2/7/10

Vol 3, The Grand Finale: A Few Parting Words & Pieces of Advice

Well my friends, it has come to that time of year again when we are forced to say goodbye, but unlike previous years, we will NOT be reacquainted come September. After three years of providing you all with advice and insight based on my experiences in the music biz, along, of course, with the occasional rant, I’ve come to the decision that, like so many great artists of the past, it is “better to burn out than fade away.” With that said however, there’s no need to despair, as I promise you that all of my articles will remain accessible (in full) online (right here under your pretty little nose!), and anytime you wish to field questions my way via email, I’ll be more than happy to respond.

In what seems like a short time together, we’ve covered everything from finding the right bandmates, to booking your first gig, to generating press coverage, to music piracy, to album sales certification, to Canada’s grant associations, and even drug use and sexism in the music biz. I’ve done my best to answer all of the questions that I once had when I first began my musical journey as a wide-eyed na├»ve 15 year old with rockstar aspirations. It only seems appropriate, as I lay my column down to rest, to revisit some of the initial pieces of advice that I offered in “So You Wanna be in a Rock Band?’s” very first issue. I feel these words hold just as much, if not more, truth today than they did when I initially wrote them. So, if you truly wanna be in a rock band, I suggest that you take them to heart.

In the words of one highly respected industry expert with whom I had the pleasure of speaking earlier this year, “the world doesn’t owe you anything, and being a musician is supposed to be hard. If your stuff isn't good enough, or if the public chooses not to like it, there's nothing you can do about it,” (Alan Cross).

1) There is no such thing as an educational program that can ever prepare you for the harsh reality of how the music industry actually functions.

2) You may be the greatest innovator and songwriter since John Lennon, but if you can't sell 10,000 CDs without label support, good luck and God-speed.

3) If you want to be successful on any level in the music biz, the first thing you need to realize is that NO ONE, and I mean no one, will work harder than you on promoting your music and/or band. So, if you don't have much of a work ethic, I suggest you pursue other interests.


4) One of the biggest misconceptions about the music industry is that once you are signed, your work ends. Wrong....it only gets harder, because now you are competing in the big leagues with bands who are not only signed, but have full time publicists and booking agents working around the clock to get their name out there. Oh wait... I'm sure you thought that a label would provide you with a booking agent and publicist once you signed a contract with them right? Wrong again!


5) If you think that being a musician will lead to immediate gratification and financial remuneration, you couldn't be more off, especially if you are an original act. Believe it or not, in general, cover and tribute acts (without representation) are compensated about 10 times that of an original act for a single show.


6) Further on the subject of making money…in order to attain a position of financial and career stability (of course, it can never be entirely stable), musicians often work for 10 - 15 years and then finally, just when they think they've had enough, they break. In other words, there is NO such thing as an “overnight success”.

7) There is always the risk of becoming a one- hit-wonder. Labels, plain and simply, just want to make money, and musicians are a dime-a -dozen. Don't think for a second that they care about your integrity, dignity, or the longevity of your career. If a label can make the most profit off of one single, than that is the route they will take.


8) The word "fair" does not exist in this industry, nor does "honesty." Promises are broken everyday, and as I said before, I cannot stress enough how important it is to realize that the music industry functions as any big business.


9) If you are not marketable, you will not be successful. Music industry execs don't want to take risks with something that may or may not sell. Hence, the reason why you see trends constantly regurgitated, and why next to every band on the radio sounds the same.

And finally… and MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!!

10) Please, if you wanna be in a rock band, do it for the right reasons: a love of music, because you want to inspire others, or so that you can act as a positive rolemodel for future generations.

I wish you all the best of luck in your musical journeys, and remember, music saves lives.


About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry is the former frontwoman of Canadian hard rock bands ANTI-HERO & HER, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services for female rock musicians.

Her bands toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest, and achieved label status.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, ANTI-HERO's critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase. Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.

1/6/10

Vol 3, Issue 21: The Ins & Outs of Music Videography

ANTI-HERO: Unpretty (2005)
Video is undoubtedly a powerful medium, and in the view of many entertainment critics, “the ultimate medium of the future”. From a cultural perspective, it The business point of view also points out, that perhaps one of video’s most beneficial attributes, is that it has the ability to evoke emotion, and illustrate complex meaning through imagery and representation.allows audiences to link an artist’s work with his/her image and name. The popularity of even poor quality “home-mades” on sites, such as Youtube, once again reaffirms video’s social significance.

As society becomes ever more encompassed in the “Digital Age”, the growing importance of video promotion, among musicians, cannot be understated. Back when I was still a rambunctious munchkin, video taping devices were known by their full name, camcorders (hard to believe, I know) and a foreign sounding version of the video tape that went by the title of “Beta”, was all the rage.

