Tag Archives: Olympics

Rule No. 1 for the unsigned artist: Get on your grind (aka check yourself before you wreck yourself)

Everyday I'm Hustling DigitallyRecently, I’ve been approached by a number of artists and producers looking to get signed to a record deal.

I always entertain anyone who seeks out my advice, because it shows initiative.

But I’m always concerned when the objective, notwithstanding my advice, remains fixed on securing a deal.

It’s not that it’s an unobtainable goal.

But it’s unrealistic.

As one record executive told me, getting signed to a record deal is more difficult than shooting a hole in one – by hitting a golf ball through a hole in a brick wall first.

For some reason, these cats act like the labels are just handing record deals out.

“All you’ve got to do is be discovered.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told about artists that are discovered.

That’s all it takes.

Record a song.

Post a YouTube video.

Get discovered.

And go from obscurity to fame, overnight.

“Madonna was discovered.”

“Lady Gaga was discovered.”

“Katy Perry was discovered.”

Yada yada yada.

My response is uniformly: “No. They weren’t.”

To be fair, there is that rare exception of a truly discovered talent, plucked from obscurity.

Like Rihanna.

But that’s a different story for another time.

The reality is that virtually every artist you’ve ever heard of, especially the superstars, busted their asses to get where they got.

Invariably, they were passed over, several times, by several A&Rs, at several different labels, before they finally got on.

Do you know how many people dissed Kanye before he was finally signed to the Roc?

It was a running joke in the industry how often Kanye asked folks to listen to his demo.

Katy Perry was dropped by Columbia before being signed to Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga was performing at open mikes since she was 14 (and she attended The Tisch School) before she was signed by Akon.

Justin Beiber is probably one of the few artists truly ‘discovered’ in recent memory, when Scooter Braun happened upon his video before taking him to Usher.

But their deals didn’t just happen.

It was the result of relationships, work and in some instances, dumb luck.

Many of the people who have approached me don’t have even the most fundamental basis for talking record deal.

There’s no website.

No Facebook page.

No Twitter account.

No YouTube channel.

Not digital presence whatsoever.

If they have any of the above, then there are few (if any) likes, followers or views.

If they’ve got a MySpace page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation account, there are virtually no fans and abysmally low play counts of their songs.

The content on their pages are old and haven’t been updated.

At the end of the day, I’m left scratching my head, trying to understand why these cats seem so…entitled?

If you haven’t done the work, how can you expect to win?

It’s like saying you’re going to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but you’ve never trained a day in your life.

Sure, it’s possible that you could get off your couch, hit the starting blocks and blow Usain Bolt away.

But it’s not probable.

Sure, it’s possible that you could record a song tomorrow, post it online, and some A&R somewhere will be at your doorstep offering you a deal.

But it’s not probable.

And with the ten hundreds of thousands of aspiring artists out there on their grizzy, going HAAM, what makes you think that you’re going to grab the brass ring first?

The game has changed.

If you’re trying to be a successful artist, know that your success is being gauged by empirical measures:

Facebook likes.

Twitter followers.

YouTube views.

SoundCloud plays.

A Google results page.

This is how A&Rs today are gauging an artist’s viability.

Can you draw a crowd – online?

Sure, you can sing.

But so can literally tens hundreds of thousands of others.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

It’s your hustle and your (digital) ground game.

So artists, if you’re reading this blog, and you want to know what it takes to get a record deal, it’s one of two ways:

1. Know somebody;

2. Get on your grind (and build a digital presence).

Any questions?

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Filed under branding, music

Were Apple’s Genius Spots a stroke of genius?

What this kid part of a stroke of genius?

For about a month now, the blogosphere has been buzzing about Apple’s advertising campaign, which highlighted an extremely accommodating member of their Genius bar.

If you’re not into Apple, then these spots may have been lost on you.

There would have been no immediate recognition of the blue t-shirt clad youth, with the plastic lanyard around his neck.

The fact that he was giving advise to hapless individuals in unusual situations would have been equally mysterious or perplexing.

But if you do Apple, then these ads made sense.

Maybe.

In the advertising world, Apple’s three Genius spots, which aired primarily during the Olympics, drew a fairly negative response across the board.

