Elvis Costello and The Attractions on German TV, 1978

I bought this on VHS in the 90s from one of those NYC street bootleggers. I was talking to a friend about it today and was stoked to find it on YouTube, since the VHS is in the garage and I don’t even have a VHS player anymore. I’m posting it here for you to enjoy and also so I can easily find it in the future. 😉

Check out Elvis and The Attractions, never once resting between songs, just over-performing a string of incredible songs with amazing energy, Elvis DRIPPING sweat in that suit. Incredible. Flawless. The James Brown of singer/songwriters. No talk, just rock.

Every time I see a wishy washy singer/songwriter sitting on a chair under-playing what could be a great song and wondering why no one cares I want to show them this video, encourage them to get a killer band and give people something to be excited about. I seriously think this should be required viewing for anyone playing live. I don’t get the impression people think of Elvis Costello as having built his career on a blistering live show but it looks to me like he had that as part of the package.

It’s not just Elvis of course, Steve Nieve, Pete and Bruce Thomas — damn. That was a band. Pete Thomas is the star for me personally.

Of course it helps it’s only songs from my favorite three Elvis records. It was the perfect time to capture this band, much like the Bowie Santa Monica ’72 recording.

With songs and a performance like that there’s NO FAILING.

For more this-period Elvis and The Attractions, be sure to grab that Live At Hollywood High record they just finally reissued (thanks Andy for the reminder).

Who is doing this today?

Ted Leo?

White Denim?

Lemme know, I want to check ’em out at SXSW…

ian

Do Something Small Weekly, Something Big Monthly: This Month a @GetBusyCommittE Music Video

Get Busy Committee I Don't Care About You Video Stills

In case you’re joining us late, I started managing a band at the end of last year and am trying to blog periodically about it here. The band is called Get Busy Committee and features Ryu (of Styles of Beyond and Fort Minor), Apathy (of Army of The Pharoahs), and Scoop Deville (producer known recently for producing tracks with Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, and others).

Short version of this post: In the spirit of releasing some new piece of content or major promotion each month, Get Busy Committee have just released a video directed by the fantastic Matt Lenski (remember the first Fall Out Boy video or the Mark Ronson “Stop Me” video? or maybe that Burger King commercial with the chickens who want to be fries?) with lots of post-production work from our friends at Lifelong Friendship Society. The song is “I Don’t Care About You” and so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The video looks pro but was made cheaply with the magic of computers. You can watch the video right here:

For the longer version of this post I’ll take a more circuitous route…

Back in 2006 I gave a presentation at the first BarCamp LA entitled “Media 2.0 Economics, er, Physics”. The basic premise was lifted wholesale from (and credited to) Umair Haque from his “Blockbuster vs. The Snowball” presentation and could be distilled as:

  • Media 1.0 was a world of limited distribution (there were only so many channels on the dial, only so many choices on FM) and therefore attention abundance (CBS was not scared to lose us as customers 25 years ago)
  • Media 2.0 is a world of unlimited distribution (any jackass can start a Web site — see FISTFULAYEN.com for an example) and therefore attention scarcity (our kids will not know about watching golf on sundays because “it’s the only thing on”)

As a result a ton of things are changing, but basically:

At a certain point you get diminishing returns spending more $$ on marketing, and what matters is relevance. If something is liked by many it can have success regardless of how much money was or wasn’t spent marketing it. And no amount of money will get something no one enjoys attention in this new economy.

While the aforementioned presentation is a full four years old, I think it mostly holds true. This is the fundamental physics of everything that’s changing in media, IMHO.

As such, the old method of releasing records every three years and starting your marketing from scratch each time become much less efficient. That cold-start, all-in strategy (the “blockbuster” Umair identified in his original presentation) is based on limited distribution choices (only needing to be better than what’s on that other channel, not what’s on everyone’s iPod), having access to the limited marketing channels (radio, MTV, press), and an ability to blitz those outlets when you need to with a mass-appeal product. Now that achieving mass marketing is hard and getting harder and technology allows direct (permission-based) relationships between artists and fans, a campaign which looks more like a snowball has a much better chance at showing a return on investment.

I’ve been trying to describe this simply and practically to artists, managers, and labels like so:

  • Goal: Have more fans tomorrow than you had yesterday.
  • Measure: Grow fan connections as well as dollars. Every day should mean more email address, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and MySpace friends (and whatever other way comes along tomorrow that fans can connect with artists and say “please talk to me”) and of course dollars (via direct sales, iTunes, Amazon, etc).
  • Action: Do something small weekly, something big monthly.

