Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Listening Party!!!

My Listening Party

Back in the 70's, listening parties were a common occurrence. A label would host a listening party and invite artist, labels, and influential people. This would be the beginning of creating a buzz in many cases. Keep in mind, there was no Internet. Labels and its artist didn't mind giving away promo copies to DJ's and radio personalities. 
Radio personalities would often play songs from the album on mix shows, and if the artist were fortunate enough, they'd sometimes hear their music played on regular rotation. We all know, getting music played regularly on a major radio station can cost loads of money. But back then, music was making a lot of money. Budgets were higher. Much higher. Labels could drop $40K for major radio play for a single song and not even feel it. After the listening party and promo copies were given out, there would be the "release party". Now this was a big deal. Usually there'd be a performance. The artist knew that they would have to KILL this performance. This party would be the party of the year! Everything was going to be magical! The who's who would be there. Even the pimps, drug dealers, and hustlers would show up wearing the most expensive clothing money could buy. Other famous people that you never imagined you'd ever meet would be there. Cameras would flash all night. Drinks were poured, and people felt good. The "buzz" was created, radio is playing the jams, people are familiar with the single. As the artist, you are "The It" person. And it all started with......

THE LISTENING PARTY. 

I'm a bit old fashioned. I like the old way. It feels better to me. Inviting friends, family, and loved ones to get together over drinks and music.  
There's no way an artist can survive doing everything the old way though. Today, the entire music business has changed the way it works. Listening parties almost never happen. The Internet has taken the place of the listening party. Promos can't happen unless the record company doesn't mind file sharing and running the risk of extremely little to no record sales. 
A child once said to his father who happens to be a music executive, "Why do people buy music? That's like buying air." 
Air is the most significant "nothing" there is. We can't see it and it's something most people take for granted, but we'd soon remember its value once it is taken away. We need air to live. And if there was a monopoly on air, we'd all be in line to purchase it. What the child said is accurate. Music is very much like air. We don't realize it sometimes, but we need music to live. The child was probably on to something deeper than he realized. Everyone has access to every new album released. PERIOD! I don't care who it is, you can get the album for free. Right now!
Just go to YouTube and search for the latest album, even if it just came out today, and take a listen. There's even a website that will take the URL from YouTube and download the audio from that clip on to your computer. So now, at no cost to you, you own the album that took the artist, sometimes, years to make. The artist relies on your purchase to make a living. The artist has no insurance plan or 401K. No retirement money. All the artist has is gigs and record sales. 
Think about that. And you wanna know the really sad part? I know a lot of artist that will spend their time trying to convince the world that they're on top. The truth is, every artist is trying to win. Every artist is doing their best to keep working. Remember the days when most artist were celebrities? Remember the days when most artist drove a Benz? Remember the days when most artist would pop up in a magazine ever so often and we'd cut out that article because we knew them? Remember when Soulful House music was getting regular rotation on major radio stations around the world? Those days are over. Every artist everywhere is working hard to stay relevant and busy. The entire music industry has taken a blow to the pockets. 
There are a few who still live lavish life styles. Rockers, hip-hoppers, and pop stars do exist. But there are more artist working hard at surviving the music business than there are artist riding high in it. 
What I'm trying to say is this, support your favorite artist by buying the project. Yes, you can easily get it for free. Yes, someone that likes it and bought it can and will email it to you. But it adds to the longevity of the artist when you purchase. 
And when you purchase, refrain from sharing(emailing) the project with friends that don't buy music. Music will always be free from now on. That's just a harsh fact that we must accept. 
People will listen to it on streaming websites and enjoy it while never purchasing it. 
The shelf life of any project/album is only 3-4 weeks. That means when a label releases a project to the public for purchase, the excitement and "buzz" will last a short 3-4 weeks. 
These days, artist are releasing albums after working on it for a under a month in their bedrooms. And that's because it almost makes no sense to work on something for 3 years, spending money on musicians and high end studios for it to last for under a month. And the record sales are so low that the money spent making the project isn't recouped. 
