From Underground to Mainstream

I’ve been doing some thinking about what happens to a hip hop artist and their musical career.

There is a pattern I have seen developing when an artist decides to step out of the underground shadow and into the mainstream light. Yes an artist is developing, but the lyrical quality seriously suffers when this happens.  The rawness, the emotional angst (perhaps caused by trying to make it) just is not present within the CD anymore.  Perhaps the difficulties both financially and within the industry fuel the edginess.  And once an artists feels they have made it this is no longer fuel for the fire that creates such heartfelt lyrics.

Lyrical content is a major issue for me, because if you want instrumentals go listen to electronic music or something of that nature. But if you’re a hip hop artist lyrics are a major part of your presence. I don’t just want to hear a beat with booming bass drowning everything out, I want to hear what you have to say over that beat.  I want to hear problems and issues being faced, something that makes me think.  But I feel once an artist goes mainstream there’s just an endless stream of “dumbed down” garbage, with each artists’ message being inherently identical.

So what causes this switch, the artist themselves or the industry?  The need to fit in or the need to express an image of material success? Lyrical content should be consistent no matter where an artist is in their career, the content is one of the main driving factors for whether or not an artist is liked by fans. But it seems as though there is a different filter for underground and mainstream content, and these filters are what help or hinder lyrical content across the hip hop genre.


If Music Is a Need

If music is a need, then there’s a service to be provided.  This is where music promotion plays an essential role. If you enjoy music, festivals and concerts are the best way to experience it. But it becomes a matter of informing people about them.

So what is the service to be provided exactly?  Well, it could be the fact that your favorite band is right in front of you playing live.  Bringing artists to a particular region can be one of the greatest aspects of music for a supporter.  Rhymesayers recently finished a tour around Europe, and the artists under that label could not stop saying how excited, happy, and enveloping the fans were wherever they played.

So is that it? Is live music the only provided service? Of course not, but it is perhaps the most important aspect.  Insomniac Events takes this one step further, as I have mentioned in earlier blogs, by creating a theme for the festival.  By paying attention to every little detail they manage to create a different world for people to experience for three days, thus strengthening the overall service provided, which is why they are so successful from year to year.

So the more you are able to provide for your customers and supporters, the more loyalty they will have for you. The greater the perceived service, the greater the demand for your commodity.

Think differently? Feel free to comment!

And here’s a video that describes my feelings towards music. Enjoy!

Is Music a Need?

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about music, and I’ve come to the conclusion that music is a need for humanity.  Now why is it a need and not a want, because I feel it’s been prewired into our brains just like the need for food or shelter.  Just like there is a variety of food there is also a variety of music, provided to suite people’s needs.

Think about this, remember when you were young, and you needed to be soothed?  Music filled that need, helped calm you down and set your mind at ease.  Does that still not stand today?  You want to get excited for good time, calm your nerves, curb boredom, get inspired, I guarantee music is present in the process. But why is there a need, what drives the necessity for so many people to indulge in listening or creating music?

I think the need for humanity to explore and express themselves in an artistic manner drives the need for creation. But I’m still grappling with the idea of people needing to listen to the music being created, and why there are so many unique genres of music.  Maybe it’s the need for people to be heard that drives the need to listen, or perhaps it’s the need for entertainment and imagination that drives people to listen to music.  Perhaps emotions are what truly drive people to listen to different genres, just like babies’ emotions drive a mother to sing to them.

In the end, I think it’s all about what people want to get out of the experience, so emotions are an intricate necessity for music to exist.  There may be other forces that drive the need for music, but at the core, emotions drive needs, which is why music is needed by everyone.



Is There a Way to Decide What Artists to Show?

For any given venue or festival, deciding what artists to show is a very important question in relation to the overall process of running that particular venue or fesitval.  Of course the greatest concern for the company would be the cost for each artist but there are other variables involved in the decision that should be taken into consideration.

For instance, location is an important factor to consider when deciding what artists you would like to have perform.  Not only where the concert is held is important but also the people attending.  The willingness of the audience  to travel long distances will ultimately be determined by what artists are performing.  What I’m trying to get at is how there is almost like a triangle between location, audience, and artists.  The location and artists should help you identify and attract the kind of audience you want.  Where your venue is held will determine the immediate demographic which may be readily available. For example, The Knitting Factory’s immediate demographic is University students and ultimately the Reno/Sparks area. However, what artists they decide to showcase will allow them to attract other people from different areas such as Truckee or even farther away, thus allowing them to expand their audience.

So which is more important the audience or the location? I’m not entirely sure but I have been trying to figure this out for quite sometime.  Please feel free to leave a comment about which one you believe is more important.

Music Festivals and Equipment, Is There a Strategy?

The next important decision to be made when considering a music festival is your equipment. What you decide to use will help to better determine the overall cost of the festival.

