I’m currently in the middle of Jay Frank’s Futurehit.DNA. I love it.
Going into it, I was convinced this book was another “how-to” book for songwriters. I do not consider myself a creator of music in the least bit and was not looking forward to reading about how to create a hit song. However, after reading a couple of Jay’s blog posts, I became greatly intrigued about the subject matter.
You’ll discover right away that this book is not a “how-to” book. Instead, it runs through the last 100+ years of technology as it pertains to music. Frank goes into great discussions about how these technologies have affected, and continue to affect hit songs. While it does give general song crafting tips, I still think this book is a good read for anyone working in the music business.
I don’t recommend this book because it’s good to know a “great” song from a “bad” song, but because it has a very good, and sometimes discrete discussion of the current music industry.
Jay makes a great analogy in chapter 6 where he compares the idea of record sales to season ticket sales for a sports team. Frank offers the argument that the music industry is suffering because it is relying on the ‘season ticket sales’ rather than building a legacy one game at a time.
Jay hints at another argument for labels to invest more time into developing their artists instead of scrapping them right away. For the independent artist, Frank encourages you to be continually creating new material and releasing it immediately. Artists can build up a lasting legacy that attracts more season ticket holders by doing this. The artist’s goal should be creating a “winning season” by releasing quality tracks as frequently as possible. This method can be used to create hype for an upcoming record or simply to keep the fans engaged during a downtime.
As artists build up these legacies, more season tickets will be sold and the franchise will continue to grow.
This chapter really put this all in perspective for me. While I am not a creator, this analogy still makes perfect sense. Of course it is much harder than it sounds, but I truly admire the acts that can accomplish this. I wholeheartedly believe that if record labels spent time engaging fans and creating something of value for those fans, they would have a much easier time selling records (again, harder than it sounds). Pushing bands to the side because they “flopped” after 1 record is hardly giving anybody a chance—that’s the easy way out.
I highly recommend Jay’s book to anyone working in the music industry. He gives has solid and relatively unbiased stance on the state of the industry and has good insight into the future of the music business.
Here are a few season tickets that are definitely worth purchasing and one team that I lost a little faith in:
The Black Keys – Brothers – I can’t say that I’ve been a ‘season ticket holder’ for the duration of the Black Keys franchise—sometimes the grunge is a little too much for me—but I love this record. It’s different, but the same. The fuzz and the grime are turned down a bit but the musicianship and the concept is blaring at 11. They’ve got the same impact as their previous records—the heavy-hitting, dirty blues sound—but with a little more flavor and finesse. The songs flow nicely and you can get into a groove while listening to it. It’s eerie, it’s dark, it’s blues, it’s rock, and it’s great. If you’re going to buy one season ticket, buy this one.
– Everlasting Light
-She’s Gone Long
Hockey – Mind Chaos – A total 180 from the Black Keys in sound, but right on point in terms of greatness. This record is littered with amazing tracks that you won’t be able to get out of your head after a couple listens. I’m not one for a techno/synth like tone, but these guys can pull it off. They groove well and Ben Grubins vocals add to a unique flavor that you can’t get anywhere else. This record is full of soul and worthy of multiple listens.
– Too Fake
– Song Away
– Put the Game Down
Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void – Probably one of the bigger disappointments I’ve heard in a while. Their previous release, Furr, was almost flawless. This record, however, is full of duds. Aside from a few catchy guitar hooks, this record didn’t do too much for me. The opening track is essentially 3 songs in one and doesn’t flow all that well. Sadly they never seem to catch any kind of groove and it’s hard to listen beyond the first couple tracks.
– Laughing Lover
– The Man Who Would Speak True