HeatSeekerz Grammy Predictions

music, music business, music industry

The Grammys are upon us. Which means it’s another year passing by since 2009 where we’ve been saying we’ll go back and forget to get organized in time. The Grammys are prestigious, their relevancy are often brought into question, with some validation, but everyone wants to win a Grammy!

We thought we’d have a bit of fun and predict a few of the pop awards. It’s worth noting these aren’t who we want to see win but who we think will be voted for the most in each category.

We’ll check back in tomorrow and talk about the show and see how many predictions we got wrong!

Check out our predictions below:

Record Of The Year:-

Fancy-Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX

Chandelier- Sia

Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)- Sam Smith

Shake It Off- Taylor Swift

All About That Bass- Meghan Trainor

HS Prediction- Stay With Me- Sam Smith

This one is a tough one but Sam Smith’s record stands out because it’s so different from the others. All 5 are huge records in their own right but Smith should walk away with this one. Quick shout out to our girl Charli XCX representing Sesac!

Album Of The Year:-

Morning Phase — Beck

Beyoncé — Beyoncé

X — Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour — Sam Smith

Girl — Pharrell Williams

HS Prediction- X- Ed Sheeran

In terms of a whole body of work and Ed Sheeran’s second album is consistent throughout and a very unique album.

Song Of The Year:-

All About That Bass- Meghan Trainor

Chandelier- Sia

Shake It Off- Taylor Swift

Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)- Sam Smith

Take Me To Church- Hozier

HS Prediction:- Stay With Me- Sam Smith

This award differs from Record Of The Year because it is decided by the actual song, taking away the production and just focussing on the lyrics and the music. We have to go with Stay With Me again although All About That Bass might pip it due to its great message.

Best New Artist:-

Iggy Azalea

Bastille

Brandy Clark

Haim

Sam Smith

HS Prediction:- Sam Smith

This one will be close between Smith and Iggy. Both made a big impact on music this year but with so many nominations it’s hard to see Smith missing out on this award.

Best Pop Solo Performance:-

All Of Me (Live)- John Legend

Chandelier-Sia

Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)- Sam Smith

Shake It Off- Taylor Swift

Happy (Live)- Pharrell Williams

HS Prediction:- All of Me- John Legend

This one is another tough one but John’s single really stands out when it comes on the radio. We love Sia’s performance on Chandelier though. She can hit them high notes!

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:-

Fancy- Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX

A Sky Full Of Stars- Coldplay

Say Something- A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera

Bang Bang- Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj

Dark Horse- Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J

HS Prediction- Fancy- Iggy Azalea feat Charli XCX

We figure Iggy will win this one after missing out on other nominations. We’d love to see Bang Bang get one too in this category.

-HS

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Magic Mike XXL and Sexy Music

music, music business, music industry

You want to know what life in the studio with us is like? Watch this video..

All kidding aside and while fully clothed, we actually wanted to talk about the music in this trailer. It was an orchestrated remix of Ginuwine’s “Pony”, a dope song released in 1996, nearly 20 years ago. Not saying this song shouldn’t have been used- it should have, it’s perfect for it, but the fact that they had to go back to ’96 for a song with that bounce and sexiness is an indication of where music is at this point in time. ‘Sexy’ songs don’t get that much play anymore on radio. ‘Jealous’ by Nick Jonas is getting a lot of love at the moment and rightfully so, it’s a great song, but that’s about as sexy as radio gets right now. It’s not that artists aren’t recording or making them anymore, but those songs typically get less traction than the more ‘pop’ hits which is the point we’re trying to make, sexy just doesn’t seem to be as cool anymore.

From dealing with the labels we see way less demand for the type of songs that would make it on the ‘bedroom’ playlist. We usually send in 2-3 songs for artists and the “sexy” one always gets overlooked. We often wonder why this is, people still like those kind of tracks, otherwise “Pony” wouldn’t have been used in the above trailer, but for whatever reason there seems to be a lack of these sexy songs at the moment. “Fifty Shades of Grey” comes out soon, the music from that definitely has the sexy feel but it’ll be a flash in the pan and we’ll go back to the status quo soon enough.