I’ve found that last bit, “Action: Do something small weekly, something big monthly”, to be really helpful in getting artists to consider a simple, practical model for interacting regularly with their fans without sounding like they need to start reading TechCrunch and taking Twitter tips from MC Hammer (no offense to Hammer, thanks for the follow!). There’s a lot of discussion of the “not every artist wants to share their every move” / “what happened to the *mystery*?!” variety these days, and I understand why artists have an allergic reaction to communicating constantly. Which is why I didn’t say, “Do something all day long every day and tell everyone about it.” While for some personalities I definitely think there are advantages to letting down the wall and sharing real life moments and observations with your fans, I certainly don’t think it’s necessary for success. But I do think you need to keep your fans up to date with what’s happening more regularly than artists did in the past and supply them news they’ll be inspired to share with others if you’re going to keep that fan base growing on a weekly and monthly basis.

I haven’t found an artist yet who doesn’t have *some* bit of news on at least an almost-weekly basis (“was in the studio with so-and-so this week”, “tour dates just announced”, “check this live session from WABC”, “the european tour was a blast”, etc) and some bit of creative output on a monthly basis, though I’ve met plenty who don’t *think* they do and aren’t in the habit of sharing this regularly. It’s these artists I’m making this appeal to. Please, establish the channels (Twitter? Tumblr? Flickr? Say Now?), make it easy for you to manage, and get in the habit. Even if you’re using the “album-a-year” model it works: One month is the album, a couple months will be videos — only nine more months to worry about! How about a remix? Single? Collaboration with another artist? Video blog? If you, your bandmates, and your manager can’t come up with something creative on a monthly basis you might be in the wrong line of work.

SIDEBAR:
These days it’s hard to imagine an artist making one great record a year and the more I know about the business the more difficult that seems. Which makes Bowie’s self-reinvention every year from 1969 to 1980 all the more incredible. Not to mention The Beatles thirteen full-length records between 1963 and 1970 or Stevie Wonder’s four albums between ’72 and ’74? Or, um, Zappa? Dayumn.

I love having this conversation with artists today. One of those “monthly” events could be something like this $1000 12″ promotion we did with Get Busy Committee. Or it could be the video blog follow-up to the “I went to lunch and Disneyland with a bunch of my fans” thing Josh Freese is working on now. Or anything, really; the medium is the massage and I love meeting artists who are inspired by the possibilities. It’s early and this change is just underway but I think we’ll start to see more artists take advantage of this freedom and start more of a creative dialog with their fans instead of delivering an album to them every three years followed by a tour followed by a vacation. Even larger artists can deliver this way; close to the topic at hand (Mike introduced me to Ryu and Apathy) consider what Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park is doing with his blog and their between-release releases — even though Transformers and a new, pre-album song/video for Haiti relief is on a different scale than most it’s clear they’re working hard to stay on the minds of their fans instead of disappearing between longer album cycles. There’s no shortage of places to look for lesser known artists who are always releasing a little something, check out My Name Is John Michael, who released a song a week for an entire year, or Mickey Factz, who parlayed weekly releases into notoriety and eventually a Honda ad and whose marketing company acts as an umbrella for releasing serial content. I’d be curious to know what artists you think are doing a great job here, please leave examples and links in the comments.

We haven’t done the best job of this as Get Busy Committee, in fact check Ryu bemoaning my request for regular updates from Get Busy Committee at the end of this video (around 3:30):

But these guys are prolific and understand the “just keep publishing” mentality inherently like a survival instinct. In fact the reason the group exists at all is because they made some tracks for fun and released them on YouTube to a positive response. One of the reasons I was interested in working with Get Busy Committee was because they were anxious to get the record out rather than shopping it so they could move on to finishing the second album, which was half written by the time they released the first. These are at least one-record-a-year kinda guys and that was part of the draw for me.

The component parts of this group are busier than you likely realize: in the time since I started working with them last September Ryu released a track with Rob Dyrdek and Bishop Lamont associated with an episode of Rob’s show, Apathy released a great solo album and toured Europe with Army of The Pharoahs, and Scoop produced and released tracks for Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, and others, all outside of what we’ve done with Get Busy Committee. With Get Busy Committee we started by leaking a couple of tracks, then released the album in a variety of formats (including an Uzi-shaped USB drive to get some buzz — we wouldn’t have been in Wired and Gizmodo if we’d have just made CDs), released photos from the release party, pushed the $1000 12″ promo, and now released a music video. We didn’t make enough noise in December, we were all busy around the holiday, but I’d argue we’re making good on the promise in general. We’re definitely trying. Next month we’ll have SXSW and beyond that a tour should start giving us more fodder. Hopefully I can get the group focused on this and it’ll happen naturally — I don’t really have time to help or even nag unfortunately (in other words, if it doesn’t happen blame them not me :)).

Everything we’ve made up to this point has been done for free or cheap, as I mentioned in the original post on this topic we spent a little money on Web design/dev and PR/marketing but not much and that’s it. We had inexpensive videos in our original budget but quickly realized we couldn’t afford it and decided we’d just have to figure out how to beg/borrow/steal one instead.

