State Of Music From 2013
It’s December 31st and of course that means we’re closing out 2013. I got a hair in my quiche to write out some thoughts on what happened musically for the industry and for myself. There’s a shift in the universe going on for the industry. I’m working on staying ahead of the curve and do what I can to make 2014 my breakout year from consumer obscurity.
A year ago I was making the finishing touches on a group of 18 songs that had been whittled down from 72 songs. I had people voting on the songs they liked most and pointing me in a new direction for the music I create. A definite change on how I’ve been approaching what music I release after I’ve created.
I ended up doing a song in February as a take on an internet meme. The meme that poked a little fun about Taylor Swift and the sheer number of guys she’s been through in the public forum of celebrity scrutiny. The end result was a quick song and a mashup of photos for a video to go with it (Maybe You’re The Problem). After pushing it to YouTube it actually went a bit viral – at least for me. It got a lot hate, it also got a lot of love.
Shortly thereafter I got into a situation where I was talked into attempting a crowd-funding drive to make a push to fund the new music that I had all demoed and picked. There was a month of refocusing my site and all my social media presence – much needed. Then came two months of time getting the whole thing setup. That included reading books about doing it right, shooting videos, getting levels and items sorted out. All of this was supposed to get a real nice run up with interviews and TV appearances.
Unfortunately I should have pulled the plug before it started. Early on, when I was dangled with the TV stuff, I also had a separate hookup for a very nice TV interview. I contacted the PR company and asked for answers to questions the reporter was peppering me with prior to getting the interview scheduled. The PR company dropped the ball and left me hanging on questions I couldn’t answer. Additionally they pushed the start date of the campaign and moved it more than 4 times over 3 weeks. I should have known right then and there it was gonna be a problem. But because it was a friend who I was dealing with at the PR firm, I decided I’d overlook that and plow ahead. BAD IDEA.
Needless to say, everything that could have gone wrong, did. Though I had other marketing consultant friends tell me that the execution of the videos, and such was as perfect as can be… It still failed due to a strong lack of follow through from the PR firm. I ended up spending a bunch of money with zero return. Additionally it wasted nearly 6 months of my life as I had to put so much time into it.
After floundering with the crowd-funding, I had to rethink how to get the music out in an efficient manner. I decided to take each song as a single and really focus each one. The first song I jumped on is Touch. In October I got Touch finally recorded thanks in large part to George Leger III. In November I got it all mixed and mastered. In December I shot the lyric videos for it. I got the video of the making of the song edited. Come January of 2014 I’m hoping to get the music video shot so that I can finally get this first single released and start a cycle of 12 new singles with videos released in 2014. That is the goal.
From a sales standpoint 2013 has seen a steady increase for me, but the real increase has been streaming. Not bad considering the fact I didn’t get to perform as many shows as I would have liked.
It’s no secret that I hold a bit of disdain for Pandora. They’re doing everything they can to fuck the very people that they have created their business around – the musicians. Asking the U.S. congress to reduce the royalty rates of a discounted rate they already had. Happiness is that congress didn’t fall for it. However Pandora recently won a lawsuit that could really fuck up the way musicians get paid for their hard work.
On the flip side, I actually really like Spotify, due to a change of mind and heart. Actually I like a lot of streaming services other than Pandora (i.e. X-Box, Deezer, iTunes Radio, Amazon Cloud, et al). The reason why? They’re all doing the right thing, paying for streams and getting the appropriate licenses to do so. Something the big P isn’t doing. The reason why I know quite a bit about the royalty streams is that I control almost all the music I’ve ever written.
The rest of the industry during this past year has been turned even further on it’s ear. First with a summer hit where the artist decided to proactively sue another before they got sued. Hello?!? Robin Thicke with Blurred Lines. Nothing like having interviews saying you were listening to a particular song in the studio before you created a song that sounds just like another song, then sue the original artist about it. That’s pretty fucked up.
Next comes the phoenix of Miley Cyrus. Talk about a brilliant remaking of a child star. While so many people got caught up in the hubbub of what she was doing, most completely missed the fact that it was heavily calculated. It was so obvious and fun to watch, like the MTV awards and Wrecking Ball. Less than a week ago it was still happening with the song Adore You.
If I back it up a little further, I can say that it was interesting to see David Bowie, Jay-Z, Paul McCartney, and even the most insane nut of the entire industry Kanye West, all release full CDs. What happened in each case was lots of hype in the run up, then about a month worth of a real sales spike and then the precipitous drop. What does this mean? Even the superstars can’t push an album for more than a month any more, not even when spouting inane crap from the mind of an oppressed schizophrenic (Kanye). Precisely why I’m switching to a string of singles. Wonder if the rest of the industry will figure it out in 2014. Even amongst my musician friends – they’re still thinking in terms of whole albums.
The surprise of the year has to go to Beyonce. How a superstar of her status could keep a whole album and set of videos under wraps like she did, is nothing short of spectacular. The release was equally as cool, but only something that could be gotten away with by a star. Unknown artists do this all the time and no one cares. It’s now been done and the cache is over. So over in fact, that retail outlets have refused to sell the physical disc. Big business can be so fucked up – so much so that music from 2013 needs apparently needed a jumpstart from a very large car battery that couldn’t be found.
Personally I’m really looking forward to 2014. I’m putting my mouth where my money is on being different, much like when I became the first non-signed artist on iTunes – thank you Derek Sivers & CD Baby. This time it’s releasing a string of singles with videos and no album/CD.
The first song (Touch) is really taking my friends, and those who have heard it, by surprise. This is a fantastic thing, especially when everyone is saying it’s something they never expected but that they really dig it. Mega plus!
Another event that I’m happy about is called MusicSlam. A 9 day music networking, education, and festival event. I’ve been working on it as an idea for several years. 2013 is where it starting coming to fruition. MusicSlam got it’s permits in mid November and within weeks we will be taking submissions to fill the 100 spots we have for performers.
See ya in 2014, in music, in video, in pictures, on the road, and at MusicSlam.