Could Jack Bauer Save The Music Industry?

Jack Bauer

Jack Bauer

As The Music Gardener watched the season premier of “24” last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jack Bauer could save the music industry? If the music industry marketed music the way “24” is marketed, would we create more die hard fans? Every season, Fox launches the season with a special 2 hour episode of “24” and then they keep the weekly watchers salivating for more by giving us just enough to keep us coming back on a regular basis. I find myself thinking about the next episode throughout the week and for months.  Maybe the music industry releases too much music up front? Of course there is also the Jack Bauer factor where he successfully foils the evil plans of the criminals who attempt to blow up the world. Maybe we could enlist Jack Bauer to foil the plans of those stealing music?

What do you think the music industry could learn from Jack Bauer?

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The “4 Week New Release Plan”

The Music Gardener was recently involved in what is now being referred to as the “4 week New Release Plan.” The plan was birthed out of a November strategy meeting with Brandon Bee, an artist we manage, and Save The City Records. We were looking for a way to bring some attention to Brandon during the holiday season and build his overall awareness. Knowing the heaviest traffic of the year on iTunes occurs the two weeks during and after Christmas week, we set that time as our target. All who receive iPods or iTunes gift cards for Christmas generally fuel up with music during those two weeks. Brandon had released a full album earlier in 2009 so we needed something new in order to have a shot at positioning in the iTunes stores. Our brainstorming resulted in the idea of recording a 6 song acoustic ep targeting a December 22 street date.

Brandon immediately began writing and recording. Even with the tight deadlines, we were able to get the ep recorded, mixed, mastered and up on iTunes via Tunecore by Dec 22. Fortunately, iTunes was willing to give us positioning in the New & Noteworthy section and at the only time of the year when the majority of the iTunes positioning remains in place for two weeks. Utilizing Twitter, Facebook and Brandon’s email list we began the web 2.0 marketing frenzy. Amazingly, we were able to drive Brandon’s ep as high as #17 on the Christian albums chart during Christmas week which is incredible for a new artist with absolutely no radio play. Traffic on Brandon’s website reached an all-time high which confirmed we had accomplished our goal. Coming from the major label system, I know first hand that this would have been absolutely impossible for a major label to pull off in 4 weeks. As a matter of fact, most major labels shut down for the most of December. It was so refreshing to be working with an artist who acted quickly, a label who turned all elements with speed and accuracy and no cost marketing vehicals that can be unleashed in seconds.

How would you release a record in 4 weeks? We know it’s possible!

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Music Publicist Jackie Marushka Guest Blogs

As we continue in the series of guest bloggers, I invited one of the top publicists in the music business, Jackie Marushka to post on The Music Gardener blog. Jackie currently serves as Vice President of Public Relations and Communications for Provident Music Group where she works with artists including Casting Crowns, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Third Day, Pillar, Red, Brandon Heath and others. Throughout her career, Jackie has landed prominent media coverage for her artists on outlets including: The Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Today Show, NBC’s The Tonight Show, ABC’s Nightline, NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, 60 Minutes, CNN’s Larry King Live, CNN”s Showbiz Today, Rolling Stone Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, The G. Gordon Liddy Show, Newsweek Magazine, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Anderson Cooper 360, FOX & Friends, FOX News Live, Your World with Neil Cavuto, Hannity & Colmes, Business Week, The Chicago Tribune, The Tennessean, and The Dallas Morning News.

Jackie Marushka Luttrell

Jackie Marushka

Pulling into my office parking lot this morning, I hit the “park” button on my Prius and finish listening to the track I’ll likely have playing in my head.  All. Day. Long.
(It’s a great tune so I simply won’t be able to help myself.)

Anyway, as the guitars begin to fade, I discover there’s something new here.  Something I’d missed in prior passes.  I hear a whisper of a prayer in the background as the song plays out.  With this whisper, a layer has been pulled back and in a moment, this artist has gone from lofty and untouchable to human and vulnerable; like me.  He’s made me feel something new – offered a glimpse through a new filter, and I’m inspired.

The artist is Matt Maher and the track is on one of the early pre-releases to his Alive Again CD.

