Let me just bypass the whole “record industry is failing” and “illegal downloading is on the rise” introduction. We all know that professional musicians need to get paid, but this means finding new means of doing so other than record sales and royalties. Over the past 5 to 10 years it has become increasingly apparent that music can be used as a marketing tool—one that can help sell products by adding a coolness factor or a down-to-earth credibility to advertisements that says “hey, we know what you like.” In the past, allowing your music to be used in advertisements or by big corporations for financial gain was known as “selling out.” Now it seems like this might just be survival. Continue reading ‘Sell-Out: Is Music Licensing The Saving Grace For Artist Income?’
Pony Boy, the brainchild of Marchelle Bradanini, is a self-described “junkyard country” group that sounds like a dusty old Ford rumbling down a deserted road. Having already put in time as a member of the eclectic Bedtime for Toys, Bradanini channeled her rediscovered love of classic country, blues, and Americana into her latest project. We caught up with her to chat about her poetic past, her distaste for manicured pop, and what really separates her from R. Kelly.
OS: You’ve been involved in some eclectic musical projects in the past such as Bedtime for Toys or you DJing project Pony vs. Tiger. What got you interested in the aesthetic of your current band?
MB: I started out just as a girl with a guitar influenced by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Then, I ended up starting a band with some friends and that was about playing music that a group of people came up with collectively at a different point in my life. When that band broke up, I was trying to figure out what I was doing next. Oftentimes you get asked to DJ after playing a show, and I had a pretty decent vinyl collection. While I was working out exactly what the solo project would be, I started getting asked to DJ all over the place. The nice thing was that those gigs were for people who wanted rock ‘n’ roll or classic country, and it was a great opportunity to go back and rediscover all of these old, great artists that I love: John Prine, The Allman Brothers, and even Ram Jam [laughs]. There’s the electronic DJ scene, but then there are also people who want to hear actual songs that were initially released on vinyl. Getting into that scene was really great because I got to work on playlists all day. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Pony Boy Talks Poetry, Pop, and Production’
Since you’re reading this post in a publication that is distributed through a music discovery Web site, there’s a good chance that you’re pretty familiar with the ins and out of the Internet. You’re on Facebook, maybe you’ve tweeted and there’s a good chance you’ve checked in on Foursquare. So, that’s it for social media, right?
Wrong. You can’t really think it’s OK to keep active with just the big players, the major social media platforms that everyone online is already familiar with. These days, you can’t just be on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace (even though your band hasn’t been logged into for years). The reason is that the game is changing every day. It seems every week there is some new social media or Web site that you need to get involved with. Since it can be daunting to peruse through all the different sites and understand both what they offer and what they can do for your band, we’re going to highlight some of the more useful blogging tools that musicians like you need now.
Tumblr has been around for a while now—founded on 2007, it’s a twentysomething in Internet years. But it really just began to come into its own in 2011, and now is as good a time as any to get into it. Why? There’s a few reasons. Tumblr’s simplified platform is easy enough for anyone to use and the various themes users allow anybody to make a clean, attractive blog. The ask and reply system allows for straightforward correspondence between users. But the most impressive aspect of the Tumblr experience? It’s personal. Facebook allows for mass communication, Twitter allows for mass broadcasts but Tumblr is far more intimate. The artists that do it right, like indie band Toro Y Moi or the Beastie Boys, combine little glimpses into who they are, from their interests to their lives. For more ideas and inspiration, check out the tumblrs for Tom Waits, Childish Gambino and OurStage’s own Bethesda.
Yes, you’ve heard of Google and chances are you’ve heard of (but maybe not used) Google+. Fair enough, you’re not alone if you’ve tried and not kept up with the search giant’s attempt to break into the social media game. However, it may just be the time to give it another look. A number of major name artists are beginning to make use of the burgeoning social media platform. Big names like Britney Spears, T-Pain, Mark Hoppus and Trent Reznor are all users. Google+ has already had it’s fair share of breakout stars, like OurStager Daria Musk. Daria has mastered the medium and became a sensation on Google+ overnight, with over 200,000 people tuning into her last livestreamed show. Check out footage from the Daria’s first Google Hangout concert below.
Finally, you would be forgiven if you’ve come across Pinterest and not thought anything about it with regards to your musical career. Pinterest is like an online cork board; users share images on their pinboards and can browse the pinboards of others for inspiration. At least at this early stage, Pinterest is like Tumblr but with a more human element, or Facebook without all the excess noise. While the number of musicians on Pinterest as of right now is limited—the Backstreet Boys appear to have the the biggest presence—the service is still very young and growing fast. In fact, the invitation-only site has seen explosive growth in the past six months, growing from 2 million to 11 million weekly visitors between September to December of 2011. So while there’s no obvious strategy for musicians on Pinterest—self-promotion is frowned upon and the service is image based for now—it would be good to get in on the ground floor of the wildly popular service.
You didn’t think RR&R would torture you with anything as tedious as another year-end Best-of list, did you? Granted, we do have a piece in the works that will inform you of some excellent albums you might have missed along the way, but that’s as close as we’re willing to get. Instead, this time around we’ll simply take stock of both the magic moments and the missteps that the last twelve months have brought us—works that delivered delight and dismay in equal measure.
