Saturday, October 11, 2014

iTunes vs Vinyl

  Music has changed a lot over the years not only in the knew genres appering but also how we listen to it. Since iTunes, and even earlier MP3 arrived the amount of CD's and Vinyl sales have gone down rapidly. Although this is great in many ways for us the consumer as well as the musicians its a shame how areas of such music abundance have rotted slowly away. There was a time when everyone used to go out to a record store, searching for their favourite artists and also meeting people who shared a similar passion towards that genre. Now on the other hand we simply go onto iTunes and buy the song then and there. Don't get me wrong thats great, but sometimes its just to easy or boring.

  Its not just the purchasing of music which has changed but also when and how we listen to it. In the years of Vinyl there were Jukeboxes in every bar, pub or social gathering spot. When you put your coin in the slot to pick something you knew it was going to be something everyone liked, appreciated or approved otherwise it wouldn't have been in the box in the first place. Now we have the constant worry and self consciousness of putting our iPhone/iPod into the speakers and getting bothered by disapproving people. Obviously not all the time but quite often. Although its great having a small device which you can take everywhere and listen too it does becomes a bit too personal. When its in the speakers you can enjoy the music but its always disrupted by that thought of 'Crap whats next' or 'I hope no ones going to break it' or 'I better check it'. You shouldn't care about your personal belongings just enjoy the music.

  The truest statement I've heard when regarding iTunes and Vinyl is "Its so much more satisfying to select a record, and put the needle on for it to play. Rather than press a small button on your phone or iPod"  Sure I have no problem with iTunes I mean I use it as do so many others, but I also have Vinyl balancing it all out. So keep listening to your music but please have a larger variety on how you listen to it.

 Carry on.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Songs of Innocence - U2

U2's new album, Songs of Innocence has reached possibly more people than any album in history, not because everyone downloaded it but because iTunes automatically 'purchased' it and put it everyone's iCloud accounts, showing up in the iTunes library of practically everyone with an apple product. Some people are calling it a desperate publicity stunt, honestly I disagree. As the music industry is now more of a business franchise than anything else, you have to show some respect to these guys putting it out for free. U2 has been around for quite a while now, and money isn't much of a concern for them anyways.
Now to their music, this new album has some pretty good songs, especially considering they're all free. From the punkish vibe of 'Volcano' to the new age echo of 'Sleep like a Baby Tonight'... This album provides an enjoyable, full of life, and not to mention free, experience.
I imagine they have some sort of agreement with Apple on this release, and possibly even some money involved, but I think either way both Apple and U2 benefitted on terms of popularity from this release. But honestly, who cares... It's free for us right?
Something that has angered me on this release though, not on Apple or U2, but on the audience. People have criticized this album for being desperate, that U2 only wanted attention; yes, U2 wanted popularity, and whats wrong with that? Whats wrong with wanting to give their music to everyone for FREE? I've heard some people say that they 'overpayed for the new U2 album' which is obviously just a joke, but people should just go and actually listen to their songs 
and realize that this is an album worth much more than free.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Four Characteristics of a Successful Musician

Throughout history we have seen some common similarities among famous, successful musicians. I have broken them down into four main characteristics that I believe make for a successful musician. Keep in mind that not ALL famous musicians have each and every one of these traits.
The first and most obvious, is musical skill and artistic ability. In order to create music that people will enjoy, there must be a point along the line where there is some musical influence behind a piece of music; whether it be the skill of the actual musician or the skill of the audio technicians making that perfect adjustment to the auto-tuned vocals. In simple terms, there has to be something that makes the music sound good.
Next, a musician should have charisma, generally referring to their performance on stage. Charisma is something that words cannot really explain, but its something that when a musician performs it creates a certain vibe that rattles the emotions of the audience. Charisma normally varies among artists, and the vibe created normally depends on the type of music. But in all forms of music, charisma is what drives people through the doors of the concert hall.
Appearance... although we'd like to think music is all about the art, the truth of the matter is, it isn't. The person that fans chase around the streets has to have some signature style that is recognizable among the public. Appearance creates character, from Jimi Hendrix's extremely exotic clothing, to Johnny Cash's strictly black wardrobe, and Bono's signature shades, every musician should have an iconic appearance that people will identify with only that person.
The last characteristic doesn't have much to do with music, one that all famous people must have. The ability to live as a celebrity, or attitude, determines the lifespan of a musician's career. Some musicians have been performing for decades; like Bob Dylan who has played since the 60's and is still performing today. On the other hand, some musicians just can't handle the lifestyle of being famous, and normally end their career by doing something stupid; like Justin Bieber, who went on a rampage of bad decisions and practically lost the majority of his fan base. 
These are the characteristics that I believe make a successful musician. Very few actually have all of these, but the ones that do are usually the ones who make the biggest impact on music.

Stay Tuned.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The art of album covers

  Looking back around twenty years there was a lot more to musicians than just their music. When it came to album covers they were more personal, interesting and groovy. Of course the times for buying vinyl have gone down considerably since then, but it is slowly on the rise again. We have seen famous artistic logos and specific fonts for album covers especially those of great bands such as the Beatles, Rolling stones, Queen etc which thankfully haven't been forgotten.

