Category: Unfinished Mail
Unfinished Mail – March 2017
It’s exactly mid-February, February 14, Valentine’s Day. I feel the March deadline breathing down my back. For February I’d hoped to present a multi-pronged feature on music venues. That has been delayed while I find more interviews. January and February are typically slow for me. Once March starts the accelerator is hit and doesn’t slow down for 9 months. Later this week I’m giving a speech to students about FEMMUSIC’s history & my daily process. It reviewing both it brings back memories.
In August FEMMUSIC will be having it’s 18th Anniversary. It is exciting and daunting at the same time. I strive to make FEMMUSIC better. It has become a more activist site than when I first began. I frequently will make a political or social message without saying it. I see my role as editor is to shine a light on artists. That means I give them voice to their issues. My own politics and social causes may be mentioned in my editorial but they shouldn’t always take front stage.
2017 is looking to be one of the biggest in music. There are more releases from more artists and more tours than before. This means the pressure is on for me & my staff to do more. The clock is ticking and I would like to not always be in catch up mode.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: The clock is ticking
I write this the day after Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US. Yesterday I watched a brilliant documentary on Nina Simone. It included a song I consider iconic. It is “Strange Fruit” about lynching in the United States. I first heard the song as part of a musical history of the blues in a stage show called “Ain’t Nothing But the Blues.” It stuck like glue with me.
Another song that stays with me is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Years ago I saw Meika Pauley in person. She dissected this iconic song verse by verse and forever changed it in my mind.
This past year I saw Aldous Harding do Rob Orbison’s “Crying.” It was a slow dripping rendition that still clings to my heart.
Songs are living creatures. When you as a songwriter make them they take a life of their own. They can be wild creatures. A single song can change your set and your life. I remember at one time hearing “The song stands out.” If it is meant to do great things it will. This stands true whether it is done as an individual songwriter, a songwriter for hire, or a member of a band. The song has a voice that will speak to the audience…if it’s the right song. Be aware of the voice you create and know that the song may not always be yours.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: The Song
Unfinished Mail – January 2017
Happy New Year!
Both the January & February issues of 2017 began as early as August & September. After the overwhelming response to our February 2016 issue on Women Tour Managers we were hungry to try for bigger issues. This month we present Women In Studio Production. We are already accumulating leads for other large features. I personally view it as part of my mission to shine a light on the music industry as a whole…not just musicians.
2016 was one of FEMMUSIC’s biggest years. I think we did more than I ever thought possible. I now want to expand my thinking and redefine what can be done. That means aiming bigger. At the same time I don’t want to ignore our core of supporting emerging artists. I live for live shows and want to feed my music addiction as much as possible. I have always defined FEMMUSIC as an international magazine focusing on women in music. The international is more than a word. I seek out artists in different countries and with different experiences.
It is near Christmas weekend as I write this. My deadline is breathing down my back like a hungry dragon. It is as thrilling as it is scary. Look for more to come. I have Spring planned but Summer is always a wild creature. Keep reading and tell your friends. FEMMUSIC is more than about music.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: More Than About Music
Unfinished Mail – December 2016
My December began on October 12. That was the day I received my first e-mail from a label contact reminding me of all of their releases this year. Within the next week it was followed by word on Holiday releases.
I write this in early November I’m hard at work on 3 issues now. December’s “Best Of” is the most trouble free. This year I’ve tried to make FEMMUSIC better than it was. I’ve included more content. I’ve worked with more photographers. I’ve also looked at facets of the industry that are not just performers.
I feel a responsibility to do better. It challenges me. I hope it challenges you. After 17 years I think changing perspectives is vital to being new & original. It is also fun. As I get ready to change into year 18 again I must thank you all for your support in me. FEMMUSIC is here because of the readers. If no one came, I wouldn’t be writing. Thank you and I look forward to doing more for you in 2017.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Trouble Free
As of this writing, it has been nearly a year since the November 13 attack on the Le Bataclan in Paris that took 89 lives. For me personally, my reaction was similar to September 11. I was in shock. It was an intentional attack on a music venue during a concert. It chilled me to the core and started a fire on what needs to be done to stop it.
For others that fire started on June 10 when the Pulse Nightclub was attacked in Orlando. Forty-Nine people died in that attack. It was after that attack that major music venues in my area started putting up metal detectors. It has now been many months since that happened.
