Here's an idea for your stage show or next music video that will get you some attention...
The duo, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, has been working on their new album since 2008."After three records, there was a sense of searching for a record we hadn’t done," Thomas told Rolling Stone.
"Electronic music right now is in its comfort zone and it’s not moving one inch," Bangalter says. "That’s not what artists are supposed to do."
So then what?
The solution for Daft Punk was to borrow both musicians and recording techniques from years ago. For this album, they're using "top-notch session players" who played in classic records by Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, and Eric Clapton. A promo video features Nile Rodgers of Chic playing guitar. And the way everything was recorded was very different as well -- no "laptop" recording.
"There are songs on the album that traveled into five studios over two and a half years," Thomas says. "They’re vials being filled up with life. Today, electronic music is made in airports and hotel rooms, by DJs traveling. It has a sense of movement, maybe, but it’s not the same vibe as going into these studios that contain specific things."
The promotion is different as well -- TV commercials during Saturday Night Live as well as billboards.
"When you drive on the Sunset Strip and see these billboards, it’s more magical than a banner ad," Thomas says.
Let's look at this and how it relates to your music.
It would be easy to say that electronic musicians using non-electronic instruments, real players instead of samples, and old school ads such as television commercials and billboards is regression.
It's not -- it's transition. And this is always what keeps things fresh and moving forward, even if it involves technology and other elements of the past.
It would be easy for Daft Punk to release the same album again and again. Plenty of bands do that. You may be doing that.
When you have something that works, why rock the boat?
But as Thomas Bangalter says above, "That’s not what artists are supposed to do."
Regression is what happens when you're not moving forward. This is because the world is changing around you, whether you like it or not. And with the world, your fans are changing too.
It's easy to see how an act like Justin Bieber, with an audience of finicky and indecisive tweens, would need to progress in order to keep them interested. But your act, because your fans are older and more set in their ways, is different, right?
Time is speeding up. Attention spans are getting shorter. We have more entertainment options than ever.
This affects everybody, regardless of age. If you aren't moving forward, you're going to be run over by change around you.
How do you make sure you're moving forward? Choose growth over comfort.
Here are 15 ways to do just that...
Any others? Free free to add to this list via the comments section!
1. You want to express something.
2. You want to create something that others will connect with.
If you're simply wanting to express something, you can stop reading now as there is nothing I can advise you on. If you're looking to write songs that better connect with people, this article is for you.
"Expression" is great, but at its heart, it's something private. Once your thoughts have been put on paper or otherwise recorded, you've done your job. When you're only concerned with expressing yourself, you're the only one who matters and you'll be successful regardless of whether other people hear (or otherwise experience) your expression.
But if you're looking to create something that will matter to people beyond just you, you've got to keep those people in mind. Unfortunately, most "songwriters" miss this. They put their feelings ahead of everybody else's.
So I'm going to be blunt...
The #1 thing people care about when they hear a song is how it makes them feel.
They don't care about how you feel or how you were inspired to write it -- unless you've given them something to which they can relate. That means, unless they're also songwriters, they don't care about a lot of the things you may be focusing on, like chord structures, whether or not there is a bridge, etc.
As I mentioned in my book, Six-Figure Musician, the ability to see things through the eyes of another person is one of the most valuable “music business” skills you can have. Only when you really understand people and where they are coming from can you create an experience or product that directly meets their needs.
It's easy to get caught up in structure, hooks, and other "rules" of songwriting. It's also easy to get caught up in our own lives. Before you think about any of these things though, when you first sit down to write, ask yourself these questions:
The only purpose of the first two is for you to get clear on who your audience is. It's the second two that are most important when it comes to writing a song that connects.
Don't assume you are your audience. Sometimes you start that way, but as life happens, people change. This is why a musician seems to have his finger on the pulse of culture one album, only to be completely disconnected from it on the next.
The "ingredients" you use today eventually won't work anymore.
What's the solution?
Work backwards when you write. Instead of thinking about things to write about, following something that worked in the past, or focusing on the technical aspects of writing a song, go to the end user and simply observe. When you can master that, great songs will write themselves.
On January 1, 2012 I set out to record and release 12 CDs in only 12 months. Not just digital albums to download, but real hard copy store ready physical CDs.
Each CD had to have 12 tracks, 10 of them brand new, written by me or other writers. Up to two track could be remixed, rerecorded, updated…whatever. I thought doing 10 songs of new material was fine and I could take some of my old stuff from CDs not selling anymore and breathe new life into it (correct mistakes, like singing out of tune, etc.)
