A Few of My Favorite Things #3

Bear Hands

Bear Hands
Bear Hands at Mercury Lounge during CMJ Music Marathon 2009

I started listening to Bear Hands in anticipation of last fall’s CMJ Music Marathon.  “Golden” and “What a Drag” are my favorites.  Bear Hands is definitely an example where the lyrics matter more than over-complicated musical stylings.  I can’t go further into explaining why I like them, I just do.  That’s the way music is.  It’s something you just “like”, without having to write a long analytical essay defending its merits.  I am also a big fan of how one can download Bear Hands tracks  *FOR FREE* by going on BearHandsBand and sharing your email.  You then receive a message with a free download link and info about news and their upcoming shows.  Bear Hands also has available through their site a white 7″ vinyl for purchase, because we all know that vinyl is making a comeback.

\”What a Drag\” – Bear Hands

Urs Fischer

This image of Noisette alone along with a recommendation to examine the “wall paper” on the third floor makes me desperately want to see this Urs Fischer exhibit at the New Museum on 235 Bowery, New York, NY.  “Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty” is Fischer’s first solo show and is the culmination of four years work.  The wall paper “turns the Museum’s architecture into an image of itself—a site-specific trompe l’oeil environment. Each square inch of the Museum architecture has been photographed and reprinted as a wallpaper that covers the very same walls and ceiling, in a maddening exercise in simulation.” (New Museum) The exhibit is finished on February 7th so I need someone to commit to seeing it with me NOW!  The New Museum knows you are a broke college student, that’s why we will pay $8.

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe

Author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Tom Wolfe writes glimpses into lesser known American lives.  The first chapter, “Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can’t Hear You! Too Noisy)” makes one think of the infamous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. My favorite are the chapters about life in New York along with sketches of New Yorkers in the chapter titled “A Metropolitan Sketchbook”.  If you find yourself rolling your eyes at the élite high society of New York, or you simply are not one of the natives and enjoy being cynical, this book is for you.   I’ve becoming a fan of anthologies that you can pick up every once in a while for a second read and not feel guilty about reading some stories more than others.  And just because it’s a recession is no excuse to stop reading.  Be good to the Earth and buy a used copy.

Kurt Vonnegut was a fan, saying it was an “excellent book by a genius who will do anything to get attention.”

IFC’s Web Series Getting Away With Murder

Gilbert John, the actor playing the main character Seth Silver in Getting Away With Murder, is cute and delightfully awkward as he works as a cold-blooded hitman but still lives with his mom.  The series itself is a hilarious take on the blood and gore plots that are gaining popularity (Dexter, Law & Order, CSI).  Getting Away With Murder also has the well-known theme of one of life’s ever eternal conflicts: keeping your personal life and your career separate.  Besides that, the characters are outrageous and the dialogue smirk-worthy.  It reminds me of the independent films (cough student films cough) that my friends and I have been involved with the past few years at Hofstra.  I may be biased (I’m a public relations intern for IFC), but all the IFC Web Series are gems.  I spent an entire night during Christmas vacation watching the entire series and sincerely feel I am a  better person for it.


There you go.  You now have a new band (Bear Hands) to talk about with the cute whatever at the bar this weekend, where you will also talk about the new book you are reading (The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe), take said cute whatever to that cool new art exhibit (Urs Fischer at New Museum), and then snuggle up on the couch with the cute whatever watching the awkwardly cute Gilbert John (Getting Away with Murder).  Ta da!

Now turning off Belle & Sebastian and going to Paddy’s Power Pub in Merrick to watch co-workers sing karaoke.  Have fun this weekend and I promise to have more entries soon.

PR Lessons from the Music Industry

Drink Up Buttercup playing thier acoustic set at CMJ's Happy Hour at Brooklyn Brewery

Last week I had the opportunity to attend CMJ Music Marathon in New York City.  I was able to sit in on the panel called “Being Your Own Label: Taking DIY to the Next Level”, which focused on how today’s struggling musicians often have to be thier own label and rely on their own means for marketing and publcity.  The moderator was Chris Schlarb (Founder/CEO of Dubshot Records) with a panel of the digi savvy: Gian Caterine (CFO Tunecore Inc), John Lavallo (Music Attorney, The Takeout Group), Yancey Strickler (Cofounder, Kickstarter), and Peter Van Ness (President Gimmesound.com)

I was outnumbered since a majority of the audience in the room were independent artists searching for help in promoting themselves.  I am fairly sure I was the only person in the room interested in doing the “dirty work” that musicians didn’t want to do.  I have always been a firm believer that if you are in marketing or public relations, you need to follow the course of the music industry to see where the future of media and consumer behavior is headed.

