Social Kindred Local Live Music Event Discovery App – Beta Test & Preview

social kindred music app preview

Hello and welcome to this beta test & preview of the local live music event discovery app called Social Kindred, created by Jay Leonard.  But first a bit of context…are you ready?

Here is what you are in for with this article:

Let’s jump in!


wavy gravy

Everything is Groovy…Or Is It? (Intro)

If there are any two worlds that would seem to go together perfectly, and yet seem at perpetual odds with one another, it is the live music world and the online world.

On the surface, all would seem copacetic, with well-known apps like Spotify, Soundcloud, and many other lesser known apps, providing a platform for thousands if not millions of musicians worldwide to share their songs, via the power of smart phone technology and the relatively lost cost option of online music distribution and streaming.

These intermediary entities who bring the music to the music streaming platforms include relatively accessible (compared to the olden days) online distributors like Soundrop, DistroKid, TuneCore, and CD Baby, that your average non-music business-y folk and even some musicians who use these platforms are sometimes only vaguely aware of.

By now the below screenshot of the Spotify interface should look familiar to most…

spotify interface

The two extremes of artist types on these platforms being the small indie artist (minimal promotional budget via working regular jobs) up to the major label artist (bigger promotional budget via the label). 

This is but an aside for you people at home, but the amount of streams that an indie artist gets (which pay such enticing amounts per stream as $0.004, depending on platform), is determined by, overall, how much money goes into promoting the artist.  It is rare that artists who have smaller (or zero) budgets get noticed by the algorithms, and, by extension, the populace, but that is nothing new.

Here is an average streaming day for your average artist on Spotify For Artists, checking in on the stats for the week, complete with anomalous spike in traffic.

minimal online streams

Meanwhile, in terms of music listeners and the apps they use to find shows, people are quite familiar by now with other online entities like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, who allow you to buy and sell tickets to all manner of performances everywhere around the world.

Here is what the Ticketmaster app looks like for those who don’t use it…

ticketmaster app interface

The fact that this process of music lovers everywhere in the world being able to listen to their favourite artists online, and then find out where they are playing next is just another marvel of the modern world, but when you go from a macro to a micro level, things don’t look quite the same.


Discovery App for Local Online Music Event Listings – A Gap In The Market?

While things might seem to function on the global level in terms connecting the public to their favorite musical acts with relative ease, on the local level, things are different.

Say, for example, you lived in Acton, Ontario.  Can you think of what app on your phone you’d use to see what bands are coming to town when, and playing where?

As of February, 2020, perhaps there is no such app. 

When you think about it, in most cities and towns, people are still very much dependent on local listings found in approximately four places:

  • Actual news periodicals with a music section
  • Online news periodicals with a music section
  • Music venue websites with a calendar or schedule posted
  • Websites of musical artists themselves who have tour dates posted

Actually, the above is not strictly true, as even apps like Spotify and others are incorporating musicians’ tour schedules directly into their artist pages.

spotify justin bieber tour dates 

As mentioned, however, there is still one demand which seems to not be met, and that is – how does one easily check which artist is playing at which venue in one specific city or locality by way of an easy-to-use smartphone app?

No doubt musicians and marketers alike have been pondering this logistical conundrum for a good while now, with Jay Leonard being one such person.

jay leonard social kindred


social kindred app

Social Kindred – Local Live Music Event, Artist, & Venue Listing App – Preview

Jay Leonard, hailing from the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, has been involved in the music scene for decades now, playing in a variety of different musical acts, and he came to this author’s attention as a drummer in a progressive rock outfit called Humshuttle. 

Today, he plays with a band called Romeo Sex Fighter, and, in his spare time, has been trying to lauch an app that will hopefully solve the aforementioned issue of being able to check who’s playing where on any given night in your local region.

He admits that he isn’t the only person to have thought about how to make an app such as this. Many others surely have as well.  Heck, even this author has pondered upon such an app, but you have to be a certain kind of person to go ahead and actually “roll out” such an app.  It ain’t easy, baby.

For those who have any experience with making apps, or know what is going on in the world of apps in general, you probably know that making an app from scratch these days, as an indie developer, without having the ability to code it yourself (surprise! – most business owners are not coders), can be an emotionally and mentally exhausting thing to do. 

funny cat pic

Without getting into the actual nitty gritty of what makes apps in general hard to make, much less promote, suffice it to say that Jay Leonard, with his new app Social Kindred, is attempting to address the gap in the app market of apps that show users who is playing locally at what venue and when, with all the pertinent details included.


social kindred logo

Beta Testing & Functionality of the App – How is it?

Lucky me, I get to test out the app for myself, to see how it performs. 

Social Kindred is still somewhat in production, and not widely available, so I need to use a special testing software to use it.

While Social Kindred is currently available on Google Play, it is at this “pending” stage with Apple, where, despite it actually being a functional app, it is still waiting for approval by the app store gods.

For developers in this situation, it usually means that they must return to the drawing board

So, since Social Kindred is on the cusp of actually being widely available, with a few more hoops to jump through, such as proving its viability as an app, it means a few people get to try it out and provide potentially useful feedback.

Let’s take a closer look!

Social Kindred has 4 main screens, each of which is fairly utilitarian in nature, supporting the overall purpose of the app itself, which I also happen to like.  No frills.  Let’s start with the “Venues” page.

social kindred venues

In this version of the app, it is based around the Kitchener-Waterloo / Tri-Cities area of Southwestern Ontario, and the artists and venues reflect that. 

This is basically what drives the app – to be able to zero in on a local scene that affects you on a local level, versus knowing where all the big acts are performing around the entire region.  

In this case, the user (you, me, whoever) is mainly interested in the venue if you’re from that area, or visiting that area.  It’s a little bit like the concept behind Air B’n’B, where you are only interested in places you already are, or will be going to soon. 

As such, these venues are local to this particular area, and you as a user can see who is playing at them by clicking them.  Easy!  Except since the app is in its beta stage, we can’t yet see who is playing at this particular venue…

social kindred event page

Eventually, these pages will all tie together. But you might wonder, how will the app know about what is going on in the area?

Behind the scenes, Social Kindred does the heavy lifting by fetching (“scraping”, as we web geeks call it) the event calendar from a given venue’s website. 

For the end user, they simply have to click the venue to see who’s playing, and it’s up to the venue to keep that list refreshed, which will then by extension keep Social Kindred up to date.  

Now let’s move on and look at the “Artists” page…

social kindred artists

The artists, like the venues, are local to the area in question (in this case, Kitchener-Waterloo), and when the user clicks on them, they can see where any given local artist is performing on any given night. 

If that artist isn’t playing, then they the app tells you that there are no shows scheduled.  If they are playing, it tells you when and where.  Except, not yet.  Since it is still in the beta stage, you can only see the artists’ bio and perhaps a link to social media like Facebook.

artist page social kindred

Thus it is to every local artists’ advantage to be in the Social Kindred database, so that they can show up if someone searches for them. 

There will be, at some point, a tipping point where if and when the app gets popular, artists not included in the artist list for Social Kindred will almost seem non-existent. 

It is also to their benefit, if they are in the database, to play shows, or else then it looks like they aren’t active. 

Let’s now look at the events page of Social Kindred’s app…

social kindred events

This is arguably the most useful part of the app, because it brings together local artists and venues in the form of events.  In other words, an event would not exist if an artist was not performing at a venue.  Right? 

An artist can have no shows and still show up as an artist, and a venue can have no shows and still be in the list as a venue, but an event can’t be in the event list unless there is an actual legit event happening.  Fancy that!

This is the page that I would probably look at the most, if I had the actual app and was feeling like going out that night.  I think, personally, the thing that would stop me from looking at this page would be that if it cast too wide a net. 

Like, if I couldn’t see ONLY what was going on in my city, and was forced to learn about events too far for me to bother with, the app would quickly become like any other app that simply seems like it’s spamming me with irrelevant information. In this regard, the app will have to be carefully compartmentalized to be effective.  

In other words, if it can be laser focused to events that only I care about (ie. within reasonable cabbing/Uber distance), I’d probably check in regularly to see what’s up in my city / town.

Lastly, we’ll check out the “Articles” page of the app…

social kindred articles

This page could be useful to users, provided the content was good and relevant to their interests.  It might be cool if this page could be sorted by region, in case I didn’t feel like only reading articles relevant to my area specifically. 

For instance, I might only want to see shows that are close by, but I might want to read about things that are not close by, in case I want to go somewhere else. 

Then again… if this page was set up in a certain way, I could see myself reading about a band in a nearby city, and then “subscribing” to that band, even though they were somewhat far away from where I lived, because I read something cool about them, and want to go to that town, if there were enough cool events taking place with cool acts and such.

This makes me wonder, will the app have a way to sub to artists?  Or sub to venues?  Hmmm…the more I think about it, the more questions I have.  

Open Questions To The Social Kindred Team

So, the last section got me thinking of a few innocent little questions I want to voice before wrapping up.

  1. How much can I narrow down my search geographically for events / artists / venues? 
  2. If it can narrow these parameters down, how does it do it?
  3. Can I subscribe to artists I like?
  4. Will the content in the “Articles” section be only relevant to certain cities?
  5. Who will write the content in the Articles section?
  6. Will things in this app have permalinks?  For instance, will a venue have its own permalink?
  7. What if venues don’t update their tour schedule, does this mean Social Kindred won’t be up to date because the venue is slacking off?
  8. Will venues have things like up to date menu items (ie. food and drink)?
  9. Will artists be able to upload their own photos to their pages?
  10. Will the app pull artist data from somewhere or does the artist fill it out, or someone at Social Kindred does this for them?
  11. How will artists apply or qualify to be associated with the app?
  12. Will there be some kind of system by which popular artists will show up first, like Google search results, or will you be unilaterally fair, as in strictly keeping things alphabetical?
  13. Will you work in things like user voting with stars, and reviews like Yelp?
  14. Will this app notify me ie. if my favourite local band is playing somewhere in my city or do I have to keep checking the app?

Thanks!

Conclusion

Seems overall like a pretty cool app with a lot of potential.  Will it take the music world by storm, or be another skid mark on the road of apps that crashed and burned?  We will have to wait and see!  Thanks for reading, and comment below if you feel like it!

3 Free Online Apps Every Musician Should Know About

3 Free Online Apps Every Musician Should Know About

Hi there. I’m back. For those that don’t know me yet, my name is Melissa Koehler and I’m a country musician from Ontario, Canada.

Being a professional musician is hard. On top of writing songs, practicing with your band and performing at shows, you have to know your finances, market your shows and sell your music.

Being a musician is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Luckily, I’ve found a few free online programs that have made my life as a musician a little bit easier.

Here’s my list of free online apps that every musician should know about.


Invoice Generator

https://invoice-generator.com/#/1

I love Invoice Generator. When booking gigs, I recommend that you get into the habit of sending invoices to every person you agree to play for.

I use Invoice Generator to create my invoices which I then send to every venue or event that I am scheduled to play at.

I also make sure to bring a physical copy of that invoice to the show to avoid any confusion or miscommunication surrounding the amount of pay I’m owed.

With Invoice Generator, you don’t even need to make an account, and the best part is that you can create an unlimited number of invoices.

