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10 artists on the changes and current times in the industry


logo for Musicians' Corner, Musicians On Music

  

  We are celebrating our first birthday here at Musicians’ Corner. This site, where musicians talk and write about music, opened at the turn of the month October-November last year. At that point the site was empty. But now…

 

  So many things have been said about music, as an art form, a soundtrack to our lives, a profession and career, as a reflection of us as people and a reflection of the times, and as an industry and a business, over this period of time. Many of our contributors have also addressed the same things, the changes in the business being one of the topics that many have spoken of, for example.

 


  Today we recap some of what has been said about the current times in music from an infrastructural point of view. Music has gone through so many changes lately in that regard.

 

 


Kent Beatty

KENT BEATTY: -It's a great time to be a musician. Some might disagree with that, in this age of TV Voice/Idol contests and live bands being replaced by machines all the time. Sure, record deals aren't being served up on the hood of a Ferrari often these days. But now there is so much that artists can do independently, if they are willing to put some work into it. Technology is a double-edged sword. More things to keep up with and manage, but most of the time, it is a musician's best friend. Imagine a tour without GPS. YouTube (and many others) allows anyone's music to be heard across the world, for free. And social media is far more effective than posting fliers around town. We take these useful tools for granted, some of which didn't even exist 10 years ago.

 


Bryan Beller

BRYAN BELLER: -Being totally open for communication 24/7/365 in this social media day and age has its pluses and minuses. I personally think it's a net positive to be able to have direct access to fans and vice versa - it can strengthen the bond between you and those who follow you, and it enables an artist to be much clearer about who they really are in "public". I've been online and available for public e-mail since 1995, and for many years I made a point to respond to *every* *single* *communication* that came my way. Nowadays that's just not possible anymore, because of the sheer volume of responses from Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, for which I'm grateful - but I still try. That said, it can be a hindrance to the essential practice of isolation required for creativity. It's pretty hard to grow as a composer and a player when you're just writing e-mails all the time. So I think I'm finding a balance, and everyone needs to find their own.

 


Sadiq Bey

SADIQ BEY: -Today the industry of music is in total disarray. And working musicians are professionals, so it’s a job.
There is something I call truth to ownership, against truth to power. Everybody is owned in music, in sports, in Hollywood. They make magic wands out of holly wood, ya know? And it’s about bucking and bowing to get jobs. If you don’t make your own label you’re screwed.

 


Jean-Paul Bourelly

JEAN-PAUL BOURELLY: -The music business crashed with 9/11. We have been building it back up, to keep the creative minded audience in tune with us and music has still evolved.

 

 

Lige Curry

LIGE CURRY: -I want to say to young musicians that they need to educate themselves. These days you can google any question. This is no joke. Some business deals are good, some business deals are bad. When you don’t update yourself you will find yourself in hot water. But try to keep a positive attitude. A lot of people can’t handle it. You have to treat the business side in a way so that it doesn’t take you out.

 


Jan Kincaid

JAN KINCAID: -The business has changed so much over the years. The people who have survived are the people who have changed with it.

We have to look at new ways of doing our work. You are in charge of your own destiny much more now than you were before. It also means that you have to be careful where you spend your money.

We came up in the traditional way, through the live-scene and through people who wanted to invest in us. Now acts are molded to suit a certain age group. But then records cost less to make. For the people who grow up with this, for the 19-year olds now, the new way is what’s natural. We have been young enough to go with the changes. If we were ten years older I think that we would have been struggling. 

 

 
Oz Noy

OZ NOY: - The music business crashed, and the same thing happened in New York too. It hit the city hard. New York is still the jazz center of the world, but the scene has changed. A lot of clubs have closed. And now it’s a pretty set reality. There is still good music, but a lot less of it in a lot less places. The only thing that got bigger is the Broadway shows. That’s great for Broadway but it’s not great for real music in my opinion cause Broadway is not music , its theater.



Andrew Steen

ANDREW STEEN: - The benefit of the major label-system was purely financial. They had time and effort to put into albums because there was money. The people contributing to a Pledge campaign want a return on their investment even if it's small. The majors wanted things to sell. People didn't represent themselves very well in that. You can release your home made music now and be judged on your own merit.

 

 
T.M. Stevens

TM STEVENS: -Everything is machines, and it has really hurt the business, and hurt artists who play and have studied, and that’s what I have done all my entire career. But the answer to this is you don’t follow that and give up. Never give up. This is for the young people. Listen to me. Do not give up. Whatever it is that you believe in, whatever it is that you feel, follow your dreams and your dreams will follow you. – And I particularly believe that we will get our business back.

 

 
Niko Stoessl

NIKO STOESSL: -I think that everything’s getting better though and that the music business will restructure itself again eventually, creating new sources of income for musicians who are willing to move forward.

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Moto Boy: - Being an artist is like being a serial killer


Moto Boy

 An article with Moto Boy


  When I made my debut album there were no expectations on me. It meant that there were few limitations as to what I was allowed to do. There was some success with that, which meant that the team around me grew. More and more people wanted a say about what I was doing. When I made my most recent album there was pressure. There were people who told me that it was make or break with this one. It was the kind of pressure that kills creativity. I had to really struggle to get to record and release my album. I changed too. In the beginning of my career I felt invincible. By this album I had gotten anxious about what I can actually do. Then the entire album disappeared. The studio was flooded, and it felt a little like the flood. The record floated away and I was allowed to start over.

 

''Young Love'' off Moto Boy's self titled debut album-release (2008)

 

  I really don’t understand why a hundred people get to decide what the current trend in music is. The real world doesn’t look like they think. Forty million people around the world get excited about things that aren’t considered trendy, all the time.