Here are some key concepts to understand about the independent musician today that also apply to a smart business sense:

  1. Napster did not kill music business, music business killed music business. You are your own worst enemy. Be smart about the business choices you make and keep the customers in mind.
  2. With modern technology, an artist can do their own production and sound recording at home. Technology is making things much easier.  When it comes to PR, it’s best to limit outsourcing as much as possible – be a Renaissance man, learn to do it yourself, design and technology is not scary.
  3. One should not get into music to be rich, you will not make money.  Be an artist if your ultimate goal is to express yourself. If you are a working artist today, you will constantly be working uphill.  If you are in public relations, you are working as much as the media and as often as people communicate – which is always.
  4. The Internet, great as it may be, will not solve all problems.
  5. There will be no more huge rock stars/You will not always get your press release in the New York Times.
  6. There are separate skills for being a musician and other skills for running a business. Learn how to balance both or find some one else to do it.  Pay attention to that which you excel in.
  7. Often, gaining national exposure is too much “noise” for the consumer/listener. Consumers no longer want to be “pushed at” – they would much rather search on their own.  It’s a PR practitioner’s job to find that audience who had a vested interest in what you are promoting.
  8. Too many profiles on too many social networking sites devalues yourself.
  9. It is more important than ever to connect with your fans.  Your fans are the ones sharing your music with others/Your customers are most important; thier perception of the company/organization is the most important one.
  10. Fans are less likely to purchase CDs; but they will pay for live performances – the initial product if you will.  If you have faith that the product/service/organization you are working for has quality, you must work to make sure the initial message/product does not get lost.


beerI would be a hypocrite if I didn’t live up to my own request.  This is the inside of my fridge at the moment, with Harvest Moon and Hornsby’s Hard Cider.  autumnal flavors at their best.  Friday afternoon I was walking out of my building and promoters for Illy Espresso were handing out cases of their new Espresso drink.  I was wearing pink tights and leather boots, and probably am their target demographic, so they gave me a case and asked me to pose with a can.  Me trying to kick my coffee addiction has obviously not been helped by this.  I am now a happy woman with my fridge stocked with essentials for fall.

While working in LICM’s Communications Office, I have been researching “mommy blogs”.  There are some f***ing disturbing material on mommy blogs.  Like this …a Childbirthing Education Doll that some one MADE.  Some one out there in the world THOUGHT this would be a cute idea and MADE it.  IT EXISTS.  I’m sorry for posting this photo.  It is disturbing.  My mother does this kind of crocheting but made cute animals for my sisters and I when growing up.  Now, I will never look at homemade crafts the same way again.  Ugh.  Click on the image to see more photos – including the baby with the umbilical cord attached.  GAH!  There are also a LOT of blogs about keeping sex alive after having kids.  While I agree that mommy bloggers are a powerful force to be reckoned with, after reading many I have reaffirmed the fact that I will not be mature enough to have children for a few years.

On a better note…guess who is going to CMJ?


I also had a pleasant little revelation last night as I was gallivanting in the LES and Brooklyn.  I use to have a habit of romanticizing a past I was never alive for.  The ’60s, Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, speakeasies…..and then I realized that in the future, there will be people looking back and wishing they were living during this time.  Every young, alternative generation does the same thing – we work hard for the creative jobs we love, we aren’t so high maintenance that we wouldn’t drink the shitty beer once in a while, we will forego sleep and money to see a film/band/club/party/friends etc. amazing enough that will change our perception of life forever, we know that we won’t be around forever, so we take advantage of the time we have now.

which is how I’m convincing myself that I should forego sleep and money in order to see as much of CMJ as possible this week.