When you’re ready to make your first invoice, it’s super easy to do. Just fill in all the blanks that make sense for your situation.

At the top, make sure to include your name and who the invoice is for. Date it, include the total balance due, and when the payment is due by. If you have a logo, you can even include it right on the invoice too.

In the middle section, clearly describe what you are providing musically. Under quantity, outline how many sets you will be playing. Under rate, input how much one set is. Then, add everything up.

At the bottom, include anything else that may be of importance. For example, you could further describe what you’ll be providing musically or outline everything that the event or venue has agreed to provide you with, outside of the monetary amount. This could be providing you with food and drink or a P.A. system.

Then, tell them how they can pay you. This could be in person, an email for e-transfer, or whether it’s cash or cheque.

Above all, it’s important to remember to document everything on your invoice, whether you think it’s important or not. This is your contract and it’s better to have it in writing.

Here’s an example of an invoice I sent in 2018 for a wedding I played at:

gig invoice picture


Adobe Spark

https://spark.adobe.com/sp/design/post/04bb2039-9655-4795-a3c7-fd93d8909646

I am a huge fan of Adobe Spark. I have used Adobe Spark to create posters for shows and even to create some of my album covers. You do have to make an account with Adobe Spark, or sign in with Google or Facebook. Trust me, though. It’s totally worth it.

Once you have an account, you can create entirely from scratch or use their templates. They have tons of designs and sizes to choose from.

You’re obviously limited in what you can do. Adobe Spark is not like Photoshop or InDesign. But if you have a photo and some words you want to add to it, then Adobe Spark is perfect. And even if you don’t have a photo, they have tons of free stock images that you can choose from.

I highly suggest making an account, and playing around with it. it’s a ton of fun and it’s proven incredibly useful for me.

Here’s a Facebook event image that I created on Adobe Spark for the band, Hello Hopeless:

hello hopeless

Here’s my album cover that I created using Adobe Spark:

melissa koehler


Bandcamp

https://bandcamp.com/

Finally, we have Bandcamp. Bandcamp allows you to upload and sell your songs on their platform for free!

Unlike other platforms, Bandcamp only takes a small cut when a song sells. You decide on the selling price. If you want to sell your music online and you aren’t already using Bandcamp, I highly recommend making an account.

Check out my Bandcamp page here:

https://melissakoehler.bandcamp.com/releases


So, there you have it. I hope you find Invoice Generator, Adobe Spark and Bandcamp useful!

Are there any other amazing free online apps that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!


More articles about promoting and marketing your music by Melissa Koehler from this website:

5 Things Every Professional Musician Should Have to Market Themselves

Musician’s Guide to Booking a Show at a Bar or Club

5 Things Every Professional Musician Should Have to Market Themselves

5 Things Every Professional Musician Should Have to Market Themselves

Hi there. It’s me again. For those that don’t know me yet, my name is Melissa Koehler and I’m a country musician from Ontario, Canada.

As a professional musician, you have to be a songwriter, a singer, an instrumentalist, a business owner, a manager, a booking agent, an accountant and a social media guru all at the same time.😬😎

There’s a lot that’s involved with being a professional musician and sometimes, it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start.

Hopefully, I can help with that and give you a starting point. Here’s my list of 5 things that every professional musician should have in order to market themselves.


An Online Presence

As a professional musician in the digital age, you should absolutely have a Facebook page and/or Instagram account devoted to promoting your band and your music.

melissa koehler facebook

Here’s mine! (Click here to check out my FB music page)

Having a social media set up for your band not only allows for fans to easily find you and your music, but it also allows for band managers, booking agents and show promotors to find you too.

You should police your online presence heavily. Ensure your captions and pictures are professional. Stay clear of language that might be considered inappropriate, and watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Make sure the pictures you post would be okay for your grandma to see. I’m serious. It’s important to build a professional brand online because you never know who might be looking at your Facebook or your Instagram.


A Business Card

There is nothing more professional than having a business card. I keep a few of mine in my purse and in my guitar case so no matter where I go, I always have some on me.

If I’m out with friends and someone mentions needing live music for some future event they’re having, I can easily suggest myself as an option by handing them one of my business cards.

If someone comes up to me after a gig saying that they liked my music, I can hand them one of my business cards so they remember to check out my socials and music later when they get home.

I suggest contacting a graphic designer to help you create a professional looking business card. Make sure you include your band’s name, the genre of music you play, all your important social links, an email and a phone number.

Here’s what my business card looks like:

melissa koehler business card


An EPK (Electronic Press Kit)

If you’re planning to play in real live venues, then you absolutely need an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). An EPK is like your band’s resume.

It gives a band that no one has ever heard of some credibility and it gives venues an idea of who you are and what you play. I go into more detail on creating an EPK and booking shows here.


Some Professional Photos

What’s that saying? Images speak louder than words? As a writer, I don’t always think that’s the case, but photos are extremely important.

I recommend hiring a professional photographer for an hour. If it’s an option, have them photograph your band at one of your shows.

After an hour, you’ll have a huge collection of photos that you can use to up your game on social media, put in your EPK and place the best one on your business card.

I had this photoshoot done in 2016. To date, it’s the only photoshoot I’ve ever had done for my music. I got so many good photos from it; I can’t use them all fast enough!

melissa koehler


A Good Demo

Recording a full-length album, or even an EP, can be extremely expensive. And in the world of Spotify, recording a bunch of songs all at once for one project isn’t really even a thing anymore.

Invest in one good single. Trust me. The time and money are worth it. Find a good studio in your area.

When the song’s mixed and mastered, put it up on iTunes and Spotify. People online and at shows will be impressed that they can buy and/or listen to your song on popular platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

You can also impress venues and promotors with this demo by sending them the iTunes or Spotify link.

Here’s one of my songs that I really like which I always share with people!

This will automatically make them take you more seriously and gives them an opportunity to check out your sound at the same time.

Did I miss anything important? Let me know in the comments below!

More music promotion articles from this site:

How to Organize and Promote Local Live Music Events – 5 Easy Methods

The Most Famous Music Videos Featuring Puppets

Musician’s Guide to Booking a Show at a Bar or Club

Hi, my name is Melissa Koehler, and I’m a country musician from Ontario, Canada.

I use this outline for booking shows at clubs, bars and coffee shops across Southern Ontario. This outline has helped me get gigs at notable venues like Maxwell’s in Waterloo, The Boathouse in Kitchener, The Casbah in Hamilton, The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill and the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

Melissa Koehler

So, if you are a musician looking to book a gig at a bar or a club but you’re not sure where to start, then check out my musician’s guide to booking a show at a bar or club below and follow along with how I go about it!


Research Venues

First, you need to research where you want to play. Decide what bars and clubs you want to play at and in what cities. Make sure you pick a venue that matches your music.

For example, if you play country music, then find a country bar or club where your music fits and makes sense. Keep a list of these venues and then see if you can find out who is in charge of booking the music.

Here’s a short list of the venues I’ve performed at that I had to do a bit of research in order to find.  It’s good to be systematic about these things.

list of southwestern ontario venues

Try to find the manager’s name on the venue’s website, or give the venue a call and ask for the manager’s name. When you’ve done all your research, you should have a solid list of venues and people to contact at those venues.


Create an EPK (Electronic Press Kit)

Next, you need to create an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). An EPK is like your band’s resume. It gives a band that no one has ever heard of some credibility and it gives venues an idea of who you are and what you play.

In your EPK, you should include pictures, a biography of your band, any notable past performances or achievements, a list of covers your band can play, and links to your social media, iTunes/Spotify and live videos.

Here’s a screenshot of what my EPK looks like.

melissa koehler epk

As you can see, I even added my logo for credibility!


Create a Cover Letter

Once you’ve created your EPK, you need to create your cover letter. The easiest way to do this is to create a generic cover letter template that you can use over and over again.

Here’s a screenshot of what my cover letter looks like.

melissa koehler cover letter

Simply highlight the places where you need to switch out the names of the venue and the manager.

Your cover letter should address the bar or club manager by name and then outline your band’s name, how many members are in your band, the genre you play, where you’re from, the name of the venue you want to play at and a few dates you’re interested in playing there.

melissa koehler and will bender live

You should also mention that they can find your EPK attached and include a few social media links at the end of the email.

Also, if you happen to have a video that could act as a musical sample of your work, perhaps at a venue similar to the one you’re applying to, you may wish to highlight this as well.

For example, here’s a video of my band playing at The Commercial Tavern from where I’m from and a very popular venue for country music!  It’s something you may want to include in the EPK, if you think the venue owner would appreciate it.


Have Someone Proofread Your EPK and Cover Letter

Once you’ve written your EPK and cover letter, have the band review it to make sure you haven’t left out anything important.

proofreader

If they give it a thumbs up, then ask a friend or family member to look over it. Make sure it makes sense to them and have them look for grammatical errors that you may have missed.


Send EPK and Cover Letter to Venues

Once you’re done your research and you’ve written your EPK and cover letter, you’re all set to start contacting venues.

Make sure to include the correct names of the venue and manager in your cover letter and then doublecheck that you’ve attached your EPK to the email.

Once you’re confident that everything looks good, hit send!


Follow Up with Venue Managers

Hopefully, you hear back from everyone you contacted, but if it’s been a week or two and you haven’t heard back, be sure to send a follow-up email.

Ask politely if they’ve had a chance to review your EPK and let them know that you can be contacted at anytime if they have any concerns or questions.


Create and Send Invoice

Once you’ve head back from venues and have decided on a date, it’s time to figure out your pay and get it in writing.

Send them a digital invoice with a clear description of what you’ll be providing musically, as well as the terms and conditions for paying you.

Music-performance-invoice-1

Make sure you bring a printed copy of this invoice to the night of your gig to avoid any confusion or miscommunications.

It might be a good idea to have the band, a friend or a family member look over the invoice too.


Send a Thank You to Venue Managers

A few days after your band has played, send the venue a thank you email for having your band play at their venue.

Let them know that your band had a blast and that you’re interested in playing there again. This will help you stand out from other bands and give you a chance to set up your next gig there.

Here’s an example of a thank you email that I use.

venue follow up template


Update Your EPK

As you get more and more gigs, update your EPK with all the new and impressive venues your band has played at!

Did we miss anything? Let us know your tips and tricks for booking shows in the comments below!  

Oh, almost forgot.  Here are some links to some of my personal music stuff in case you’re interested!


Melissa Koehler Links

My Youtube Channel

My Facebook Page

The Most Famous Music Videos Featuring Puppets

weezer muppet

There sometimes comes a point in a musician or bands’ musical career where they (or their management) get the crazy notion to produce a music video that involves some form of puppetry.

elton john and ms piggy

By puppetry, I don’t mean that the artist themselves decides to take up puppeteering – oh no of course not – rather, they usually “drop” a video that prominently features puppets, or, as it were, marionettes.  Presumably, the desired effect here is a resounding WOW!

Indeed, this is the type of career move that neither a fan or casual music listener of said artist can ever be fully prepared for, with the effect of such as manoeuvre generally eliciting a variety of reactions – from hilarity to eye-rolling, to sheer wonder and amazement, depending on who is watching and their level of self-seriousness.

