You do the math!
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As you may have guessed, I check out a lot of music blogs because I am a musician and sometimes I need inspiration. Some blogs are very well-known or should I say have a social media presence (IndieShuffle – 54k Twitter followers, Consequence of Sound -180k Twitter followers, Stereogum – 337k Twitter followers etc…) and many not so well-known (on social media) such as the Eastportlandblog. I came across this gem, East Portland Blog, on the Indie Bible – a must have for any indie artist. And I was astonished to discover it had NO social media presence that I could find. It didn’t have a Twitter account, a Facebook or an Instagram account and yet there it was and their content was brilliant or maybe I just got it on an extraordinary day. I fell upon a succinct declaration of Childish Gambino’s genius in This is America . I hadn’t seen all the buzz around Donald Glover’s alter ego, Childish Gambino, until I’d read Harper Hull’s acknowledgement of Glover’s latest work (ya, I live under a rock). This song/video is a strong statement not to be taken lightly. The marketing machine behind the launch of Glover’s new single is obviously huge with a spot on SNL on May 5th, the eve of the video’s release but, in this case, much deserved.
However, what I really wanted to discuss was East Portland’s lack of social media presence and how I envy it. I admit that I do enjoy Instagram but am indifferent to Twitter and well… there is Facebook. Social media is a necessary evil but you can cherry pick the mediums where you prefer to engage your followers. You need to understand your audience and where they reside then focus.
Understanding the platform and how it reaches your audience is key. The fact is that Facebook only allows you access to 10% of your followers and then you need to buy access to the rest of them. Yes, the ones who ALREADY follow you, NOT new followers. People you worked hard to engage are not necessarily seeing your content. Facebook makes you pay for access to them. This means your work goes in their pockets. Therefore, smart marketing efforts are very important, wasted time is wasted money.
Facebook ad campaigns can inundate your engaged “followers” with the content they have already seen. I made the mistake of paying for a campaign in my early marketing days on my personal site and when it was finished Facebook made the mistake of telling me that my campaign was more successful that 90% of the Facebook campaigns. Well, if that was success I would hate to see failure. I can help you to not make the same mistake.
Next blog I’ll be tackling Spotify and what I really think about its Ponzi scheme!
If you like this post and wanna read more, sign up on my website on the contact sheet www.kathrynberry.ca and maybe I can rid myself of social media too!
Your lips my lips, apocalypse… Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex
Slow motion music by a band originally from El Paso, TX., based in Brooklyn, NY. Currently, touring the world. New album is out June 9, 2017.
Discovering Quebec one song at a time…
I was introduced to this song on La Voix (Quebec version of The Voice) 2015 in the battle rounds with Jean-Sebastien Michaud and Philippe Clement (http://sainescene.com/philippe-clement/ ). I would have included their version of the song in this post but it was not available on Youtube and had too many commercials on the La Voix site before it started.
The original version below, by Louis-Jean Cormier, is divine. Louis-Jean is an indie rock singer/songwriter from Spet-iles, Quebec (north east Quebec on the north side of the Saint Laurent). He won a Juno for his 2013 debut album where this song was featured! He was also a judge on La Voix in season 2.
Before I give you the translated lyrics below, I must interject that I do have a habit of making up my own lyrics and even words. Before I went to work translating the lyrics in earnest, I thought that “La pesanteur” meant the button you press to go up or down when calling the elevator (thinking “peser” the verb to push) and “La voie d’accotement ” was “La voix d’ecoutement” which is a phrase completely made up by me (there is no such word as ecoutement in French but I was thinking ecouter – to listen), meaning the PA system in the elevator. Enjoy!
L’ascenseur – This song is just beautiful…
Lyrics roughly translated:
Since they put music in the elevator,
No one thinks of their sadness
Between the partying and the fear,
The good and the bad
Between the stress and the force of gravity (the button you press to go up or down)
Between tomorrow and the present moment
Tell me where… tell me where do we get off?
Since they put mirrors in the elevator,
No one complains about how slow is goes
Between the head and the heart
The black and the white
Between the drunkenness and the boost/accelerator
Between love and the side of the road (the PA system)
Tell me where…Tell me where do we get off
Between love and the side of the road (The PA system)…
Where do we get off?
