Friday, May 7, 2010

That's Just The Way It Is...Who'll Stop The Reign

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

With A Little Help From Our Friends

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...."  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 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 all seriously rock!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thunder and Lightning Are a Little Bit Frightening

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

What's Your Net Worth On Paper

Everyone has a To Do list. When it comes to performing and recording artists, it seems that list continues to expand with the ever-increasing integration of traditional responsibilites combined with an even broader list of outlets to engage with in the Web 2.0 model. Most gravitate toward the latest thing on the market hoping to chase something down that resembles pay dirt.

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 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

He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother

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

Music Bloggers and The Press Release

Blogging has been somewhat of a mystery to me since the concept was initiated. In the beginning I thought it was the absolute height of narcissism people would write about themselves and post for all the world to see. "Hey, over here! Look at me. I have thoughts and you get the privilege of reading them."

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!'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 If you have a product to go along with it I'll provide an address via email.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Do Icons Rise to Fame?

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
their craft.

   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.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Promotional Kit Essentials/Non Essentials - Part VII

Putting together a press or promotional kit is no easy task. Sure, you can slap something together to resemble this timeless tool...but it's really in your best interest to include only essential, professionally produced documents.

To reiterate which elements are essential:
A biography
One Sheet
8 x 10 color, and black and white photos (different poses)
A professionally-written press release

Non-essential elements are quote sheets, business cards, and cover letters. While these handy little tools can serve a purpose; essential and timely quotes should have already been incorporated into a biography. The business card is not as important as including your contact info on every element already included in your press kit. A cover letter is just another boring task for the sender and the recipient.

Your goal is not to bury the intended reader with "stuff". The goal is to provide the intended reader with enough convincing information to reach your goal whether that is soliciting press or bookings.

If you've taken the time to put together professionally designed elements..... now what?

Most people start stuffing envelopes and shot gunning info to unwitting recipients, but my advice is:

If you send an unsolicited package to someone, in essence you are giving them a homework assignment with a pop quiz. We all remember pop quiz days. It isn't welcomed by anyone. The difference is, as professionals, the unwitting receiver simply blows it off and into the round file it goes.

Here's a better strategy:

1. Post all the info as an EPK on your website.

2. Prepare about a dozen hard copy press kits ready for mailing. Do not forget to include the hard copy EP/CD/DVD and as a courtesy, remove the shrink wrap. Make sure you have a nicely designed mailing label with your logo if you have one. Buy new mailing envelopes for your press kits - never use recycled materials. Another handy tip is to buy colored mailing envelopes because they stand out. If someone has been unable to locate a package you've mailed, you can tell them "it is a navy blue 10 x 13 envelope with a white label embedded with my logo." Likely it can be picked right out of the stacks within seconds.

3. Then take a day and really research who your best target audience is and don't blur the lines of "maybe this person will be interested". If they might be interested - it's a clear sign you are hopin' and wishin'. So to make things crystal clear, draw up your list and email each person to see if they are interested in receiving your materials. Politely ask them which format they prefer.

Now let's assume you've received some response. For those who want the EPK, hopefully they've already been able to find all the info they want and need. For those who want the tradtional press kit, put it in the mail the day you receive a response from them. If they want it, they want it ASAP.

The most important aspect of putting together a promotional kit is in the follow-up. If you spent the time and money to put these elements before an intended group of people, only the foolish send it out without a follow-up note, phone call, or email. It is ill-advised to simply ask if they received your materials.

Think of a more provocative way to enter a conversation with each person you contacted initially. If you do not receive a response after two attempts, drop it. The person on the receiving end will remember whether or not you made a good enough impression to fit their needs. It is important to remember the promo kit fills the bill on a two-way street, that's the way these relationships work.

If you've followed these suggestions and done so in a professional manner, you've shown industry insiders
your house is in order and doors will begin to open.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Promotional Kit One Sheet - Part VI

There are many misconceptions about the one sheet that should always be included in a promotional kit.
I've heard it described as a brag sheet, which is incorrect.

