Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A QUESTION FROM THE MAIL BIN -- From time to time we get E-mails from industry folks regarding the artists we write about - sometimes we get tips, sometimes we get comments about the acts we've featured - and sometimes we get general questions about the state of the biz. A note we received tonight we feel deserves a prompt response, so here it is along with our answer!

Hey TALENTfilter,

I've really enjoyed your blog, and appreciated the support that you've been giving independent artists.

I currently work with a small artists' collective based out of Portland, Oregon.
We believe that creative marketing in a digital age is enabling more and more artists to become what we like to think of as "middle class musicians" (something much harder to imagine ten years ago). But reading your blog, I've come to wonder if perhaps the day of record companies will never end (and if such myopic independence, as in avoiding all record companies, might be counterproductive).

Considering the fact that many of your featured artists go on and accept contracts from record companies (be them small or large ones) I would like to know what your opinion is on the issue. Or even what those artists have reported since about their experience.
Do you think it's really still worthwhile to sign with a label?

Honestly, reflecting over the success of our bands this past year, I've come to appreciate the flexibility and freedom that comes with being unsigned... but I've also come to wonder how much more meaningful their musical experience might be if supported by more financial capital and greater industry networking (the two things that labels seem to offer).

Sorry for my ramblings... but such esoteric debate no longer seems confined to the field of academia, but rather towards artists who struggle on for the sake of music and for the sake of community. So your thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks for all you do!

Carl Hoiland
Canoe Music:
An Artists Collective

Hi Carl - thanks for reaching out - and thanks for checking out the blog.

The "day of record companies" isn't going to end any time soon, but those record companies won't be structured in their current form for much longer.

Record companies are in the business of selling, as we heard one label President say, "shiny round things that nobody wants to buy anymore." That's their business. Selling something that people either don't want, or can get for free.

Obviously they won't be able to keep the lights on with that model much longer.

The labels are realizing (ridiculously slowly) that they have to participate in other sources of an artist's revenue in order to make money. Problem is, they're still staffed up the way they've always been staffed, so when they try to justify participating in, say, an artist's publishing revenue, they can't, since they're unable to contribute anything of value in that area. They're simply not set up as a publishing company! Same with merch. Same with touring.

Once record companies staff up to provide service in all the areas they're looking to participate in revenue-wise, those pesky 360 deals will look a bit more fair (Side note: Don't believe everything you read - you can still get a fair-ish deal from a label - they're not all 'required' to do 360 deals - if they want you badly enough, they'll play ball).

Anyway, if an artist is currently trying to figure out whether to partner with a record label, they first need to think about what they're looking for the label to do for them. What is the end-game?

If it's simply to get their music into as many earholes as possible, then working with a major label is still certainly a great way (possibly still the best way) to go. They've still got the best
relationships at radio, video, traditional retail and traditional press. They've still got their higher-profile acts to use as leverage. They've still got checkbooks.

A smart artist (or manager) knows that while the artist might never see a dime from record sales, all of the exposure and awareness-building that's happening as a result of the label's efforts IS, actually, increasing the artist's profile. So their tour guarantees go up. More people come see them live. More people buy their T-shirts. More music supervisors and ad agencies want to license their music. More earholes are filled with the music.

Yes, the artist may have to give up their precious masters, but as recorded music becomes less and less valuable, honestly? Let 'em have the stinkin' masters - they're not gonna be worth anything anyway!


Team TALENTfilter

Feel free to hit us with comments - TALENTfilter@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES / NEW YORK RADIO NEWS -- Watch for CBS-owned Talker KLSX to flip to a Top 40 format beginning next month in what appears to be an attempt to battle Clear Channel-owned KIIS. Is CBS planning to make a similar move in New York? Active Rocker WXRK (92.3 K-Rock) and AC outlet WWFS (Fresh 102.7) are the weakest links in the company's NY chain. Our money is on their flipping Fresh 102.7. Makes sense, no? WRXP, the Triple A station in New York is gonna go away sooner than later, so CBS can just tweak WXRK's music to compensate for disenfranchised Triple A listeners, while using the Fresh 102.7 stick to battle Clear Channel's Top 40 WHTZ (Z100). More news as it happens!

(***Editors note: Looks like that format flip at KLSX Los Angeles happened sooner than we'd tipped! To that, be on the lookout for some changes/announcements in the Programming departments at other CBS outlets [ie: KROQ Los Angeles]***)

Monday, February 16, 2009

TALENTfilter ARTIST UPDATE -- Miranda Lee Richards' new album, Light Of X, was released in the U.S. through Nettwerk Records last week - it's currently a Top 5 Singer/Songwriter album on iTunes (See? We TOLD you iTunes would finally wisen up and change the Folk category to Singer/Songwriter!) ...Miranda is doing a monthly residency at Spaceland in Los Angeles.

L.A. goth-rock outfit Dommin, first tipped to you in February 2007 and signed to Roadrunner Records in June 2008, finally have a date set for their debut album's release - on May 12, Love Is Gone will hit stores Stateside. Watch a teaser video HERE.

Unsigned/unpublished singer/songwriter/pianist Michelle Featherstone (tipped to you in June 2008) will celebrate the self-release of her new album titled Blue Bike on February 28 at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. It will be available digitally soon thereafter. Michelle has more of her songs placed in films and TV shows than any artist on your label. Why are you sleeping on this girl? Wakey wakey, genuises!!

Gavin Castleton, first tipped in July 2007, has had his new single "Coffeelocks" played on influential Los Angeles radio station KCRW almost every morning for the past two weeks. "Coffeelocks" is available now digitally through indie label Five One. Gavin is still unsigned and unpublished. He's a prolific songwriter who has self-released 7 solo albums in the last four years. He's also put out 7 albums with his other band Gruvis Malt, and 2 with another side project, Ebu Gogo. Scroll down a bit to watch the video of Gavin recording a remake of the Prince classic "Nothing Compares 2 U".

Unsigned/unpublished Irish singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Casey, tipped in April 2007, has had several of his songs recently licensed for U.S. TV shows - the latest of which, a new track, titled "Blow Away The Clouds", will appear on MTV's "The Real World" on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Check out unsigned/unpublished NY artist Goot, tipped here in February 2007, finally getting some MySpace love - a feature on the front of the MySpace Music page - good morning!

Monday, February 2, 2009

AMANDA GHOST NAMED PRESIDENT OF EPIC RECORDS - She'll join the label on Feb. 16 and fill the opening made when Charlie Walk left in December 2008. Ghost comes from the music side of things, having been a Grammy-nominated songwriter and a performer; she's worked with Beyonce, James Blunt, Jordin Sparks, Kanye West, Shakira and Jay-Z and released her debut solo album Ghost Stories on Warner Bros. in 2000, as well as other records in the U.K. on her own label, Plan A Records.

According to our sources, it's possible that almost half of the current roster could be dropped, and there could be further house-cleaning, staff-wise, in the A&R department.