From The Plastic Hallway

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Three Qs

January 25, 2016

 

"I love doing what I do. I love asking questions. I love being in the mix.” ~ Larry King

 

My intention in starting "From the Plastic Hallway” was to shine a brighter light on the daily conversations taking place about the music business in this exciting and transitional time.  

 

Why aren’t people buying music anymore? Why aren’t the tickets selling? Where’d the money go?  Who replaced the sushi in the executive dining room with ramen?

 

These are the types of questions music folk are seeking to answer, which led me to ask what inspired others.  Where were they finding exciting new music?  What do they believe the future holds for the music business?

 

 

Rishon Blumberg – Artist Manager, Founder of Brick Wall Management 

 

Watch Rishon’s TEDx talk on the Future of Work & The Freelance Economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKjtnhdcAu0 

 

What inspires you? 

 

RB: The idea of music is so inspiring. Creating something from nothing and having that creation effect tens of thousands or even millions of people is amazing.  So, to be a part of the process of helping shepherd that creation into the world is exciting.  I love seeing the artist and the audience come together in a live setting and seeing the joy wash over the audience as they get lost in the moment.  A world without music and art is a world without joy.  What’s more inspiring than helping artists bring the creative fruits of their labor to the world?  On a more micro level, I really love the building process.  I love partnering with an artist and helping them create a place in the world from the ground up.

 

Where do you discover new music? 

 

RB: So many ways/places.  Some from social media, some from recommendations from friends, some from listening to Sirius/XM, blogs, etc.  Though I won’t profess to being a music junkie (I don’t collect vinyl, I don’t know all the players, b-sides, etc), I do pride myself on having good ears and my taste runs towards mainstream but left of center mainstream.  Not pop, more Alternative (as defined by Alt Nation or SiriusXM U).

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

RB: Who knows!  Change is happening at a far faster clip due to the efficiencies afforded by technology.  I do believe that there is a need for changes in regulations for payments to artists in the new world of streaming (both on demand and radio formats) and surrounding payment to performers by terrestrial radio.  And at the same time, there needs to be more transparency and a true partnership between labels/publishers/pros and the creators of art.  I believe curation is going to play an even more important role in the future.  We had natural curation when most music was discovered either through your local radio station or MTV but now that everything is available at the click of a button and the means of distribution are so decentralized, it’s quite difficult to know where to find great new music and hidden gems.  Much like the wealth disparity in our country, it feels as though the middle class of artists are being pushed out and only a few massive pop artists rule the market.  I certainly hope that changes…not that there won’t continue to be huge artists but rather that great art will find a sustainable audience…not all art is meant for mass consumption and I hope the artists that make that type of art are able to live with a decent quality of life.  Touring will continue to be the primary driver for marketing and promotion for most artists but we are seeing a glut in the market with unprecedented traffic at venues.  Ticket prices are rising at the same time that the cost for recorded music is falling.  Ticketmaster has a stranglehold on ticketing and they’re making it harder for artists to sell directly to fans…short sighted and unfortunate.  The world is getting smaller and yet most artists don’t get a meaningful release outside of their home market.  Establishing and nurturing a fan base outside the US is an amazing way for an artist to extend their career and share their music with an ever broadening audience. Labels are asking their employees to do more with less and mid-size and small labels are finding it harder and harder to compete – because the huge pop artist are almost always concentrated at the major label and because the major labels have the leverage to negotiate preferential deals with emerging markets and technologies.  This can’t be good.

 

But, at the end of the day, great art will continue to be made and consumed…so the business will continue in one form or another.

 

 

Shervin Lainez – Shervin Foto

 

Shervin’s work can be enjoyed here: http://www.shervinfoto.com 

 

What inspires you?

 

SL: Thai Food 

 

Where do you discover new music? 

 

SL:  My 14 year old Goth cousin 

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

SL:  The signing of my 14 year old Goth cousin

 

 

Laura Goldfarb – Publicist, Big Kahuna of Red Boot PR

 

Laura is doing an official PR panel during SXSW this year: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2016/events/event_PP47939 

 

What inspires you?

 

LG: The risk-takers, the knowledge-seekers, the innovators, and the ones who wear their hearts on their sleeves. People who LIVE, ask questions, act courageously, MAKE SHIT HAPPEN, feel deeply and communicate openly. Those people are changing the world every day, whether they realize it or not. That’s the kind of energy I want to live in, to work in, to create in, to breathe in and out. Also, a good cup of dark, rich, hot coffee and burning incense. I can be anywhere in the world and that delicious, sensual combo gets the juices flowing and my mind opened wide. 

 

Where do you discover new music? 

 

LG: TV shows, commercials and films (thank you, Shazam). I’ll also check out artists that my college interns or gushing friends mention. When I’m feeling exceptionally hip, I’ll spend a few hours on Hype Machine. Also, as a jam band radio host and producer, my main resources for new music in that genre/community are Relix Magazine’s Twitter, JamBase, festival line-ups, and of course the radio promoters who send me music (proof that publicists and promoters do in fact help grow fanbases!!). 

