This is about music.
It’s not about a product, it’s not about competition and it’s not about ones and zeros. I'm here to talk about that strong energy that keeps us moving, about the essence of music, and the essence of music is magic and simple. As simple as clapping hands, as simple as playing air instruments, as simple as gathering up with friends playing acoustic guitar and singing old school songs.
Music is the one thing that takes us from the troubled reality to a greater place, even when we’re not paying attention. It gives us that feeling so powerful that we can even allow ourselves to be ourselves.
Music is inspiration, music is color, music is vibration, music is pure energy. Music is passion, and that’s what has brought me here, and probably you, too. So that’s what I’m here to talk about – the passion for music.
Business? Well, that’s the one thing that makes it possible (and easier) for you and me to enjoy music and to create music. And I’m here to concentrate my efforts on contributing for that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The challenge of defining your own music

So you are a singer songwriter with several different influences in several different styles, and you create your music with every bit of creativity you have, with some different rhythms and instruments, mixing sounds and adding unusual elements to come up with something unique. You record an extraordinary album with your amazing songs, and all you want to do next is release the album and show it to the entire world. But as you start your efforts to get your music out there, you will probably face a challenge that is common to many musicians and bands: how do you define your music? How can you describe the songs you worked so hard on so they would sound unique?

While there aren’t straight answers to these questions, neither is there a magic formula for artists to define their music, there are some tactics that artists can use to get people to know what their music is about before they even listen to it.

Some artists will make reference to a genre of music or to similar artists – which helps, but only mentioning a genre of music is too broad, and depending on the artist you mention, you will probably be competing against thousands of other new artists who will be doing the same thing.

So here are some tips to effectively communicate the essence of your music with words, while also speaking directly to your potential fans and making your music stand out.

  • Describe how it makes you feel. People tend to respond positively to mostly anything that generates good feelings and emotions, so telling people how your music will make them feel might not only give them an idea of what your music sounds like, but also create an emotional connection with them. You can use words like thrilling, romantic, vibrant, involving, passionate, captivating, exciting, or expressions like “soulful songs that will warm your heart” or “vibrant guitar riffs that make you feel alive”. No matter what your style of music is, it certainly is full of emotions, and if you are able to communicate what these emotions are, you will be sending a powerful message to your potential fans.
  • Mention details of the sounds. Do you use different instruments? Or maybe some unusual sounds? Do you mix different rhythms in your songs? Or use some sophisticated vocal techniques? The details in your music make all difference, so make sure you don’t let them go unnoticed. Anything that might stand out in your music should be highlighted, so that your music description can stand out.
  • Make an analogy. Few things are as effective as analogies to describe something, so if you can think of something – an activity, a sensation or a feeling that can be compared to listening to your music, don’t hesitate to use it as an analogy. For example, you can say that your music is “relaxing as lying on a hammock”, or “romantic as love stories with happy endings” – whatever helps you define your music and appeals to your target audience.
  • Show elements that people relate to. If your lyrics tell stories that people might have experienced, or talk about feelings and thoughts that might be common to a particular audience, it’s certainly worthwhile mentioning them. Emotional connection is very powerful, so if you get people to relate to your music, you will be not only conquering fans, but also making them passionate about you and your music.

Again, this isn’t a magic formula, just a few ideas on how to express in words what your music sounds and feels like and get people to listen to it. But if you want to be effective and successful at this, you will need to go the extra mile: analyze your music from the listener’s perspective or ask for other people’s opinion, understand the minds of your potential fans and how to spark their interest, read descriptions from “similar” artists to get an idea of the words and expressions are being used to define your genre of music, and even use a dictionary or Google to find words for the feelings you want to communicate in your description. Keep in mind that the best definitions of music are those that can convey an idea with the least words possible, so you really want to find the right words.

You may think that the definition for your music is not that big of a deal and not worth all that trouble, but it’s one of the most important things in your marketing efforts. An effective description can be the first thing that will make you stand out among all those other artists in your genre of music, and even better, it can help your website or profile on social networks appear higher on search engines, where people who are prone to enjoy your music may find you and wonder why they didn’t hear about you before.

So I’ll take this opportunity to introduce you to an incredibly talented folk singer songwriter, whose music I (as his proud manager) defined as follows:

“soft, heartwarming voice; inspiring acoustic compositions”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creativity: the art of transcending the ability to create

Have you ever wondered why creativity gets more and more valued everyday? Or still, required? Have you assessed lately your use of your ability to create or your commitment to it? Well, if you’re one of those who think creativity is overrated, think again. It may be the one thing that will assure you a place in the sun tomorrow.