Now the questions dog me about whether we did the right thing. I can remember getting grief from many friends when I suggested that metal detectors should be at venues. I actually suggested more. Now my wish has come true. In a way I do have buyer’s remorse. It was easier to imagine a world before November 13 or June 10 just as it was easier to live in a world before September 11.
I’d hoped for this November issue to have a major expose about venue security nationwide. After many attempts I found I couldn’t get people on record about it. Luckily a friend at the Denver Post did do a comprehensive piece. Instead of an expose, I give you an aggregate of the last year of attacks worldwide. Did we do enough? Did we do too much? I will continue to go to live music venues. Will you?
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: security
In August I met with a college professor who is trying to put together a Women in Music college course. The questions raised during it included can guest speakers be brought in? Should it be combined with Women’s Studies? Should it look at the business, history, sociology, and psychology of being a woman in music? After we finished I asked myself other questions including: What other colleges teach women in music courses? What do that include? Is it a benefit to have a women in music course vs having a regular business, history, etc….?
In June I attended Denver Comic Con. At that convention there were a number of panels that focused on women. They included: Women In Geek Industry Panel, Girls Are Heroes of Their Own Stories, Damsels Not In Distress, Empowering Women Through Fandom, and more. These panels focused on women in comics, writing and popular culture. Again the question becomes, are these panels needed?
Earlier this year I asked if FEMMUSIC is needed anymore. Women in music are more prevalent and successful then they were 17 years ago. Women are now in all facets of the industry and in positions of power. Problems still do remain. I see and hear of discrimination on a daily & weekly basis. The question of “As a woman in the music industry, have you been discriminated against?’ is still asked and answered. Women are still not being paid as much as men for the same work…remember ERA? Things are better than they were but still have a ways to go. For this reason FEMMUSIC & Women in Music courses should still remain.
Since meeting with the college professor I’ve asked about other courses. I’ve found some sporadic in other places. Do you know of any? What do they teach? Where are they? Please send me your questions & ideas. Thank you.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Womanthology
It’s mid August and my mind is partially in September & October. Last week I attended an arts conference. I’m constantly striving to learn more and try to find new sources, contacts, opportunities for the people I work with i.e. you. I try to see if there are creative things being done elsewhere that can be adapted to musicians. I also look at grants and other funding. I’ve considered branching out and making FEMMUSIC a news and funding aggregate but I don’t have the time. Keeping up with events locally can sometimes be hard enough.
At the end of July I was contacted by friends of friends about some Bay area artists visiting Denver. I tried to hook them up locally with other artists so they can gig swap and come up with other ideas to visit this part of the country again.
Last week with the arts conference I heard of a major arts grant. My role is to provide information. If you can use it to your benefit, great! If not, at least you know. This major arts grant involved grants of $10-15, 000. This is not pocket change. It requires community involvement. The competition to it may be visual artists and non-profits. Writing a grant proposal to get that money will be tough. I believe any musician I know could qualify if they are creative enough.
Being an artist is not easy. It requires dedication, concentration, perseverance and long hours with little reward. I think any artist is capable of growing into new areas. I’ve seen it many times. As an artist, as a person we are capable of being more than we are. Getting there requires a lot of hard work. I want to see the people I know and work with become better. The first step is to dream big. The next step is to actively work on getting there.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Dream Big
Happy Birthday to Us! Happy Birthday to Us! This issue marks 17 years for FEMMUSIC. It is both frightening & humbling to say we’ve been around that long. FEMMUSIC is old enough to drive but not old enough to vote. I think we’re all afraid when FEMMUSIC is old enough to drink.
FEMMUSIC & I have changed over the years. When we began I only thought it would be taking an hour or two a week and would be mainly local. I’d toyed with idea of freelancing but liked having control of the project. In mid-2000 we became an international magazine when we interviewed Bif Naked for the first time. These days it is easier to be international than ever before. I look at artists from the Europe, Asia, and Australia on a daily basis. I thrill to artists from the Middle East. I consider it my job and duty to find artists people may not have heard of.
