Posts Tagged ‘musicians’


Interesting graph here. Always refreshing to see how all this plays out in terms of units shipped. Never would’ve thought digital downloads, whether they be for singles or for albums, would represent such low revenue in this time and age. Seems like people still haven’t gotten that used to buyin’ on the web, and it appears to be just ridiculous to count on making any money with CDs, so yeah, this graph is yet some more corroborating evidence that bands have got to be as creative in marketing whatever they can, than as in creating their music.

Multi-Tasked Creativity will represent the musician’s greatest ally in the decade to come.



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Last week I wrote a post on the new Indie Artist X project, devised by a group of music industry insiders, who’s main goal is to launch the career of an anonymous musician by applying all DIY techniques and music 2.0 tools available in today’s day and age. In other words, these music insiders will act as consultants for Artist X for a period of 4 months, recuperate and publicly announce concrete results for X’s progress, and basically just attempt to use this experiment to create a custom business plan for indie, DIY bands and musos.

In this spread – http://gigdog.gy/_indie_projectX_spreadsheet – you can see the project’s main objectives and strategies, as well as that list of advisers.

One thing I either didn’t notice for my previous post, or that simply wasn’t there yet, is the set of different sheets at the top of the document where each adviser details his/her plan for X, and generally explain the highlights of their mission (as well as the tools they intend on using to accomplish it). Having just read through it, I decided to share this tid bit of info because this simple sheet, which is most likely going to evolve and get more detailed as the project goes on, is a great starting point, or a healthy break-down of what any musician can, and even should do, while trying to market his/her self.

indie artist x spreadsheetCheck it out, and bark us, and more importantly them, some feedback.


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Usually mobile phones aren’t that welcome in public places like concert halls. Well in 2001 a team of geeks defied that social convention and created an orchestra made out of the people in the audience with their phones set-up to full volume.

Golan Levin, Gregory Shakar, Scott Gibbons, Yasmin Sohrawardy, Joris Gruber, Erich Semlak, Gunther Schmidl, and Joerg Lehner produced a “large-scale concert performance whose sounds were wholly produced through the carefully choreographed ringing of the audience’s own mobile phones. Before the concert, participants registered their mobile phone numbers at a series of web terminals; in exchange, new ringtone melodies are automatically transmitted to their phones, and their seating assignment tickets were generated. During the concert, the audience’s phones got dialed up by live performers, using custom software which permits as many as 60 phones to ring simultaneously. Because the exact location and tone of each participant’s mobile phone was known in advance, the Dialtones concert was able to present a diverse range of unprecedented sonic phenomena and musically interesting structures, such as waves of polyphony which cascade across the audience. Dialtones was presented at the Ars Electronica Festival in September 2001, and at the Swiss National Exposition in May and June of 2002.”

Truly amazing.


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Here’s the Youtube Symphony Orchestra, the first ever online collaborative orchestra, performing at Carnegie Hall on April 15th 2009. The orchestra was composed of 96 professional and amateur musicians from 30+ countries and territories on six continents and represented 26 different instruments. The orchestra played movements and excerpts from 15 wildly diverse works for over 59 minutes, but opened up the evening with Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony No. 1, “Eroica.”


The New York Times has more.

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Last week I posted about the THRU YOU project and the delicacies of it’s youtube mash-ups. Well today I discovered a similar amazing project called “Playing For Change” produced by two film-makers (Mark Johnson and Jonathan Walls) who traveled the world during many years with loads of audio equipment in search for little-known talented buskers. Mark and Jon’s idea was to record street musicians from all around the planet playing a single track of a song, and then mixing all the tracks together to obtain a fully produced version of the song.

The result is truly amazing:

This song, called ‘Don’t Worry’, was written by Pierre Minetti (the French guy you see at the beginning of the video) and performed by at least 20 musicians from India, Spain, France, Congo, South Africa, the USA and the Netherlands.

Here’s a beautiful cover of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ performed by 37 musicians from the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain and Russia, among other countries (8 millions views on YouTube since November).

Playing For Change isn’t only about the music. The whole concept is based on communicating a message of peace, harmony, and reunion. The idea behind ‘Playing For Change’ came to Mark Johnson when he saw 2 monks perform in the NY subway. Amazed by how the audience, a crowd of people who had never met before, was hypnotized and focused on the same music, Johnson started recording buskers in different US cities.

It occurred to me that here is a group of people that would normally run by each other, but instead, they’re coming together. And it’s the music that brought them together […] The result (of Playing For Change) is a movement connecting the world through music. […] Just thinking in my mind… what would be unique instruments to juxtapose against each other that had never been heard before: a talking drum and a tabla, they’re very similar but they never really come together, or a sitar and a dobro, very similar but how often do you hear them play together? The idea was to go to places that would have some sort of instruments that they could add to the spectrum of the global music that we were trying to find.

Playing for Change created a foundation that actively engages in humanitarian projects. They are currently working on building a music school in Gugulethu, South Africa as an alternative to the violence the residents face daily, along with an online platform to help promotes its future student’s music. The PFC foundation is also rebuilding Tibetan refugee centers as well as an arts center near Johannesburg.

