- Fusion - Combining elements of different musical styles and traditions, as well as the use of nontraditional instrument combinations. This also extends to the fusion of artistic mediums.
- Tonality - Modal, atonal, polytonal, microtonal music, or any other method of moving beyond the major and minor scales.
- Challenging the traditional definition of Music - The genesis of this idea was in the work of the great John Cage, who was interested in stretching the boundaries of what can be considered music. The use of nonmusical sounds in composition has especially been of great interest to me.
- Elements of Chance - This includes improvisation, as well as effects or overtones caused by note combinations (especially in drones.)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
- Digital downloads surpassed CD sales
- Independent labels became major players
- Established artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails successfully opted to release their music independently, rather than sign a new record contract
- The ever-shrinking major labels lost their mojo, desperately clinging to outmoded ideas and suing children, the elderly, and dead people
- Numerous distribution avenues emerged, allowing independent artists to get their music directly to fans
- Social media emerged, allowing artists to interact directly with fans
- A new generation of music consumers emerged, ingrained with the belief that music should be free
Friday, October 02, 2009
blog « amanda palmer
Discussion on the blog post
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Allen's response to this is thought-provoking: "Last week in an article in the Times these guys from huge bands said file sharing music is fine. It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it's making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge." Later on comes my favorite quote: "the more difficult it is for new artists to make it, the less new artists you'll see and the more British music will be nothing but puppets paid for by Simon Cowell."
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
wbur.org » News » Live From The Basement: Geek Rock!
Conventional wisdom might tell us that an unsigned artist couldn't possibly garner an audience this way, much less make any money. Kudos to Matthew for proving the conventional wisdom to be wrong!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
yvynyl - How to Prevent Your Band's Gear from Being Stolen
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
"In the new music economy, you need to build an audience and energize them to act on your behalf and forward your music virally. Later, they can become paying customers. Don't ask them for their money first. Once fans are sold on you, you'll be able to 'upsell' them special shows, backstage passes, webcasts, a live concert download, a multimedia product, your iPhone application, a premium package for $75."
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
- Be on time early to rehearsals and gigs - Yes, I said it! It wouldn't hurt to show up 10 or 15 minutes before your call time. You don't understand how stressful being a bandleader or contractor is, and you should never underestimate how much this simple act can improve your chances of working with a band for many years!
- Know the difference between "rehearsal" and "practice" - In simple terms: You "practice" the songs on your own time, so that you show up completely prepared for the full band "rehearsal." In other words, have the song learned before you show up to rehearsal! I should also point out that since rehearsal is a collective experience, it is often wasted if one of the band members does not show up. Without the entire ensemble there, including the singers, rehearsal can often be a waste of time.
- Help setting up the gear - If you are not yet a star, you probably don't have "roadies." Usually, this means that the band shares responsibility for setting up gear. This does not mean that you work until everyone has helped you set up your gear, and then sit around "noodling" while the rest of the band finishes setting up the p.a.
- Realize you are not the most important person in the band - In other words, leave your ego at the door. This category encompasses many diva behaviors, but I'll just list a few, and they probably don't need more explanation: a) Watch your stage volume b) Don't step all over someone's solo c) If you wish to offer criticism, be prepared to accept criticism as well.
- Be professional - Don't forget that this is a business, and you have clients. Try to avoid things like temper tantrums onstage, getting drunk during the gig, heckling the bar patrons, etc. Also (personal pet peeve here) if you have professional sound staff working with you, please treat them as equals. They have also had training and practice in their craft, and they deserve your respect!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
my thoughts on what to do as a new / unknown artist
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Cheap Trick brings back the 8-track - The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
- We will no longer create art solely for a specific audience or demographic.
- We do not need to create separate artistic personas for different aspects of our creativity.
- We will allow our creativity free reign.
- We will no longer refer to our art solely as a Product.
- We will not allow our art to be governed by a Formula.
- There is no longer a Consumer. There is only the Audience.
- It is perfectly acceptable for an artist to release a country song and a freeform jazz exploration on the same record.
- We will no longer use the phrases "is this accessible" or "could someone whistle this melody?"
- We will no longer use the terms "single edit," "radio mix," or "commercial," and we will no longer use the phrase "is this too long?"