FEMMUSIC is not an island in of itself. I’m working with a small amount of people now to make sure what you see & read is accurate. FEMMUSIC is not alone in our coverage of women in music. I can name numerous publications and blogs who do the same thing. There is a variety of coverage out there. Some publications focus on a specific instrument, genre or sexual identity. FEMMUSIC has always been about one thing, music – all genres. We can dive into stories about politics, equality and more but at the end of the day the music is paramount.
What is the role of FEMMUSIC? Going back to those in the same niche referenced in last paragraph. When we started many of our competitors made presenting shows and conferences part of their mission statement. I think they made more money, took bigger risks and learning event planning. I considered it many times starting out. I feel FEMMUSIC’s role is twofold. One we are A & R. We are looking for those artists who will be big 10 years from now. Two we are interested in education. That is the development in artist development. I believe in the axiom of “A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships.” I oppose favoritism and think every artist has the potential to be something more. Surprisingly the older I get, the more I believe this.
What’s next? A year ago FEMMUSIC was going to shows and covering artists. In a year we’ve brought in a bunch of photographers to change the look and coverage on FEMMUSIC. In the coming year I’m toying with the idea of a sponsored podcast. I would also like to find more writers to expand our coverage of stories internationally, but with a local voice. If you have ideas, suggestions, donations, we are interested.
Thank you to all our readers, friends and family for allowing us to do this. We look forward to another year with you.
Posted in Uncategorized, Unfinished Mail
June 12, 2016 – The New World
Those who know me best can say that 2016 has been the year of my soapbox, venue security. Last November after the Bataclan attack in Paris I grew enraged at the lack of response from American venues to an obvious shortcoming. Since then I’ve been working in fits and starts to do my own feature piece in response. It continues to remain unwritten.
On Saturday June 11 I was at a low key show to see a singer songwriter I adore for both her comedy and songwriting and a soul band I’d never seen. When I woke up the next morning it was to a new world. You did too. The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando should send shockwaves through the entertainment industry. It was preceded by the murder of Christina Grimmie. It should make venue owners small & large rethink how they protect their staff and patrons.
There are no clean clear answers on how to do this. I’m sorry there aren’t. Should every venue have a metal detector and armed security? Should venue staff be trained to deal with situations no normal person should ever think of? Should every artist now bring their own security to a venue? Will venue prices go up to match new concerns? Is gun control the answer? Are mental health screenings needed? I don’t know.
It is the responsibility of the press to start a conversation. We are supposed to make people think of what is out there. The press are not policy makers, artists, venue owners…but we bear a responsibility to seek out the truth to make a conversation. Since it is an election year in the US many press think this conversation should be ignored for other ones involving curses & bad hair.
You as a reader bear a responsibility to. Ask your artist. Ask your venue. Ask your political representative. What are they going to do to insure the events of June 11 are the exception not the rule? What are they going to do to protect your safety? We should never live in fear to an isolated event. We are living in fear because these events aren’t isolated anymore. We all bear a responsibility to ask questions and find answers.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Venue Security
It’s mid-May as I write this and a very rough week. I’ve had medical issues that have come up which have slowed me down. I don’t like slowing down. It is summer and the calendar is in full tilt. Festivals are coming quick and bigger shows keep appearing. In addition, good friends have been putting out new albums which makes me proud. Like all births, the family gathers around to “ooh” and “ah.” Money is the best gift in this case to buy the product and fuel the engine for the next birth.
My rant this month is something that FEMMUSIC also does. The shooting gallery. I’ve been at some amazing shows already this year where the audience misses the show by trying to film it, document every second with photos, etc… I work with professionals who value the show as much as the photos. They shoot with the flash off and get only what they need. They don’t need every second of every show and neither do I. I view live performance as something unique and not repeatable. The performance in Denver may be entirely different from Salt Lake City. The audience gives the artist energy and receives it back. If you’re shooting too much you may not “feel” the energy of the show. Take a minute and breathe it in. It is a concert experience.
On another tangent I’m finding the business of music is taking up as much time as running FEMMUSIC itself. I’m a consultant, counselor, friend and news source to the local scene. I feel it is part of my mission to shepherd the next generation. We all lift each other up. The time I spend doing that has become more and more. I enjoy it but it has increased my workload. That’s all from the editor’s desk. Go out and see a show!
