Understanding the ”No Filter” World

Fri Jun 18 2021
Peter Åstedt

Before in the industry, there were filters for everything. Like when an artist recorded in a studio there was a producer that made decisions. Then the producer took it to the record label and they made decisions. The record label took it to the distributor, and they had their opinions. Not optimal for sure, many of the complaints back in the days were a long time between when the artist had recorded a song until it actually was out on the market. Another complaint was that much of the artist's work was changed by different opinions, right or wrong.

All that has changed. Today an artist can record in the day and get it out to the audience the same minute the song is finished. That is why the demo is no longer exists. Demo was the song roughly recorded for different people in the chain to give comments, so they didn’t have to get back and do it again. Today with all digital it’s so easy to change you consider everything release ready, the demo is gone.

How To Make the Most Out of a Showcase Festival

Fri Jun 11 2021
Peter Åstedt

So, you got booked to a Showcase Festival or are planning to attend one. Congratulations if you got booked and great if you plan to visit one, good choice. In this part of Showcase Festivals for Dummies, I will go guide you through the dos and dont’s of how to make the most out of a Showcase Festival.

Firstly, don’t overdo it. Many artists get really excited that they will get a show at a Showcase Festival and suddenly they are planning a show of a lifetime. Yes, its can be an opportunity of a lifetime but the people that are going to see you want to see what they get. So, if you book a small choir of singers for the background vocals and an extra person on the saxophone, yes, it will sound great and be amazing on stage, but for the professionals, we will think “okay, the promo picture showed four people in the band do we really need the other extra eight? That will be a massive cost in transportation. Try to make a great show that you can re-create every time. So even if it’s tempting for this time using some fireworks, if it’s not in the show every time just skip the extravaganza, be excellent at everything else.

How Do You Get Picked For A Showcase Festival?

Fri Jun 04 2021
Peter Åstedt

I guess this is one of the more important and pertinent articles that are in my series if you are trying to get accepted as a Showcase act at a Festival. If you have not already read them check out Pt. 1 and Pt 2 of the series Showcase Festivals for Dummies.

How do you secure a spot on a Showcase Festival?

Even though Showcase Festivals usually don’t pay any or at best a minimum fee, they still get a lot of applications. A midsize festival can get around 1500 to 2000 applications. How do you stand out when there are so many other artist’s applications?  I have been working on many Showcase Festivals over the years and they all deal with it differently. And yet, some things never change.

Why Do Bands Not Get Paid On A Showcase Festival?

Fri May 28 2021
Peter Åstedt

If you read my last posting (cashboxcanada.ca/features-music/showcase-festivals-dummies/4854) it was about the difference between a Festival and a Showcase Festival, check back and read that if you don’t know the difference. Don’t be shy that you don’t know I just explained the concept to one of the biggest bosses in one of the biggest booking agencies in the world last week. Here is my next part into my Showcase Festivals For Dummies.

You can think of a Showcase Festival as a fair. You know the trade shows where they gather under one theme. Like a trade show based around boats. You have exhibitors showing off their latest boats, engines, lights, life vests. A Showcase Festival and its conference is the same just that you show off music and artists for the global music industry.

Showcase Festivals for Dummies

Fri May 21 2021
Peter Åstedt

I am still amazed about the fact that so many people in important positions really don’t understand how a showcase festival works? By now people that work in the industry should be aware of how it works. I even lecture on Universities for new students about this subject. I guess the problem will be solved with the new milleliums. Still, for me, it is an annoying issue.

So here it is - Showcase Festivals for Dummies.

Let’s start with a simple explanation of the difference between a festival and a showcase festival. A festival contains artists that will sell tickets to an audience. For the festival, the mandate is to book major acts as cheaply as possible to sell as many tickets as possible to an audience. Of course, this is not easy as it sounds. Choosing an artist is depending on if they are on tour, what price range, and what the rest of the tour and it is no easy task. Just calling up the Rolling Stones and try to book them is not going to happen. Here it’s important which contact name you have on your roster and a network to get to the right artists.

