My thoughts on Gentlemen at 21 and The Afghan Whigs. ~Rynda

Afghan Whigs - do to the beast_wolf-squareThe Afghan Whigs returned in 2012 to continue the relationship with the dedicated fans who stayed enamored during the band’s long break, which thankfully, was never a break-up. As fans, we have experienced every gut-wrenching lyric, every dark foreboding feeling, and every celebration of the sensuality of life expressed so intensely by an artist that will always be our one true dark love. The Afghan Whigs are known for songs about self-examination, brutal honesty, storytelling, drama, love and sexuality all wrapped into one beautiful ongoing musical relationship.  No one quite grabs the intensity of feeling lyrically like Greg Dulli. Nor is there another person that can transform a cover song into his own unique vision until it’s ghost is still there but it is no longer recognizable simply because it has been infused by his energy.It doesn’t matter where we are in our lives there is an Afghan Whigs song that matches it. We opened Up In It, became a part of the Congregation, cried to Gentlemen, stepped into the light during Black Love and danced a sexy groove to 1965.

Just in time to save us from our adult selves, The Afghan Whigs continued their legacy with the 2014 release of Do To The Beast. Like us they have grown more wise and morphed into the present moment with an album as full of intricacies as our own psyche. Do To The Beast surprises at every listen and sinks deeper and deeper into the corners of the soul, shedding light on things we don’t want to see but won’t dare to turn away from. It is a journey between dark and light with the ever present feeling that Greg Dulli is once again saying out loud what we cannot.

gentlemen21

Now, twenty-one years later, like an old flame coming back into our lives, we will see the reissue of Gentlemen.

We remember bits and pieces of the joys of life, the first meeting, the first kiss, the moments when everything seemed perfect. We also remember the feelings that ripped our heart out for the first time, or maybe the second and third time, or maybe just last week. Anyone who has listened to and really heard Gentlemen gets transported back to those moments the second the first note of every song starts. It’s that good, that deep, that moving, that honest. Lyrically expressed like no other, a foreshadowing cover photograph and the music resonating with high emotional frequency, this album is the perfect evocation of the divine chaos and downfall of love. It is not nostalgia that makes us feel this way, this album is now embedded in our subconscious and has become part of our DNA. Gentlemen at 21 is a like a journal that we may have re-read many times over the years, but now, like little love letters lost and found, there is more to explore. It is as if a box full of souvenirs is being set in our lap and if we choose we can cathartically relive every one of those moments slightly different than the hundreds of thousands of times we listened before. We will also find upon further self-examination that even if our lives have changed drastically in twenty-one years, the core of what brought us to embrace Gentlemen is still in our heart and in our head, it’s in in our love and in our bed.

I am honored every day to work with these gentlemen and truly grateful they have become life-long friends.

~Rynda Laurel
October 27th, 2014

Bandzoogle Blog: Marketing Your Music: Rynda Laurel on Social Media, Visual Marketing & Philanthropy

Marketing Your Music: Rynda Laurel on Social Media, Visual Marketing & Philanthropy

Hello Zooglers! Welcome to a new series of blog posts where we will interview experts in music marketing to offer tangible advice for artists and bands. We’re kicking things off with an interview with Rynda Laurel:

Rynda

Rynda is a partner at DigiStar which is focused on working with established music artists and iconic entertainers on a variety of content and marketing initiatives. She also consults for various startup and technology companies. You will often find her speaking at international conferences including Social Media Week, DigitalLA, Girls in Tech, Canadian Music Week, MaMA Music, East Coast Music, MIDEM and SXSW.

As part of her belief and passion for giving back, she founded CauseWeRock, is on the advisory board of Sweet Relief and has participated in philanthropic events such as DigitalLA Green, Fair Fund, Twestival, Live Earth and MusiCares MAPFund.

Q: With all of the free social media networks out there, is having your own website still important for artists today?

Yes without a doubt. That’s like asking if we need the sun to survive. A dedicated website with your name as the url is crucial. It is the life force of your social media and digital universe. Let the platform of planets revolve around you not you around them. We once thought the earth was the center of the universe like Facebook does now – then we discovered that we revolved around the sun. Same thing. Really all planets (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, MySpace, etc..) should revolve around the sun. Wow did I just go there? I wonder what @astroengine would say about that!

Q: Once an artist is using social media, what should they be talking about?

