Category Archives: Music

I Know You’re Watching Me Every Minute of the Day

I haven’t blogged about Direct to Fan marketing lately since the band is still in the studio (quiet as can be)…but I ran across something today in my mail that intrigued me enough to throw it out here on the blog, just in case anyone is reading!

We all watch videos on YouTube. In this day and age, I don’t really see how one can escape YouTube – we go there to listen to songs, see clips from various shows and TV, and yes, even the occasional music video.  There’s a whole royalty payout system that goes on (or doesn’t go on, depending upon who you talk to), over there that I don’t really understand the full mechanics of – but in any case, it prompted a few folks to come up with a platform they call Audiam.  Ultimately, Audiam seeks to help artists receive royalties from YouTube, as well as introduce new methods for exposure.

One such way they want to increase exposure for bands is by having the band encourage fans to take their music and create their own videos.  The way it works is the band chooses one song and tells their fan base to make videos for it.  That seems, well…like something that has been done before, but what’s different is that this time, the fan gets paid.  *blinks* Wait a second, why on earth would a band want their fans to get paid for using THEIR music?!?  Good question.

Here’s the scenario: Duran Duran comes out with their new album. They want videos for their music – so maybe the band decides to do a video of one of their songs,  but there’s another song that they’d really love to use in order to gain more exposure.  So they announce that they want fans to create their own video to the song.  Granted, fans are going to get paid for these videos being viewed, but for the band – it’s about exposure.  Maybe 10 fans who wouldn’t normally use Duran’s music decide that they want to create a video.  They each upload that video and it gets viewed 1000 times. That’s 10,000 views the band didn’t have before, and if the band does it right, they can even have the fans direct viewers back to the original piece of music or another video of theirs from the fan-made video.  It’s about numbers, and it’s very similar to doing an ad-campaign.  For free.

The band has done a similar thing before when they did the Genero video contest for AYNIN, and TV Mania even allowed fans to create franchises and then submit videos and music in a contest.  (Hey, did that contest ever end?!) This is simply another version of the same sort of promotion, once again creating a sort of “We’re all in this together” feel.

While I’m not at all sure of the economic viability in such a platform – for the artists or the company itself, it does seem that more and more these days, fans are being put in the drivers seat as opposed to being the passive passenger…or purchaser.   There are still any number of annoying obstacles in the way for bands these days, as they stumble to figure out how to use many of these new platforms to benefit their bottom line and increase their exposure.  I don’t envy those who make their living trying to figure out the answer to getting paid (from streaming, YouTube, etc.) or learning how to maximize the possible benefits to social networking.  I see enough on SEO as it is – being told that we need links everywhere and so forth.  My personal opinion is that while all of this is fine and good, the personal connection has to be there. People are far more willing to go out of their way for people/bands they like and who they feel respect them in return. The ONE thing I learned in sales was that people buy from people that they know, like and trust. It is just not possible for one band to know every single one of their fans…but they can certainly put themselves out there to try once in a while.  It’s a good system for the people who are smart enough and sincere enough to put the time in to make it work.

-R

Out Of My TV

I didn’t watch the Grammy’s last night.  I realize that for most of you, this is probably not groundbreaking news. Maybe you stopped watching after Nick was there presenting an award in what…1986 or so?  For me, I was hardcore. I watched all of those cheesy damn award shows every single year, cringing through much of it, but insisting that I had to keep trying. I kept that up right through 2013, up until Miley did her deal at the VMA’s.  Something else happened that night though, something far less visible, far more subtle…and probably a lot less important to everyone in the world but me. I stopped caring.

There is a part of me that would like to kick myself this morning, because out of all the years to stop caring – this doesn’t seem like it should have been the year. I actually tolerate Macklemore…sort of. (for me, this is a miracle, as I am not a fan of Rap or Hip-Hop)  I really enjoy Daft Punk.  (Enjoy is probably not the right word – Nile is amazing and without him, they’d likely just be a gimmick. You can’t help but hear his wonderful influence all over that album, which is why I love it so.) I love Lorde – she reminds me a little bit of the teenager that lurked within (me) back in the 80s, and I think her music has integrity – something that tends to lack these days.  And, I did miss seeing Ringo and Paul onstage together – even though they didn’t perform a Beatles song, instead doing a song off of McCartney’s latest album.   That said, I’m glad I didn’t sit around to watch Madonna continue her attempt at keeping up with the “younguns” and staying cool – that ship sailed a few years ago, and now it’s just getting sad.  I didn’t need to see Beyoncé and Jay Z – quite frankly they bore the hell out of me, no matter what the rest of the world says.