One thing that associating (or in some cases becoming) puppets does for a musician, good or bad, is that it generally does not go unnoticed by the public.

phil collins puppet

Reasons for making a music video featuring puppets are numerous – whether it’s a band who is generally seen as serious who would like people to know they have a sense of humour, to an artists’ Hail Mary attempt to get attention from the world that has ignored them for so long, to simply desiring to produce something different and creative, the impetus behind unleashing puppets on an unsuspecting fanbase is a desire that has long burned with unmatched brilliance in the hearts of entertainers around the world since the invention of the music video itself.

As a fan, you sometimes have to ponder what is behind such a decision, as the results of puppetry in music videos isn’t always 100% well received in the same way Jar Jar Binks and The Phantom Menace can, at their mere mention, lead to the overturning of tables and the sudden negation of civility and the disintegration of lifelong friendships.

jar-jar-obi-wan-feature

Consider that recording artists, who are usually fairly eccentric to begin with, when combined with the unmitigated zaniness and creativity of puppets, tend to make a lasting impression one way or another.  It is, logically, a decision that any recording artist of note will one day have to wrestle with themselves in their heart of hearts.

Hence, today, I want to present to you some of the most famous music videos featuring puppets, since these are videos which, once you see, you cannot un-see, such is the magnitude of sheer creativity in some of these videos, matched only by the level of ridiculousness at times.  Enjoy!


Elton John – Crocodile Rock

If any one musical artist makes sense to be surrounded by puppets, whether it be for a music video shoot or just in every day life, it’s Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known as Elton John!

Here is perhaps the most famous of all Muppet Show musical appearances, with Elton singing his signature song, Crocodile Rock, complete with Animal on drums and singing crocs.

The idea of a campy rocker such as Elton John and the wacky Muppets seem to go together here just like PB & J, making what is essentially a whole lot of unnatural things seem rather expected and totally believable.  I’d almost expect every Elton performance to look something like this.  As fate would have it, he would eventually enter the world of animation, bolstering his mega-stardom even that much more via The Lion King.

In terms of this appearance with the Muppets being a potentially risky career move, there was essentially no risk at all of Elton coming off looking ridiculous, as his inner weirdness has been fairly “out there” for his entire career.  If anything, the Muppets were risking their reputation being seen with him.

Not only that, but Elton John has sort of earned a name for himself doing just about anything and everything, playing for crowds huge and small, and, if you’ve ever seen the biopic Rocketman, or are aware of his history with drugs, this appearance on the Muppet Show was probably one of the more mundane things that he experienced on that specific day.

Visit Elton John’s website here

Visit Jim Henson’s website here


Coldplay – Life In Technicolorr ii

Like U2 before them, Coldplay has garnered a reputation over the years as a fairly earnest band, who sings songs with universal themes for the Everyman, meaning no harm to anyone and preaching nothing but unity in their songs about Life and encouraging people to look to the night sky to see yellow stars.

As competent musically as they clearly are, they have been criticized by their detractors as being fairly self-serious and a little boring at times.  You don’t say…

Enter – Coldplay as puppets.  As mentioned in the intro to this article, there is the idea that a band, aware that they are considered decidedly un-funny by the press and a certain segment of the population, can re-present themselves in a new way to people, showing that yes, they too, like to have a laugh once in a while, displaying to all that they’re not really rich rock stars, but just regular guys.  Yes, that’s right, if by “regular guys” at a pub you are referring to a puppet show spectacular guaranteed to flip your wig right off your head!

This video for Life In Technicolor ii does seem to show, at least to me, that it is possible to have puppets in a music video and have them not be totally ludicrous.  As much as Coldplay plays the “we can be funny too” card here, I don’t find this video to be that funny (or even funny period), although I will say it’s creative and enjoyable even to a sullen whelp like me.

As a puppet video, I think they’ve managed to do the token puppet music video genre some justice, inserting just the right amount of silliness into the video concept, never reaching that career-compromising tipping point.  Bravo!


Mastodon – Deathbound

In terms of clichés, the appearance of puppets in an artist’s music video tends to indicate a desire to make things more fun, or campy, or both.  Perhaps have your band appeal to a new audience of doe-eyed youngsters via a playful charade featuring bobbing, laughing human and animal facsimiles.

But there is another road that may be taken… and that road sometimes points to emphasizing the inherent strange-ness of puppets, resulting in results which may be seen as somewhat “trippy”.  Rarely, however, does an artist employ the use of puppets only to massacre them all.  Such was the prerogative of the band Mastodon, who clearly has had it in for puppets since they were small puppet sized beings themselves.

That said, if you know the band Mastodon, and their style of music that they play being heavy and doom-y as it is, you probably weren’t expecting to see this video when it came out.  Heavy bands like this don’t usually go full puppet-fest.  The above video definitely draws a line in the sand when it comes to puppets, and suggests something to the effect of, the only good puppet is a dead puppet.  Harsh message!

This video even goes as far as to destroy an entire puppet society, complete with puppets that resemble Fraggles, Muppets, and even hardworking Doozers!  Yes, I did even notice that eclipse in the background – ominous.  This is a very artistic video with very strong views, and amazingly it manages to embody the insanity of what would really happen in a puppet society if they were stricken mad, and attacked by larger, more violent puppets bent on destruction.  Clearly there was never any chance of escape.

Visit the Mastodon website here


Genesis – Land of Confusion

Land of Confusion by Genesis is another one of those examples where we have a band that was normally (up until a point) taken quite seriously by their fans and the general music listening public, but then they come out with this.

There’s a few things about “this” to note.  One is that, if you, like me, have grown up listening to the music of Phil Collins through the ’80’s, and sort of getting a sense of who he is, then this video appearing on the scene back when it did is far less surprising.  It may have taken aback Genesis fans back when it came out, but actually, likely not as Phil had been cranking up the cheese over the previous several years with his solo work.  Would the man that wrote “Sussudio” turn himself into a puppet?  You’re darn right he would!

But “Land of Confusion” is more than just “band turns into weird puppet likenesses of themselves for comedic effect”.  Back in the ’80’s, there was a show called Spitting Image, which was British satirical TV show, which had a very specific style of puppetry on display here in this Genesis video.

For many fans, Genesis wasn’t what they once were when they were fronted by Peter Gabriel.  By the mid-80’s, some might say they were just another vehicle for Phil Collins, who, although he is a fantastic musician, also took what people liked about Genesis converted it into his kind of corny dad humour, typified by the Spitting Image puppets.  On the other hand, many would defend Phil and saw the video for Land of Confusion as a landmark ’80’s music video that was just perfect for that era, in large part thanks to the puppets.  What do you think?

Visit genesisfan.net


Alice Cooper – School’s Out

When Alice Cooper was really a household name back in the 1970’s, whose persona rankled the establishment, this song was actually a symbol of his menace to the more reserved families around the United States.  Can you imagine?

Why would this be?  Well, just maybe he represented several things that members of the uptight establishment didn’t approve of – namely, the implication that being in school in some way isn’t good, and the scandalous idea of actually blowing it up (BOOM!).

That I know of, no schools were demolished as a result of this song, and to any reasonable person it is to be taken in good fun, but it must have been a thorn in some parents’ sides at the time just based on how much of an anti-school sentiment it carried.  Whether you are pro or against this song basically depends on how much you yourself enjoy school.  And, as people eventually came to understand over the years, Alice himself is a very educated and erudite man of the world, hehe. (cue clip).

The decision to pair up Alice Cooper with Jim Henson’s Monster Muppet Players must have been interesting at the time, since this combination would have simultaneously made Alice Cooper seem more kid-friendly, while making the normally “PG” muppets seem more “AA”.  In any event, the above video shows a side of Alice Cooper that, prior to his appearance here with the muppets, many people may not have expected him to have – a certain playfulness.

Visit Alice Cooper’s website here

Visit the Jim Henson Company’s website here


Lily Allen – Alfie

Just think, Lily Allen’s real life brother Alfie had this song written about him because he was such a little stoner slacker, and these days he’s been nominated for an Emmy for portraying Theon Greyjoy in the hit series Game of Thrones.  What a turnaround this guy has had!

But, back in those days, when he was the subject of a criticism by his own sister in the song “Alfie”, Lily decided (or someone decided) to portray young Alfie as a delinquent puppet, which then amazingly went on to become the hit that it was.

Lily Allen has done something here which we have yet to mention specifically, although everyone on this list so far has done it more or less, which is the subtle art of the main protagonist of the video not reacting to the fact that there is a puppet in their midst, and treating that totally obvious puppet like he / she / it is a normal person.

The result of this tactic has what must be the desired effect, which is to make the video, which has the gonadulars to parade a sloppily dressed puppet around doing trashy things, seem very cute and quaint by comparison to the perfectly coiffed star of the video.  This is actually a great lesson in both acting and video production for all you young aspiring music video makers out there, which is to learn the age old trick of not breaking that fourth wall.

Overall, the employment of puppetry here is top notch, and by not reacting in any way whatsoever to the atrocious appearance of the puppet with its red eyelids, horse teeth, and suburban lowlife hoody, Lily Allen has entered herself into the pantheon of music videos containing a puppet, and managing to co-exist with it happily on screen.

Visit Lily Allen’s website here


Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo

When it comes to music videos, everyone knows there’s a certain alchemy that makes it a “hit”, but it can be hard for musicians or their creative team to know what that might be, or else there would be no such thing as bad music videos.

Back in the year before Y2K, a little English rock band known as Supergrass put out a song that would definitely try its best to become a “hit”, using all manner of methods that the band could muster, including using elements of puppetry.

This song, “Pumping On Your Stereo”, definitely was delivered with a certain wink and wolf-whistle charm, as it went for the trifecta, I believe, of hit song qualities.

First, it delivered a video that basically no one had ever seen anything like.  Yes, there had been weird music videos throughout the previous decade of the 1980’s, and the 1990’s too had their share of one-hit wonder type videos, but simply visually, this video really is uniquely wacky.

Second, the song itself is very very hook-y, to the point where love it or hate it, you’re going to be humming it soon after hearing it.  It uses the Rolling Stones proven recipe of banging out some chords and having a young upstart sneer his way throughout what essentially could be a jingle for just about any product ever made.  Hard to resist!

Thirdly, and most significantly maybe, Supergrass did the ol’ “we’re pretending to say pumping but really we’re saying humping hahaha!” trick, which makes the song not only catch, but slightly more offensive than it has to be, in order to give it that certain “cool kid” snarky vibe that it has.

At the end of the day, it’s really hard to say what makes this song and video so irritatingly catchy.  Is it the chords, is it the words, is it the very freaky puppet stuff?  Is it all three?  All I know is that I don’t know what to think of this, but I had to put it on the list.

Visit the Supergrass website here


Weezer – Keep Fishin’

We come at last to none other than Weezer.  Why are they here?  Well, by now they’ve tried all sorts of gimmicks for their videos, and so it wasn’t a real shocker to probably anyone with eyes and ears that Weezer, the band that needed the love of fandom more than any other band has needed love before, came out with a video featuring none other than the Muppets.  Like, legit.  It’s the Muppets and Weezer.  Whoa.

