Tag Archives: Music Business

Ingrid Michaelson Chases Her First #PhillipsSongOfTheDay

Summer is finally upon us, which means it’s time to get those summer playlists together.  The song that has made it on most of my playlists so far this summer? “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson.  There is something about this song that makes me sit back and just enjoy this beautiful weather.

I like to think Ingrid Michaelson is the most successful indie artist in America.  This is because she is a musician who writes, produces, and releases her own music without the support of a major label AND people actually know who she is and her music has been played on the radio!  She actually started her own record label, Cabin 24 Records, and have released six albums, the last two, Human Again and Lights Out, reaching number five on the Billboard 200, an impressive feat from an artist doing it all on her own.  Well, I’m sure she has an impressive team that work with her, but it’s impressive that they have accomplished all this, considering the fact that the music industry is dominated by three major corporations: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group (it was dominated by four major labels (you may have heard of the Big Four), but EMI was bought and absorbed by the other three back in 2012…which was a major topic of debate and discussion amongst industry critics…and business students…just saying).

Listen to “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson:

The chorus of this song is quite catching and memorable, which makes this a good song to dance/sway to in the summer air.  It’s a song to play while relaxing on the beach or when having a cookout with your people (side note: I chose the word “people” to mean “family and friends,” but I was too lazy to write out “family and friends,” which I realize is now pointless as I just wrote “family and friends” out three times…).  To me, this song is about how we all want things we can’t have.  She sings about how “girls chase boys chase girls,” which I take “chase” to indicate the fact these boys and girls are pursuing their desired partners, but can’t catch them; they can’t have what they want.  Michaelson then sings “Let’s not make it harder than it has to be,” meaning that we are currently making our lives infinitely harder by chasing our crushes and not getting them.  The verses go into even more depth in this, where Michaelson looks at her life situation and acknowledges that it is not satisfactory or living up to its potential.  For example, in the first verse she sings, “I’m a little let down but I’m not dead/ There’s a little bit more that has to be said.”  Here Michaelson is singing that even though she’s a bit hurt she’s not completely gone (she’s got more feelings left), and there is still more life to live. I find this type of song relatable; as a college student trying to figure out his way in the world, there are a lot of moments when I just feel like I”m not living my life’s potential and craving things I can’t have.

I also wanted to mention that this song holds one of my favorite lyrics ever:

“I got two hands, one beating heart
And I’ll be alright”

Whenever I hear this line, I just take a deep breath and remind myself that even though things may not be going the way I want them to, I’ll be able to figure my life out.  I’ve got two hands to pick myself up by my bootstraps and I have a whole lot of love in my heart.  I’ll be alright.

“Stay” – Playlist

Do you know how many songs there are entitled “Stay?”  A lot.  There’s that Rihanna song, the Lisa Loeb one, and the Grammy Award Winning one by Sugarland.  I decided to make another playlist, but with all songs titled “Stay.”

 

My favorite is Lisa Loeb‘s version (it also was a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay).  That song to me is rather refreshing; she’s admitting she was wrong, and is pleading with her loved one to come back.  There is a rawness in that song that conveys a relative deep level of hurt that I really connect with.  A close second  to Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” is “Stay” by Sugarland.  The guitar in that song is phenomenal, and Jennifer Nettles is an incredible songwriter (she won many awards for writing that song, including the Grammy for Best Country Song), but I find Nettle’s vocals rather…um…harsh.  I mean, Jennifer Nettles is an incredible vocalist and has an intense passion for making music, but I feel like “Stay” by Sugarland is supposed to be a softer than the way she actually delivered it.

I bring up this playlist of all songs named “Stay” because I think it emphasizes exactly what not to do as a songwriter: give your song a common title.  If you search iTunes or Spotify for “Stay,” there are hundreds of songs, a lot of them are covers.  As a musician, you want to stand out (from a business perspective).  Why would you give a song a name that a hundred other songs are named?

