Friday, May 7, 2010
The first week of May 2010 has been a doozie. A massive leak from an oil rig explosion not only took human lives; it set off an environmental distaster of untold proportion. Terrorism is alive and well on our soil and New York's Times Square was evacuated for several hours when a car bomb was discovered by a street vendor. These events happened over the weekend, the slowest news days for journalists. Reporters beg for major stories over weekends and holidays. Then on Monday, a story out of Arizona erupted over illegal immigration law setting off another firestorm of controversy in Hispanic communities.
All the while, an act of God was pouring down on one of America's most treasured cultural gems. Nashville was hit by a massive flood on Saturday, May 1. But for days - five days to be exact - little information came from the media leading us to believe it was much ado about nothing. On Wednesday, May 5, Cinco de Mayo, I saw a brief segment on CNN that was mind blowing. Five days had gone by without even a hint how much havoc had reigned down on Music City. From 9:00 p.m. til 1:00 a.m. I was in touch with several people across the country to determine what had gone wrong.
In the wake of massive flooding in a major cultural hearth where fundamental and traditional roots representative of this country's heritage spring forth - it's crystal clear this nation doesn't give a damn about our cultural heritage. Nor does it levy for those we call musicians, trying so hard to bring people together.
As my dad would have said to me, "that's just the way it is." That's true, but the week's events leave me cold with thoughts of what is important in this country. Industry and war are paramount. The industrial age is over, yet the oil industry is the life blood of many nations while we struggle to figure out how to manage a technological age. At the root of terrorism, religions meet crudely in fissures where black gold runs deep.
This country was not founded on anything that resembles "drill baby drill." It was founded on basic principles of freedom that sprang mostly from religious domination. Where there is religion, there is music - the spiritual connection between earthly beings and the Devine. For many, music is religion. It is a universal language that brings people together like nothing else can.
Oil is toxic. It pollutes and clogs the fissures between those who have a natural ability to translate and channel what is devine. Terrrorism is a by-product of the oil industry. Much like a game of chess, someone is a pawn when the King and Queen simply want to hear something joyful.
What does all this have to do with Nashville? Everything! Nashville is a product of two legacies, both of which have deep traditional and religious roots. But it was overlooked in the wake of political manuevers that don't speak to anything that have to do with the the human condition. The first week of May proves poignantly that oil and water don't mix. But if we believe in purity, water wins. Whether it's holy or not remains to be seen.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Recently a few really great people have stepped up to the plate to feature Scout on their websites and blogs.None of us can get by without a little help from people who believe in what we're doing. As my friend, Erin Scholze, of Dreamspider Publicity says, "These things just don't happen by themselves...."
http://www.babyboomertalkonline.com/ is a great daily newsletter written by Mark Young, featuring quotes from many famous Baby Boomers, and rather innovative Boomers like Seth Godin, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Mark gave Scout this endorsement:
Peter Oberg of Wolfgang's Vault was kind enough to include Scout in an April 21, 2010 post:
Dreamspider wrote a great piece about our friends at http://www.mash-pit.org/ and included Scout's promo
video as part of the post which we're very appreciative of.
Everything we do these days takes cooperation and collaboration. Actually, that's the way it's always been, it just seems to be more important than ever right now.
A big thank you to Mark Young, Pete Oberg, and Erin Scholze...you all seriously rock!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Well-intentioned, well-meaning people should not be in the music business. It's that simple. If you have a plan that can be implemented and is working, I truly applaud you for your ability to do so. If not, then kabetzing isn't going to help anyone. If the well-intentioned plan isn't working, waiting for lightning to strike is a bit like waiting for hell to freeze over.
Today people stand around, and talk obsessively about how to "relate" to the new music model as if the collective force is a petulant child. To say this is dysfunctional is the understatement of the century. Facilitators step in like doctors who can diagnose symptoms, but have no cure. If there was an easy fix to this evolution people wouldn't be standing around, waiting, and talking about what might happen next.
The most successful musicians in history were, and remain, totally uncompromising. They couldn't care less about their critics. Do they face obstacles? Absolutely. Do they find a way around them? No question. Are there easy solutions? Not always.
Put one foot in front of the other and simply allow yourself to accept what music is. Perhaps it shouldn't even be a business. Monitizing music is a dilemma as old as time itself. For a very brief period we witnessed a system that appeared to work, but as most corporate models reveal, it too was a house of cards.
The vehicle for distribution of recorded music is technology. Realistically, we can't put too much stock in it as it becomes outdated the minute it is put into motion. Like a new car, it depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot. We must use technology, but using it sparingly brings art to life in ways most of us have forgotten.
For centuries, people have suffered for their art. Now, it's our turn. Agonizing over the joy of music is a huge disconnect for most people, yet many do agonize over what isn't working. Honestly, I don't think things are really as bad as people want to believe. Many people are making music work for them...we just don't hear all the success stories. There's too much thunder in the background.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My question is what is the net result for the hustle put into the various and sundry tasks?
