Friday, September 3, 2010


To coincide with the repost of Seth Godin's insightful comments about personal contact and filters (see below) I read a facebook post today from a person that I consider a trusted source of music recommendations. We have similar but not fully overlapping tastes in music. Again: he's proven to be on point in his suggestions.

The music he suggested today, however, is weak and utterly forgettable. What happened? I know that this fellow is, like me, in the music business but he's never seemed like a shill for his clients. If anything he's always appeared to be someone who accepts work based on his love for a particular artist or band.

For me, the idea in recommending music to others is 3 fold.

First, I want to share something I love with others. Some people do this often, some rarely. Some broadcast broadly, others more selectively. To have the most impact I choose to be selective. What's the point of telling EVERYONE that they're going to love the new Cardigan's record when I know that the music isn't for all? The pleasure of sharing successfully is enriching. It's also about building and strengthening bonds with others.

Secondly I hope to benefit from getting something in return from those I share with. In the wikipedia definition of "gift economy" ( there are examples of the non-linear / asymmetrical nature of this give and take. I trust that at some point I will benefit from the knowledge of others whether it's directly related to music or not.

Thirdly I want to be thought of as trustworthy, knowledgable and altruistic. These notions are, in the least flattering light, self serving and self aggrandizing.  In the best light they're common and understandable and make me feel that I am of value to others.

So my friend, in posting about this particular new band seems to have missed the mark. In fairness he did give a "RIYL" list, but this too seemed random and sadly inaccurate, making matters even worse.

I'm entrigued by how rattled I am by this tiny experience of feeling "betrayed" by a trusted source.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

I've been waiting to use that quote for years! The week of September 6th I'll be in Berlin for the all2gethernow 2010 Conference. I'll be in great company with the likes of Dr. Nancy Baym, Mike Masnick, Jill Sobule and a host of others.

The programs I'm participating in are:

How Do Technologies And Social Media Influence Music Culture?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010, at 4.30pm 

Smart Artist Management
Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 1.30pm

Lots of other great stuff to see. If you're there please come say hello.

Seth Godin Says It All.

So much of what Seth says in this blog has been on my mind. As I've struggled to articulate it he hits the nail on the head:

"The blizzard of noise (and the good news)

As the amount of inputs go up, as the number of people and ideas that clamor for attention continue to increase, we do what people always do: we rely on the familiar, the trusted and the personal.
The experience I have with you as a customer or a friend is far more important than a few random bits flying by on the screen. The incredible surplus of digital data means that human actions, generosity and sacrifice are more important than they ever were before."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

That's technology. You just have to roll with it.

SxSW 2010 is over and I'm on my way back to NYC. I arrived in Austin after a scant 12 hours at home after the last show of of a 14 day tour with Joe Henry and Co. (I used to mix FOH for a living and once a year or so return to to venues across the land to have some fun.)

I didn't have a great deal of time to pre-plan for Austin yet it was a great trip: my favorite SxSW so far; no long list of bands that I wanted to see, and only had 2 artists that I manage in town, consecutively rather than concurrently. That being the case I was able to spend solid and focused blocks of time with John Doe and Jim White, and none of my meetings (Professor Nancy Baym, Jordy from IODA, Karina Paje from ROCKU who is a force to be reckoned with, Adam from Fleming Artists, the Ashley Capps crew, etc.) were rushed. 

Mike King and Dave Kusik from Berklee interviewed me on camera for an upcoming segment that they're producing for At this point in my life I very much enjoy discussing all facets of music and society / culture at large. It's challenging for me to be called upon to answer great questions so between the Berklee taping, robust discussions with Nancy, Jordy, Jake Guralnick, John Doe, Ana Egge, etc. plus the panel I was on, it was a great couple of days to challenge my ideas, notions and beliefs.

A bit about the panel, which was titled "The Cultural Significance of Direct-to-Fan Marketing". It was moderated by Ian Rogers from Topspin who was captivated by something Rodney Crowell said to him recently, which was more or less "In the old music business I wrote songs for radio. In the new music business I write for the fans."
Ian's idea (a good one) was to forego the usual and possibly tired discussion of business matters and focus on how *music* is changed by DTF, as well as the lives of musicians and those that are charged to help musicians reach their goals. Hence the strong weighing towards managers on the panel. 

David Whitehead, my mentor from Maine Road Management, made some great points about older artists being a bit reluctant to make less constructed records (ie shorter time lines and tighter budgets) and engage with their fans in such an unfiltered and potentially chaotic way. They come from another era and for some it's not an easy transition for some.

John Doe said that feels like he's rolling with it (to paraphrase Gail Marowitz's great quote about new technologies, see note at bottom) and adjusting to the realities on the ground just like he always has. He's seen it all and understands that you have to grow and adapt to survive and prosper.

Brian Kline manages Joe Purdy amongst others and had some great and inspiring real-world stories about the liberating effects of DTF. Apparently Purdy records EP's while on tour and releases them often, usually digital only, sometimes only a couple of days after mastering. They have abandoned the construct of the 18 month release cycle, the 5 month setup cycle and 12 song package.  This is something I'm encouraging all my artists to consider and experiment with. First for me will be a series of themed EP's by Jill Sobule released digitally only using Topspin / Tunecore.

Back to the panel though. I took my cue since the others had done a great job of covering so much territory to try to point out that what we were discussing was part of a much much larger, culturally significant shift that included participatory culture, fan engagement, convergence culture, social capitol, and for some, the inclusion of audiences as valuable contributors to the process. It's been said so many time but it really IS a time of profound change in music. 

I tired to point out that it was not only in music where "content owners now need to understand what motivates their behavior and decide if and how they will recognize audiences as both consumers and collaborators." (Ana Domb Krauskopf if her paper "Tacky and Proud: Exploring Tecnobrega's Value Network"). All segments of the lives of those that are plugged into the 'net are being changed and often disrupted by new technology. With such fundamental changes comes opportunity, confusion, anxiety and a thousand other things best left to explore elsewhere. 

It's a great time to be alive and working in music.

Thanks for reading.

"That's technology. You just have to roll with it." 
Gail Marowitz in her New York Times interview regarding Art Direction for CD packaging.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Divergence Of Opinion (or how to not tow the company line)

It seems that some dissenting opinions are beginning to crop up (or at least I'm becoming aware of them) in regards to the dialogue about core fans / true fans / direct to fan. As I mentioned in a previous post the singularity of opinion was making me nervous. I found myself saying things more or less verbatim that I'd heard from others with very little empirical evidence on my part to support those ideas.

It sure *sounded* reassuring to say "Direct To Fan is the future!" "Custom bundling is the future!" "Analytics will save us!" It is still about great music, community, contextualization of shared experiences and FUN. Oh... that and one more little thing: finding your audience.

The links below will take you to a couple of long-ish posts, but both are very rich as are the comment sections.

Brands Plus Music Blog (click to read the post)

Fingertips Music Blog (click to read the post)

The Long Tail Of Fandom