Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Letter from Editor in Chief

Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hi Everyone,

You may have noticed that recently when it comes to site updates, our main site,, has not been as active as we usually are.

Because I value you as readers and as people, I want to tell you why. Some of my advisors would prefer I tell you a story about having to go out of town on behalf of a client or something. But is a private company (mine) with no outside stockholders to keep happy, and you deserve the truth.

First off, rest assured, we’re not going anywhere. As many of you know, for over ten years I’ve battled the illness CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, sometimes called CFS). I won’t go into a rundown of symptoms, (
you can read more in my CFIDS Q&A), but Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers have it, too, and Cher and Stevie Nicks have battled similar illnesses. (CFIDS is in a category of illnesses known as autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Grave’s Disease, Epstein-Barr, and chronic Lyme Disease are other diseases in this category.)

As often happens with immune system diseases, recently the CFIDS Monster had enough of my working around it and decided to raise its ugly head and get noticed by intensifying the symptoms I’ve become accustomed to (and throwing in a few I hadn’t had for many years).

One symptom, something I call “CFIDS dyslexia” for lack of a better term, makes it difficult to write. It’s been years since I last experienced this, and I hope you’ll bear with us during the longer period it takes to post new material while we regroup over the next several weeks, rally the staff, and give my new vitamin regimen a chance to do its thing. Meanwhile, there will be new material trickling in, so check back.

But, I reiterate: we’re not going anywhere. And the CFIDS Monster, colossal pain in the a** it may be, will not win. After all, there’s always an upside: on a bad day my number comprehension is off too, so having me order lunch is good comedy. Maybe we can get Vegas involved and have people take bets on where each day’s delivery ends up? Just kidding.

As you can see, my sense of humor is in perfect health. …Comes in handy in the music business, as well as for putting the CFIDS Monster in its place. Thanks, as always, for reading (Thanks too, to JH and DW for their assistance in writing this.) And never, never, stop working toward making your dreams come true.

Randi Reed Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Orleans, the French Quarter, Good Writing Voodoo, and a Hell of a Baked Potato


In honor of what happened a year ago this week, I want tell you about New Orleans.

More specifically, I want to tell you about the effect New Orleans had on my writing.

I came to love New Orleans on a cross country trek from California to Florida in 1992. As they say in all the clichés, it got into my blood and never left, and as a writer, I’ve never been more inspired than during a 2 day period I spent in the French Quarter in August 1992. When we arrived at our destination in FL, what I really longed to do was lock myself away somewhere and write, because ideas kept coming in like never before. We were pressed for time, so I journalled every chance I got…which can be obnoxious to ones’ non-writing travel companions, but I got some pretty good stuff out of it. The feeling lasted for months.

As happens to many people who’ve been inspired there, the stuff I wrote in those ensuing months had a dark, steamy vibe that managed to weave itself through the material without my intending it to be there. I wrote a lot by candlelight (which I’d never done before) and had a newfound understanding of where Anne Rice was coming from (literally). The guy I was going out with wondered what was up. (“Good voodoo” said I.)

The French Quarter, if you’ve never been, heightens your senses like a drug. Take a walk in the daytime, and your eyes are taken by the architecture and antiques, punctuated here and there by Dixieland jazz bands dressed in traditional costumes. Go out before the sun starts to set, and delicious smells fill the air as the restaurants prepare for the dinner hour: a whiff of gumbo in one block. A few doors down, something else. Turn the corner, and it’s the scent of freshly baked bread. Next block, something sweet and buttery coupled with the scent of brewing coffee; must be dessert. Meanwhile, you pass musicians heading out for their gigs, and occasionally hear a faint sound of someone rehearsing or tuning up.

By the time you’ve had a long dinner with friends and maybe a romantic walk along the river, the party’s starting on Bourbon Street, and the music’s in full swing. And the block you were on when you took your walk in the daytime is a whole other place, as if you’ve suddenly stepped into the middle of a circus (barkers and all).

And in the summer, it’s all wrapped up together like a present tied with a big, steamy bow.

The French Quarter isn’t a place you go; it’s a place you feel. And although it’s a little different now, it will come back. It just needs a little help from those who remember.

Go to NOLA, and write!

Meanwhile, as a remembrance of my favorite oyster bar, in our
Starving Musician column I’ve posted my version of an incredible smothered baked potato I ate there in 1992.

Go for your dreams!

Randi Reed, Editor in Chief / Founder,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Problem 10,001 with the Music Industry, and Business in General

Hi Readers (and Writers, and Performers, and Assorted Friends and Relatives),

I’m writing an article for and needed a break, because frankly it’s making my head hurt. That tells me it’s time for a new approach to the article, which means I’ll be scrapping the whole thing and starting all over after 3 hours’ work on it. (Which really blows, because it’s not like effective online writing bears any resemblance to what I consider great writing. It’s not meant to.)

But, if it makes my head hurt to explain something I can usually rattle off information about without a second thought, I can imagine how it would be for someone who may not have ever seen the information before. So I’d damn well better try again…

Which brings me to Problem 10,001 about the Music Industry (and Business in general): we rarely take the time to understand why we do certain things the way we do…from marketing methods, to overall business strategy.

