Category Archives: Good Reads

Social Networking & Blogging In Today’s Music Business

Ariel Publicity has just launched their Cyber PR Urban blog, as a service to aspiring artists & musicians in the urban music genre.

Cyber PR Urban’s Christina Duren, was kind enough to reach out to me for an interview for the launch.

Below is the transcript of the interview, in which we discussed social media, and how artists today can use social networks to their benefit:

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Jimmy Iovine Discusses The Future Of The Music Business

Here’s an interesting video I found of Jimmy Iovine discussing his views on today’s music industry and his vision on the direction it’s taking. (Note: The video is about a year old)

He offers advice for new artists as well as talking about possible distribution models, what makes a great producer and the future of Interscope and the traditional record label.

[flv:http://www.artistshousemusic.com/video/recordlabels/jimmyiovine.flv 425 319]

Not Saving Anything For The Way Back

I was running around doing some errands yesterday, and while walking towards the cash of an electronics store, I noticed a bin of DVDs for sale.

At the very top, as if just placed there perfectly for me, was Gattaca.

DVD of Gattaca with Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman & Jude Law

This movie right here, is one of my favourite movies period.

It’s a little old now (came out in 1997) and it’s a bit slow-paced, but the concept and message in this movie are incredible.

Without giving away any spoilers, Gattaca is about a society that lives in a “perfect” world. Parents choose how they want their babies; everything from what gender the child will be, to the colour of their eyes.

Basically, they order their kids as if they were ordering furniture.

Anyways, in this perfect world, there are a few “imperfect” humans or “defects” who end up trapped in a life without any opportunities or any possibilities of success.

The main character is a “defect” who ends up finding a way of sneaking into the superior class of society and completely defies his life plan.

He’s one of the best at what he does and nobody has a clue that he’s actually a defect.

It’s an incredible movie that really points out the fact that no matter who you are or who others think you are, you can do ANYTHING.

NOTHING is impossible and regardless of your past or present; the ONLY THING getting in the way of having EVERYTHING you have EVER wanted and everything that you have ever dreamed of, is YOUR OWN BELIEF.

Ignore everybody that says otherwise.

EVERYBODY.

Sometimes that has to include loved ones. Your family and friends will always say they support you and believe in you, but truth is, there are usually limits to their belief.

Plus, if they don’t fully believe in themselves, how can they fully believe in you?

It’s a bold statement, but it’s true.

People will always remind you of “who you are”, but the reality is that’s only the perception of who you are. You can be anybody and anything you want to be. Not to sound corny, but it’s true.

It really hit me when I first moved to a different city. I had never been there before in my life and didn’t really know anybody there. I decided to use this to my advantage and become a new me. Shed all my bad habits and develop new ones. I was a stranger to everybody so nobody would be able to say “that’s not you”.

I became a completely new person.

I gained a whole new sense of self-confidence. And that self-confidence allowed me to realize that I was FAR more capable than I ever realized before.

Even if you aren’t moving to a new city and you’re always around people who know your habits and your “abilities”; you can still become a “new you”.

What’s the worst that will happen? People will comment? Some might crack jokes and try to ridicule you?

So?

Let them be negative. That’s not your issue; it’s theirs.

They don’t have enough confidence or belief to be the best version of themselves, so they’re going to try and keep you down as well. Misery likes company, right?

If you allow that to affect you, it’s not them holding you back; it’s you. You have to make sure that NOTHING stops you.

This movie is an incredible visualization of that. And it doesn’t just have to be a movie or a story. It can be reality, and it is reality, but it’s just up to you to let it be.

One of my favourite lines (there are many great quotables in the movie) is during a scene where the main character (“the defect”), is swimming in a race against a “perfect specimen” and is winning. The perfect specimen asks the defect how he’s able to continue swimming for so long and with such stamina. The defect replies “I never saved anything for the way back”.

I love that line.

And it’s true. Most of us do that. We create this “exit strategy” in our minds whenever we approach a new task. A “Plan B.”

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a Plan B. That’s okay, but 9 times out of 10, people only have a Plan B because they don’t truly believe in their Plan A. They’re preparing themselves for failure.

Why?!

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t prepare myself for failure.

Anybody who knows me knows how intense I can get. For me, it’s all or nothing.

I’m either going to die successful or die still working on it. But no matter what, when I die, nobody will ever be able to say I didn’t give it my all.

The main character in this movie said “I Never Saved Anything For The Way Back”.

Kurt Cobain said “It’s Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away”.

Malcolm X said “By Any Means Necessary”.

Tupac said “Against All Odds”.

Hell, even Nike’s motto is “Just Do It”.

There’s so many of these quotes, but they all have the same message, “GO FOR IT!”

Whatever motivates you, whatever gets you going, whatever pushes you to go that extra mile; just find it and use it every single chance you get, because there is NOTHING that is holding you back from defying all odds and acheiving all your dreams.

Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

ANYTHING.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

The other day, Asher Roth, his manager Scooter Braun, and I were discussing some business, and took a minute to just chat.  During our convo, Asher was telling me that he’s constantly asked questions about his buzz and the amount of exposure he’s been getting.

He always responds, “you’re only as good as your team”.

I couldn’t agree more.

It got me thinking I should do a quick post to address the most common misunderstanding about my involvement with Asher’s career.

For the record, I’m not his manager, nor am I the only person pushing him.

Yes, I am working with them on marketing Asher and making sure everybody knows about him, but I am part of a team.

I do what I do, but I’m not a solo act.

I see why it would be easy for people to get confused though. My blog revolves around my career in the music business, I talk about Asher often (here and on Twitter), and I’m servicing many blogs with Asher Roth content – so why wouldn’t somebody jump to that conclusion?

Plus, for years, we have been exposed to so much spotlight-hogging and “one man army” crap in the media, that whenever we keep seeing the same person attached to or speaking about an artist, people automatically assume that person does everything themselves.

Actually, before I get carried away on that tip, I’ll stop and save it for another post.

When we dropped Asher’s “The Greenhouse Effect” with Don Cannon and DJ Drama, the net blew up and everybody’s been talking about him ever since. That’s something we all know and have witnessed firsthand.

Asher Roth & Scooter Braun

That project isn’t something that took an entire major label staff to execute. As a matter of fact, it was just a few of us working independently – without label support.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking anything away from SRC (Asher’s recording home). In fact, their crew is one of the few in this business that actually understands how to properly support their artists – but this was all done before the label even had to get involved in Asher’s project – while they were focusing on other acts.

It’s called pre-release/buzz marketing.

Pre-release/buzz marketing is about building up enough attention and enough of a fanbase for an artist BEFORE the label begins pushing them in anticipation for the album release.

This way, when the label looks at their upcoming release schedule, they can see which one of their signed artists has more buzz and then they can decide how to allocate their resources.

More buzz before the album = more label support for the album = more chance of having a successful album.

Asher’s album is slated for an early 2009 release, yet he’s amongst the label’s top priorities and everywhere you look on the net, you see the name “Asher Roth”.

But don’t get it twisted. Even the strongest team can’t push something that nobody believes in.

We just put the word out, but it’s the fans and bloggers who believe in Asher that make this movement.

An audience that believes in you, is one of the most valuable assets you can ever attain. Scratch that, an audience that believes in you IS THE MOST VALUABLE asset you can ever attain.

Everybody who downloaded The Greenhouse Effect, everybody who keeps Asher Roth in rotation on their iPods, everybody who talks about him on Facebook, MySpaceTwitter, everybody who blogs about him or mentions him to their friends – you are part of this team. So shout out to you.

Also, shout out to Dana & Kathryn at Biz3, who are handling Asher’s publicity and doing a great job at it. They’re working with other artists like The Cool Kids, Kid Sister, A-Trak and Chromeo; so they definitely know what they’re doing!

And of course, Asher’s manager/label head, Scooter Braun.

I’m actually planning on featuring Scooter on the site real soon, so I’ll save some of the background info for then, but just know that he’s the man with the plan, when it comes to Asher’s career.

Speaking of that, Scooter recently acquired another incredible talent that I’d like to introduce you to: Justin Bieber.

For a while now, I’ve been paying attention to this young cat on his YouTube channel. He’s from Canada, so I have a sense of pride seeing his fanbase continue to grow.

Justin’s become the most subscribed Canadian musician on YouTube, and one of the most subscribed musicians on YouTube worldwide, with about 50,000 subscribers and 21.5 million video views.

Let me repeat that: 21.5 MILLION video views!

Once you check out his videos, you’ll understand why he’s so popular. Oh and by the way… he’s only 13 years old!

I’d been following him for a while, so when Scooter told me he signed him; it just seemed incredibly coincidental to me.

Just the other day, he played me a rough mix of some of Justin’s new songs and to say I was amazed would be an understatement. The songs are great and Justin’s voice is just incredible.

Remember where you heard it from first; Justin Bieber is going to be MAJOR!

I just realized how long this post has gotten so let me leave it here.

The buzz for Asher has been incredible, but you have to give credit where credit is due, so I just wanted to drop a quick post to respond to the confusion and acknowledge the others involved.

Thanks for reading, thanks for all the support of Asher Roth, and remember to pay attention to Justin Bieber.

Check out these links for more info:

Justin Bieber – http://www.youtube.com/user/kidrauhl

Asher Roth – http://thedailykush.ning.com

Moe Arora – http://moearora.com

Biz 3 Publicity – http://www.biz3.net

Rockstar Branded – http://rockstarbranded.com

SRC Records – http://srcrecords.net

Asher Roth, Scooter Braun & Justin Bieber

The Importance of Personal Relationships

Okay, this post might crossover into rant mode, but I have to get this off my chest.