Of course there is a time and a place to listen to this type of music, you may not want to be getting your groove on during the car ride to work for example, but that didn’t used to be the case so much and radio seemed to play more of it. The songs are there if you go looking for them but we’d like to hear more of them regularly.

Just something to think about.

-HS

New Music Tuesday- Fancy Reagan

music, music business, music industry

Ok, we may be a little biased in our choice today as Fancy Reagan are friends and collaborators of ours but this song is actually worthy of getting the HeatSeekerz Choice on New Music Tuesday Award (is there a more prestigious, terribly named award…?).

“Knock Me Out” is featured on recently released “Now That’s What I Call Music 53” (who knew they still made those?!). The song is Fancy Reagan’s debut single on Universal’s Republic Records and we love it. We got a chance to hear it at the studio last year and were instantly big fans, that hook is undeniable!

Lead singer Sean is an incredible vocalist, as you can tell. Rather amusingly, for a couple of demos we did for him we both had to sing an octave down from where he sings, dude can hit some ridiculously high notes! The band are all fantastic writers and musicians and this song showcases that big time.

We wish the guys the best of luck with this release and hope you get to hear what we’ve done with them soon. Go ahead and check it out and buy/listen at your preferred digital retailer/streaming service.

Music Monday..Lady Gaga

music, music business, music industry

It’s always a positive thing when artists use their music to raise awareness of taboo subjects. Especially when said artist is of the stature of Lady Gaga.

It was announced that she would be contributing a song to “The Hunting Ground”, a documentary about sexual assault on U.S. college campuses. The movie premiered at Sundance last week and hopefully will gain more exposure with Lady Gaga’s name attached.

Gaga has revealed in interviews that she was a victim of sexual assault and has written songs about it before (“Swine” from ARTPOP). Talking about such painful experiences can’t be easy and putting it out there for the world to know is a commendable thing, especially when it’s such a sensitive subject. This new song was written with Diane Warren (Google her for her list of hits). We haven’t heard the song but know it’ll be extremely well written and tackle the subject in a perfect way.

The message here is that music is more than just entertainment. It’s an art form born of self expression and when moments like this come in an artist or writer’s career where they can use their experiences to help others who share their pain, it’s great when they use it.

We love Gaga, her music and her artistic vibe and really respect her putting her music forward to aide a movie that addresses a subject she is familiar with. It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s about the music and how it affects people. Sometimes we all need a bit of a reminder.

For more info on the film head over to
www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com

Follow Up Friday- Sam Smith/Tom Petty

music, music business, music industry

On Monday we discussed how songwriters can accidentally use other people’s melodies without realizing, seemingly happening with Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me” sounding a little to similar to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.

Today we came across a statement on the Smith/Petty situation from Tom Petty himself where he called the whole incident “a musical accident no more no less“. It was great to hear him talking of how easily the problem was resolved and that he had never considered taking it to court, as was initially suggested by reports. Petty echoed what we had mentioned in our piece about how easy it is to write a song with unintentionally borrowed melodies,

All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen.  Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.”

Again we commend both parties for putting the music first! For Petty’s full statement head over to Billboard.

Have a great weekend!

-HS

Music Monday- Sam Smith/Tom Petty

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It was announced today that Sam Smith has added Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to the writing credits of his smash hit “Stay With Me” after Petty’s camp felt there was a similarity to Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”. Billboard

We give Smith & co huge props for doing this as they quite easily could have taken it to court and may have won. This move suggests that the music comes before riches for the British singer, a refreshing thing. He just wanted the song to be successful and after he acknowledged there were (unintended) similarities with Petty’s song, Smith and his representatives worked it all out behind the scenes and gave Petty and Lynne a 12.5% cut in the writers royalties (probably amounting to at least upper 6 figures).

