Twenty five years in the music industry have given me the opportunity to work in various roles including music marketing, sales, audio engineer, musician and artist manager. One thing I’ve noticed is the value artists put on their producer versus the others involved in building their career. Producers are involved in the creative process giving them a kindred spirit with the artist. Most artists don’t blink an eye at paying a producer as they place value on the producer and I agree they should. Ironically, once the producer finishes a project, the producer moves onto the next paying client. Artists sometimes fail to recognize recorded music does nothing until the others in the process move the music from the studio to the consumer. Sales teams, marketers, publicists, artist managers and booking agents work day in and day out on artists’ behalf. Unfortunately, those roles are often taken for granted. When I hear artists complain about paying others involved in the process of growing their career and audience, it is obvious they don’t place value of the other pieces of the music puzzle. Have you ever seen a puzzle with missing pieces? I would argue it’s not a puzzle.
Who do you value? Who works on your behalf daily to move your career forward? Have you told them how much you value them?
Okay Nashville, show us what you got! We know there is some crazy talent here in the great Music City, the city built on Artist Development, Artist Managers and Booking Agents. America’s Got Talent wants to see it. If you think you have what it takes to impress Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B, then don’t miss the America’s Got Talent auditions on January 28!
Artist Garden Entertainment is excited to announce the new booking partnership between Holly Starr and Converge Music (home to Pillar, Grits, Future of Forestry, Project 86, Carlos Whittaker) Converge Music will now represent Holly Starr as her exclusive booking agent.
Starr recently logged in at #29 on Billboard’s Christian Hot AC chart with her new single “Through My Father’s Eyes” which was co-written & produced by Chuck Butler (Royal Tailor, Audio Adrenaline, Kari Jobe) Holly Star’s’ video for “Don’t Have Love” is closing in on 500,000 views on YouTube. Both songs are from her recent album release, Focus.
For Holly Starr booking inquiries, please contact: Converge Music 615-369-7795 firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago this week, the Music Gardener blog was birthed as an outlet to share ideas on marketing music, artist management and new music with the world. While never really claiming to be a writer in the past, I must say it has been a great experience for me. I vividly remember the lunch at Mere Bulles in Brentwood, TN where my good friend Spence Smith shared his excitement over blogging with me. He invited me to Lifework 2.0, a seminar he and Randy Elrod launched to introduce people to blogging. Little did I know my life was about to change significantly! Now two years later, blogging has become the foundation for most of the marketing I do. The Music Gardener blog was recently named in the Nashville Scene’s “Best Of” Awards and I have subscribers from all over the world who read the blog daily. I am thankful to Spence and Randy for encouraging me to take the step. This week Spence and Randy are hosting a Lifework 2.0 seminar in Franklin, TN which is where I got my start. I would encourage everyone to attend. Your mind will be opened to the new frontier of communication & marketing!
“We Are Nashville” is the slogan that Nashville residents adopted after the major flood that destroyed much of the city and surrounding areas this past Spring. The national media was scolded for not covering the floods and eventually Anderson Cooper showed up and apologized for the media not giving Nashville the attention it deserved. Meanwhile, as the “help your neighbor” spirit was building within the Nashville community, the Gospel Music Association was apparently fast at work making plans to move the GMA Dove Awards Show to Atlanta. While the Nashville Visitors and Convention Bureau is scrambling to keep tourist coming to town, the Gospel Music Association decides to move the Dove Awards show to Atlanta? Now, that’s the perfect way to show love to the city that has supported your infrastructure for 41 years and is now in desperate need of tourism dollars. Yes, I can see the GMA is trying to be cool like the Country Music Association who took their awards show to New York a few years back but is this year really the year to be cool? The GMA should take notes from the CMA who kept CMA Fanfest in Nashville this year and they donated proceeds to Flood Relief. What the Gospel Music Association is really saying through this move to Atlanta is “We Are Not Nashville”
Seeing the GMA make this decision, makes me feel really embarrassed that I am a GMA member. I think back on all of the benefit shows that Christian artists rushed to put together to help the flood victims and now the industry totally misses the simplest way to help. I don’t plan on being in Atlanta for the Dove Awards Show this year even though Atlanta is my hometown and it would be a very easy trip to make. Instead, I will be donating the money I would pay for my 2011 GMA membership to the MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief Fund.
I don’t normally like to write negative posts but the news of the GMA moving the awards show to Atlanta really struck an emotional chord in my soul. I witness many businesses and friends struggling to rebuild from the flood disaster. There are still thousands of Nashvillians who are jobless due to the flood. This decision to move the awards show will have a negative impact on jobs and local businesses in Nashville and surrounding cities.
I often wonder why people in the music industry like to bash successful recording artists? Could it be they are jealous of their success? It often seems as if people in the music industry feel like they have been assigned the position of judge for talent after the talent has already succeeded. The funny thing is, consumers and their wallets actually the judge who gets the top positions on the sales charts. When an artist has the one of the top selling records in the country, the majority of the public is saying “we like this artist, they are worthy of our dollars and they should be put at the top of the list” Taylor Swift has been a perfect example of this over the last couple of years. She is currently one of the top selling recording artists and has the #3 grossing tour for the year. (Probably could be the #1 but she chooses not to gouge her fans with the exorbitant ticket prices that other artists are serving up) A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear someone in the industry bashing her. Why is this? New artist Beckah Shae, recently tweeted the following “What if.. the music industry, Instead of being comparative, competitive & critical, Began to celebrate & cheer for each other?” I love that! I was personally convicted and have decided to take on that challenge. There will of course be exceptions in the case of artists who give music a bad name through stupid antics on and off stage and I will have a difficult time cheering them on. But for the rest, I would like to say thanks for your contributions! You keep this music thing going!