For years, the M.O. of the music industry (and corporate America in general) has been, “Because we’ve been doing it this way for years.” Or, worse yet, “Because we said so.” Which doesn’t work, because you can’t effectively apply or reject a business method without a basic understanding of why. It’s also impossible to create a new business model without understanding why a certain methodology has been in place.

(I could probably take it even further and say something about how not understanding the “why”‘s doesn’t work in politics, either, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.)

The most successful people in business—particularly entrepreneurs--usually do ask “why” (or “why not?”) and try to understand the answers. Russell Simmons, Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi, P. Diddy, Donald Trump, David Letterman, and Hugh Hefner are examples of people who asked the questions, applied what works, and then created new methodologies for what doesn’t.

Back to my article (the goal of which is to help clarify some of the “why”’s)…Well, OK, maybe after dinner--takeout from California Chicken Café, which just arrived--and a little dark chocolate, which always brings clarity.

Have a great weekend,

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

P.S. My last blog has now been fixed and reposted. It appeared correctly when I first posted it, then at some point afterward was either hacked by someone or edited by Blogger. There was absolutely nothing in it that was a violation, so let's hope it was an idiot and not the fine people of Blogger. Either way, it sucks. This is America, people.

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Commentary on Stupid Things Celebrities Said in the Last 10 Days

Greetings from Los Angeles,

(8/11: I'm reposting this blog because after it posted correctly, it was either hacked and edited by someone unbeknownst to me, or Blogger went in and edited my comments.)

A few random comments on stupid things celebrities said in the past 10 days. I haven’t had dinner yet, so I’m feeling particularly acid tongued…

Mel Gibson (anti-Semitic and sexist remarks): As Donny Deutsch said on his show the other night, alcohol goes in, truth tends to come out, and something won’t come out that isn’t already in there. Hollywood needs to stand up and say how vile and hate-filled Mel’s comments were—especially given what’s happening across the Globe--and stop spinning it with the rehab excuse. Sure, he’ll be clean, which is admirable, but that’s no cure for hateful remarks about an entire group of people. Meanwhile, now where is that Moonshadows business card I grabbed last time I was there so I can put it on Ebay…?

Paris Hilton (didn’t know who Tony Blair is, and on E News said that she’s a like mixture of Princess Diana mixed with Marilyn Monroe): While it’s no surprise that Paris Hilton didn’t know who Tony Blair is, it is ridiculous that she’s continually rewarded for stupidity. As for her comparison of herself to Princess Di and Marilyn…Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe were intelligent and politically astute, so try again. Paris Hilton sets women back 50 years; there are plenty of intelligent beautiful women with beautiful wardrobes who should be given the airtime and ratings instead.

Lindsay Lohan’s mother Dina (said Morgan Creek Films came down too hard on her daughter by sending her a letter about her partying, adding “She’s just a young girl.”): She’s a young girl with multi-million dollar adult responsibilities that put food on the table for an entire crew of people. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe a little more conversation with Lindsay about less partying during the work week might have prevented the necessity of sending the letter.

Bono (who said on 60 Minutes that U2’s music will be around 100 years from now because their songs “have an emotional landscape”—meaning socially conscious lyrics--that were previously unheard of before): Oh, really? What about REM, Sting, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Neil Young, et al…

Elizabeth Hasselbeck (who went off on guest co-host Lisa Loeb about the Morning After Pill—which she seemed to have confused with ru-486-- on The View, prompting Barbara Walters to say, “Elizabeth. Calm down dear.”): Arrrrgh! Elizabeth Hasslebeck should get the facts right before spewing venom at a guest co-host. (Among other things, she got wrong the most commonly accepted medical definition of when conception occurs.) Since Elizabeth’s tirade helped spread misinformation to advance her own political beliefs, I compiled
some information about the Morning After Pill and how it works, and put it in’s Body and Soul Section. I used several sources to compile the information, but this one had a good list of Q&As about the subject.

(As to my opinion…Since the debate over when conception begins is currently largely dependent on someone’s religious beliefs, I think the government should stay out of it on the basis of religious freedom alone.)

Time to get that
turkey sandwich on whole wheat


Copyright 2006 Randi Reed

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unsigned Artist Lilly Allen Signed to United Talent Agency Based on My Space Tracking?

According to Reuters and my local news’ entertainment report, a UK artist named Lilly Allen, who had a Top 10 hit in New Zealand, has been signed by UTA (United Talent Agency) based on her ability to build a fan base on My Space, as well as her talent.

I have no doubt that could happen, if extremely high numbers of profile views, downloads, etc. were consistent and attendance at an artist’s shows was consistently high. Labels have certainly looked at artist’s mailing list numbers for years (especially in rock), and it’s often used as a determining factor when deciding between two artists. (And she had a label deal with Warner in the past, which I’m sure came into consideration.) So, My Space tracking and fan base numbers are an important consideration, regardless of how valid this story turns out to be.