Folks really took issue with the ads, which were (admittedly) a marked departure from the slick, clean and simple ads characteristic of Apple.

Almost universally, Apple’s ads were drummed.

For one (some complained) they featured no product.

Others were put off by the fact that consumers were portrayed as idiots.

Still others thought that humor (campy humor, at that) was beneath Apple.

Ad Age devoted no less than three articles (The Apple Genius Ads that Everyone Hated Are OverCool or Not, the Thinking Behind Apple’s Genius Spots Was Smart, What if Awful ‘Genius’ Ads Were All Part of Apple’s Stealthy Plan?) to the subject.

But now, folks are starting to consider whether Apple’s heavily drummed ads were…intentional?

Even Ad Age, which maligned the ads the worst that Apple had ever created, seems to have had a change of heart.

“Why?” you ask.

Because the numbers seem to bear out the fact that Apple may have properly targeted the demographic they were trying to reach with those ads.

More importantly, it appears that Apple was aware (even if the rest of us weren’t) that there was a shift in who’s buying Apple products.

I’m not going to act like I’ve been paying attention to Apple’s buying demographic.

But I am glad that cats have gotten off this hyper critical assessment of their ad campaign.

Maybe now we can focus on some real issues…

Like Apple’s soaring stock price…

Or the upcoming release of the iPhone 5…

Or iOS 6…

Maybe even my campaign for world domination! Mwaahhahaha!

Oh wait…ignore that last one.

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy

The Olympics are here. Feeling patriotic?

I’m going to start by saying I’m an Olympics junkie.

Since the start of the Olympics, I watch everything and anything that’s on.

Even though I could give a flying fart about synchronized diving, water polo, rowing, trampoline and a host of other innocuous sports, whenever the Olympics come around, suddenly these sports start to…matter?

Not matter.

They don’t really matter.

The day after the Olympics game conclude, they will cease to have any relevance and fade back into obscurity.

I mean really, who really cares about water polo?

Or trampoline?

When the heck did friggin trampoline become an Olympic sport anyway?

And when did the US get a team?

When did any country, for that matter?

I digress.

My point is that during the Olympics we care…deeply…about sports, in a way that doesn’t jibe with who we really are.

During the Olympics, we sit, eyes glued to the television set, as the <respective country of origin or allegiance here> Olympic <innocuous sport name here> team goes for gold.

We cheer when our Olympic sports heros qualify, win, get a high score, set an Olympic record or personal best.

We moan when our heros are out-touched at the finish, fail to qualify or come in fourth.

During the two-and-a-half weeks of the Olympics, we experience a range of emotions that can only be attributable to one thing: patriotism.

That’s right.

I said it.

We care because we are p-a-t-r-i-o-t-i-c.

And I’m not talking the flag-on-your-car antennae type either.

I’m talking about the full-fledged, screaming-at-your-tv, sweaty palms, sitting on the edge of your seat with anxiety patriotism that only the Olympics can bring out.

Two-time Olympic shot put champ.

When Tomasz Majewski won gold in the shot put, Polish people worldwide went crazy.

Baby got her braces off!

When Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the 100 meter dash, Jamaican’s across the globe lost it.

He’s more dominant than the Albatros!

When Michael Phelps achieved Olympic greatness with 22 Olympic medals, Americans blew their collective load.

“Why?” you ask.

Is it because Tomasz Majewski is such a stud?

Or because every country wants bragging rights to the 100 meter dash?

Or perhaps because we all see a little of ourselves skimming along the surface of an Olympic sized pool?

No. No. And no.

It’s because for that brief period of time we are all united under a flag.

The collective cheer that erupts when an athlete achieves Olympic gold is a shared moment of nationalistic triumph.

That medal count.

The national anthem.

All things which touch that patriotic nerve.

But soon, the cheers will fade.

The crowds will disperse.

The Olympic village will empty.

So <fill in the name of your country here>, enjoy it while it lasts.

When the last medal has been awarded and the Olympics come to an end, we’ll be jaded, once again.

And go right back to hating our countries.

Cheers, mate!

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Filed under Smack talking, Uncategorized