 13, aka the wastepaper basket. Ring them, tell thyem you have written a song in the style of the target artist and ask them if you can send it to them and if you do, if they will give it a listen.

I’m sure you can find more good information on this site. I like ikt much more now that I’ve trolled through itg. It has loads of great information. Just a shame that the home page isn’t kept current.

Hey just as a footnote, I don’t sit at my desk all the time. I actually wrote this blog while walking on a treadmill for 3.8km (because my PC crashed and I had to do some of it again) Exercise mind and body.

Thanks for reading this blog. If you found it interesting, why not subscribe to it. If you know someone else who might find it interesting, send them a link. I’m also keen on feedback. Disagree with me, have suggestions or want to leave a comment, please do. I’d love this blog to be more interactive.

Do you know who your fans are part 2.

Following on from yesterday, I wanted to cover a few more ideas, because first of all it is about the song, but someone has to hear it and if you know who is going to like your music, then you can influence the chance that they will find it.

So here are some more questions to ponder:

What hobbies do they spend money on?

Where do they live? Why not try to get gigs near the right demographic? If you play death metal, it might be in working class area (crass generalisation I know that many death metal fans are well educated but generalisations have some degree of fact). If you play country, then a rural tour might be on for you. You should have an idea of where your fans live. Or at least where a higher percentage do.

What do they drink? If they have a favourite tipple, that might help. For example if they are students burning the candle at both ends, you could look at getting Red Bull to sponsor your gig. They could help promote it and offer deals. If they are farming people for country music, Speights might be the go. When you ask for a lot of money, for example to sponsor a tour, you have to get in early so they can budget for it if they are keen, but if you only want some product and promotion for a gig, it can be pretty easy. The thing to do is tell them what’s in it for them and ask. It’s often that simple. Just remember that can offer something to them, you just have to figure out what that is. At he very least its visibility and if you have done your homework, you will know what it is.

What radio stations do they listen to? There are many ways of getting attention from radio stations if you use some smarts, even if you are unsigned and they are not playing your music. I might have a look at this topic in the future in more depth.

What TV shows do they watch? TV is a bit harder to get to, but if they are young and watch the music channels. In New Zealand it might be MTV, Juice TV, Alt TV, you will be surprised at how easy it is to get some support from them. Wherever you are, there are similar local stations who want to know about local acts. Check out what exposure other bands or artists similar to you are getting. Ask the band or artist, ask the station, don’t forget they have to have shows and videos. If it’s summer, have a beach party and invite Juice TV to send a crew over. You are a songwriter, use some of your creativity to find novel ways to make things happen. Write a song about the beach party that you are inviting them to and send it to them. Have them in the song.

I had a sales rep working for me a few years ago. He was from London and had that Cockney patois and wanted to make things happen. Within a couple of weeks he had his own show on our local MTV. All he had to do is ask.

What magazines and newspapers do they read? I’ve talked about PR before and will again in the future. If you know the types of magazines your fans read then you know where to send your Press Releases.

Where do they go on holiday? A couple of years ago I was in Raglan, (you can hear the story on my Music Forte page, the song is called Raglan Rain) and there was a guy who I recognised from New Zealand Idol running around the small town putting mini posters on all the shop windows that would let him, promoting a gig he had that night in one of the cafe/bars. Unfortunately I can’t remember his or his bands name, I guess I’m not the right demographic. Obviously he had decided that the surfing and artsy type of people that hang out in this famous surfing area where his target market and was now doing everything he could to get lots of people to his gig.

The great thing about what he was doing was

  • He had indeintified where his target market could be fiound on a Saturday night
  • He visited all the shops (probably around 50), got most of them to put his mini posters in the window and spent time talking to the locals.
  • His venue was the only one with live music at night so once everyone knew it was on, he was pretty much guaranteed a crowd.

I drove past that night and the bar was full of people having a great time. They all paid a door charge and the band would have not only had a great night with people who liked their music, they also made a profit on their gig.

Music Critics and getting the media to your gig

The media has power, they are mavens and have huge control over what people listen to and what they think they should like. Many artists, like politician, don’t like critics at all, they don’t like what they write, but in the end I think the addage that any media is good media, applies much of the time.

They say I see it is that if the media writes about you, they are giving you attention and hopefuly someone will dig deeper, look for you on MySpace, or go to one of your gigs. If they make the effort, then reward them with recognition themselves. Show an interest in them.

When I first started chasing the media, it was to get attention for my sport at the time which was landyachting. We had a team going to Nevada for the America’s Cup of Landyachting and our sport was not great for spectators because our courses were often very long, as in 30 or more km. We needed sponsorship and both to attract sponsors and to get them coverage, we had to get the media to write stories and show us on TV etc. The main way I achieved that (and we won the cup) was by ringing the media and asking for their help and advice. I got it, they got stories and we got coverage.

So how do you get the media to your gig? First try and find media that might be interested in your genre, the best place to start is to listen to them on radio or read their stories. When you find people that you think would like your offerings, send them a CD. It could be demo’s or a commercial production. Send them your bio and invite them to your gig. It’s worth ringing them first to tell them what you are sending them, including the invitation and ask them for the best way to get it to them. That sets up a personal relationship so it isn’t just an impersonal envelope that looks like something you have sent to everyone.

Ask them to come and introduce themselves to you if they do turn up at the gig and make some time to talk to them. It wouldn’t hurt to make a fuss of them and build them up and the gig either, maybe in the middle of a set, shout out a welcome to them and get the audience to give them a friendly clap. The media is a networking environment and I have no doubt that they will appreciate the recognition.

Having recognised them, spoken with them at the gig, understood what they like, dislike or didn’t understand, you will be developing a realtionship with them and it is much more likely that they will give you a good review. After all, you are friends now, right?

Remember that people write about a particular topic because they like and are interested in it. If they are a music critic (and I use that term loosely, but if they are writing about a gig, they are offering their personal critique) they are doing it because they like music. If they come to your gig, it is because they want to be entertained and to like your offering, it’s outside of their work hours, i.e. they are gving up their personal space. They probably also want to be seen in the right places and are looking for other artists or interesting people. If you rewadr them for their effort, they will probably do the same for you and you may end up with a long term ally that can help you up those little steps to local stardom.

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