A few days ago I sent a demo of song by an unsigned artist to a few friends. Yes, I still have some. It was and is a great cover and on which he completely turns the original version of the song on its head. Wish you could hear it, but if I did, I’d be singing and speaking with a very high voice.

One of my mates shot back with a reply: “Are your music exec buddies TONE deaf? Now, THIS is the type of music I love to hear.”

If he does, so do many, but yet, music companies keep signing up more and more of the same- the new Kei$ha who is the old Gaga, the new Katie Perry etc etc.

In Hong Kong, there is a great singer-songwriter named Jeff Caylor. In my old blog- and which I had to ditch when a murder of “Glamberts” became a little too passionate about their boy, I showed Jeff’s video for a song he had written and which he had painstaking created and produced.

He, too, is unsigned and, with his wife, Leora, are holed away making music for their church and for their own careers and will have something out when the time is right.

If back with a music company, I’d sign up all these artists in a heartbeat and gladly work their marketing and promotions with them. I’d take some kinda “pride in ownership”.

It’s all made me wonder what exactly a “music executive “ does today and if they HAVE indeed lost the plot and are “in music” for all thew wrong reasons.

From joining a music company ‘cos of this PASSION for music, many music executives are “busy” today walking on eggshells and keeping from harm’s way.

The passion- that fire- has been doused- perhaps it was never there- and it’s all about survival- and which is fine as we all need to survive. But, as with anything, there must be a balance.

Sadly, yes, one must play the politics the higher one goes up the food chain and the corporate ladder, but if one is moving up there with “music executive” as one’s gig, well, then, when and were does music come into play?

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Making sure that “ship-out” numbers are good and that “third-quarter sales are good” and that “numbers” are reasonable is the job of accountants.

Okay, so you are not the guy who signs up artists and THIS type of thinking is exactly what is wrong with music companies- majors, indies and bendies and bindies: Leaving things up to others and yet being quick to criticize.

IF in music and IF having joined music BECAUSE of this passion for music, it doesn’t matter how “busy” you might be, how many days you might be traveling, but there comes a time when you have to put your balls on the wicket and sign up or HELP sign up ONE act and MENTOR and also be a FAN of this act.

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I still remember a number of acts signed at EMI and who were dropped ‘cos of internal politics- they were signed in the US so the UK team wouldn’t help- and vice versa. Or, they were signed by “the wrong guy.” Or, they were signed and no one knew what to do with them.

Adam Cohen’s band- Low Millions- come to mind- a great little Pop-Rock band that was dropped after one album and which tanked through no marketing support.

At least I brought them out to Singapore for a Marketing Conference- and got into shit for “supporting a band with no chance”.

How could the have any chance when no one was hearing their music? And hell, the frontman for the band was the son of the great Leonard Cohen.

It’s like Ben Taylor, the son of James and Carly, or Dhani Harrison, son of George. One would think these guys ‘cos of their genes pool would just glide into a music company.

Perhaps their parents taught the well and to “Beware Of Darkness” and strangers bearing gifts.

You just HAVE to watch this next video, especially if still recovering from having watched that ponderous version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on “American Idol” by the wannabe Rock God.  The solo by Prince is A-MAZING! And I loathe using exclamation marks.

Music companies today, even with their cutbacks, have way too many people. Nearly everyone is a”VP” of something and many simply look at where their flight schedules and what they can attend- like a music conference- because “everyone else” is there and to clock up more air miles and  be back in time to cheer on their favourite football teams “back home”. And this goes on for months and years with no need to be creativity and no need to become involved in music- or ANYTHING.

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This is why talented musicians like Jeff Caylor, Ben Semmens are out there looking at organizations like Pledge and the “kindness of strangers” to either kick-start or support their careers.

If every “music executive” thought like this, there would be no Dylan, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and moving fast-forward, Amos Lee, Norah Jones, Jeff Buckley etc etc. As Robert Plant once ad-libbed, “And it makes me wonder..”

It makes me wonder if a talent like James Taylor or Dylan or Alison Krause would even GET a recording deal today unless they went on a show like “American Idol” and had “Deputy Dawg” scream out, “You KILL, Dawg! YOU got IT!”

Doesn’t that just make your stomach churn: Randy Jackson “judging” James Taylor and telling him, “Dude, week after week, you’ve been up there- and DUUUUDE, what about mixing it up a bit and give us some UPTEMPPO songs, DUDE??? Enough of the FIRE and RAIN, DUUUUDE! ”

Meanwhile, in the background, Kim and Kris Kardashian is on television and my friend is asking me to come over and watch “Kim” in the recording studios trying to sing.

I need a smoke.            

