Ground Rules for a Whisky Tasting

Ground Rules for a Whisky Tasting

With a head full of stones and a heart full of sand, I have returned from the Highland Park Record Club. The goal of this gathering was to establish that music and whisky are good friends, maybe even cousins: They both have dynamic personalities that unfold over time; they both are hard to do well; and both warrant repeat drink-listens. We were curated from the creative class and dispatched to a members-only basement where bookshelves swelled with thick hardcovers recounting retrospectives at the Whitney Museum. There were dark, overstuffed couches, and a gas fireplace with a thick glass pane in front of it that offered the dance of light with none of the extraneous by-product of actual fire. There were bowls of nuts with honey notes that whispered from the back of my palette, “How did you get invited here? You’re a fraud.” But I’m not a fraud, I whispered back to my nuts, within earshot of a vinyl technician who scratched garage rock into Plexiglas 45s on a vintage lathe. I am an aficionado, in that I have awakened next to empty bottles of Highland Park and hit play on recording equipment to hear a song that I couldn’t remember I even recorded. So. I’m a pro at this. It’s really something, to hear a song for the first time and know it’s you singing. It’s as close as I may get to inhabiting Keith Richard’s body. Scotch people, I report the following: Highland Park 12 remains a standard bearer, the one you’d hand the Olympic torch and let run down your gullet with trust, even pride; Highland...
Managing Change Without Losing Your Mind

Managing Change Without Losing Your Mind

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” — Charles Darwin     I’m used to managing change, and if you’re reading this, I bet you are, too. My short story: My label debut was released in 1999, and my coming out party was a slot at Woodstock ’99, which, you may recall, went up in flames and took the legacy of a previous era with it. ‘99 was the summer of Napster, and the winter of Y2K…and it only got weirder from there. Luckily, improvisation has always been part of the job description. Today is no different, and though there are new challenges, there is also the same Darwinian need to adapt. As a songwriting professor who’s been in the trenches, I tell my students that my class – The Art and Business of Songwriting – is the most important one they’re taking. They laugh, but I remind them: The song is the spark for the chain reaction that ignites every subsequent section of the industry. The song gets the musicians paid, the studios booked, the promoters on the phone, the venues filled, the PROs collecting royalties, and straight on down the line. Songwriting is also the creation of intellectual property that can continue to generate income over time. I tell them that the people who say “touring is the answer” for musicians are likely people who a) have never toured themselves, and b) forget the fact that human bodies inevitably fail over time, whereas there are songwriters out there making a great living who aren’t even...
#TBT #SXSW #Video #Interviews

#TBT #SXSW #Video #Interviews

#TBT #SXSW #Video #Interviews Katy Perry, Gallows, Flyleaf — as babies. Back in the day, I ran Blender.com, the Internet arm of Blender magazine. I started in 2006, and there was no video page — at all. No video. We worked on fixing that by shooting a ton. Blender is dead and that’s another story, but we managed to get some good pieces together. Here are some from Austin. My, they do grow up so fast, don’t they. Katy Perry The California gurl whips out the Sharpie and signs some boobs. (2006) Gallows UK hardcore beasts tear up Austin, Texas in their fourth-ever Stateside gig. (2007) Flyleaf SXSW: After a humanitarian trip to Rwanda, a charged acoustic version of “Broken Wings.” (2008) Augustana Over the din of Austin, the band discusses “Sweet and Low” and touring with — wow — Dashboard Confessional. (2008) …and so on. We did a ton more of them and the highlight reel, including luminaries like Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, or David Lee Roth, or…oh, tons of folks, check them out here: Journalism – Mike Errico A collection of video and text journalism by Mike...
What the “Blurred Lines” Lawyer Taught All Artists

What the “Blurred Lines” Lawyer Taught All Artists

This is not about copyright infringement. It’s about how not to get effed by your own entertainment lawyer. I hope my artist friends will check it out, and I hope it helps. What the “Blurred Lines” Lawyer Taught All Artists For a minute, forget about the “Blurred Lines” verdict, the lyrics and whether or not you love Marvin Gaye. The New York Times just ran a profile on Richard S. Busch, the lawyer who won the $7.4 million case for the Gaye estate. In explaining how he did it, Busch says something I hope all artists caught: “By being on the outside,” he said, “everyone who hires me knows that they get 100 percent of my loyalty.” Why is that noteworthy? Because there’s an assumption that you can hire an entertainment attorney — that’s the guy on your side, remember — and not get 100 percent of his/her loyalty. It’s pretty hard to win a legal battle with a lawyer who might not be riding with you. You’d think loyalty was a given, but, as Busch casually explains it, that’s not the case. Read on at Cuepoint. What the “Blurred Lines” Lawyer Taught All...
Design Observer Podcast: “What Design Sounds Like”

Design Observer Podcast: “What Design Sounds Like”

In the new Design Observer podcast, The Observatory, Jessica Helfand and Michael Beirut discuss highlights from the “What Design Sounds Like” symposium. My contribution was “Dancing About Architecture” – the interplay between sound, architecture, composition and meaning. I spoke and spun J.S.Bach, AC/DC and FKA Twigs. I think it made sense. Other stories include: • It’s Nice That’s Rob Alderson on TED and Design Indaba • Roy Choi • Sindiso Khumalo • Interactive videos by Yoni Bloch: Like a Rolling Stone; Pretend to Be Happy • The Christmas party scene from Kramer vs. Kramer • CBC on Spocking the Canadian $5 bill Bonus: Check out Lena Dunham’s concept for a graphic design web series featuring Jessica and...