All posts tagged ian-rogers

  • A Conversation With Get Busy Committee, Los Angeles hip-hop group

    Get Busy Committee koala/uzi logoKoalas, uzis, and ‘Heartbeats’: Los Angeles-based hip-hop group Get Busy Committee (GBC) don’t mess around. Their 100% self-funded, self-released debut album Uzi Does It was released on their own label, Tokyo Sex Whale, and declared 2009’s ‘hip hop album of the year’ by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park/Fort Minor off the back of their lead single ‘My Little Razorblade, which sampled the rhythmic pulse of Swedish electronic act The Knife’s distinctive track ‘Heartbeats’.

    Consisting of underground rapper Apathy, Styles of Beyond‘s Ryu, and producer Scoop DeVille, GBC took the unlikely step of releasing the album in a USB uzi format that won them coverage on Wired, thereby reaching a tech-mad fanbase and creating buzz ahead of a digital album launch that saw Uzi Does It offered in mp3 form for just $1 via MySpace Music. Confused? Get busy. Below is an email conversation with the group, which was answered for the most part by Apathy.

    Andrew: Hey GBC. I follow music industry news, I heard about you through guys like Bob Lefsetz (music industry commentator) and Ian Rogers (CEO of online music marketing company Topspin Media). Is it true that all publicity is good publicity, or were you weirded out by having a mid-50 year old guy like Bob write about you?

    No way! Bob Lefsetz has been around long enough to have a good idea of what he likes, and I hope we’re on his good side! GBC does not age-discriminate, and we are definitely NOT for the kids!

    Ian’s involvement and enthusiasm seems to have boosted your profile to a level that other acts might spend months or years developing. How important is his guidance and experience to the group?

    In all honesty, Ian Rogers and the folks at Topspin have been the best thing to ever happen to our career. When in the past we would have a crazy idea, it would just stay a crazy idea. Ian is able to take a crazy idea, add sweet peppers and Giardiniera on top of a paper thin cut of beef, throw it in a French roll, and make a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich out of it. (Sorry… Man V. Food is on in the background as I write this.)

    We also have to thank our good friend Mike Shinoda [Linkin Park/Fort Minor] for linking us up with Ian!

    “This is a marathon, not a sprint. Get Busy Committee hasn’t even played a live show since the record came out yet,” wrote Ian on his blog. Do you have an interest in the marketing and promotion side of things, or are you happy to let others take care of it while you work on the music?

    Ryu: Yes, we are heavily involved with the marketing of the group. From the conception, it was very important to me that every detail of the group was carefully thought out. From the way we comb our hair, to the stylish clothes we wear. [A reference to their song 'Stylish Clothes']

    I also have a background in marketing/PR with the clothing brand True Love & False Idols. With GBC I wanted our image, logo (koala with uzi), website, and merchandise to be an extension of the brand. Everything is designed by our good friend and owner of TLFI (and sometimes GBC collaborator) Alex (2tone) Erdman. The marketing for this album has been a fun experience for us.

    “Financially we’re doing slightly better than break-even at the moment, which means no one is making a bunch of money but we aren’t losing money, either,” wrote Ian in the same blog post. I take it that – having been in other groups – GBC have been realistic about the financial situations for musicians since you formed a couple of months ago?

    We were very realistic financially with this album. The point was never to become rich off of the album; we just wanted to generate enough money to continue to raise awareness.

    Los Angeles hip-hop group Get Busy Committee

    Hypothetically, what would it take for an independent hip-hop act like yourselves to be able to live off your music – touring, merch, record sales, etc? Is this even possible in 2010?

    An artist being able to live off of [recorded] music, touring, merch, etc is a very real possibility in 2010, provided that the artist is patient, and the margin of profit works in the artists’ favour. It’s also important that you offer a product that people can’t live without. Everyone can live without a CD, but nobody can live without an uzi-shaped USB, with a free album included!

    In the end, the funds you take is equal to the guns you make!

    From an interview here: you said “‘My Little Razorblade’ is probably the worst recording ever. The vocals are all blown out.” What? Are you serious? Fuck pristine, I love the edge this track has. It’s the first thing I heard from you guys, and still my favourite. Was it difficult to clear the ‘Heartbeats’ sample? Have you heard any feedback from The Knife’s camp?

    Thanks! Razorblade is one of our faves as well. We like the blown out vocals as well!