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

LG: My crystal ball says ch-ch-ch-changes! I’m hoping the music business loses some of its politics and mean-spirited bullshit, and gains more honesty, kindness and appreciation of truly great art. I’d also love to see more integrity in companies for hire (PR, radio, marketing, etc.), and for the slackers in those companies to either step it up or get out of the game. Collectively, I’d love to see more care and interest taken for the overall look/reputation of our business. 

 

 

Sam Teichman – Sam Teichman Photo & Video

 

Sam’s work is captured beautifully here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SamTeichman926 

 

What inspires you?

 

ST: I’m always trying to be better at creating - whether it's tribute shows I'm curating, or live music I'm filming/photographing. I'm inspired by those I work with/for, to present them at their best: if I'm shaping a set list, I try to think how to build and pace the show so that the crowd stays invested and excited. If I'm capturing a live performance, I try to figure out how I can best showcase it to the viewer at home. I want to be better than the last time I tried something, so improving inspires me. Also, fellow artists of all art forms and mediums inspire me deeply. Shaina Taub - one of my favorite clients, and a brilliant writer/composer/lyricist/actress in her own right - often refers to Brian Eno's "Scenius" concept, which is the idea that a creative group or environment can spur each individual that is part of the larger collective to grow and do better work. Each time I hear feedback from a musician or fellow videographer that they liked a certain video I made, or my photo gets shared by fans of a band, or I meet someone who discovered a new artist through my content or at a show I curated, I'm emboldened to continue, but also to try and improve on it next time. 

I guess the short version of a long answer is that I'm inspired to create things I would enjoy as a music lover myself, in the hopes others will dig it too.

 

Where do you discover new music? 

 

ST: A large percentage of my discoveries are simply artists I meet here around town, while working or attending other shows of friends and clients. Beyond meeting the artists in person, I hear about new music largely via word of mouth, but also social media, and noisetrade occasionally.  But if I notice an artist mentioned on facebook or twitter via enough friends, I'm inclined to flip on youtube or spotify to check them out - when someone impresses me enough, I'll make plans to see them live here in NYC, if possible. I also annually attend Sixthman/Sister Hazel's "The Rock Boat", a floating music festival featuring 30+ acts, so each year I find a few new favorites there as well.

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

ST: Thankfully, I learned early on that I was definitely not interested in the "business" side of the industry. I enjoy my job as a freelance videographer, and I love hearing from friends in the business end of the field (agents, managers, booking agents, producers, engineers), but I'm not one to understand or predict the financial realities of big name acts. I know that being a full time musician is harder than it may seem - and it seems pretty rough. There seems to be less money for the little guys - big labels and major touring acts seem to be ok, little guys and indies are always fighting for crumbs. Spotify and other streaming services seem to be the direction things are going, but I'm still uncertain if they're helping or hurting unsigned artists - mostly hurting is my guess (I pay for my subscription, but use it sparingly, and only for stuff I don't plan to buy outright). But crowdsourcing and house concerts do seem to be a blessing to those acts with enough fan support. I do love the physical aspect of a CD or record - my girlfriend and I are slowly scouring record stores and dollar bins everywhere we go for great vinyl, and there is something eternally wonderful about album art and liner notes in a CD pullout. Maybe it's the creative in me, or the hopes that someone will use a photo I took for an album cover one day. Who knows. So I'll always love a hard copy in any form. My guess is that things will forever be the same as they've always been - there is "money in music", but very little ends up in the artists hands, sadly. And thankfully, those same artists will keep making music we love, no matter how the economics of it go.

 

 

Paul Pfau – Artist 

 

Paul and his music are online at http://www.paulpfaumusic.com 

 

What inspires you?

 

PP: i wish there was a way to answer this without sounding all “lifetime channel” but love inspires me. all of it. the pain that comes with it and the state of euphoria it can induce. also the type of love that transcends the human condition. the feelings we can’t explain by making noises with our mouths. the type of love you feel when you witness the great mountains of the west or the open starry skies of the great plains. the type of love that makes you feel infinitely small and the sense of freedom that feeling brings.

 

Where do you discover new music?

 

PP: one new model, one classic model. 

 

those new curated playlists that Spotify updates every Monday are great. they're tailored to the types of music you already listen to, and do a great job of introducing you to established and underground artists that you may not be listening to already. 

 

the other way is through word of mouth. as a musician i am constantly around other musicians and people that just love music. i would say that most of the bands or artists that i become lifelong fans of start with the sentence “dude! you have to listen to this..."

 

What does the future hold for the music business?

 

PP: i think we are already starting to see that its becoming a more open playing field. the internet has loosened the stranglehold that major labels had on the industry since its inception and created more opportunities for independent artists like myself to gain exposure. 

