A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘Entertainment’

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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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.

Tips on being a support act

The first thing to consider is that you are a support act and one of the key things you are there for is to support the main act. First of all, as I mentioned in my last blog, your music should be in the same vein as the main act.

You are there to warm up the crowd as well as to make a name for yourself. If you are the last act before the main or you are the only act, it is a great idea to be able to build the audience up so that they are really getting into it and having enjoyed your act, will be in the zone to enjoy the feature. An excellent example of this was the band Blue King Brown who I mentioned in my blog about the Santana ‘Live Your Light’ tour. They were amazing and everyone was fizzing when Carlos got onto the stage. Blue King Brown. They built the crowd up and were a great act on their own, but didn’t detract in anyway from Carlos’ magic performance.

Start your set with something really good, as a support act you don’t have much time, so you need to build attention as quickly as possible so they will keep listening, you can’t start up with a quiet ballad and build up to a climax from a quiet opening number. People will start talking and they will treat you as background music. Once you have their attention you can start working them up to a grand finish which will have them wanting to hear more and remembering who you are.

When you finish and have the crowd on a high looking forward to the main act, build the act up, tell them they are in for something special that they will really enjoy. Praise the upcoming act to build the expectation and to show the lead act that you value the opportunity they gave you.

When you finish your set, get yourself and your gear off the stage as quickly as you can so that there isn’t too much silence between acts and the crowd holds on to their warm anticipation.

Use these simple ideas, and assuming you had the right material for the type of audience, you should find yourself being offered more gigs, whether as supporting act or as the main deal. You might even get opportunities to tour with an act.

If you found this blog useful, please tell other people, send them a link and subscribe yourself for future blogs. If you want to hear my songs or are looking for a new song for yourself or your artist, please drop me a line. If you want to add to this, please leave a comment, it’s about sharing. If you would like to hear some of my songs, check them out on my MySpace Page.

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