MURPHY’S LAW IN MUSIC
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You’re in the studio, the songs have been mixed, the mastering sounds powerful, the music pounds out of the speakers and you feel so confident. Before your lips form a smug smile though, be fully aware that this is only the beginning and not the end to all of your problems. Murphy’s cruel law likes to make it’s presence felt especially when you’re feeling that the world is at your feet and you have made your defining album. So many things can still go wrong before your CD finds it’s way onto supermarket shelves. These are some such things that I have had the misfortune to experience first hand:
1. You can’t get a signature from a performer. If you want to release your CD, all of the performers must sign that they agree to your using their contribution. No signature means you will not be allowed to use e.g. their backing vocal if the performer hasn’t formally consented.
2. An Agent of Doom decides to sabotage the beautiful CD sleeve that you have prepared: Record labels sometimes have frustrated artists, musicians, budding film directors working within. These “creators” are the masters of self-deception, believing that their talents are untapped, when in reality they are simply absent. Beware of such people – if the frustrated artist holds a position of authority within your record label (I once had this situation with the head of a well-known Polish Indie-label), you will find that your beautiful sounding CD will be wrapped in a glorified sheet of toilet paper resembling an eyesore, an abhorrence – and many people will choose not to buy your CD, believing that what looks like trash, invariably sounds like trash.
3. Who the hell are you? So you’ve thought of a great name for your group – for example Neo Retros, Your first song has made it onto the radio, you feel immensely proud of yourself as you hear your voice bellowing out of a distant speaker while chucking a can of baked beans into your supermarket trolley. You’ve conquered Carrefour, surely the world is next? Well, no. If you think that having a couple of songs on the radio makes you a household name, think again and most importantly, think about what you want to say. From personal experience, I know all too well that the one person that I’m not adept at selling, is myself. For some salesmanship comes naturally, for me this is the dark, dirty world of marketing – a world I’m not a fan of but a world that pervades all aspects of music these days. Managers talk constantly about brand awareness, internet portals analyse if their readers see you as a hot topic or not and if you’re an idealist believing that the cream of music inevitably rises to the top, good luck – you’ll need it.
4. Fashionably unpunctual? In many walks of life, it is considered the height of bad manners to have the gall to arrive on time, arriving on time gives any late arrivals an unnecessary and unfortunate feeling of guilt. When releasing an album, however, make sure that your album really is available when you say it will be. Sometimes your album’s arrival on supermarket shelves may be delayed through things beyond your control – problems with barcodes, packaging issues, logistics etc, the consequences can be disastrous.
5. The Thank Yous. One of the final steps when preparing a CD sleeve is compiling a list of who to thank. This list is the CD equivalent to the plight of the bride-to-be and groom when writing invitations to their wedding. Who you thank is not a problem, who you haven’t thanked is. The wrath of those overlooked can be most fierce. I generally prefer the musical equivalent to elopement – running away from all responsibility and not thanking anyone at all.
For this reason, I would like to thank myself for this latest blog and thank the depths of my own mind for it’s particular insight into this subject.