You may be wondering why that is so, what the big deal about creativity is, as I asked myself before writing this post: why is it so increasingly important to create and innovate in any area and any endeavor? My best guess is that, in time, more and more people perceive the value that creative ideas add to their lives, and as some people come up with some ‘never-thought-of-that’, deservedly highly-rated ideas, competition increases. Or maybe it’s simply because people have got enough of traditional ideas and are therefore demanding something new everyday. Needless to say, this demand leaves no space for the obvious and traditional thinking – even this needs creative initiatives to be promoted and achieve large acceptance. And since in our music world innovating is a primary requirement and a constant challenge, please take this as an advice for you, musician and music collaborators, to maximize the use of your creativity in order to make and effectively promote great music.

But what is creativity in first place? From
"Creativity: The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; Originality, progressiveness, or imagination."
"Creative: Having the ability or power to create; Characterized by originality and expressiveness; Imaginative."

Such clear, comprehensive definitions make it feel somewhat easier for us to be creative, don’t they? Well, at least they simplify the process with actions that anyone can take. And though it sometimes feels challenging to come up with something that doesn’t exist, it may be encouraging to have in mind that every single creation comes from ideas of different things that are simply put together, mixed up, modified or reinvented using existing elements. Quoting my sister’s line: “one is capable of creating new things by seeing existing things with new eyes”.
Creativity is, for me, much more about the result than about the process, because the process can be quite simple and traditional, but it’s the ability to generate an unpredictable, surprising result that makes all difference between the creative and the obvious (obviously).
“To transcend traditional ideas” in order to “create meaningful new ideas” are statements that imply that the traditional is not meaningful, and I would say that’s because there is no added value within traditional ideas. So transcending traditional ideas means to take them beyond, farther, from traditional to meaningful, adding your personality to them in order to build new ideas upon your essence using different elements. For example, by using different rhythms and different instruments, one can make very creative tunes for a simple song idea. All that added up with talent results in amazing, brilliant creations – who of you knows that so creative band called DeVotchKa? (If you don’t, I strongly recommend listening to their music, you might get really inspired! Check out the video at the end of this post).

And how can you make sure you’re not neglecting your creative power? Well, the first thing you can do is identify your personality within your latest creations. If you honestly feel that they don’t express much of yourself, your thoughts and feelings, then they probably lack real creativity. What you should bear in mind is that the creative is “characterized by originality AND expressiveness”, which means both must stick together. Originality results in nothing if it’s not well expressed, and expressiveness alone is not creativity. And in addition to these, inspiration is a major impulse, so it’s important that you pay attention to the unexpected moments when inspiration gets you – it may be gone very quickly if you don’t stimulate your imagination in these moments.
One important observation on the creative process is that you should be careful with eagerness: it can be really tricky. When we’re too anxious about something, or pushing ourselves too hard to generate results, we tend to block our creative thinking, for our minds are too focused on the accomplishment and so full that there is no room for new ideas. So hold on to your essence and free up your mind to conceive new ideas, to see things with new eyes and to observe the countless resources at your disposal, and with a little help from inspiration the results may turn out to be surprising even to you.

Whether or not the statements and definitions above are correct, imagination disregards any concepts and knows no limitations nor boundaries, it only needs to be stimulated in order for the thoughts to flow. One may argue that nothing is created, just copied, or even that creation is nothing but a mixture of existing elements. But the fact that purple is a blend of blue and red doesn’t make it a less beautiful color.
So the bottom line is: nowadays creativity is no longer a plus, but a requirement for the success of any endeavor. And whatever your role in the music industry is, the current scenario provides real opportunities for creative, innovative, forward-thinking individuals. By giving creativity its right value, embracing it and being surrounded by people who also value it, many doors will open up for you and your team.

DeVotchKa - The Clockwise Witness

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your effort can lead to a successful musical career... as long as it begins on your music!

You’re eager to succeed. You wake up everyday trying to figure out ways to make it happen, to get your music heard by people all over the world, to make people passionate about your music and to perform live in front of these people. You long to make a living out of music, because music is your life and your true passion. Great, all that sounds wonderful and is perfectly possible, but only if you can follow and keep in mind a vital rule for an enduring musical career: it all must start with your music.