Most of the hustle comes prior to the launch of a new CD and then the recurring performance dates to support the release. It's all a lot of hard work. But how do you measure the results of your efforts? An even better question is, do you measure the results at all? If so, what yardstick are you using to gauge success and progress? Is it the increased fan base? Is it a return on your monetary investment? Is it getting to the next level? And exactly how do you define growth and getting to the next level?
The answer to each of these questions is important, but not as important as this: What does your music mean to your fans? If only one fan came out to a well-publicized event, what would she or he have to say about your work? With an audience of one, it is easy to sit down and simply talk to the person about the experience. With a larger turnout, that's not so easy.
If you've worked hard to get every single person possible into a room for a performance, then in the equation, what every single person has to say at the end of the performance is priceless.
Today, measuring your net worth as a performer is defined by your audience. Make sure you remind them to say whatever they like. Invite them from the stage to write a review of your show at http://scout66.com/ where their words are archived to show your net worth. Like a savings account that accrues interest over time, what your fans write becomes a papertrail of growth and success you can take to the bank.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The "Homeless" Man
It was a frigid Sunday morning. The parking lot to the church was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car that fellow church members were whispering with each other as they walked to the church.
As I got closer, I saw a man sitting against the wall outside the church. He was almost laying down, as if he were asleep. He had on an old crumpled coat with the hood over his head that was pulled down so you could not see his face. He had a blanket wrapped around his legs, and a much used coffee cup in front of him for anyone that would put change into it.
I assumed this man was homeless, and asleep, so I walked on by through the doors of the church. We began to fellowship and someone brought up the man laying outside. People snickered but no one put money in his cup much less bothered to ask him to come in, including me. A few moments later church began. We all waited for the minister to take his place and the service to begin.
When the doors to the church opened, in came the homeless man walking slowly down the aisle with his head down. People gasped and whispered and made faces. He made his way down the aisle. But he didn't take a seat, he kept going to the pulpit and pulled down the hood and took off his coat.
My heart sank. There stood our minister. He was the "homeless man." No one said a word. The minister took his Bible and laid it on the stand.
"Folks, I don't think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today."
~ Author Unknown ~
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Time has brought some level of professionalism to the practice, and I'm down with it...or at least to a point. Blogging is citizen journalism. JOURNALISM combined with OPINION. Yet, when it comes to music bloggers there are two things made abundantly clear that are so infuriating, I'm truly astounded at the level of hypocracy.
The first point is an arrogance bloggers hide behind. They set conditions as if they are full-fledged journalists. Okay...if that's the case, then what is up with the absolute resistance to a press release? I mean, really!
The press release is meant as an invitation to delve further into a newsworthy topic. It doesn't tell the entire story but provides facts that should pique the reader's interest enough to inquire about "the rest of the story." True, many press releases these days are generated by over zealous writers who apparently believe hype is reality. Not a good thing. So on that point alone, bloggers win.
The second phase of my fury with bloggers is they want their work done for them! Yes...it's true! The rhetoric about the press release not being enough information truly blows my mind. If it's been good enough for educated journalists for decades, why those who think they are the next A& R reps of the music business can't handle it is really beyond me. I'm telling you, you've got to earn your stripes before you become a star of any kind. Without some level of education behind your practice, if you've got any talent at all, you have to earn my respect. It cannot be demanded.
To temper my fury, I invite anyone who wants to send a timely press release about music to me any time. If there is a CD, tour, or event tied to the news so much the better.
That being said, if you send information, you will hear my opinion. While I don't consider myself to be a 21st century Dorothy Parker, I'm not Mother Teresa either. Let's face it. With the level of music saturation we experience today, there are some people who need to hear they are better suited for different occupations. Some need to hear more polish is required in their final product. Those of us in the business want music to survive on the merit of the art. Critiques are an important part of that process.
Send music related press releases to Scout66com@aol.com. If you have a product to go along with it I'll provide an address via email.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Each of these photos represents an icon in American pop culture. While it's true they reached the height of their careers in the 20th century before the Internet shook the entertainment industry to its core, their contributions are amazing.
They are self-made men who followed their talents to a point their careers required the assistance of agents, publishers, publicists, radio promoters, or even just a personal assistant to organize day-to-day affairs through much slower channels of communication than we use today.
It's important to understand that at the time each of these men rose to fame fax machines and electric typewriters were either non-existent or very new. Cell phones, personal computers and digital recording did not yet exist.
Things took time to create and within this reference, you can find well-crafted ideas that took time to develop from a solid framework and foundation. Fully developed products could not be produced within a day. Instant gratification was not possible, therefore creative ideas, no matter how revolutionary, aged with time.
Most finished products in the literate arts today do not come close to reaching a level of time-honored maturity these men achieved. Each of them are great writers, storytellers, and humorists. Amazing charisma is part of their individual story, and people love them for the essence of
Take some time to study those that have come before you. None of them had an easy road to hoe. There were significant obstacles in each career represented here and each went on to achieve an enduring historic legacy.
What would your career be like without technology? Could you achieve the level of greatness you aspire to within a solid framework on a solid foundation? Would your art form be enduring? Ask yourself these questions and see if you can enhance your career with more art and less technology.
Photos from top to bottom: Mason Williams, Truman Capote, Will Ackerman, Ken Kesey.