- We do not necessarily want or need to "get signed" to a major record label.
- We will never again surrender our artistic control to any person or entity.
- As we are able to control our art, we are also able to control our commerce and our livelihood.
- We will control our own "brand" or "image." This includes the freedom to completely reject those concepts if we so desire.
- We summarily reject genre labels when possible, by labeling our music "other."
- We are free to use any and every artistic medium available.
- We will interact with the Audience without a middleman or filter. If we chose to allow the Audience to participate in the creation of our art, this is perfectly acceptable as well.
- We are free to use new and emerging distribution channels, or create our own if necessary.
- In short, none of the old rules apply. We are free to make our own rules, or declare that there are no rules if we wish. Furthermore, we are free to amend or emend this manifesto whenever we desire!
The Artist 2.0 Manifesto by Michael J Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://michaeljohnson0664.blogspot.com.
Update: The video was supposed to stop when he began talking about his favorite gadgets, but apparently it does not. Feel free to watch the rest, but understand that there are 20 more minutes. Also, look for @recdmavn's name and (briefly) her face while Trent is talking about Topspin!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
When I finally found the record, it was so much more than I had bargained for. Here was a true original, an artist who was able to effortlessly and effectively blend elements from a wide variety of musical genres into his own unique, quirky style. There are elements of grunge, hip-hop, jazz, and more, with a healthy dose of weird noises and samples. Bridges tend to consist either of blasts of noise and samples over music or a foray into an entirely different musical style, and there is not a guitar solo to be found. Above it all, Mahaffey's voice weaves catchy pop melodies. It seems like it wouldn't work, but it does. Here are some of the highlights:
- "Sophomore Jinx" - a humorous song about the curse of the sophomore album, blending hip-hop, grunge and powerpop, if you can believe that!
- "So Low" - What begins with industrial mayhem suddenly breaks into a Beatle-esque bridge, and pulls it off nicely.
- "Marathon Shirt" - What starts out sounding almost like a prog rock song with some Sting influences breaks suddenly into a cocktail lounge jazz bridge.
- "Big Important Nothing" - A song about the marriage of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. The verses are sung over a Thelonious Monk-inspired piano loop with a loping shuffle beat, and the chorus is plucked right out of the vocal jazz stylebook. The song also has the trademark Mahaffey blast of noise in the instrumental bridge.
It's obvious to me and most of his fans that Mahaffey is a musical genius, and it almost seems like his lack of commercial success is intentional. He enjoys subverting and/or overturning pop conventions, both lyrically and musically. He is still working actively as a producer, did a recent collaboration with Jeff Turzo of God Lives Underwater called "Wired All Wrong," and does a bit of soundtrack work as well. I don't think we have seen the last of him.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
4) The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
I could probably make a case for Trent Reznor's debut as Nine Inch Nails, "Pretty Hate Machine" (hereafter referred to as PHM.) To some extent, that was a life-changing one for me. However, in retrospect, I believe PHM and the followup EP "Broken" opened the doors for "The Downward Spiral."
I believe some context is in order. PHM came out in 1989, but I didn't become aware of it until a 1991 Spin magazine article about Trent Reznor, following his triumphant summer in the Lollapalooza tour. I wasn't the only one late to the game, either. The tour and the resulting press brought many new listeners to his debut album. This record was a revelation to me, a guitarist who loved the sound of a power chord, but also had a fascination with synthesizers that began with bands like Kraftwerk and Devo. Here was the best of both worlds for me. I'm not sure I even noticed at first that there were no guitar solos, which is surprising for me!
When Broken came out in 1992, it was a completely different record. At first, I didn't like it, but it quickly grew on me. This was a guitar record, although there were still no guitar solos. The synths were there, but they were buried in a wall of distortion. I came to love this EP so much, I quit listening to PHM for a while. Lyrically, there was even more anger, spurred on by the problems he was experiencing with his record label.
After an agonizing two-year wait, "The Downward Spiral" arrived, and I probably purchased it on the very day it showed up in the stores. Here was the record I had been waiting for! I listened to the entire thing, from the brutal, sledgehammer opening of "Mr. Self Destruct" to the blast of distortion and feedback at the end of "Hurt." For the next several months, I listened over and over again, not just to individual songs, but the entire thing start to finish. This was that kind of record. You couldn't just listen to one song. I would hear "Closer" on the radio, and it just seemed weird that they didn't play "Ruiner," the next song on the album.