If artists start thinking of using these tools as another creative outlet as opposed to a chore their parents (aka mangers) asked them to do then it should come naturally.

That said- there are many ways to express who they are as a person and as an artist. Although some fans want to know the intimate details of their morning shower, what they really want to know is what makes an artist tick. Is it other artists? pop culture? world news? movies? sports? nature? food? photography? science? clowns? Talk about it.

I’d also say that expression and connection can be made without words. The Twilight Singers, for example, post beautiful photographs, art and random music videos of artists of all genres intertwined with fan photos, personal photos, interviews, show dates and live videos. It is perfect for them – it expresses their artistic and musical tastes without saying a word literally -it is authentic to who they are.

I can guarantee every artist is a fan of another artist. Someone inspired them to play music – hopefully it was Led Zeppelin. If they asked themselves what they, as fans would want to know about their favorite artist through these tools and do that – then they are on the right track.

Q: “Direct-to-fan” is a big buzz phrase these days, is it a passing fad or here to stay?

A passing fad? If you mean like the 60’s-gone but influencing every generation after? Then it’s still no. Direct-to-fan is really nothing new there are just no middle-multi-million dollar salaried-men in between the artist and the fan anymore. The fans won’t have it. The system has broken down. It’s the “Summer of Love” for artists and fans.

Q: How focused should artists be today on interacting with their fans?

Here again if the artist starts thinking of these fans as part of their family and artistic community they will want to interact with them. Fans are the artists extended family-not always chosen but loved none the less. How could they not interact with them?

Q: What is branding and should artists pay attention to it?

They shouldn’t. They should just make sure everything has the same “look and feel” across all of their “creative spaces” which includes their “album” art, website, social media platforms, press materials and merch. A good logo never hurt anyone either. Think about Foo Fighters – see the double F’s? The Doors in block font? Basically an artist wants to be VISUALLY MEMORABLE – that is all branding is to me.

Some technical advice: Hexadecimal (Hex) codes- figure out what they are. Pick three and use them everywhere. Use the same font everywhere. Have a square logo and photo – all social media avatars are square.

Q: You’re quite the avid photographer, what advice would you give to artists about photos? Is a good band photo important for their promotion/marketing efforts?

Yes, I started taking live photos of bands many many years ago and realized I could make time stand still for just a fraction of a second. It is magic. I’ve shot band press shots before too – it is about using the tools (lighting, framing, processing/filters) to bring out the “essence” of who they are as artists.

Advice for artists? It is about expressing yourself in an artistic manner that shows in one shot who you are as an artist at that point in time. Be authentic and don’t let a stylist tell you how to dress.

An Artist “press” photo is important in the over all “look and feel” so it should match your “visually memorable” goal.

Q: How much time initially do you think artists should be spending on marketing/promotion vs. rehearsals/creation, etc.?

Initially: As in an artist just starting out? First, practice, practice, practice. Write good songs with melodies and lyrics that will resonate with people. Practice some more. Write more songs. Practice. LOVE what you do. Write another song. Come up with a great band name if you need one. Practice. Record a few and see how everyone works under pressure, write more songs, practice, record some demos, practice, book some gigs, play around town, (maybe start an e-mail newsletter list around this time) make sure you like your bandmates – you will have to live with them in a dark smelly van – practice – write more songs – and by then if you still want to do it, practice some more, write another song, and if you still want to do it then… take a handful of those songs and put them in a format that people can hear while you are not there (like a CD or digital download) and then……

…Tackle “the look and feel” “visually memorable” non marketing marketing by getting your “press materials” together and building your website and THEN start sharing on social media. If the drummer hasn’t quit by then he/she will probably do it.

Q: Most marketing & promotional talk these days is about online strategies and social media, but what offline strategies should artists also be focusing some attention on?

All strategy should probably focus on the live performances. PERIOD.(see why I suggested they practice?) That is essentially one of the main ways artists make money. It will be slow at first but I will tell you that I’ve seen plenty of multi-platinum artists who now sell out stadiums play their ass off for 10 people on a Tuesday night. All strategies should be about getting people to your shows – which goes back to online strategies and platforms that help you book gigs and sleep on people’s couches. (see: @betterthanthevan)

Q: Philanthropy is very important in your career, do you think it’s important for artists to give back through work with charitable organizations?