    As for the sample? The Knife have been really cool for not suing the shit out of us. We assume they are familiar with the track, I think one of the band members follow us on Twitter! @GetbusycommittE

    In that same interview, Ian stated that the album is “something that you guys have been working on for over a year; in your spare time, and across the country, and for essentially no money”. You later said “Don’t make a record, it’s the worst way to try to make a living.” What are your day jobs? Do they have any relation to your music?

    We have been fortunate enough in this business to sustain us through the years: Styles Of Beyond, Fort Minor, Demigodz, as well as producing for outside artists have paid the bills for years. Some years are better than others, but we have been very fortunate thus far. Some of the things we do to earn money are:

    Scoop DeVille: His production credits include Snoop Dogg’s ‘Life Of  Da Party‘ and ‘I Wanna Rock‘, Fat Joe and Young Jeezy ‘Ha Ha‘, as well as upcoming tracks on albums from Busta Rhymes, The Clipse, Bishop Lamont, and of course the Get Busy Committee. Safe to say, the kid don’t need a day job.

    Apathy: Shitloads of solo records including the recently released Wanna Snuggle? as well as upcoming albums with Army Of The Pharaohs, and the Demigodz. Production for Cypress Hill, Busta Rhymes and more. Your boy is good!

    Ryu: Get Busy Committee, and PR/Marketing for True Love & False Idols.

    You’ve all been part of the hip-hop scene for over a decade. You knew the music business pre-internet. It must be quite a change to work as GBC, whose marketing and promotional output is almost entirely online.

    Yeah the marketing and promo has changed a lot, but we’ve been in the business long enough and have worked albums in just about every climate of the ever-changing music business, so the new way of doing things hasn’t come as a shock to us. It’s actually a welcome change after spending so much time on major labels. The new style of marketing is much better suited to a group like us. We love it.

    Scoop, have you shown GBC material to Snoop or The Game? What kind of feedback have you been getting?

    Scoop: Yeah I was just out in Miami recently with Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, Cool and Dre, and they loved the USB uzi! I should have brought more with me, everyone was taking pictures with them and shit! The industry is definitely taking notice of the moves we’re making. We’re actually working on a Get Busy Committee and Busta Rhymes song tonight! Shit is gonna be nuts!

    Learn more about Get Busy Committee on their website. Follow them on Twitter at @GetbusycommittE, and watch their bittersweet debut video for ‘I Don’t Care About You’ below.

  • Mess+Noise story: ‘Guvera Road Test’, April 2010

    Contiki channel on music service GuveraFollowing my interview with Claes Loberg – CEO of new free, advertiser-funded online music service Guvera - for The Vine, Mess+Noise asked me to ‘road test’ the site. I also enlisted the assistance of Ian Rogers from Brisbane doom rock trio No Anchor, and Melbourne electronic artist Faux Pas (Tim Shiel).

    Road Test: Guvera

    A new service called Guvera promises free music in exchange for being willfully marketed to, but is it really the solution to illegal downloading? ANDREW MCMILLEN finds out.

    Guvera is a new online music service. It offers free downloads to consumers in exchange for the “pleasure” of being blatantly marketed to throughout the entire experience. Here’s how it works: instead of interrupting people with annoying ads, potential advertisers can inhabit a personalised channel that people will voluntarily visit (or, more accurately, tolerate) in exchange for 256kbps MP3s of their favourite artists. CEO Claes Loberg describes this as a “reversal of the advertising process”.

    The site launched on March 30 to widespread media fanfare including a spot on A Current Affair, whose audience might not have been aware that “the internet is the electronic equivalent of going to a record store”, as one of the show’s talking heads revealed. However, Loberg admits they’re targeting those who currently obtain music illegally.

    Guvera homepage“The reality is that the people who want to use those [illegal] services still can,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is implement a service that creates an option for the music industry to try and monetise the free stuff that everybody’s already getting, by getting advertisers to pay for it.”

    In theory, it’s an admirable endeavour. But how does the service rate in terms of usability and practicality?

    Full story over at Mess+Noise.

  • Mess+Noise single review: No Anchor, ‘Wolves Bite And Disappear’, January 2010

    No Anchor, 'Wolves Bite And Disappear' artworkNo Anchor
    Track: Wolves Bite And Disappear

    1 Track (2009, Independent) [listen here]

    An introductory cymbal roll heralds the lupine chase, while a lazy beat’s pace is quickened by the crashing of Alex Gillies’ cymbals. The protagonist’s tale of woe – “He runs through the forest, blood on his hands/Blood on his face/Blood on his clothes” – is sighed by Ian Rogers, before he erupts with four desperate, distorted repetitions of the song’s title.