This is a typical start to one of my days.  My name is Jackie Marushka and my role is that of VP of Public Relations and Communications for Provident Music Group.  Sound lofty?  It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a storyteller.  I’m passionate about getting to the heart of what an artist is all about, and helping them share their stories with the world.

How do I do this?  Well, I immerse myself in the artists’ music and then get to sit with the them and listen to what THEY want to communicate to the masses.  I take these incredibly insightful nuggets and package them in ways easily digestible to our media partners.  These media partners include (but aren’t limited to) TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and online platforms like magazine websites and blogs.

I spend a lot of time at my laptop writing bios, press releases and compiling key information.  I also spend A LOT of time on the phone.  I usually start a day with calls at 7 AM and go until 7 PM, in order to accommodate East and West coasts.

I also get to do fun things like plan street-week media events and award-show media, which can include red carpet arrival interviews and navigating Grammy winners through a maze of media, backstage.

So, in a nutshell, I get to listen to incredible music and promote some of the most inspiring artists I’ve ever met.   If you’re interested in hearing more, please follow us at twitter.com/providentpress and be sure to check out our roster at www.providentpress.com.   You’re also welcome to follow me at twitter.com/JackieMarushka, I’ll launch a blog in 2010 so please stay posted to hear the latest and greatest!

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U2 and The Music Gardener Make History Together!

U2 Live Streaming Concert

U2 Live Streaming Concert

The Music Gardener is writing this blog post while participating in the huge historical moment of watching the U2 concert streamed live on Youtube. WOW! The way we watch and listen to things has been catapulted into the future. I just read a Tweet from my friend Spence Smith comparing this moment to a time when the world gathered around black & white TVs to watch men walk on the moon. It really is exhilarating to know we are in such a time of transition with technology. While streaming a live concert on the internet has been done before, it hasn’t been done with this magnitude of viewership. I haven’t seen the actual results but I’m sure viewership was in the millions rivaling any live concert on traditional TV.  I’m happy to see such a huge moment in history being driven by a band that contributes so much to humanitarian efforts around the world. Thank you U2 for playing such a big role in bringing change to our world through sharing the message of love and through helping usher in new technology!

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The National Anthem

The Music Gardener at Seattle Seahawks game

The Music Gardener at Seattle Seahawks game

My wife and I recently traveled with our daughter to Seattle as she was invited to sing the national anthem for the Seattle Seahawks game. Jaci has been blessed throughout her career and asked to do the same for the Tennessee Titans, the Florida Marlins, the MLS All Star Soccer Game, the Texans, the San Antonio Spurs, the Minnesota Timberwolves and several others. It is amazing how much emphasis the sport franchises put on who they choose to sing the 3 minute song at every game. The Seahawks organization was extremely hospitable to our family. Four adults and two babies is quite the undertaking in regards to travel, hotel etc. They outfitted us with a suite to watch the game, official jerseys, food and travel. It was especially exciting for our grandsons who got to hang out on an NFL field before the age of 2! So that brings forth the question “Why the big hoopla about who sings the 3 minute song?” Well first of all, The Star Spangled Banner is America’s National Anthem which makes the most popular song in the United States of America. The song’s popularity makes it tough  to flawlessly sing it in front of 50k-100k Americans who should know every word. We have all seen instances where singers slaughter the National Anthem with the biggest memory given us by Roseanne Barr. And then there was Carl Lewis who recently started in a key much higher than he should have. (I really did feel for him!) I must say that Jaci Velasquez does the best and most consistent job that I have seen from anyone! Hopefully it will lead to more family trips to great sporting events. We have our fingers crossed for a Superbowl!

