The crew from the ‘Farm descended upon Reeperbahn Festival and Conference in Hamburg from three directions. From Cambridge, Violet Bones in their trusted road machine, from Winchester, iremembertapes. in their home away from home tour van and from London, the Fabulous Leppanen Brothers who completed the assault from air. We were armed with credit cards, business cards, guitars and love guns.
Surprisingly few Brits on the trip. They warned me not to mention the war. I think I got away with it.
Judith from AIM was on our flight. Always nice to see the indie label community represented if not en masse, then in lieu.
We Open The Door Into The Building, The Artist Does The Rest
iremembertapes. and Violet Bones were performing. And boy did they. They blew the fucking roof off. It was supremely gratifying to see months of work on toilet tours in front of five men and a dog pay off. If ever there was a living advert for putting in the hours and paying your dues, it was at Sommarsalon on Friday night. Nobody could, indeed nobody did doubt it.
When bands deliver, the guys in suits can do their biz. We did. It’s onwards and upwards for the bands with new team members on board. Well done Benjamin, Denise, Erdem, Tom, Ben, Thorsten, Arne, and a host of others.
Talking About Music v Making Music
Music conferences are long plastic hallways (see quote on the top of this page) where everything that is right and wrong about the business of music is concentrated in one very small place. This time the place was the lobby of the Onyx Hotel in Hamburg where a lot of the meeting and greeting took place. It’s a wonderful hotel. The Dancing Towers, they call it locally.
Groups of people who get together on panels to talk endlessly about YouTube monetisation, fan engagement, direct to fan marketing and blah blah blah…. “publishers” who are, in real life, school teachers on a field trip wasting everyone’s time… “managers” who’ve been paid by god awful artists to “represent” them to labels…. “artists” who skipped class on the day talent, drive and commitment were given out…. “labels” larging it abroad with cash provided by government export initiatives that would have been better spent on providing decent music lessons in schools…. it’s all business in the widest sense of the word, I agree, but it’s not the business we’re in.
On the other hand there are also interesting, cool, motivated people who are and have been in the music business because they are, in their love for the artform, lifers in music. I like meeting them. I’m very interested in what they think. I’m eager to put what we do up against what they do. It’s great to meet likeminded people who share your passion for music. You bond quickly with guys and gals like that.
We made lots of new connections of that calibre. Which was nice. I’m telling you this for nothing. There is an army of well meaning people like us out there. People who deeply, passionately and sincerely love the idea of helping your band out of obscurity into a career. We all have our opinions. Experiences. Judgement. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
Having been there and done it, more importantly, having been there and NOT done it, and having got up to do it again differently, people like that have an edge over those who haven’t been there, aren’t doing it and probably never will.
The Coalition Of The Unwilling and Unprepared
So, a band made up of music school graduates who think they know it all because they paid attention in music biz 101 class sends an email to a music company not entirely unlike the ‘Farm, asking for “more better bigger gigs, more exposure, some management with contacts… blah blah blah…”
Look, if you can’t pack a small gig, you have no business looking for bigger ones. If you have 3000 “fans” on Facebook of whom 3 are engaged with what you do… it’s because you can’t buy fans, no matter what the social media pr guy promised you. They were exposed to your music on Facebook and they didn’t opt in. Why on earth do you think that spending more effort/time/money on gaining more exposure will change things?
Forgive me for suggesting that you should make changes, improve, pay your dues, rethink, regroup etc. Do it slowly over time. With patience. Develop the music. The art.
If you’re unwilling to do so you will turn up at the races completely unprepared. The Coalition Of The Unwilling and Unprepared… playing at a venue near you tonight.
The most important thing is to be different.
Then you must to put yourself on the line completely. All in.
On top of that you have to persevere. For as long as it takes.
Out of the above emerges quality, which, in turn, leads to a career.
It Was The Red Light District After All…
Whenever I travel out of town or abroad I look for a sneaky game of squash, the greatest sport known to man, at a local club. Walking down Reeperbahn I couldn’t believe my luck that there was a sports club right next to hotel… perhaps with some squash courts as well.
On closer examination of the signage the activities on offer were of a different kind of sweat inducing nature. Doggy style squash…. I’ll try anything once. No, make that twice, because I might not like the first time….