I’m assuming you’re confident about your creativity and talent for music, otherwise you wouldn’t be pursuing a career in music, right? (Oh, I hope not.) So if this is your case and you were born to make music, here is a hint for you on where to start building your career from – your music. Kind of obvious, isn’t it? Well, actually not obvious enough, and I’ll explain why using a scenario you’re probably familiar with.
You connect to the internet one day and decide you want to try out new bands and see if you discover some good music somewhere. You log in to Myspace and a few seconds later you get bombarded with invitations from bands asking you to check out their music, so you go check it out. You go through these dozens of pages one by one and listen to hundreds of songs until you realize that the biggest part (if not all) of the music you’ve just heard falls under either of these categories: a) extremely poor (is there any emotion, energy or feeling in it at all?); b) ridiculously obvious (it sounds so much like that band that just recently broke through, doesn’t it?); or c) “square” and predictable (you can tell exactly how a song goes on from any part of it).

Ok, please don’t get me wrong, by no means am I saying that the majority of the musicians have no talent to make good music – I truly believe in the exact opposite, I’m sure MOST musicians are capable of making great music if they concentrate their efforts on it. Also, please note that I’m specifically making reference to the music of these bands/musicians who are trying so hard to get it heard and gain some traction that they’re simply skipping the first basic step to get anything out of their music: to make the most of it.

So what should you do to get noticed as an artist? How can you make the most of your music? Well, before you engage in any initiative to promote your music, whether you’re already playing gigs out there or not, it is vital for you to reflect on the following questions, being totally honest on your answers:

  • Is your music truthful, original, creative enough that it would draw your own attention in this overpopulated music world?
  • Can you identify in your songs at least one particular attribute you can’t find in any other artists’ songs?
  • Have you worked hard enough on your songs to make them perfect so that nothing else you could possibly add to them could make them better? Are your songs really the best they can be?
  • Would you become a fan of yourself as an artist just by watching your own live performance?
  • Is your live performance powerful enough to “hypnotize” the audience and provide them with a memorable experience they would feel like sharing with everyone around on the next day?

Now, if by reflecting with honesty you hesitated in answering “Yes” to any of these questions, then you’ve got work to do. Because if your music is not great (that is, far beyond “good”), creative, and most importantly, original, then you cannot build any long-lasting career upon it – it simply won’t be strong nor solid enough to sustain your career for years. And if you’re not passionate about your own music, neither can you expect anyone else to be, nor to support your music in the long run, no matter how much effort or money you invest in your marketing campaign.
You may be aware of the fact that musical careers consist of cycles (e.g. the release of an album), but the fact you should pay closer attention to is that the successful and enduring musical careers are sustained by making of each cycle a process of reinvention.
So here’s another tip for you: since you do have creativity and talent for music, all you need now is focus. In the moment you create your music, forget about everything that’s going on around you and focus on making music that expresses who you are and what you want to say, ‘cause this is your communication channel. For that moment forget about the next steps, forget your expectations and apprehensions, forget about pleasing people with your music and instead put your personality, your essence, your feelings and experiences in it. Forget about that thing people labelled “commercial music” and create your music with sincerity. Believe me, people out there are eager to listen to original music that expresses sincerity, and if they find it in your music they will value it.
Equally important, always make sure to keep focused when performing your music. No matter how many people are watching you play nor who these people are, just concentrate on the music, feel its energy and communicate it to the audience. Up on the stage, don’t ever be apprehensive about what people might think about you; simply focus on making your music and your performance so powerful that they will fuel the audience with energy and emotion. Provide the audience with an amazing experience that they will hardly forget about, and the audience will follow you. They will respect you. They will spread the word about your performance and fully support your music and your career.
So let me emphasize it: you will only be able to create great, meaningful music and communicate a contagious energy on stage when you’re extremely focused. And if you practice focus everyday, you’ll see that it’ll become easier for you in the long run.

You and I have something in common: just like me, you have chosen to build your life upon your passion, so I understand your desire to succeed, and not only that – I chose to concentrate my efforts on contributing to the success of gifted musicians like you. Undoubtedly you’re in a challenging world, but it’s a real world and things can work out for you. You will need to struggle and persist, you will need to find people who are willing to fight alongside with you, and if you start building a solid basis – your truthful music and your powerful performance – which you can build your career upon, and keep persisting with a positive attitude, these people will come to you. Well, when you get to this point and are confident to answer “Yes” to each of the questions above, please show me your music!