    Brisbane’s No Anchor affect a foreboding atmosphere of tension and release, compacted into barely two-and-a-half minutes. Released as a free download on the ‘They Don’t Know Unless You Tell Them’ compilation, ‘Wolves’ is the product of the band’s last recording sessions as a duo (as of late 2009, they’re operating as a dual-bass trio). With that in mind, Rogers’ double-tracked wattage during the song’s climax is a fearsome indicator of what’s to come. Two high-gain bass guitars playing the same part in unison is appealing enough on paper, but the resultant cacophony stuns the ears into paying attention.

    This, I’m sure, is the intended response. Perhaps Rogers has always envisaged No Anchor’s bass parts mimicked by another; his fondness for double-tracking is evident throughout the band’s short recorded history. Now that it’s a thunderous, improbably beautiful reality – and content in the knowledge that this final outtake remains thrilling after 50 listens – I look to their future output with excitement, and some degree of fear for my ears. Which again, I’m sure, is the intended response.

    [Published on Mess+Noise, 18 January 2010]

  • Big Sound 2009: Online Publishing Panel Notes

    On September 9, 2009, I moderated a discussion panel at Big Sound called ‘Blogging, Twittering and Online Publishing: Tastemaking or Time-Wasting?‘. Here’s the precis, taken from the Big Sound site:

    The whole world is online! Whether you’re typing essays for eager fans or 140 character pearls of wisdom, online publishing is quickly becoming the new bastion of communication and online journalism. What is Twitter and why would you use it? How do you start a blog and why would you? Is this online thing just a waste of time? Find out how those that do it well do it and find out why those that fail miss the point.

    The panel featured the input of the following gentlemen [pictured left-right; photo by Justin Edwards just before the discussion began]:

    Online Publishing panel, Big Sound 2009. Deep in thought.

    These were the suggested points of discussion:

    • How important is blogging and online publishing in communicating with music fans?
    • Is Twitter everything it’s hyped up to be?
    • How can you use social networking online to promote your band and how SHOULDN’T you?
    • What’s the best way to start a music blog and what does the audience want?
    • What does online publishing mean for music journalism?

    A couple of days before the panel – notably, after I’d put it off for a fortnight – I sent the following email to the group.

    Hi gents,

    In addition the points of discussion that were provided, I’m going to touch upon on the following topics.

    When I have you introduce yourselves, I’m going to ask each of you:

    • When did you last buy music?, and
    • How do you find new music?

    Online engagement for bands: how much is too much?

    Reading reference: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2009/08/14/more-imogen-heap/ and particularly this Imogen Heap quote: “About 5% of my time goes to actually making music sadly. The rest is promo, technical, planning, running around, schedules..blah”

    • Artists have a range of tools and mediums with which to connect to fans; tools such as Twitter et al have lessened the gap between fan and artist. But at the same time, if their attention is focussed on the screen instead of their instruments, will their art suffer?
    • Everett and Jakomi, I’ll use your experience of the pre-web era to draw comment on what it was like when you didn’t have the ability to know where your favourite bands were or what they were doing at that very instant.
    • The ‘always on’ internet culture allows conversation to occur across the world instanteously. Has this removed some of the mystique that has historically attracted audiences to artists and performers? What are the implications?

    Old vs new models of online promotion. Reference: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/03/the-live-music.html

    • It’s a long article, so you’re forgiven for not reading the whole thing. But Godin’s point – here, and throughout his work – is that for musicians, it’s not a matter of shouting at everyone (the old model), but of whispering at your niche (the new model).
    • So instead of signing to a label who can fund mass marketing campaigns (radio, print, TV), it’s smarter for bands to work their existing audience to build it organically, while coming up with creative/interesting/share-able web campaigns to capture wider interest (eg. OK Go’s treadmill video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI)
    • Jerry and Cam, have you found this to be the case during your time as a manager and artist, respectively?

    More Godin: as for messages to the fanbase from the artist, Godin suggests that these are to be ‘anticipated, personal and relevant’ in every instance. Fans should be thrilled to hear from their favourite bands, and disappointed when anticipated messages are delayed.

    • This is a lovely, utopian vision, but in the real world, is it viable?
    • Elliot, where do record labels sit within this vision? Is it just a matter of streamlining the process of delivering content from the band to the audience?