Things, suffice it to say, have changed considerably since my childhood, and instead of having to rely on film, and the mucky business of hands-on editing, digital methods have made video taping and production accessible and understandable to virtually anyone in the general populus. Accordingly, with this newfound ease of video manipulation came the novel expectation that all musicians should have promo videos as part of their professional portfolio. Lucky for all of you, turning this prospect into a reality has never been easier, or for that matter, cheaper. But just so we’re clear from the get-go, cellphone clips do NOT count, and should not be used, under any circumstances, for marketing your band. Their image quality sucks, their audio is even worst, and if you are looking to make a professional impression, well you lost me at “cellphone video.”

In terms of a starting point when it comes to making promo vids, the following things should be considered:


1) Video Type

Should you go live or traditional music video? Both versions, obviously, have their advantages, and if possible, I say do both. However, if you are restricted, for budgetary reasons, to invest in only one form, your decision should ultimately be based on your band’s career direction.

Whereas live videos have the ability to showcase your band in action, and demonstrate to potential talent buyers why your act should be booked over comparable others, music videos work to expand a band’s fanbase because of their ability to be aired on a variety of programs (both online and via mainstream media). In addition, the release of a music video often accompanies that of an album/single, making it an easy means to generate publicity for your band.

A final version of the promo video that your act may choose to undertake is that of the “on location” (ie: in the studio or on the road) or “behind the scenes” footage reel. Not only can these vids be shot for an extremely inexpensive cost (ie: usually filmed completely with handhelds), but as well, hardcore fans absolutely revel in this kind of up close and personal encounter with their favourite bands, while such videos also allow industry execs to get a taste for your personality and band dynamic. With that said however, generally this last version of the promo video is typically not released unless your band has already established a fairly substantial following.


2) Budget
Although making a flashy million dollar production would surely be quite the experience, I understand that it is not realistic for the vast majority of indie bands. You’ve got to use the resources that you have at your fingertips, and that’s why again, I recommend taking advantage of Fanshawe’s (or your local college's) multi-talented student body.

One of my very first music videos, for an acoustic track off of one of my demos, was shot and edited by a friend of mine who was studying MultiMedia and Design Technology. Not only did I get great promotional material out of this venture, but she was also able to submit the work as a project for one of our classes; hence, it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to find a student who is able and/or willing to assist you in making a vid, never fear as there are a variety of freelance music video makers in and around town that are indie-friendly. Checking postings on boards such as craigslist, or kijiji, and/or resources like overhear.com and mygiglist.com is definitely a good place to start.

Remember that your video’s budget should reflect your opportunities for airplay. As we learned last year, the likelihood of submitting a video to MuchMusic and achieving airplay, without a pre-existing contact, is extremely low. Therefore, your vid’s quality should be geared towards online. With this in mind, I do not recommend spending in excess of a couple thousand dollars. It’s not worth it, and because of internet compression, the extra quality that you paid for will most likely NOT even be noticeable.

It’s also important to keep in mind, that if your video requires extras, the vast majority of people are willing to volunteer.


3) Content
Last, but not least, what should your video (if a traditional music video) be about? As mentioned in my intro, video has the capacity to tell a story, and to relate your musical expression to who you are/what you’re all about as an individual act. I’ve seen far too many generic videos, from indies, strictly constituted of jam sessions in dimly lit warehouses complimented by sporadic zoom-ins and excessive head-banging. For the sake of my own personal sanity, please, do not use this plot (or lack thereof) as your video’s storyline – it’s overdone, out-dated, and does nothing to set your act apart from others. The best (and most memorable) music videos, in my view, relate directly to their song’s lyrical message; they’re emotional, and reflective, and balanced out by the perfect amount of rocking out.

With my band’s debut video, “Unpretty”, our vision was clear from the start. The song, beyond its references to the fashion industry, is essentially about overcoming obstacles, and challenging conformity. To visually promote this ethos, each of the members in my band played out a role in which they reached a breaking point, and literally were confronted with a wall they had to smash. The “breaking through to the other side” was symbolic of one achieving and expressing their genuine identity, without having social limitations imposed upon them. In the video, the plot comes to a climax when I jump on stage, and the song concludes with the crowd screaming for more.

In telling you this story, whether or not our track or accompanying storyline strikes your fancy, is not the point. Rather, I am merely trying to impress upon you the importance of taking risks, and sticking true to who you are as a band. Beyond receiving extensive worldwide airplay, our video has been nominated for numerous creative awards. I can safely say that had we gone the generic “indie rock band” video route, this certainly wouldn’t have been the case.


About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry is the former frontwoman of Canadian hard rock bands ANTI-HERO & HER, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services for female rock musicians.

Her bands toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest, and achieved label status.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, ANTI-HERO's critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase. Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.