The main purpose for the one sheet is, and always has been, intended for retail and radio outlets artists are targeting for sales and airplay. To that end information relevant to retailers and radio programmers is essential.

The best example I've seen recently of an indie produced one sheet can be found here

Follow this example to a "T"  with compelling colors, graphics, photos, etc. that truly highlight music you are promoting. Be certain the information is accurate, complete, easy to read, and understand.

Friday, March 19, 2010


There is much buzz in the air over press releases today. Do they work? If so, how do they work? Should you write one? And who should you send it to? There are lists of buzz words to keep out of press releases according to many. For example, even  in this tech-driven world, the word widget is thought to be a deal breaker.  There are even press release graders available to test your press release writing ability.


Honestly, unless you know how to write a press release, I advise against including one in a press kit. Find someone who does know how to write this specific type of document if you think you really need one. If you don't know the format and rules of the road for this PR tool it will work against you more than help in any way.

And god forbid you send a press release to a blogger! More on that subject later.

As the adage goes, when in doubt don't. Now is a very good time to follow that advice.

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Janet Hansen

Ringing in 2010: Two music platforms put fans and audiences at the helm of live music

SEATTLE - Everyone agrees the most valuable commodity for touring artists’ success is a loyal fan base. There is consensus on both sides of the aisle about fan loyalty when literally every other topic is up for debate. The profile of the fan - young or old, audiophile elite - or MP3 junkie, matters less than full-frontal engagement and live performance.

Two adventurous companies have launched Internet music platforms that engage fans at the tip of the decision-making pyramid, inverting the antiquated top-to-bottom marketing model into a rigorous grassroots movement handing the reins over to ticket-buying public. and are online communities set up to engage music fans in some of the most critical decisions made in touring artists’ careers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Promotional Kit Logo Part IV

Having a logo to identify your business is amazingly important these days. Amazingly important.It is an instant icon reminding people who you are and what you represent.

If you own your own record label, spend the time to get a logo designed by a graphic designer who will put some serious thought behind the concept of what you intend to do for the long term.

I LOVE my graphic designers, Leisa and D'Lanie at Not only do they do fabulous work, but they made me sit down and go through a series of questions about who I am, what I wanted to accomplish, what the overall strategy was for the design concept, even what kind of colors I prefer over other palettes. Very smart move on their part. What happened overall was what I thought I wanted didn't work at all; and they saved all of us a bunch of headaches going through
too much time and wasted effort.

All too often, I see companies and business people changing their images when they've already trained me to look for a certain visual image. It's happening way too often these days. Changing up your branded identity
over and over again ensures people will overlook potentially important information.

One of the most brilliant things I've seen done in music was created by Will Ackerman, the founder of
Windham Hill Records. When his independent label took off, he personally oversaw the design of each
CD cover. There was a recurring them in each image that branded his label over and above the genre, which made the label instantly recognizable. Another boutique independent label that follows the same ideology is Palm Records. Each and every album they put out has the same quality feeling in the cover art regardless of the artist on the recording.  Their products are instantly recognizable and I know for certain I am getting the best quality product in the style of music they produce.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Press Kit Photo - Part III

An associate who is a top-notch journalist told me not long ago, "I still love to get bright sparkly 8 x 10 photos in press kits. It gives me an idea of who the person is you're asking me to write about." Photos really are worth a 1000 words and saves the journalist much time in describing who they are writing about. Each of us make instant decisions based on thousands of images we see every day. The average person is exposed to 10,000 images daily.

For your press photos you need to take some time and make your image stand out rather than blend in with the other 9,999 instantly forgettable impressions. One way to accomplish this is to look at fashion magazines. Use the experience of set designers, photographers, make-up experts, hair stylists, and other industry experts who craft memorable images every day.

It's true the advertising industry has sold us on the idea "sex sells." This is particularly true for women. But I'd argue that allure sells more than sex. If sex is what you're promoting then by all means have at it. But I'd take a more demure approach and fashion your look within the premise of your product.

Locate and interview at least three professional photographers before a knee-jerk reaction overshadows your better judgment in hiring your boss's daughter to take your photos.