It takes as much craziness as courage
For us to get off at on the thirteenth floor together
And close the door on the bad omen
With your hand as my only baggage
Tell me where… tell me where do we get off
Tell me everything…tell me everything
So I can calculate my momentum
Tell me when….so we can jump at the same time
Send me an email with your words of wisdom at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on the web at
Hey, the music industry is failing and it’s all the fault of digital technology, streaming and the invention of the iPhone. Not really. It’s the music industry’s fault. They are stuck in a model of young and slick that no longer applies to where the money is at. FACT: 60% of all music sales come from OVER 35s, 40% of which are Baby Boomers, according to Nielson’s 360 Music report.
Sure, we can all complain that a billion views/streams only makes the artist $35 but the industry is marketing to kids, and let’s face it, they’re leeches. I should know I have a couple. Forget contributing, they actually expect YOU to PAY them every week – allowance -huh.
The music industry doesn’t understand that if you’re under 35, you’re probably still living at home asking for gas money or a basement dweller. Of course, they’re not going to pay for music. And yet the music industry spends millions on marketing to this generation for the return of a large pizza and blames technology for their failings.
Side note: recently, I went to a presentation on child labour at my kid’s primary school (ok, my kids are not basement dwellers yet) and I thought: now, THEY are onto something; there’s more than just yoga and Feng Shui that we can learn from the East Indians and the Chinese.
Let’s be honest, the over 35 market doesn’t want young and perfect; they want relatable. Adele was an incredible success not because she was young (I’m pretty sure her look was more middle aged 1950’s housewife than young vixen) but because of her awesome music and voice. Sam Smith grabbed our attention BECAUSE he was real…(ok and had a great voice and music). The buying public no longer wants young and perfect. It just wants good music and no amount of eye candy is going to get the discerning or undiscerning public to pay.
Music industry, if you want to sell music, find acts that can open for the over 50’s (I’m talking U2, Rolling Stones, Madonna etc…Your BIGGEST selling concert acts TODAY); acts THAT audience can relate to. Trust me, Madonna doesn’t just want a billion views, she’s looking for cold hard cash and you should too! So, music industry, I dare you to STOP belly aching and change the acts you promote and who you promote them to. Look outside the box! It is that simple.
Name: Kathryn BERRY
And the final challenge is this…what to do when you can’t produce something you feel is worthy? You write something anyway and have fun with it. I wrote this on the fly with Matt in mind. I couldn’t get into his new head space so I hung out in a jazzy nonsense song and played with Lo-fi vocals. I know it is nothing like what was requested but you can’t blame a girl for just trying to get to the finish line at all cost.
Wait…. no I can’t have you hear that song so I’m posting a song I revamped with my producer, Sule Heitner. At least it has funky vibe. Still not a Matt Dusk song but getting closer…
The hardest part of this challenge was to be creative on demand. I usually just write when I feel like it; in the style that fits my mood. Writing to someone else’s mood was a bit nerve wracking. Clearly, this IS possible, as people do it every day in their jobs. Also, the songs that I have heard in the challenge prove this to be true. Many who contributed were consistently good throughout the challenge. I take my hat off to them, especially the people who worked on many co-writes and managed to produce incredible work. You know who you are 😉
This challenge gave me the incredible opportunity to meet and work with new people in the songwriting field. All of the people I worked with were generous and talented beyond my hopes. I felt a bit out of my league among them and am honored that I had the opportunity to work with so many and hear their inspiring work.
What did I learn? Well, I confirmed that I am a stress case and that working to a deadline sucks…for me and everyone around me. Are my children still alive? I better go check in their cages. I think I left them enough food and water.
Would I do this challenge again? Well, I don’t like being a witch with a capital ‘B’ so instinctively I would say ‘no’ but never say never…I remember saying I would never run another marathon again and I did. So give me some distance and I might find the courage to put myself in the line of fire again or rather put everyone around me in the line of fire again.
Here it is but I’m betting on Gordon and Adri-Anne! They killed it!
