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single minded theory of the majors Digital Converters
Old 5th September 2002
  #1
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single minded theory of the majors

article here


[clippings]
Lab - What didn't you like about it?

KC - It just didn't work. The last record, Weird Revolution, started off as being a really pure kind of art piece where we tried something really different by playing with samplers and computers to make the record instead of doing a rock group recording, though we're a rock band. We did one draft of the record that we were really happy with, that was just us fooling around with our samplers and stuff. It was a grand experiment on our part. Well, the label (Capitol Records) hated it. They couldn't stand it. Then our manager at the time decided he didn't want us around anymore. Then we got dropped from Capitol because they hated the record. The label that picked it up said "Okay, we'll take it, but we have to make it a lot better." So we spent the better part of 2 to almost 3 years trying to polish this turd to make it into a diamond, and it just didn't happen. It started off great, but then forces of nature conspired against us to release a horrible, horrible record. But it's over with! (Laughter)

Lab - Did you ever consider going back and starting from scratch? Since you guys were working on something that nobody felt that they clicked with, why not maybe sit down and look at doing something different?

KC - Well, we can now. But by the time we finished the first version of Weird Revolution - which we were pretty happy with - and by the time the second label came in and said "Well, we pretty much like it, it's a good record, but if you could craft three more songs that we could try to sell to radio so we can recoup our investment..." And we try to be team players. We tried to come up with a pop song for them, but there's a Faustian bargain, I guess. We tried to be team players, good corporate men, and come up with a couple of singles for them, but it was hell. While I think we're a pop band by nature, that doesn't mean that we write popular songs. So it's tough.

Lab - How did that go over? Did you feel like going from Capitol to Hollywood Records, was there more freedom, or were you limited when you recorded with Capitol versus recording for Hollywood?

KC - I don't think there's any real difference between major labels. By the time Hollywood got involved, they certainly were concerned about having some singles. All major labels these days, when it comes to pop music, they've gotta have singles, which they farm out to MTV or BET and to commercial radio. If your album doesn't have a single, then it just gets ignored, and nothing happens with it. It really leads to this disposable culture, where bands are only bred just to create the single of the moment. There's no long-term investment in a band per se, and no developing of a band through albums, because the turnover on major labels, both for bands - and even for the people who work in the labels who have to prove that they're making a profit to their corporation and to their stockholders - is so high. To remain profitable, they're just trying to crank out hits. It's a really horrible state of radio right now. If you listen to commercial radio as opposed to alternative radio, it's just the worst in the world.




funny too that the FANS, the LISTENERS, the CONSUMERS complain consistantly that they DONT want singles and want a FULL album of all killer, no filler.

its not napster thats killing the industry. its themselves that are killing it.
Old 5th September 2002
  #2
I am single orientated.

Why the f**k the above band would expect a lable to dig a rock band "f**king around with samplers is beyond me...

Radio - pop & rock & R&B & Country

Makes the biz go round.

My fave band the Stones had great singles & great albums (once you are a fan!)

Surprize at lables wanting 'lead tracks' for radio, come on get real here for a second!

Old 5th September 2002
  #3
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well, if you read the rest of the link, their one "hit" song happened to be based off a sample loop. the label was expecting "an album filled with them"

and i can understand why you are going after singles, less time in the studio... give the labels a single and get the deal.

personally, i look for ALBUMS. consumers want ALBUMS. great albums are FILLED with "singles", albums have the capability of producing 5-6 number one hits.
Old 5th September 2002
  #4
We are not in total disagreement.

A trend of singles only to test the water is developing this side of the pond. Indie lable single compilations are emerging, this suits my operations.

Also one production deals I am mindfull to nab the best tunes of a band so.....

hasnt the 'whole good album' problem been there sice the year zero?
Old 5th September 2002
  #5
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i understand your viewpoint of working with singles with what you are accomplishing... and makes total sense.

but full bore albums have only been a problem for the labels, never the listeners. labels dont know how to market an ALBUM. they only know how to market singles.

a single SHOULD be solely used to capture the audience to sell the ALBUM. the single is the advertisement for the album. unfortunately most albums these days are fairly limited to JUST the single and not much content past that single.
Old 5th September 2002
  #6
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Lately, I've been feeling like:
Major Labels = Day Job
Indie Projects = Hobby that makes me a better person, and more creative engineer

I'm sick of all these MP3 baby's whining about Single-based albums being a rip off, and trying to justify stealing music, but the majors should IMO concentrate on talent. They sign too many artist. The shelf life of some of these single-based bands is laughable.
grggt
Old 6th September 2002
  #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
The shelf life of some of these single-based bands is laughable.
grggt
about as long as the 3 minutes the mp3 stays on a downloaders harddrive
Old 6th September 2002
  #8
"labels dont know how to market an ALBUM. they only know how to market singles.

a single SHOULD be solely used to capture the audience to sell the ALBUM. the single is the advertisement for the album. unfortunately most albums these days are fairly limited to JUST the single and not much content past that single."

