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“Rock the Cradle” Reality Show on MTV

Posted in Carla and Goliath, Celebrities, Future Legends, Rock the Cradle | 1 Comment »

Okay, so I had high hopes for the new Rock the Cradle reality show on MTV. Aside from the fact that I saw all the posters in the NYC subway, but couldn’t find any real info before the show started.

So I watch some of the show and learn that the show is another performance-based music reality TV show. The twist is that the contestants are children of famous recording artists. This also means that you get to see the kids, as well as the famous parents each week:

A’Keiba Burrell, daughter of rapper MC Hammer
Landon Brown,  son of R&B singer and renowned bad boy Bobby Brown
Lara Johnston, daughter of Doobie Brothers’ singer Tom Johnston
Chloe Lattanzi, daughter of singer Olivia Newton-John
Crosby Loggins, son of singer Kenny Loggins
Jesse Money, daughter of rocker Eddie Money
Jesse Blaze Snider, son of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider
Lil B. Sure!, son of R&B singer Al B. Sure!
Lucy Walsh, daughter of Joe Walsh, guitarist for the Eagles

In theory, this should be a cool show, but I already have a problem with the concept. For one thing, the talent pool is very small. The main requirement to be on this show is that you have a successful and famous musician parent. While having musical bloodlines is helpful, it says nothing for actual talent in action. It reminds me a bit of children who are born into wealthy families. They didn’t themselves earn the money that brought the family into wealth, so without actual parental intervention, the children may not totally understand the value of money, much less how to build wealth from scratch. With a rock star parent traveling hither and thither while you’re growing up, how does Junior really get to build the serious credentials?

For example, if these particular contestants were auditioning against the contestants of any of the Rock Star reality TV shows (Rock Star: INXS or Rock Star: Supernova) on talent alone, I have to wonder whether they would have made the final cut. The singers in the Rock Star reality show franchise had to hone their talents with years of paying dues on the stage, and in the clubs. Without mommy or daddy to give them a hand, their raw talent has to rise to the top. That means that their confidence was hard-earned. And when you consider the HUNDREDS of singers who auditioned for a Rock Star slot, you understand just how good that you’d have to be. Sorry, but it’s hard for me to be as impressed.

BUT, having said all of that, I may still tune in. MTV is the pioneer of reality shows, which means that the producers will provide lots of other reasons for you to watch, such as emotional storylines and rivalry drama. I just can’t promise to tune in regularly like I did with Rock Star: Supernova (the TV show, not my CD 😉 

I did notice one very cool thing in Rock the Cradle. If you were a fan of the Rock Star reality shows, you’ll notice that the house band backing the contestants is made of most of the house band used in both Rock Star reality shows. I was very happy to see Paul and the gang working again, although they’re still in Cinderella mode. The second Rock Star show was originally going to be about finding a lead singer for them. Instead, the show became a search for the lead singer of an all-star rock band featuring drummer Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), bassist Jason Newsted (Metallica) and guitarist Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses). Once the big names were involved, the house band remained the house band. But that’s the business, right? 

From what I’ve seen so far, though, my money is on Jesse Blaze Snider. He’s got the look, the cocky rock and roll swagger that’s needed, and he’s already been performing with his own band Baptized by Fire (aka BFX). This is not the first time he’s been on a stage, and whatever he doesn’t have, he’s willing to fake. He’s talented and hungry – I like that.

However, I’ll stay open to the possibilities. Let the games begin!

Elliot Spitzer’s “Kristen” is Becoming a MySpace Millionaire

Posted in Carla and Goliath, Celebrities, DIY Diva, Indie Music | No Comments »

I wasn’t planning on writing about the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal. Really. Writing about someone’s fall from grace is not my forte.

But the subject of the scandal caused by the soon-to-be-former New York governor is causing the call girl’s MP3s to sell like hotcakes on her MySpace page, now that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

Now I’m not recommending that you start a scandal in order to sell your CDs and MP3s, but as writing about indie music promotion is my forte, it’s my job as “The DIY Diva” to provide

“The DIY Diva” Case Study
: Ashley Alexandra Dupré

Fact: Elliot Spitzer, Governor of the American state of New York was shown to have solicited sex with a 22 year old call girl, known as “Kristen”.

Fact: “Kristen”, also known as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, is an aspiring singer with songs available for purchase on the internet.

Fact: After the scandal hit, Ashley’s Myspace page has 5 million visitors and growing, and her MP3s have been selling like hotcakes.