By the time 2009 rolled around, it seemed almost as if that appearing with Muppets was a rite of passage for a band or artist.  As in, you haven’t really made it unless the actual Muppets are your friends.  Symbolically, it’s a sign that you are now truly a part of popular culture, even if you crammed yourself in there the same way a fat guy puts on jeans that don’t fit him.

Since we are more than a decade past this video now, we can clearly see that since the very beginning, the kind of band that Weezer is is the kind of band that would want to be around Muppets, Weird Al, the Fonz, and Tokyo drift motorcyclists, preferably all at the same time.  Some might even say that they have no shame (that would be me saying that).  Only maybe the Foo Fighters manage to self deprecate themselves with humour and deflate the whole rock star schtick while simultaneously and fairly obviously trying to embrace it.

All of that said, it’s really quite easy to forgive Weezer for any sort of perceived crimes against music they have committed, especially considering the level at which they rock has never really gone beyond just jamming out for their fans.  The fact that Weezer at one point jammed out with the Muppets, while it doesn’t really tickle my pickle, is something that any $2 psychic could have predicted back in ’94 when the Buddy Holly was on MTV every 10 minutes.  Did I mention I actually don’t mind Weezer?

Visit Weezer’s website


Well, we did it, friends…we made it through some of the most famous puppet-centric music videos of all time.  Did I miss any videos that you are aware of that feature puppets?  What did you think of these videos?  Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist trying to make my own puppet-y video, with the help of the team over at Broadcast King.  Let me know if I should be in the Hall of Fame, or the Hall of SHAME!?

More from this blog you might enjoy (assuming you didn’t mind this post):

The All Time Best Karaoke Songs To Sing Drunk And Be A Hero

What is the Demoscene?

My Spotify For Artists Journey Part 1 by Young Coconut

Hey guys, I’m Young Coconut I have been writing and recording my own music for about 20 years now, and just recently I have joined the Spotify For Artists community, just this past week.  Whoo-hoo!  Good for me!  Right?

I just wanted to share my journey in signing up for Spotify For Artists and what I think about the platform so far. 

It’s funny, I guess, to be talking about Spotify right now in May 2018 when the Spotify platform has been around for years (since 2008 apparently), and everyone is already so familiar with it, streaming all the time like fiends, vibing to sick tunes all day every day. 

But Spotify For Artists is a different beast than regular Spotify, and that’s what I’m going to get into right now.

Anti-Streamer

First off, I may as well talk about why I never bothered with Spotify until now, since I’ve had my actual Spotify account for less than a month, and my Spotify For Artists account was only verified a few days ago. 

Personally, I’ve never liked streaming services, despite them making a lot of sense in many ways to most people, who presumably walk down the street playing their favourite tunes from some purchased pre-made playlist. 

I myself am very possessive of my own personal music collection, and I need to have ultimate control over it, perhaps due to my OCD, or I’m just an old-fashioned control freak like that. 

Be that as it may, I’ve had that music collection of mine for almost 20 years now with my 100’s of albums and discographies that I’ve painstakingly assembled, and they’re mine mine MINE. 

It has all been moved to various external hard drives, and it has grown a lot over the years, and shrunk too matter of fact, as I’ve disposed of some of the music I no longer care for, or music that I never cared for but was on there anyway. 

Here’s a picture of my two old drives which hold most of that music. <tear>

Wait, whoops, that’s my two twin Tascams. 

What can I say?  Some people like to show pictures of their ugly babies, I like to share pictures of my relatively ancient LaCie drive, and that other drive that you can’t see because it’s underneath my Tascam interface, which is next to my other Tascam Eric gave me. 

Not a great pic – sorry, blame Apple! 

Anyway, that LaCie drive with its lovely orange glowing light has all my music stuff on it, that I’ve saved over the years, including my music I’ve made myself, plus all my personal collections of favourite obscure bands, high school poetry, nudes, etc., which I refuse to get rid. 

You think I’m getting rid of all my albums I’ve literally committed crimes for just so I can pay someone to stream it?  No dice, Satchmo!

Streaming has always bothered me in that way, because it means I don’t have ultimate control over it, as I said, and which I apparently need to sleep at night. 

It’s the same reason when I watch contemporary Youtube ads of people doing fun things, I just see black, empty holes where peoples heads are and the sound of cars crashing and an eagle crying. 

Nothing or no one I can relate to, as hard as they (the advertisers) try to make me relate to it.  

Heyyyyy. 

I know Spotify has been used by lots of people over the past five years, and it has been all the rage, but I never wanted anything to do with it. 

To me it went along with smart phones as a type of technology that I found to be somewhat obnoxious, although it is simply trying to provide me with convenience for my busy lifestyle, apparently. 

Have you looked at people lately?  These people are “busy”?  Come on.

Spotify For Artists

My experience with Spotify For Artists started about a month ago when my friend Kenny showed me this course that this guy was offering called Spotify Profits Course offered by Smart Music Business

See, as a musician, and someone who writes and records their own songs, I’ve always considered music to be a hobby in the sense that it pays very little, and takes up a lot of time and energy. 

It’s like frisbee.  You throw it, you catch it.  Call it a passion, call it what you will, no one’s paying you to do that. 

I have a lot of musician friends, who still do the grind and play bars and go on tours, and release albums to minimal fanfare. 

Lately, I’ve gotten tired of all that, as I’ve been doing it for what seems like ever, and I just figured making a living off of music in that regard (making, selling indie music) was nigh impossible.  

But, after watching a few videos from Spotify Profits, I started to ponder this a little more.  Was this guy on to something? 

I’ve been duped before, but I’ve also been lead to the promised land before, which is where I now reside, petting lambs and drinking hibiscus tea while watching the clouds slowly drift by. 

One thing that the course talks about is that streaming is the new way for musicians to make money, with lucrative financial rewards if you could figure out streaming services like Spotify.

Being the marketer I am, I was at least interested in this concept, since I have music I’ve slaved over, late at night, for no apparent reason at all, and I still would like more people to hear it, and buy it in some way, if possible. 

I still have boxes of old CD’s from old bands that are probably never going to sell for a number of reasons, which of course is annoying but it’s just too depressing to toss 100’s of brand new CD’s in the garbage, especially since they’re still shrink wrapped and I actually like some of the music on those albums…like this one. 

Aww, little buddy!

Yim Tin Tam - Come Fly With Me

But anyway, pushing that image of destroying my old CD’s aside for a moment just because they’re effectively useless despite being pristinely new, I figured I’d give Spotify For Artists a shot, since that’s what this guy was suggesting I use to get somewhere in this whole streaming thing.

This is, of course, where the complications began, from the get-go.  Now, either I’m just too behind the times to catch up to why Spotify is actually easy to use, or perhaps Spotify is just NOT easy to use, but overall I found this process very not easy to execute. 

That being, joining the Spotify For Artists community.  It literally took me a month to join.  Why, God, why? 

I’m sure there are many, many people who would say that I’m just just out of touch, but, dammit, I work online for a living, and deal with online issues every day that are mind-numbing and skull-crushing, so you might think I’d know at least enough to sign up for this program in less than a month. 

Here’s a pic of me at my computer though.

In any case, hear me out, if you will.  When I was watching these Spotify Profits videos, of course the guy logs in as himself and as a verified Spotify For Artists artist. 

That’s square one, and it’s from there where you begin your journey to getting millions of screaming fans to listen to you.  The problem is, I wasn’t signed up with Spotify For Artists. 

I wasn’t even signed up for Spotify.  So, I go onto Spotify and look at the deals. 

“Premium”, I figured, would allow me to sign up for this Spotify For Artists program, since I couldn’t seem to do much without paying for something. 

This might be where my stupidity comes in, because I think you can get a free Spotify account and then use it for stuff, but I signed up anyway, and then looked to see about the Spotify For Artists account, but at that point it was too late – I realized that Spotify and Spotify For Artists are not related and you don’t need a Spotify account to get on Spotify For Artists. 

Great…now I have a Spotify account that I didn’t really want in the first place. 

But at the same time, I didn’t know what you needed to do to get a Spotify For Artists account since when you go to that page, it asks you to hook your account up to …your account, so I was like, what account?  My Spotify account?  No, not THAT account.  Your other account, dumbass.  

That’s phase one of when I realized that I needed to actually get my stuff on Spotify, which I hadn’t done.  My problem was that I was approaching Spotify as the listener, not the artist. 

So I started to pursue that goal of being an artist ON Spotify, which meant choosing a company – namely Tunecore in this case – to distribute my music to Spotify, via their services. 

You can’t just upload anything to Spotify, of course.  Tunecore, or CD Baby, or whatever services that does such things has to do that for you, and THEN you can claim your Spotify For Artists account.  Ok, then. 

So I go join Tunecore, and that’s when I realized that I was going to have to spend some money, because Tunecore wasn’t going to schlep my music over to Spotify and the other 20 music streaming platforms for nothing. 

It was going to cost me about $30 USD to do that.  Something like that, anyway.  So I then began uploading an album of mine to Tunecore.  

This wasn’t too tough, the uploading, but I had to make sure that all the files were WAV, which makes sense, because streaming services don’t want to offer up lower quality audio formats to people – ie. crap. 

There was a bit of fussing to do with the size of the album art, and how clear the image on the album art actually is, but they seemed to accept my offerings. 

I purchased the deal that allowed me to share the album with a bunch of different platforms, including Spotify, which was my initial aim.  At that point, I was sitting there waiting for the album to be sent off to these platforms, when I realized that that wasn’t happening. 

A day or so later, I noticed something was missing, so I contacted Tunecore, who told me I had to buy some additional $10 thing that would allow the online distribution to take place. 

All I’d bought was the license, not the actual thing that sent the album off to all the platforms.  So, once I did that, the album was in limbo for a while while it zipped over the internet lines to the various platforms to be received by those organizations.

Days Pass

After about 5 days, I was notified in my Tunecore account that my album was live, and it could be found on Spotify.  Obviously, I rushed over to see it and then realized something else that I somehow missed, which was that although I’d paid for Spotify, I didn’t actually HAVE Spotify, as in, the application.  

It was easy enough to download, but I didn’t do it on my phone because I hate my phone, and would prefer to use it less.  Therefore, I got the laptop version of Spotify and began looking at that.  

Alright, great!  So now I’m actually ON Spotify, the app, as a listener with an account that worked.  This looked like what the Spotify Profits guy was using – the app, except he was an Artist. 

I started to play around on the app, since I did have that Premium account I sort of convinced myself I needed.  

Of course, this Spotify app was simply registered to me, Dave, not Young Coconut, my Artist name.  Hmmm…so, I had purchased Spotify under my actual name, and so now the app is under my name.  Makes sense, right? 

Meanwhile, I had purchased a license as Young Coconut and then the ability to send my material with that license over to Spotify to be featured on Spotify, so that anyone could find it (even though I couldn’t yet find it), as Young Coconut.  Great! 

Now I was both a listener and and an Artist who could be found (theoretically, at some point) on Spotify.  Is this not called progress?  Except what was I to do next?

Becoming Myself

young coconut

Clearly, the next thing to do would be to “claim” my artist account, since that’s what some guy on Youtube said to do.  So I go to do that, and…nothing happened. 

