Are Artists Cattle?

Fri Jan 14 2022
Peter Åstedt

Artists are Cattle! I guess that is what Alfred Hitchcock would say around today's music industry. He once said that actors are cattle. Or what he really said was - Fundamentally, actors are a race apart. This group is divided into two sections: first, those who have talent and have never received any recognition for it, and, second, those who have received recognition without having any talent. Either way, they're cattle.

When asked if he ever said that actors are cattle he replied, I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.

The problem I have today is that the music industry is really treating the artist like cattle. No, I’m talking about the evil record labels, publishers, or agents whatever has been up to artists to call the players in the music industry. Whatever you have to say about the music industry in the past they still cared about artists. Not all of them and of course there were disputes. I’m talking about the new music industry that has emerged in the past ten years. The digital music industry.

How To Calculate Your Value

Fri Jan 07 2022
Peter Åstedt

The pandemic is still continuing to affect us all. We probably must live with it for several years and have more or less adapted to new rules and regulations. This of course has affected a lot of live establishments, festivals, and other things in the live industry. I guess it’s a bit early to start thinking of major tours and gigs again. That is not the phenomenon I would like to write about. I want to tell you how people value things wrong.

As an artist, you have a value, of course, but the value is also very subjective. You think you can get well paid for a show because you know how much time you have spent writing and rehearsing the show. The problem is that a person that runs a gig place or festival is mainly calculating your value by how many people that will buy a ticket or get into the place and consume food and drinks. It doesn’t matter if you have a great fan base in your home city and actually get some payment for a show. As soon as that fans base is not showing up your value is back again to zero. I meet too many people thinking that your value follows along with your name. It’s not, not even with big stars.

The End Of The Year!

Fri Dec 24 2021
Peter Åstedt

This is my last column for 2021. Another year that was mostly spent on COVID, but also there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We got back a bit to live shows in the Autumn and it’s getting better. We still have to cope with COVID and that will keep on going, so we just have to deal with the uncertainty.

This year doesn’t really have that much happening. It blurs together with 2020 like just another year. Now though at the end of the year, it seems like things are starting to get ready. People start to get ready for the new world. The changes we have talked about are now occuring and I just feel strongly that in January everything will kick into gear.

Skip The X-Mas Song

Fri Dec 17 2021
Peter Åstedt

Let’s go down to if it’s really worth it to make a Xmas song. If you make a mega-hit like Mariah Carey's “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and then the world plays the shit out of the song every December each year, yes you probably will laugh when you go to the bank. The problem I see is how many songs that never get any recognition.

I was driving in my car today. Last year one of my favorite stations decided to just play X-mas music the whole of December. It was awful so I turned that station off and forgot about the station until March when I released that they had stopped the X-mas music. Maybe they understood the problem with their decision because this year, they are just playing X-Mas songs here and there. There are people that just love X-mas and want to have X-mas music, and the glitter and the decorations and just love it so much that they can have it all year round, but I am guessing they are pretty few and far between. It’s probably the same people that eat hard bread with ketchup, there are people doing that, but luckily, they are few and far between as well.

Nothing Will Be Perfect!

Fri Dec 10 2021
Peter Åstedt

Nothing will be perfect! This is just the reality and if the reality doesn’t really is for you, don’t even enter the show business. It’s much easier to take a 9-5 job at a normal office and just work there. You going to get the same things every day and you will be safe.

Recently, I have been meeting too many people in the position to try to make everything perfect in a situation where you really can’t provide those situations. I was traveling and next to me was a couple with a child. Somehow, they had ordered a meal on the flight but were complaining that the meal wasn’t delivered fast enough. The whole flight was delayed because of another delayed flight and some trouble with the passport systems but that didn’t matter to the couple. The staff was working really hard to just get this flight going. And to be honest I was just happy to avoid being stuck for several hours in a boring airport. I would gladly just skip the meal just to get back.  Instead, they were harassing the flight crew with stupid questions when the meal would arrive like that would make it faster.

Peter Astedt Explains It Has To Be Good!

Fri Dec 03 2021
Peter Åstedt

I have just played fifteen songs that have come in one way or another in my different roles as editor, playlist maker, radio DJ, and festival curator. The problem I have is that none of the songs had that quality to make it any further. To be honest they all were in the demo stage in the songwriting process. They were recorded ok, not professionally but ok recorded.

In the end, it’s just not good enough. These songs can never find it’s way to a bigger audience. The craftsmanship is not there. It’s not enough that your mother and a couple of your friends find the songs well.

And here is the biggest mistake that artists are doing right now. They read about all the tips and tricks that industry professionals (just like me) are giving away for free on all different channels all the time. The problem is that we are all talking about when a song is good. When it’s a hidden gem that could with the right marketing reach a bigger audience. The biggest problem is that 97 % of all songs that are given out don’t have that quality. And for these songs, it would be like putting make-up on a pig to follow the instructions that these professionals are giving.

Putting the Online Events In The Past

Fri Nov 26 2021
Peter Åstedt

Soon we can put all the online events in the past. I just decided that after the New Year, if I am to be at an online event, then it has to be very special for me.  Even the worst in real-life events are better than the online versions.