The question is, will those page views and downloads translate into consistent ticket sales and interest in seeing the artist on TV and at other personal appearances? The solidity factor of the fan base may not be there to translate into a concert draw...Will a fan base heavily based on My Spacers go out and spend dollars on tickets? So if it’s true, I’d expect this artist to do a lot of webcasts and podcasts and other alternate income streams and not rely on traditional touring.

(I don’t include CD sales/ major label record deals in the income stream in this discussion because agents have nothing to do with record deals. Agents handle concerts, TV appearances, paid web appearances, film, and books, and some kinds of endorsements.)

Many people in the industry are waiting to see how the story plays out, and whether or not it’s even true. One report I saw about this story contained quotes from her rep that seemed to mention My Space more than the artist, and they’re pointing this out as suspect. Some people are wondering if it’s actually a publicity stunt for My Space, or if Lilly Allen signed an endorsement deal with My Space, or if her agency is possibly now representing My Space.

Given the timing, it’s a possibility, because My Space has certainly received their share of bad press over the past several months, and many members of the media seem not to know about the music aspect of My Space. Also, this week it was reported that My Space slipped to #2 in website hit rankings.! The first major talent agency signing of an unsigned artist, based on My Space tracking.

Or, it could be that the whole thing is true, and that My Space found out about it and issued a press release.

We’ll see...Meanwhile, if you’re an aspiring artist, never overlook the importance of building a large, solid fanbase online and offline, so that it translates into butts in seats. (Butts in seats sell CDs paid downloads and put more butts in seats. For a new artist, CD sales alone don’t put butts in seats.)

Live your dreams!

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Music Biz Savvy: If you're an indie artist, local band, or new National act who plays live shows…

Greetings from Los Angeles,

I wrote this on
My Space a while back, but as my brain cells fail to come up with anything witty to say on this busy afternoon, thought I'd post this here to give even more people the heads up...

Lately I've been noticing a scary trend that affects indie and agentless artists who play a lot of live shows:

Young promoters who've managed to get hold of large sums of money to produce shows, but who don't know the basics of live performance contracts.

I see this trend growing, because lately has been flooded with very basic questions from young concert promoters who have funding.

I find this troubling, because if someone doesn't know the basics of a live performance contract, it's highly likely they also don't know about local ordinances, OSHA regulations, event insurance, union rules, music licensing for live venues, or any of the ten million other details that go into putting on a safe, successful show.

There's a strong probability artists who work with them will get screwed over (from inexperience more than malice in this case). Or worse yet, the artist will be named in a lawsuit in the event of an accident--simply from the buyer not knowing what they're doing, and the artist getting tangled in the fallout.

So...If you're an artist who plays out a lot, know who the A-level and B-level talent buyers are in the cities where you play regularly, as well as for the cities where you want to branch out.

If an opportunity comes from a promoter you don't know, check them out. Find out what shows they've done in the past, and talk with some of the artists who were on the bill (better yet, their managers or tour managers)...Especially those at your level of your experience in the industry, and one level above.

A few things to ask...

Did they get paid? Were there any disputes/misunderstandings with the performance agreement? Were there any problems with the show? Were they resolved quickly? How did the promoter resolve them? Did Settlement go smoothly?

Meanwhile, take the time to learn your business so you'll know how to spot a bad promoter...and will know how to handle some of the problems that inevitably come from a promoter not knowing theirs.

Live your dreams,


Randi Reed, Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed and All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rock Star Supernova vs. The One

Greetings from the oven known as Los Angeles,

Last night I flipped channels between the talent competition rivals: Rock Star Supernova, which I love, and The One, a new talent competition on ABC with some huge names behind it…

The One has some great names behind it. I’d been looking forward to watching Mark Hudson (the guy with the cool multi-colored beard), because in addition to being a producer, songwriter, former Hudson Brother, occasional exec, and Kate Hudson’s uncle, Mark Hudson is in my opinion, one of the best studio backup vocalists known to man. His clear tone, blending ability, and chameleon-like ability to blend with, sound like, or harmonize with anyone from Jon Bon Jovi to Steven Tyler make him well-known in studio circles. (He’s also known for getting his part down really fast in the studio--obviously a major plus.)

And Andre Harell (former president of Motown--was majorly involved in the career of Sean Puffy Combs, aka P. Diddy) and Kara DioGuardi (songwriter, producer--worked with Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera) are certainly no slouches. Plus The One has major names on the artist development team--including choreographer Tina Landon, vocal coach Roger Love, and guitar teacher Ray “The Weeper” Fuller--and the prize is a contract on a label with a great behind the scenes talent pool (Interscope/Geffen). So, I had really high hopes for the talent on this one.

Hmmm. Maybe they’re trying too hard to make “good TV” and are intentionally holding something back so we can see the performers develop, but I wasn’t impressed with the overall talent pool or the performances. Caitlin Evanson was a standout, but I was really bored by the rest.

As for the host…Well, he’s no Ryan Seacrest. But his delivery would make him a good host for Rock Star Supernova.

