I have been a Voting Member of the Recording Academy for 19 years and am an ardent supporter of the organization. Yesterday while on Facebook, I was made aware from a friend and former colleague’s post of this gesture from Beyonce at an after show party for the Grammys.
Perhaps Beyonce was disappointed that she did not win more than one Grammy last week – but talk about a slap-in the face to her friends and colleagues. You may be aware that voting members of the Grammy’s are musical creators themselves. In order to qualify to become a voting member of the Recording Academy, one must meet their stringent criteria, In essence one must have either performed, produced, engineered, mixed, or mastered a professionally released, commercially available sound recording. So in essence the Recording Academy Members are comprised of the recorded music industry that Beyonce requires in order to have created Lemonade, (Lemonade credits).
As a musician I found Lemonade to be highly creative in it’s production and integration of sampling. Bacharach & David as well as Led Zeppelin are credited as co-writers on two of the tracks and would of had to have previously approved the samples being included on the recording. After seeing this image dissing our industry and all the talented members of the Recording Academy, I would guess that both parties are having second thoughts about having done so. The Grammys are different from all other music awards shows, which typically recognize the most ‘popular’ recordings, (the ones having the most downloads, purchases and streams). In the voting instructions for the Grammys, it clearly states that we are to vote on artistic merit, not commercial success. Now I’m not a huge Adele fan, but as far as arranging, production and vocal performance, it’s clear that she turned in the better vocal recording of the two projects. Not too mention, the kind words of acknowledgement from Adele to Beyonce during her acceptance speech for Album of the Year from the stage.
To add insult to injury – Beyonce was captured in a second photo alongside her Mother who is also displaying the act of irreverence.
Can you imagine, Beyonce has a young child at home with twins on the way, all of whom will grow up to someday find these photos on the web. Talk about misguided inspiration and motivation for young women and aspiring recording artists. The age old additive, if you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say anything at all, would have been well advised to adhere to in this situation. I’m wondering if the Recording Academy will make any remarks to this obvious insult to our organization. What are your thoughts on this?
OK – so it may not have been the most memorable halftime performance – but can we all please admit – this is an artist with TALENT. She’s a composer, a singer, an instrumentalist / musician and a dancer, yes I said it a dancer. Now I consider myself a musician and I harken back to the influential musical giants of my adolescence and I can attest to the fact that none of them danced. However, in today’s modern world it seems to be nearly a requirement that you entertain or dance from a visual perspective – seldom, the music alone is no longer enough.
We have singers who don’t write music, we have singers who, both in the recording studio and in concert rely (sometimes heavily) on auto-tune. Some of our pop icons attempt to lip synch, but most of us can detect this. There are terms of microphone volume levels in live performance such as a ‘closed (off) mic,’ or a ‘partially open’ mic. This technique allows the singer to inject some comments or adjectives making it appear to be more realistic that the singer is actually singing. But last night Lady Gaga’s mic was completely ‘open.’ If you have any doubt listen to her inhale as big a possible breath to offset and compensate for the rigorous dance moves she put herself through.
Now don’t misunderstand me – I don’t have any of her music in my collection nor in my playlists, but if one can write and perform at that level – all the while undergoing nearly consecutive dance routines, then you gain my respect.
When she first broke on the scene, the outlandish costumes and make-up nearly overshadowed her talent. It wasn’t until I saw a DVD of a backstage, pre-show warm up with her background singers that I realized just how remarkably talented and schooled this artist is.
At a time in our country when inclusiveness and pride for our country could potentially use a shot in the arm, she opened with a very appropriate patriotic medley. The 13 uninterrupted minutes of Lady Gaga’s performance demonstrated to any artist or musician who subscribes to the 10,000-hour rule – that she may have put in ten times that amount. The conditioning and physical stamina alone – would be challenging for most dancers – but to sing and play, dance and entertain the world to this degree of precision is nothing short of astounding.
I was reflecting and even posted a TBT photo of the Louis Armstrong Award which I received as a senior in high school. I will always be indebted and have great gratitude to my parents who paid for beginner instruments and private lessons. You see, back in the day – it was imperative that one learn to read, even sight-read music. In order to play in one of the many touring regional dance bands, orchestras or in a pit orchestra – sight-reading was a prerequisite. And of course if you were in a junior high or high school band program you had to read music, whether it be a wind ensemble, orchestra or jazz band. Of course things change – in music, they always do – I remember my friend and one of the greatest selling Record Producers of all time – Phil Ramone, make a remark that, ‘you cannot follow a trend, by the time you do, they will be on to a new one.’ Anyway you get my drift – the point being that, take for example the 3rd largest market in the US – Chicago, there is limited work for ‘working musicians.’ Today, I can think of few limited scenarios where it is required that you sight-read on the gig or ‘bandstand.’ We have pit orchestras to support Broadway in Chicago, several society bands and orchestras and a fine collection of big bands including: Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Great Postmodern Nightmare Big Band, and the DePaul University, Columbia College, etc. jazz ensembles. Unfortunately, these ensembles typically perform once per month as the expense are not commensurate with the demand.