I did have some success in the past recording fast. I wrote, recorded and released a CD called “Rock and Roll Railroad” is seven days while on the road in 2010. I actually did some of the tracks during rush hour in Chicago in my car!
Some people do marathons, triathlons, climb mountains, etc. I will never do that, BUT, this was something I thought I could do…a defining feat…my legacy?
I have been recording for years on my old Acer desktop running Sonar Producer, but I wanted to make this project go faster, be mobile, and not have to battle the computer and beg it to work every other day. I decided to go Apple. Problem, I have very little money!
So, first I entered a vocal posting contest and won an iPad 2 (I posted my butt off!). Next, I picked up an old MacBook (not Pro) from CraigsList and fixed it up. I got GarageBand working on both and added my OLD Samson USB mic. Aside from my guitars and drums and stuff, that was all I used to do EVERYTHING!
First I asked my mailing list what the topics of each CD should be. I used a poll widget to do it.
I like making CDs with themes. I think it’s easier to market and sell something that is a specific niche. Also, by asking my fans what they wanted, I knew I could sell to them because I used their ideas, right?
The process was really simple -- pick a topic, find or write 10-12 songs on that topic. Boom. Done.
Ahhh, the studio. My studio is called “Starbase 23.” It has been for over a decade.
The studio isn't real though. The studio is wherever I am recording at the moment. Many of these CDs were recorded in my bedroom, living room, and kitchen. I also recorded in my car (GREAT VOCAL BOOTH!), in restaurants, schools, motel rooms…everywhere.
Many songs start out on the iPad. I make basic tracks and even do vocals on it. Then I transfer everything to the Mac, but not always. Some songs went right from the iPad to the CD. Really, like “Flying Bounce House” from MOVING DAY and “Counting Sheep” from ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT.
At some point I thought it would be cool to record songs and whole CDs on location. Like doing an animal CD at the zoo, etc.
I did manage to do one CD like this called ALL ABOARD THE ROCK AND ROLL TRAIN. I spent two weeks at the National Railroad Museum and got a ton of exposure and press. This is when I started using other musicians to add to the sound and vibe.
The project went well, but there was no way I was going to do that again with my limited time allotment. Each CD should have been recorded in two weeks or less, artwork in a week and released by week four. If I had stuck to that schedule everything would have been fine.
Besides the iPad, USB mic, and MacBook I used whatever guitars and basses I had on hand. Most of the keyboards were played on the iPad keyboard…really! My son and daughter played Roland V Drums and my son added a few tracks he recorded on his iPod, really great stuff.
For all the album artwork, I used iDraw on my iPad. I carry it around with me all the time and doddle. I did a lot of the artwork at a roller skating rink while my daughter skated!
I use a company called Kunaki.com to press my CDs and have to use my old desktop PC to upload everything with their WINDOWS-only program.
So I recorded and released the first 5-6 CDs right on schedule, but them summer hit, and I do MOST of my live shows in the summer. Suddenly I had ZERO time to record and finally I just gave up. When I did get back to it I had like three months and six CDs to make!
Many well-meaning friends started to tell me is was OK to fail, be happy for what you did…and stuff like that, but I wanted no part of it. I wanted to finish the project.
I though maybe I should do a simple "guitar and vocal" CD…a quickie to get back on track…BAD IDEA. The CD took just as long to do and it SUCKED. I am no singer-songwriter folkie unplugged kind of guy. I’m a rocker.
I made the CD, released it, and quickly pulled it from distribution. I totally rerecorded it with the band sounds and even different songs. In all actuality, I ended up recording 13 not 12 CDs last year.
One of the most successful parts of the project was the blog and social media. I blogged and made videos every step of the way, I let my fans and followers in on the action and constantly asked for ideas and input. I had an open policy for anyone that sand or played to submit tracks and share everything I did. I posted almost everything I did on Soundclud.com, complete songs, and CDs to create buzz and get people “into it.”
I knew I had to get serious so I added a countdown clock to my website, misterbilly.com, and my blog, 12cdsin12months.com. One of my co-writers, Dave Kinnoin, and his son Oliver offered to write up to three songs a week to help out. Other writers, singers and musicians started sending me ideas and even tracks that I could add to my songs.
I was building a global recording co-op and didn’t realize it! Though my constant blogging, FaceBook, and Twitter postings, I made friends with musicians who wanted to be a part of the project from Africa to California, New York to the Netherlands, and beyond.
All through the project I had collaboration, but the last CD I wanted to really make a group effort, a global family affair. So the last CD “A Little Help from My Friends” is all duets and collaborations.
The last song recorded was live video streamed on uStream.com and the audience helped out and chatted with me until it was done, December 29 @ 10 PM.
