Friday, July 29, 2011

Dueling Journey's

A strange thing happened on morning TV.

Good Morning America presented Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.  From the tight shots of the audience, I don't think there was a large amount of people there.  It was an interesting booking choice.  Both looked like they were enjoying themselves and Tiffany had a surprisingly strong voice. 

Flip to the Today Show and Journey is performing.  Neal Schon and Ross Valory are founding members.  From there, the band has had a revolving door of players.  Steve Perry joined in 1977 as lead singer and the hits came.  He left in the late 1990's.  Current front man Arnel Pineda was plucked from his YouTube performances in 2007.  Schon, Perry and current member Jonathan Cain wrote "Don't Stop Believin'". 

Journey to no one's surprise performs "Believin;".  The song is finished and I switch over to GMA.  Tiffany and Gibson are singing "Believin'".  That's two performances in one morning.  I thought Steve Perry has to be on CBS.  He was not.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dan Peek Founding Member of America, RIP

America started out as a trio.  I loved this band when I was in high school. One of older girls at school was a ticket scalper and I was able to get front row seats to see America. Eric Carmen opened the show.  Love him also.  If I remember correctly my friends Linda and Adrienne (sisters and twins) got the seats for Eric and part of America's set and then I switched seats for the rest of the show.  I saw them twice at the Nassau Coliseum.

Dan Peek, who was my favorite, died this week. As of now they have not named the cause of death.  He provided the high harmony and lead guitar for the trio as well as singing lead on their hit "Lonely People."

Dan left the band in 1977.  The road and living a rock star life became too much for him. He became a born again Christian. 

The other founding band members Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley has this to say on America's website:

"I am so sorry to learn of Dan’s passing. Dan, along with Gerry and myself, formed the band “America” as teenagers after being great friends in high school during the late 60’s. It was a joyous time for the three of us, full of excitement and laughter. We created lasting music together and experienced a life that we could never have imagined. Dan was an equal and integral part of that early history, and I have never forgotten the good times we spent making that music and learning about life together. Although we eventually went our separate ways, his contributions to the music of “America” have always been present and will last forever. This news brings great sadness. My sincere condolences go out to his wife, Catherine, and the entire Peek family. May Dan rest in peace, and his memory be cherished forever." -Dewey Bunnell

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Dans passing. He was a dear friend for many years. Dan and his music will live on in the great songs he shared with us all. My sincere condolences go out to Catherine and the entire Peek family. May he rest in peace...."
-Gerry Beckley

In what must be a bittersweet moment for the band, their record Back Pages, which is an album of covers (Beach Boys, Fountains of Wayne) is released today.

America is a big part of my musical tapestry.  I love their melodies and harmonies.  I loved their song from the film Music and Lyrics.  I always wondered what their lyrics were about.   Part of the fun was trying to figure out why we "shouldn't give up until we reach for the silver cup and ride that highway in the sky."    Now it all makes sense.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cut The Middle Man

Fred Wilson pointed to a blog post by Mark Suster, who is also a VC.  The post is a warning not to ceed too much control to the middle, whether it be a lawyer, PR person or your banker.  You are the one who should be pitching the deal/story.  You should be negotiating or setting the terms of the deal you want. 

How true is this for the musician?  No one should know the music better than the musician themselves.  I've heard many a musician claim that they are misunderstood.  More times than not it was because they had someone else lay the groundwork for them.

I'm not saying that musicians shouldn't hire people to do PR, manage them, etc.  In most cases it's more than necessary to have these people on your team. It's important that everyone is one on the same mission with the same message. The musician is the one who needs to make sure that is the case.  Don't lay back and let the chips fall where they may.  Don't think that just because you pay these people they're doing your work.  As Mark points out, they have many other clients and sometimes their long term goals are not the same as yours.  Make sure that they are.  Pay attention.  Take the time to looks at contracts. 

Perfect example of this came out last week when Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the courts to not grant his ex-wife Maria Shriver spousal support.  He also asked that attorney fees and legal costs be jointly paid. Now according to TMZ:  sources said that although he signed the divorce docs he never read them, partly because he was dealing with a family medical crisis -- Christopher's boogie boarding accident ... and partly because he relied on his lawyer.  He is going to refile amended papers today. 

Perfect example of why you don't rely on the middle.  This of course could be an excuse by the ex-Governor to cover up his audacious first filing after he once again, got slammed in the media.

Make sure you are the one driving your ship.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse RIP

Fellow musicians mourn the loss of Amy Winehouse:

Tony Bennett said in a statement to Spinner, "Amy Winehouse was an artist of immense proportions and I am deeply saddened to learn of her tragic passing. She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist and I am truly devastated that her exceptional talent has come to such an early end.
"She was a lovely and intelligent person and when we recorded together she gave a soulful and extraordinary performance. I was honored to have the opportunity to sing with her. It had been my sincere hope that she would be able to overcome the issues she was battling and I send my deepest sympathy to her father Mitchell, her entire family and all of those who loved her."

Mark Ronson, who produced Back to Black, said: "She was my musical soul mate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life."

Ron Wood said, "It's a very sad loss of a very good friend I spent many great times with."

She led a life akin to Sid and Nancy. Her death is currently being classified as "unexplained" by London police.  Amy recently tried to complete a 12-leg tour and as famously shown on YouTube, was booed off the stage in  Belgrade.  She canceled shows in Istanbul and Athens with the rest of the tour to follow.   Amy's last public appearance was Wednesday as she joined goddaughter Dionne Bromfield on stage during the iTunes festival.

