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.