The only question I’m really asking myself this morning is why I stopped caring. I’ve always loved music. Still do. I think though, I got tired of watching the dog and pony show. I miss the days when talent spoke louder than gimmick, when the music made the hair on the back of my neck stand up or when I’d get goosebumps from something I heard.  Maybe though, those days only existed in my head. I suppose gimmick has always played it’s part – but the question is whether or not gimmick outweighed the music or the message.  I find myself looking for the music that’s off-the-beaten-path nowadays. I’m much more apt to buy the music I can’t hear on the radio than I am to buy songs that I hear every time I get into the car. I like supporting the little-known, the obscure, the new.  There is absolutely nothing like the feeling when I hear music that speaks to me – the hair stands up on end, the goosebumps still wash over me, and I feel like I’m being taken on an escape.

So perhaps it isn’t that I’ve stopped caring, perhaps its just that right now I want more than the spectacle or the show.  I want something to savor, to contemplate.  It doesn’t have to always be that way. Sometimes fast food works, and other times, I want the well-thought out, slow-cooked gourmet.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt much if Duran Duran happened to hit an award show one of these days, either!

-R

This Life is Stranger than Fiction

There are certain “hallmark” dates to my year, and it’s probably not a big surprise that while none of them are birthdates of band members – the birthdates of my children tend to remind me of where I was, where I’m going, and how in the heck I ever got to this point.

Seventeen years ago today, I woke up knowing that yes, the time had arrived, and my oldest was about to be born.  I went through the entire day thinking her birthday would be the 22nd of January.  Of course, little did I know she had her own ideas, and she wasn’t coming out unless forced, which happened just after midnight on the 23rd of January.  Funny, she’s still notoriously late (and stubborn) to this very day…

I had no idea just how much my life would change that day.  I don’t think you really can know until you’ve become a parent. There just isn’t any way to explain that for the next “several” years (I’m still waiting), your needs no longer matter,  and you willingly put aside the things you want, need or desire in order to make sure that your children are cared for. I suppose that even if someone had really sat me down and explained the details to me, I don’t know if I’d ever believed them anyway.

I cannot remember a single piece of music from this time period. I highly doubt I even really listened to the radio, much less paid attention to what was charting and what wasn’t. Even before I was picking out baby cribs and layette pieces, I think I’d stopped thinking about what Simon and Nick were doing.  I didn’t know when/how John quit the band. I didn’t really take much notice.  That blows my mind now when I think about it.  I mean, here I am, writing a daily blog about the band, and yet there was a period of time – a pretty lengthy one if I’m being completely honest – where I really didn’t keep up much at all.  I didn’t own Thank You until recently (sometime after the year 2000 – time runs together now, you see!), and I can still remember the exact day that I bought Medazzaland back in late 1997.  I put it in the car stereo, listened to the beginnings of each song, and then calmly removed it, putting it back into its packaging and thinking that for me, the period of being a Duran Duran fan had ended.

Famous last words.

-R

Let It Play a Little Longer

Did anyone have a chance to listen to the most recent Katy Kafé with John?  This month’s edition was slightly different in structure, in that Katy didn’t really talk with John about the band at all.  Instead, John spoke at length about what he believes to be his version of a “perfect album” – David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.  Truthfully, I loved this diversion from what we’ve gotten used to being “the norm”.  I mean, how many times can you really ask the band for a scoop on the album – especially when none of them really want to give up any precious information just yet?  No, it was time to find something new to chat about, and I appreciated that John was more than willing to share his insight.

It is important to note that everyone has their own standards for what makes a perfect album – and John is very quick to emphasize that his choice of Ziggy is simply what does it for him.  I would imagine that for many of us, our choices would likely be very different.  This is likely very much the same as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and no one is really wrong.  There can be no wrong answer about what you think is a perfect album, which makes the topic that much more interesting.  I think the proper point here is that regardless of the album(s) chosen or why, the spirit and emotion is very similar.