Why?  Because, although I was able to now see myself on Spotify as Young Coconut, I wasn’t able to log into anything as Young Coconut, because I had no Spotify For Artists Account. 

When you go to that menu in Spotify for Artists, it says something like, “Ok, find your account to claim it”, so I tried to do that, and basically it either didn’t know who I (Young Coconut) was, or it found some other band that had the same name as me. 

Because, when I went to my album that was on Spotify, although it was there under my name, that account wasn’t yet verified and so you can’t claim your artist account with an unverified account, which is the type of account you will have if you join Spotify For Artists to begin with. 

So, I couldn’t do anything.  Shock!  Horror!  I was stunned.  

This is when I emailed Spotify artist support to see if they could help, mentioning that I didn’t know what to do to verify my artist account when in order to do that, I needed what seemed to be a verified artist account. 

They got back to me a week later…

They seem like nice folks, but that’s when they started to talk about Twitter and Instagram, both of which I have no personal artist page on either of those platforms. 

So I started sending them to what I do have, which is THIS WEBSITE, and some other accounts like Facebook, Soundcloud.  

Guess what?  My Facebook page didn’t do it for them, so they suggested I point them to a personal website, since this website is clearly not me. 

They wanted my email displayed on the site too, which I went ahead and did, even though I don’t really want my personal email on the site, which is what I had to do, although it didn’t work.

So what DID I do?  I went ahead and made a whole new website, under my name, to prove that YES, I AM YOUNG COCONUT.

Of course, I hadn’t planned to do this nor did I really feel like it but I really wanted to claim my Spotify For Artists account and this seemed to be my last resort. 

Luckily, they were cool with that and allowed me to verify the account, FINALLY.  So now I’m verified.  Yay! 

On the downside, I had forgotten that my first website ever was called youngcoconutmusic and so it was the account name on my current account on my current hosting where all my shit is. 

And I had to delete that account in order to re-install wordpress, which almost had me deleting everything I’ve ever made, but I digress. 

Not so relevant to this story, except to say that this whole situation was causing major disturbances in the psychic field for me as I spent hours contending with this lame problem that came out of nowhere. 

The poor hosting people, they’ve logged so much time with me now.  But dammit, Spotify finally verified me so we’re all good.

There was only one small problem.  The other band that was apparently named the same as me is also in my Spotify For Artists account, so we’ve merged into a sort of siamese twin version of Young Coconut. 

I can see their stats, and their albums and track listings, as if I am them.  I can’t edit their albums, because that is on the distribution side of things, but currently I am posing as them and myself, which was never my intention. 

So now at some point I probably should contact those guys and say “Hey guys, I control the name, and I can see your stats as well.”  But I feel like if I tell Spotify artist support about it, they may just un-verify me, so I won’t do that just yet.  I’ll just keep an eye on things.

Now, back over on my Spotify application, I notice that the Spotify Profits course seems to teach a lot about making playlists and such, except for the fact that my Spotify account was under my real name, and so it wasn’t really linked to my artist account in any way. 

Therefore, if I make a playlist, it’ll just say that I did it, not Young Coconut, perhaps defeating the purpose of making playlists at all for the purpose mentioned in the course (make $$). 

So I had to contact artist support again, and submit even more proof of my account, which prompted them to change the name on my app to Young Coconut, and hence solving all of my problems up until this point. 

Because now I can make playlists as Young Coconut, and I can also log into my Spotify For Artists as Young Coconut.  It only took me an entire month to do it, but now I’m good to go!

I think that’s probably a good a point as any to cut this blog off, because I feel like I have reached a plateau, and now it is time to begin the next climb, with whatever challenges that presents in the world of being a Spotify Artist. 

Surely it will involve following the previously mentioned Spotify Profits course, watching Youtube “how to’s” on Spotify, and avoiding getting myself into trouble on the platform. 

Sometimes you find trouble, and sometimes it finds you, so we’ll see what happens first.  I don’t really know if my brain is just wired wrong, or this process for signing up to Spotify Profits is unnecessarily complicated. 

I’d like to speak with other Spotify artists to hear their stories, as I’m not ruling out that I have some kind of brain tumour and can’t understand simple things like this. 

I would also like to add that this article is not to say that Spotify the app is bad, or that the Spotify For Artists service is less than stellar.  I just haven’t had a chance to use them, but I shall, and report back to whoever might be listening in PART 2. 

Ciao!

Can You Make A Living Making Music For Audiojungle? – Diva Production Music Interview

When it comes to creating and selling royalty-free music online, I must admit that, until recently, I was only vaguely aware of the concept. 

But, as a musician and someone who is always trying to explore new potential money-making ideas, there comes a time where such ideas enter your awareness and you ponder them.  Sometimes even act on them.  

Such was the case when I came across Diva Production Music, a Youtube channel that talks in depth about this very topic of making a sustainable business out of producing sought-after royalty-free music for the corporate world. 

Back to him in a moment, as he is the subject of today’s article and interview.  First a bit of context, if I may.

So, everyone who is of working age knows something of the “corporate world”, like it or not.  As a musician, for a long time, just those two words together equated to “sellout”, and made me cringe slightly. 

Same with my friends, too – we all hated the idea of the corporate world, and wanted to avoid it at all costs.  To be honest, for me personally, that has equated to making music independently and seeing no income for my efforts for the past 20 years. 

I also taught music, because, as they say, those can’t do, teach.  A reductive definition to be sure, but somewhat true, I’ll admit.

But here we are in 2018, and, lets face it – everyone needs to make a living.  Also, the music business has changed tremendously in the past 20 years.  If you don’t know that, you must have been living under a rock.  

Then

Starting with the onset of the internet in about ’95, and then on P2P and file-sharing platforms like Napster and Limewire at the turn of the century, the control was forcibly taken away from those who run the music business, and “given back” to the people. 

File “sharing” AKA theft (Lars was right all along) was in vogue and has been ever since. 

The big music labels had to watch as everyone started simply taking everything that they had previously put a pricetag on, for free.

This of course went for movies, games, and everything else that could be turned into a file, and the entertainment industry tried their best to stop it.  And continually failed.

Now

Fast forward almost two decades.  Independent musicians are now simultaneously more empowered to enter the world of entrepreneurship on their own terms, while at the same time far less attached to the idea of becoming a famous rock star one day. 

This, I think, is not only because the “rock star” model was always somewhat of a lie, but also because there are many more options for starting actual legitimate online businesses open to individuals now that the age of the internet is beginning to mature slightly.  

This is essentially where people like Daniel Carrizalez (AKA Diva Production Music) comes in to the story.  Daniel is a musician, and has spent years honing his craft, composing songs and using all the gear he has at his disposal. 

There came a point where he had to make a choice between using his skills as a musician to earn a living online, or earning his living in some other way (ie. a “real” job in an office or factory, perhaps). 

The “rock star” notion was not something he was interested in, since it really is just a dream that comes true only once in a blue moon.  It is not a viable career choice to a man with a wife, an 8-yr old daughter and a new baby. 

So he began taking his music making abilities more “seriously”, if you will, in that he wanted to make music, but also he needed to earn a living. 

Emphasis on the word need.  Becoming aware of the new wave of internet marketing types, and jobs related to that field, Daniel began to explore his options.  

One site that stood out to him in his search for potential job opportunities was Audiojungle

Audiojungle is a sub section of the Envato Market, which is a much broader business that offers a multitude of services, one such being offering website themes and options to business owners. 

The overarching concept of Envato, to my understanding, is to be able to hook up an online business person with whatever they need to help improve their own services.  

Audiojungle, specifically, is a service that offers music to anyone who needs music for a commercial, or product of any kind, but lacks the musical element. 

On Audiojungle, the music is pre-made by professionals (such as Diva Production Music ), and sold to those who are willing to pay for the license so that they can make use of it. 

Without the license, if a person were to use this music, it would be considered stealing.  With the purchase of a license (and there are various types), the buyer can now use the music they’ve purchased to use in their own project.

After watching some of Daniel’s content, I became more and more interested in the idea of using Audiojungle to make money with my music, and so I contacted him. 

Luckily, he was willing to answer some of my burning questions on this matter.  So, here is our interview.  Enjoy!


Q: How long have you been making music?

A: I’ve been making music since I was a teenager, but composing and producing stock music only the last 4 years.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

A: I enjoy all sorts of music, especially rock, alternative rock.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy making?

A: I enjoying making a lot of acoustic guitar music and experiment with different elements. At the moment, I try to focus on making corporate music, the one that is required and is most popular for media projects.

Q: When did you become aware of Audiojungle?

A: In 2014, I did an extensive search on making and selling music online, and Audiojungle was one of the top marketplaces for that.

Q: Was it difficult to get started on Audiojungle?  What’s the basic process for doing that?

A: Yes, it was difficult. I had no idea what stock music was and even though I knew all about music composition and production, I’d never done commercial music before.

The basic process involves setting up and author’s account and uploading your track. The music that you are uploading should reflect your strengths and ability to create more, quickly and effortlessly.

Q: What type of music do you specialize in making for Audiojungle?

A: I specialize in inspirational and feel-good music, particularly in the genres of rock, pop, folk and/or corporate.

Q: What type of gear setup do you have to make the tracks you make?

A: I am running ProTools on a Macbook pro laptop, use different WAVES plugins for the production of the music, an Eleven Rack as an interface, a SansAmp as a base preamp and a microphone preamp to record acoustic guitars. I also have a midi keyboard and a selection of different guitars, both electric and acoustic.

Q: How big is Audiojungle, community wise?

A: The community of Audiojungle is quite big and growing very fast.

Q: Is it competitive at all?

A: Yes, it is but the key here is not to compete but to create the best product for each and every project.  I am a creator, NOT a competitor.

Q: Do you ever hear form Audiojungle for any reason or Envato for that matter?(ie. do you talk to a rep or is it hands off mostly)

A: There are no reps involved but if you need to contact support, there is a system available. But each author is on their own, and it is up to you to decide on your presentation and marketing of your music.

Q: How much of your work for Audiojungle is inspiration, how much is work work?

A: Inspiration comes after I start working on a new project. I believe that work is a good thing and inspiration comes from working on your craft. Inspiration, like motivation, will always let you down. One that creates cannot wait for inspiration to arrive; you find it only through working!

Q: What are their basic standards for whether a track is suitable for their platform?

A: Over the years, the bar has been raised higher and higher, both in composition and production. That means that the tracks uploaded and accepted back in 2010 most likely, will not be accepted now. The review process is very thorough nowadays and an author must continue to improve and polish their skills. The final result should be broadcast quality, like the music you hear on a TV commercial or YouTube ad.

Q: Who reviews the tracks submitted and how long does that process take?

A: There is a group of reviewers in Audiojungle and the review time varies depending on the number of submissions. It can be anything from 7 days to 15 days for a song to be approved and up or sale.

Q: Who uses Audiojungle from the customer side, as far as your experience tells you?

A: Costumers are video-makers, film-makers, advertising companies and of course, YouTubers!

Q: What’s the price range of songs on Audiojungle?

A: A song can be sold based on the length of the music, starting from $12-15 to $19 for a standard license. The price will directly depend on the license purchased, for example, ie. broadcast license or film license.

