Monday, April 20, 2009
This may sound like a harsh statement however recent history proves it to be correct.
Within the last year I have had the opportunity to observe a professional basketball player and 2 professional football players, let me tell you my story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
This person, lets call him Mr. J, was a self taught musician. He spent numerous hours in his hotel room while on the road, teaching himself how to play keyboards and making music. As most self taught musicians he never learned theory, harmony or the historical significance of the musical masters before him. What he learned was scales, a few chords and how to make rudimentary songs on his digital equipment. As a self taught musician he imagined that he could sing well. This, in his mind, qualified him to be a virtuoso and he believed that every song he made was a fantastic hit.
What he never learned was how to run a business, how not to let his ego get in the way of his business, and how to delegate authority to seasoned professionals. What transpired within a year was totally his fault. He let his relatives become his label executives yet they had never finished high school, never run a business and had NO connections within the industry. He made business decisions for his label based on who stroked his ego so he spent over $100,000 in radio promotion and never got more than 15 spins nationally. After acquiring a distribution deal he let his ego over power his business sense creating verbal abuse and problems within the distributorship.
You can’t “slam dunk” a record, you need a team of individuals working together on a solid marketing & promotional plan to make things happen. Today Mr. J still believes that he is an artist without any record sales, shows or company structure.
No talent is probably the most used and abused portion of the entertainment industry. Thinking that you can sing or rap because you “feel it” is so far from reality that Never Never Land is closer. Mr. A has absolutely NO TALENT, his voice is raw, out of key, listless and he fancies himself a rapper. Yet he hired some of the best producers, engineers, mastering and web design people in the industry. He put thousands of dollars into a mix cd, not ever thinking about selling anything or owning any of the songs (?) on the cd. He has not once tried to form a music company, establish a publishing house, start a management company or create any type of legal business system for himself.
He has a lawyer, an accountant and a personal business consultant yet he still has thrown away his money on a project that is POOR at best. The people that he pays won’t tell him the truth; they want to continue getting paid.
Being a professional football player means that your image and the image of the team you play for should stay untarnished. Mr. A’s first song was about ALL of the negative things you can find in the streets. Bitches, hoes, guns, fancy cars, fancy jewelry, pimping, you know Keeping It Real. It automatically created the impression that Mr. A was uneducated, socially ignorant and a very poor artist.
You can’t get far with that type of initial endorsement.
Here is a tale of complete abuse and stupidity. Mr. R was a young “baller” years before he attempted to make music. His background was one of deceit, alcohol & drug abuse and physical abuse culminating in the creation of a posse of friends that lived to spend his money. As a professional player he brought the same qualities he grew up with, along with the same friends to his game. This mixture of mayhem, alcohol abuse and drugs made his music become great to his ears and of course his posse, but the music never had a professional technical quality, mix or merit.
His ego told him that he already knew what the public wanted, knew how to make music and really didn’t need anyone critiquing him or his posse. His behavior was that of a little rich brat who expected everyone to bow to his needs. The maltreatment of money in our community makes for a very poor thinking individual. Much like “Ghetto life gone wild” Mr. R became the poster child for bad manners and drunken debauchery.
Once again not having entertainment industry business savvy created a poor working environment, couple this with a massive ego and you have an automatic failure option. This artist (?) never copyright protected his music, never joined a performing rights organization, believed that his partners word was good enough so there would be no contracts. Mr. R had no formal musical training, his producer had no formal musical training and their equipment was antiquated. “Fruity Loops” is not professional recording software, especially when you do not have anything but a computer and no other outboard gear or instruments. When money, alcohol and drugs tell you that you are great, only a complete fall can change you.
Mr. R set his entire musical career up to fail from the beginning.
Why have I told you these stories?
I want my readers to learn from other peoples mistakes. The record industry has changed completely; no longer can you buy your way into the industry. No longer can you abuse industry personnel in one market and believe that you can just move on into another market and do the same thing. The new entertainment business environment includes education, persistence, technology, morals and honesty. Today you must know how to build your own business and create honest, forthright deals that continue to bear fruit for the future. You can not do things by “feel” and believing that the business will run itself.