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: shooting gallery
It’s May and if you haven’t started buying tix for festivals already you may be too late. Most people think summer starts in June. If you’re in the music industry it starts earlier. As we gear up for another busy festival year, here are our annual reminders of Do’s & Don’t’s so we can all enjoy the music.
When going to a concert we are all seeking the same thing: to have fun. The band is there for that. The audience is there for that. The problem is some people’s idea of fun, is not always the same as everyone else’s. Your behavior can, at a minimum, be considered rude, and, at a maximum, be illegal and enough to get you tossed from the venue. Here are the DO’s and DON’T’s of concerts:
1. DON’T sing every word to every song that the band is playing. They already know the words, and the people around paid to hear the band sing, not you.
2. DO sing to the band when they ask everyone to sing along.
3. DON’T scream out band members names at any opportunity. They know their own names and don’t need you to remind them.
4. DO scream & clap appreciation for solos, and songs with the rest of the audience.
5. DON’T talk through the band’s set. If you want to talk, go outside the venue or someplace where you don’t interfere with the rest of the audience. This is true of the opening act, or anyone who is performing. People paid to hear these people NOT you.
6. DON’T scream “Freebird” or any of the other usual song requests. The band has a set list. Some may ask for audience participation, but drunkenly screaming out something they NEVER play does not win you points.
7. DON’T get drunk. You may see yourself as the master of the universe when drunk but most likely, everyone around you doesn’t. If you get too drunk you WILL get tossed from a venue. If you don’t, and act like an ass, you will be remembered, ridiculed and punished.
8. DON’T get stoned. See number 7.
9. DON’T stand up for a song, or set when everyone around you is sitting down. You will block someone’s view and that ruins their fun.
10. DON’T text, talk or photograph the entire concert or set. In the smartphone era a generation has been raised to believe that you can’t actually brag that you were at a show without demonstrating you are AT a show. Professional photographers have the first 3 songs to capture the best of the band. They have better cameras and a better view than you. Take a few shots but remember the joy of a concert is BEING there. It is called a concert experience because everyone is present. If you can’t look up from your phone, you are not.
11. DON’T quote me the set. You may have seen the band 20 times and memorized their facebook, and twitter. You may be the ultimate fan and know them by name, age and social security number. If you want your band to get more popular it is because they attract NEW fans beyond just you. You want the person next to you to experience what you did as NEW. If you blab about every song, every second, they may walk out and that is a lost fan & sale for your band.
DO have fun. Remember that everyone around you wants to as well.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Concert Etiquette
I’m optimistic. If I wasn’t I don’t think I’d still be in the business. Optimism is a strange creature. It gives you hope. It is an understatement to say I see a lot of shows in a year. I will go out of my way to see artists large and small. Sometimes I’m there to scout out someone new. Sometimes I’m there to see someone who is beginning to break. Sometimes I’m there to see a superstar. The shows I most enjoy are not the stadium shows that are choreographed to the second. I enjoy the small rock shows with touring acts still trying to make a name for themselves. The problem is to make a name for yourself often you have to take someone else off their pedestal.
In every local market their are the “usual suspects.” The reference comes from Casablanca. These are the local acts who have such a large following that they are invited to every local festival and play bigger venues on a regular basis – and have been doing so for anywhere from 5 years to 20. They are established and have families and make a living without touring. Every promoter knows their name and has partied with them “back in the day.” The “usual suspects” change over time but the m.o. remains the same.
As someone who likes to foster in a new generation I’m not a fan of the “usual suspects.” How can a new band begin to break into that audience when the bookings are eaten up by these bands? It is not enough to open for the “usual suspects.” There has to be an opportunity given by the promoters and other forces to allow that slot to be fought for more. This is hard. It means that you can’t always give your friends a prime slot and you have to be willing to take risks on music you may not be a fan of…even if everyone else is. I invite local promoters, booking agents, etc…to expand your horizons.
A rising tide lifts all boats is an axiom I’ve become a fan of. If you lift one tier of musicians into a new level you leave it open for another bunch of musicians to move in. That doesn’t mean that the musicians get to slack off. It means when everyone “ups” their game there can be movement and new faces get a chance they didn’t before. One benefit to being out all the time is I get to see a music scene evolve. One of the best ways to have the scene evolve is when the “usual suspects” slow down and take a few summers off. They leave the door open to new faces and risk.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Leveling the Playing Field and the Usual Suspects