A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘band’

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.

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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.

Live music banned in Bangalore

At first when I read this on Muziboo, a site I have just been invited to join and posted a couple of songs on, I thought this was just some situation that was being exaggerated, I mean how can such a large city ban live music.

When I think of India, I think of Sitar and Tabla, religious music and those awesome rythms ad I can’t think of anything better than going out to a Bangalore Bar and listening toa live band. But no, it’s for real as I read in The Times of India.

Live bands and even karaoke have been banned by the police. It seems that music leads to drinking and drinking leads to crime. The entertainment and hospitality industry are suffering big time, but as a songwriter and performer, my heart goes out to the performers who’s livelihood is at stake and the people who enjoy music to relax and unwind, to be happy and share good times with their friends and family.

Shame on you, Bangalore Police. This is patently wrong and ther world is watching you. I suppose you would be happiest if you put the whole city under house arrest. Sure there will be people at dance parties who get over enthusiastic and there may even be the odd fight, but for the most part, people who are enjoying music are doing just that, being happy. Give them a break. if you have to make them employ extra security at places where there is risk, but you can’t stop the music!

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