Make sure the photographer can offer you high resolution hard copies as well as formatted jpgs in color and B&W. Schedule time to take at least 100 photos indoors and out; that include full body shots as well as the ubiquitous headshot.

You shouldn't buy a new wardrobe for a photoshoot. A good photographer will always have  props and wardrobe alternatives on hand during a shoot. The object is not necessarily the outfit, but make sure you dress your part. Don't underdress or overdress for photos. Choose interesting colors for your skin tone. Choose interesting types of clothing that enhance your body type. For headshots wear interesting jackets, sweaters, or other garments that enhance your personality creating an image you are proud of.

If makeup happens to be part of your image don't overdo it! If hooker, or skank is part of your act that's okay if you want to get booked into strip joints. Yes, I know Lady Gaga does it...but she is Lady Gaga and it's likely part of her contract.

To become comfortable in front of the camera do informal practice sessions at home. Unless you are naturally photogenic it takes a bit of practice being in front of a lens. If you come up with some interesting ideas make sure to show them to your photographer.

Location, location, location is truly important. If you're a concert hall artist, a construction site for your press photos is a really bad decision. While lots of  people use that option, what highbrow music organization will reproduce a construction site photo in their series marketing materials? I truly understand the concept of artistic juxtaposition, but give considerable thought to the end user in all details of your photo shoots.

My parting shot: Always make sure the photogragher is credited on the 8 x 10 glossies. If you send formatted jpgs to the press always include that credit as well as the names of everyone in the photo from left to right.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The Promotional Kit Biography -Part II

Writing a biography no matter how brief or long can be a very daunting task...especially if you're writing about yourself. It is the autobiography someone writes about their own life. Generally speaking, most people are either too modest or too egocentric to write about themselves. So my advice is to find someone you are comfortable talking with who has some writing ability, then offer them a reasonable fee to write about your career. It takes a great deal of talking, interviewing, and fact finding to write a credible bio piece that appeals to the intended reader.

And who is the intended reader? How much do they really need to know about you?

To that end ask your writer to write three versions of your bio. The first is a brief synopsis of your career that is no more than 250-300 words. A mid-size bio amounts to around 750-1000 words and gets to the essence of who you are and what you do. The full length bio spells out who you are, what you do, and how you got there. Depending on the length of your career, the full length bio can be up to 4000 words in length.

The bio answers all the pertinent questions an interested party would want to know about your career. That includes all the five W's: who, what, when, where and why. It also includes how. If you are really successful at what you do, the most important element in your bio is the how.

Too often people include every move they've ever made in the body of their biographies. The truth is no one really cares if you worked with your cousin's brother-in-law on a song that was in rotation on one radio station for six days. The focus of the bio is on you and the most significant accomplishments in your career.

Optimally the bio should read like an interesting short story beginning with a brief intro and description of what you do. The chronology should begin with the strongest element in your career and move either forward or backward. This grabs the reader's interest and encourages further reading.

Create visual images for the reader.What does a typical performance look, feel, and sound like? What does the audience amount to? Is it a full house of twenty-somethings moshing; or is it a well-heeled audience in a half-filled recital hall on a university campus?

Do not list every single performance you've ever been hired for. Nobody cares. List the top five venues of interest...but only if they are commonly recognized. If the venues won't catch the reader's attention then list the cities you've performed in.

If you have strong quotes from notable sources weave them throughout the bio to keep the reader interested.
Quotes are like fairy dust. Sprinkle them sparingly in the most beneficial parts of the bio and always credit the media outlet.

Even though the biography is about the performer, it only serves as a vehicle to reach out to an audience of consumers. Typically the bio has to pass through the capable hands of a journalist who will write about the performer, enticing the consumer to buy tickets to a performance or purchase a new release. The other type of consumer is the the person who reads your bio and books you into any number of concert performances paying you a fee to perform.

Here's an example of a long bio written about the man who created the most successful independent label of the 20th century:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for the Promotional Kit

An adage I live by and tell my clients often is you simply must invest time and money in your promotional materials if you expect anyone to invest their time and money in your career. Sadly, this very simple rule is often swept under the carpet.