The Fake Entrepreneur

Fri May 14 2021
Peter Åstedt

One thing I have learned during the pandemic that I’m not a guy wearing many hats. I’m a serial entrepreneur in the music industry.

Being an entrepreneur is maybe a harder thing during the pandemic, you really want to get things done, and done now. Of course, the restrictions have been bad, but as an entrepreneur you just get around it and make it work anyway. During the pandemic, I have worked hard with the whole team to make Cashbox radio sound better. Still, the station became a priority focus and since it was online it was a perfect project that has developed and grown.  I also the European Consultant for an online music offering with a special one hour presentation called “Heal the Earth” in celebration of Earth Day 2021. Check out the Heal the Earth video here:

What is Famous?

Fri May 07 2021
Peter Åstedt

When you work in the music industry and you are at a party or a gathering with people that don’t work in the industry and you say that you work in the industry there is always someone who will ask, "so do you work with some famous music, or is it artists that we know?"

The question though is what is famous for this person. You don’t know what rock they have lived under or what small town they just escaped from? Or that they have a lot of knowledge? Also, especially when you work in the industry, you might work with artists that are on the way up that you think they should know about but that is never the case.

I have worked with all ranges of artists so you can’t really play that game with me. I can just drop some big names like Kiss or Dolly Parton and that would be the end of the discussion. Everybody knows them you think. Nope, if you are with an older lady in 70's she might never have heard about Kiss, Dolly Parton she had heard of but really doesn't know any songs. That happened last weekend. It also depends on where you are from. Every country has its own superstars that it seems like people just should know who they are.

Trust and Loyalty are Very Important In the Music Industry

Fri Apr 30 2021
Peter Åstedt

Trust and loyalty is a very important lesson to learn in the music industry. Many don’t really understand this theory. Even the worst of  the mob were less hard in this area.

My guess is that over 70% of all careers are probably gone because of someone breaching these rules.

There is a test of younger children that is very cute, but interestingly you can find these homemade videos on YouTube search after “don’t eat the candy challenge”. In short, what they do is put a four-year-old in front of some candy. They tell the kid to not eat the candy and they will get more candy in return. The scientist though said to the kid that you can have the candy but if you wait until later you will get a whole bag of the same candy. Then they measure how far you are as a child in consequences. Some kids weren’t so far so they eat the candy and were not rewarded, some have matured more and waited and got a bigger reward.

My guess is that the kids that had not matured actually became artists. All of them. I have no proof but I have a  good hunch.

You Need The Right Message!

Fri Apr 23 2021
Peter Åstedt

Right now is the best place to be in the music industry. At the same time the worst to be in the music industry. No, I am not talking about the COVID, sure it disrupts things and puts people out of business, still, I see that as good cleansing of holy alliances that we really don’t need anymore in the industry.

I am actually talking about the state the media is in right now. To be honest, media is the place where you can get many eyes and ears to listen to your music. Right now everything is so shattered. Social media is mainly just bubbles where very few people see what you are doing or in this case listening.

Doesn't matter if you have a  half-million followers, most people won’t know who you are. Yesterday I read in the normal media (also called old media) about a Swedish influencer that had died. I never have heard about him until I read in normal media, I guess sadly his fame came with his death.

Are The Online Conferences Like Cheap Dating Services?

Fri Apr 16 2021
Peter Åstedt

During the COVID, many have tried to take their conferences online. It’s a supplement to having a conference since COVID stopped us all from meeting personally. Of course, it’s not that hard to get people to sign up for an online conference. Especially if it’s for free. The problem is to get people to interact in a positive way.

How is that? Usually, I come back from a conference with at least a hundred new business cards! I love chatting and hanging around with people. With an online event it looks more and more like a cheap version of a dating service. When I’m at these conferences there is no small talk. Let’s pretend you are at a bar see someone that you like, and you want to make contact with this person. You wouldn’t just walk right up and tell the person that you are the best partner that has ever existed, and you now wonder what the person can do for you.