 

  I have seen a lot of changes in my career since 2007. The wave of DJ’s is upon us. They appeared at the venues where they are now when the album disappeared. Now it’s about one track, and of course it’s much easier to hire one person than to book an entire band. The producers have become the stars, and there is something great about them getting the recognition they deserve. They perhaps show up to a gig with a USB-stick. All the work has been done and it’s perfect. But DJ’s who don’t make their own music are like one man cover-bands.

 

Moto Boy live in Moscow in 2014

 

  I grew up listening to my dad’s choice of music, which was a bit of everything from classical to jazz, and my mom’s choice of Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen. To this day Borodin’s string quartet No. 2 is engraved on my brain. My own first major experience of music came with the soundtrack to Twin Peaks. I was 10 or 11 at the time and knew then that I wanted to be a musician. I tried to give those plans up in my 20’ies, when I did just about everything but venture into music. I studied law, I drove a truck, I worked in a coffee shop.

 

  Being an artist is a little like being a serial killer. You have a perverted, unstoppable urge that only finds contentment after a gig, when you are able to be calm for some time, until you need to do another gig to feel calm again. I have just finished a tour, and I loved touring this time, because although I had to struggle with my own expectations I got to play with the same band throughout. Sometimes it’s ten tour-stops with ten different band-settings. In a way this was both my best and my worst tour.


Moto Boy

 

  Next I’m about to write symphonic music for the symphony orchestra in Gävle in Sweden, and the music is to accompany a production or Goethe’s drama ‘’Faust’’. Luckily I’m not conducting the orchestra. If I was I would no doubt poke my eye out or something. I have light knowledge of writing orchestra scores. I know a bit about this, but I am getting help in this work process from Karl-Johan Ankarblom, who is an experienced orchestrator.

 

 

The latest album release ''Keep Your Darkness Secret'' (2014)

 

 


Short Bio: Oskar Humlebo was raised in the north of Sweden. His first album as Moto Boy was released in 2008 and the second in 2010. In between albums, he released two EPs, composed music for theatre, toured the world, played guitar with The Ark and The Cardigans and has opened for Whitney Houston and Smashing Pumpkins.

The third Moto Boy album, recorded in Berlin with producer Niko Stoessl (Dave Gahan, Depeche Mode) was released in the spring of 2014 and followed by the EP Black Lillies in fall.

For the longer bio and more information go HERE.

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Musician/producer Niko Stoessl shares his views

An article with Niko Stoessl

Niko Stoessl

An article with Niko Stoessl


Being a producer/musician and running a studio, there are a lot of aspects to be considered before taking on a project. Talent alone is definitely not enough. An act also needs, a strong vision and some kind of infrastructure/fanbase. It costs money to run a studio and budgets are tight these days, so often the only way to take on projects is to be somehow included in the sales and performance revenues and writing royalties. That’s a high risk though because you never know if the project will be a success.  It takes years of work, promoting and performing to break even financially.

I ran a commercial studio for a long time and gave it up last year in order to have more headroom for projects that require development. I have so many friends with great studios that I can use, and that way I support them without the responsibilities involved in running my own place. Of course I still have all my gear and a nice working space, but I’m far more flexible this way


Let Me Down, by Opien, Niko Stoessl and Christian Eigner in 2013


A lot of people have their own studio setups now. I see more and more musicians building their own places to record and produce. Cheap gear makes it possible but with the blessing also comes the curse. They might have the vision but often not the experience or the skills to bring their productions to a level that satisfies them or even cut the industry standards. Acquiring these skills takes many years and before you know it you don´t make music anymore!

There’s a lot of stuff out there, loads of good acts and many of bad ones. The Internet/social media gives everybody a chance, one might think, to promote themselves. Truth is that it actually makes it harder for many people to know what to do with their music because the “old” structures don’t really exist, respectively don’t work anymore like they used to. Having said all this, I also wanna point out how exciting these times are right now and how much I love all these new opportunities. It’s just that one can get easily lost in them.


Superlastic (Too Bad), with Bourne, Alex Bourne and Niko Stoessl


One big problem is that people need to realize that recorded music is not a “free product” that produces itself and that it can be consumed without being paid for. I think that everything’s getting better though and that the music business will restructure itself again eventually, creating new sources of income for musicians who are willing to move forward.

I play guitar, create beat and sound effect programmings, and play some drums and bass. I like combining all kinds of raw and analogue elements, and use my skills as an engineer/producer to morph them into something new which keeps me excited. Usually artists approach me with their vision and I work on it with them, starting by playing most of the music instrumentation guitars, programmings or synths myself. Sometimes, depending on the project, I book session players.

If I need drums for example I am blessed with the best! So for me there’s no need to use prerecorded stuff.  As a matter of fact, if there’s something I really don’t like, it´s productions based on presets/loops etc.
For example, with drummer Christian Eigner on our recordings for Opien, all the drum sounds are created from his very own drums, all the signals are organic. Some might be heavily processed but the source material is always a real instrument, everything is played, arranged and edited in a way that represents the vision. I’m very much into electronic sounds as well, and for me, music is creating, so create! If you want a loop, record it, process it, cut it –whatever, but do it yourself and stay true to your vision. In my mind, that’s art.  

Niko Stoessl



Grau EP 2014


Niko Stoessl is from Austria, and currently lives in Berlin, where he until recently ran Birthmark Studio Berlin. He is a musician, his main instrument the guitar. He has among other things played guitar and sang backing vocals on Dave Gahan´s solo album “Hourglass”. He has also worked with artists Motoboy and Crystal Castles.

He recorded his first album at the age of 16 and has since been involved in many other projects as a composer/producer, out of which Opien and Bourne, two of his current undertakings, are in further development, while his new project Grau is about to release its first EP.

LISTEN HERE and

FIND OUT MORE HERE

For further information on Birthmark Studio take a look HERE.

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