Hang on! - The UK was supposed to be regarded as 'weird' because we are so singles orientated, the USA being the more Album fixated teratory of the two...

Wazup wid dat? Have singles moved forward as a priority now in the USA?

Can you BUY singles in the USA any more?

(seems to be swinging into my type of market)
Old 6th September 2002
  #9
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you can buy SOME singles... but i guess in the US, a single means the single with 12 other crappy tracks sold at full price of an album.
Old 6th September 2002
  #10
"but i guess in the US, a single means the single with 12 other crappy tracks sold at full price of an album."

hmmmmm
Old 6th September 2002
  #11
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giving you ideas jules? how about you do an album with 12 singles on it? i know i would buy it.
Old 6th September 2002
  #12
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You're all correct, after a fashion, IMO.

I have about 45-50 #1 singles in a bunch of different genres as writer or mixer or producer or remixer or player or whatever. OK, there, I said it. So kill me for being immodest, if you must.

But my point is, in 25 years I've been around a ton of music biz whatnot, and have played the game much of the time. I've won a couple here and there, and lost even more. Made records with one totally great song and a bunch of crap for the balance, and other records that were solid through and through. Neither guaranteed anything over the other as far as sales.

There is no one formula here. At all. Remember, Led Zep never enjoyed big radio success till relatively late in their career. Huge total sales, nevertheless. Same for Heart. "These Dreams" was their first #1 at radio, long after they were a household name for rockers and millions of records sold.

Word of mouth can be a strong ally. "Brother Where Art Thou?" is just the latest in a long line. Of course, many people leave out that building a hit movie around the soundtrack, and starring Clooney who lipsyncs the big tune is a good thing too. Which brings me to...........

The bottom line is not a single. The bottom line, today, is visibility , however you get it.

Videos, commercials, movies, TV sitcom guest shots, talk shows, live concerts, TV concert specials, "Behind the Music", fake B.S. romances in the tabloids, swiimming with dolphins or sharks on Animal Planet, endorsements (Sting/Jaguar), tributes (prep for Sept 11 overload there), "Special Events" like Lady Marmalade, etc. Exposure is king, doesn't matter how.

Here's the way I see it. Way back when, Sinatra, Crosby and Co. were all around entertainers. Singing, dancing, movies, TV shows, comedy etc were all seen as "entertainment" and people who did that were called "entertainers". No emotional conflict about it. Being a singer and an actor was fine and dandy with the fans.

Then came the 60's and the "Singer/Songwriter" who had to "ride his machine and be free from the man" to have any credibility. Enter the "Moral Dilema" of being a singer while being anything else. This was not just another form of entertainment anymore, it was now an identity in and of itself. "Selling out to the man" was fatal to a career and involved any complicity with the "Establishment". Think Rick Springfield, a talented guy. Doomed by a soap opera.

Not today. We're back to entertainers again, like it or not. Britney Speers is as Establishment as it gets. But no more than dozens of entertainers that preceeded the 60's. That cultural rebellion of the 60's and 70's has run it's full course now, and kids attatch no stigma to being a rock star and having a fashion or makeup line of your own as well.

So it's really not about singles, or any one avenue of exposure at this point. It's about an entertainer gaining visibility any way they can get it. The label is all over any of that. Singles on the radio just happen to still be a big chunk of it for the time being.

It's actually starting to be more about TV anyway. American Idol will sell more singles on the winner than 2 or 3 big hit radio singles would, likely. I was working with Wynnona Judd a few years back. She performed a remix of mine at the Superbowl one year, televised at halftime. That was more exposure and a bigger overall pickup to her career and sales than a radio hit would have been.

Why do you think they launched "Soak Up The Sun" at an NFL playoff game? It's not just, and maybe not even primarily about singles these days, longterm.

And the labels are not nearly as stupid as you might think. They found and signed virtually every act we loved growing up. Right now, they're kind of screwed up. I think they will probably figure the deal out pretty soon, though.


Regards,
Brian T
Old 6th September 2002
  #13
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then you have VH1 'bands on the run' which none of them went anywhere... i guess the next series would be 'where did the bands run to'

there is also something with visibility called accessability. the link i started the thread with was for a band called the Butthole Surfers. not exactly a name that the majority of america will swallow easily. although at one time they got a lot of "bad" press for it.

if the population can get past the name... they will probably find the music almost as insulting as the name. its not your daddy's rock and roll. well its my son's daddy's rock... so i can only imagine what he will be listening to.

so that brings us to the fact this band has a limited audience. its a decent size audience, but no in the major labels perspective. i dont know how many albums they acually do sell, but my guesstimate would be @ 150-250k units. thats STILL $4.25M gross.