Online dating is kind of that in its worst form. Here you mainly go on a small piece of information that the other person has pimped up to get attention like a peacock. More or less you can guess that information is not really anything like reality, but hey that is what you are choosing from.

You Don’t Discuss The Future You Create It

Fri Apr 09, 2021

Take a chance, if you want to have a future in the music industry!

If you aint’ first, your last! – Ricky Bobby.

That sums it all. Right now, the music industry is going through big changes, bigger than ever before. Like when Napster came around, when we went from vinyl to CD, from buying to streaming music. It has always been the ones that take chances that are the winners.  

Scott Cohen who started the distribution service The Orchard with Richard Gottehrer said in a panel we arranged, said when he had the idea of digital distribution, no one believed in him and was thrilled when Richard came along who was a big industry person, In reality, Scott had no clue if this would work. Later we had Richard on another panel and he remembered that he was insecure around digital distribution but he thought that Scott was young and probably knew what he was doing.

Invest In Music Is The New Hype!

Fri Apr 02 2021
Peter Åstedt

I just read about a new company again that has what they think a brilliant idea that has you in music in the new blockchain technology. This is actually the fourth this week I read about. I just see a big hype right now that will rip off artists and make the music industry look like a shitty amateur camp.

Get Your Story Right

Fri Mar 26 2021
Peter Åstedt

I recently saw an interview with the Swedish megastar Zara Larsson. It was some famous magazine that was getting the grand tour of her apartment. Then she was in various Swedish media coverage saying that she had been smoking a lot of weed lately but has now stopped doing that.  Strange thing is I first noticed that we haven’t heard from Zara for long while. I looked in both interviews but none said anything about new music.

Then just days later I saw an ad for her new album “Postergirl”. Of course Zara Larsson has great, smart teams working around her to get her exposure. The two interview looks like they are just taken out of the blue, that she just one day felt like showing off her apartment for a magazine or doing a “dark” confession. The truth is that in today’s media world the fact that you release new music is not good enough news.

Agencies Needs To Shape Up

Fri Mar 19 2021
Peter Åstedt

Okay in Sweden the booking scene is kind of strange. It’s not working as the rest of the world since the agencies are often the promoters and also the bookers. Still, I can easily see what happens here might eventually happen to the rest of the world.

Of course, the COVID situation has left most of these companies in a tailspin. We don’t know how many they really laid off. And like the rest of the world,  some have jumped off and started new secret companies not yet to be seen in the light. What has been very evident is that the artist has been changing companies like crazy. The agencies have been more or less competing to get newsletters out with their latest signings. Still, it’s the same old artist-changing agency that probably won’t survive anyway when the whole system and network changes in a couple of months.

Just A Slick Production Won’t Help Today

Fri Mar 12 2021
Peter Åstedt

Back in the days before the internet when the music industry sold plastic discs at high prices, you could get away with just a slick production. To produce a good album in the 70/80 and 90’s there was a different set of rules. First of all, it was very few releases. Mainly because it was expensive to get the music out. It was pressing, mastering, recording, photographs, or, and much more. In the end, an album could have the same budget as a small independent movie. Of course with that risk, you also needed to be very sure what to pick. You had to choose carefully with songs that should be on there and if they were good.

Back in the days these were called demos. A quick, dirty recording of just how the song really sounded. Mainly it showed if the song was a good song. You always knew there would be a producer that would change the sound and the final recording. I remember in the studio when I was hanging and learning about my first recording session, there was a sign on it that said “You can’t make gold out of cowshit”. Closest I guess would be “You can’t polish a turd”.

I Am Missing the Special Bond with the Artists

Fri Mar 05 2021
Peter Åstedt

I have been spending a lot of time on online conferences again. Last year I did over 30 of them and now they are becoming frequent again. But online conferences will never replace the real meetings at an “in-person" conference. One thing has really stood out though during these times. The online world is a much harder place for the artist to connect and get anything done.