Your goal is to show "your house is in order."

When designing the launch of national products, teams of experienced marketing people sit around conference tables for hours deciding which words and images fit their intended target audience to perfection. Creating an image and a perception of value is the primary goal behind the promotional kit. The press kit or promotional kit should look a little bit like a newstand magazine with predetermined goals behind it.

1. The intended reader should be compelled to pick it up and spend some time going through the information.

2. The content should be tailored for the intended reader. One size does not fit all.

3. The content should move the reader to take action.

I've recently seen music industrialists slap together a list of what goes into a promotional kit. And I don't use the word slap lightly.
Quote Sheets
Press Release
Business Cards
Cover Letter
One Sheet
The most omitted item: The CD/DVD/EP

If it is slapped together like a poorly made sandwich, I guarentee everything you've spent time and money on will end up in a round file sooner than later. To help you with the design of your promo kits, I'll  put out a series of short blog posts detailing the best way to craft each element in your promotional kit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Citizen Journalism

Citizen Kane is widely considered the most successful film of all time. It has to do with a media dynasty and various levels of love, infidelity, greed, wealth, and death. Released in 1941, this movie did not reach the height of its popularity until 1956 and remains a cinamatic icon. Utimately, the premise of the film is to resolve the meaning behind the utterance of one word traced to a cherished memory.

Music emits, evokes, and elicits cherished memories more than any other creative medium. Music can transport the listener to a time and place more quickly than any other art form. 

This is the primary reason for the creation of, a unique music platform that allows the ticket buying public to talk about live concerts they pay to see. Over and above paid journalists who write for newspapers or music mags, fans really hold the most discerning opinions musicians should solicit and take under advisement. What do concert attendees really think of performances they spend time and money to see?

Over the last two years we've witnessed the demise of journalism which has descended into opinion-based reporting. Citizen journalism has  reached mass appeal, because everyone, at their core, is an armchair critic. A Google search turned up nearly one million entries on citizen journalism. Comment sections to credited journalism outlets, letters to the editor, blogs, and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook encourage people around the world to voice their opinions regardless of tenability.

Musicians who want to rise above the entry level to the performing arts need to solicit opinions about what their audience sees, feels, and hears at every performance because music - for better or for worse - is that powerful. It is the consumer or the music connoisseur  who has the power to enhance any musician's career over and above any media outlet. My dear friend, Charlie Stout, a music photographer and videographer[] once commented " fans don't know what they like, they like what they know. On the other hand, the experienced listener has much to say about what they like and why."

Industry trade magazines were created to recommend artists to industry insiders whether it was a record label (dead and gone); a bank of influential radio stations (jurassic at best); or televised talk shows the performer might appear on (now on life support).

It is, and always has been, the collective audience that makes a musician successful. Magazines, newspapers, radio, and television have never paid for the music they feature. The fans pay for the music, the concert tickets, and any supporting memorabilia. The reaction of the fan to the concert experience is all that really matters.

Musicians, I encourage you to  put up a page at with as much supporting information about your music and where fans might find you either online or in person.

Fans, the most gratifying and lasting tribute you can make to a favorite performer is to write a review, or a series of reviews. You have the freedom to communicate directly with any musician you choose to reach. Take the opportunity as a way to support a musician's career with a few kind words and as my old boss, Mason Williams (Classical Gas) would say, "the cream will rise to the top."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Together, We Are Bigger Than The Media

One of the most valuable tools in the traditional press kit is a review. Whether it's a CD review or a concert review, if someone had a few kind words to say about your work those words went a long way toward influencing someone else's opinion.

The entire premise of PR is built around just a few people saying a few kind words. If a journalist in Seattle wrote a favorable review, likely journalists in LA, San Francisco, New York, or Nashville would be compelled to add their voice to the praise of a project or concert tour.

Journalists are people. They have opinions. They are influencers. But their opinions are no more influential than citizen journalists, particularly en masse. Our opinions as patrons of music, customers, and fans are collectively much more significant than just a handful of journalists paid to do a job. Since you are the consumer, your view of a situation means more than someone who is hopping on a bandwagon and collecting a paycheck.