Philanthropy is important to me personally. I have been lucky enough to be in a career where I can use my relationships to facilitate opportunities and I am proud to be on the advisory board for @SweetRelief. It is important for an artist to be authentic- so if giving back is part of who they are as people then of course they should. There are many ways to give back and of course different levels. (FYI Artists – check out @downtime)

Q: When an artist supports a cause, is there a danger of being pigeon-holed? Can you possibly support a cause too much?

If an artist is passionate about a cause then they can do as much as they want for a cause – the only “pigeon-hole” danger is when it comes to politics and/or issues that are considered “moral” issues. Again, if an artist feels strongly about it then more power to them – for example artists like Steve Earle & Tom Morello are known for their activism and it suites them.

Q: Bonus question: I read somewhere that you’ve met Elmo?! Please explain the context of that, and also, please tell us if he’s as tempting to tickle as he appears to be.

HA! Yes, I spent 8 years at Sony Wonder, the children’s division of Sony. There I worked on multiple Sesame Street projects including they 35th anniversary box set. He is quite ticklish. An even better story is when I told David Bowie – jokingly of course- that we wanted him to dress up as Big Bird and go on tour with Elmo. Luckily he got my humor and laughed along. True story.

For more about Rynda Laurel, visit her website: www.rynda.me or follow her on Twitter:https://twitter.com/rynda
(read original story)

Digital Music Forum West: Rynda’s Twitter Notes

Due to a few requests here are some of my notes and comments via Twitter during DIGITAL MUSIC FORUM WEST.  (for info on all the great speakers etc check out the DMFW website.)

Also here are the rest of the #dmfw tweets:  http://twitter.com/#search?q=dmfw

Digital Music News (@digitalmusicnws) also posted some great info.

I have highlighted some important MUSIC RESOURCE and ARTIST TOOLS. Follow these services for more information on them – tell them @rynda sent ya!

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day 1

#DMFW where is @spinaltap (@ Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel w/ 2 others)

#dmfwest @spinaltap @nedsherman @mobileroadie in the house…

RT @TAGStrategic: Ted’s opening remarks @ DMFW: we need better licensing, sustainable margins, acceptable price points, and dialogue. #dmfw

Ya’ll know that Ted Cohen is @spinaltap right? Follow him! #DMFW

Hoping some of these presentations will be available online to review later (hint). #DMFW

WOW Ted Mico just pulled out a Captain Beefheart reference. He is my new favorite. #dmfw

Music in the Cloud panel w/ Aydin Caginalp, Albhy Galuten (Sony), @mp3tunes @mog @thumbplay @BridgeCo ps>Where’s @soundcloud? #dmfw

Jeff Price (@tunecore) and Ted Cohen (@spinaltap) kiss and make up. #DMFW photo to prove it> http://ow.ly/i/4mPF

#dmfw @GetGlue might be a good music discovery/word of mouth marketing tool – esp for catalog artists (i ♥ jellyfish) http://bit.ly/9SGhHc

Good Question – what about #GeoLocation #LBS and #music? #DMFW Good answers from @moblieroadie@brocksteady & Mitch Rotter (uni)

yes – Artist to Fan engagement is the key

PS> check @eventful for touring requests… #dmfw

Discussion about ticket sales with @stubhub – dunno what I think about it yet… does the artist get a cut? #dmfw

?Is it wrong to resell a concert ticket? Why? Not sure f I agree but @stubhub has a point-is it different frm re-selling a Hockey tic? #dmfw

Paperless concert tickets suck without any transferability. if I can’t go to a show-I want to give the tickets to my sister! thoughts? #dmfw

#dmfw RT @SuCrew @rynda @stubhub tricky issue-1 thing to buy tix & have plans change-another to buy tix with intent to make profit reselling

#dmfw RT @a2d2: @rynda transferable online tickets. Cede ownership via email, online confirm. VidGame channel resellers like Steam do it now

Thanks #DMFW for an informative and excitement filled day! #coctailtime

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day 2
#DMFW
(@ Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel w/ 3 others)

Check out The Highway Girl @SamanthaMurphy a traveling music TV show &… community for artists… www.samanthamurphy.com/ #music #dmfw

Digital Copyright is important but it gives me a headache. Plus much like government what say do the little people have? #music #dmfw

