The CEO of Rock Blog

The Quest of a Student/Entrepreneur to Add Value in Music and Business

In case you were busy, here’s what you missed this week.

First off, the CMA’s. Country’s big night.

19 year-old Taylor Swift went home with four awards: music video of the year, female artist, album of the year, and the much coveted entertainer of the year.

Brad Paisley hosted and won male vocalist of the year.

Vocal group of the year and single of the year were grabbed by Lady Antebellum. The song by the way was “I Run to You”

I was surprised to find that Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish won new artist of the year.

Cool Music Management Article:

There was an article released on the fistfulayen blog that really taught me a lot about how to manage a new band at the very beginning. The author breaks the process down into Alert, Connect, Sell; he also argues that the biggest reason new acts do not sell as much is because they have not done enough Alerting and Connecting first. Check out the article.

By the way, I’m digging the koala bear with an uzi machine gun!

Australians get mad.

Apparently it IS possible to aggravate our friends down-under. Well, at least for Britney Spears it is. According to many online sources, Britney’s Circus Tour was not going well down there. Large numbers of people left her show, angry because of her lip-synching.

I thought it was common knowledge that Britney lip-synched. I mean, almost no one can dance with that intensity and sing at the same time (though I credit Lady Gaga for trying). I guess it was really bad for the Aussies to get that pissed.

Anyway, legislators down in Australia are discussing the idea of performance disclosure to audiences before sales occur. This is so that people know what they are getting. Live would mean live, with real instruments and real singing. Anything not in accordance with that definition would need to be disclosed as such. Personally, I like the idea, even though it would be to artists what HD was to actors….all the covered blemishes now in plain view.

What do you think? Should similar legislation be passed in the United States?

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November 15, 2009 Posted by | Music Business, Posts About Artists | , , , , | Leave a comment

Night Castle -Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Album Reviewed.

I bought it two weeks ago, but did not give it a fair listen.

The reason: I have had a bad virus messing with my intestinal system that has kept me sick all week.

It took me 5 days and some drugs before I was back on my feet, before which my main priorities were sleeping and getting to the restroom on-time (by on time, I mean every 45 minutes day AND night).

Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) has writers and musicians known for their virtuosity. Any rock fan who wants to hear some truly great material can listen to their earlier work with Savatage, a band in which all the members of the past ten years are involved in TSO.

Savatage released some great material. You could listen to all their albums back to back and not get bored. In fact, it was Savatage that released Sarajevo/Christmas Eve on their Dead Winter Dead album, and that was the metal-influenced Carol of the Bells that I looked forward to hearing every year on the radio when Christmas came around.

TSO’s last album, however, had been released in 2004, and while their touring has been the successful break that all ex-Savatage members needed and deserved, there hadn’t been a new album since then.

Well now TSO has released Night Castle, a 26 song opus that includes a digital booklet (if you buy online) that not only has the lyrics, but also a story that connects each of the lyrics together into an encompassing story. Producer Paul O’Neil is to thank for this creation, and it explains the point of view each song is sung from as well as the journey each character is making. I personally recommend itunes this time for the download, as they priced it fairly at $9.99, almost reasonable for 26 songs.

But are they any good?

The first song, Night Enchanted, contains a lack of any real hook, but rather acts as an opener for the whole opus. It seemed to lack the “oomph” that I am used to hearing on a Savatage/TSO recording. I am sure the live version is spectacular though, and it would rock to see TSO perform this all the way through.

Song # 2 – Childhood Dreams. A much better song. It is slow, and gradually builds up in power over time. You WILL find yourself with the melody stuck in your head. The only thing that almost made me cringe was the inane repetition of “Childhood, childhood…..” 10 times in a row in two places (don’t worry, that part will end soon).

Song # 3 Sparks – THIS is a song. It has the chugging guitar riffs that get you into a groove. This is a song about love, unexpected and necessary. The singer, Tim Hockenberry, guides us with his Tom-Waits-style vocals, yet retaining the catchiness needed for the casual listener. He does this with Believe as well, but if you really want to hear that song correctly, I recommend clicking here for Jon Oliva’s version that he did when he wrote the song originally in Savatage.

Some great classical tunes get their TSO magic worked on them as well: The Mountain (Hall of the Mountain King), Carmina Burana, Mozart and Memories, Nutrocker (you guessed it, a rock version of Nutcracker), Bach Lullaby, Toccata- Carpimus Noctem. All great tunes. Though I will add that Savatage did The Mountain and Mozart and Memories as well, and the Savatage version of Mountain is better.

Basically, there is enough new songs for both classical music fans, and for fans of rock/metal. Fans of Savatage might not like some of the newer versions of the older songs, but there is enough new material to justify getting the album.

Favorite two songs from the album: The Safest Way Into Tomorrow, and Epiphany.

I for one am glad to see something new from the TSO camp, and it is my hope that this album gets appreciation for what it is: proof that classical music can also be commercially accessible and fun for all to listen to.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Posts About Artists | , , | Leave a comment

I found my Muse – the band of course.

