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Archive for April, 2009

I was recently contacted by John Dargan, a Florida-based computer programmer who is also the webmaster for a new music-related web site called www.Nurturemusic.biz.  The concept of the site is simple, and somewhat unique:  it is a “slide show” of publicity photographs of various musicians, artists, bands and related music industry professionals.  Dargan finds musicians to be fascinating people, so he founded tphoto_reviewhe site this past March with a goal of providing a marketing avenue for talented musicians allowing them to attract a wider audience.  So far, the site has engendered  an enthusiastic response from both the musicians and their fans.

To obtain the content, Dargan scours MySpace and other websites looking for musicians, artists and bands that have both great publicity photos and an apparent talent for music.  Dargan works hard to ferret out the best photos and the most promising musicians.

“It’s a tremendously fun hobby,” Dargan says.

A viewer arriving at the website is greeted simply with a photograph framed on the top with the site’s logo, a navigation bar, and the name of the artist, and on the bottom with various links and information related to the artist.  In the navigation bar, the user can move from photo to photo in the slideshow or learn more about the artists by clicking on one of the links or directly on the displayed image, which is generally hyperlinked to the musician’s website, MySpace page or the CDBaby location offering the musician’s CD for sale. In this way, Dragan hopes to drive web traffic to the commercial sites of the musicians.

In addition to providing free publicity to the musicians, the site provides credit to the professional photographers who took created some of the images as well as a hyperlink to the photographer’s website. Dargan makes an effort to contact each professional photographers not only to seek permission, but to ask them to comment on the the photo session, asking them to describe how they decided upon the location of the shot, the best angle, or any incident associated with the session that a reader might find of interest.

The goal is to enhance the viewer’s understanding and enjoyment of the photography and to provide a more intimate glimpse into the life of the photographer and the musician. Dargan’s approach to the website is drawn from the concept of “high-tech, high-touch,” a book by John Naisbitt, which introduces the concept that technology can help bring us closer as a community.

All of Dargan’s discover efforts seem to focus on quality.  For example, he searches for photographs in which the faces are clearly visible, i.e. not hidden behind microphones or musical instruments.

I prefer eyes that are visible, not closed, nor looking away. The expression on the face provides an insight into each person’s personality.

Dargan was surprise to find that a number of the photographs he chose were taken not by professional photographers, but by the artists and musicians themselves.

The key emphasis in the search for music is also on quality elements.  Dargan searches extraordinary talent and musical express. He listens for lyrics that are not only original, but have qualities and characteristics that are touching, heartfelt, plausible or engaging. 

In contrast, Dargan avoids photographs that contain disturbing elements, such as blood, or music that contains “excessive screaming or cursing.”

The music should engage the listener right away. The execution of the music should be crisp and should indicate a high level of musical skill. The quality of the instruments should be high. The vocals should be compelling and dynamic

Dargan says. 

Dargan has also been surprised by the number of extremely talented teenagers that he discovered in the plethora of musicians on MySpace and YouTube. While he generally he avoids direct contact with minors for obvious reasons, Dargan was particularly impressed with one young country singer named William Michael Morgan, so he contacted the boy’s father and obtained permission to feature William on the website.

Other examples of the talent featured on the website are

  • David Bradley, a singer/songwriter who is also an oil engineer.  Bradley wrote some of his songs while stationed in the forests of Siberia and on an oil rig in the middle of the Caspian Sea.
  • Colin O’Donohoe, an outstanding composer, conductor and musician who has developed hauntingly beautiful music involving wonderful instruments from the Far East.

Dargan is also sells “slots” in the slide show to attorneys and other industry professionalsDargan who specialize in the music industry.  Dargan chuckles at the thought of money trickling in from these professionals, particularly  attorneys, as Dargan, a patent-holder who has been involved in patent litigation, has sent tens of thousands of dollars to attorneys.  “Getting even a small amount of income from attorneys seems only fair to me,” he chides.

Dargan received a Bachelors degree from American University in interdisciplinary studies, and a Masters degree from Washington University in St. Louis, in Technology and Human Affairs. Dargan has one expired patent and one pending patent, both related to Touch-Tone interaction with computers, such as with text messaging. Dargan can be reached at nurturemusic@yahoo.com.

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Starting in June, the author of this blog, Music Row Law  – 20-year entertainment attorney veteran Barry Neil Shrum – will be taking the show on the road!  On June 5, 2009, Mr. Shrum will conduct the first of a series of national seminars called MBA, Music Business Academy. 

Mr. Shrum initiated this series of seminars to address a perceived need in the industry: that a growing number of artists, entertainers and songwriters who might benefit from the expertise of an entertainment attorney, could not afford to retain an attorney and get the help they need due to upfront fees and retainers.  To this end, the mission statement for MBA is “music business education for the do-it-yourself generation!”  This unique series of one-day sessions will provide the upcoming and established mid-tier artist, musician, MBA Logo 48ox25o songwriter and other music industry professionals with a cost-effective method of obtaining an essential legal foundation for day-to-day music industry survival. 

The goal of the seminar is to create a sense of being in the client chair, Mr. Shrum will unravel the essential provisions of various industry-specific agreements  – bringing clarity to the legalese and identifying red flags in the “small print.”  Some specific agreements covered in the MBA session are:

*    the exclusive recording agreement (and the new 360 deal)
*    the exclusive songwriting agreement
*    the personal management agreement

For the do-it-yourself generation, Mr. Shrum will also explain the details and implications of guerilla marketing on the web.  He will explore the typical iTunes deal as well as other online distribution issues relevant to today’s guerilla marketers.

When asked about the seminar, Riq Lazarus, of Lazarus Management Group, said:

"Barry Shrum gets it!  The music business is undergoing radical change.  It is absolutely essential that today’s artists have an understanding of the legal issues facing them in this new era of "do-it-yourself" broadcasting.  And because he has the heart of a teacher, Barry’s immense knowledge and experience enables him to empower you with the understanding you need to protect your creations."

It is Mr. Shrum’s goal that attendees walk away from the seminar with a functional understanding of basic copyright, trademark and contract law — a virtual “MBA” in the music business!  Attendees will also receive specialized written materials as a continuing reference and valuable resource and are given the opportunity to purchase reduced rate legal services from Mr. Shrum.

The date of June 5, 2009 has been set for Chattanooga – the day before the Riverbend Festival – and plans are in the works for seminars in Denver, Colorado and Charlotte, West Virginia.   Other cities under consideration are Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland, Boston, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Georgia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  To see if your city is being considered, or to vote for your city, take the online poll.

General information about the seminars can be found here.  A detailed agenda of the Chattanooga seminar can be found at the event website:  www.musicbusinessacademy.info

 

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