Today you must have a talented, productive team that is technology savvy to be able to be successful within the industry.
There are too many new artists still doing things in an antiquated way because they think business is run the way it has ran in the past. Do not have a record release party if you don’t have any press, radio, retail, or television people invited. This is a good way to have a FEEL GOOD party for yourself, friends and family, but it won’t jumpstart your career.
Do not talk bad about DJ’s that won’t play your song and expect other DJ’s in another market to treat you with respect. INDUSTRY PEOPLE TALK, and believe me that “tell a lie” travels much faster than “telegraph, telephone or Internet”.
Learn from the mistakes of people who can afford to make them.
Xbox 360 is the only game system that lets you instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie-watching innovation is available to Xbox LIVE Gold members ($49.95 a year) who are also Netflix members ($8.99 per month minimum) and allows them to instantly watch movies streamed from Netflix via Xbox LIVE for no additional monthly fee.
Sony's CEO Howard Stringer noted, "Sony's unique position in electronics and entertainment will enable us to provide specialized offerings for Sony customers directly to their televisions outside conventional distributors and without the need for any set-top box." Sony's PlayStation Network is not only a Blu Ray player, but allows it’s users to choose from hundreds of full-length movies from top studios including 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios. Plus, choose from a large inventory of TV episodes from a variety of television partners, many available in standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD).
Even before the launch of Experience, Microsoft's Xbox LIVE had amassed some 15,000 movies (1,000 of which are HD) and some 13,000 TV shows for download-to-own. Xbox LIVE was the first online video portal to offer HD downloads for TV viewing. The Netflix partnership adds 12,000 movies and TV programs to the mix, all for free streaming to Netflix subscribers. This enables Xbox 360 users to access on-demand movies and TV shows within the Xbox Experience social environment with a click of their remote.
Sony's PlayStation Network has collected close to 1,000 movies and hundreds of TV programs for download-to-own. As well, it has announced plans to expand dramatically its video library in the next few months in order to compete with Xbox LIVE.
Even Nintendo, staunchly dedicated to pure gaming experiences, enters millions of new homes each month as the set-top box du jour, it's no video player. There's no Netflix, no Blu-ray drive, not even a proper DVD slot. However, Wii isn't without its possibilities when it comes to streaming video, and there, a Japanese company called Fujisoft is leading the charge. Fujisoft has introduced 'Everybody's Theater Channel' to Japanese Wii users the service launched this January 27th, it will be second, following the BBC "iPlayer" which hit the UK in early April 2008.
Fujisoft prices by the block, with one block of three TV episodes equal to one movie -- and will charge 300 Nintendo Points for one 2-day rental, 600 for two 3-day rentals, and 800 for three 5-day rentals. Currently their video library is limited to Japanese anime, movies and TV programs. But they are in talks with Nintendo America, and if talks go well everything could change.
The future for satellite and cable television companies does not look bright. In fact the current model facing the cable & satellite industry makes these companies PAY upfront for the films they want to show. Future licensing deals with one of the video gaming companies could totally change to a pay per view or pay per download with NO upfront costs involved. This would basically open the platform to unlimited viewing with NO COST to the video gaming companies.
Movies are on the move, and that move seems to be away from satellite and cable television.
Friday, April 17, 2009
This is your chance to finally make it to a MAJOR music conference.
Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St., Memphis, Tenn. The host Hotel is the Memphis Marriott Downtown, www.marriott.com/memdt 901.214.3715
Super-Producer Teddy Riley will be one of the Conference's Co-Chairs, hosting 2 seminar-workshops on Production & Songwriting.
