THE DIRECTOR'S PAGE

From time to time, this page will feature an article from Jimi on various topics, usually about the Network, but sometimes we may just let him ramble a bit! Take the time to read this, enjoy, comment, etc. - Thomas, webmaster

The Real Deal

A friend performed in the finals for a music award a few weeks ago.

He didn't get the award, but he not only got the endorsement of several of the judges, but he got some sponsored gigs from that, & will have his name attached to this reputable organization @ some high visibility events.

So while someone else goes home with a trophy, he gets the paying gigs AND an op to expand his fanbase.

I think he got the better deal .

Sometimes the reality of this business really is brighter than the hype.

The industry is moving so fast, it's hard to keep up & build the kind of long term relationships we, who have been around awhile, are familiar with & love so much. Artist of the month is becoming artist of the week, soon to be artist of the hour. Watching the Billboard top 40 charts, it's almost all single digits. Very few artists can stay near the top more than 3 weeks. Just last year it was mostly low doubledigits, 15-25 weeks for the best artists. This tells ya that the market is desperate for new stuff. Broadcast radio holds rotation beyond top forty in many genre driven markets, but if they hold too long, they're considered "not progressive" & lose marketshare.

For a major label, developing an artist for several years is tough, when you realize they may only have a career peak of about 3 weeks. OUCH.

I can see why the majors have the kinds of attitudes they do & why they work as they do.

Getting a record deal is no longer the golden carrot.

Thanks to the internet, a new kind of relationship built on a grassroots level is happening.

I believe it's possible for artists to have more stable & secure careers by marketing DIRECTLY to more focused genres, building fanbases that really care & support their artists, & makes the artists understand they need to care about their fans too. Kind of a throwback to when you could actually go see a concert, then have dinner with the band after the show. Or you knew (& cared) enough to send your favorite artist a birthday card, or favorite candy without being labeled a freak or stalker.

The house concert scene is even more primal, but very much in touch with the traditions of what music is all about. In that context, we're respected artists & craftspeople.

In the days before recorded music, people would either go to a concert hall or public place to hear music & pay at the door, or pass the hat. Sometimes a musician would stay with friends in the area or would cover his room & board by 'playing for his keep'.  People found value in the music. They paid money, sometimes more than tips. It made 'em feel a certain way & they were happy to support the minstrels that came thru town & entertained the way they did. The most entertaining of these had regular gigs for the local nobility, & were sometimes hired as on call staff since the king couldn't just turn on a radio if he wanted to hear some music during a break in his duties.

Life comes 'round full circle. Here we are about a thousand years later, & for me, I need to go to local clubs, coffeehouses or online to hear the music I want to hear. There's too much junk & commercial interruption for me to waste my time on looking for something interesting on the radio.

At least when an artist submits a CD to me for review, I know it comes from a real place, that someone has put an effort into recording & producing this work, & that it's not prefabbed pablum assembled to look & feel appetizing but has little substance. For that effort, I will at least listen once. I will pay for another copy if I feel like the music will make someone else's day brighter so I can share it. A whole CD, not a download, 'cuz the collection marks a place in time for the artist, a set of colors, moods & graphics on the cover that makes the picture complete. Usually a listing of support people, who wrote the songs, where it was recorded & sometimes a little personal information too. Like if you just lick off the middle of your Oreo, you miss the chocolate crunch of the cookie.

Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' is a collection like that. I could never pick a favorite, & really don't have a favorite single out of that album, but listening end-to-end is an experience like a movie, satisfying only by it's completeness.

I've rarely had any of its cuts on the radio & if I want to hear it, I have to go & find my CD or fire up my turntable. But when I do, I remember a moment at The Canyon Store, walking past her & being too starstruck to even say hello.

To relive that memory has great value to me, like jumping into a time machine & being that embarrassed awkward teenager, & the emotion of the moment feeling alive but wanting to fade away all in a single second.

With top forty radio changing so quickly, it's hard to see the value in music these days,  especially when the artists themselves seem to be so disposable.

As much as most artists want to get that break into the mainstream, the heart & soul of what music is all about is often lost in the transition.

There is not only much success in the indie world, but lots of love too. People care about the people that are singing & playing THEIR music. They take ownership. Like a couple dancing to 'Our Song'.

I have a guitar that was built by a late friend. It's not well made, but has a rich & unique sound.

Good music is like that. There's always an appeal to somebody, even if it ain't perfect.

The music I listen to these days is all from artists I consider friends. Most do not have the major label deal, & many have only pressed a couple thousand copies of their work. Some of the CDs are burned copies that may fade into un-playability in a few years.

In the big picture, these songs have to potential to touch millions of people, if only someone knew they existed. All I can do is tell my friends what I've found & share with them so they can hopefully find the music & buy it for themselves someplace. & if they're excited about the music enough to tell THEIR friends & the cycle continues, a fanbase is born. & if those fans find the artist is someone they can relate to as a person, a career can be created.

This is the NEW music industry, born out of the way things were before radio, before recorded music, where the heart of the artist is all that really mattered, & the relationship between an artist & their fans was just as important as the work itself.

Remember that next time you're too busy to say hello.

- Jimi