Unpopular Music Biz Truth – Narcissism

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Unpopular Opinion

Its not the lack of talent that holds independent artists back. Yes there is a lack of talent. But mainstream pop music is simple and doesn’t require a high degree of talent to pull off. Sure its better if there is talent behind it, its just that its not that necessary. What truly holds people back is narcissism.

I’ve spent a life time building a team of critically acclaimed award winning musicians with production chops that are out of this world. But a large percentage of the acts coming through Euphonic Sound don’t care about what my team has to say. This is so because some people are so narcissistic that they can’t compute something that disagrees with their image of themselves. Sad but true.

A musical narcissist can’t fathom the possibility that some musicians are able to hear things that they can’t. I have a few ways of demonstrating to people the limitations of their ears. One method being an ear training application called Auralia.

True story. I once sat Brownman Ali in front of Auralia and set it to the most advanced level. The dude got everything right on his first attempts. He killed it. Brownman has super powers. His ears are gigantic. Brownman is willing to come to the studio and listen to anyone’s work in progress and give feedback. Guess how many people people take us up on that offer?

I want to use my team. Brown is just one person on it. The team goes deep. I have vocal specialists, percussion specialists, string/horn specialists, keyboard specialists, post production specialists. Its insane, I have one of the best, under utilized, production teams in the city.

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Open Letter To Music Journalists

Cats: Music Business, Music Culture| 6 Comments »


Music journalists should really give credit to the musicians they write about.

In this weeks Now Magazine there is a review of Shad’s recent Toronto show where the writer talks about a “DJ” and “bass player” who back up Shad. He also mentions how a “live saxophonist appeared, outshining Shad’s own far out electric guitar playing…” But he never mentioned the names of the DJ, Bass Player or Saxophonist. Is that just lazy journalism? Or is this part of some cultural attitude that views musicians like second class citizens?

All I’m saying is if the saxophonist was so amazing, in the writers own words the crowd went “ape shit”, then why not tell us who he was. Its hard being a musician in Canada, not making enough income is one problem, but not even getting credit for the effort is not acceptable in my opinion.

Its not just Now Magazine writers either. I’ve seen this type of thing in many reputable publications. It’s a shame when a music journalist (who is supposed to understand the plight of the musician) acts like everyone else who doesn’t get it.

Please music journalists take the time to find out who all the musicians on the stage are. If one or two (or all of them) are kicking the audiences ass, then big them up!!!

Thank you for your co-operation on this music journalists.

James Pew
Music Producer
Euphonic Sound
Toronto, ON

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Connect With Me On Rdio

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On August 2, 2013 I read more bad news for the album sales business as reported in Billboard. Some analysts are saying a big reason is that people are buying less old records. Why would they when you can dial almost any title up on Rdio.

Music streaming is not exactly the saviour the music industry had hoped for but it is pretty great for music fans. In my opinion this is exactly where the music business needs to be going. Improving the audience experience in order to win back some of the entertainment dollars being spent elsewhere by a public that is not interested in micro artist royalty issues from internet streams or digital downloads.

People in the music business, artists, producers, managers, etc. sometimes forget that the audience (consumers) of their products and services (recordings & live performances) don’t know or care about the inner workings of the music industry. They just want awesome experiences. There really isn’t much more to it than that…so musicians, music delivery platforms, concert promotors, etc, give it to them good!!!

Music fans, like everyone else, feel like they are living in an unprecedented technologically advanced digital civilization – our music and its systems of playback and delivery should reflect that. Anything less than a frictionless, organized, high quality music delivery interface like Rdio is more likely due to greedy corporate types unwilling to lose established profit streams and allow innovation to occur.

I haven’t used Rdio’s competitor HMV vault. And because I live in Canada I haven’t used Spotify either. Rdio seems to me like the best Canada has to offer in terms of a music archive and interface. I love being able to type in virtually any artist and have their catalog (or at least most of it) appear. I also love that every artist page has a bio and a related artists tab.

I love that Rdio has a Heavy Rotation page that shows the music that the community of Rdio users are listening to most. And I also love the social aspects; I love that I can see the music that the people I admire are listening to and adding to their collections and playlists. I love that the music sounds high quality – and not all messed up due to the file compression used on so many other web based platforms that store and playback audio.

I give Rdio a good rating. I like it. I can’t believe it took so long to get something like this. As a musician and music producer I always think about young musicians and how they discover music during their development. I believe that one of the most important things a musician can do is listen to a lot of different music. A musician must go through a process of searching through different genres and eras and finding things in the music they like. New sounds are created by artists who take mulitple disparate influences and mix them together in a creative and new musical combination. Rdio empowers this. This is the #1 reason I like it so much.

There are a few things about Rdio that I don’t like, but I am going to save that for another post. The experience of using Rdio is one that I have been waiting for my whole life. That being said I think this is going to require a few more posts and a little more time to keep on using Rdio. Next Rdio post I plan to get a little more into the nuts and bolts of how the service works.

In the meantime, connect with me on Rdio. Thanks for reading.

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The Making Of A Brownman Album

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Update: Brownman’s Gravitation: A Study In Freefall available on iTunes

Euphonic Sound had the pleasure of spending some significant time with Brownman Ali — heralded as “Canada’s preeminent jazz trumpeter” by New York’s Village Voice — during the creation of his most recent recording from the BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO. To give justice to Brownman’s bio is beyond the scope of this post, I encourage you to learn more at Brownman.com. I would however like to throw a few random facts that may help paint a clearer picture for the uninitiated on the depth of this unique artist.

For instance, Brownman is currently the leader of 7 bands. CBC recently called Brownman the most recorded trumpeter in Canadian history (he has over 300 recording credits – and roughly 30 of those recordings won Junos). Brownman has worked with the likes of Guru (of Gangstarr fame), Mos Def, KRS-1, Big Daddy Kane, Paul Simon, Dave Matthews Band, Nelly Furtado and far too many more to mention here, as the horn man most A-list artists seem to call upon when in need of rock-solid trumpet player & creative improvising. Brownman was recently honoured by the Trinidad & Tobago government bascially for being an international trumpet playing badass! (Brown was born in Trinidad, although he is a Canadian citizen). Brownman is the recipient of multiple prestigious national and international jazz awards.

Brownman has been a long time collaborator of mine (he has contributed tons of great trumpet playing to many of the musical productions at Euphonic Sound). This time through the studio Brown was working on the follow up to 2011’s award winning Brownman Electryc Trio full length, Juggernaut. The new Brownman Electryc Trio is called Gravitation: A Study in Freefall.
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Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Explanation about where I’ve been and why I’m posting about Daft Punk are after the jump. For now check out this video of Nile Rogers talking about music and working with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories.

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