what gets me, is the album they are discussing in the interview was mixed by CLA... and possibly one of the most worst sounding mixes i have heard from them. and i have no idea why they would even have him mix the butthole surfers anyway. the guy has NO creativity and is a cookiecutter, NOT what the surfers are about in any way. hell, Paul Leary is IN the butthole surfers and brought us Sublime's album that went several platinum [after the guy died, what a dumbass].. and is actaully a great sounding album. even his mixes on weird revolution are better than the CLA mixes. so why did they WASTE the money on CLA?



excess is the problem of the labels. that and not recognizing niche markets and adjusting budgets and advertising for them. they COULD take their rosters and with the proper thought into each band, create money MAKERS instead of the current scheme of having 1 or 2 support the losses of the rest.
Old 6th September 2002
  #14
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This is the main reason I've been shopping for "classic rock" at Amoeba Records lately. Beatles / Pink Floyd / Led Zepplin records are ones I tend to listen to front to end.
Old 6th September 2002
  #15
I am happy with my singles. I try to pick bands to work with that have minimum 4 + very catchy songs.

What happens to bands that start from a 'cred / non commercial' posture and move up to a major?......Well.. I belive thats called selling out isnt it?

I dont set out my stall as cred & non commercial, so it's not a bothersome issue for me.

Though I am not ALL commercial, I admire independant initiatives in the industry, bands like Fugazi who keep ticket sales low etc... Do it yourself bands...

However I have less than a picco second to pity a band like the BHS as they kneel to 'service' a big corperation.. Did they, er.. get tired of being indy and credible? And want er... more cash?

What moron representatives of the band are letting this happen is the real question IMHO Alpha.
Old 6th September 2002
  #16
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i guess that kind of brings us to management then. i have other friends who are signed to the majors who constantly get dicked around by them. i keep telling them they need to push the labels, but they dont seem to "get it"... and their music is better than 99% of the rock bands out there.

however, the lyrics arent um.... accessable to the "common" person. i need an encyclopedia sometimes to fully get what the singer is conveying, but it is beautiful poetry.
Old 6th September 2002
  #17
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From what I've seen, it's always been the artists who could say "no" who did the best in the long run. One of my favorite quips has long been "Getting a high profile is pretty simple. Doing it profitably is the challenge."

The majors seem to mostly be piggy-backing off the investments of indi labels, managers and television producers rather than actually investing in talent these days. They've always been able to sell a Bing Crosby or Mouseketeer record, that shouldn't be a surprise.

In the late '40s, the majors dropped most niche artists because they weren't profitable. We are already seeing this happen now. The current rock-pop scene was entirely created in the early '50s by independent labels OUTSIDE the world of stock markets. I look for that process to be repeated.
Old 17th September 2002
  #18
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It's all a big cycle. Whenever there's a lot of money involved any business (ie major label) is going to make "safe" decisions to try and get a positive return on their investment. Because these decisions are based on money, the art becomes secondary, and in some cases a liability.

Fortunately for us creative types, people get bored with cookie cutter music and the industry gets its ass kicked every few years. In these periods, the adventurous and arty suddenly gets noticed by the suits because their cash cows are drying up and they have no idea what will be the next big thing.

This is followed by a big rush to build/copy the new trend, and subsequently a trimming of the bands that are on the fringe of that trend...back to safe again.

I dunno...at least that's what I see on the macro level. As with any over-generalization it's not the same in every case. There's a reason they call it a bandwagon. Everyone jumps on and eventually the axle breaks.

My 2ยข
:P
Old 17th September 2002
  #19
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i like that post.

why is it that when money becomes involved, things become "safe"? the more money, the more safe it becomes? in fact, the quest of a label deal and/or money has such a deleterious effect on the music being played everytime it has come into the equation. it has always struck me as odd.
Old 17th September 2002
  #20
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I never really got that either. At that level, I suspect that too much ($$) is at stake. Too many people get involved and the end result suffers. Instead of asking the question: "What is the best thing for the situation?" the question becomes: "How can I shove this square peg through that round hole? My last popular song was round, so this song has to be round as well!!!"

I've done work where I've overanalyzed what was happening and the project suffered as a result. I'm almost always happier the less I screw with things. It takes less time too.

:P
Old 17th September 2002
  #21
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I think the groove we're stuck in is advertising.

Radio advertisers want very specific audiences for their commercials and stations now test every recording for attracting those particular people. Music is being used to sort consumers rather than to entertain people.

The result is a bit like dumbed down only really much worse because it is going for the lowest common denominators of different subcultures rather than of people in general. The U.S. record industry hasn't had much choice but to go along with this insanity or their stockholders will replace the management. The same theory is operating on the Internet which is why I personally don't expect much from it other than all of us putting our heads together and figuring out a way to get music out from under the influence of Wall Street and Madison Avenue.
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