Sunday, August 31, 2008

Meeting Mr. Russell

Never heard Tom Russell, or even knew what he looked like, until last week
when I got to meet him in Newburyport. We were both guests at the "Rounder
Mansion" - Tom because he was playing a gig in the local theatre and me and
my gang because we were stopping over on the way back from cape Cod. I told
himn that one of the tunes he recorded was written in my living room - Dance
Hall Girls by Allan Fraser.

The Next Generation

What a delight hearing Kaya Fraser perform at the Cameron. She's got some
powerful new material. There wre'n many people out for what will be her last
performance in Toronto for a long time, but one of them was publicist Jane
Harbury who was suitably impressed.

Not My Dog

Finally checked out this favourite Queen West hangout where Tressa Levasseur
had a residency for a while. The featured artist was Jadea and it was her
guitarist Tim who invited me to come by and do a couple of tunes. I got
there ahead of any of the other guests, got my guitar plugged in and ready
so then when it was guest time I got to go first. Then I handed off my
guitar to Roxanne Potvin who played some new material (one in French) and
then Max Cann (from England).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

more wise counsel from Bob Lefsetz

Have you ever built a fire? If you load up the big logs first, it doesn't
take. You've got to start with very small twigs. You've got to nurture the
flame, blowing air on it or gently using bellows. Then you lay on
increasingly large pieces, not getting to logs until you're just shy of a
conflagration. That's how you build careers today.

1. Focus on the music. You need at most four songs. Any more and you
confuse the audience. Less is okay, but you want to encourage a story, you
don't want to appear a one hit wonder.

2. As you gain traction, you put out more music. You don't worry about
selling the original music to everybody on the planet, at this point you
only focus on your core.

3. You make the music available. Don't try to monetize it at first, that
just slows down the process of building your career. People can hear it
streamed online, and they can download it and trade it.

4. Interact online, and don't talk down to your fans. Don't tell them
you're the next big star. Hip-hop bluster is passe. Be thrilled that
they're interested in you and your music. Tell them everything they want to
know, and more. Put up pictures of your girl or boyfriend. Tell them what
you do every day. If you've got a family, don't hide it, reveal it. Your
goal is to humanize yourself. Artifice is so seventies. The Net community
is about sussing out the truth. Give them the truth and your honesty will
endear you to them.

5. Don't ask your fans to spread the word. Don't ask them to be
street-teamers. Don't have a street team! If they like your music and you
treat them well, they will spread the word just like a kid tells his mother
about his new best friend. They won't be able to hold back. There's no
money in it for the fan. So let him retain his dignity. Let him believe
he's your best friend.

6. Don't alert the mainstream media. That comes last. Once you've built
something, once you've got a story. Kind of like Dispatch playing Madison
Square Garden. If your story is not interesting to those who don't care,
don't tell it or sell it. Like I said, I'm not interested in vampire books,
but the phenomenon intrigued me.

This is ass-backwards to the way it's been. In recent scenarios, music has
come last. It's been about image. It's been about marketing. So there's
no traction, no connection with the consumer/fan. With looks being
everything, "artists" have become models. Pretty faces with no depth. And
you wonder why the "Hills" stars are more famous than most musicians...
Because musicians don't have that something extra, the music that sets them