Monday, April 20, 2009

Lost Ones.. an open love letter.. (part I)

(*note - reprinted from - feb 2008)

Dear Lauren & D..
I just gotta ask.....
Where are you?
Do you know we miss you?
Do you know we are all here waiting patiently for the 2 of you to return and grace us with your music?
Do you know how much you are loved, championed, and adored by the rest of us?

We've all heard the stories..
We know it's hard living your life out in the open for all the world to see and sometimes judge, but I promise you, the people that judge you are not your real fans or at least not your best fans.

We know you had unpleasant dramas with your former co-producers and writers but did you know... we don't care?
Do you know how many of us don't give a damn if you didn't write a fucking word on 'Miseducation' because the bottom line is NOBODY could sing those songs like you do?
And I'm not even saying you didn't write those songs, I'm just saying most of us don't care!
Because your voice, your presentation, YOU are such a magnificent talent, you could sing tha' damn phonebook and I'd still be first in line to buy it!

I still listen to 'Miseducation' and your 'MTV Unplugged' cd's today and I still love them every bit as much today as I did when I first heard them.
I remember the first time I heard 'Lost Ones', I was in a store in Greenwhich Village in New York.
I was in a fitting room trying on clothes, that song came on and I was like 'OH SHIT!' I came out of the fitting room and started dancing.. (I put my clothes back on 1st, haha)
When that song went off I walked right over to Tower Records to find out when the album would be released and if the single was available.
That was back in the day when you could still buy a cd single and if it wasn't out yet you'd wait patiently for the song to come on the radio.
I remember how people used to talk about 'Miseducation' being groundbreaking and innovative and fresh, and it was, it was all that and more. People were comparing it to Bob Marley and the Beatles.
Maybe there have been other personal dramas in your life, demons you've had to put to rest..
We all understand the need for private time and a personal life but PLEASE don't let whatever those issues are make you stay away from us forever. We need your thoughts, your ideas and your emotion, we need that voice. We need you..

(To be con't..)

Friday, April 10, 2009

File sharing and its effects on the music biz..

To working musicians everywhere,
I have a teenage son who tells me his pirating music is no big deal. Since he is a musician himself, I point out to him that someday that’s going to be his money people are stealing. But he remains unphased.

He tells me the record sales make money for the record label, not the artist. He says that the artists make all their money from touring and live concerts. He thinks the pirated music promotes the concerts and therefore helps the artist make more money. I still don’t allow pirating in my house.

But tell me what you think - as artists out there having your work “shared,” are you just glad to have it being enjoyed, or does it bother you? Admittedly, he is stealing music that is recorded by major record labels, so maybe its different than the independent musician working for his living. But I’d still like to hear what you think.


Dear Valerie,
My name is Vivian and my husband and I are both workimg musicians.
About 8 years ago when pirating seemed to really start to catching on, I used to be completly paranoid that someone would come to our house and drag my husband out by the scruff of his neck. He pirated music day and night..

At that time, people were getting fined and arrested for pirating, there was one kid that was sued by a record company for several thousands of dollars. Their point was to try to make an example out of the poor kid.
Of course my husband kept right on downloading music and never ended up in jail or fined.. (Yet, that is..)
Just because he didn't doesn't make it alright.

A couple of years ago now, my husband and I independently released our own cd, and of course, our music has also been pirated along with many other recordings I've done for and with various artists over the years. Ironically, this is a fact that my
husband has had a bit of a hard time dealing with, while I, on the other hand have come to accept this as a way of life.

While it's not exactly true that artists don't make $$ from record sales, it is true that most artists, especially newer artists, do make the bulk of their $$ from touring and performing but they also make a chunk of $$ from publishing which is also drying up due to lack of record sales which is a direct result of pirating. And obviously for independent artists like ourselves, we stand to lose a bigger percentage of $$ from pirating because we get to keep the biggest percentage of $$ from record sales. This is the way independent music stores are set up, to aid the independent musician.