Things like this happen all the time in songwriting, we’re always catching each other accidentally stealing melodies from others’ songs. Often it’ll be a song that’s not familiar to the offending writer, they may have heard it in passing and it stuck with them, sometimes for years, before manifesting in a ‘new’ melody. The typical thing would be to change a note or two, go up where the original melody goes down and you’re no longer infringing on any copyrighted material. It’s a bit of a gray area for musicians as there are only so many chord progressions or notes in a scale. Eventually, as a writer, you will accidentally ‘steal’ other people’s melodies and pass them off as your own. Sometimes it may hit you hours, days or months after perfecting a song that you’ve done it and you kick yourself for spending so much time on it only to have to change it or scrap it all together.

Other times a writer may deliberately choose to use someone else’s melody because it either inspired the rest of the song that now doesn’t sound the same without it, or because of the familiarity it brings. If a listener already knows a melody and likes it, they’ll be more drawn to the new song that incorporates it. You hear it all the time on radio, seemingly pointless uses of instrumental or vocal melodies get thrown into songs to make it catch a listener’s ear. Pitbull is a great example of this, melodies in his music are often borrowed (legally) to encourage fans from other demographics to become fans of his songs because of that initial familiar melody that they loved.

We feel for Sam Smith and the other writers as a song becomes your baby and now they have to share theirs with two other people. It’s highly unlikely that they were aware of the similarities in the songs but in all fairness the same copyright laws protecting Petty will also prevent others from using “Stay With Me” to make money without rewarding Smith.

It’s great to see musicians working this stuff out behind closed doors and out of the public domain, there is no need to tarnish a successful song by dragging it through court. Well played to all involved and music, this time, is the winner.

Music & Technology- DLD15

music, music business, music industry

We came across this panel video yesterday thanks to Ryan Leslie (more on him in a minute). The panel was made up of Ryan and a few other important figures from the music world discussing technology and its impact on the music industry. It’s worth pointing out that there isn’t a definitive solution for resurrecting the music business but we’re starting to see trends that indicate where the money can come from. Our feeling is a mix of many elements discussed in the panel but primarily the use of streaming services and D2C marketing and artist-fan interaction that Ryan Leslie is pioneering (again, we’ll come to that in a minute). There’s so much to discuss on the topic of music and technology but we’ll try to keep it short and revisit the topic on a frequent basis.

We’ve already briefly discussed Spotify (Spotify Hits 15m Subscribers) and it was encouraging to hear members of the panel validate its value both monetarily and its effectiveness at allowing artists to be discovered with a low cost of entry for the consumer. One other value that wasn’t discussed, and this goes for streaming as a whole, is utilizing streaming data to shape radio playlists. We hold our hands up here that we’re still a little unsure of exactly how playlists work, although we have first hand experience of getting a song to number 34 in the Top 40 charts, albeit with the help of a radio promotions company (we were, however, still the only independent release on the chart). Just think about this though, instead of record companies lobbying program directors at radio stations and spending a shit ton (read:A LOT) of money to keep their songs spinning, what if that money, and most likely a lot less, was spent marketing the songs to consumers so that fans then went and listened to the songs on streaming services? Radio stations would then act as curators, looking at the data to see which songs are popular and then putting playlists together that reflect that. Radio is still the most important discovery tool for consumers which means music lovers only discover what the program directors and record labels want them to. What if consumers were the new taste makers? Radio would be able to see which artists and songs were picking up steam online and then broadcast that out to a wider audience.

Now on to direct to consumer marketing (D2C)… Ryan Leslie is a musician & entrepreneur who really pioneered the use of YouTube and Myspace to build a social following and promote his artist Cassie back in the mid 2000’s. We’ve been following him since we first heard the record he produced for New Edition called “Hot 2nite” and he really was ahead of the curve using the internet to market himself and his music. Do a quick google on Ryan and you’ll see the guy is SMART, he graduated from Harvard at 19 and on top of that is an incredible musician. As an artist he recognized that he wasn’t able to access any information about who his fans are. Digital retailers are currently unwilling to share this kind of data which is hugely valuable information for someone selling music, merchandise or concert tickets. Knowing who your fans are and how to reach them is really important if you want to let them know when you have new music dropping, if you’re playing in their city, if you have a new video you want them to watch or merchandise to sell. Ryan built his own platform Disruptive Multimedia to effectively run his business from an app on his phone. Fans join his Renegades club, providing him with their contact info and location. He is then able to reach out to fans whenever he has something to tell them and also allows them to reach out to him whenever they want by giving them his phone number and email address. Paolo is a member of the Renegades and can attest to this artist-fan relationship. For a first hand description of this platform check out the video below.