Now please allow me to clarify – there are numerous restaurants and clubs presenting live music which is fantastic, a comprehensive understanding of theory, scales and chord progressions are essential – rather that be in a blues, rock, R&B or a jazz setting. What I’m addressing is the fact that there are fewer and fewer opportunities for ‘working musicians’ who have the ability to sight- read on a consistent basis.
I Produced a session for Carrie McDowell that involved the top jazz musicians in Chicago, a brilliant arranger and the top sound engineer in the city three years ago – and for some of us involved – it was the last time 22+ musicians played live in the same room together. If only there remained a demand in dance halls and in the recording studios in so many cities as there was in the 40’s through the mid-70’s for live, creative, arranging and sight-reading musicians.
In both my Music Business class and Applied Marketing: Music Business I address the importance of ISRC codes. International Standard Recording Codes are the globally recognized numbering system for all music and video tracks. In the event you plan on utilizing a digital aggregator (distributor) such as CD Baby, TuneCore, etc., ISRC codes are imperative and are required. Each individual track must have its own unique identifying ISRC code. It is vitally important that one do so in order to distribute your music, and is the means by which all digital downloads, streams, views, etc. can be properly tracked and accounted for. In other words, without an ISRC code – you do not get paid. It is recommended that the ISRC codes be embedded in the Pre-Mastering process.in the disc subcode (Q channel).
What prompted this blog was during the Olympics I was listening to the Antonio Carlos Jobim station and when I looked up to verify the song title – the IRSC title had inadvertently been typed in as “Mediation,” instead of “Meditation.” Pretty funny in a way, but it only goes to prove that if you enter the information incorrectly, your entry will live on in perpetuity, throughout the world, as a typo.
Select distributors will provide you with ISRC codes free or for a nominal fee, or you can shop for them here. Now out the door to Pritzker Pavilion to hear some live music
Although American Idol may have run its course – what is significant will be the absence and loss of another tremendous live band. With Music Director Rickey Minor, the MD for the show for the better part of the show’s run, the band exemplified exceptional musicians and their ability to cover all musical styles and genres. All in all, during the course of 15 seasons, the number of musicians, background singers, arrangers, music supervisors and music clearance personal – the show employed more than 150 individuals responsible for the production of the music for the show. The band included some of the top session musicians in LA including Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar), John Beasley (arranger), Ray Chew (MD), and numerous other musicians and singers all displaying tremendous talent on a weekly basis. Regardless of the quality of the individual Idol performances, the band consistently provided a lush musical bed for the artists’ performances.
Musicians on live television have one of the most cherished gigs available – with income from at the very least, two revenue streams, the AFOM and SAG-AFTRA. While there is little doubt that there will be a demand for future work in the studio and on the road for most of these musicians and singers, one has to wonder how this will affect the future of the total nucleus of those involved.
Perhaps the biggest loss will be exceptionally talented musicians performing each and every week inspiring young musicians and bringing quality live music into households throughout the country.
Another platform and stable gig for fine musicians has once again disappeared.
The tradition of late night talk show bands is rich with exceptional musicians. Think back to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the NBC Orchestra / later the Tongiht Show Orchestra led by Doc Serverinsen and included such monumental musicians as: Snooky Young, Ernie Watts and so many other guys who held down those seats for many years. Then when Jay took over – the new musical director appointed was Branford Marsalis, followed then by Kevin Eubanks. The point being, all these guys were well schooled and respected jazz musicians. Now, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, he calls his old friend Fred Amisen (a comedian) and appoints him as bandleader. The only truly exceptional musician in the band when the show kicked off was Kimberly Thompson (Beyoncé), and she quickly left. I watch in bemusement when I see this show – how on earth did these guys get to be in a late night, nationally televised talk show band? They may be adequate for a garage band, but have no business being on this national stage. I could easily recommend a dozen guys more capable and qualified that would jump at the chance. Seth – give me a call if you care for their phone #’s.
This band is damn good. Now I realize that they are copying the nearly exact parts from the original recordings but they collectively cover any popular style of music – from pure pop to R&B to rock to County, and do so convincingly. The MD is this guy Paul Mirkovich – who has worked with Pink and Cher. However, sometimes they de-construct a song and the new arrangements by Paul are quite imaginative. The guitarist has worked with The Backstreet Boys, Colbie Caillat, Jesse McCartney and Enrique Iglesias and is an established composer, songwriter and producer. The bass player, Sasha Krivtsov is from Russia and has toured with Billy Idol, Tina Turner and Cher. The nucleus of the band has been together for over ten years, and if you remember the ill fated series “Rockstar: INXS” and “Rockstar: Supernova – they were the house band.
On last night’s episode they accompanied a singer performing If I Ever Loose My Faith In You (by Sting) and the drummer was more than competent in playing the groove and fills from the original recording which featured the incomparable Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, David Sancious – keys and Dominic Miller – guitar. One other thing to note here – is each player’s ability to modify their respective instruments sound for each tune / genre.