Tag Archives: Music

Casey Kasem/The Beatles/What’s Your Three Minutes and Forty Seconds?

Casey KasemSo I was about to share the “Maury Finkle, on meeting Casey Kasem” article on my Facebook timeline and it got me thinking about how music can inspire people…well my little blurb about the post just kept getting bigger so I just brought it over here.  Hope you like it! (the first part was the description of the original Finkle article link I was sharing)  :)

Maury Finkle, on meeting Casey, and of course showing some of that stylish Finkle respect!  Read it…seriously do it! haha

Sure it would rock if you read this,[The Finkle article] but in all seriousness that Casey  was indeed a cornerstone in American Pop music for decades. And while with the pop, you’re bound to get a whole lotta MMMM Bop! (and even more sweet Nickleback tunes). Pop Music was, and is the inspiration that has gotten, me and tons of people I know to want to make music some sort of career, or at least a big part of their lives.

Although the following story was a little before Kasem’s  time, I’ll never forget the time I overheard my first Music Business teacher (and singer in that 80′s/90′s Boston band Knots and Crosses) talk about what got him hooked/inspired to do music for a living.

If I remember it right, he was talking to a colleague at a conference I was at about how he kept finding, that in addition to himself, lots of other people at that conference got the itch for music after hearing the exact same chord at….the exact same time.

:: pauses ::

Right after a “Griffin Liquid Wax Shoe Polish” commercial. haha

The chord was F#m, and it was just after 8PM on Feburary 9th, 1964.  It was then the Beatles took the stage of the Ed Sullivan Show, and the hearts of this nation.  Sure the 700 screaming girls in the audience might have had something to do with it, but either way, there were more than just a few people at that conference that bought their first guitar/drum set after that night…and well you know the rest.

As with Casey, Ed brought the music to our ears, and although Sullivan had video,  The Beatles premier, and about a year longer as the host of his main show than Casey did.  Casey had him beat with an all music show that broadcast to a wider audience, and is still running strong after an almost continuous 45 year run!

I know this, there is no doubt in my mind that Casey Kasem’s time as host of AT40 (and the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo) had something to do with the the three minutes and forty seconds that inspired me to do what I do….and well I guess this is sort of my way of saying thanks.

Did any of you have a “moment” like that?  If so, comment about it!

I’m leaving my answer for another day, as it deserves a whole post, and, well face it, I just want to keep you coming back for more :-D

Thanks again for reading!

Memorial Day… Homeward Bound

In case you didn’t know, my mom’s boyfriend is a musician/songwriter.  (and also runs The Pleasant Street Piano Company with her)  Well a few years ago he co-wrote this pretty awesome song  saluting veterans.

Flash to memorial day… my mom calls me in a tizzy and is desperately trying to rip a copy of it to her computer.  Well for some reason I just couldn’t make it happen with over the phone instructions so I went over there for an in person tutorial.  Turns out she was looking to share it with all her Facebook friends so I just decided to whip out her Windows Movie Maker and before we knew it we had a pretty touching Memorial Day tribute.

As touching as it is, the video production could use a little work, but what do you want for a half an hour’s worth of time? Ha!  Either way, I was glad to help and put this up.  Our veterans make some pretty crazyawesome sacrifices for our country every day and since I’m not about to join up, this is the least I could do!

And although my best friend  Brian (who I actually hardly ever talk to), gets to “live it up” in 5 star hotels (correction I just found out that they are more like hotels with pretty  much dorm rooms) and blast the AC waaay more than any other normal human being would when he goes to Qatar (aside from maybe his twin brother Sean).   I’m willing to bet that there’s not place he’d rather be than homeward bound!  So in addition to the memory of all the fallen soldiers that we remembered yesterday…this one goes out to him!

I Fight… The Music Industry as We’ve Known It…

What’s up with the “new” music industry?

I put new in quotes because the even the new way of doing things is pretty old (relatively speaking).  But with physical media slowly earning a permanent spot on the endangered species list, and digital media being easier to share than that photo your friends took of you last week at the club after that girl got sick all over….



easier to share than ever! haha

Labels and artists have been forced to get creative and diversify their income streams unlike any other time in the modern music industry landscape.  Take licensing for example.  This desire to diversify has included licensing and has made it more common for smaller artists to get companies to agree to pay to record their records and not even expect it to be sold to fans, and was ok with the band giving it away.   Who would have thought a label would sign a contract where section 27.65a reads something like this:

The Artists physical Recordings may or may not be sold to anyone upon transfer.  Furthermore, licensing income aside, any and all funds advanced for said Recordings can not be recouped by The Label from any of The Artists other earned income.