(re Digital Copyright) @SamanthaMusphy: @rynda that’s why we have to change things. It gives me a headache too, but if not us then who? #dmfw

to @SamanthaMurphy yes I totally agree

check out @skullcandy -“killer headphones” Who owns a pair? . #dmfw

.@skullcandy sends their finance guys out on tour. Love it. #dmfw

RIck Alden (@skullcandy) have you met Tony Heisch from @Zappos you guys both promote culture environments in the workplace. #awesome #dmfw

yea! @DigitalLA in the house… #dmfw

I’m a fan of both @bandcamp and @topspinmedia who are on the #DMFW #diy panel today- Check them out if you don’t already know about them. #music

DIY tools for artists in addition to @topspinmedia @bandcamp = @reverbnation @eventful @nextbigsound @artistdata +use @hootsuite #dmfw

oooh forgot @rootmusic for Facebook! #DIY Artist tools. #dmfw

Music Artists > for #DIY – go get @cyberpr Ariel Hyatt’s book @musicsuccessin9 #dmfw

Music Artists: If Social Media overwhelms you-get someone who loves to do it & get them to help you-but make sure u r still connecting #dmfw

#DIY YES! John Boyle brings up the topic of Team Building for DIY- which makes it Do It With a Team. DIWT (or do it with twitter? smile #dmfw

really good question! RT @betsykcrw: Do you think Kurt Cobain would’ve been tweeting? (DIY Music in the Digital Age at #DMFW)

Brands & Music panelwith> @guvera @pigFACTORYmusic @Yahoo @brandracket @7digital @LinchpinDigital #dmfw

Great Brands and Music resource out of the UK: http://www.brandsbandsfans.com/ and http://www.fruktcomms.com/category/news/ #dmfw

RT @digitalla: Some useful tips here… #DMFW RT @mashable Top 10 Twitter Tips for Bands, By Bands http://t.co/60tnOb0

Some people to follow from the #touring panel @nicadler @theRoxy @jordanglazier @eventful @KelliRichards @controlroom #dmfw

@RootMusic sure thing! you want to see my favorite @RootMusic FB page? see @RyanBingham btw>i think u should b able to xport gigs 2 calendar

Don’t wanna miss local concerts? In addition to @eventful check out the @ilikelocal concerts app and/or @bandsintown and @gigzee #dmfw

oops forgot @songkick #music #concerts #DontMissThem! #dmfw

Nothing is going to replace a being in a venue sweaty and loud… with your friends... @nicadler #music #touring #dmfw (totallyagree)

ditto! RT @TAGStrategic: Excellent second day at #dmfw. Congrats to Ned, Tinzar, Jay and team!

you’re welcome- great event! RT @TinzarT: @rynda @TAGStrategic Thank you so much! We appreciate your support. Have a great night!

Till next time…

@rynda

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Girls In Tech Ask: So you wanna be a #RockNRoll Star… or just look like one?

So you wanna be a #RockNRoll Star… or just look like one?

You know that time when you had a big event to go to and you said to yourself “I wish I could do my make-up like _________”

Well here is your chance. Get on it girls!  Find a photo, bring a cd (remember those? ) or bring a magazine tear out of your favorite artist look and bring it to Fashion Night Out at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. As part of the overall event, they will be offering Rock-Star makeovers – what better time to get yours?  The makeup artists there are top-knotch and can help you create any look you choose – and you choose to ROCK!  So who’s it gonna be?

Or, do you just want to know how to get ready for an awesome concert? (Me? I’m hitting Stone Temple Pilots next week and will go for the smoky-eye – light lip look…)

You can also let the make-up artists get creative, bring your your inner Rock Star and give you a look you never thought of!

Don’t be the one wanting to go to a sold out concert! Get your tickets NOW- no ticketmaster fees! (little music business joke…) TICKETS

Details:

Join Girls in Tech LA and Shop for a Cause on September 10 at GITLA’s Fashion’s Night Out event at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, where 5% of proceeds from purchases made that evening go directly to  Dress for Success.  Tickets are just $30 bucks and they buy you an exclusive 15% discount on most items in the store, as well as access to amazing stylists, makeovers, hair and beauty consultations, designer giveaways and more.

With tickets you get your backstage pass: a private VIP lounge where Malibu Wines will be serving up its mouthwatering wines and h’ors d’oeuvres.
Oh, and the swag bags will rock too!

Get your tickets, mark your calendars and LETS ROCK!

What: Girls in Tech Presents: Fashion’s Night Out sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue   When: Friday, September 10 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
More info: GITFNO

See you there!

Rynda