How often are you asked by a business to critique their product?

If Heinz Ketchup asked me for my opinion about their product, I'd be more than happy to say a few words about their product and their politics. I'd always been a loyal Heinz customer, until a certain presidential election changed my mind about the matriarch behind the company. I will never buy that product again. Ketchup is ketchup, right? But if the money I spend over a lifetime goes toward funding an aggressive attitude that I don't care for, my money is better spent on a product that isn't politically subversive.

This is a controversial stance of course, but more controversial, Heinz doesn't care what I think.

When it comes to music, you should care deeply what your music means to everyone. Music is a very personal and emotional expression of who you are as an artist. Encourage fans to share their opinion in an open forum so like-minded people in different cities are influenced by what is said publicly. This opens the door to presenting organizations, festivals, clubs, and any number of concert venues to see what paying customers in different cities experienced and they can base booking decisions on those recommendations and comments.

Visit if you're an artist put up a page so your fans nationwide know where you are playing. If you're a fan, share your thoughts about a live show you paid to see. Think of it as a thank you note for the experience of sharing live music in a social setting.

Together, we are bigger than the media.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Scout's About

Scout is the new A&R rep of the people, for the people, by the people

It’s been curious since the launch of to hear so many reactions about the platform, and what it was designed to achieve.

Young people just out of college don’t get what Scout’s about. Those who’ve been out of college for a while get the concept, but don’t want to hassle with techie things like login portals, which really are annoying.

Moving on to those in their 30s and 40s, our fan base begins to broaden. Many women write to ask if Scout is named after the main character in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee is a simple lyrical work that has touched many lives since it launched January 1, 1960. The following quote from the book speaks to the core mission behind

Atticus told Scout, “Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father's right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Many people who love are captivated by the rich earthy design that is reminiscent of Route 66, an iconic open highway that became a thoroughfare for many musicians of the beat and folk eras during the late 1950s and early 1960s. These people are from the baby boomer generation who remember Route 66 ran from Illinois southwest to Oklahoma and continued west through Texas and the southwest states to Los Angeles, formerly known as the recording capital of the world.

Creating Scout was a poetic experience putting so many idyllic concepts together.

Students just out of college don’t get what Scout’s about because they are likely too young to remember a time when newspapers everywhere sent reporters out regularly to write reviews for any number of live performances. Those reviews, or at least the good ones, were an essential ingredient in the traditional press kit.

About 12 years ago or so, newspapers stopped devoting space to concert reviews unless it was a mega tour: Think Sting, U2, Madonna, or any legendary brand name. Hence, the professional working class musician was merely lucky to receive reviews promoting live performances. CD reviews, however, were ubiquitous. Value was misplaced on the recorded product over and above the live performance.

The professional working class musician makes a living making music. These people don’t collect regular paychecks with all the taxes deducted. They don’t have health care packages for their families. There is surely no 401K in their future. Some have royalties from record label contracts that have since become extinct. They earn a living to pay their mortgage, make payments on cars that carry them to gigs. Many of them are putting their kids through college.

Right now musicians are finding every way possible to create a relationship with their audience in the fan2band model. Professional musicians can engage in building that relationship with their audience simply by asking the ticket buying public what they thought about the concert they paid to see.

A few kind words can make a big difference to a touring artist. If people in Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Ashland, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, and San Francisco consistently say the same thing about a certain band – will they be a good fit for audiences in Albuquerque Santa Fe, Dallas, Austin, San Marcos, Nashville and Knoxville? My guess is, yes!

Scout becomes the A&R rep of the people, for the people, by the people. Venues can go to Scout and read reviews from anywhere in the U.S. Venues take a risk with every booking; therefore they should be interested in what audiences have to say. We encourage venues to put up a page on Scout too, so there can be a cross reference for the artists and their audiences. It’s a new form of advertising for festivals, clubs, concerts halls, arenas, fairs, and outdoor series.

The customer is always right. At Scout, the customer writes what any given concert means to him/her, giving their stamp of approval as a paying customer to keep live music alive.