All that mumbo jumbo means, is that the label would agree to not only give up their ability to recoup the album production costs from album sales, in essence giving the artist a “free” album with their choice to, charge for it,  give it away, or whatever if they want; but they also give up their right to collect any money from the band aside from licensing income…. not quite the same as the “Robbie Williams, all inclusive from merch to tour income, but you can’t even say your own name without having to shell out some sort of residual payment first because we own your ass”  contract.  Either way, with crowd sourced album funding who needs a big label  ::pauses::  or any label for that matter?

Ok, to be fair labels come with their connections and support advantages…yes even the big ones.  I mean after all they do have shareholders and accountants to impress with solid balance sheets. They can’t really afford to say, “Yes!” to too many bands that they don’t think will guarantee them some serious return though.  With that said, they are more selective , more inclined (and may be more able) to hook an artist up with big time tours,  big time recording /distribution, and maybe even a big time radio campaign.   They also come with lots of hooks though too…

:: pauses ::

ok I’ll stop now haha

Originally this post was supposed to be almost a case study of sorts of the rise of the Chicago band I Fight Dragons.  A look at how they went from a local Chicago based chiptune-power pop band, to signing with Atlantic/Photo Finish Records within a year of releasing their first EP, to winning what seems to be an amicable release from said labels 2 years later, to dominating a “Voltron-Style” Kickstarter for their new record, and to somehow, through all of that, maintaining ownership of all of the songs that were paid for by the label… but alas after hours of searching I couldn’t find enough specifics as to how it all went down.  So we’ll just have to deal with a little different look at the band and the industry.

Aside from the fact that I’m a fan, I chose IFD, because I think they’ve actually “made it” (and yes I know that only the artist can determine that).  They are at a point where they have a sizable fan base, they have a theme for a network TV show (The Goldbergs), have had their cup of coffee with MTV, and have played multiple Warped/National Tours with some pretty big acts.   Well in the end, they were able to pull all that together to raise almost 600% of a $20,000 kickstarter goal for their upcoming album!

The thing is, that aside from reading about all the hard work, and seeing the tireless connections that they made with their fans early on, I couldn’t find any specifics as to how they got their big break.  As far as their release from their record label obligations…all I know is that they now have enough control over their own  music to do whatever they want with the songs that the label paid for.  Enough so that they, are able to give it away for free on their website.  Maybe the label gets all the money from the Goldbergs theme and other licensing things they have done, I don’t really know.

As for their rise?  I guess the specifics don’t really matter… they worked their asses off (harder than this guy), and it sure as hell paid off.  They put themselves in a position to put out six figure album “on their own”, and have some name recognition and a sound that is likely to get more licensing deals/big tours/record and merch sales in the future.

So as for the crowdfunding part of this all, what do you guys think?  How badly is crowdfunding killing major production companies?  Is it even at all?

With big time movies like Veronica Mars out there scoring 2 million in a single day and all sorts of bands like IFD going it solo what’s next for the industry?

Personally, I see history repeating itself.  At least since the start of Rock n’ Roll, indie record labels have  been small and agile enough enough to take a risk on something new and untested, and as soon as they show that their business models work the majors step in, buy up the indies (and whatever else they can of the working process), and form a “new world order”; until their shareholders won’t put up with the risk taking anymore of course.  At which point the market is ripe for indies to step in again and the cycle repeats.

In this case, once the guys in suits realize how to best put crowdfunding to work for themselves they’ll totally jump on board. (if they haven’t already) It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a site like indiegogo was snatched up by some media conglomerate in the next year or so.

Ha…this totally reminds me of the late 90′s and early 00′s when I’d be listening to panels of people talking about the “Celestial Jukebox”…Sure there were nay sayers out there, but at least on paper leasing a satellite to access all of my music in my car sounded like a good idea… ok at least a hell of a lot better than running extremely long audio cables everywhere I went haha

What related future trends have you guys seen going on in the industry?