With Dionne Bromfield on Wednesday Night
According to the Guardian The Metropolitan police said: "Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square shortly before 16.05hrs following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene."

Her father was set to play the Blue Note in New York and returned to London.  She was a talented musician.  She brought excitement back to music.  She'll be remembered for that.  She was 27 years old, which is the same age that Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin all left this world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cats On 45, Literally

Having a dance party?  You may want to think about hiring these three cuties to provide the music.  They seem to know their way around the turntables.

Mashable pointed me to this video.

Friday, July 15, 2011

John Mayer On The Pitfalls of Social Networking

The Berklee College of Music welcomed John Mayer (he attended Berklee for a short time), who gave the students a lot to ponder.  The Berkleeblog goes into great detail about his visit with the students. 

John Mayer was the king of Twitter for a time.  He had millions of followers, my husband being one of them.  It was most interesting when he was talking about working in the studio and on his music.  Other times he got into trouble, but not as much as he did for his Playboy interview.

He stopped using Twitter and explained why.

The tweets are getting shorter, but the songs are still 4 minutes long. You’re coming up with 140-character zingers, and the song is still 4 minutes long…I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. And I was a tweetaholic. I had four million twitter followers, and I was always writing on it. And I stopped using twitter as an outlet and I started using twitter as the instrument to riff on, and it started to make my mind smaller and smaller and smaller. And I couldn’t write a song.

Interesting analysis which makes sense.  He cut out all distractions while making his recent record. When the recording day was over, he went home and there he could do whatever he wanted, but not during the work day.

Solid advice not only for musicians:
  • Good music (substitute your area of work) is its own promotion.
  • Manage the temptation of publishing yourself.
  • Anybody who tells you to have a fall back plan are people who had a fallback plan, didn’t follow their dreams, and don’t want you to either.
  • Anybody who’s made it will tell you, you can make it. Anyone who hasn’t made it will tell you, you can’t.
Read the whole article.  It's an interesting take from someone who's been there and done it all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Man Who Gave Us The Brady Bunch & Gilligan's Island

If you see the name Sherwood Schwartz you probably think,  how do I know him?  His name was embedded in my brain from watching the  closing  credits of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.  He was the creator of the two iconic 60's/70's shows. 

Sherwood passed away yesterday at age 94.

He started writing for Bob Hope's radio show and continued to write for radio until he moved to television.   According to the LA Times, He made his move to television in 1952, spending two years writing for Joan Davis' situation comedy "I Married Joan." In addition to "The Red Skelton Show," Schwartz also wrote for the sitcom "My Favorite Martian" in the early 1960s.

In 1965 Schwartz read that 1/3 of American households included at least one child from a previous marriage.  This was the inspiration for The Brady Bunch, which took him more than three years to sell.
I remember being excited every Friday night to watch new episodes of The Brady Bunch followed by The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, Room 222 and Love, American Style.  If I got punished, I was not allowed to watch the Brady Bunch. This was before VCRs, DVRs and On Demand.  This was torture. 

Both The Bradys and Gilligan's Island were about family at their core.  Here were different people being thrown together in a created situation.  The Bradys were a combination of Carol and Mike's kids combined by a marriage.  The castaways were expecting to be with each other for three hours.  Why Thurston Howell III didn't have his own boat is a bit of a mystery as well as how Ginger was able to take all those clothes changes with her on a three hour tour.  Needless to say, these groups had their differences (as needed in all good sitcoms), but they truly cared for each other and looked out for one another.

In a classic Gilligan reference, the Happy Days gang is sitting around the TV (Happy Days was a spin off from Love American Style) and Mrs Cunningham declares (I'm paraphrasing) "If the professor can build a movie studio, why can't he get them off the island?"  Good question. As many times as I've seen Gilligan's Island originally and in reruns, I don't recall ever seeing an episode where they got rescued.  I have a strange feeling years later there was a TV movie that handled this.

Sherwood wrote the lyrics to the themes to both those shows.  Back then all you had to do was watch the opening and listen to the theme song to get the premise of the show.  It was brilliant TV and I thank Sherwood for it.

Of note: Depending on what year the show was broadcast, the Professor and Maryann might be dissed in the theme song. They were at one point referred to as "and the rest."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Julia Nunes: DIY Musician and CNN Darling

CNN loves Julia Nunes.  A year ago they profiled her YouTube success.

This week they focused on her Kickstarter success.

By using Kickstarter, she's getting her fans to finance her new album.  It looks like the fund drive has  unofficially ended.  Her Kickstarter page indicates that her goal was $15,000.  She raised $77,888 from 1685 backers.  Nice work. 

There were different offerings available depending on how much money was pledged.  You can get the album download before it comes out or you could have her perform in your living room. 

It's all about a musician and her music connecting with the people. She has done that. 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Music Sales Are Up After 7 Year Decline. Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched.

 Nielsen Soundscan data is repoting that U.S. music sales are up for the first half of 2011. These numbers are through the week ending July 3.  Album sales were up almost 1%.

According to TechCrunch: 155.5 million albums were sold in the U.S. in the first six months of 2011, compared to the 153.9 million albums sold at this time last year, resulting in that slim 1 percent hike. Of course, when one includes single-track downloads (generally speaking, 10 songs are the equivalent of an album) the number of albums sold comes to 221.5 million, resulting in a 3.6 percent rise. 

These numbers are not exactly a breakthrough.  I don't think the record labels will be doing a dance yet considering Adele is the number one record and she sold just over 2 million copies. 

It's going to take a few more reporting periods to see if the trend continues.