Monday, August 31, 2009

“Beirutando na Praça”: rediscovering the essence of music

Music flowing naturally, people who share the same musical taste interacting and exchanging influences, a whole community formed by music fans who seek to hear and make high quality, creative music that connects people across the world, all for the sake of creating a positive energy and fulfilling our need for meaningful experiences. This is, I believe, the essence of music, and for those who lost faith in it, here it is, beautifully illustrated in this great initiative – Beirutando na Praça.

Amazing how passion for music can drive people with will, talent and creativity to achieve great things. The idea that started out in a small conversation took shape through an open discussion in a larger group of people who share the same values and vision to bring it to life. With a very positive attitude, this group is bringing together fans of Beirut in a community of people who value good music, finding themselves and providing these people with a new motivation and greater perspective.

Last Sunday, Aug. 30, the “Beirutando” event took place at the Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo, as well as in other states in Brazil – Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, and the positive energy was so contagious that not only Beirut fans were enjoying it – it also caught the attention of many others who had never heard of Beirut before, but were deeply appreciating their music and the rapport built by the group (and are probably new fans of Beirut now!) The musicians, who had been rehearsing during several months, made an extraordinary performance playing Beirut’s songs and interacting with the audience, which generated a very positive response.
I had the opportunity not only to join the community and have a taste of this exciting musical experience, but also to witness what I’ve been longing to see in the music world: musicians who encompass what I call the “essence of music”. That is:
-Positive Energy

Now while this is something quite rare to find, this event has given me better hopes and perspective to keep believing in music. The idea was very clear in my mind, but now that I’ve experienced it for real I feel more like contributing to building this huge community of people who seek to find meaning through music - that is how the group that created “Beirutando” have been spreading the message: music can connect people.

To learn more about “Beirutando na Praça” access:
Photo: Raquel Toth. More photos at
And at:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How about monetizing File-Sharing?

Now and then we’re led to reflect on the legal, ethical and financial impact of the file-sharing in the Music Industry. While there are many parties affected by these practices in many different ways (either good or bad), I do think the Music Business is the one business the can take most advantage from it and that there are effective ways to use Peer-to-Peer Services for the benefit of all of the parties. In times when technology reigns and rules the future, rather than fighting against customers and struggling to control distribution by all means, why not give up some control and use some strategy to monetize technology and interaction?
This is not meant to be one more discussion on whether File-Sharing is good or bad, ethical or unethical, beneficial or prejudicial. Neither will I try to make a point defending or attacking entities, practices or opinions on this subject. A lot has been said and discussed about it over the past several years and many interesting, reasonable articles have been written by people who certainly have a deeper and more empirical understanding of this issue than I do, so this is not my point. Rather, this is a reflection on the hidden (or at least not yet potentially explored) opportunity that File-Sharing offers in most Music Business endeavors.
First let’s face two facts:
  1. The Record Business is no longer the big fish in the Music Business.
  2. The highest value within music is in the experience, not in the products.
That said, and considering all those discussions on the pointless fight of Record Industry entities against P2P Services, it’s clear that recorded music still can generate revenue, but its potential lies on the indirect relation with sales and direct relation with marketing.
Let’s use a hypothetical example of a record label with 100 albums in its catalog, having sold 1 million records in one year of activity. If we use the 20/80 theory and assume that 20% of the albums generated 80% of this amount, we have an average of 40,000 units sold per album. But maybe these 20 albums have been shared through P2P networks and the downloaded copies have amounted in 10 million over that same year. The label owns the rights to all that music for which people haven’t paid, and the CEO starts wondering how much the label could have profited if P2P networks didn’t exist. Yet the CEO knows they do exist and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, and realizes the label’s music has been exposed, for free, to ten times more people than it has through the label’s costly marketing campaigns.
To capitalize on these downloads, one thing the label could do is create an online environment that 1) centralizes the sales of all its products and concert tickets, offering different products at different prices to tailor fans’ needs and affordability, and 2) allows fans to interact. By rewarding fans with discounts for making recommendations, this system would encourage fans to spread the word-of-mouth around the label’s music, thus creating a buzz, massively increasing sales and driving more fans to concerts. Also, the label could make cross-promotional campaigns and link the label’s website to the artists’ website. If each artist would develop a direct relationship with the fans and encourage them to purchase through the label’s website, the 40,000 fans of the artist could be multiplied, who knows, ten times? A hundred times? Well, the label’s online environment is now a powerful viral marketing tool for them to achieve that exposure.
While this is just one example, it illustrates the idea of how to monetize fans’ interaction, looking to obtain the following results:
  • Growth of product sales through a broader variety that can fulfil different demands;
  • Growth of ticket sales;
  • Increased exposure;
  • Larger profit margin through lower marketing and distribution costs;
  • Increased website traffic, generating better results in search engines.
And this is just for a start. Of course, there are more complex issues to be handled (i.e. legal), but the point is: file-sharing offers real opportunities for those who are willing to innovate and break paradigms, taking controlled risks. The trick is that larger achievements require giving up certain things and leaving the comfort zone. How many are willing to do so? Well, if you are, please drop me a message and we can discuss the countless existent opportunities.