“Cara Heath is the owner of With A Bullet, a radio promotion company based in Canada that has proudly been taking great music to radio since 2008. We have worked with The Pack A.D, The Gaslight Anthem, Born Ruffians, Heart, Leonard Cohen, In-Flight Safety, Fortunate Ones, and more…
Here is her challenge:
For this week’s challenge I want you to get into the mindset of self-editing. This is all about the radio edit. I want you to create a new song that would work currently at either Pop (Hot AC or CHR) or Rock (Alternative or Active Rock) Radio formats – your pick – but, I want you to write this song to be around 4 mins in length. Then I want you to edit it down to no more than 3:30 mins while still retaining the essence, dynamics, and structure of the song. If your original length is shorter than 4 mins still cut 30 secs out somewhere and if it’s longer than 4 mins you still need to get it down to 3:30. Things to help in the editing process: think about shortened intros, time to first vocals, time to first chorus, shortening / removing instrumental parts, shortening outros, etc. Get the point across quickly, grab your potential listener’s attention and have them singing along by the end of it! **These aren’t hard and fast rules when it comes to radio, but it’s always a great exercise for songwriters to practice the art and discipline of self-editing. “
I got lucky on this baby. I heard a song from last week’s challenge that I adored by Craig McIvor and Michael Proudfoot and decided I would try and capture some of that magic by asking Craig McIvor to write with me. I had already done a piece with Michael Proudfoot so it was time to change it up a bit and get a totally new perspective. Craig is a music magician who needs lyrics. I like to write lyrics. YES!
The first challenge is to get Craig to agree. He does. He comes up with a piece lickety split and I write some lyrics about a bar I play in regularly. The bar is the epitome of rock and roll or what one thinks of when you say ‘rock n’ roll’ or is that just me? Names have been changed to protect the innocent or not so innocent.
The original song was about 4mins and three seconds but Craig worked his magic and cut out – THE BEST PART! His guitar!!!!! Damn radio!
Jordan Howard is Creative Director at CCS Rights Management. The company provides Music IP Management Publishing. Their roster of services includes sync licensing. Here is his challenge:
Challenge: I am looking for songs to pitch for a new series on Lifetime that stars Christina Ricci. The series can be best described as a 19th Century “Dexter.” Series centers around a female anti-hero, lots of emotions. Love, Lust, Hate, Danger. Musically I am looking for songs in the vain of: Black Keys, Bon Iver, Band of Skulls, Carolina Chocolate Drops, James Vincent McMorrow. For one episode, I am looking for a replacement for Hozier’s “To Be Alone.” As long as the song is in a similar wheelhouse and is lyrically similar, that is what is most important.
Mmmm, sounds interesting and fun. I do love Bon Iver. Give me The Black Keys, Lonely Boy, any day or Hozier’s Take Me to Church but can I create such magic? Well, turns out I don’t have to think too much about it this week. Michael Proudfoot wants to use our Matt Dusk attempt for this week, which suits me fine after a hectic and stressful previous week. Michael figures our song, Baby, Have a Heart, will fit this challenge better than the Matt Dusk request. I think he is right. Originally, Michael and I had gone for the Lana Del Ray approach but she always seemed a bit too dark for Matt. I do feel like a bit of a cheat, though, cause my contribution did seem a bit minor in this song. I only really had any influence over the pre-chorus: the melody and love me love me love me more/ make me want to stay. I guess that will have to be enough for this week. I’m a bit scared by next week. So am glad I’ve had a slack week.
Here’s this week’s Lana Del Ray impression for a 19th century “Dexter”….
And the winner is…
Thank you all for your fantastic songs that you wrote for our “Writing for Advertising” Childlike challenge! The songs submitted captured a wide range of styles and emotions and show how subjective the act of trying to describe a song through words and a brief can be. The eight finalists all wrote great songs, and all have potential in the world of advertising.
For the real-life version of this particular brief, we ended up choosing a (then) unreleased song by singer/songwriter Anya Marina called “Apple of My Eye”. You can see the finished spot here (if you didn’t see it on TV back in the fall!): http://www.vapormusic.com/licensing#wind-mobile-backseat-browser
This song was a favourite for the client because it was simultaneously sweet but a little bit sassy, it was quirky without feeling forced, and captured the spirit of a young girl…
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