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Retreat at Cannon Beach

Artist Garden Entertainment was recently invited to take part in a Rain On Me Productions artist/employee retreat. Not really knowing what to expect, we accepted the invitation as the retreat was taking place at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast and we have heard such great things about that part of the country. We had also heard great things about the owners of Rain on Me Productions from one of the artist we manage. We were picked up at the airport by Derek and Karen Hoiem, the owners of Rain on Me productions. Our 90 minute ride from Portland to Cannon Beach gave us an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the Hoiems and their vision at Rain on Me  Productions. First of all, Derek and Karen have to be some of the nicest people we have ever had the opportunity to meet. We felt an immediate comfort level as if we have known them for years and they were incredible host. As we arrived at their beach home in Cannon Beach and met their artists, we knew we were in for a special weekend. The weekend gave us an opportunity to hear and see the hearts of their artists. Rain on Me is the home to Brandon Bee, Kevin Thornton (Former member of Color Me Bad), Benjimin and Jamie Bonife . Paul Wright also joined us for part of the time. All of the artist joined together to do a live show on Saturday evening in Seaside, Or and what a treat that was. I must say I am now a HUGE fan of Brandon Bee and Paul Wright. I had never seen these artists live, however, I will now be an ambassador for them. You must see the guys live if you have an opportunity!

I realized how special the weekend was when I realized I didn’t send out one Tweet on Sunday. Not because I didn’t have access to Twitter, but I found my mind so unplugged from my normal everyday. I was more relaxed than I have been in months enjoying spending time getting to know new friends.

Big Foot Sighting

Big Foot Sighting

And a one last bonus for the weekend was our Big Foot sighting on the way back to the Portland airport. See the picture below. We now have proof that Big Foot does exist!

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The Problem With The World Is Me

One of my favorite lyrics is a recent song from the band Downhere titled “The Problem” If everyone in the world listened to the lyrics of that song and decided to make a change, the world would be a much better place. As artist managers, the biggest turn off that we could hear an artist say is the word “Me”. Yes, artists should have confidence in their talent and believe in themselves but please check the word “Me” at the door. “Me” would be not anywhere without “We”. Unless you write, sing, play every instrument, record, produce, mix, master, create the packaging, market, manufacture, send out press releases and sell your music by your lone self, then you might consider substituting the word “We” for “Me”. Making and selling music is a team effort and everyone on the team is just as important to the process as the artist is. The artist is like the quarterback on a football team. Without the offensive line the quarterback would get creamed on every play.  Be sure to treat all of the people on your team with the same respect that you desire.

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Commitment

One thing that I have noticed as an artist manager is that some artists don’t follow through on commitments. Why? I haven’t figured that one out yet. Clearly, someone failed to teach them along the way that your integrity is on the line every time you make a commitment. Maybe they feel they are more special than other human beings? When I see an artist who doesn’t follow through on a commitment, I see an artist that lacks integrity. Integrity is one of the most important measurements of character that a person can possess. When an artist verbally commits to something in business, so many things get put into motion on good faith. The person or organization that the artist commits to then puts their reputation on the line as they begin committing to others on behalf of the artist. If the artist pulls back their commitment, they not only make themselves look bad, it affects the others involved. Being an artist is a job just like any other job. If you honor commitments, you stand a better chance of succeeding.

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Do you return calls and e-mails?

One thing that I have always had a hard time understanding in business is why some people don’t return e-mails or phone calls.  When someone doesn’t return my phone call or e-mail it screams “I don’t respect you!”  If you find yourself saying I’m too busy to return calls and e-mails maybe you should find help developing your organizational skills? This past week I was having a live conversation with a friend who runs a marketing company about how business was slow for him and finances are tight. The crazy thing is I had e-mailed him a week ago with potential business for him and he didn’t bother to return my e-mail. Now more than I ever I would encourage you to return calls and emails. You never know what kind of great new business might be headed your way if you give it a chance.

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Kanye West stars as The Jerk!

Today’s post is simple. Kanye West is a complete jerk! What makes him think he has the right to pull such an antic as he did at the VMAs last night? If people would stop buying his records and buying tickets to his concerts then he wouldn’t have the platform that he currently has. I can honestly say that I have never bought one of his records as I hear and see absolutely no talent! It’s sad that the classy Taylor Swift and Beyonce had to be victims of his latest stupidity.

Join me and vote “No” for Kanye West. We can vote him out of the entertainment industry just as we can vote a politician out of office. We have a voice. Let’s Use it!

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