As for Rock Star Supernova…Now we’re talking! For the most part the contestants are extremely talented, seem to have a decent amount of live performing experience, and most of them have good stage presence. The show also has a great house band…Great players, tight rhythm section, good sound, and they can actually rock. Musical director Paul Mirkovich’s credits on paper might not look like he can rock hard--he toured for years as Cher’s musical director and was also the keyboardist for the band Nelson, plus a slew of other credits--but he’s an excellent rock arranger who’s assembled what has to be the best backing band on TV. (Sorry American Idol people, I gotta call it like I see it.)

Favorite contestants on Rock Star Supernova? They’ve given very little indication of what Tommy Lee is looking for, so choosing a singer for Supernova is a tough call: Would a female singer really be considered, or is it just because they have to? Are they the kind of band who wants a good looking front person to attract a wider audience, or do they want someone more “interesting” and dark? Do they want someone colorful who gets a lot of attention, or do they want Tommy Lee to be the colorful one? All those things are important factors. If there was no ego factor involved, Rossi might be a good choice, or, if a female is being considered, Delana, because I think she’s a riveting performer and could handle performing in front of a large audience at a festival.

Tommy Lee band aside, my own favorites include Jill (who was in my Top 2 until the unfortunate white dress performance but redeemed herself last night with a pretty good version of “All Right Now.”), and Toby, who was my favorite until he had the misfortune of singing one of my all-time favorite songs, Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” at too fast a tempo, and without much emotion. There are one or two others that could make my Top 3...but no one who’s stood out enough to make me remember their name yet (a telling consideration in itself).

Overall, the contestants on Seasons 1 and 2 of Rock Star have been far better live performers than on all seasons of American Idol combined, and I’m more entertained by them. (But, as a show, Rock Star still doesn’t have the “it” factor Idol has in terms of drama and chemistry between judges and host. Nor does it have a breakout, household-name star…yet.)

What don’t I like about Rock Star Supernova? Brooke Burke was cool on other shows she’s hosted but tries way too hard to “act rock and roll” on this show. Maybe a better fit would be the host of The One, George Stromboulopoulos?

Live your dreams!!!


Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zen and the Art of Music Licensing Reader Mail...

While going though reader mail this week I made an interesting observation: most of the questions /complaints we receive about having to pay copyright holders for the use of their music comes from Christian businesses.

You’d think it would be rabid audiophiles, or college students on a budget, right? Nope. The people who seem the most intent on finding a loophole out of it--intent enough to write to us, anyway-- are Christian businesses and organizations.

I find this amusing, because not even the sleaziest promoters and club owners I’ve met over the years have complained about paying music licensing fees. I’ve heard complaints and debates about catering, roast turkey instead of pressed turkey, brands of bottled water, the necessity of shore power, airfare, hotel, ground transportation, pizza, bars of soap, Kleenex, and even ice. But never music licensing fees.

We get a lot of mail of this type, so we must have accidentally ended up on a Christian music website or Christian music directory. (Whatever works for ya, welcome. Just don’t try to recruit me, please. I’m a spiritual person but don’t happen to believe mere mortals have the right to try to interpret spirituality for other mere mortals.)

Rock on, kids...

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief,

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed

Thursday, April 06, 2006

MBADC ScamAlert Safety Alert: Online Modeling and Talent Agency "Audition" Kidnapping Scam

Hi again Music Fans,

This is actually for the actors among you, but I have a feeling it will hit music, too. It sounds unbelievable, but I checked the facts and verified them with the reporter who did the original story that appeared on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

If you've ever posted your headshot and resume to an online modeling and talent agency website--you know how I feel about those if you read know someone who goes to auditions, the new ScamAlert Safety Alert we posted in the April issue of is required reading. (It's in the center column, directly under "This Month on...")

Some sick, evil people are using online modeling and talent agency websites to pose as legitimate casting directors for a famous film company to lure women to "auditions." When they arrive they're kidnapped, stripped of their identification, and shipped overseas to work in the sex slave trade.

Ladies, if you go to an audition, bring a male friend. That's how 2 of the actresses in the story foiled kidnapping attempts in New York.

And, while we're at it...If you're under 18, that person must be a parent or guardian. Minors can't sign contracts, so no legitimate casting person, agent, manager, or producer will ever see a minor without the parent or legal guardian.

Be safe,
Randi Reed
Editor in Chief / Founder

Reader Feedback Reply to the American Idol and Chris Daughtry “Walk the Line” Controversy

Greetings Music Fans,

I’ve been going through’s feedback mail…

There’s been a lot of commentary during the past couple of weeks about Chris Daughtry’s forgetting to credit Live with the arrangement when he performed “Walk the Line” on
American Idol's ‘50’s night a couple of weeks ago.

Some of you have asked how that affects the performance notes we wrote in the MBADC American Idol Armchair Quarterback, praising his song selection and the arrangement.

Here’s what happened from our point of view at, and why our Armchair Quarterback notes about his performance stand as originally written:

The morning after Chris’s performance of “Walk the Line”, we were reminded that Chris Dughtry's arrangement was actually Live's arrangement. I love Live and had forgotten about their version. (Sorry guys, my bad. Apparently my brain cells' musical encylopedia wasn't working that night.)