P. S. Until I was about nine years old, no one called me by my first name. Everyone called me Scout.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grammys Got Your Goat...Call Their Bluff

With every twist and turn the music biz takes, there is always a big hullabaloo around Grammy time. The grand ceremony for music's highest honor always brings out the best and worst around an industry that is way too sexy for its shirt.

There are those who want to pick up the closest thing handy and throw it through their television sets during the Grammys. Urban legend has it, the founder of one of history's most powerful independent labels actually did throw his shoe through his TV set many years ago.

The more people talk about what is happening, or not happening, is great leverage for independent artist to get involved. NARAS is a tremendous advocate on all sides of the equation. They know very well there are more indie musicians in this country than major labels. They know very well the struggles indies must endure. If you have solutions, they really want to hear them. And except for the executive branch offices, NARAS is a volunteer organization that donates all monies to various national music programs, including MusiCares which provides assistance to musicians in time of need.

Sure it's fine to be utterly disgusted by what seems an overblown, pretentious production during the Grammys. But that's not going to solve anything. Get involved. Add your voice, your vision, and your passion. We all want our fans and audience to participate in every event we put together for the sake of music.

Join NARAS and participate in everything they do for the sake of music. It's the best shot you've got at turning a pathetically ugly duckling into the most beautiful swan you've ever seen.

Visit and find your local chapter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Is A State of Being

I've been resisting creating a blog for a long time. There's way too much to read these days. Yet, the announcement that LiveNation/Ticketmaster got approval to merge creates a monopoly on the arena experience. This coincides with a blog post Derek Sivers wrote about Seth Godin who is telling musicians they need to sell a concert experience. Radiohead, announced at Midem the entire music industry is operating on an analog music model in a digital world; and piracy is not the root of all evil.

This is nirvana for independents! The world's largest promoter and ticket agency have a monopoly that restricts them financially from promoting shows in smaller more intimate venues. Godin says creating an intimate concert experience is what indies must sell. Then Radiohead says the analogue system doesn't work in a digital world. What could be better news on a Monday in January in the music biz?

With a little imagination indies can plan taking advantage of all of today's news and put together a blueprint of interesting ways to be with your fans in any city.

Forget about clubs, cover prices, guarantees, posters, and advertising. Invite your fanbase via postcard or email to an open field for a few tunes at sundown and a potluck dinner where everyone contributes. This builds relationships between you and your audience. It builds community within your fan base.

Set up an event at a local winery with a winetasting and just a few tunes before you - the artist - hang out with your fans sipping local wines. The audience pays for the experience of hanging out with you. It builds community around you within your audience, and a relationship with the winery.

Send an un-invitation to your debut arena show. People will pay not to hassle with parking, high ticket prices, high food and beverage prices. Find a great spot indoors or out that will hold 100-200 people. Play a few tunes then mingle with the attendees over microbrews or whatever is appealing.

Find a rural dance or grange hall and invite local fans to a BYOB gig where everyone can dance. House concerts rocked all regions of the country in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There was a great sense of pride being included in the event due to the intimate setting. It was partcipation that ignited excitement. Being a spectator isn't all that unique among 10,000 to 20,000 people.

The idea of a concert performance was established hundreds of years ago, when the ONLY way to hear music was to attend a live music event. All music was acoustic...there wasn't electricity.
The only reason you need amps is so everyone can hear instruments that are plugged in. If the audience is small, you don't need amps, mics, and monitors can probably hear a pin drop between the notes if you are playing really great music.

Create acoustic settings with analog technology. The digital process edits all the warmth out of music played in any setting. It's taken the digital world about 25 years to finally destroy how music has been presented to the public for centuries. And that fatal flaw has caught up to a greedy industry that doesn't know where to turn next.

Music is a state of being for the listener as well as the performer. Create unique and unforgettable experiences for your audience. When you let them participate they will tell their friends; who will tell their friends. The experience should not be an exercise in self-indulgence. Music is meant to be shared and to bring them together.

Folk legend, Pete Seeger said, "Participation will save the human race." Right now, the human race can use all the help it can get.