Reviews

New Music Seminar: 14 February 2011 to 16 February 2011 - Los Angeles

The Daylights

Since everything in the music business has changed, a call for another beginning.


New Music Seminar

City: Los Angeles
Date: 2011-02-16

With the hum of the 101 Hollywood Freeway outside the Sheraton Universal in Los Angeles, the winter New Music Seminar (NMS) expanded to a multi-day and night event from February 14 through 16. The theme of a revolution inspired the attendees to build a new music industry model, “since the old one is fundamentally broken". Beyond the typical sponsors, such as the likely combination of Mountain Dew and Cheetos logos on the podium, a few instances of bad feedback on the microphone and wayward embarrassingly uncool ringtones, the seminar had a lot to say about how things are for emerging artists.

The opening night party showcased a wide variety of performers across the new music spectrum. King Charles was touted as a “UK sensation", yet this artist with the glamour of Prince gave a mellow performance alone on stage with his acoustic guitar. Jessie and Toy Boys represented the power of pop on the current charts, but their generic dance moves and formulaic material came off as a novelty act. Ben Hunter’s reggae also fell flat on stage, though would sound perfectly fine in the Caribbean sun. Of Verona had a solid rock sound with a strong female voice in Mandi Perkins, however the group seemed a conglomerate of people and not a band with a vision. Perkins is transitioning from singer/songwriter to being part of a full on rock ensemble, a work in progress. Blaqstarr covered the rap/dj scene with his set, though he failed to cover new ground. The Little Death finally made things a party with big, raw bluesy rock songs fronted by Laura Dawn with powerhouse vocals. When introducing the band, she referred to her stylish bassist in a black suit as Richard Hall, who would appear on two panels as Moby.

New Music Seminar Opening Night "After Grammy Jammy" at the Music Box

The next morning Tom Silverman, Co-Founder of the New Music Seminar and President of Tommy Boy records, called the sold-out conference event a “convention of creators” during his opening remarks. He reminded participants that they were all there to “serve our great love of music” whether the goal was to create, expose or monetize music. Using the video world’s term of “game over", Silverman said it was time to press start and move on. Hauling out statistics to refute the notion of death of CDs, he described the single as the sun in the universe. Silverman explained how the music business always been about selling singles since that’s how fans are made. His model moves the record business to a fan relationship business and stressed how music is not just content to be had for free.

Panels and workshops continued the discussion with tools to break through the clutter of millions of bands on MySpace. From the basics of fan mailing lists to social media, sponsorships and licensing, artists were told to rethink the idea of a label centric existence and to monetize rather then block free plays. Grassroot activities to build buzz from simple emails and touring still generates the most exposure, while basics like merch tables cannot be ignored. During a panel of top label executives, Ron Fair, Chairman of Geffen Records, said, “there still needs to be spirit guides". A nice sentiment, even though these days this is clearly an indulgence for only few musicians.

As a reflection of this thinking, the NMS Artist on the Verge project finalists were chosen based on factors such as music sales (physical and digital), ticket sales, frequency of gigs, touring history, merchandise sales, media (both online and print), social media activity, and online buzz as determined by the NMS Music Committee. To be considered, artists must have never sold over 10,000 albums for any single album and not be signed to a label. From this collected data, the committee selects The Artist on the Verge Top 100 list and ultimately three Artist on the Verge Finalists.

These groups were chosen from more than 800 acts to perform in a showcase: Mike Del Rio, the Daylights and Shinobi Ninja. Local band Nylon Pink opened the evening, winners of a separate Reverbnation contest. Proudly described as “Hello Kitty on Acid", this powerpop girl group hit the stage with flailing arms over guitars while hopping on stage monitor speakers and a liberal use of cymbals on drums. Their high energy performance had no where to go, and a cover by the Go-Gos only reminded the audience that things could be more interesting than lyrics about a party monster or simply repeating “Bang Bang".

Mike Del Rio is an independent singer/songwriter and producer from New York City who appeared fronting a big band. On stage there were two guitars, keyboards, a percussionist and a female drummer who stole the show with long blonde hair whips. Del Rio’s brown furry vest was thankfully too hot for the whole set so it became easier to focus on the pop sound with superficial lyrics such as “does he fuck you like you like?” He instituted sing-a-long lessons to the unfamiliar songs by imploring the crowd to “sing it back now". Del Rio’s future as a muture artist is yet to be seen.

The Daylights are another LA band that began their performance with a long instrumental introduction. This trio (two brothers on bass and guitar along with a drummer) produced a big, reverberating sound that called to mind Muse or U2. The darkened stage set a moody backdrop to long guitar solos and alt rock creations. They played polished songs that went overtime but the crowd didn’t mind at all.

Shinobi Ninja combines the diverse influences of hip-hop, punk, soul, R&B and metal. Formed in a NYC recording studio, the power group layers the genres into a sound that doesn’t seem completely original. With a metal rock trio backing a pair of rapper/singers and dj, their high-energy performance stirred the crowd to join in the mayhem.

Delegates voted by text the next day to award the grand prize to the Daylights. In this age of DIY music promotion, a cash advance is a thing of the past. So this $50,000 worth of instrument, plus marketing and promotion tools, should certainly help the band ascend to the next level and reach new audiences. For the Daylights, their revolution has begun.

New Music Seminar Artist on the Verge Party at the Roxy

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image