This was not just a collection of songs. It wasn't even a concept album or a rock opera, where the lyrics unified what was otherwise a collection of songs. This was almost like a symphony, which was probably why it appealed to me, an educated musician. Much like classical music, the album had extreme dynamic range. "March of the Pigs" is a great example of that, with a soft piano/vocal break in the middle, followed by silence, followed by a blast of noise. I know I was fooled by it the first time! There was also the recurring piano motive, heard most prominently at the end of "Closer," but heard several other times as well.
I was also struck by the production, and spent many hours listening with headphones, trying to pick out individual layers in the massive wall of sound that permeated the entire record. This album, more than any other, sparked a returned interest in the recording process for me. After being a recording major as an undergrad, I lost interest for a number of years. I had a home studio, but it was just there to facilitate the songwriting process for me. "Downward Spiral" reminded me that the studio is a musical instrument, capable of as much expression as any acoustic instrument! Here was a pop artist using the same "Musique Concrete" techniques I had learned when I studied electronic music in college.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
On a related note, I recently created a Facebook artist page. If you are on Facebook and you have a moment, please become a fan. (I promise I won't spam you - I don't even have any gigs lined up at the moment.) This is also a bit of an experiment. I am interested to see if this will be a viable platform for artists in the future. I think they still have a few bugs to work out, but it has potential. I think this will finally make Facebook a viable alternative to MySpace for musicians. We'll see!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Think of 15 albums, CDs, LPs (if you're over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazu, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others, including moi. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it! >:) ha-ha-ha-haaaaa.....
Another Facebook/Twitter friend then inspired me to turn it into a blog post. So I took my original list, already posted on Facebook, added some commentary and 5 additional albums. I also decided to do a few at a time. Otherwise, this was never going to see the light of day! These were never in any order of importance, as I consider each of them equally important.
1) Revolver - The Beatles
This was the very first Beatles record I bought, as a teenager, and it did, indeed, change my life. Over the years, I have probably listened to "Sgt. Pepper" more often, but "Revolver" had a profound impact on my early development as a musician. I must single out "Love You To" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" for setting me on the road toward an appreciation for musical experimentation and non-western sounds.
My first Cheap Trick album was "In Color," their second album, which is much more polished and squarely in the power-pop vein. Of course, I then bought their eponymous debut thinking it would be more of the same. It was not, and in fact, it blew my mind! This record is equal parts punk, hard rock, and power-pop, and there is even a ballad! Even though the production is less refined, the Cheap Trick songcraft is already fully-formed, and the lyrics display Rick Nielsen at his sardonic best!
This is another example of a band who drew me in through their more commercial work, in this case "Completion Backward Principle." Once I discovered "Now," which is probably their least accessible and most eclectic effort ever, it opened a door musically to avenues I have continued to explore to this day. From their collaborations with Captain Beefheart ("My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains") to the proto-New Wave of "Cathy's Clone" to their cover of band member Mingo Lewis' fusion classic "God-Bird-Change." This one has everything, which fits my weird eclectic musical tastes. However, the label suits probably had no idea what to do with it, and neither did radio!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
BitTorrent Freed Music, and Now It’s Yours | TorrentFreak
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
This is my video for my song "Bay of Pigs," which I finally finished recording this week. I shot and edited all the video, and even did a bit of animation. Bonus points for anyone who can make sense of the lyrics!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I know, I'm YouTube crazy this week. It just happens that I found two geektabulous items on SlashFilm, and I just had to share them. This, the second one, concerns the comic book adaptation that I personally have been waiting for with great anticipation - "Watchmen." It's a great explanation of the science behind the graphic novel/film by the scientist who actually served as science advisor for the production.
On a related note, from everything I have read about the film, this is an extremely faithful adaptation. If you are planning to see it and haven't read the graphic novel, go pick up a copy and read it this weekend. You won't be sorry!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This is a video I put together for my song "Only A Test." I used Final Cut, and the footage is all public domain. Anyway, tell me what you think!
Update: I'm uploading it again, to see if I can improve the quality. Check back in a while!