Q: Does anyone try to pirate Audiojungle tracks that you know of?

A: Yes. I have personally heard and informed Audiojungle on tracks being used with the watermark.

Q: What kind of musicians do you think would be good authors on Audiojungle?

A: A good author on Audiojungle is any musician with the right mindset to be at the service of others, in this case, the other media makers and content creators.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: In order to become a successful stock music composer, we must be aware of the market’s needs, without comparing ourselves to other composers.


And…that about wraps things up here today!  To learn more about Daniel and Diva Production Music, visit his Youtube channel here, and don’t forget to subscribe!

Talking Custom Royalty-Free Songs Production with Snail Music

In this day and age, being a working musician requires you to be aware of several new business models which can bring potential success, many of which involve the online world.  One of those avenues that business-savvy musicians are looking at is producing royalty-free music in various styles and made available through online distributors, connecting talented musicians and their libraries of diverse music with the exact right audience who needs them.  
 
This so happens to be the specialty of a company / website called Snail Music, who do exactly this.  Their service offers high quality tracks at affordable rates that span across a variety of genres, and can all be purchased through the popular website, Audiojungle, which is part of Envato.  Various audio licences are available to cover all your legal bases.
As luck would have it, I had a chance to grill Snail Music in the persons of their co-founders Pablo and Fernando about their dynamic music business and how it functions. 
 
I think that in this rapidly changing world, musicians are sometimes the type of people who aren’t necessarily clued in to the full range of business possibilities open to them, as they are more focused on the creative side of things.  And so, I think it’s valuable to touch base with fellow musicians who are actively developing these skills themselves.
 
Without further delay, here is my interview with Snail Music!
 

Q: What is the concept behind Snail Music?
 
A: We started Snail Music as a way to create music and be paid for it without the hassle of becoming a band. We just wanted a business that was an expression of our creativity. So nowadays we produce royalty-free songs that we later sell on some online marketplaces, like Audiojungle
 
Q: Can you tell me how long Snail Music has been around and how it came to be?
 
A: We’ve been around for 2 years now. It all started when my partner and amazing musician, Fernando, registered on Audiojungle and started to upload music there. Despite being an amazing guitarist and singer, he never produced a song before with the computer, so he had to learn everything from scratch. 
 
After some weeks on it, he told me (Pablo) if I wanted to join, so I said yes on the spot! At that time I was working as a general manager for an SEO agency, but my entrepreneurial side was always stronger than any fancy job. I started to build the Snail Music webpage and, through my previous SEO knowledge, getting traffic: customers and referrals and three or four months later I quit my job to become a full-time co-founder.
 
Q: Do you have a typical type of customer that comes to you the most for music?
 
A: Yes, they’re mostly online freelancers in the media industry or little-medium companies that need background music for their corporate videos or advertising.
 
Q: Do you do custom orders?  ie. following directions to get a certain effect
 
A: We did it for a while, but not now. We believe almost anything that you can need in terms of royalty-free music is already available on Audiojungle and, from an economical point of view, its much more profitable to release a track and sell licenses to whoever is interested than only to one single client.
 
Q: Is it possible for two different people who don’t know each other to end up using the same song from you?
 
A Yes, it is, although the Internet is so big nowadays in terms of data that is almost impossible to listen to the same song twice randomly from different videos or ads.
 
Q: What license do you recommend to clients the most and why?
 
A: Usually what most people need is the ‘Standard’ license, which is also the cheaper ($19) but covers all uses on the Internet. The other ones are well suited for other end products (apps, audiobooks…) or broadcast (tv, radio…)
 
Q: How has the rise of mobile affected your business?
 
A: It’s always good for us because mobile means that more people are connected and browsing the Internet for more hours so, therefore, the economics are moving there: youtube ads, Facebook advertising, Instagram… all they are what was before just tv or radio ads. And all of them need background music.
 
Q: Do you create literally any kind of music people ask for?
 
A: What we do is create our music depending on the ‘best sellers’ on Audiojungle. The best royalty-free music authors are competing there for a spot and, when a song is selling a lot of licenses, it means that a lot of people are liking it. 
 
Q: What’s the most popular “genre” you make for people?  
 
A: Always the ‘corporate’ genre. You can listen to some examples of it here. In the end, companies are the ones who are spending more money on advertising, of course, and they demand a type of song that is mostly a combination of some moods: happy, uplifting and inspirational. Why? Because that’s what they want to transmit to their clients with their product or service.
 
Q: How busy are you guys?
 
A: Hahaha that’s a good one! We’re pretty busy. Me, for example, I have another business to run, dedicated to the cryptocurrency industry. So if I’m not with one I’m with the other, but it’s also true that we have our own schedules and we try always to automate everything. Creating any business from scratch is difficult and very time-consuming but if you do it right you can later enjoy the economic rewards, manage your time and don’t have more bosses than your clients.
 
Q: Do any of your artists make their own music and is it available anywhere?
 
A: Nowadays we’re dedicating all of our time to royalty-free music, because that’s a full-time job, so everything is in our portfolio. The non-royalty-free music is not on the Internet as we liked to play live but not recording anything.
 
Q: Do many people ask for music that has vocals in it, or are you dealing with predominantly instrumentals?
 
A: Mostly instrumentals, because you see, people who need a background song for their video or advertising already have a voice explaining something, so they do not want another background voice, only instrumentals that don’t bother but also add a nice mood.
 
Q:  What upcoming plans does Snail Music have in store?
 
A: We’re humble, so our plan right now is just continuing doing what we’re doing and working every week without stopping, improving the business little by little with new music and nice SEO & Youtube work. There’s always things to do when you run a business, so it’s impossible to be bored, haha. We’re already very very grateful of being able to make a living from what we love and to enjoy the present moment.

 
Hey everybody, thanks for checking out the interview!  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and we or the Snail Music folks will get back to you in due course.  If you want to contact them directly, email: hi@snailarts.com

Napster – P2P’s Sacrificial Lamb

Napster was a pioneer in peer-to-peer file sharing services. The service specialized in sharing audio files, especially music files encoded in the still-popular MP3 format.  

The service allowed its users to easily exchange songs through a decentralized file sharing system – the first of its kind, really – which changed the way everyone got their music.  What seemed like an amazing breakthrough in accessibility to all music eventually led the music industry to lay charges of massive copyright infringement against it. Napster then had to cease operations.

The original Napster service ran between June 1999 and July 2001. Although the service was closed by court order, it opened the way for many other peer-to-peer programs: Gnutella, Freenet, Kazaa, LimeWire, Scour, Grokster, Madster, eDonkey2000, and many others. Many of these services were based on the Napster model and implemented the same decentralized peer-to-peer architecture, which has made them similarly despised over the years by those who believe the Napster model is nothing more than a platform for piracy.  The battle rages on…

History of Napster

The idea for what Napster would do (share files in a decentralized system quickly and easily) was the brainchild of creator Shawn Fanning, a computer programmer from Brockton, Massachusetts who came up with the basic code for Napster when he was 18 in a broom closet in his uncle’s office.

It all began when Shawn Fanning, nicknamed <napster> on a hacker chat forum because of his nappy hair (I guess before she shaved his head), had a room mate at Northeastern University in Boston who was having trouble downloading his favourite music from the internet.  Even though Shawn disliked his roommates taste in music, it gave him an idea.  Hmm…

The internet itself had only been in available to the public for a few years by this point, and was still in the “dial up” era, where connections to the internet were quite slow still. 

Some people, like Shawn Fanning and his buddy Sean Parker, had met through early internet forums, and bonded over this new social connection the internet provided.  This way of connecting to people was still a novelty at this time, and Shawn and Sean were like cyber penpals.  Today, people meet in this way all the time and it’s the norm.  Back then, it was rather unusual to make friends in such a way.

Thanks to Shawn’s roommate’s issue with downloading music, Shawn figured he could make file sharing easier, and set about creating Napster by roughing out some code which would constitute the basic gist of what Napster was meant to do. 

After a while, Shawn, his brother John Fanning, and Sean Parker decided to turn Napster into a start-up business and take some serious action on the idea.  Tech start-ups were just starting to become a thing back in those days, and Napster was just another kooky tech start up.

Before Napster, services such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Hotline Communications, and Usenet facilitated file distributions over the web, so the idea of sharing files was not entirely unprecedented.  But Napster was subtly different from these communities in a few different ways, even though the code still needed work. 

Shawn then handed the code over to some more expert coder dudes, like Jordan Ritter, who became the chief server architect for Napster, and that’s when the real fun began, because Jordan was able to take Shawn’s idea and make it actually work, even without Shawn showing him the source code which he presumably wanted to keep to himself.  

Downloading in Dorms

Once the Napster system actually worked, Shawn was quick to share his creation with the students at his university, who took it for what it was – a way to get free stuff!  With its friendly interface and growing base of users, Napster began to catch on quickly and soon thousands of kids were using the service.  The MP3 was the new file format which made the sharing of music files super easy, and soon MP3’s were being shared en masse.  

MTV, the gossip hounds of the music biz, were there to interview students about this new “fad” that was starting to catch on.  What was this whole “Napster” thing all about, anyway?  LOL.

The service was an interesting combination of centralized / non-centralized system models.  For instance, Napster had their servers which contained their growing user base, but the servers didn’t hold any songs.  The users downloaded the Napster application to their computer and they became the servers, while Napster just facilitated the interaction of those users.  Hence, once music companies started freaking out, it was hard for them to know who to sue – the users themselves, or Napster.  Well, they of course started with Napster and tried to nail the users later.

It’s A Small World After All

While Napster was starting to catch on with users in colleges and universities, there was, around this time in the late 1990’s, a strong desire for people around the world to connect with each other, and Napster gave them an excuse to do that over sharing music with each other.  This made Napster practically the first successful social network, albeit for more introverted music-loving types of people.  It was no Facebook, and yet it sowed the seeds for such interactions to happen later.

It should also be mentioned that Napster as a company was basically a not-for-profit, in that it wasn’t designed to make money, and it didn’t – the entire time it was online – except for some T-shirt sales.

The MP3

As Napster was going viral (as we call it these days, but that slang didn’t exist then), people concurrently were making new ways to play and store music, so that users could take advantage of file formats like MP3.  MP3 players becoming a big thing, and soon enough, MP3 was the de facto file format for songs to be encoded in, so they could be played or stored on a computer lickety split. 

This was despite them being inferior audio-wise to most other forms of audio that had been created up until that point, such as the CD, tapes, and, of course, vinyl records.  Audiophiles to this day do not prefer the MP3, due to it’s overly compressed nature and loss of audio quality in order to shrink down the file size to be more easily shareable.  Regular people who aren’t listening closely for audio quality still don’t mind MP3’s, and they are still hugely popular today.

Making History

One thing that should be pointed out is that Napster was making available for the first time ever, all of the music that was in a digital form from all of human history.  Never before had this been done, and for free.  It was a moment in time that some saw as a great moment, since it was tapping into everyone’s collective vaults of digital music and exposing them to the world.

As part of this, Napster made it so that if you wanted to share in the fun, you needed to download the application, and so expose yourself and your hard drive to all the other users, who were connected through the application as well.   This seemed rather risky, but since Napster made it seem like you were just joining their fun little community, users didn’t really think much about the risks involved.