Fact: JJ, a disc jockey for New York City’s Z100, the most widely listened to radio station in the U.S., and one of the most influential in pop music, played her song “What We Want” on Thursday.

Z100 quote: “Z100 is all about playing what’s hot, and we can’t think of anything hotter than a song from the woman at the center of a scandal that took down the governor of New York,” says Tom Poleman, SVP of Programming for Z100 New York. “On top of that, it’s a surprisingly good song. Looks like she may have a new career; this time in music.”

[Editorial comment: And why is her music considered “surprisingly good? Is the assumption being made that a woman who sells sex couldn’t possibly be a good musician too? Oh please!!! What is that all about???]

Do you understand now why keeping your rights and not selling out to a traditional record label can be a good thing? The quality of her music doesn’t even come into play here. She’s an unsigned artist, therefore she doesn’t have to share much of her royalties.

If she has a digital distribution deal with a company like CD Baby, 91% of each sale would be hers to keep. If she sells her MP3s directly from her website, she keeps 100% of her royalties. If a million people buy her “What We Want” MP3 for 98 cents simply out of curiousity, Ms. Dupré’s dream of a career in music will quickly take hold.

Of course, she’ll get book deal offers, as well as the standard Playboy nude centerfold offers, but as far as music deals are concerned, she’s well-positioned (ahem) to get those too. The call girl formerly known as “Kristen” could leverage this scandal into a big win.  She’s already added a new MP3 called “Move Ya Body” to her MP3 music site, so she’s taking advantage of her newfound notoreity.

I have to add that there’s no guarantee for longevity for her success, and she’d be a fool not to milk this moment. Especially as the press is camping outside her apartment anyway. But life is short, and you never know when opportunities like these will come again.

I do feel bad, however, for Elliot Spitzer and his family, who must be going through an awful time right now. He has a lot to lose, but Ashley Dupre has much to gain.

My Interview with Dr. Vasant Dhar from NYU’s Stern School of Business

Posted in A Day in the Life, Carla and Goliath, Future Legends | 1 Comment »

Yesterday I interviewed Dr. Vasant Dhar, the NYU professor behind the research paper “Does Chatter Matter? The Impact of User-Generated Content on Music Sales”.

Dr. Dhar and student Elaine Chang studied the effect of user-generated blog chatter on 108 major and indie CD releases. Their findings indicate that there is a relationship between blog buzz and music sales, and I just love that they even took the time to do this kind of research. To have quantifiable results on the effects of blog chatter on music sales opens up a whole world of possibility, and I look forward to transcribing this interview so I can share it with you soon. Thank goodness I finally took those typing lessons!

Before meeting, Dr. Dhar was concerned that he wouldn’t have anything profound to say for our interview. Au contraire! I was fascinated by Dr. Dhar’s research, as well as his breadth of knowledge on topics from artificial intelligence to Scandinavian death metal. After chatting with him for 45 minutes, I imagine that he’d be a cool professor to have. 

You really can learn something new every day!

Making the Band 4 ~ Episode 5

Posted in Carla and Goliath, DIY Diva, Making the Band | 1 Comment »

Returned this morning from my hometown of Miami, FL after celebrating my Godmother’s 78th birthday. It was a nice and hot 89 degrees, which was a lovely change from last week’s 21 degrees in NYC. I even have mosquito bites in the strangest places, but I digress…

On the way to Miami on JetBlue Airlines, I caught my first episode ever of Making the Band 4. I admit that consciously resist watching music business reality shows since I often disagree with a TV show producer’s idea of reality, but hey, I was on a plane, and needed a distraction from a fellow passenger with foul coffee breath (OMG!).

Anyway, I found myself intrigued by the antics going on with the recording artists on the show, who were handpicked by P. Diddy to make their records: a girl group from the last season, Danity Kane, a male urban group, and a male “blue-eyed soul” solo artist.

So tonight back at home in NYC, the next episode of Making the Band 4 is on, and again, I watch the whole thing. Among the other story lines going on was the one in which the girls of Danity Kane were unhappy with the tracks that they had been given to sing. Diddy had assembled a team of serious producers and songwriters to write tracks for the artists, and while the guy groups were loving the tracks being written for them, the Danity Kane girls hated theirs.