I was just invited to another online conference. The problem now is that so many companies are doing these that it is making it so hard to reach info and sometimes it just becomes annoying. Just a simple thing to find the login page was a twenty-minute waste of time. When I went to the organizer's homepage there was no log-in for the conference part. Of course, they were streaming fifty bands that I have no interest in whatsoever to watch a show online at this point.  I’m barely watching shows with my favorite bands because the shows are not interesting enough to see on a screen. They are made to be seen live and in person. To see an unknown artist with totally new songs in an environment where you can’t get any interaction with an audience, sorry but it doesn’t work for me.

I’m Not Allowed to Write a Bad Song?

Fri Nov 19 2021
Peter Åstedt

I was teaching at a music school a couple of years ago, talking about the importance of a good song. I told the students that whatever I told them was a tipoff on how to market their songs but it will not work if the song is not good. All I was saying was calculated by the fact that the song had to be great. One kid raised his hand and asked “I’m I not allowed to write a bad song?”

Is the Future No Real Artists?

Fri Nov 12 2021
Peter Åstedt

This week you could possibly read that the Swedish pop star Zara Larsson had made a seven-figure amount on online merch on the platform Roblox. She commented that “it’s perfect, more environmentally friendly, and a new way to make money. Imagine how many flights it would take to reach four million people? Or how many trucks it would take to bring a pink lake house with me everywhere? And then having a couple of hundred people on a payroll, who also need accommodation and food and somewhere to sleep. Going online saves so much in carbon emissions." She stated to BBC.

She started on Roblox during the pandemic in May and held a virtual concert for 1.6 million people in Roblox but the money comes from her selling merch to avatars in the game. You can buy sunglasses and shirts and other stuff to dress your avatar with.

Can I Contact You?

Fri Nov 05 2021
Peter Åstedt

It seems like people don’t understand that making a career as an artist is the same as getting a business going. We go back to my favorite subject that I should open a restaurant.

Imagine that you hear about a new restaurant that should be really good and you want to get a reservation to eat there in a couple of days. You go to the restaurant's homepage and there you have the menu, some pictures of what it looks like, but it’s missing the address where it’s located and there are no contact details or instructions on how you book a table?

There are links to social media everywhere, but it seems kind of strange to send a message on Facebook or Instagram to book a table if it doesn’t clearly say so. And you don’t know really who is behind the social media accounts it could be their PR agency. After looking through you find info at address in one of the corners and you send it to that address.

How Technology Or Trends Are Dictating How The Artists Write Songs

Fri Oct 29 2021
Peter Åstedt

It’s interesting to see how technology or trends are dictating how the artists write songs. The past year's songs have been very long. The majority has been close or over four minutes. Sometimes even though the radio usually doesn’t take long songs people have released up to five to six minutes. Why you ask is it a trend? Not really it was that many believed that to keep the listener you needed to make a longer song.  If they finally got in there and listened to your song, then you should keep them as long as possible. Also, short songs were always under scrutiny by Spotify.

Am I Allowed to Tell An Artist Their Music Sucks?

Fri Oct 22 2021
Peter Åstedt

For inspiration to o write this column today, I just randomly went through my recent emails. This is just of one of the many I receive on a regular basis, but many of them have the same theme.  Since so many make the same mistakes, I thought I would use this one as an example so I will hide whoever sent it and any other personal information.

- My name is “insert artist name here*-  I'm one half of *bandname*, Indie Folk duo.
My new single "*single name*" comes out on October 20th, and I'd love to send it over to you to check out prior to its release.  Getting in touch with anyone at your publication about my music would be beyond a dream.

The Old Boys Club Must Be Disbanded

Fri Oct 15 2021
Peter Åstedt

I’m fascinated every time that there is a change in the industry it’s always inundated with people that think they actually have something important in the industry to say, but in reality, probably would be better off doing something else and have nothing to do with what is the new reality in the business.

I had a long conversation with a school the other day that educates students to prepare to work in the music industry. I have bumped into these students many times and are quite fascinated over how little they know about the industry. Most of the things they talk about are things that were relevant at least twenty years ago, or so basic that you can pick it out of any schoolbook or online.  In theory, students from this school are driven because they are interested in the business, but you have to just tell them to forget everything they learned and start all over if you hire them.

You Need Knowledge To Know How to Export Music

Fri Oct 08 2021
Peter Åstedt

During the pandemic, we have opened up too many digital meeting points so now everybody thinks they can export music. People are throwing around words like “export ready” and think they know what they are talking about.

Sorry, I can already tell you that most of these people have no clue what they are talking about. Just because they got a meeting online with a dude on the other side of the world, they think they are ready to send anything, anywhere.

Most of them also act like parents to the artists. Tell an A&R that the artist will have their parents along and they get a grim look on their face. You know that whatever you say to the parent they still think their kid is the best that hit the music industry since Elvis Presley. Their kid is unique and just great. What you actually see is a kid that can sing ok but has no other talent whatsoever. Same here with the exporters. They come up with hopeless cases with no songs that can play ok but don’t even how to conduct a soundcheck in the right manner.