The bad thing about that is, a lot of the magic is compromised. The interaction between musicians isn't there. The collaborations aren't there. 
Today's generations are unfamiliar with the kinds of productions us 40-something year olds were exposed to. Even if one grew up with good music in their homes, few artist and labels are affording those kinds of productions. So it's more likely that the masses will hear projects with bedroom productions(productions done in a room using a few samples and a mic), respectfully.  
People from around the world have grown a taste for these kinds of productions because that's what's being fed to them. 
And because music budgets have dwindled down to an all time low, there will be way more bedroom production releases than there are anything else. I've even heard a few trap songs that I dug and thought were fun. However, I have a love and appreciation for produced and orchestrated projects as well. I need for supporters to know how serious and important it is to pay for music. 
The definition of "quality music" has more to do with who's speaking. What I know for sure is that "quality music", whatever the genre, isn't cheap. Even if it's John Legend singing and playing a piano. The microphone, the engineer, the studio, the catering, the travel cost, all add up. And he certainly wouldn't appreciate us downloading it for free. As a matter of fact, don't just buy the one song, spend your funky $9 and buy the whole thing. Support the artist. He needs and wants you to do that. 
Even someone like Jay-Z who we know is rich. Our position should be to purchase. That's what we are supposed to do as patrons. The moral thing to do is go buy what you want and not steal it because you will probably not get arrested. It's theft people. It's stealing candy from a baby. No matter how you slice it ladies and gentleman, when you take a thing and not purchase knowing its for sale, you steal it. Some of you steal and take communion on the next day and feel no conviction. LOL. 
I'm asking that we support our artist and keep "quality music" alive. 
On Friday, April 15th 2016, my label, Honeycomb Music, hosted a listening party for my solo album "June 9th". 
The party is going to start at 7pm. When I arrived at around 6:20pm, I noticed people standing in line, waiting for the doors to open. I immediately felt humbled and a tad emotional. These people are mature adults with lives of their own. This is a Friday night in NYC. They could be out having the night of their lives but they chose to share their time with me. They came to hear what I'm doing. They invested their time in me. It's time they will never get back. I feel grateful. 
I'm a musician, singer, songwriter, producer but I am a lover of music first and most importantly. This album represents that. This is something I've been chipping away at for at least 5 years. There's a song on it I wrote back in 2009(Here's To Love). It's been a long time coming. Cielo is a very popular night club in NYC and I got the opportunity to host this event there. Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge host their weekly party, ROOTS, here and I knew the sound system is one of the best in town. 
The staff were all so accommodating and friendly. Everything is smooth sailing. I saw friends that I've not seen in many years. Family members were there. DJ's and artist were there. I almost felt like the "It" guy. The music on this album is unlike anything I've ever done in my 30 years of doing music. 
I've always been a part of a group. And now I'm doing music on my own. I never recorded a cover song(songs made famous by other artist) before, but on this project I did a Stevie Wonder, Gill Scott-Heron, Bill Withers, and Beatles tunes. I wrote a slow sad song called "Not For Me". That's a first. I did a tune that has a shuffle rhythm, and that's a first. That's why I named this project June 9th. That date is my birthday and this project to me feels like I've been born. My first time at doing music for me, by me. 
I even wrote a song for God. It's called "In All I Do". 
I plan to shoot a few videos before releasing this project. Visuals like that help the life span of the project. It's extremely necessary but it cost money. Real money. I did a video for a song a few years ago that cost me $3000! For this project is like to do at least 3 videos. I'll include the DVD in the cd. But I need to pay for the video production. The staff, the camera equipment rental, the extras, the catering, the directors fee, the editing. After all of that, we upload the videos on the social networking sites. Let that run for a month or so. 
And then we get the cd/DVD's manufactured and packaged. Now how much do you think all of that cost?
Exactly!! And where do you think I'm going to get this money from???????
Exactly!!
And why do you think I'm asking you to buy projects instead of downloading them for free?????
Exactly!!
This isn't going to be easy by no stretch of the imagination. But I've been doing this for 30+ years, and I'm not stopping now. My goal is to spread the spirit of love throughout the world with my music as much as I can with your help. 
I already have a gig coming up in SA with a respected artist whose project I sang on. Afterwards we go to London and NY. I'm going to possibly get a chance to sing two songs from my album on that tour. Just want to start the "buzz" on this project.