Whats more. PFC project is releasing a CD/DVD package and documentary called “Peace Through Music” in April 2009 through Hear Music (Starbuck’s music venture). The film includes Bob Marley’s “War/No More Trouble”  featuring U2’s Bono, and “One Love” played by 35 musicians accompanied by Manu Chao amongst other songs. (“Peace Through Music” is PFC’s second movie: their previous film, titled “Plating For Change: A Cinematic Discovery Of Street Music” was released in 2005, and is currently available through Netflix).

You can pre-order the packages on PFC’s website here, and also buy “Stand By Me” and “Son’t Worry” on iTunes.

PFC is also organizing gigs as well as planning an international tour with some of the musicians from the films (they even played at SXSW last week). They call upon the help of volunteers, musicians and donations to grow their community with hopes to spread joy, enlightenment and peace throughout the planet.

We live in very exciting times maybe, but they are equally as cynical. The sentence above is easily perceived as an overly-optimistic and puerile vision of today’s world, yet it fully corresponds to Playing For Change’s tone and ambitions. Such positivism is something we seldom come by these days… The quality of their concept, the sheer amount of work and risk injected into the project and the activities of their foundation  really makes me want to believe every word of it.


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Web based communication tools are becoming so powerful for bands that fans can now deeply get involved in their careers (fans’ is a superfluous term in the current web environment – ‘community’ is maybe more appropriate). This ‘penetration’ in the intricacies of a band’s work ethics can have many upsides for those willing to play the social game (the major downside being the time consuming social tasks themselves that can easily become overwhelming).

One singer/songwriter I have encountered embraces this social game with great ease. This highly skilled player is no other than Ben Walker who in a couple of short years has managed to gain a significant reputation on the web by impressively manipulating these social-tools (Ben is well known for the Twitter Song you might have already heard, for his ihatemornings.com website, and surely for a multitude of other things).

Ben is launching a new project for 2009 called Ben’s Big Gig, a gig who’s concept is to outsource (or like Ben calls it, crowdsource) as many logistical tasks as possible (on Twitter he’s currently asking the community if he should crowdsource the press release:). As of now, the gig is scheduled for Friday May 1rst in Oxford.

Cabaret 2.0 is the terrible name I’m using for a gig I’m playing in Oxford on May 1st. It’s going to have lots of live connections to and from the internet with video, Twitter, photos etc. It’s a gig for normal non-techy people that uses loads of bleeding edge social media stuff. But the most interesting part from my end is that I’m trying to crowdsource all the planning and promotion. We just got stuff set up this week, but follow @bensbiggig (the gig’s twitter profile> or bensbiggig.tumblr.com to see how it goes.

Ben says he plans on organizing the gig in a theater:

There are many benefits of presenting this gig at a theater (rather than a rock venue or a bar). We can lay the place out how we like (probably cabaret-style tables and chairs at the front and seats around the back and balcony). We get access to the venue’s promotion and ticketing systems (the gig will appear in all the local listings without our help, and we can pre-sell tickets through the existing theater booking system). We can also do something crazy, like add another night, quite easily if it sells out. So if we know loads of people are going to come and make it a great night, we’ll expand to fit that space.

Here is the pitch he sent to venues announcing the event:

I wrote a lot of songs in 2008, and involved myself deeply in the exciting world of Social Media technologies (the descendants of Facebook and Myspace). I now have hundreds of ‘followers’ and ‘fans’ and ‘friends’ all over the internet and I’m exploring new ways for musicians to interact with such a disparate community.

There is already a growing House Concert movement which shifts the responsibility for organisation gigs to the fans and lets bands and musicians tour without all the usual expenses. That’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been playing quite a few house concerts over the past couple of years. But I’m thinking of something a little grander, which I’m calling Cabaret 2.0 (for want of a better term ;o).

I’m going to put on a concert in March/April that uses all the latest internet technologies to add an extra level of magic to a classic cabaret-style performance.

I’ll play 15 or so of my songs with my band, some of which will have video, crowd interaction, improvisation and guest musicians. The evening will be compèred by somebody great (probably a poet friend of mine), and there will be other non-musical acts (poetry, comedy and maybe some acrobatics). The whole thing will be streamed live on the internet using two or three cameras and recorded for release as an online album. We will also have screens in the venue which will allow people from elsewhere on the internet to write messages, post videos, and otherwise take part. The audience will also have the chance to record short video clips for instant upload and write messages live onto the website.

It sounds complicated but is quite easy to achieve using current web technologies (Twitter, UStream, 12seconds, etc.). People have done this sort of thing with technology conferences and events, but this would be the first musical event to be so connected and integrated with the internet. I’m sure you can imagine why I’m excited…

So, in the spirit of social frenziness this seems like a great idea, and I’m pretty curious to know how it’s all going to play out. 2009 is going to be a year filled with crowdsourcing experiences and projects like Ben’s Big Gig are of the first breed. If you want to be a part of it and help out, follow-up on the gig’s progress via:

@bensbiggig (Big Gig’s twitter profile)

@ihatemornings (Ben’s twitter profile)

bensbiggig.tumblr.com (the Big Gig’s website)


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Check out more of Porter’s comics on his website: www.portermason.com/bassistwanted





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