Other Conference Co-Chairs are Jon Hornyak, Senior Executive Director, Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy;
Dean Deyo, President, Memphis Music Foundation;
Kurt "KC" Clayton, Producer-Songwriter, and Chairman, Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission;
Al Kapone, Producer-Songwriter, Family Biz Entertainment;
Eileen Collier, Program Director, KJMS-FM, WHAL-FM/Clear Channel;
Vicki Mack-Lataillade, CEO, Lily Mack Entertainment & Publishing and the Urban Representative, Christian Copyright Licensing International, (CCLI);
Don Cody, CEO, Moses Media Inc.;
Bobby O'Jay, Program Director, WDIA/Clear Channel; and
Mickey "MeMpHiTz" Wright, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Hitz Committee Entertainment.
More co-chairs and panelists will be announced in the days ahead.
The Urban Network Summit has been a meeting ground for music executives, recording artists, the radio broadcasting community, music retailers, new media strategists, producer-songwriters, music publishers, entertainment attorneys, managers, film makers, entrepreneurs, and financiers for two decades. The event consistently attracts the industry's top professionals, and aspiring newcomers.
Some of the world's most recognizable recording artists have participated in past Urban Network Summits, most recently held in both Industry Hills and Palm Springs, Calif. They have included Jaheim, Case, Dorinda Clark, James Ingram, Destiny's Child, Will Smith, Lionel Richie and Mary J. Blige, to Boyz II Men, Patti LaBelle, Busta Rhymes, and Mint Condition. Other names include Wyclef Jean, Rahsaan Patterson, Kirk Franklin, Chante Moore, Trey Songz, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Mary Mary, and Yolanda Adams.
Central to the Summit are Urban Network's informative and topical seminar sessions. There are nearly two-dozen panel sessions providing attendees with information on a diverse array of entertainment industry-related topics, from radio station programming, operating brick and mortar retail stores in today's online-driven environment, songwriting and production know-how from some of today's top creative talent, marketing your artists and labels through the digital medium, to becoming a success in the Hip-Hop, R&B, and Gospel genres.
In the tradition of Urban Network, part of the Summit will be centered on Gospel Music–featuring seminar sessions, and showcases catering to the Gospel Music Community. The Summit will also target New Media (Digital Strategies), the DJ and Hip-Hop Communities, the Independent Label Community, and various topics such as Film, Licensing, Touring and more.
Urban Network also attracts the Creative Community of Songwriters & Producers, the A&R arena, Radio Broadcasters, a scheduled keynote address, a Saturday Independent Label Festival (containing some hot headliners), and a 21st Anniversary Gala, honoring an industry icon.
"With 21 years of serving the industry, and 19 years of coordinating conferences, we are very excited about our first foray into the Memphis market," says Urban Network Publisher & CEO, Miller London. "Memphis has a strong and rich musical heritage, and in conjunction with the strategic alliances that we have formed inside the City, the Summit is guaranteed to be a major success. I look forward to you joining us at the Cook Convention Center and our host hotel, the Memphis Marriott Hotel Downtown, and that you register for the Summit early."
For more information and Summit updates, regularly visit www.urbannetwork.com or contact
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Unfortunately technology and ease of recording has also made a multitude of new recording artists that are legends within their own minds.
Over the past few months I have traveled extensively and witnessed many new and diverse acts perform. For every 500 acts that I have seen and heard less than 3 were of remarkable talent.
Several reasons are behind this travesty of music.
1. Very few musicians, artists, singers or producers really know how to read, write and understand musical notation. Music is an exact science and the majority of the people making today’s music have no clue as to what that science truly is.
2. “My music sounds like” is the new standard that entertainers hold dear. Telling themselves and any person that will listen, that their music sounds as good as some platinum selling artist they hear on the radio so this should mean that the public will like it just as much.
3. Copycat entertainers remix a song and then maintain that the music they have stolen should be appreciated just as much as the original. This is completely true of the mix tape era artist, stealing hit records music, rapping or singing over the music and maintaining that they have a right to do so. As much as I personally don’t like Soul Jah Boy “Superman”, his music was new, unique and different than any other song on the air. His copycats include “Wonder Woman”, “Batman”, “Do the Superman” and a host of extremely poor imitations.