The girls felt that they were receiving too many slow tempo romantic songs, while what they really wanted was some uptempo songs that were about empowerment. They explained their vision to the A&R guy and the producers, but their words pretty much fell on deaf ears. They knew exactly what they wanted, but they weren’t getting it. I was soooo relating to their frustration!  At one point, the A&R guy asked them if they thought they could do a better job, and the girls, led by the outspoken Aubrey, said yes.

The A&R guy then went on to say how many artists have thought the same thing, and have ruined their careers. That really burned me up!!! I can acknowledge that not all artists can write music, produce or run their business, but that doesn’t mean that no artist can. This kind of “create a machine-insert any singer-release a record” thinking is why I have a problem with the old school/traditional music business. And if you ask me, that kind of thinking is what has them losing money today.

Danity Kane went platinum on their first record, and I’d bet money that it wasn’t just because P. Diddy was behind them. The good thing about music reality shows is that they allow the artists to build a fanbase and a STORY. When you have viewers tuning in every week, they often become emotionally invested in the artists. In other words, they become fans. And if a record release is timed correctly, the artists will have fans ready to buy.

In the new school way of thinking, artists also need to get their own online presence going. This establishes a bond with a fanbase that is not tied to a TV show, producer, or record label. Just look at the American Idols who have already been dropped from their record label deals. When the show that pushed them into stardom ends, they quickly fade into obscurity.

I’d suggest building an online fanbase to keep their star warm. It’s not the job of the record label to build an enduring fanbase – it’s yours. The recording artist’s job is to make the world fall in love with them. A record label’s job is to sell records. If you no longer have a fanbase of your own (not attached to the current reality tv show), your records won’t sell, and you’ll get dropped like a hot potato. When you have your own solid base of listeners that love your music, they will support your art for years. It’s not an overnight process, but once you get your breakthrough, don’t leave it to chance.

Back to Making the Band 4 – The girls finally got to tell Diddy to his face how they saw themselves and their music. Surprisingly enough, he actually apologized for not sitting down with them earlier to discuss their vision for their sophomore record. Diddy’s temper is legendary, so I didn’t expect this (neither did the girls!). He agreed to give them more uptempo tracks, and the scene ended with him hugging them. I wasn’t sure if he was going to follow through, but he then hooked the girls up with songwriter Mary Brown. Miz Brown hooked them up with a HAWT track about being a bad girl, and the girls were on Cloud 9. Impressive!

Can’t promise that I’ll continue with commentary on Making the Band 4, but damn, that was good TV!

Blog Chatter Can Triple Future Sales of Music Albums, according to New Study from NYU Stern

Posted in A Day in the Life, Carla and Goliath | No Comments »

Well, looky here!

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In his new research paper entitled, Does Chatter Matter, co-authored with former student Elaine Chang, NYU Stern Professor Vasant Dhar, an expert in the strategic implications of information technology, finds that the volume of blog posts featured on the Internet before an albums release can significantly affect future album sales, and in turn predict sales for record labels. This is the first study to quantify the economic impact of user-generated content for the music industry.

Based on a sample of 108 albums released during the first two months of 2007, Professor Dhar found:

  • When legitimate blog posts exceeded a threshold of 40 before an albums release, sales were three times the average

  • If the albums blogged about were associated with a major record label, sales increased five-fold

  • When blog activity reached more than 250 posts, sales were six times the average regardless of an association with a major or independent label

  • The number of an artists MySpace friends also contributed to higher future sales, but had a weaker correlation as compared to blog chatter

Professor Dhar tracked changes in the volume of online chatterblog posts and the number of friends an artist has on MySpacefour weeks before and after an albums release date.

The reason why I built this blog in the first place was that I had theorized that this was the case. But now that there is quantifiable proof, I want to know more. After reading this press release, I tracked down Dr. Dhar, and he’s agreed to be interviewed for this blog.

Stay tuned!

Carla vs Goliath: The Shiznit

Posted in A Day in the Life, Carla and Goliath | No Comments »

To tell you the truth, it has been a difficult day, a difficult week, and definitely a difficult month. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to get where I said where I want to be. I was never one to cry in my beer, or put my biz in the streets, but I won’t lie about life being easy all the time.

Thank Goddess, all of my closest girlfriends have reached out to me this week, not even knowing how much I needed their love and support. I received a CD in the mail today from my girl Mary Ann, with songs from her b-day celebration, and I’ve been cryin like a baby listening to all the songs.