Monday, August 24, 2009

“…but what exactly?”

Okay, I am aware that I chose one of those professions that are not quite easy to explain. I have the impression that to say I work in the music business doesn't tell much, and many times neither does it to say I'm an Artist Manager. Now and then I'm taken by the question "ok, but what exactly do you do?", and though I have a couple of answers to this question, I always sort of feel that the person who’s asking won’t get the exact idea. That’s probably because there is no “exact” definition, standard roles nor any specific description for my job – at least none I’ve ever heard can succinctly describe the large range of different roles artist managers can play.
As a rule, we build our businesses upon demand and needs, through personalization, flexibility and customization. To be clear, in addition to being a partner and friend of the artist, an artist manager can also play the roles of a coach, a promoter, a booking agent, a consultant, an analyst, an assistant, a therapist, a beer pal and even a parent if necessary.
We do have standard goals though: to strive for the artist’s success, to fight for what’s in the artist’s best interests, to develop and leverage the artist’s career – all huge challenges (though very exciting – I’m talking for myself). To achieve these goals we put our efforts on taking all the barriers off the way so that processes can flow, liaising between the various parties the business involves, analyzing scenarios in order to track and create opportunities, advicing the artists about their career and business development, and that’s just for a start. Not to mention that we need to continuously develop ourselves by acquiring new skills, using our creativity and enhancing our abilities to handle marketing, strategy, technology, logistics, relationships, bureaucracy, legal issues and so on. See why it’s hard to explain? The variety of roles is endless, but so are the possibilities and opportunities, and that’s what makes the work so interesting.
But aside of the hard task of defining my role in the music business, I must confess there is one question that is much more difficult to answer: "why did you decide to work with music?"
Well, one thing I always had in mind was that I would choose my profession based on my passion. I’ve heard several people say they would never work with something they are passionate about, fearing that they would end up losing their passion when it becomes an obligation. “That might make sense”, I thought, “…or not”. Honestly I can say that the most successful, and more importantly, the happiest people I’ve ever met are deeply passionate about what they do – be it business, music, or anything else.
I cannot say exactly when I discovered my passion for music because I cannot recall a time when it was not present, but I do recall two decisive moments that brought me here. The first one was when I decided I wanted to – actually needed to – live for music and be surrounded by it. At the risk of sounding over sensitive, I have to say I’m one of those people who need to see a meaning in everything they do, and I realized by that time that music is the one thing that brings feeling into my life, as well as inspiration, motivation and, consequently, the meaning. At this point I had studied drums and guitar and had a great time playing in bands, but being very selective and demanding when it comes to music creation, I always acknowledged that my talent for that wouldn’t be as great as of those who create great music that inspires and transmits passion and feeling. But while I reached this sad conclusion, I was sure that my strong passion for music was telling me something, and I should keep reflecting on what my contributions for it were meant to be. So after long thinking, self-evaluating and pondering a number of factors, I got to the second decisive moment, which was when it became clear that I could – and should – blend my passion for music with my aspiration and drive for business and my strategic thinking. Though the music business looked like a crazy world, it felt like the right path for me, and I accepted the challenge.
Along the way I’ve met many gifted musicians who had the real talent to make great music, and as the difficulty to enter the music industry led them to give up, one by one, of their dreams to make a living out of their music, I felt I should do something to change this scenario. And so I got into Artist Management, embracing it and concentrating all efforts on making it possible for these talented, creative musicians to build successful musical careers, as well as for us, music lovers, to listen to their masterpieces.