The reaction to “I Don’t Care About You” was strong enough early on we knew we’d have to make a video. But we didn’t know how we were going to get it done. The band has friends who they’ve worked with on gratis videos in the past (see this great video for Scoop’s track “Fresh Off The Top” shot by their friend Fredo Tovar) but they wanted to step outside a bit so we started asking around. We put feelers out to anyone and everyone we knew. My oldest friend in the world (nursery school, Goshen, Indiana) Nate Weaver was a top choice and hopefully we’ll get to work with him in the future, but my friend (and ex-girlfriend) Kim Howitt connected us with Matt Lenski, a friend she had sent the album to when I first shared it with her. Matt loved the album and “I Don’t Care About You” in particular; not to spill his biz but he had just ended a relationship and identified with the song’s declaration of sovereignty, if you know what I mean. Plus he understood the group’s aesthetic and had an idea for a video inspired by this, a page which exemplifies everything which is both great and terribly wrong about the Interwebz in less than a minute, which we loved. Finally and importantly, the budget could be minimal. As Matt put it, “We can have anything you’d have in any hip hop video. You want money falling from the sky? No problem. You want fancy cars and girls? Easy. They’re just all animated GIFs.”

The video was shot in a day against a green screen at Lifelong Friendship Society‘s (LFS) office with handheld video cameras. The LFS folks then spent many long nights in front of Apple computers (sorry, Bill) adding and animating graphics to make the final video. They did an incredible job IMHO, the video is unique, original, funny, and post-modern in its way (if you’ve read this far and haven’t watched the video yet you’re blowing it, click here to check out their handiwork).

When it was done they transferred a .mov file to me, I uploaded it to Topspin, YouTube, Vimeo, etc (even though I didn’t have the HD version; HD version getting uploaded tomorrow, Tuesday — and even though I didn’t have the edit; edited version for Yahoo!, AOL Music, etc coming soon), and we started sending Tweets and emailed the fan list. Now it’s Monday and we’ve had more than 10,000 plays total already on a holiday weekend. That may not be the 1.9M plays Bangs has had for his smash hit “Take You To The Movies” but when you can make a video with hand-held video cameras, edit something as crazy as what LFS did on computers, and release from your house on YouTube you have to admit we’re a long way from Media 1.0.

Thanks sincerely to Matt, Dexter, Brielle and the fine folks at Epoch, and Bridgette and all the talented people at Lifelong Friendship Society. Thanks for believing in Get Busy Committee, letting a bunch of hoodlums invade your space for a day, and for making an incredible video for almost no money. Dinner is on us, always, just don’t pick somewhere pricey. You know how we roll.

Thanks to you for reading this far. Hopefully I can follow my own advice and crank one of these out at least once a month for at least a couple more months… 😉

ian

A $1000 12″, Videos, and Joey Crack – The Get Busy Committee Update

Get Busy Committee

As you may have already read, I started managing a band called Get Busy Committee late last year and I’ve been trying to find time to blog about the experience. Things have been going incredibly well and I have a couple more blog posts waiting in the wings but I’ve been busy in my (all day every) day job, even through the holiday, and haven’t had time to crank them out. I’m in transit at the moment and don’t have time to be my usual wordy self (I’m sure you’re thankful for that) but something so surprising happened I had to take a moment and write about it — we offered a $1000 12″ vinyl record via Kickstarter and someone bought it in less than 24 hours!

More about that in a moment, first a brief update on what’s been going on with Get Busy Committee:

We are nearly SOLD OUT of the first 1200 Uzi Flash Drives. Wow. We’re going to re-order, though, as we’d like to continue selling these through the end of 2010. A few retail orders have come in and I’d love to see more of those. Wouldn’t these look great on the wall at Urban Outfitters? Come on, someone know the buyer there?

DJ Cheapshot made a killer Get Busy Committee mix tape. GBC plus Bjork and The Cure?! OK yes plz. Stream or download free right herrrrre:

Get Busy Committee Video Shoot Matt Lenski

Get Busy Committee shot a video with director Matt Lenski in Brooklyn. It’s been in post-production with our friends at The Lifelong Friendship Society for a few weeks. We’re looking at a rough cut tomorrow and hope to have it everywhere by Valentine’s Day, including a way for you to dedicate the song to those former loves you are now free from.

Get Busy Committee I Don't Care About You Video

Believe it or not both college and commercial radio is telling us they love “I Don’t Care About You”. We’re definitely seeing where that thread leads (without losing our shirts in the process — easier said than done) and I’ll report back on how that goes ex post facto.

Get Busy Committee’s Apathy finished a SOLD OUT solo tour (with Army of The Pharoahs) in Europe in support of his album, Wanna Snuggle?!.