The Billboard Bulletin reported this week that the week ending May 30 clocks in as the lowest week for number of albums sold since Soundscan began tracking sales in 1994. At first I was in shock but then I remembered the music business has been headed in that direction for quite a while. I tweeted about the information and received many responses asking my thoughts on what was causing the decline. Honestly, I was at a lost for words for a minute. In the past, the last week of May would have been a great week as retailers ran huge sales with “graduation” themes. My first thoughts were to blame it on the BP Oil spill, Obama, global warming, downloading or lack of hits. Then I remembered the many things over the last 15 years that appeared as warning signs. Many of the independent retailers screamed out the warning signs but the music industry chose to ignore them. First the home video industry took a bite out of the entertainment dollar, then it was video games and while both of those were going on, the music price wars were in full force. The way our world consumes entertainment does, always has and always will continue to change. We can’t stop it. However, the music industry does appear to be stepping back in time as it has once again become a singles business. Consumers are now enjoying the ability to “cherry pick”. I must admit, I do my share of “cherry picking”. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we didn’t have the ability to “cherry pick?” The movie industry amazes me at how they continue to grow. Not only are they able to continue to increase ticket sales but many customers also buy the DVD when it is released. They don’t give consumers the ability to pay for and receive only a portion of a film. A movie is considered a full body of work. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if the music industry forced iTunes and all digital retailers to move to the “album only” format? Yes, I know the fears of driving consumers to steal music but with the way sales are plummeting, it doesn’t appear they are buying music anyway? Instead, all we hear is that music is moving towards the “free” models. Is that really the direction the music industry has to go? The only people that hold the power to “Turn the Beat Around” are the content owners. Isn’t it time that the music content owners band together and stop the madness? The world will be a boring place without a song!
How would you “Turn the Beat Around?”
As an artist manger, I am realizing how important a great photo shoot is to the overall marketing plan for a music artist. While I have been involved in music marketing for years, my job in the past normally began after the product managers had the music packaged and ready to go. Now I find myself involved with every step in the marketing process and that being especially true with independent artists. Thankfully, my wife and business partner, Diana Stancil, has expertise in styling and photo shoots. Diana has been involved with many Jaci Velasquez photo shoots ranging from People Magazine shoots to movie shoots. I always wondered why some photo shoots were more expensive than others and why it is necessary to have so many people involved. This became very clear at a recent photo shoot for our artist Holly Starr.
Kristin Barlowe was the photographer chosen for Holly’s shoot. Kristin is revered as one of Nashville’s top photographers. She does an incredible job not only with photography but with the overall imaging. Kristin is especially great with females so she was a natural choice for Holly. Some of her past work includes photo shoots for Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Wynonna, Jaci Velasquez, Kellie Pickler, and Amy Grant.
The first thing I noticed was how important the lighting and digital image team are to a shoot. The “Hood Brothers” (Derrick Hood & Joel Hood – no relation) were Kristin’s team for the shoot and what an amazing team they are! Similar to a professional golf caddie, these guys were one step ahead of Kristin on every move. Not only did they take care of setting up the lighting and capturing the digital data, but they also suggested settings for Kristin’s camera keeping her abreast of how the pictures were looking on the computer screen. Extremely talented guys!
Libby Callaway was the stylist for the shoot and she did a fantastic job. Many of clothes and jewelry pieces will become part of Holly’s stage wardrobe so it was important that Libby capture and enhance Holly’s vision. Styling is the foundation and probably the most important part of every shot.
Megan Thompson- Fitchuck was the make-up/hair artist for the shoot. I was blown away by how quickly Megan’s artistry transformed Holly’s look for each individual setting. It was interesting watching how quickly Megan would change Holly’s hair style. She gave incredible attention to detail with Holly’s make-up and hair throughout the shoot. A great hair/make-up artist can prevent the necessity for a lot of costly touch-up work to the final photos.
My main take away from Holly’s photo shoot was how important every person on the team is to the final product. I now have a much better understanding of those budgets that I always thought were a bit crazy. A great photo shoot takes more than one person with a camera. It takes a team!
What photo shoot tips do you have to share?
BiIllboard Magazine reported this morning that Chris Martin informed the press that Coldplay has performed their last show and recorded their last record together as a band. Extremely sad news for fans all over the world including The Music Gardener. Apparently their has been a major personal issue for some time between band members over the ownership of the word Coldplay. The controversy began when Chris Martin was playing a game of Scrabble with Joe Satriani over fifteen years ago . Joe Satriani used the word to win the game. Chris Martin refused to allow Joe to use the word claiming it really wasn’t a word and forced Satriani to pull out the Scrabble dictionary. Of course it wasn’t in the dictionary giving the win to Chris Martin. Chris actually liked the word so much that he decided to name his band Coldplay. Joe now claims ownership of the word and has filed a trademark infringement against the band. Other Coldplay members are so infuriated at Chris Martin for stealing the name and claiming he invented the word that they have decided to disband indefinitely.