Indie Records: Boom or Bust?
It's Your Choice
By: Kenny Love
Having received many recordings for review over the past several months from up-and-coming recording artists, I hesitate to write this article-but write it, I must.
And, that is because I feel compelled to not only dispense record promotion advice within the how-to realm, bus psychological advice as well no, I'm not illegally practicing medicine).
Of all the recordings I have received for review over the last few months (and, there have been many), only a mere five made the grade as far as qualifying as prospects I seriously desire to get involved with from a promotional standpoint.
What did these particular acts have that stood out from among the pile? Well, most of the groups that I chose to pass on seemed to be on a mission of writing exclusively for themselves, giving no consideration to industry demands, or potential consumer demands.
By that, I mean they gave absolutely no thought to commercial and consumer needs such as the length of their recordings, lyrical relativity to everyday life, or commerciality. Instead, they seemed to be on some therapeutic kick, instead of keeping their goals in mind-which should be to keep a song UNDER five minutes so radio may consider playing it, then it sells and puts money back into their pockets.
Now, I'm not one to tell any songwriter how to write, but I must say this. If you don't care about getting radio or video airplay, nor selling records, then by all means go ahead and write songs that are 7-10 minutes long. Oh, heck! Why not go for the whole guacamole and set a Guinness record with a 24-hour tune?
Also, if you are going to strictly write for yourself, why not make lyrics so far out, that no one but you can understand what you are trying to convey, qualifying your lyrics for the annual ACA (Alien Communication Award) (this award exists-really!)
And last, but not least, since you are only amusing yourself, forget about commerciality completely and relating your tunes to everyday situations (past, present, or future).
On the other hand, I venture to say that most seasoned artists have gotten past the totally therapeutic phase and are now seeking commercial national recognition. They have decided it was high time to make some money (that's what we call NOT willing to play covers any longer).
Therefore, if you are, indeed, seeking a professional career, you should immediately familiarize yourself with what the various aspects of the music industry require and not simply assume that anything and everything you personally choose to produce will be accepted with waiting arms.
Firstly, most commercial radio music personnel HATE songs that are longer than 3-5 minutes long. Without going into all the reasons why, at best, it's an imposition due to the commercial nature of their business. Most of the product I receive seems to go on and on, repeating bridges and choruses as much as 4-5 times! I could not, in good faith, present this type of product to my radio and press connections.
Secondly, there seems to be this great desire in some artists to get "deep" with wild metaphors and not allow the listener to comprehend the lyrics. With some of this type of product, I had no choice but to chalk the writing up to LSD revisited.
If you simply desire to be an artist, then paint-paint. But, if you want to also sell records, you've got to put on your salesman's (or saleswoman's) hat and start thinking like it. It has never been expressed more clearly than in that old classic, "Got To Give The People What They Want."
Otherwise, you (and your career) will only be as effective as Resident Hero says, "Burning the Edges" (http://www.residenthero.com) while never attaining desired fame and fortune. Ultimately, the only faint chant that will be ushered will be the lyrics to the disenchanting moniker of Wooster Sang's "Time Passes" (http://www.woostersang.com).
About Kenny Love: A man who firmly believes the Witness Protection Program is a dead issue, Kenny Love is also a National Record Promoter and Press Publicist. Promoting all genres of music, he works with "indies" on a "back- end" deal, saving them enormous up-front service fees.