Old Punks Never Die
Wire – Red Barked Tree
As the original post-punk outfit, Wire has always lived or died by how well they balanced their arty side with their edgy side. Their discography isn’t without its share of miscalculations in that area, but thirty-four years down the line from their debut album, this one is right on the money.
Gang of Four – Content
The Gang were right on the heels of Wire in first-gen U.K. post-punk, and were just as groundbreaking, but their twenty-first century revitalization has been marred by some dodgy moves. First they re-recorded a batch of their classics on 2005′s Return the Gift, and then they made matters worse with this irksome outing, which is considerably more annoying than the output of the worst third-hand Go4 copyists.
Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
True survivors, old-school SoCal punks Social Distortion have been through every rock & roll tribulation—death, drugs, you name it (How did VH1′s Behind the Music miss these guys?)—but not only are they still going strong, they added some extra bluesy swing and Stonesy swagger to their latest. Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants & Rumors: 2011 in the Rearview Mirror’
The holiday season is supposed to appeal to all of our finer instincts as sentient earthlings —at least that’s the idea that’s been inculcated in us practically since birth. So why is its annual arrival commonly greeted with the kind of dull-eyed existential dread otherwise reserved for tax audits, traffic court and other such frivolities? Maybe it’s because of the stress that comes along with finding just the right gifts for all the loved ones on our lists. After all, some folks are a snap—another Xbox game, Scotch bottle or sweater, and they’re set—but everyone’s holiday shopping list always contains at least one or two of the type we’ll term “The Difficult Ones.” Their tastes are micro-specific, and they usually seem to want nothing, already have everything or both. With that in mind, in the interest of sucking some of the stress out of the season, here are a few humble holiday gift suggestions for “The Difficult Ones” in your own life, conveniently organized by personality type.
The Classic Rockers
Jimi Hendrix – Winterland
Do you have a dude in your life—and in this context, “dude” couldn’t be a more appropriate designation—whose idea of extreme sports is playing air guitar to Bachman-Turner Overdrive while pedaling his exercise bike? Someone whose TV remote has somehow been programmed to never depart from the VH1 Classic channel? He may already have every classic-rock reissue, remaster and repackaging you could conceive of, but he hasn’t gotten around to this one yet—five live discs featuring Jimi Hendrix in his prime at the legendary Winterland Ballroom. Iit’ll send any card-carrying Classic Rocker into a state of six-string ecstasy.
Things could have been much easier for Shelton Hank Williams, better known as Hank Williams III, if only he was willing to play ball and give Nashville what it wanted from him. Just imagine the extent to which Hank III—who is the spitting image of his iconic grandfather —could have cleaned up in the country market if he had offered up some polite, modern variation on grandpa’s pioneering honky-tonk sound, or even a contemporary recasting of his father’s ‘70s outlaw stylings, as Shooter Jennings has done with Waylon’s legacy. But it was probably that very same maverick spirit Hank III inherited that kept him from pursuing the easy path to Cadillacs and caviar in Music City.
You see, while Hank III does indeed have a deep love of—and aptitude for—country music, and a healthy respect for his family tradition, he’s just as heavily inspired by metal and punk, and he’s never stopped trying to honor all of his inspirations, sometimes simultaneously. That’s what has now led him to release no less than four different album projects simultaneously, each one representing a different side of his fearlessly fragmented musical personality.
According to the thirty-eight-year-old singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, rock & roll grabbed him at an early age. “I got my first drum kit when I was seven or eightyears old,” he remembers, “and I would get excited when I would hear Heart or Ted Nugent or ZZ Top or Elvis, and run around the room. I always felt connected to that kind of music because of being a drummer and feeling the beat.” As he got older, he went on to develop a passion for hardcore punk and heavy metal, and Hank eventually wound up playing bass with Superjoint Ritual, Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo’s punk-metal side project. “When you’re on stage with Anselmo, there’s wild stuff happening,” he says. “I was working with one of my heroes, man. That’s always an honor and a trip. But every time I would take the stage with Superjoint my job was to bang my neck as hard as I could every show and take it to the next level, and that’s what I tried to do for them.”
Once you’re a hugely successful musician, with lots of people telling you how awesome you are, making the leap into acting (or painting, or politics, or baseball, or aviation, or molecular biology) must seem like a piece of cake. There are so many object lessons to teach us how untrue that is (Britney Spears’ Crossroads, anyone?). But there are a few double-threats out there who have successfully made the leap.
10. Queen Latifah
It’s pretty aggravating to see a talented actor take an opportunity to do quality work, wipe their ass with that opportunity and flush it down the toilet. Queen Latifah has done this a couple of times. She could have had a solid career as a supporting actress after The Bone Collector and Bringing Out The Dead, but then she kicked America in the crotch by being part of The Country Bears, among other debacles. She was then lucky enough to be cast in Chicago, and it was inarguably a star-making performance. Finding herself in that enviable position, she accepted roles in a bunch of utter garbage, including Taxi and The Perfect Holiday. Sigh. But dammit, she’s always fun to watch on screen, whether it’s comedy or drama, and I suspect she’ll continue to appear in quality movies from time to time. Just don’t expect consistency.