I am a player, producer, label boss and staunch supporter of the independent community. I have played for and recorded a wide array of artists from Damon Albarn to Emma Kirkby.
I run Ambiguous Records and CRC Music. I am also on the board of AIM which is the trade body that looks after all the UK Independent labels. (If you are an independent label or thinking of starting one you should definitely check out AIM)
I believe firmly in education and the passing on of knowledge. I have lectured to the students at the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music and Canterbury Christchurch University amongst others and am the cofounder of MusicMaps a home music tuition service for young musicians 5 and up.
You can read my Fresh On The Net posts below…
Thank you once again to all those who sent in tracks this week and of course to all our trusted listeners who cast their vote. This week was possibly the tightest fought battle for the Fresh Faves I can remember. Thank you all.
And so to your picks this week.
A HISTORY – Fox
There is a little thrill to this band, a frisson, a bit like going to a house party where you don’t know anybody, the lights are low and everybody is strangely beautiful. A bit Siouxsie at times dropped into a bed of first album XX. The band label the track ‘Glitter Doom’ as a genre. It is a little doom laden and indeed glittery. Think less of the soundcloud genre tag and more of the slow motion rise of a shirtless, glitter-specked chest in the dappled light of post apocalypse London.
FUTURE GLUE – Crooked
Crooked is steam train of blues-tinged beats and guitar. Good old fashioned band playing channeling The Stooges through a Gordon Raphael amp. They are from Glasgow, they are most probably best served live and they know what to do with a harmonica. If you’re north of the border go track them down at a gig or through their label the brand spanking new Electric Company.
HANNAH MARSH – Dad’s Old Car
I would wax lyrical about this young lady but seeing as I know her I thought it would be more in the spirit of FOTN to ask one of my fellow reviewers to take the honours for this track. And so to Mr Johnno Casson.
Most often it’s the voice that grabs me within the very few seconds of a song, something in my heart/my soul says stay around a little longer, linger a while, relax,enjoy, feel good. It has to be backed with a melody that warms me and a lyric that touches me or resonates with me in some way. Does it need to be complicated? Most definitely not. Is a wide array of musical instruments in the recording essential? Not at all. Does it need to be loud to ensure the message gets across? Pull the other one.
Tick Tick Tick for Hannah Marsh’s Dad’s Old Car, a gorgeous little song that just melts out of the speakers. Lovely endearing voice and great subtle backing. Less is very much more. Love it.
Thank you to everybody who contributed to the comments on this. We are delighted to announce the winner from our very strong shortlist of the 2013 Now Playing At 6 Music – Wisdom Not Waffle Award is…
Make It In Music is a phenomenal resource for new bands, artists and labels alike – in fact anybody starting out in the music industry. And amazingly it is free. Have a look, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, if you want to know more about all things music business then all of the shortlisted sites (see below) are well worth checking out.
You can hear the whole show on 6 Music for another week here.
Thank you once again to all bands and listeners for your contributions this week. This feels like the most eclectic bunch of tunes yet. Here are your Fresh Faves number 45…
BENJAMIN JOSIF – The Border
Benjamin calls this his Mexican border song and whilst not quite like norteño superstars Los Tigres Del Norte this does conjure images of desert, refried beans, sangrita and dust gathering around a well worn pair of cowboy boots. Benjamin’s voice and easy style immediately bring to mind some of the more stripped back offerings of James Taylor. He has recently been championed by his local BBC Introducing show in Devon and the future looks bright especially if he could produce anything like the colossal output of the afor mentioned Tigres! His last album was back in 2007 so let us see what this young man has to offer next.
BOMB FACTORY – Gulliver
Gulliver is the title track from the upcoming release from this Cambridge noise outfit and is in all essence a primal scream to everyday tedium and a two fingered salute to apathy. Think Art Brut with much bigger guitars, a healthy dose of 28 Days Later rage and the spirit of Penny Rimbaud’s CRASS. The record drops on 17th Feb so buckle in and turn your children’s faces the other way. This could get messy.
This opening is taken from a conversation between Bill Drummond and Tom Hodgkinson published in the Idler. (You can get it here)
BD: I don’t do Facebook. I don’t know whether it’s a generation thing TH: Twitter? BD: I don’t do that either. I’ve got too much in my life. Too much going on. What’s obvious to state, if I’m having a go at our culture, is that all it’s interested in doing – and this happened with music in the twentieth century – is turning us into consumers. You don’t have to make it anymore: we’ll have the experts, we’ll have the geniuses, we’ll have the good looking ones making it TH: That’s what Rock n Roll is BD: Yeah, that’s my big downer. I know that you with your ukulele are trying to break that down. And what I do with the 17 is another way of breaking it down TH: The problem is though that there are levels of ability. John Lennon is a much better songwriter than I am. He’s the master carpenter BD: That doesn’t matter. I mean, I find it hard to believe, but there may be people out there who are better at doing sex than me! But imagine if that trick had been done, from now on, you don’t have to do sex. All you people, we’ve got this tiny group who will do sex for you, and you just watch them, and buy into that. That’s what has happened with music in the twentieth century. It was taken away from everybody.
In the 1930s the author Aldous Huxley wrote an article for a paper suggesting that the art and music of the day was an active pursuit – sing alongs in pubs, chamber concerts at home – a shared participatory activity. He prophesized that as time progressed we would become less active in our pursuit of art, choosing instead to watch rather than do. The result would be less understanding of the art, a subsequent low boredom threshold and resultant higher demand for new art. The result… the creation of art spinning so fast that we would be engulfed in sensationalism.