For instance most festivals are usually outside and I believe this strategy is used so event companies can layout just how the flow of people will be directed.  There needs to be a way for people to move around with the least congestion possible or sit for a while if they get too tired or hot.  This can be very difficult to do if there are 100,000+ attending.  Additionally, holding a festival outside determines what artists will play where in your overall layout.  Utilizing different stages allows for not only more performing artists and variety but also an overall better experience because the music isn’t all clashing together at once; its separated and distinct. Also, hosting an event outside allows you to identify and pick places where art or food tents can be placed. An outside festival also gives you the ability to create your own world.  You may set up stages however you wish, put up sculptures and themed galleries that enhance the environment and theme of the festival, or construct rides to provide greater entertainment, which brings me to my next point.

The theme and layout will help determine what equipment will be necessary to achieve your objectives.  How many stages are required and the size of each will determine how much equipment will be needed such as lighting, scaffolding and speakers.  Also, tents big enough to provide sufficient cover from weather and fencing to keep people contained within that area will also need to be considered.  Also if there is a theme for the festival every little detail of how the festival is constructed needs to be thought through in order to provide the experience you want to give to ticket holders and a reasonable estimate for the equipment needed for that goal. Not much can be done during the day other than having art for people to look at, creative backdrops for stages such as Tomorrowland, or providing something else for people to do like having rides or sculptures to touch. However at night things can get creative, lights can hang from trees, there can be  for people to walk through, there are endless possibilities.

This can be tough, but it is easy to see for ticket holders whether or not thought was put into the process.  This can make or break a festival in certain respects, but if done well can assist in producing a consistently successful festival.  Please share any additional information on perfecting a strategy!

Here’s a montage of video footage shot on location atInsomniac Event’s Nocturnal festival during setup!

Music Festivals and Artists, The Need for a Middle Man?

Once you’ve decided when and where you want to have a festival the next most important decision is likely to be who you want to perform at your venue.  Depending on how you set up a festival there is an opportunity to have multiple stages and a variety of artists or maybe just one main stage where each act performs.

The main contributor to the success of any music festival is the music itself!  The trouble though is actually getting the artists to be at the show; although audio problems are also an issue (but that’s for a later post).  It’s hard to bring big headlining artists to perform because they are well known, thus the more famous the artist the more likely their price will be higher than others to do a show.  I’ve discovered that this is one of the main hurdles for an events management company such as Insomniac Events; the amount of capital necessary to bring in artists with worldwide appeal must be extremely high.

Any headlining artist knows there is a demand for their brand within the music community, so the problem is not within being able to reach fans but within the artists ability to put on a live show. This is why there is a need for a “middle man”, because the artists needs an events company just as much as the festival needs the artists.   Here’s where a company such as Insomniac steps in.  They provide the venue and the equipment (which can be very expensive), the artists provides their music.  However the need for an artist and their work provides significant leverage when price is negotiated for their appearance.  This is why companies need to consider carefully just how the demand for a festival pans out over given geographical areas because if they pay excessive amounts of money for a festival that doesn’t sell out they will not be in business for too long.  However if they sell out year after year this may provide leverage for the company in negotiations so an equitable deal may be reached.

Here’s to living life through music, send any thoughts you have my way!

Music Festivals and Location, How Do They Relate?

Referencing my first blog, it’s always been hard for me to pin down exactly what I want to do with my life.  I’ve gone from wanting to be weapons instructor for the Navy, to a Formula 1 race car driver, to a professional skier but none of these have worked out.

When I began going to the University of Nevada, Reno it was as if I was walking around in a day dream, with no real goal or direction.  Now that I am currently finishing my last year I have had a good amount of time to consider just what I want to do with my life after graduation.  The answer has been becoming increasing clear; I want to run a music festival just like Insomniac Events.

Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  I would like to keep it that way and share with others the powerful effect music has had on me.  I cannot think of a better way to achieve this, other than having a multitude of artists come to a venue and perform for crowds. My education here at UNR has been rather lengthy but I have been starting to see just how what I have learned correlates to the music industry and festivals.

When operating a festival there are multiple steps and actions needing to take place in order to have a successful music experience.  For instance, location is one of the most important aspects to think about.  How many people attend and where the concert is held (i.e. concert hall, club, outdoors) have huge implications on just what location may provide the most benefit for both the festival and the people attending.  It would be beneficial to event coordinators to consider whether they want to negotiate where a venue is held or possibly buy land to have a permanent spot from year to year; like Superfly had to do for Bonnaroo.  Additionally location also determines the ability to provide the experience you want.  Do you want it contained and easily manageable, or a widespread open environment such as Coachella?  For Insomniac, they hosts most of their festivals outside to provide not only entertainment for 100,000+ not able to fit indoors, but also to provide an aesthetic experience for fans by having rides and creating a different world for three days

However you slice it; location is important because it sets up what artists you want to have perform, what equipment will be used, and also dictates the structure of the festival and organization of your company.