  Yet recently the individuality of musicians album covers is falling low especially as a majority of them are all very similar. Its easy getting a photographer to take original looking photos of the musician or band but its even more difficult to actually create a album cover or something that artist will be associated with for years to come. There are some modern album covers which still have that originality but most others lack the uniqueness.
  Its not just the creation of the cover that makes it special its also how it links into the artists own music. The best covers are those which in some way portray a visual of what that music would look like if presented on paper. Many Carlos Santana, Grateful dead, Led Zeppelin album covers have that quality along with its uniqueness. Again I'm not saying that artists back then and now don't show similarities or repellence at all. I'm saying the skill needed to create the next renown logo or album cover is high and out there. That there are those who can still do this and should but because of the dominant photography album covers they never get the chance or opportunity as they once did which is sad as in one way or another most covers on iTunes or in stores are now identical in presentation.

Carry on.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Kansas Rejuvination

          This Thursday I payed my annual visit to the Kern County Fair. And out of no planning or knowledge of mine, I stumbled upon a practicing group of old musicians playing Kansas songs, so I
stood and watched, thinking it was just a tribute band. I started to recognize their faces, and once I saw the eye patch of guitarist Rich Williams I knew that I was in fact witnessing the practice of the one and only Kansas, being a classic rock fanatic I was very giddy. I was amazed how these guys could still rock n roll. After they finished practicing, I noticed a sign, "Official Kansas Tour, Thursday 8:00" so me and a buddy continued enjoying the fair, planning to be back for the concert.
         As we got back around 7:20, enjoying some of the grease-infused fair food we noticed a very long line leading to the concert, so we just settled for sitting outside of the stands and just listening, but as everyone else got their seats we luckily managed to grab some decent ones for ourselves. The crowd consisted of mostly older people, but nonetheless everyone was excited. The setlist consisted of all their greatest hits, songs I thought would never leave my iPod, but there I was, just feet away from these greats reciting their own timeless masterpieces. 
          After the concert, my voice was practically gone after screaming like a little fan girl, but probably the highlight for me was when I waved and a couple of the members waved back at me, I'll take that as permission to post about them in my blog. I encourage you guys to listen to some older music, and even see some of these old guys live, cause I'll tell ya they can still rock your socks off.

Stay tuned.

Producers Blindness

  As the music industry develops and changes so does the actual music being produced and braocasted. Throughout history music has evolved but lately the amount of talent which has formally grown from it has been dying out. Musician today rely more on technology and their voice than any other factor. Which is perfectly fine as some really do have unique voices and skills. But then you look back at musician from the 80's and earlier who had a vast knowledge of music and what they could do with it. The point I'm trying to make is that less and less famous musician actually play a musical instrument, write their own music or just sing with passion.

  Of course there is a small handful of famous musicians who keep this up and actually secede in life but a large majority of modern artists now rely too heavily on their producers and managers. This doesn't mean to say there are no true artists still out performing, there are hundreds. Many of them are undiscovered or underrated musician who can only get small gigs at unheard venues.

  It seems today that producers are focusing more on what the musician looks like on the outside and how the public will view them than they do on the actual music being created. Which of course puts pressure on the public to look and act like them. I could see a nice car purchase it then find out it runs terribly but at least it still looks good. That is what the mentality of a producer looks like to me. Of course some people think differently to me which is perfectly acceptable and their free to argue otherwise. But if you are struggling to make it as a musician just remember that if producers don't see the talent play until they hear the talent.

Carry on.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Young Bloomers

Yes, you’ve seen them everywhere… Musicians, young, untalented, good looking, and of course… famous. This breed of musicians is the new normal. With the technology we have in studios today, anyone can sound good, so these so called ‘musicians’ are a real disgrace to the name they hold. A musician used to be someone so devoted to their music, they would give up anything to be able to play in a band or even get a gig, without expectation of profit. But yet all the new young bloomers just show up on Disney Channel and they’re all of a sudden famous. I don’t want to pull out any names and anger anybody, but you know who I'm talking about.

Is it sad to anyone else that the skillful suffer meanwhile the lucky fools swim laps in their money filled pools? Is all hope lost for the future of skilled musicians? And the worst thing is, no one talks about it. Everyone’s opinions are either blocked out or they are too scared to express themselves. And no one in the music business says anything about it because the Young Bloomers are making them rich. So here I am, expressing my opinion, taking the advantage of freedom of the press. 

Another thing that really grinds my gears is that a lot of the time these ‘musicians’ aren’t even playing their own songs. Most of the time they will pay a songwriter to do all that for them. So literally all they have to do to get rich and famous is stand in front of a camera, dance around for their new music video, and rack in the cash. The songwriters don’t get any credit for the songs, technically they will own the rights to the songs but they never get known or famous to their work. Yes, the songwriters do get paid but if you are really passionate about your music you would rather be known for your creation then have a lot of cash in your stash.

Stay Tuned.