                


  1. scott says:

    Mark Mann is the musician with the cap on who plays all of George’s original guitar parts on While My Gtr Gently Weeps. Steve Ferrone is rock solid on drums. I play with Mark every Christmas and on other occasions and we always do this song. He also does the same thing on Something by George. We did it acoustically a few times and his slide work is spot on.. He is such a great player who is seldom recognized. He’s doing soundtrack work and also plays great piano bass and some drums. We switch off on those instruments. Steve plays in local LA clubs and always locks time and groove in deeply. It’s amazing how small and tight the music community really is even in this vast place called Hollywood. I get to see it all here every week….it’s truly amazing on any given night. My brother %Robin was friends with James Taylor in North Carolina in 1966,67,68….so good a friend that James gave him the acetates to his 1st album and he brought them home for me to hear in 1966-67 . James is the best there is as a songwriter and guitarist/artist/singer. No one delivers a song better. We’ve been totally spoiled by this level of performance and creativity that unless we hear something that raises the bar higher, we are let down. We have seen and heard the best in the world and are so fortunate for being alive during those times. The future of music will have to be beyond incredible to even come close to reaching the levels that were set by the song-masters of the renaissance decades (60′s-70′s) and more.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Funny you should mention Prince.

    Long, long ago I was a stupid kid who broke rules on a continual basis, much to my mother’s displeasure. Getting into nightclubs with good bands was one of my cardinal sins. Thank God carding was not a widespread practice at that point.

    There was this small club attached to First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. Can’t remember the name, but this is where the up-and-coming bands played before they hopefully took the big stage.

    One night, screwing around with friends, half-listening to some RAWK GOD band that was shit… I was lucky enough not to leave with the rest of them. I stayed to watch some “funky new act” said the announcer.

    And here comes this short SHORT guy… kind of androgynous… even then weirdly dressed. I thought, oh hell, no. And then his band started and he started.

    The rest is history.

    Prince was part of my soul as a kid. Added onto layers of Bob Dylan – who my father adored – and Rogers and Hammerstein – who my mother adored. I loved listening to Frank Sinatra with one grandma and Nat King Cole with my other nana. Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones were given to me by boyfriends. The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt by my girlfriends.

    Now? Now I’m in love with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I love Arcade Fire and Mr. Casey James introduced me to the Black Keys. But do I still play the Stones? Yep. Do I still have Prince’s CDs? Yep. Good music never, ever, ever dies.

    Music is anything and everything when it’s beautiful. It can be jazz and folk or rock and country. Or a mix. It can be bluesy rock or rappy jazz. At the heart though is… heart. Spirit. Soul.

    Music can’t be killed by music executives. It’s from God. It will adapt, change, grow. And the artists who touch me…well, I’m called to support them.

  3. SasPepper says:

    I loved that Jeff Caylor video when you posted it on your old blog and I still love it. Such creative genius!
    The metaphor, the melody, the lyrics pretty much capture the human condition. He’s a poet.

  4. Fernando says:

    I guess my (kind of obvious) question is – why bother sending the demo at all?

    It’s a serious question.

    • We-Enhance says:

      Er, sharing with a handful of mates you trust something you’re passionate about? Surely that’s how artists gain a following?

      • Fernando says:

        Sorry, I misread the opening lines of the post. I meant to ask why bother sending it to music company execs.

        Sending to friends, yes, of course, makes perfect sense.

        Apologies for the brain explosion.

  5. Azuka says:

    Amen to that!

    Its always the next big ‘manifactured thing’ nowadays. I tell you Simon Cowell annoyed me the other day during his interview with Piers who I like. Simon has not got an original bone in his body. He blatently wants the next Gaga or the next Bieber etc that tells me he is only after instant cash. And then what? He shamelessly stole the AI format and just added ‘Xfactor’ to it. Where is the credibility in that. As for AI I have nothing further to say.

    I must add that this saga with Pia Toscano is a laugh. The thing is most people think she is dated and not worth the interest. (meaning too mariah /whitney) Oh but she is doing brilliantly. Today you do not have to sing. Ask Ke$ha. I admire Pia’s grace. The publicity should not only bring her a music contract it should open doors to other things I.e. TV, films, clothing, beauty etc. She better get a good lawyer and agent. Funny her grace reminds me so much of Adam when he came second. I think she learnt positive PR from him. I hope one day Adam will teach PR including the art of social media he a natural at it. Anyway I wish her good luck.

    I was thinking today how irrelevant reality pop shows are becoming.Every year its the same. Its flooded and not going no where unless you do not win or have something unique other than singing to offer. Voting is a waste of time. I think a new unique record label is overdue that focuses on real talent

    Now that Adele is making her mark I am praying that the industry will start taking note of original artist so that it will be easier for people like Adam who is really gifted. Adele will be in this month’s rolling stone.

    Regards

    Azuka

    • We-Enhance says:

      Thank gawd for artists like the amazing Adele. They keep it real.

      Just wait and see: It will soon be announced that Pia has signed with Interscope. A new single should be out very soon.

      As for Simon Cowell, without all the PR spinning Max Clifford has done for him, the man would be nothing.

      But, he has made it by doing sweet f-all and floating on hype, he is absolutely loaded and carries a big stick. Sad.

      If there is ONE person who will expose Cowell, it will be Susan Boyle.

      She knows ALOT about the whole “X Factor” and the “YouTube Sensation” hype and can just give up her career if it gets too tough and tell the media everything that happened behind-the-scenes.

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