Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I was first exposed to the Monkees on the weekend of my Grandfather’s funeral in 1986. I was a young child and my older brother and I spent the night at my Dad’s apartment while my Dad was off making funeral arrangements. It just so happened to be the same weekend that MTV was running a Monkees marathon and my brother and I stayed up all night watching every episode. It is vivid in my mind and my heart. It is one of my most cherished bonding moments with my older brother John. It was an escape from the pain of the very real life moment as my Grandfather was both my brother and my hero and still to this day the kindest man I have ever met.
Davy Jones of The Monkees passed away today. The oft-beguiled Monkees, who were manufactured by two upstart film producers and a veteran producer Don Kirshner to become the answer to the Beatles. were patterned after the Beatles. They were patterned not only in looks but also in demographic and most importantly in the intent of harnessing the power of television. Following the success of the cheeky, Beatles film Hard Days Night; the creators thought they could cash in. The Monkees were wildly successful for a couple of years and toured to rabid fans across the world. The question I am asking is what is their legacy?
Were the Monkees the first sign of the musical apocalypse, where acts are created in an industry laboratory setting as opposed to organically from the people?
In some sense, the answer is probably yes. As Rock grew from an under ground movement into big commerce, it was exploited towards a lowest common denominator that would reduce risk and garner profits. This is just part of the tension of the music business. The artistic side of it loves innovation, experimentation, and change because it leads to transformation and great art but the business side needs to see profits and must assess everything through the lens of risk verse benefits. For the business side it is always about profits not art. This tension pushes and pulls on the music business and always has. The Monkees are in some ways a keystone marker of a subtle shift more towards the business side, one that the ripple effects are still being felt today.
Were the Monkees innocent kids who saw a chance to grab the brass ring and took it?
On this one, I think the answer is yes. In much the same way the guys in Milli Vanilli were. While the Monkees did actually sing the lead vocals on their recordings, they were not allowed to play on the early recordings and were not allowed to write on the songs. It is easy to pass artistic judgment on these guys until you place your self into their shoes. You are a young often literally starving artist who is given a chance to have a platform and most importantly feed yourself, and the artistic moral waters begin to muck up a bit.
Were the Monkees a cultural icon that left us some great guilty pleasure pop songs and an entertaining escape?
I cannot speak for you but as I started, this blog I can say for me the answer is yes.
Rest in Peace Mr. Jones.
Here is a link of Mr. Jones at his best.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Some of the challenges with this new model that artists and their management face are in having the time, knowledge, relationships, and capital to thrive and build all the aspects of an artist’s career. Given that this has traditionally been handled by many people and is now relegated to 2 or 3. Quite simply, if an artist spends all their time doing administrative work, or just business in general, then there is little time left for the artist to do what they presumably do best (write and perform). Well, there might be help on the way.
On January 17, a company with a music business app is launching. The company is Artist Growth and it has some heavy hitters behind it. The app works like any other app on the iPhone, Android and Blackberry. One of the primary investors in the company is former Sony chair, Joe Galante, who describes the app as the music business “in a box.” The promotional video touts that Artist Growth will allow musicians to keep track of tour schedules, recording, finances, accounting, equipment inventory and industry contacts; all literally at the touch of a button and in one spot. It even has a reminder feature on when to contact local press for PR, production schedules for recording, etc. Artist Growth marks the user’s calendar with to do lists for almost all aspects needed.
While this app can significantly reduce man hour time as well as cost management with
real time analytics on inventory and sales, it does not address two major issues that artists going the new model route face – capital and networking. Artist Growth asserts that it takes pieces of the value chain that artist’s typically do not know how to do and puts them in an easy to use format, including instructional videos on the industry with industry vets as the experts. However, this still leaves some gaps and is not in and of itself the new business model for dummies. Just because there is access to a network, this does not empower the artist to harness that network and make it work for them (just because you have someone’s contact info does not mean you have a relationship with that person). Secondly, it does not address (and really cannot) the need for raising investment capital. Business of any kind will always need capital, without capital all of the resources and functional usability that Artist Growth offers is moot. These two aspects are always the major hurdles for artists “going it” without a label (whether by choice or lack of choice).
The Artist Growth app does not address all issues artist’s face in this brave new music world, or perhaps it is better said that it does not jump all the hurdles for the artist, the Artist Growth app could very well be the most powerful tool in the new business model of the music industry. It has the potential power to save the artist and their management time and money, which alone makes it well worth checking out.
To learn more follow this link: http://artistgrowth.com/