I knew from the brewing backlash from Live fans on the Internet that
American Idol had to address it--either by media statement, on Ryan Seacrest's radio show, or on AI. I made the decision to withhold comment on until after their statement, because I felt to do otherwise would be unfairly proclaiming Chris guilty until proven innocent.

It would also be irresponsible of us, since votes are involved.

As you probably know, Ryan Seacrest and Chris corrected the omission during Chris's interview on the next American Idol performance show. After Ryan and Chris made the correction, I added an Editor's note to Chris's performance notes on our '50's Week page, as well as acknowledged it in Chris's performance notes for the next week, for those who didn't see it on the 50's Week page.

You can read the full Editor's Note
here, which should answer part of your question regarding crediting Live. It also offers our best guess at why the omission happened.

As for how this knowledge affects what we wrote about Chris’s song selection and performance…

If we pretend for a moment that Chris had remembered to credit Live with the arrangement, my feelings about the performance and song selection still stand--in this case--for two important reasons:

A. Although the arrangement was word for word, it still works as a song selection and was still the right musical choice because Chris's voice doesn't sound like the guy from Live. Even on the same notes, Chris's voice has a clarity and energy that's unique.

B. Live's version was not a widely known classic with heavy, across the board airplay, so for most people there weren't immediate musical memories attached to it. (I like the band’s work and forgot it myself!)

Had either A. or B. not been the case, and if Chris wasn't unique as an artist, it wouldn't have worked as a song selection, and I'd call it karaoke.

As I said in the Editor's Note, the best musical example I can give is the Joe Cocker version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." The Joe Cocker version become a much-covered cover, and pretty much every rock band who ever played a bar in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s has covered the Joe Cocker version. The best renditions were done by people whose voices sounded completely different from Joe Cocker and held the notes differently.

Conversely, although I like Taylor Hicks’ voice a lot, if Taylor tried touring with it, it would sound karaoke, because he sounds like Joe Cocker. (Although for some reason I have the uneasy feeling that when the Top 10 finalists go on tour, we’ll see Taylor singing it. Please, no.)

So, Chris’s version of “Walk the Line” on American Idol was just fine, and our performance notes still stand.

Also, I don’t believe there was any underhanded thinking on Chris’s part with regard to not crediting Live, because he’d gone out of his way to mention another artist’s arrangement in a previous week. It’s live TV, performance nights are especially tight on time, and the contestants are still learning how to express themselves on camera.

That’s why the producers, musical directors, and people who put together the clip explaining his song choice should have made sure that, as a courtesy, Live was credited with the arrangement.

Fortunately, the voting audience didn’t take it out on Chris. I’m glad, because I think he’s an amazing singer.

We now return you to current topics…Were we surprised that Mandisa went home last night? Unfortunately, no. We liked her, but if you read this week’s MBADC Al Armchair Quarterback, you know we weren’t surprised.

Rock on (That was a really cool David Essex song from the ‘70’s, by the way…),

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stage Presence: American Idol Contestants, and Stage Presence Then and Now..Plus AI's Producer Disses Shakira

Good Morning, Music Fans,

I’m in the midst of writing the performance notes into column form for the MBADC American Idol Armchair Quarterback for but wanted to pop in with an observation…

At this stage of the game, the contestants should have a much better idea of cover songs that really connect with an audience.

They should also have far better stage presence than they do.

But, this is what happens when we have a generation of kids who take private voice lessons and only sing for their family, friends, and instructors...and who don't go to live concerts.

Starting at a young age (14, 15) my musical peers all learned what connects with a live audience by playing backyard parties, school events, frat parties, and jam sessions, and by getting gigs at tiny little clubs. Since they’d learned as they went along, it was rare for even local artists to not have stage presence. (Some more than others, but most of them knew how to connect.) They also built loyal fan bases.

Vocal coaching was rare then, too—Most of my musical peers never took a lesson until they blew out their voices on the first tour or got nodes on their vocal cords. (Not a great way to go.)

Conversely, now we have droves of kids who have a high level of technical ability, but have no clue what songs connect with an audience.

Seeing Katharine McPhee smile when she sings blues is the final straw. It’s the blues, Katharine. People with the blues don’t smile.

The same goes for Elliott Yamin. If it’s a sad lyric, don’t smile!

Readers, if you’re not playing live, start. Look for opportunities to do so everywhere you go…You won’t make a lot of money at it, and you’ll be doing gigs where you don’t get paid at all, but what you gain in experience and stage presence is priceless. Learn what you’re doing before you start trying to get famous.

Also, get out there and see live performances. If you're underage to get into clubs and tickets are too expensive in your area, check out DVDs of performances. Adelphia Cable's On Demand feature has a lot of free concerts in their music section, too. Watch a variety of performances, in many musical genres, to see what makes crowds react. (I don't recommend viewing clips on your computer for this purpose, BTW--You need a larger screen to really see exactly what the performers are doing to get that reaction.)

It's the musical equivalent of football and basketball players watching footage of classic games; they watch the plays closely to see what works, then they incorporate them into their own game. So go play, team!