I wish I had planned better to take advantage of the marketing side of the project. I also wish I have stayed on track. I ended up doing four of the CDs in the last 30 days! I didn’t book any jobs and money was tight, but I did it.
Interestingly, my songwriting, production and especially my vocal skills improved with each CD…crazy huh? The more I did, the more I could do.
Are the CDs perfect? No. But are they good enough for my crowd? I think so. IF I had more time would I have done a better job…mmmm…maybe, maybe not.
The funny thing is that many of these CDs are selling way faster and with more consistency than my other CDs. Three of these have hit the CD Baby Top Sellers list…not the genre list, the MAIN ONE! None of my CDs had ever done that before.
All in all is was a great project, I am very proud of it, but I don’t think I’ll be recording another full CD for a little while!
Mr. Billy (William Charles Grisack III) is a kids and family singer song ROCKER, producer, podcaster, husband, dad, dog owner, music marketing advocate, Star Trek fan and lunatic at large from Wisconsin. Learn more about the 12 CD project at 12cdsin12months.com or visit him at misterbilly.com
I'm not saying you should be an asshole. What I mean by "uncomfortable" is that you take charge of things and start pushing buttons.
Good art, including good music, makes people think. It's not about doing the same thing everybody else is doing, just because it will sell or be accepted.
That means you take chances. You ask, "What if?"
What if a gangsta rapper drove around in a Hello Kitty Smart car?
The answer is that it would make some people very uncomfortable.
But who cares? That's part of your job as a musician.
Right now, a musician named Al Walser is making a lot of people very uncomfortable. That's because he's taken a song called "I Can't Live Without You" and gotten in on the Grammy ballot for the EDM category, alongside top acts in the genres, such as Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, and Skrillex.
NOTE: This is not the "nominations" which every artist and his brother gets on the Internet and begs for... He's taken it a step further and gotten himself on the actual ballot that Recording Academy members will use to vote.
Here's a video of the song...
I hope he wins, for no other reason that he's pushing the boundaries of both music and promotion. He's taking the old system and turning it on its head.
Forget the Grammy Awards for a bit... Other than a nice slap on the back, they're not that important. They're certainly not necessary for an artist to have a successful career in music.
Al Walser is only a example of a bigger question you should be asking yourself...
This is what makes great music.
This is an example of a great way to get content for your video, build connections with fans, and spread the word about your music...
Why it works...
The idea is not limited to just dancing. You can do it with any action. Driving, walking, running, playing with dogs, climbing stairs, hammering nails, etc.
Want to know more about Butterfly Boucher? Listen to her interview on Music Business Radio.
Angry Birds is pretty much everywhere these days. The characters were popular Halloween costumes, there is a board game, there are t-shirts, and the game has been referenced in American television shows such as Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, and The Simpaons.
The franchise has had over 500,000,000 downloads.
So now what?
Obviously, people are searching for "Angry Birds" in Apple's App Store and elsewhere. And obviously, people love the game... So why not take advantage of the momentum?
That's exactly what Wisconsin-based musician, Mr. Billy, decided to do.
But taking the idea one step further, he recorded everything on an iPhone!
What's your background?
My family has been in the music business for four generations. I started playing and writing at age nine. I spent about 20 years playing and touring with my own bands. In the late 90s, I retired to start a marketing business using the skills I learned from keeping my bands employed and selling CDs and merch.
Why music for kids?
When my son turned five, he took me to show-and-tell, but I didn't know any kids' songs, so I just sang some classic rock songs. To my surprise, his teacher suggested I could do kids music for a living.
So I did some research and found that, at that time, there were a few kids' folk musicians in my area, but no kids' rock singers. So I decided to create a new niche locally and it just took off.
Where did you get the idea for a song about Angry Birds?
When I got the new GarageBand app for my iPhone, I started messing around and it sounded so good that I decided to write a "real" song and put it on iTunes over the weekend.
I've been following the success of bands like Pomplamoose using current pop culture as a marketing tool and realized that my target audience (kids and parents) are really into Angry Birds. I actually wear Angry Birds t-shirts to my gigs!
Angry Birds and iPhone also seemed like a good match and potential headline for press.
Talk more about your writing and recording process...
The song took an hour to write, including researching Angry Birds on the web.
I recorded it on eight tracks using only GarageBand sounds, the sampler (that's my voice doing the bird and pig sounds), and loops. I played guitar into the GarageBand amp models and sang directly into the phone (no mics).
I sent it to my computer, had my son draw some angry birds, drew myself in cartoon form, uploaded the whole thing to CD Baby, and ta-da!