We Will Soon Be Out Of Stars

Fri Oct 01 2021
Peter Astedt

We recently lost Charlie Watts, the drummer of The Rolling Stones. I just read a review from The Rolling Stones first concert on the postponed world tour from Atlanta. The journalist that was there said that the new drummer did a good job, but couldn’t replace Charlie and in his eyes The Rolling Stones were dead.

I guess we will see a lot of this in the near future. Yesterday’s stars are still the stars; we really aren’t  producing many more household names. Or yesterday I read more twenty years ago. I already had said a little while ago  in early 2000 that we haven’t produced any household names in late of the 90’s. Then both Britney Spears and Eminem got on and suddenly we got back with a lot of household names during the next years.

Now it seems like we are back in the position that we were in the late 90’s. Suddenly, there is no new household names. The question this time is it just one of these moments in time? Is it because of COVID? Or is it a result of the new trends of social media where you are just famous inside a bubble of certain people?

Most Played Artist Doesn’t Make You A Successful Artist

Fri Sep 24 2021
Peter Astedt

The big news here in Sweden was that a “famous” artist was arrested for robbery and extortion yesterday. Nothing really new but it proves what times  we are living in and what lies ahead.

Of course, we in Sweden have a gossip page where they discuss who this “famous” artist could be. The article said that he was one of the most listened to artists on Spotify. Of course, it just takes a couple of hours then the name drops on this site and ninety-nine percent of the readers on there don’t know who that artist is. Neither did I, sorry even though I have worked in the industry for over thirty years and read the most on everything. Nope, I never heard of this guy. Of course, it’s a rapper from the suburbs of Stockholm. Sure he has many streams over (100,000 million) and he was one of the most-streamed artitst last year. Still, no one outside the rapper’s community of Stockholm knows this guy which was pointed out very quickly. I guess after robbing the store he got “real” media so it would boost his career so that more people actually know who he is.

Streaming is not getting you anywhere.

They Got A Record Deal!

Fri Sep 17 2021
Peter Åstedt

I was talking to a local politician. Suddenly they started to  brag about some local act and told me that this artist will get somewhere because they signed a record deal with a company abroad. Yes, the person was middle-aged;  they usually are. The truth is that signing a record deal is not the same as it was in the eighties. Still many people that are not familiar with the music industry or haven’t worked in it for the past five years still see a record deal with glittering eyes. To be honest it’s so far from that.

First, that record deal they were bragging about we don’t know anything about it.  A foreign record label can be anyone putting up a homepage and buying some streams.  In fact, most of them are that way. There are very few companies that have the power and money to make the global campaigns that are needed.

Digital Can’t Deliver The Live Experience

Fri Sep 10 2021
Peter Åstedt

I was on my first in real ‘live in person’ conference last week, Mastering the Music Business (RO). The first one in almost 2 years.

I did some rookie mistakes like forgot to bring my business cards and my power bank for my phone. It was great though; I did more business than I have done in the past 1.5 years in just one day of the physical conference. It’s all true; you need to meet people face to face to make the more groundbreaking business and connections.

And I should know since the pandemic started, I have been on an online conference each once a week, sometimes two. I just calculated that I have attended around 84 of them. The problem is that nothing really happens. You get into business direct and just talk business, but no business is really done. I talked to a lot of people at the MMB conference, and they had the same opinion, well that could be biased since we were all so glad to be back again in the live environment.

The Music Industry Starts to Open Up

Fri Sep 03 2021
Peter Åstedt

I am writing this in the airport on my way to Bucharest, Romania to the showcase festival Mastering the Music Business. This is my first live attendance at an event in just over a year and a half and it feels strange to be on a airport again.

I'm really glad to be going and given the opportunity to make it happen. I'm still amazed how the global entertainment industry is still in hard lockdown. While I sit in the terminal you can just see clearly how the politicians just count us as something extra that is not important; the theory being music, especially live music, is just something you can be without and not an essential part of life.  If I would go forward with an event in Sweden right now, I'm only allowed to have 50 people in the audience, seated with 1.5 meters apart, if you serve alcohol. Currently, right in front of me, are at least 80 people crammed in the bar drinking alcohol. If I put a girl with a guitar in there would it suddenly be considered unsafe?

Now we are crammed in a totally full to capacity plane. If I stand up and sang a song would all these people get COVID?

The Magic Of A Good Songwriter

Fri Aug 27 2021
Peter Åstedt

This is a story about a new song that I will share with you This message was from an artist I used to work with around ten years ago. “Fun!”, I thought, it’s always fun to see if someone has evolved as an artist, especially in this case since I haven’t really had any contact just followed what he was doing online from time to time.

I took a listen to the link. I can also kill a myth here. Yes, I usually listen to everything I get in. The thing is that I don’t really have time to respond to all things I get in. If something is interesting, I will get back to the artist but just having conversations around stuff that is not interesting is just taking part of my precious time. And most people in the business are doing the same. They listen but rarely have time to answer anything back.