    Beyond musicians, where do label A&R folk belong in this web discussion?
    Reference: http://www.waycooljnr.com.au/2009/07/14/the-rise-of-blogranage-blog-patronage/

    • Historically, A&Rs are the people who’re exposed to enormous amounts of music, and who often dictate which bands are exposed to wider audiences.
    • Nick Crocker wrote: “I think A&R people at labels should start building their profiles online, developing a following and sharing their stories with fans. Inevitably, A&R people end up being hugely networked musically and build big, smart, connected networks of music lovers. They each have a market ready and waiting for their tales.”
    • Everett, I know you’re comfortable with calling yourself a tastemaker. Do you agree with Nick’s idea, that A&R people should establish themselves as tastemakers? What potential benefits would music fans receive?
    • Jerry, WhoTheHell.net has become a tastemaker after building an audience over several years. In your mind, what is the site’s role among music media? Would it be feasible to base a ‘new media’ music label on the WhoTheHell blog concept?

    Music criticism on the web has given everyone the ability to give their opinion about what’s good and what’s shit. Reference: http://andrewmcmillen.com/2008/11/26/gareth-liddiard-on-music-writing/

    • Gareth from The Drones wrote in a column for Ampersand Magazine: “Music criticism, to quote Chuck D: “You talk about it but you can’t do it.” But now that there is all this blogging shit going on critics have become like mild mannered primary school teachers trying to control their bitchy little charges. Which is funny cause nine out of ten critics are at uni. Blogging has cut the balls off music criticism. But even when critics are being cool it’s still weird. Rock’n’roll is pretty retarded and writing about it is really scraping the literary barrel. Why would you bother? Do something useful for fuck’s sake.”
    • Reactions from the panel? Jakomi, what’s your take on this?
    • Everett, what does this mean for established critics like yourself? I know it’s something you’ve been grappling with. (This’ll give you a chance to discuss your PhD and your findings thus far, perhaps?)

    We’ve focussed heavily on discussing online publishing. But what about the role of print music journalism?

    • Are print readers losing out due to the instantaneous commentary that occurs online, or does the latency/distance between the printed article allow a more measured, less hyperbolic approach?
    • What about album reviews? What’s the point of the reviews we read in street press and music mags, since in many cases by the time they’re printed, the web has already aggregated, rated and reviewed these releases?
    • Note that in July, Sydney street press The Brag opted to stop publishing album and live reviews due to budget quotes. (Source: http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/1102027) In this instance, what’s the point of the mag, if they’re no longer willing to comment on the music itself?
    • Cameron, which printed music publications do you read? What do you gain from them that you can’t find online?
    • If print audiences are declining – and as a result, advertisers can’t justify their expenditure – where does this leave staffers of the printed article? As music fans, should we care? What do we stand to lose, other than these publications’ reputation and history?
    • Everett, I’ll rely on you here, as you’ve got a history in both publishing and writing for the web.
    • Jakomi, where do you see The Music Void sitting within this discussion? Why did you launch it as a website and not a magazine?
    • What are the alternatives to printed music journalism? What will the music magazine of the future look like?

    On the day, we discussed through most of the above, before 50-60 live human beings.

    I’m told the panel was both entertaining and informative, though by session’s end I was severely doubting the latter, after spending around 90 minutes talking about blogging, which is second only to talking about tweeting in terms of tedium.

    Ian Rogers of No Anchor at their Judith Wright Centre launch, 21 March 2009Ian Rogers of Brisbane bands No Anchor and AxxOnn [pictured right, playing live for the former] wrote this about the panel:

    “I write about myself because no one else will. And I write about music because it’s what I like and because it’s more interesting to other people than writing about babies”. And so Everett True, former Golden God of the British Press and present Brisbane resident introduced himself to the afternoon’s delegates. The panel was about digital publishing and contained a puzzlingly configuration of quiet bloggers (“Uhm, I just like getting the free records”) and industry boffins – one preconscious, one loud and angry. And Everett. Mr True acquitted himself well post-introduction, happily making whatever comment occurred to him – more often than not correct as I read it – as the industry folks shifted around in their seats wondering, ‘Who the fuck is this weird old guy?’.

    [I recommend you read Rogers' summary of Big Sound days one and two - he's fucking hilarious]

    In all, it was an enjoyable experience that I’d happily relive. Thanks to Big Sound executive programmer Stephen Green for asking me to take part. I know the panel was filmed by the event organisers so I’ll post the transcript and/or recording when they’re available. My wider thoughts on the event are here.