The internet has irrevocably changed the face of music forever and in many ways, this change is absolutely for the better. The amount of opportunites available to independent musicians, to have our music heard and sold are infinite..
The amount of work that goes with these opportunities, might also be infinite. On the one hand the internet has opened many doors for me as an artist as well as a consumer, on the other hand the internet has made stealing intellectual properties relatively easy. What we have is a double edged sword.

Seriously though, when I think back on the stranglehold record companies have had on the music industry for the last 60 years or so, I'd say all in all, I absolutely prefer things the way they are now with this much more level playing field.

I don't now, nor have I ever believed that being an artist should be the crap shoot it has been. I've seen many a no talent individual reach super star status while so many truly gifted, inspired, and incredibly unique artists go unnoticed..
I've seen artist after artist be cheated, stolen from or treated horribly by their labels. I personally have been told by a few label execs that I need to copy the style of this or that artist if I ever wanted make it in this business or be signed to a label..

It's this shift in the music business that has, without a doubt, inspired me to want to make music again..
In this arena, I actually feel like I have the ability to find my own voice, my own audience and on my own terms, and though I'd like to be paid for my music, I'm happy to know that people are listening and interested, whether they pay for it or not.

Thank you for reading..
mama said music can change the world..

Friday, April 3, 2009

Indie Star Adventures (ISA): ep1

Hey babies, Vivian here with the next ep of ‘The Indie Star Adventures’..

So.. I got a little Tribe filtering through my NEW speakers. Yeah, I had to go out and get some new speakers today. The ones I had were really compact and lightweight which is perfect for travel but they had no bass.. Now you know you can’t be rocking Tribe without the low end, right? I was on a Biggie rampage last week, trying to eek some low end out of them damn speakers, I just couldn’t do it. So, I guess I’m gon’ be that ghetto chick that always has too many bags ‘ cause I gots to have me a bottle of Red Devil hot sauce, my giant ass speakers, hair grease, flat iron, too many pair of shoes, the kitchen sink, whatev’s..
For real though, I forget sometimes just how much I love Tribe and Biggie and then I put them on and it’s like I discover this music all over again and I have to listen to every record. It’s like I just get in a zone.. but I had to give Q’s Renainssance a rest, I have played that ish to death. Is it just me, or is that the dopest record out right now, still?? If not, please tell me what is ‘cause I damn sho’ need another record to play.. (and please don't holla at me about nan a record that aint banging' from start to finish, k?)

Ok .. So, I have been getting scolded left and right about my lackadaisical blogging..
Kevin, my girl Kat, even my boy Will.. I know.. I’ve been terrible, but I’m gonna do better..
Promise.. I even got a new camcorder (do we still call them that?) and I’m gonna start a vlog in a few weeks.. Just let me get my i-movie skills together

And now, here’s the latest..
First up, the P!nk tour – is going fabulously well, and that might be an understatement. So far every show has been sold out.
Now, I don’t wanna’ give too much away , ‘cause I want you all to come out and see the show, because honestly? This is the baddest show I have ever seen, much less been fortunate enough to be a part of! And that is no lie, just straight truth. If you never were a P!nk fan before, you will absolutely be one after you see this show.. She puts all the other divas TO SHAME.

First of all, the costumes are by Bob Mackie (Carol Burnett, Cher, and what a gentleman) and they are really beautiful and show off P!nk's fierce ass body.
The music is stellar and has something for everyone. The entire band is showcased, and we kick major ass every night whilst P!nk sings her ass off.
The dancers are beautiful, every single one of them.. and so graceful and so talented.
The lights, the movie screens and stage design are nothing short of spectacular, seriously..

The thing I hear the most from people, folks I know and strangers alike, is ‘I have to see it again, there was so much to see, I just couldn’t choose one thing to look at’..
Plus, I’m out here with Jenny, so you know.. trouble ensues, hahahaha. I should probably be calling this blog ‘The Adventures of the Shopaholics’ (hahaha, someone did that already, didn’t they?) It was Jen’s birthday last month so I treated her to a pair of Choo’s. All of y’all better know what a Choo is (lol). I try to spoil her whenever I can, she is my idol!