Labels and artists are beginning to see the benefits of being able to directly communicate with their consumers and the financial rewards this can bring. Want to see the new video before anyone else does or hear the new record? Most fans will pay a premium for that! Especially if they are listening to the music essentially for free on streaming services. If fans are engaged with their favorite artists, they’re more likely to spend more per year than the $10 it costs to buy an album.

Where does this tie in with streaming? It’s all about brand management. Think about the brands/companies you always go back to, it’s more than likely that they’ve made you feel grateful for being a customer, which is crazy- you’re the one giving them business! You were probably given a good discount and treated nicely when you had to deal with them or given exclusive offers for being part of a loyalty club. It should be the same with music, an artist is a brand selling products. Use the music to market the brand, don’t see it as the only product you sell. Streaming services will place your music on a global platform, making you easily discover-able. Once you have a fan, use your D2C marketing to engage them, offer them exclusive merchandise, first viewings or listens to new material or VIP experiences at your next show. This is all putting aside the fact that as streaming services grow, so will the generated revenue and the music may end up being your primary source of income. You’ll also be making more from bigger attendances at shows (fans will know exactly when and where you’re playing), more t-shirts sold and music videos will have some relevance again. Fans put a premium on being the first to hear new music, why not offer them the chance to pay for it by sending them a text to tell them they’re entitled to download the new album before it hits the streaming services? If they want to hear it that badly, they’ll pay for it! You could make a great amount of money with only 1,000 fans as you will own your relationship with them and they will reward you for that.

Wrapping up, the future of music lies firmly in technology’s hands. Once music distributors and artists figure out the right ways to utilize it we’ll have this industry prospering again. Streaming services are the best way for consumers to hear the music, that’s pretty clear. Using a D2C approach is the missing piece that will engage fans and generate new paths of income for artists if they’re smart in how they market. We hold a lot of value in Ryan Leslie’s Disruptive Multimedia and really hope it becomes more widely adopted. The music industry is not dead, it’s just in a transition and we’ll be with it the whole way.
-HS

Meghan Trainor expected to be No.1

music, music business, music industry

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We’ve always been All About That Bass so nothing new for us there (great song by the way), however what is interesting is the slow shift in Top 40 music’s sound through 2014 and into 2015.

Meghan Trainor, according to Billboard, is set to knock Taylor Swift from atop the Billboard 200 next week. This is interesting because it follows an underlying trend of more live, organic sounding songs becoming popular again. EDM (what an awful name for dance music..) ruled the charts for a long time, we’re not saying it’s going anywhere but with the emergence of artists like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran’s steady rise in popularity we’re starting to hear less beat driven songs on the radio. Having had a quick listen to her album, Meghan is riding that wave with an old school, live instrument vibe mixed with a current Top 40 sound. We really like it.

In truth we saw this shift coming (how awesome are we..) when we made the 3AM Tokyo album. We essentially time proofed the songs so they would last the 2-3 years we knew it might take to get them into the mainstream. Seeing Meghan make it to number 1 with a different sound is good for music. It’s good to keep pushing the audience to experiment with their tastes. At the same time none of the songs mentioned by the artists above sound out of place on radio, which speaks to the excellent writing of the artists and collaborators. So congrats to Meghan and a big salute to all the artists and writers trying new things and not following the crowd.

We’ll leave it there as the weekend’s coming, and who wouldn’t wanna get ready to get their ass on the floor tonight right????