A little while ago, I noticed someone had sent me a friend request on 2 different social networking sites; Facebook and LinkedIn. I know who the person is, but I’m not very familiar with her because we’ve only briefly dealt through someone else in the past. On the few instances that we have spoken, she seemed nice and professional, so I decided to accept her friend requests.

She contacted me with an update of what she’s doing now and we exchanged a few emails over a 2 week period.

As you already know, I have my own business; so I have a few people on the team, but I also keep a short list of freelancers who I’ll outsource work to for certain services. I’ve seen her work and thought her quality of work and price would be a good match for one of my clients.

I called her up and gave her a brief rundown about this potential client and what was needed, but never went into details about who the client is and where they’re from. We spoke a bit and agreed on a rate for her retainer services.

Later that night, I logged into my Facebook account and noticed that she added 3 people from my Friends List. 2 of those guys were the clients who I was discussing the contract for, but I never mentioned their names or any real details about them.

We don’t live in the same area and she works in a very specific niche, so it’s unlikely for us to have many contacts in common.

I thought it was kind of strange but thought maybe she’s just one of those people who treats Facebook like MySpace and adds as many people as she can without making real connections with them.

Then, the next day, I get a call from my client telling me that he just got a message from her saying she can offer him a cheaper price if he goes directly through her.

WHAT?!

How bold can you be?

But wait, it doesn’t stop there.

The same evening, I noticed she joined about 5 groups that I belong to and ended up adding the admins of those groups as well (also people on my Friends List). These were all relatively small, local production companies and labels that don’t really operate within her niche; so again, it’s highly unlikely that she knows them.

The next day, I got some phone calls and emails from a few people telling me that she contacted them also and offered them the same thing. They noticed I was the only “mutual friend” so they wanted to give me a heads up on this back door shyster.

I can’t lie – I was vexed! I was about to pick up the phone and put her on blast. Did she think I wouldn’t find out? Did she think I’d just ignore it?

My blood was boiling at first, but then I realized – these people all called and told me about it. They got this random person who just added them on a social networking site and started pitching them straight from the gate. They don’t know her nor have they ever heard of her. All they know is that the only person they can link her to is me and that they hired my company to handle the services she’s pitching them.

They all sensed a rat and even deleted her from their Friends List as well.

But the fact that I’m the only person they can link her to plays into their perception of me and my judgment. We really have to be careful about who we keep around us. It’s hard sometimes because most of us work in industries that are built on greed and backstabbing. Especially the music business!

How do we know who to trust and when we find those people, how do we know how far our trust should stretch?

Obviously, she can’t be trusted and I’m curious as to how many bridges she’s burned so far, but even though she went directly to some of the artists, managers and indie labels I work with; I’m not really worried. She oversaw my secret weapon – Personal Relationships!

I don’t just walk up to people, hand them my business card and walk away. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I see it all the time at industry events; people walk around and give out their cards like they’re passing out club flyers – they don’t even speak to anyone. A lot of artists and beatmakers are guilty of doing the same thing with their CDs: just put it someone’s hands and walk away. I call that “spam networking”. There’s no point to it; nobody’s going to remember you when you spam network.

For me, I don’t just meet people; I develop relationships. When I look through my address book, I don’t see “contacts”; I see PEOPLE. I see experiences and memories. That’s not something that just takes 5 minutes to build. This is something that takes while to build and that you maintain on a constant basis.

Whether it’s wishing someone happy birthday, taking them out when they’re in town or even just grabbing a drink together because you haven’t seen each other in a while; these things are important. But don’t just do it because you feel obligated or for networking reasons only. People can tell when you’re being fake. Do it because you genuinely want to. Lucky for me, I’ve come across many people who I easily get along with and whose company I enjoy.

So, back to the situation at hand; to her and to anyone like her – you can steal all the contact info you want and try to pitch them, but I can pick up the phone and share a laugh or even ask for a favour if ever needed.

No matter what you do, what industry you’re in or where you are in your career, never underestimate the power of a personal relationship.

Chris Lighty Discusses What Hip Hop Is

In this video with hiphopis.us Mr. Violator himself, Chris Lighty, discusses what hip-hop is to him.

By the way, this is the second time I’ve heard someone pronounce Lupe Fiasco as “Loopy Fiasco”. The first being Jay Leno during Lupe’s performance a few weeks back. What’s up with that?

Thanks to Aura for the video.

Jay Z On The Big Idea

Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t watch much tv really; just a few shows and then just some re-runs of a few classic sitcoms to give me background noise while I work. One of my favourite shows out there though is The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC. If you don’t know who Donny Deutsch is – get familiar.

Donny occasionally invites music moguls on the show (Clive Davis, Jermaine Dupri, Diddy, etc) to discuss their rise in business, their current and upcoming ventures and etc. He recently had Hov on the show and since I’ve got this blog up now, I thought I’d share this clip with you.

Check it out.