4. LOCAL DOES NOT make an artist. Staying with the Soul Jah Boy saga there must be at least 200 different songs coming from Mississippi that sound similar to him. Yet not one of them is worth the time it took to make them.
QUESTION: How many different ways can you make a chant?
ANSWER: Who knows but Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida ALL have thousands of songs on mix tapes and cd’s that are “HITS” to the artists that made them, but in reality are poor versions of the “Call and Response” Chant originally from Africa made popular in the USA by the Black churches.
Please don’t think that this phenomenon is only associated with the Hip Hop generation, the gospel music industry is full of “HOLY” wannabes that can’t sing, play or even maintain an honest business relation.
Being a religious artist is NOT a free ticket to maintaining music sales, popularity or even a fan base. It is not an automatic license to having anyone appreciate your music or in anyone giving you airplay. There are way too many religious artists that failed in the secular music industry, got saved and “switched over” because they thought the religious scene was easier to conquer.
Has anyone really listened to the huge amount of BAD rock, neo soul, r&b, contemporary jazz, country, blues or really lousy southern soul music available today? It has become a chore to listen to online radio, regular radio, and cable radio on television or even “live” acts. Entertainers in every genre use the excuse that they are not trying to “sellout” and are keeping it real. But the question has become “Who are you selling out to?” Since your music is marginal at best do you continue being a starving artist or do you learn how to make music that fits a group of people that will PAY to hear you perform it?
Digital is about to surpass the CD, and once it starts to happen it’s going to move music faster and faster and faster. Who is going to control the playlist? If there is an unlimited amount of music available – and as soon as the amount of music available exceeds the amount of time you have in your life, that’s unlimited – somebody will have the control spot of deciding what to listen to next. Will you be in a position to charge people to tell them what to listen to or will you pay people to have them listen to your music?
Today music sharing is becoming wide spread worldwide and music is becoming FREE for the listening. Only the unique, talented or famous entertainers are able to continue to sell music to the public.
More and more people are programming their OWN musical choices, be it via iPod, smartphone or burning private cd’s.
Who are the innovators, musical geniuses and multi media creators?
Who are YOU?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
You’ve laughed at the older generation and called us out of step with the times. You have made sure that phrases like “Old School” and “Ancient Thinking” were created just to talk about my generation. Well there is a wave of new racism starting to hit this country and you THUGS can now show the world how “BAD” you really are.
Now that Barack Obama has become President there is a massive movement of racism, skin heads, Aryan "neo-Nazi” Brotherhood, KKK and other organizations that hide behind democratic names surfacing with an agenda to change the status quo.
The new Thug, Gangsta or whatever is the catch word of the day, has chosen a position of arrogance, fake power and threats of violence to keep their sense of belonging within the
Instead of "making it rain" at the strip clubs, why not take a few of those dollars and create “making it rain” for the hungry people in your hood.
Here's a thought, why not make a few songs on how to STOP the destruction that is being perpetrated everyday on your generation and mine. I guess that since this generation did not grow up fighting for civil rights you have just not learned how to fight anyone but each other.
Being a THUG should only be a badge of courage if you are really doing something. Getting high, wearing baggy clothes that slow down your running and walking, wasting money on unimportant symbols of wealth and telling everyone you meet "YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. YOU FEEL ME" etc... is not THUG it is really following the plan that another more intelligent group of people have laid out for you to follow.
I speak to so many wanna be entertainment industry people every week that really are living a dream. THUG life, BALLER life, GANGSTA life are all dreams within the United States for not one of you supposed THUG, BALLER, GANGSTA people have any power.
The power to pull a trigger is nothing in comparison to the power to make a gun, distribute it, make the laws surrounding its' use and enforce them. The real Racists are coming out of the woodwork and they are not terrorists. If you want to really be a THUG do something that shows you got some BALLS. Protect your MAMA.