Whatever you do, don't think about A...
Excerpt from a music business seminar. A panel of young A&R scouts for majors and significant indies. I sit in the back of the ballroom with J.
Moderator: So, tell me, what genres are you guys into these days?
Cool Guy # 1 (with a posh British accent): I'm really into electronic music these days.
(Panel nods in total agreement with Cool Guy #1)
Cool Guy # 2: I was just at (cool music festival) and (cool band) played a set, and I thought to myself, "You know, it's nice to hear guitar-driven music that totally kicks ass, I think there's a void out there right now that needs to be filled by guitar-driven music".
(Panel nods in total agreement with Cool Guy #2)
Me (to J.): What the fuck are they talking about?
Cool Girl # 1: I think the great thing about music these days is that people are breaking down the boundaries between genres, like, I'll totally check out a band that has an electro-thing going on but suddenly breaks out into screamo. You can't really genre-ify that, and that's what's beautiful about it.
(Panel nods in total agreement with Cool Girl #1).
(Me, to J.): I can't do this man. I have to leave.
We were coming out of some office building one morning, with her papers almost in order, when Valeria, as she waddled by my side, began to shake her poodle head vigorously without saying a word. I let her go on for a while and then asked if she thought she had something inside. She answered (I translate from her French which was, I imagine, a translation in its turn of some Slavic platitude): “There is another man in my life.”
The Future of the Music Business, the Spotify Model + its Detractors, and Why YOU Should Care!
By G---- R-----
(Excerpt # 6)
Tech companies are now looking into ways they can tap into streaming revenue for the 4 billion (not yet bundled) pre-paid cell phones around the world; these phones are by and large not traceable to credit cards or data-mineable forms of payment, as they tend to be purchased with physical monies, and therefore companies cannot build up a potential list....
Music in the 21st century is about access, not ownership - as far as growth is concerned, it's about reaching the clientele that will want to use the technology that doesn't yet exist. The markets poised to be the first targets...
I feel an anxiety attack coming on the train. Not again... Why do they call them attacks? They feel more like waves – you know they're coming, you know they're surmountable, which doesn't actually help you get rid of them. You know it's just Anxiety! Suppress! Not enough space around me. Nausea. The mind races too quickly. That time in Oregon when Mom and Dad parked the Suburban on a windy beach and we all jumped in the ocean with our rain jackets still on. There is a picture somewhere. Milou was with us. No, he wasn't. The smell of the red stairway during high school. A. Why? She'll call. She won't call. I can't write music. I'll never be able to. That woman's perfume. What if I need to vomit? I have a plastic bag. I've never vomited because of anxiety. This might be the first time. I doubt this, but 100% think it's going to happen. Atlantic/Barclays. You can get out, wait a while. No. Late for work. Mahler. Turn it off. Turn it back on, the conversation right next to you depresses you in a cosmic way you can't put into words. I love these people. Can't stand them. Remove the 'self' from your situation and you'll be able to process it rationally. Be rational. This nausea is self-inflicted you know. It's not real. You have control. Deep breaths. That woman's perfume. I'm incapable of being intimate with someone if they're wearing perfume. Well, not incapable. Pulchrum est paucorum hominum. Do other people have that? You haven't written a single bar of music that makes any sense. Breathe through the mouth. The perfume won't be as bad. I want to re-read Suskind's "Perfume", it was 10 years ago. Nabokov argues against the view that literature should be read as representing real life. Take pity on people who are unwanted. There must be something wrong with them though. Some people really are unwanted.
Two pieces of music I've written in 2014. The first:
T.L.I.N.A.F.O.S.* (That Loneliness Is Not A Function Of Solitude)
T.W.* (Total Worry)
*Things I learned while reading the first half of “Infinite Jest”
For Orchestra. (This was never performed; the youth orchestra for which it was written was incapable of putting it together, which was entirely my fault).
If Your Wisdom Was My Pride
Written for and dedicated to Jun Umegaki and the Keio Light Music Society in Tokyo. For big band. The occasion being Japan's annual country-wide big band competition. They ended up placing third out of 50+ ensembles.
~ 14 minutes in total. 95% of which was written between the hours of 5:30am and 8:45am from January to August. This is not sustainable, not ideal, not enough, not good enough.
I find myself at a reading session of Mozart's Requiem. After this is over, the conductor asks if I would be interested in singing Sibelius's “Tempest” for the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House. Rehearsals, dress rehearsal, 4 performances. Very little music.
Dress rehearsal. We cram into the back of the pit. I am behind the harmonium and the harp, next to the bass clarinetist. Movements 4-8 TACET for him. The harpist leans over with her pencil and writes “coffee” on his part, then hands him a magazine from her collection. The micro-moments of iPhone use during bars of rest are as impressive to me as the general musicianship of this ensemble. The conductor calls out “BEGINNING” and off we go. We don't see the action on stage (nor will we ever) but he is clearly synced up. The overture is my favourite part – Dom had shown it to me during his obsessive phase of memorizing Adès's “Tempest”. Did he consider Sibelius's setting of the titular storm? I would think so. I can see the harpist's sheet music very clearly. 3 bars until her entrance... and it occurs to me that I might get more out of the experience if I try to focus on other things. It's no use, I think of A.