I’m going back to my article now…Barring any server problems, it will be up on before Ryan Seacrest reads the results on the East Coast. (Update 11:45 AM: It's up!)

P.S. American Idol Producer Nigel Lythgowe (sp) just said on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show that when Shakira was on American Idol, the contestants never met her, although AI requested that she go out and talk to them. He said, quote, “she wouldn’t get off her ass” and go out to talk to them, and that she's no longer welcome to have anything to do with the show because "it's about the kids" and, he feels she used the show to promote her CD without regard to the contestants.

Live your dreams!
Randi Reed
Editor in Chief,

P.P.S. Yeah, yeah, I'm still learning how to insert links on Blogger, so bear with me...I'll have Webmaster Extraordinaire show me again and will go back in and change them. (Done!)

Edited to get rid of a typo, and to add a performance suggestion.--RR

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Britney Spears Spoofs Clear Channel on "Will and Grace"

Greetings, Music fans!

(One of my goals this week: learn how to use the audio blog feature so I can post more regularly, and on the fly.) (Update: never could get it to work.)

Don'tcha love when art and real life collide with perfect timing?

Kudos, kudos, and more kudos, to the writers of tonight's Will and Grace episode for their brilliant spoof of Clear Channel.
Ahem. Or I should say, for the brilliant spoof of a media conglomerate that has some incidental similarities to media companies like Clear Channel.

The airing of this particular episode was especially timely: Recently Clear Channel fired Indie 103 morning DJ Dicky Barrett from his successful morning show the same day he had, according to Dicky's press release, a "substantial, unauthorized pro-choice on air conversation with a South Dakota DJ and a few callers." According to his press release differences about the show's direction played a role, but in Dicky's words, the pro-choice on air conversation was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Welcome to America, kids...the Land of free speech. (!)

(Clear Channel maintains Dicky's departure was because his main priority was the Jimmy Kimmel show. Dicky refuted this on L.A., saying in part, "Jimmy is a great guy who supported the Mighty Morning Show...It is unfair to let people think I walked away to put more work into loudly reading twenty to thirty words a night on Jimmy's TV show.")

Ironically, in tonight's episode of Will and Grace, Britney Spears played a right-wing, flag waving (literally) Pro Bush supporter added to Jack's show by the conglomerate. In one scene, to Jack and Will's surprise and horror, she unfurls a huge American flag that covers the gay tolerance rainbow flag that hangs above Jack's talk show set.

In another bit of irony, in real life, Michael Steele, the Clear Channel Program Director responsible for programming decsions relating to Dicky Barrett's Indie 103 morning show, happens to pride himself on breaking Britney Spears' radio career.

Make your own judgements, Music Fans. But it was really bleeping brilliant!

RR :)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Random Thoughts on the Grammys

It's a crazy time with a lot going on (deadlines, Grammy week, DIY Convention) so today I'll just post a few Grammy Award observations...

Mariah Carey's awards should have been televised. She worked hard to regain her career, and politics shouldn't get in the way of her comeback moment.

Kelly Clarkson: Kelly's the real deal, and it's great to see her rewarded for that. Let her thank who she wants; she was in a daze, so leave her alone. I would be too.

Christina Aguilera: Christina looked beautiful and started off great, but got a bad case of the runs. The voice is already great without doing a run on every line. (Remember Mulan?)

Jamie Foxx and Kanye West: That was fun. Well done play on the lyrics, and the choreography was a blast.

Sly Stone: It's not easy to get up there after 14 years, in front of that crowd.

Green Day: Seeing them win was very cool.

Madonna and The Gorillas: I continue to be amused by the media who don't know the Gorillas have always been animated.

Keith Urban: Really nice performance of his hit. I like the guy.

Song of the Year: Should have been Rascal Flatts' Bless this Broken Road. It's a very well crafted song, and if I'm not even a country fan and know and like it, that says something.

Random Thoughts:

Randy Jackson: It was great to see Randy Jackson onstage. People who only know him from American Idol don't realize what a great, well respected session player he is. Before Idol, I'd seen him play live with at least 3 different artists: Journey, one of the Stanleys (Stanley Clarke or Stanley Jordan; I've seen them both and it's been a while), and Jon Bon Jovi. I met Randy backstage once and always associate him with a big smile and a booming laugh. He seemed genuinely happy to see everyone he met and had great energy. I walked away thinking, "There's a man who truly loves his job.

Ryan Seacrest: Loved Ryan Seacrest's coverage of the pre-show on E and how calmly he handles the chaos. (When someone did a porn star pose on the green carpet he deadpanned, "A little subtlety here tonight on the green carpet...") Ryan Seacrest was the weekend DJ on my station when I first moved to L.A., and I could never remember the poor guy's name and kept referring to him as Ryan Secrets or Ryan Seacrets. It's been very cool seeing his star take off. He's worked his butt off for it and deserves the rewards he's getting.

Live your dreams!