Any advice for musicians breaking into the children's music market?
I just want to say that since shifting from rock to kids rock, I have done just about everything I dreamed of my whole life... I play all originals, I only do covers if I want to, and I play to people that actually come to see me. I'm the center of attention, which is what I've always wanted to be, I've been on TV, I've been on radio, I do interviews, I've won several awards, and I've been flown to shows... You name it.
As far as advice... Kids music is great, but you have to actually like kids, period. Know what they like and what the parents love and try to find a common ground. I was lucky, I never changed my musical style or performance style... Just the words are different and there is no swearing at the show!
I do 200+ gigs a year at libraries, schools, and concert events. I write and record songs specific to each of my markets. In 10 years I have released 15 albums and various singles like Angry Birds.
Make music that people actually want to buy and listen to... stuff they NEED...and you will succeed.
I haven't seen your video, but I'm going to guess no...
What it takes to make something like this...
1 still camera
288,000 jelly beans
How it was made...
We’ve all been there at one time or another, with a pen in hand, guitar on our lap and a completely blank mind. Writer’s block can be seriously frustrating, but tapping into inspiration can help lead you out of this dark hole.
Inspiration comes from within and can be as random as something you see in a magazine ad, or as traumatic as a death in the family. Whatever it is, it breaks down the dam of sensibility and streams you through a completely creative space where nothing is beyond limits. There are things to get this process moving along quicker, which is good news for you and your wallet.
1. Change Your Routine
Sometimes we get into the hang of following a strict routine, and life seems to hit a flat line. Try changing your routine, whether it’s going to bed later and sleeping in an extra hour, going to the gym in the morning or going out for coffee after work instead of heading straight home. You may notice something off your beaten path that stirs that instinct to write.
2. Go Outside
Many artists quote the great outdoors as being a source of inspiration. Go to the beach and watch the waves roll in, take the family for a hike in the woods, go mountain biking, for a jog or sit with a glass of wine on the patio and watch the sunset. You may feel a connection with your surroundings that will emit feelings perfect for words.
Reading new material helps build new ideas. Read that novel you’ve been meaning to pick up, grab a morning newspaper or have a look through the latest copy of your favorite magazine. It’s better than television because you can stop and reread something if it perks your interest. You’ll come across new ideas, life situations, world events and even other inspirational quotations, or prose that will set you in a new direction.
4. Try Something New
While this doesn’t necessarily mean to dabble in psychedelics, change is a good thing for songwriters. Many of the great songwriters like Bob Dylan and Neil Young went through countless transformations which inspired new music for them. Try sky diving, cooking or even a new instrument. Change stimulates us and gets us excited about life.
5. People Watch
This might sound odd, but people are so interesting, especially if you live in a big city. Spend some time at your favorite café, drink coffee and watch the people go by. You’ll notice comments and judgments float up through your mind about these people, or one particular person that interests you—characters in a story. Make up a theme song in your head for them, and go from there. Learning to be observational will take you a long way in songwriting.
6. Listen to Music
Pull out that old Led Zeppelin record you haven’t listened to in years and throw it on. Try listening to new music, or revisiting songs that touched you emotionally. Pick the songs apart like a critic or just lay out on the sofa with your eyes closed and enjoy it. This is similar to reading in that music offers new ideas and sounds which tap into our creative brain.
7. Go on Vacation
Take a break from songwriting and jump on a plane somewhere. The more exotic and unfamiliar the better, though going camping for the weekend free of electronics is also a good option. Explore, meet new people, learn new cultures or languages and try new things. Keep it relaxing, stress doesn’t write good songs.
8. Head Out for a Night on the Town
This doesn’t necessarily mean get smashed and hit every downtown bar you can find. Go out and catch a live show, no matter how significant the band, DJ or solo artist is. Being in a crowd of people all enjoying the same thing is a riot, and can inspire some good feelings and great lyrics. It may get you excited about writing again.
9. Explore Your Inner Workings
A lot of classic songs are emotionally charged. While this comes a lot from the performers themselves, the lyrics explaining these feelings are essential. Tap into your emotions, or significant events in your life. This can be something happy like your wedding day, or sad like the day your old dog passed away. While it can cause a bit of a rollercoaster effect you’ll find some organic thoughts will spring forth. Just remember to come back to normal afterwards.
10. Forget Reason
Try laying on your back or some other relaxed position, guitar in hand or fingers on the keys and completely forget about everything you know about music. Put away all the theory, chords, and notes and just close your eyes and see where your fingers land. This could end up in just a lot of noise, but you may find a new melody or riff by accident. This meditational practice is worth a try.
Add your tips below...