If you want to see an innovative Kickstarter check out I Fight Dragon’s “Voltron Style” Kickstarter (Project Atma) It’s a pretty cool way of putting one together, and might give you some ideas if you decide to put one on.  Orrrrrr if you want to REALLY want to look at the future of the biz (and keep it hyper local to Boston while you’re at it)  just gaze at the awesomeness that was Planetoid Means Business.


after all “There’s no nation like do-nation”! haha

Thanks again for reading everyone… you guys totally rock!

Oh yeah… I almost forgot!  The “will work for Warped Tour tickets” offer in my post about the last IFD album  still stands!

xo – Kevin

I’m Pretty Sure They Don’t Actually Fight Dragons (but they still kick ass anyway)

Ok … I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a catchy pop tune.  Throw a little Stacy’s Mom, or Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend on and you’ll see me rocking harder than this guy (minus the pizza haha).

Well a little over a year ago I heard one of the coolest songs that I had heard in a long while on WBRU… yea the actual radio!  Who would have thought?  It was kind of chiptune, but had a lot more guitars….annnnd I loved it!  It had just about everything that a polished power pop song should have, a short and sweet intro, a catchy chorus about a minute in, a sweet solo, and enough I’s, IV’s and V’s that would literally make Beethoven roll over in his grave!  I was instantly hooked, the song ended and they went to  a commercial…who was this band that had me doing the DiGiorno dance in my car?  Well it turns out that I couldn’t catch the tune with my phone’s song identifier, and the ADD in me kicked in and I totally forget what the damn song was….

…until one random day I was browsing through Rhapsody and it happened.  It was as if the rock gods themselves had come down and  handed me the Mouse of Destiny and guided  me to it, because right there on my screen as a recommended artist was none other than I Fight Dragons.

So I see their latest album (Kaboom!) and  in addition to the album title being a video game reference, the album art was as well, and the first song is a 30 second was a  slower more chiptuney instrumental called “Fanfare” that seemed kind of reminiscent of the theme from the original Legend of Zelda.  (did I mention that I’m a recovering gameaholic… :: pauses ::  annnnd I’m only half joking about that one haha).

So there I was, seemingly having found this cool chiptune band to check out. When all of the sudden the chorus of the next and title track came on….which turns out to be a full rock version of the theme of the first song! Ah-mazing!  That radio single came on a bunch of tracks later, but hooked on this record way before it came on.

So as I said before, they had the chord progressions, catchy choruses, and sugar coated solos down for some good ole awesome pop amazingness, but Kaboom!  brings Much more to the table than that.

Everything from the instrumentation, harmonies, and song titles to the lyrics themselves make this an extremely solid album as a whole.  You don’t see that very often anymore.  In today’s music landscape, people put the single out, maybe make an EP and hope to digitally get it into the pants of the masses!

Although I’d recommend this album as a whole, if you want some highlights I’d say check out their video for Save World Get Girl (which takes a big cue from the 1995 single Moon by the band Fossil)  The video features the band battling space baddies and rescuing the “maidens” in distress using their Nintendo weapons, powerpads, and of course the Konami Code.  Turns out that it was actually released in 3D for the Nintendo 3DS.

And although that lead single “The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth” does prove worthy of a great alternative (or even not so alternative) radio single; my favorite song on the album is the epic finale of a track called Suburban Doxology.  It is a track that interestingly reminds me of  Coheed and Cambria’s “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3″.  Although the IFD song starts off with more of a bang , it has got good range of highs and lows, and has that battlefieldesque feel at the end with a buildup from slow soft snare drums and an A Capella high school chorus singing an altered version of Gloria (in excelsis meo) to the whole band backing the rendition in full force. This not only transitions well when the singer starts the main chorus over the top of this, but its melody was featured earlier in the album on a short instrumental track called “Gloria”.  It’s just brilliant I tell you!

Well these fine gents have a new album in the works… but my post on that will go into the Music Makers section of this blog as it deals more with the biz side of things.

Thanks for reading… what are some of your new favorites?

On a related side note…these guys are playing the Warped Tour again and as much as they are in my top 1 right now, as close as the show is to me, and as there are actually other bands playing that I’d like to see I just can’t afford to spend the money on tickets right now… so if anyone’s buying I think I could whip up a few t-shirts in return… or something!

Thanks again!

- Kevin