Even Shawn Fanning’s friends had their doubts that people would want to share the contents of their hard drive with total strangers, but, as it turned out, music lovers said “OK” to this possible breach of privacy for the chance to search through others’ music libraries. 

As a user of the software, you simply “asked” Napster if the file was out there (ie. typed in a song you wanted to get), and Napster would quickly and easily point you to someone who had the file, if anyone in the network did.  Usually someone did, but their connection might be slower or faster depending on their computer set-up.  From there, if that person was online, you could then download the file from them right then and there, and then you had it as a file on your computer.  Kind of like trading baseball cards, except with songs, and online… and somewhat anonymously… and ignoring all copyright laws. 😉

The Age Of File Sharing Innocence

As the service caught on more and more, the ease of finding and downloading music files quickly made Napster very popular among basically everyone who tried it.  Some liked the service because it allowed them to find copies of songs difficult to obtain otherwise, such as old songs, unpublished recordings and amateur recordings made at concerts.  

Others felt justified in downloading digital copies of recordings they had already purchased in other formats such as albums or cassettes.  Still others used the service to protest record companies forcing them to buy a full album when they only wanted one or two songs of an album.

Finally, many Napster users simply appreciated the opportunity to exchange or download music for free.  Some called it a revolution.  Some called it piracy.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t stopping once it started. 

Free-for-all

Napster quickly created problems for institutions, like colleges and universities.  The high-speed networks in universities and high schools had by this point become overcrowded with file sharers, with Napster hogging up 60% of the traffic to these networks.  Little work was getting done, as people were becoming addicted to the service and downloading all they could in a manic free-for-all.

As a result, many colleges blocked the service because of the congestion it caused on their network, before they even worried about their potential complicity in a potential copyright infringement on their network.

At its peak, Napster service had about 80 million registered users.  The music industry was starting to get wise to the service, and objections were getting louder by the day.  Meanwhile, Shawn was getting his moment in the spotlight as an influencer and game changer.  And it’s not like he wasn’t that – he really was.  He was a kid that had a great idea and made it a reality, and changed the world.  

The ease of downloading individual songs with Napster and subsequent services is often cited as the cause of the end of the era of albums in popular music, which, to be honest, never really “recovered” after Napster.  Like it or not, everyone was forced to look at music differently after that.

Mac Version

Initially, the service was available only on Windows. In 2000, Black Hole Media wrote a Napster client for Macintosh called Macster. Macster was later bought by Napster and named the official customer under the name Mac Napster (Napster for the Mac).  At this point, the Macster name has been dropped.

Even prior to Napster’s acquisition of Macster, the Macintosh community had a variety of Napster customers, developed independently by various groups. Most notable were the client open source MacStar, released by Squirrel Software in early 2000 and Rapster published by Overcaster Family in Brazil.

The release of MacStar’s source code has paved the way for Napster customers across all computing platforms, giving users ad-free music distribution tools.

The Real Problem

The argument for Napster being innocuous and innocent (ie. fun) seemed to stem from a certain naivety on the part of its creators.  The desire to “share” media of all kinds and make it “universal” to anyone who had the Napster software seems like a nice idea, in the same way you might loan an album to a friend.  There seems to be no harm in sharing music between “friends” or “peers”, as this was a peer-to-peer system, with the little smiling Napster guy being the facilitator of all of this innocent “sharing”. 

The problem with the whole concept seemed to come from file duplication, not so much the sharing itself.  Since sharing MP3’s was essentially copying them, which has always been illegal in most forms of both print media and digital media, this posed a problem because it took the idea of demand away from the artists who created that media in the first place.  And so, even though Lars managed to piss off Metallica fans and everyone else by calling them thieves, he did have a point in some way. 

In 2001, Dave Grohl was on the Dennis Miller show and had a decent retort to the Lars argument of millionaire rock stars being pissed at their fans for stealing their hard work from under their noses.  Should music be free to everyone, or a privilege to those who could afford it? 

Clearly, one could argue either way that Napster was good or bad, but, of course, when it comes down to the matter of pure capitalism, the big music companies weren’t about to take this file sharing bullshit any longer, and they eventually did bring the hammer down on the whole situation, and the Napster software was eventually forcibly taken down in 2001, after several years of legal proceedings in the United States for infringement of copyright law.

What happened?  Just to recap, from the outset, the role of Napster in the transfer of music and service efficiency had raised the ire of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which very quickly, on the 7th December 1999, filed the first lawsuit against the popular file-sharing service.

This initial lawsuit aimed at snuffing out Napster ASAP, but only offered it free publicity instead – at first. The media coverage of the lawsuit has inflated Napster’s customer base by millions of new users.  But that didn’t stop various entities from taking the revolutionary idea of making music free for everyone that Shawn initially thought of, and basically beating the shit out of it legally.  As mentioned earlier with Lars of Metallica, certain artists absolutely HATED Napster (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and many many more), and sided with the music industry in an effort to destroy Napster.

The plaintiffs alleged that Napster facilitated copyright infringement, and filed an application for a preliminary injunction to stop the exchange of musical selections immediately.

Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California  granted the preliminary injunction on the basis that the plaintiffs demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success.  It did take years to grind Napster down, with the help of a memo written by Napster co-founder Sean Parker who mentioned the word “piracy”, basically giving everyone enough evidence in that one word or sentence to assume that Napster was never about anything but theft.

Napster Goes Offline

Napster was forced to shut things down in July 2001, but even after they did that, it wasn’t dead yet because people had Napster appendages running off site that kept the system going even without the main hub being active.  Eventually though, those were stamped out too.

Napster then filed for bankrupcy in June of 2002, they had to raise 100 million dollars to essentially pay people off, including Dr. Dre and Metallica (two of the more vocal and powerful opponents of Napster), including investors and so forth.  In the documentary Downloaded, they said it was about 500 million that needed to be raised and then just as quickly the funds were absorbed back into the industry, as Napster was on its way out the door. 

It was shortly after that that new file sharing systems like Limewire, Gnutella, and eDonkey came about, effectively replacing Napster and being even harder for the music industry to eradicate.

After Napster ended, the co-founders went their separate ways, entering into new enterprises and continuing to explore the potential of the online world. 

Shawn Fanning, for his part, did what he could to try and restore some of the rights that Napster had “taken away” from artists, by creating an “independent copyright database” called Snocap.  The idea here was to give artists a chance to register their work, and then whatever wasn’t registered was then considered “free”.  Unfortunately, this business didn’t take off, due in part to iTunes beginning its ascent at this time. 

From there, Shawn created Rupture, a gaming company, which he then sold off to EA for 30 million dollars. 

Co-founder Sean Parker went on to create Plaxo, which never reached its full potential, and then got involved with Facebook, where his career really took off.

The Changing Music Industry (2002-2010)

In this interim after the death of Napster, many things happened.  For one, music fans started to resent the music industry for killing off Napster, and refused to support them.  Record sales dropped and dropped and dropped, so that by 2010, the record industry as it was 10 years prior was no longer existed. 

As many predicted, the offspring of Napster in the form of various decentralized peer-to-peer networks rose up, taking the place of Napster and being even more virulent and impossible to shut down.  The music business actually took the time to sue the pants off of regular people for illegal downloading using these new services, further instilling a sense of resentment to the big record companies. 

A culture war had begun, and even though the creators of Napster were forced to pay their debts (both real and imagined) and move on, there was no stopping what had begun. 

As people became more tech savvy, the dinosaurs of the industry who wanted to keep the old model of the music business happening were being laid to waste by a new population of creative thinkers thanks to what Napster started.  This battle continues on to this day, with websites like the Pirate Bay being shut down by authorities and re-spawning not longer after. 

Big companies still try to sue people, and file sharing networks get more sophisticated all the time.  Free music and other media (movies, etc) is still very much available, although you may be punished if you download it.

Napster Today

After all of that, you’d think Napster would be dead and gone.  But nope.  Today, in 2018, Napster has 3 different headquarters in different parts of the world (Seattle, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo), and operates 100% legally, with a number of patents under its belt.  Here is their motto on their about page as it stands right now:

“Napster’s leading streaming music services give members ad-free access to millions of songs. Whether they’re listening on their phone, at home, at work, or in the car, Napster goes where they go. Our expert team of editors create a curated music experience that’s easy for members worldwide to gather and enjoy new original content including videos, playlists, reviews, and radio stations — anytime and anywhere.”

This is quite the change from their early days of distributing pirated music, but it is also a 180 degree turn from the user base they once had, who were morally, let us say, flexible.

https://us.napster.com/

Downloaded Documentary

In 2012, a documentary made by director Alex Winter  was released to much acclaim, and gave an in depth look at the cultural shockwaves that resulted from the Shawn Fanning’s original creation.  I highly recommend anyone interested in learning more about file sharing, music, culture, or human rights check it out, as it is brilliant and will give you a whole new understanding of our changing world.

Rent it on Amazon (or torrent it, you sleazy pirate you)

Here’s an interview with Alex Winter about the documentary.  Worth a watch!

Here’s some guy in 2016 trying to use the old Napster client.  Somewhat entertaining if you’re a computer geek!

Well thanks for reading.  Bye! – YC

Interview with JK Phil Osé of Fauxtown on the Music Biz and More!

Hey, YC here.  Today I sat down with JK Phil Osé, one of Fauxtown Record’s many talented musical artists, to talk about a number of things, starting with what got him into music in the first place, then moving into DIY recording of albums, and then moving on to a discussion the nature of the music business as it stands here in 2018. 

Because I know Phil personally, from our dual membership in both Try Hardz and Childebeast (not to mention McBain’s World), we accidentally break down the 4th wall so to speak (at first I play the part of the ignorant journalist – so much for that guise), and go into the inner workings of our own mysterious and colourful record label – Fauxtown Records, and how we can ever improve it beyond some of the fascism that exists out there today in order to reach the “free market” and continue to please our fans moving forward.  We also discuss musical accessibility, losing and regaining hope, and finding our niche.

You know folks, running an indie record label isn’t easy work, and it takes the cooperation of everyone involved in such a relatively small venture (compared to the big labels that are still operating out there) to do their part and keep the dream alive.  But what is that dream, at this point?  Is it making a living off your music, bringing fame and glory to our artists, or just sharing music with whoever will listen and appreciate it?  In any case, enjoy this interview with J.K. Phil Osé as we cover a variety of topics.

YC: Hey Phil, how’s your day going thus far?

JK: Hello Dave I’m pretty good.

YC: you’ve been busy making music for a while now.  when did it all start?

JK: It started when I was 17

YC: Take us back will ya?  What happened?

JK: Well…in regard to my shit?

YC: in regard to getting into music.. what sparked your interest and what kind of music were you interested in?

JK: Oh..yea it was a need to find some expression. I borrowed my sisters keyboard for a few months and started writing boring SOft experimental.  I was interested in punk as a youth, then hip hop and began to get into abstract music per-say into my twenties.

YC: So initially it was just a means of expression. What was going on at the time in your life that you needed to express via music?

JK: I’d say some familial troubles and personal addictions. And the complications that come from the traumas. Of both.

YC: So you say keys was your first instrument you kinda picked up?