John believes that a perfect album will take him on a ride. There is a real sense of a beginning, middle and end.  I very much got the feeling that listening to music is an escape of sorts for John, and I can appreciate the idea of being taken on a music journey.  He mentioned how making albums today is very different.  Back in the earlier days of vinyl, prior to the invent of CD – albums were shorter. 10 songs.  45 minutes, maybe 20-25 minutes a side.  Certainly one could sit through an entire side of music.  Then when CDs came along, the album length grew.  No longer could you count on being able to set aside just 45 minutes to enjoy a full album. Many were an hour or longer, and who can really set aside that much time without leaving the room, only to return and realize you never did listen to the entire album?  And now, with mp3’s, many people don’t even buy full albums any longer, so the effect of having that full journey or story told in an album appears to be a lost art to many in the industry.  (Obviously….I might add.)

From there, John goes into a slight description of each song.  I won’t dare to replicate the beautiful tales he weaves – I feel strongly that this is a Kafé worthy the cost of DDM membership.  I found myself, rather, thinking about what my own perfect album might be and why.

Katy asked John if he had more than one answer for his perfect album, and John seemed to indicate that yes, there was more than one in his collection.  She replied that her husband, Brian, had more than a few in his – and John seemed surprised by that.  As I mentioned  above, I don’t think there are really any right or wrong answers here.  Each of us has our own sentiments for what makes an album truly “perfect” to our ears and hearts.  So I began thinking of my own collection and what I would consider “perfect”.

I am very much right with John when I say that the album has got to take me on a ride.  I need to feel something when I’m listening.  There are a great many songs and albums that I very much enjoy and are likely among my most favorite, but for one reason or another that music can fade into the background – it doesn’t quite take me places or make me think the way that others might.  I like to listen to music intelligently, considering the words, the music, etc.  Then there are other days when I just want the music in the background.  I don’t necessarily want to “work for it”.  But for me, the music that I count as perfect is the music that I need to sit with, digest and actively experience.

So I have a  few albums that I would count as “perfect” in my book. They aren’t even albums that I listen to all that often – in fact some of these I haven’t sat with in a year or more, but when I do, I know that I’m getting quality.

Tears for Fears – The Hurting  This is not an “easy listening” album. I think that to get the full effect, you had better be present – and I don’t  just mean physically, I mean mentally. The ride with this one isn’t necessarily beautiful. It’s dark, it’s moody, it’s even violent in parts, but there is something about this album that really says all of the things that I think music should say.  I almost never listen to just a song or two from this album, in fact – I think the only way to really listen is to do it from start to finish and savor the whole way.

Styx – Paradise Theater An unlikely choice for this Duran Duran fan, huh?  I can’t help it.  I love this album.  It is Art Rock, it is American in all of it’s glory, it’s got the tale end of that 70s rock thing going for it, but it’s a story and I simply love the journey.  I never listen to a single song off of it unless I put the album on the turntable – which is rare, to be honest, but whenever I listen to it, I honestly think to myself that this is how every single album should feel.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band In all fairness, I could have picked a few other Beatles’ albums.  They are the one band that I feel has made more than one perfect album (for me).  I love this album to pieces – I’m singing or humming along happily with one, feeling moody with another, and that to this day I’m still trying to really understand what the lyrics mean.  On the other hand, I think that Revolver (another album) is every bit as good as this one, and that maybe I think it fulfills the intellectual side of me just a teensy bit more….but then I think about the White Album, and realize that I might not really be able to choose properly here.  I neglected to choose that one here simply because of it’s length. It’s tough to sit through the entire thing from start to finish. On any given day I might say one album over another and never really have my answer, but that’s why I love them all. The Beatles knew how to make an album, likely better than anyone else.

My list is not complete, mind you. These are merely the first few that came to mind…and given that we all know Duran Duran, I thought it might be time to expand from there.  Give it a try, let me know what you come up with.

-R

Union of the Snake – The Daily Duranie Review (A)

If you read the blog last week, last Thursday, in fact, you would have learned of our new review process.  For now, each Thursday will be a review.  First, Rhonda will tackle the song; then, the following week, I will take my turn with the same song.  Last week, Rhonda started with Union of the Snake.  This week, it is my turn.  Will we agree or do we hear this song very differently?  If you want to review hers, go here.  Also, we decided to incorporate the production part of our review to the overall section.