Now that Apathy is back in the US he has a couple of east coast shows then we get him back here in LA for rehearsals for the Get Busy Committee’s live assault, starting at SXSW in Austin in March. See you there!

Remixes are rolling in left/right and some are accumulating at the SoundCloud page. Thanks to DJ Cheapshot for pulling these together. The HavocNdeeD remix is getting a lot of play:

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fgetbusycommittee%2Fget-busy-committee-i-dont-care-about-you-havocndeed-remix& Get Busy Committee – I Dont Care About You (HavocNdeeD RemiX) by getbusycommittee

DJs and producers, the acapella tracks are right here and they’re free. Come and grab ’em, and submit your remix via Soundcloud. We’ll feature it!

Get Busy Committee’s very own Scoop Deville has had a track in the top 10 for all of 2010, Snoop Dogg’s “I Wanna Rock”.http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:video:mtv.com:459664

Not only that, the track he produced for Fat Joe and Young Jeezy, “Ha Ha” is getting written up everywhere you turn.

Congrats, Scoop!

Scoop Deville MTV Mixtape

Check out MTV’s interview with Scoop here.

Thanks to our friends at INgrooves we’ve been featured at iTunes, Amazon (still on the 50 for $5 list this month), Lala, ThinkIndie, Amie Street, etc. Thanks to INgrooves and all the digital retailers for the support. Keep it comin! Things are just starting to heat up…

Get Busy Committee Platinum Plaque

But the news that caused me to (first, fall out of my chair, then) write this blog post came Wednesday, less than 24 hours after I posted this Kickstarter project.

We decided we wanted to press some 12″ vinyl, but only if people were excited about it. We thought people would appreciate it more if it was ultra-collectible, numbered, limited edition, picture-disc. We love Kickstarter and wanted to test it out for ourselves.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it’s a site where you can post projects which need funding, then ask the people of the Internet to help you out. People pledge at whatever level they’d like, and you can offer different premiums for different pledge levels. If you reach your goal, the project is funded and they disburse the money. If you don’t reach your goal then no one is charged, it’s just, thanks, try again later.

We priced out the vinyl we wanted from the good folks at Erika Records, one of the finest custom vinyl shops in the US. The purchase order came to $3,218.18. So we started a project to fund $3,218.18 and offered a few premiums:

  1. For $5 you’ll get a digital copy of the album
  2. For $18 we’ll ship the vinyl to you anywhere in the world, plus a digital copy
  3. For $28 you get one of the first 200 numbered pieces of vinyl plus a digital copy
  4. For $50 you get one of the first 100 numbered pieces of vinyl, a digital copy of the album, and a thank you phone call from Get Busy Committee.
  5. And for $1000 Get Busy Committee will write/record a song ABOUT YOU which will go on the 12″, you’ll receive copies #1 and #2 of the run with #1 in a platinum plaque.

I published this project on Kickstarter at about 11pm on a Tuesday night, sent an email to the Get Busy Committee fan list, then had a hard time going to sleep after. I was laying there contemplating the ethics of my buying the platinum plaque myself in the final days of the project. Imagine my surprise the next day when I checked the site at 2pm and saw someone had pledged the $1000 needed to pick up the plaque. I actually emailed Kickstarter’s CEO, Andy Baio, and asked if there was some sort of bug. “Nope,” he said. “Someone bought it.”

Wow.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. We have 66 days to raise another $1500 on Kickstarter or we get $0. Please head over now and pledge any amount to help us reach our goal. A contribution and a re-tweet is very sincerely appreciated.

We’re working on a ton of stuff right now. I’ll try to find more time to post more updates but please forgive me if I don’t — this space is frankly the last one I fill after working on Topspin, Get Busy Committee, family, etc. If I don’t post here it’s because I’m too busy doing actual work. But I’ll try to find time to throw together at least short updates.

I fielded some criticism early last week for my lack of posting on this topic. The thought was that I wasn’t delivering on my initial hype and that things must be going badly because I was silent. Hopefully the above dispels the notion that things are going badly. But also, this record was just released at the beginning of November. We had ZERO fans just three months ago, the band didn’t even exist until then. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Get Busy Committee hasn’t even played a live show since the record came out yet. It’s waaaaay too early for a post-mortem. 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. Given how early it is you could take that and say we probably aren’t spending enough, but we don’t have deep pockets and are trying to keep pace with our spending all along the way. The plan for us is to keep growing the fan base, keep getting the music to more and more people, and keep promoting this album until we lose momentum. We’re not sure when that will be but it’s clear we’re nowhere close to it now, as you can see from the above. And the band is already half-way through work on the next album. This train will keep rolling for a few years, I hope.

Thanks for the continued interest and support. If anyone has ideas of opportunities we’re missing please leave us a comment or drop a line.

ian