JK: When I was 6 I learnt the C major scale, and some songs to go with it, then 8-9 years later I began experimenting with keyboards. In the interim was playing minimal bass guitar until I was 18. A little piano, a little bass, then at 18 a lot of guitar, bass and minimal piano/key boards.

YC: Did you have recording in mind, or performing, or both, or neither?

JK: I began recording right away. I never had a specific genre in mind and still don’t I play to the feeling of my hands. I simply express melodies, lyrics, and rhythms.

<interjection> – some music

YC: what’s your fav instrument at the moment to play?

JK: I enjoy the Classical guitar the most.

YC: nice…with regards to recording, what do you see the point of that being for you? obviously it is a form of expression, but beyond that, why do you do it?

JK: I see recording as a way of documenting my ideas to listen back refine, and share them with myself and anyone interested in listening.

YC: that sounds reasonable enough 🙂 how interested in the technical aspects of recording at you?  i mean, you do your recordings yourself quite often, so i’d assume at least somewhat interested… 😀

JK: I care but I don’t have the financial ease of spending tens of thousands of dollars on full LP’s… so as I get older the less I’ve cared about sound quality and begun to accept what I can produce. Which isn’t anything over the top.

YC: ya, gear is a costly thing that’s for certain…that said, what are you recording with now?

JK: I’m recording with a Rode microphone, an apogee one, and occasionally a friend who is quite talented at sounds engineering.

YC: oh ya who’s that?  is it Brennan Galley?  The Fiercemule himself??

JK: Yes Brennan Galley.

YC: now that guy has some serious gear for recording and knows how to wield it

JK: Yes, but I don’t rely on him.  I record on my own in much lower fidelity to continue getting ideas out there.

YC: a true indie artist to the end

JK: Maybe too independent.

YC: ya but you’re right you can’t rely too much on any one person

JK: You can only rely on yourself.

YC: Indeed brethren

JK: Everyone else is a helping hand whom you are also to them.

YC: it’s the nature of teamwork i guess…people helping each other makes the world go round…plus, recording and playing everything yourself all the time isn’t always fun in the long run.. it’s good to get out there, at least in front of a crowd or something…as opposed to just you on your couch or whatever

JK: I find my couch the most comfortable place to play.

YC: no denying that…certain furniture will facilitate a certain creative mood at times

JK: I’ve thought of Bringing my couch to shows.  Just so I can play in comfort.

YC: a novel idea if ever there was one…as an indie artist, what do you think of the whole marketing of yourself to reach fans?  do you believe in luck, or hard work?

JK: I believe in hard work. I believe the marketing aspect of it can be deceptive but necessary to reach enough people. I think people generally don’t want to accept new and progressive ideas because it means promoting it within their social circles which can be dangerous. I believe music needs to be attached to a culture for it to blossom. Maybe a marketing tactic would be to create a culture somewhere somehow.  But Yea that’s the hardest of work.

YC: would you be happy if your music was listened to by some new people who you don’t know, but you didn’t really get paid for it? or is the goal to make a wage off it selling the music?

JK: Good question. I’d say I wouldn’t care if no one else was making money of my ideas. If no one was then it would be cool but it’s inevitable if enough people would hear the music an artist would make money in some way. Off* Is it about money…money is an important aspect of life. I don’t want to compromise the artistry to attain money but I would prefer if people supported the ideas in a financial way. Then I could be more productive musically and artistically.

YC: are you aware of the idea of the “big rock n roll swindle”?

JK: No sir.

YC: its the idea from like the 70’s / 80’s /90’s where some big record label would pay a band a million bucks, and then that band would just like spend it all and run away or something. 

JK: No I didn’t hear about that.

YC: it’s sort of dates back to when major labels would hear about these hyped up bands and try to wine and dine them, and get them to sign their lives away in some crazy million dollar contract…which the bands, not being business people, would sign, with the fantasy of just spending all of “the man” ‘s money…it’s a fairly outdated model now, considering how it is nowadays…typically now it’s like.. you do it all yourself, and figure out every aspect of your business, and if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault…no one’s going to “invest” in you to sell records per se

JK: Yea I don’t think labels and bands believe to thoroughly in the CD anymore. It’s all about being on Spotify and good play and taking percentages. But YouTube is a great way to make money directly. Google Play*

YC: i think so long as you understand how the whole structure works, then that’s fine and good…but say with Youtube, there’s a lot of invisible rules and hidden politics going on that holds some people back and they may not understand why.

JK: Yea I’m not sure how it works on the fascist political side but fuck those who live in that way.  I wouldn’t hold back a shitty country music singer who sang terrible lyrics and generic chords just because I didn’t like their music.

YC: It’s about individual expression…well that and finding your fanbase…but the problem is that certain platforms aren’t going to help you find that fanbase.. they really have no obligation to though…

JK: The fan base must be created. How can you find something that doesn’t exist until you show them your stuff.

YC: the fan base i think does exist to an extent

JK: It will exist when they see you.

YC: like with your generic country artist, there are generic country fans..and they need to connect and then all is well

JK: True to the extent that you play within a genre.  If you are doing something all encompassing then I think that fanbase needs to be created.

YC: i believe that it’s like the law of attraction…certain people, if they heard you, would like you

but ya they have to hear you…and until they hear you, they are unaware of you basically

JK: Solid Perspective.

<interjection> – some music

YC: so that’s where the corporations come in.. they are the gatekeepers to whether anyone will become aware of you…unless you become your own gatekeeper…but then it’s all on you…people complain when youtube changes things up.. but there’s no one saying you need to be on youtube anyway…same with any of them

JK: Yea I don’t know how to promote my music unless it’s through some interconnected network.

YC: the alternative is just to try to get gigs and talk to real people one on one….but i’ve never really gotten much out of that method myself

JK: Yea that method requires a managerial aspect which I haven’t proven to possess although I am looking to become…The thing about the manager tho was that the manager was an unbiased source of approval to labels.  So it depends who you as an independent artist are trying to talk to. If you are an independent artist on an independent label then you have to talk to the corporation yourself.

YC: usually artists and corporate types don’t really have very good chemistry…hence the manager is the middle man for that

JK: But in my case I am a FauxTown Music Label  Administrator, and part owner.  So I or whoever is running our label because they are few have to get off there arses and start using their brains. So I’m staring to make music videos.

YC: yeah.. i’ve heard a stat that it’s 20% material, 80% marketing in basically any business…which is kinda scary…because as far as material goes, Fauxtown has plenty of that…but i guess too, it’s about knowing what the specific goal is…because we are a label.. so talking to other labels is like.. we don’t really need to…a lot of artists are shopping themselves around FOR a label.. we run the label…but as far as how much clout we have, that is rather a mystery

JK: I think the material isn’t as accessible as it can be.  It can be readily accessible to people through different channels. Channels that need to be in place to be visible to people. Like the live show it’s a channel.

YC: ya it’s about knowing those channels and being good at them…because like i’ve said before, i think it’s kinda pointless to put someone in charge of a channel that they aren’t really into

JK: Yes well that’s the goal. Learn how to channel beyond composition.

YC:and that’s the trick for us too…is that most artists we know are really only good at specific things and beyond that they…don’t show interest in those other things

JK: That’s the hard work that needs to be put in.

YC: yes but at the same time, give someone a job they like and they’ll do it all the time…give someone a job they hate and they won’t do it ever…you can tell them that it’s needed all you like…they won’t really do it

JK: Yes and if they don’t like doing anything but music then that’s all they can do.

YC: right and that’s also great…but if say we step into a more managerial role, then it’s good for us to know that…because you’re not going to get that person who only likes being at home making music to tour..or go to events…or meet anyone

JK: It is but the hard work which makes a label tick.. the finding of timely opportunities by working to find them and pounce needs to be done.

YC: well not to tout the virtues of the free market but that’s why i love the free market…and why also the free market is scary…because it’s all there for you.. just go do it…get what you want

JK: Yes I think I have an idea that’s under developed but possible.

YC: personally i don’t see any difference between us and anyone else in terms of how much we care about music…whether they are famous or not…we can do what they do if we know what we’re doing…and also identifying goals and such…accounting is part of the problem…because musicians suck at it

JK: Like you said…and so is cooperation in some ways because ideally cooperation is easy between the people in our group, but in practice it’s a little more difficult.  The material is there but the complimentary material needs to be there too (music videos etc) live shows online. Then when the channel is produced it will flow like electricity.

YC: we have one thing that’s kind of going against us…which is that everyone we know has been working on stuff for so long now…that what you’re saying isn’t resonating.. people treat it like they’ve failed already and it’s over so saying “hey, NOW let’s do this” is hard for people

JK: Then if they’ve given up it’s up to us.  And we will revive their hopes when we make this happen.

YC: ya people gotta see it to believe it…no one has completely given up.. except those who have

JK: Yes we believe in them even tho they’ve moved on.

YC: well i do agree with you though.. if we can just get all the cylinders firing, we’ll be in good shape…but what i’ve learned is that we need people operating on different fronts.. like say Twitter

JK: They all say they can’t substitute work for playing shows unless the shows pay. So money does really matter.

YC: i used to dislike Twitter, but now i like it but also i have no time to Tweet all day on our behalf…that said, the Fauxtown twitter is back and it’s in better shape than it was.

JK: Which is good news.

<interjection> – some music

YC: it’s stuff like this that needs attention but you and me can’t do everything bro…we can do a lot, but not everything

JK: I’ll need the Twitter account info.

YC: i’ll give it to ya and you can see what’s going on over there…i actually had my VA curate it for a bit and she helped get it looking less lame

JK: We have to do everything we can. And that is asking for everyone’s help which means we will be doing basically everything on the business end.

YC: i think it also gets a bit confusing with money and such…people want to promote their albums their way…and so now with that plugin i’ve got it can link to whatever download you want which is nice…it takes time to find the right software sometimes because there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t do what you want it to do…but you had a good call on the website by mentioning the mobile thing…it’s way better now i think…so basically more presentable and i don’t feel so bad about showing it to people

JK: That’s good.

YC: so this interview has turned into us talking about our mission.. how did it happen?

JK: Lol you can cut it off when it was a q and a

YC: nah, i kinda like the impromptu nature of it to be honest…unless you don’t like that

JK: I don’t mind. It broke the third wall tho Which was you asking me questions as an interested journalist. Which became we are working for the same people which is us. Lol

YC: lol.. people love that stuff dont’ they…the point is, this is just another channel for us…like the podcast and everything else….i look at it like we put some time into it here and there, and eventually our little interviews can become something…but at first, it’s just us trying and failing and trying again

JK: We can also take the convo sheet and act out the interview.

YC: lol that’s like breaking the 4th wall

JK: Lol I think that’s how most interview go.

YC: how many walls do we need to break?

JK: They pre plan it and then go on camera.

YC: yeah that’s true.. there’s a lot of that now

JK: Their answers are always too perfect to be thought of that fast.

YC: well so long as i can post it like this as well, i don’t care…i’m just into the text form interview right now

JK: Yea.  The channels have to be planned. I’m going to work on how to do this.

YC: nice man keep me posted…i guess we can call it here…

JK: Okay take care.

YC: alrighty seeya !