One counterargument would be that, as a songwriter, you don’t write to the name of the song.  You tell the story the way it needs to be told, and the name just kind of stands out in the lyrics (at least that’s how I do it).  However, there is a way around this.  For example, on her latest album Red, Taylor Swift had a song that clearly should be named “Stay.”  Instead of falling into that trap, she named the song “Stay Stay Stay,” a very unique and original title.  Another thing the songwriter could do is give the song a title that does not come from the lyrics.  Lorde is a big fan of doing this; the phrase “400 Lux” does not appear once in the song “400 Lux,” and the phrase “buzzcut season” appears once in “Buzzcut Season,” like how “ribs” appears once in “Ribs.”  I’m not telling other songwriters how to write their songs, but my opinion is that you want to give your song its own identity that people want to listen to that song as opposed to any other song.  If I have a song “Stay,” then why would you listen to me over Rihanna?  We’re both clearly demanding our loved one to stay, regardless of the situation.

 

I KNEW IT!!!!!

In my last post I argued that “Glory and Gore” should be Lorde’s new single from Pure Heroine and I have two important updates.

First, the song, when I wrote about it, was number 40 on iTunes, now it’s number 23!:

"Glory and Gore" at number 23, as of 2/27/14

“Glory and Gore” at number 23, as of 2/27/14

 

Second, “Glory and Gore” is actually going to be the next single from Pure Heroine!!!  Not to gloat, but I KNEW IT!!!

"Glory and Gore" will impact radio March 11th (keep your ears peeled).

“Glory and Gore” will impact radio March 11th (keep your ears peeled).

 

Perhaps when I was writing about this, Republic and Lava Records knew/was keeping track of the success of “Glory and Gore,” just as I was.  

When I was driving home from school today, I was actually planning on writing a post entitled “The Real Reason for the Failure of the Music Industry,” in which I would shame Republic and Lava Records for not taking “Glory and Gore”‘s recent success and growing it.  In all fairness, I read in multiple sources that Lorde’s next single was intended to be “No Better,” a left over track that is on the extended version of Pure Heroine.  

Listen to “No Better” here (could be her next single for the summer…it’s totally a summer song):

While I adore “No Better” and certainly believe it will be a #PhillipsSongOfTheDay in the near future and should be a single eventually, I was going to write that it doesn’t make sense to undercut the success of “Glory and Gore,” success which was garnered from the fans and the promotional use (see my post Lorde’s New Single for more details).  Like, there would be no ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment…learned about that today in class…) by choosing a different single that had less promotion than “Glory and Gore.”

What I’m suggesting may seem like common sense, and rather foolish that a record company would pull such a stunt of releasing a song as a single when a different song had more attention.  BUT IT HAS HAPPENED.  Let’s not forget Taylor Swift’s album Speak Now and her song “Sparks Fly.”  This song happened to be a huge fan favorite.  Swift played this song at one or two of her shows (apparently she wrote it for Fearless and played it at the live show to test it with an audience, but decided to scrap it for a different song), and a very rough live version could be downloaded online or listened to on youtube, such as:

Really rough quality, probably because it was recorded from a cellphone or cheap camera.  Regardless, us Swifties found this and loved it.  After much demand, Swift obliged her fans and put the studio version on Speak Now (insert tears of joy…our hard work paid off).  Once Speak Now was released, “Sparks Fly” rocketed to #1 on the iTunes Top Singles.  And what song did Big Machine Records release as her next single? “Back to December.”  I mean, it wasn’t a bad decision, given the fact the song was released as a promotional single weeks before as part of the “Count Down to Speak Now” campaign and had some exposure.  But still, I personally felt that anticipation grew for the release of “Sparks Fly,” and such anticipation could have be used to impact radio.  And I think Big Machine did know of this anticipation and knew it was radio friendly, given the fact that they released it practically a year later as a single. While “Sparks Fly” did manage to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, it only went to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.  I fear if it was released in the first week of November 2010 like “Back to December” was, it could have broken through the top 10 (it would have also made for a better pop radio version than “Back to December”); the fact that they waited so long to release as a single I think hurt it’s chart and commercial performance.  And let’s not forget “Back to December” only went to #3 on the Hot Country Songs and #18 on the Hot 100…so, there…

But, back to Lorde and “Glory and Gore:”  Republic and Lava Records are off the hook…for now…

 

P.S. I admire Big Machine Records for the fact that their business model puts music before business; they work with their artists and see their artists as partners, not employees (cough, cough….why they are one of the most successful independent labels…cough, cough….).

 

Lorde’s New Single.