Musicality/Instrumentation:  This is one of those Duran songs with the very distinct beginning.  As soon as we hear the opening notes, Duranies can all recognize the song.  I’m not sure if they intended it that way but it is that way now.  I know it certainly works to be instantaneously recognizable live as some of their bigger hits are that way (Rio and Girls on Film, in particular).  The beginning of the song really feels like the focus is on Nick and Andy.  I always enjoy those moments of musical conflict or musical back-and-forth between the two of them.  John’s bass is felt, at times, but isn’t a standout.  Neither is Roger, really.  Of course, as the songs moves closer to the chorus and through the chorus, Nick’s seems more dominant.  Even there, though, as with most songs of this album, there are always extra sounds, extra elements added.  It is multi-layered.  Likewise, the bridge of the song also holds some interest as there are definite extra percussion instruments included and very noticeable sax.  Truly, this is one thing that I have always admired about Duran.  They never shy away from using instruments outside of their standard guitars, drums, bass and keyboards.

Vocals:  Like a lot of this album, once the vocals begin, they certainly take center stage, seemingly mixed a bit louder than the already loud sounding instrumentation.  The vocals are a solid performance of Simon’s with some particularly interesting moments in which certain words are emphasized with the use of back-ups singers.  These words are obvious including “singers”, “radio”, “borderline”, and “climb”.  What could have been a cool way to add drama simply becomes over the top and too much.  I think it would have been fine if that had been done for a word or two but they used the back-up singers a lot here.  Too much.

Lyrics:  Ah, this song is one of those songs off Seven and the Ragged Tiger with very cryptic lyrics.  There have been many attempts to decipher what this song means or is about.  Is it about sin?  Is it something sexual?  Is it about losing it and having a nervous breakdown?  Is about the pressure of fame?  I have no idea.  I just know that I never connected to them.  I have had moments that the song seems to fit a situation, but those moments are short-lasting.  What do I think of the lyrics?  On one hand, I like that the lyrics aren’t clear and obvious.  I want lyrics that I either need to figure out or that I can create an interpretation that works for me.  On the other hand, I, sometimes, think that Simon tried TOO much to be clever.  He wanted to demonstrate that poetry.  In previous albums, he showed that creative side without it being or feeling forced.  In this song, it feels a bit forced to me.

Overall:  The song has a lot of potential.  I like the play between the keyboards and guitar during the verses.  The use of the saxophone and extra percussion sounds were a nice touch that showed that Duran wasn’t afraid to use other instruments beyond what the members traditionally brought to the table.  The lyrics could be interesting and the vocals could have been great without the overpowering backing vocals.  Likewise, the production seemed to really push the vocals over every other element of the song.  This enhances the two parts of the song that seem weaker to me (vocals and lyrics).  Also, when thinking about this song as a whole, I can’t help but to think about the more recent live performances of this song that I saw.  It seemed lifeless.  I’m not sure why that is.  The band didn’t seem all that into it and neither did the crowd, for some reason.  Perhaps, if the song was given a very long rest, there might be more appreciation for it.

Cocktail Rating:  3 cocktails!

Only Change Will Bring You Out of the Darkness

It seems to be a pretty quiet day. That might have something to do with the snowstorm hitting a significant percentage of the US, or the impending cold (frozen tundra??), but for me it’s just the last Friday morning of winter break, before we head into the January doldrums of school, first semester finals for my two oldest, my daughter’s 17th birthday (HOW did that happen?!?), and so on.

I was on Twitter this morning, and thanks to @askkatybook – I have something to share with my fellow music fans. You see, she found an article about this 12-year old boy who does music reviews on YouTube. He’s not a fan of any specific band, or any specific genre of music – he is simply a fan of music. Here’s the article link.

I love Joshua’s exuberance and the sheer joy he shares for music. I wish I could capture just a little bit of that and put it into the reviews that I do for Daily Duranie, to be honest. There is something incredibly special to be gleaned from watching Joshua’s videos – and it’s refreshing to see the love for music being shared. It’s not about sales, it’s not about showing a certain level of musical articulation, and it’s not even really so much about being critical, either. The reviews come down to the basics of just sharing the joy of music. In a world where negativity seems to drive content (as well as response to content), it is truly a breath of fresh air to see positivity winning. I suppose that for Joshua, there just isn’t any point in reviewing something if he doesn’t like it – because to him, this is about what he likes, and what he recommends.

As a blogger, I’ve learned the power of writing a post that drives response as well as page views. I’ve very much seen what makes people react wildly. In our case, it sure isn’t the posts about how much we love Duran Duran. Think about that.

-R