My friend Nonye, former rapper, and now children’s book author, held a creative support group today, and reminded me of how far I’ve come, and all the demons that I’ve slayed since we met. Of course, new demons come to take their place, but at least they’re new ones 😉 Today’s meeting took place in the Muhlenberg Public Library in NYC, and while waiting for the other Sistas to arrive, I checked out Kimora Lee Simmon’s book Fabulosity, and I’m grateful for Homegirl’s wisdom.

Right now I’m listening to the blues of my new MySpace friend, Shaheed Shabazz, and I just don’t feel like fronting like everything is A-ok. Eff that!! Music is here to tell the whole range of the emotions that we feel, and I can identify with feeling “too miserable to drink”.

If you’re feeling low today, it’s okay. Take that feeling and turn it into your strength. Tomorrow will be a new day.

Carla vs Goliath: Quote of the Day

Posted in A Day in the Life, Carla and Goliath | No Comments »

Tonight’s gig was awesome. It never hurts to perform for hundreds of people at an outdoor gig. Great food and drink, professional sound engineers and equipment, lots of friends dancing. It definitely beats digging ditches! But now that the adrenalin rush has passed, my feet hurt from my high heels, and my left hand hurts from playing the tambourine for three hours straight. I’m not complaining, but I’ll keep it short. I just found an amazing quote today that seems particularly fitting:

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” – Hugh MacLeod, How to Be Creative

So I’m writing this post, and I’m planning to make a slam dunk by including Hugh MacLeod’s book, How to Be Creative. I’m searching Amazon, and this guy’s book is nowhere to be found. The thing is, I found this guy’s quote on my iGoogle home page in my section for motivational quotes of the day. But for the life of me, I just didn’t know how to find this guy, but I did want to get this book. I go back to Google to search for this darn Hugh MacLeod guy, and it turns out that he is a BLOGGER. Now think about that for a second. This awesome quote which was highlighted today was not from a published author, but a popular blogger. How cool is that?

Well, let me share the love then. I’ll include another nugget of creative wisdom from this post (Lindsay Lohan, please pay attention):

“The bars of West Hollywood and New York are awash with people throwing their lives away in the desperate hope of finding a shortcut, any shortcut. And a lot of them aren’t even young anymore; their B-plans having been washed away by Vodka & Tonics years ago. Meanwhile their competition is at home, working their asses off.”  – Hugh MacLeod, How to Be Creative

So Hugh’s blog is Gaping Void, and it’s my pleasure to share my latest find. In honor of this genius blogger, here’s the link to his now famous post (in pdf form) entitled, “How to Be Creative”.

Finding Hugh’s blog was a nice surprise! Now I’m going to bed.

What Do You Mean Kelly Clarkson Apologized???

Posted in Carla and Goliath | No Comments »

I’m pissed off. I just heard about Kelly Clarkson apologizing to her record label. I mean WTF??
This ain’t over. 

Carla vs Goliath: More Motivation

Posted in Carla and Goliath | No Comments »

At the recent Indie Music Boot Camp in NYC, my buddy Bob Baker  turned me on to a maverick music business blog called The Lefsetz Letter. This guy, Bob Lefsetz is a music industry veteran who has his finger on the pulse of reality, and is not afraid to tell it like it it. I respect people like that a lot.

Yesterday’s Lefsetz Letter explains why having community on the web is the way to self-sustaining career success in the Music Industry 2.0. As far as I’m  concerned, he’s preachin’ to the choir, and I’m happy to share some of his wisdom:

“And Clive Davis eviscerates the honesty of the acts. He calls in professional songwriters, he crafts an image and an identity. All that is left is the song, you’re just a cog in the wheel, you can be quickly forgotten. You don’t want to be forgotten, but remembered. It’s less about crafting a catchy hit than capturing the ears and minds of your fans. Look at Dispatch. They might not make music memorable to Clive, but most of Clive’s charges can’t sell out arenas years after they’ve broken up.

Kelly Clarkson can’t sell out arenas seeming moments since her last big hit, still in the public eye all the while. You’re in control. It’s not about getting the attention of some mover and shaker. Your team is you, all the time. You’re convincing the end buyer, middlemen are no longer relevant. Forget radio, forget retail. It’s about having a presence on the Web and allowing people to find you. And playing live. But that’s actually less efficient than your Web campaign, you reach fewer people playing gigs. The tour is the victory lap. If you can go on the road and charge, if you can put together a whole tour, you’re on your way to success, you know you’ve got something going. Sure, some people can make it based on the live vibe first and foremost. Then the Web is about the community first, not the music.”

Run, don’t walk to read the rest of this blog now!