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor-in-Chief

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Required Viewing for Aspiring Musicians, Managers, and Agents (TV Review: There and Back: Ashley Parker Angel)

There and Back: Ashley Parker Angel should be Required Viewing for anyone who wants to be in the music industry. Even if this thing was 100% scripted, it would still be a pretty accurate portrayal of what happens to an artist after the success, money, and lifestyle go away.

It wasn't that many years ago that Ashley Parker Angel was a member of the boy band O-Town and had a hit single. All that's gone now--former O-Town bandmate Jacob works construction--and the series chronicles what life is like for a musician post-success. Ashley seems like a nice guy (maybe at times a little too nice for his own good) who signed a bad deal that screwed him out of his recording advance, and I can't help feeling for him. The fact that he's clearly a more talented singer and songwriter than O-Town allowed him to show makes me like him even more (so reserve your boy-band perceptions 'til after you've seen the show).

Watching the scene with the meeting with the producers who (allegedly!) screwed him over made my blood boil, because just by looking at them, it was fairly obvious where his advance probably went. (Allegedly!) Hearing them spew their manipulative BS about not wanting lawyers to get in the way of the music had me yelling, "Don't fall for it Ashley!" at the TV. If the scene was real (MTV got a lot of flack last year for allegedly scripting its "reality" moments on other shows) the presence of MTV cameras and manager Larry Rudolph certainly got him out of the situation. And if it was scripted, it was very well done; I've heard those words hundreds of times myself from artists who were ripped off and told the same thing.

Meanwhile, there's life on the home front. On the show Ashley's pregnant girlfriend is about to pop with their first child, the hormones are getting to her, they live with her mom because Ashley can't afford a home of their own, and the resulting pressure of it all is getting to Ash. Meanwhile, he's trying to write an album that financially and career wise, he knows really needs to be a hit.

If you watch the show and think Ashley Parker Angel has it bad on the show--and he does--consider this: at least he has a top level manager, a deal with MTV, and people are taking meetings with him. Most artists in his situation don't, so using the show as a tool to learn where things went wrong businesswise to prevent it from happening to you or your clients is key, along with the knowledge that there's probably not going to be an MTV deal to help out. Kudos to Ashley for his bravery in being an object business lesson for fellow musicians.

Score: ****1/2 out of 5 stars.

Edited 1:28PM January 24 b/c my Grammar check program truly sucks.

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed

Monday, January 23, 2006

Why Are There So Damn Many References to Bon Jovi on

(Written on Sunday, January 22, 2006 but posted Mon Jan 23 due to power outages)

If you go to and do a site search, you'll see a lot of references to Bon Jovi or Jon Bon Jovi. Sometimes this irritates managers or fans of other artists, who occasionally send me flame mail. That's OK. Life Lesson #10,049: No matter what you do, somebody's going to be ticked off.

Today's blog entry is actually for those who either genuinely want to know or who say, "You like the 80's or what?" (A question I find a little irritating, because it usually means the person asking it only pays attention to the Top 10 and has little appreciation for album cuts or longevity in the music business.)

The main reason is really pretty simple:'s readers span 67 countries and three age groups. No matter whom I'm addressing, where they live, or what kind of music they're into, if I refer to Bon Jovi or Jon Bon Jovi as an example of success in one of our articles, that reader knows whom I'm talking about. Given that the average career for a successful recording artist is 5 years, the band's 23 years of high visibility are pretty impressive.

(Sidebar: Bon Jovi is a band, Jon Bon Jovi is a guy. If you're working with or writing about them, it's polite to know this and get it right.)

More importantly, Jon Bon Jovi has the kind of work ethic and attitude I'd love for our readers to follow. Jon's a household name, and is obviously a great looking guy (some would say "stunning" in person). Given that and the way fans react when they meet him, most people expect him to be difficult or unpleasant to work with. But you'll rarely hear anyone who's worked with him say anything but the opposite. Some artists, on the other hand, act like they're entitled to make working together a miserable experience for everyone but themselves.

On a personal level, it's no secret that I've liked the band's music since I heard "Runaway" during Christmas 1983. I heard it long before I knew what Jon even looked like, and it still holds up as a well-written rock song when stripped down to its essence. But my favorite Bon Jovi stuff is well after 1986's Slippery When Wet, and it's the stuff a lot of people other than hard core fans don't know:

Jon's vocal on "Dry County," (Keep the Faith) still gives me chills; if you listen to it on a great system with headphones, you can hear his voice open up on the line "I cursed the sky to open." Richie Sambora does an amazing solo on that track, too.

Jon's version of "Levon" on the Two Rooms CD is still one of the best rock vocals I've ever heard. The engineering and production are so well executed, you can almost hear him breathe. I'm especially impressed by this because it was recorded in Jon's home 1991, before Pro-Tools became standard.

I often play "Hey God" from These Dayswhen I'm royally ticked off, and "This Ain't a Love Song" (also from These Days) is my favorite wallow-in-it break up song. The first chorus of "Someday I'll be Saturday Night" Cross Road) kept me going during my worst days of a chronic illness ("Hey man, I'm alive, I'm taking each day and night at a time, I'm feeling like a Monday but someday I'll be Saturday night"), and This Left Feels Right's "It's My Life" and "Born to Be My Baby" sound so intimate, when I hear them I feel like I've walked into a room with a closed door.