Then again, we have our down days too. So far, everyone’s been sick with a cold or the stomach flu. In fact I was patting myself on the back that I managed to escape unscathed, only to succumb last nite to the worst stomach flu I’ve had in a long time. Boy I went down hard. Let me tell you, it is not fun to have to perform when all you want to do is hug the toilet
So there you have it, it's not all fun, games and glamour. All the travel can wear you down sometimes, but we have so much fun too and you couldn’t ask for a nicer or more fun group of people.

Moving right along.. The new LP – is shaping up nicely.. Now, this is probably going to be hilarious to some of you, but I can’t decide what genre I want to do next so in typical Sagittarian form, I’m doing 2 records.. (haha). I know, I’m crazy but some days I wake up and feel like ‘This is the direction I want to go in’, and then other days I wake up and feel like ‘No no no, THIS is the way to go..’ so now you know, I’m indecisive sometimes.. I’m even going so far as doing separate artwork and the whole nine. Hopefully, as I get closer to the release date I’ll have a clue but until then, I’m just reveling in the music.
Chris is out here with me, (twice so far) recording, writing, brainstorming and getting in some quiet time ;-)

Got a couple of photo shoots coming up, starting to get pics together for the artwork and what have you. Getting all my ducks in a row for the next release. There is a ton of stuff that has to happen to put a record out, even as an indie, and being the perfectionist that I am, that means double or triple the work for me, so you most definitely need an awesome team.

Coming up in the next few blogs I’ll talk a little bit about the team we’ve managed to put together so far, but in a nutshell;
-We have an excellent PR firm that did some spectacular work for us with the last record. Everywhere you saw us, they had a hand in it.
-Through our PR company, we met and had several meetings with a great marketing firm, so hopefully you’ll hear us on the radio with this next record.
-An amazing graphic artist that I found on Myspace whose work is stunning. He’ll be doing the artwork for the cd and revamping the website.
-Our attorney, who is an absolute Godsend and goes so far above and beyond what is usually asked of an attorney.
-We are signing on with a new internet PR company who comes highly recommended the folks over at CDBaby.

We have a few other key players who are signing on to assist in various ways, as well.
The only 2 missing, but very key pieces to this puzzle are a booking agent and/or a manager. Like most indie artists, these are the 2 most coveted, yet hardest to fill positions in an artists career. Honestly, as an independent artist, if you have one, (either a manager or a booking agent) and they are really good, you usually don’t need both. It would be great to find a good booking agent, but I feel like with all we’ve learned in the last 2 years, releasing and promoting our own music, we would do better to find a really good manager so my goal is to get someone on board before the year is out and hopefully, in time, for the release of the new record.

What are the things you want in a manager?
-Honesty has to be first, right? No brainer there.
-Ear to the ground, needs to know what’s happening.
-Needs to get me, I want someone to see me and be like ‘Yep, I get it!’ (Is that too much to ask?)
-HUNGRY/driven, that one is important, I think.. Lots of get up and go.
-Charming/people person, natural schmoozer (that’s a gift, not everyone can do it, I, for one cannot!).
-Has to have contacts and connections or know how to get them.
-Kind, if you have to talk to someone on a daily, that would be nice, plus I’m kind of the sensitive artist type.
-Patient/stick-to-itiveness ‘cause I’m also kind of stupid sometimes, (sad but true), also comes in handy when it comes to waiting for answers, waiting to get paid, etc.
-Killer instinct, ‘cause people always say that’s a good thing to have in a manager but I want it to be known that I would only appreciate that trait if it’s not directed at me, (I felt like Woody Allen writing that).
-Funny, (I just threw that one in). Maybe attentiveness would be better? Funny goes a long way sometimes, though..
-Fair, also very important and although you wouldn’t think it, it's not the same thing as honesty.

HEY! This almost sounds like a husband list! I already got one of those!
I wonder if I could convince Chris to manage me? I’m pretty sure he’d never go for it.
Then again, you know one of those people who does everything so damn good they can’t never get nothing done, I’m just sayin’. So that probably wouldn’t work no how.. (lol)

Anyhoo, be sure to stay tuned for the next episode of the ‘Indie Star Adventures’ to find out how the search goes..
And as always, drop us a line, anytime..
Peace & love,
Your girl

Btw, music can change the world..