 

 

Erin Hinojos – Artist Manager, Founder of Slashly Artist Management

 

Erin is on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ehinojos 

 

What inspires you?

 

EH: Art. Creativity. Expression. Seeing anyone express themselves via music is inspiring in its own right.  Live music changed my life. It's why I'm where I'm at today. Nothing is more inspiring to me than a passionate, energetic, and intense live show. 

 

Where do you discover new music?

 

EH: Mostly word of mouth from my friends, colleagues and acquaintances. I'll listen to my Spotify "Discover Weekly" playlist often and find good music there sometimes. I'll keep an eye out on blogs that I like as well

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

EH: Changes. I think streaming will slowly takeover as technology and internet connectivity improve. More and more people

Are using streaming services, and more streaming services are popping up. I'd like to see companies like Spotify lower their premium monthly prices..only a tiny percentage of their monthly users actually pay for the premium service. We can only hope that a move like this would mean more consumers buying albums from their favorite artists. 

 

 

David Veslocki – Songwriter and Guitar Teacher 

 

David and his work are online at www.davidveslocki.com

 

What inspires you?

 

DV: nature//the universe 

 

Where do you discover new music? 

 

DV: in silence 

 

What does the future hold for the music business? 

 

DV: return to organic music

 

 

Andy Waldeck, Artist

 

Andy and his production / writing partner Chris Reardon are better known as Killer Deluxe: http://facebook.com/killerdeluxe/ 

 

What inspires you?

 

AW: Inspiration comes from many places for me. 

As a musician, I find it in the prowess of another in command of his or her own medium. 

I am reminded of seeing Jaco Pastorius at the Blues Alley in Washington DC. I sat in the front row, not 10 feet away from the man who had changed the face of bass playing forever. I felt like I was in the presence of greatness, and was moved to play more, practice harder, and expand my musical mind. 

Some years later I was at the end of a terrible, crushing breakup. I had considered my self a singer songwriter but was so beat up by the experience of losing what I thought was the greatest love of my life, I could not write…. I was feeling very uninspired to say the least. A good friend at Columbia Records gave me a pre release cassette tape of Grace, by the then unknown Jeff Buckley. I was literally moved to tears. Again and again I listened to that record, and every time I was inspired to reach deeply into my soul the way I felt Jeff had, and bring up the emotional fragments that are usually pushed down to prevent more pain. It was "The Great Awakening" for me as a songwriter, and still serves me to this day.

As a music producer I find inspiration in the work of other producers who have brought out the essence of the artist they are working with. 

Some amazing examples from the past 20 years that come to mind are;

American Recordings, by Johnny Cash, Production by Rick Rubin. 

Purple and Tiny Music by Stone Temple Pilots, Both exquisite records produced by Brendan OBrien.

The Hard Way by James Hunter, Produced by Liam Watson

The Script, by The Script, produced by Steve Kipner

Bachelor No. 2 by Amiee Mann produced by Jon Brion

Each one of these albums represents a cognitive breakthrough on the production of the artist that either defined that artists sonic image, or, broke so completely away from the previous work that is in itself the art that drives the art. Exploring this kind of work inspires me to seek unique avenues in my own production work.

 

Where do you discover new music?

 

AW: Thats a tough one for me because I work so often on my own projects as an artist, songwriter and producer that I rarely have time to seek out new music.

It comes to me when I have need to reference a current track as an example of style or production needed in something I'm working on. 

I have a lot of friends who produce music as well so I get to hear what they're working on and that often leads to digging into back catalogues. 

I am about as far from a normal music consumer as a person can be actually. 

The good thing about my relative mass media isolation is that I only hear the best of the best. Cream rises to the top and I usually get wind of a grate new artist quickly and get spared all the "its ok" stuff. 

 

What does the future hold for the music business?

 

AW: The toughest question for last….

Obviously the traditional business model for the music industry is dead. 

The enormously powerful record labels of the past have been gutted by their own standards of greed, over control and an unwillingness to see the future coming, even when it has already passed them up. (cue dark minor chords)

That said, I feel pretty good about the future of the music business. 

I say this because I believe where there is a need, people will find a way to fill it. And I strongly believe that people need art. It is a historical fact that we human beings have sought art since the beginning of our existence. I feel this desire is engrained in the fabric of our lives and will never become unimportant to us.

Without going into the mechanics of how easy it is to make recordings and get them out to fans and listeners around the world, We are once again at the cusp of a new era.

There are literally millions of songs/recordings happening every week. While more does not equal better, there is opportunity to challenge our selves to rise above the din and be noticed. Mash-ups, genre bending, traditionalism, we're going to see more of all of this, more of everything. 

What it really boils down to, in my opinion is the artists who are following the most popular trends will be called out quickly. 

Music consumers are smarter and more opinionated than ever before. 

The truly original songwriters and artists will break through and be recognized as unique and special. 

 

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