You’ve got your website up, signed up for the important social networks, built your online shop and are filling it all with exciting and relevant content but is it working?
Stop for one second and think about what Social Network actually means.
Social: Pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations
Network: An association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, or the like.
My point? Having a Facebook page, Twitter Profile and YouTube account does not a social network make. You have to use it. Coldly firing messages into the ether like ‘buy my record’ and ‘come to my gig’ will have limited success. It may be that you don’t want to be all chatty with your fans and retain some mystique but at least provide regular an interesting content that will engage your fans to talk about you and your music.
No amount of fancy, all singing, all dancing social networks will make up for shit music or a boring artist. As to what to use, check out my default setup here.
Great music plus a network of engaged fans = career
That is all I have to say.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at how to get set up online, avoiding the pitfalls and making the most of your time in cyberspace. This will be familiar to many of you but no harm in starting at the very beginning. It is easy to get caught up in the addiction of social networks but we must remain focused on what a band goes online for. Not all do and for good reason. With approaching 1 billion Facebook users and 140,000 Twitter users an online presence can further your reach and bring you new fans but only if used right.
The first thing you should do as an artist in the digital world is decide on your name. Sounds bleedingly obvious but if you are going to put a lot of work in setting up your digital identity you don’t want to be changing it in a year.
Once you have done that you need to register all the services you will use. I’ll go back over each one in future posts but this is my default setup.
Over the last three weeks I have given an overview of some of the main areas to consider if you want to make some hard earned dosh from your beloved songs. If you’re reading this for the first time check out my page on this site to read more.
By now I am sure you are aware that to make any money out of the music industry it’s not just about selling records, live or royalties. It is a combination of many things – multiple, micro businesses all linked in together and a lot of hard work. Timing is crucial so check out this if you haven’t already. Aside from the usual suspects there are several other areas that you can explore.
Photos from Tom’s 60th Birthday gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire by Roger Goodgroves
This is such a fundamentally f**king obvious part of an artist’s career that I am in complete incomprehension as to how or even why I hear so much grumbling from promoters about artists and vice versa. It is really simple, you put bums on seats, you get booked again. It is your duty as an artist to make every show as good as possible and do your damndest to fill it. If you’re playing every week to five people and you’re pissed off, get over it. Either your set is not good enough or you’re playing too often for the size of your fanbase.
I come at this from all sides. I have played everywhere in London, from every indie toilet to the Brit Awards. I have rigged, engineered and promoted gigs from 50 seaters to the likes of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the Albert Hall. One thing I know is the type of artist I want to work with. So singer songwriters out there who turn up all fluffy like, an hour late, having forgotten their guitar lead, with no fans to support them and expect the promoter to be grateful… go home. It’s not cute. Really it isn’t. And just to emphasise the point, the pictures above are from Tom’s 60th gig. We squeezed in 8 bands, numerous guests and stage re-rigs and came in 4 minutes early on curtain down with no gaps in the program. This was only possible because of the consumate professionalism of all the artists taking part, one very organised stage manager (Thanks Kirsty), some shit hot engineers and a lot of planning.
This part of the industry is like a whole ecosystem in itself. Promoters, agents, bands and their managers all vying for attention in a very crowded market. The theory however is simple: Band + Venue + Audience = Gig.
So rant over, how do you make some dosh?
When I first started making music this was relatively straightforward – make a record, put it on a physical format and make it available to your fans. In the age of the Internet the playing field has changed everything. Not only do we now have digital product but also anybody can enter the market and sell their music with just a few clicks of a mouse. As you get bigger you’ll probably end up going through a distributor but when you’re starting out here’s what you can do.
This is the first of four posts I’ll be doing about this over the next few weeks. Collectively the posts will look at how to make money from your music. The subject for today, and my thanks to Charlie Phillips, Head of Legal and Commercial Affairs at AIM with this, is…
Royalty Collecting Societies
So what is a royalty collecting society? Broadly, they are the dudes that collect money from broadcast, ‘public performance’ (ie playing recordings to the public in shops, clubs, etc), internet, labels and other uses of your performances, recordings or compositions, to pay you the performer/rights holder/writer money owed to you by said radio, internet and labels for use of your work. There are many societies all over the world so I’m going to concentrate on the UK. These are the ones you MUST know about and while often missed, you have to actually join them if you want to earn from them. It doesn’t happen automatically. And if you don’t look after your rights then someone else might well take what is due to you. For a thorough description you should visit each site and read EVERYTHING! There are links at the bottom of each section.
Real subject title: Planning (That’s just not as sexy really is it?)
Scenario: You have just finished a track, it sounds amazing and what you really want to do is play it to as many people as possible. This is something I am all too aware of but I would urge you to stop for a second and think of the bigger picture. If the track is just a one off then fine, send it to the world but if you have bigger plans for an album and steps towards a career as an artist then make a plan.
There are so many ways I want to start this that I am struggling of where to begin other than shouting five things at the same time whilst administering the type of slap that Obelix or Asterix might give a Roman. All labels vary but in my humble opinion… (it would be great to hear what others think on this too)
First up, why do you want to be signed?
Now think about this you new artists out there. Why on earth would a label want to sign you?
Answer? more »