Do I like the 80's? Yeah, they were OK. But I like the evolution of the band even more. And if you're an artist or songwriter, I wish it for you as well.

C 2006 Randi Reed

Disclosure of Endorsements/Recommendations/Financial Compensation or Business Relationships per FTC Blog Disclosure Regulations in effect December 1, 2009: In the 90's I worked for a concert promotion company that presented many Bon Jovi shows. Since that time I've received no financial compensation or free product in direct connection with the band. I have, however, interviewed their recording engineer for, and the website sells Amazon products as an Amazon Associate.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dread and the Client Drop (or How to Work with Others)

This week, I performed one of my least favorite tasks: notifying an artist I won't be working with them.

Contrary to popular belief about managers, agents, A&R people, and other music executives, it's not something I ever relish or look forward to. Although I will admit to sometimes feeling a sense of "good riddance" if someone's been a real pain in the bleep.

I mention it because the artist made a key mistake you'll want to avoid in your own career: we're dropping the artist from our radar because the artist is too difficult to work with. (To protect the artist's privacy, I'll change the details.)

"Difficult" isn't bad in itself. Frankly I worry when someone blindly follows everything I tell them without question, because it means they can't say no (which leads to other problems later on).

What matters is the degree of "difficult."

State your case, and defend your art. But pick your battles. You can be hands on without being a bleep. If you're paying someone to advise you--especially when you've contacted them for help, not the other way around--don't argue with everything they're telling you. Artists who do are exhausting to work with, and people go out of their way to avoid working with them. (I once had a client who once spent 45 minutes arguing with me on the placement of a comma in his bio...Even after I showed him the entry in Strunk and White's Elements of Style and an English textbook. True story.)

Let me give you another example: Getting someone to redo some seriously off-pitch notes that are prominently heard in a chorus shouldn't take the band, a producer, an engineer, myself, and ten rocket scientists from Teledyne an hour to convince them. (OK, I exaggerated on this one. But close...)

And that's just one chorus, of one song...Of an entire CD. (Can we say expensive studio time?)

I don't claim that it's easy taking criticism, letting others into the process, delegating, or dealing with control issues. But we all go through it, no matter what we do for a living. It's all in how you handle it.

Assuming you have good people working with you, at some point you have to relax a little and let people do their jobs. Otherwise you're wasting your money, and their time. (Not to mention the time of everyone else who's working on the project.) If you can't trust them enough to let yourself relax a little, either you haven't done your job in hiring people you're comfortable with, or you're having trouble with control issues.

It's sad, because this artist is talented, and I'd really like to see them succeed.

But it ain't gonna be with me. Nor the previous other people who tried to manage them...Is it any surprise that the more successful the artist, the easier they are to work with?

©2006 Randi Reed

About Your Friendly Editor, and What I Do

Welcome to my blog! Make yourself at home. (The Food's to the right, the bar's to the left, and non-alcoholic beverages are there too...)

Frankly I'd rather dive right in, but should probably tell you something about myself...

I'm the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, and a music business consultant. I started as a singer-songwriter in a band, hated it (those of you who are reading this with a sore throat from last night's gig or recording session, I salute you), and discovered that although music was (and still is) my passion, I liked the behind-the-scenes aspects a lot more than performing.

I won't tell you how long ago that was, but over the years I've worked in artist management, booking, and concert promotion at the national level. Along the way I was also an assistant manager at a record store, a personal assistant to a platinum artist, and was the editor for another platinum artist's official fan club newsletter.

The most adamantly anti-business artists (why you're reading this I don't know, but welcome) say I think too much like a suit. The most business-minded non-creatives (ditto to you) say I think too much like a musician. Often on the same day. I can live with that, because balancing the two isn't easy. But I can tell you that I'm fiercely protective of my clients, even if I don't always tell them what they want to hear. (Sidebar: A good manager should tell you what you don't want to hear. If you're surrounded by yes people who only tell you what you want to hear, you're screwed.) came about when I lost my job at a major Hollywoood entertainment firm after getting a chronic immune system disorder. It affected the part of my brain that controls math functions, reading, and writing, and was so bad that at one point I couldn't read a calendar, dial the phone, read, or use a computer because the numbers and letters scrambled in front of me. (Really conducive to booking bands, right?) My sensory perception was also affected, so watching TV or listening to music made me dizzy and nauseous. (Remember how you felt during the worst drunken episode of your life, when you felt sick and the room wouldn't stop spinning and you felt like you had to hang onto the floor so you wouldn't spin off? That's it.) I was confined to bed for quite a while, and coming back was a slow process.

During my convalescence I started outlining ideas for projects on a legal pad from my bed. In 1997, was one of them. So, here we are. I hope it helps you get where you want to go in your career, helps one of your clients, or is helpful to that research paper you're writing.

As for this blog? This is where I get a little more personal, a little more editorial, give kudos to people I like, and rant about those I don't. Here's hoping it's entertaining

©2006 Randi Reed