Too many of the people I meet at these conferences are doing two serious mistakes. Mistakes I personally also do, so it’s a human thing. Either they contact everyone they just see at the conference, more or less just asking the person if they have an opportunity for them. A hard question since I haven’t checked you out or know what you are doing. The other mistake is just hanging around and really not presenting yourself to anybody. You feel that you don’t have anything to offer  so you mainly just sit there and wait for the persons that contact everybody to show up. In the end, the match between these two is non-existent.

Don’t Fear The Mistakes. Just Do The Right Ones.

Fri Feb 26 2021
Peter Åstedt

One of the bands I work with once said, “Better to do something than do nothing at all”. Another quote is the circus owner Phineas T. Barnum that said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity”. Of course, in the worst situations, there is bad publicity and doing things totally wrong. In most cases, it’s not. And I feel many withhold themselves just by being afraid making a mistake.

Doing nothing is really safe, I can admit that. Progression wise though it’s pure stupidity. Without taking chances you are not going further. My biggest successes have been through mistakes. Also, a lot of knowledge comes from making mistakes. There is a difference between making mistakes and making mistakes.

I sent out a newsletter today. It was very fast because I had just two hours between two different quite important panels and today was the last day we could get the letter out before we got new numbers to send to in our mailing system. Of course, I had to put things together in no time. No chance to double-check. Not even the links and spelling were just through the spelling program.

Rethink The Strategy - What The Artist Needs To Learn!

Fri Feb 19 2021
Peter Åstedt

I just saw a local government that is supporting local artists doing another meet-up. This time it was that their local artists should learn social media. It’s nice for the artist that they get a chance to learn something around the business. Still, it won’t help their career. Social media today is so advanced that the normal artist really can’t be their own social media manager. This course will just get them some small tip-offs and people think that they can do it on their own.

Instead, if they were serious about it, they should hire a social media manager. The artist will have enough problems to keep up with all that content that should be produced then be able to follow up on the information they got from that government sponsor meeting. In the end, the information they get is old by the time that meeting is over. To handle social media today you need to follow the trends and be active all the time to find out about the new functions and what is working. That is a professional's job. Either the artist must choose from being an artist or a social media manager. There is a reason even small businesses hire a social media manager.

Do You Really Own Your Fanbase?

Fri Feb 12 2021
Peter Åstedt

Let me guess if you are an artist, you don’t have a homepage. Or your homepage is not updated! How can I tell? In the past few days, I have been adding independent artists to both my festival Future Echoes and our radio station Cashbox Radio. And I’m usually surprised when an artist really has a homepage. If it’s updated with the latest, I’m really impressed. Most do not this and it had made my work so hard.

You don’t need a homepage some artist tell you. We have our social media, that is where the fans are hanging out.

There is a problem with this. You actually own a website and you decide how it should be presented and also have the opportunity to collect the fans there. The ugly truth with social media is that you don’t own your followers, they are actually owned by Facebook, Tiktok, and other multi-national companies. They just let you have access to your own fans for a little bit. In reality, they actually let you pay to reach your own followers by paid messages. Think about it, a post in these networks only reaches around 10% of your fanbase, if you pay you can reach more.

A Good Picture Says It All!

Fri Feb 05 2021
A Good Picture Says It All!

I guess many of us that work in the music industry are failed musician. My first band was not even a band. We were incredibly young and started a band even though we could not play any instruments. Instead, we played air instruments to our favorite songs. Cute yes, but there is one thing here. The first thing we did before we even rehearsed with our air instruments, was to take a band picture. To be honest to get the right location and background and pose took so long that we missed our first rehearsal and we had to get home before curfew. And the second rehearsal we looked at the pictures and the girl that sang was not pleased because the guys in the band looked better than her. In the third rehearsal, we went to take new pictures.

I have just gone through 100 applications for my new festival, Future Echoes. I started to see a trend. Many of the pictures were blurry or out of focus. Another thing was that the artist was not in the whole picture. It was like a gallery of modern art. A place where you really don’t know what the art is, or if you are staring at the radiator and no art at all.