Check this stuff out. It is a song called butterflies and hurricanes.

This is literally the best stuff I have seen all year when it comes to discovering new music. It is clear by this video that the band Muse has earned all the success they have achieved.

The band primarily has three people, so it takes a lot of stage presence and song-playing power to keep people’s attention. The bass player constantly uses heavy distortion, which to this extent is rare even in the heavy-metal genre. The drummer plays a very strong, fast beat in almost every song bordering on techno.

The singer, when he is playing looks like a true rock star. I seriously think Bono from U2, rather than trying to make me believe “Get on your boots” was cool, should have watched this entire concert DVD while taking notes.

I doubt most rock stars can play guitar like this guy can, with strong Tom Morello-influenced solos, and then bang out piano solos like the virtuoso he is.

Like many great artists, I was turned onto this from a friend. That is because their music is so epic, so good, that it can’t help but be spread, even if it took me several years to finally get it. Given, I also heard “starlight” on the radio, but due to how long I have been listening to music, it sometimes takes more than one good song to get my attention. These guys truly deliver.

Even if the vocals aren’t for everybody, check out the tune. There is no disputing talent.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Posts About Artists | , , , | Leave a comment

Fear of “Chart Heights”

Chart Heights is a legitimate fear for those few who made it early. It is a fear of being number 2 after being number one. If you haven’t heard it before, it may be because I just made it up.

Staying a star after you’ve grown up, if you still want it, can be challenging.

The music industry may be big like an elephant, but unlike an elephant, it can forget you very quickly.

This video, while hilarious, proves a point about how child artists who are overpromoted and then forgotten, can appear as  depleted as the worlds oil supply after 5 more years of overproduction.

I do not share this video’s assumption of Miley Cyrus, as her father is an artist who knows what it takes to grow more slowly (playing in bars for 10 years before getting a record deal) and knows how to put perspective on this subject when the time comes.

Who knows? I may be way off, but I digress.

I post this due to the mind-numbing masses of teenage artists being promoted by Disney, and also due to the welcoming breath-of-fresh-air to that market, Fox’s Glee.

If half of the products sold at WalMart have your mug on the front, you are given specials on major TV networks, and you have your songs promoted to the top 40 charts, it can be a rough ride downhill when your label one day decides who their next big thing is.

You have got to have perspective. Bob Lefsetz posted about Michael Jackson shortly after the singer’s death in early 2009. In this post, he explains it better than anyone else can.

If you are used to being number one, you start to tie your self-esteem to making those sales numbers rise every time. Perspective comes in when you realize that when you are at the top of the charts there is only one other place to go: down. Down happens to everybody, and like any resource, money and fame comes and goes.

Be thankful when you are up there, yet have a stoic fearlessness of being at the bottom (Is this what #49 feels like? Thats not so bad after all). This mindset can keep you from grasping out in desperation, being someone you are not. It will also keep your career running much more smoothly than anyone else with fear of “chart heights”.

If and when your time comes to stand at the top comes, be glad. You earned it. Just don’t let the fear of falling drive your decisions once you get up there.

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Music Business, Posts About Artists | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Brown and trying to come back

This is Chris Brown’s new song, “I can Transform Ya“, linked straight to Brown’s site. I was not approached or bribed into writing this. I am just discussing my thoughts on his song and how it may impact his career at this stage.

Nobody is proud of what he did with Rihanna.

What Chris knew, however, and Lilly Allen did not, is that you have to admit when you make a wrong move as soon as possible. When I add that Chris did less to alienate his fan base, and has less ground to make up in order to regain his standing on the charts, I say he has a great chance.

I doubt it will be so easy for his personal life though unless he is getting some help.

Chris has a lot of fans who are reluctant to give him up, and he needed a strong hit to comeback with.

Enter “I can Transform Ya”.

I got online today in a cafe and loaded up Youtube to get a listen to this new song, knowing that this one NEEDS to be strong.

Electric Guitar 5th chords in the mix…nice. Lil’ Wayne, not my first choice, as his voice is not as strong as Chris’s, but he did better with this intro than with many of his other tunes.

The verse had catchiness, which is what his fans love him for. He overdelivered in that aspect. As most catchy songs go, when I heard it I visualized the performer (Chris) moving around on stage like crazy, which I know he can do.

The only downside I have with the song is that last part of the chorus

Shoes you got it (got it)
Bags you got it (got it),
cars you got it (got it),
money still got it (got it),
I can transform ya, I can transform ya,
Anything you want I can (i can) get it for ya,

It seemed weak. This is all opinion here, but a stronger, “Yeah” by Usher influenced vocal strength would have pushed this song above and beyond.

In this end, “I can transform Ya” will please Chris Brown fans immensely, and will help recover his position, though not completely. It could have been stronger, but it was strong enough.

What are your opinions? If you were in Chris’s place, what would your strategy be for regaining what was lost?

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Posts About Artists | Leave a comment