The whole thing is hyper-civilized – how can there be so much order and control in a roomful of a hundred adult humans? Do we bypass our default human condition when we enter these terms of engagement, of musical devotion for a set amount of time? And what happens when it's done? Are we then again capable of lying, stealing, cheating?
The Future... Why YOU Should Care!
(Excerpt # 35)
... the companies spearheading advancements with regards to streaming services have much more to gain than the creators of the content upon which the entire business is built... large-scale profit margins for those who already have enough muscle to force consumers to use their services; Amazon has created a phone that grants the user instant access to millions of songs. Apple has recently bought...
T.: We need to send 150 copies of ----'s CD to ----.
Me: It's only sold 350 copies so far. We've already sent out 100. There's no way this makes any business sense. Or any sense at all.
T.: We know.
Brian shows up for 2 weeks to edit what is tentatively titled “April”. We hold a meeting. Pier-Louis is there. There is clearly progression in my music, Dom's music. Everything is fine.
Excerpt from a music business seminar. A panel of indie label reps with serious credentials.
Moderator: It would seem that you've all built up your businesses with a certain musical aesthetic, or a “sound” that your label is known for. Would you agree with that?
Indie #1: Ya, I would say so. I think everyone up here right now is genuinely passionate about the music that they release, otherwise we wouldn't do what we do, and obviously there are types of music that we're more drawn to than others. We're all just trying to find the music that speaks to us and allowing the artists to make that music in the way that's most natural to them – keep in mind that we're harbouring relationships that are somewhere between a friendship and a business alliance, and making sure everyone understands that and is happy with it. The industry has changed so much since I began working in the 90's, we're now dealing with a whole new set of rules. And since we're all engaging in these new rules with a bit of trepidation, you can be sure that we're trying to do it with the music that we feel most confident about.
Indie #2: In the first part of my career, I worked at a major, and I remember constantly having to be in meetings about artists that I didn't particularly care about. But that's what the majors are like. Slow moving ships, with certain people doing specific jobs, all in the service of a bunch of different artists and markets. Running an indie label means that you have the freedom to work only with the artists that mean something to you, and being involved in all of the aspects of the business. To continue with my “slow moving ship” analogy, indies are like speedboats by comparison. You have to be able to trust that the artists you're working with can handle a lot of the things majors traditionally take care of, but that you can offer them the freedom to make their own choices in exchange.
Moderator: So it sounds like part of what you gravitate towards is working with like-minded people, and the musical aesthetic happens to line up with that.
Indie #2: Ya, definitely.
Me (in my head): Makes sense.
Indie #3: Ya, and part of that is luck. I was lucky enough to start booking acts that were crossing genres in a way that nobody would have thought of doing 5 years ago.
Moderator: The country / rap crossover.
Me (in my head): No way.
Indie # 3: Right now it's really at the forefront of music, and we're lucky that we were interested in that before anyone else was. It turns out there's a large audience for this mix of genres, and not necessarily in the traditional markets.
I think about leaving, but don't, it is too good.
(Excerpt # 74)
...legal appeal, economic value... foster competition in the marketplace... with a super-licensing collective... 75 million streams, $1500...
Why did I hope we would be happy abroad? A change of environment is the traditional fallacy upon which doomed loves, and lungs, rely.
I am going to Tokyo. Keio Light Music Society have been playing my music for years; I will finally get to meet them. I'll be leading them through an evening length concert of my compositions.
...he thought once again of his dream; he saw once again, as he had felt them close behind him, Odette's pallid complexion, her too thin cheeks, her drawn features, her tired eyes, all the things which – in the course of those successive bursts of affection which had made of his enduring love for Odette a long oblivion of the first impression that he had formed of her – he had ceased to observe after the first few days of their intimacy, days to which, doubtless, while he slept, his memory had returned to seek the exact sensation of those things. And with that old, intermittent fatuity, which reappeared in him now that he was no longer unhappy, and lowered, at the same time, the average level of his morality, he cried out in his heart: 'To think that I've wasted years of my life, that I've longed to die, that I've experienced my greatest love, for a woman who didn't appeal to me, who wasn't even my type!'
To do: Mahler 2, Mahler 3, Mahler 7, Mahler 8, Das Lied von der Erde.
Relax. You have time.
À la recherche du temps perdu. I think if I saw this, I would hate the person who'd written it.
There's a lot of narcissism in self-hatred, so said D.F.W.
Ok Peraltitas, here we go...
-FR from 01/01/14 to 09/01/14