Glory and Goreshould be next single from Pure Heroine.  While “Team” is currently burning up radio here in the US, it is starting to fall on the iTunes top selling singles and the Billboard Hot 100, an indication that the single’s life is coming to an end.  While it is still in the bottom of the top ten in both iTunes and Billboard, it is time to think ahead.

“Glory and Gore,” while being a fan favorite, has started to gain traction with a wider audience.  I think perhaps it’s because it was used in a promotional campaign for the History Channel’s show Vikings:

I’m not entirely sure if that’s the only reason for it’s popularity (I don’t know if “Glory and Gore” was used in any other ads or promotions…I’m good, but not that good), but it has gone to number 40 on the iTunes Top 100:

"Glory and Gore" is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

“Glory and Gore” is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

The only other Lorde songs on the iTunes Top 100 are “Team” and “Royals,” her two hit singles.  Yesterday “Glory and Gore” was at number 41, so it’s position has been rising on it’s own accord (i.e. without any radio airplay or live performance promotion).  Given the fact that the History Channel, while a brilliant network, probably doesn’t serve a lot of viewers within Lorde’s target market (i.e. teens and college kids (although I know a lot of kids my age love the History Channel, so maybe it’s wrong to assume only older men watch the History Channel…)), if “Glory and Gore” is given the promotions within the given target then Lorde may have herself another Top 10 hit.

I also base this on the fact the song is one of the catchiest and more listened to songs on Pure Heroine.  With her usual dark and mystical vocals, “Glory and Gore” charms the listener within the first five seconds.  More specifically, during the chorus, Lorde and producer Joel Little added a background vocalized “oh, oh” which really draws the listener in.  Even her imagery within her lyrics of “gladiators,” “battles,” and “saviors” evokes this kind of brave fighter attitude that my generation espouses.  Don’t believe me this song is worth a listen?  Just listen to the clip in the Vikings commercial in the above YouTube clip and you’ll be listening to “Glory and Gore” on repeat!

***UPDATE***

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes (cough, cough):

"Glory and Gore" is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

 

 

Quick poll for my fellow Lorde-ites:

 

Tomorrow Things May Change…

I think I’ve said before that I tend to listen to music that reflects my mood, but lately I’ve been in a really weird mood that I feel is only embodied in the song “Tomorrow” by Avril Lavigne (thereby making it #PhillipsSongOfTheDay, Lavigne’s first).

I used to be the kind of person that had to know literally what a song would mean; my dad and I would often go on car rides, listen to music, and analyze what a song was precisely saying (my dad is freakishly good at doing this).  Recently, though, I’ve decided that I can’t digest exactly what a song is supposed to say, but I know what the song means to me.  For example, I’m kind of obsessed with Lorde’s music right now; I loved the song “Team” from the first time I heard it, but I remember telling my dad on one of our car rides “I love this song, but I have no idea what it means.”  I then thought about why I loved the song – I felt it displays a strong sense of camaraderie and sense of belonging to people who are different and stand out (people like me).  I don’t know if that’s what Lorde intended, but that’s what I got from it (and that’s all that matters to me at this point).

Anyway, I digress whenever I talk about Lorde.  For me, “Tomorrow” tells the story of the feeling just before getting over someone/something and moving on; you’re in the process of accepting your situation:

“I don’t know how I’ll feel,
tomorrow, tomorrow,
I don’t know what to say,
tomorrow, tomorrow
Is a different day”

Clearly here Lavigne is espousing that she doesn’t know how she’ll get over this person or feeling, but she knows things will change in the future (as the future is a “different day”).  It’s kind of an unusual song in that it’s not about breaking up with someone and it’s not about having moved on about some; it’s like you’ve been wounded, but the scab just formed and you’re not healed just yet.  It’s a transitional song.

I’ve just been getting lost in this song because of it’s beauty and the fact I honestly relate to it.  What stands out to me is when she says she wants to “believe” in this person, but feels that she can’t; there’s a breach in her trust of this person:

“And I wanna believe you,
When you tell me that it’ll be ok,
Yeah, I try to believe you,
But I don’t”

I don’t really know why I’ve been feeling exactly like this, but I think I’m in a transitional moment in my life where I want to believe in everyone and everything, and trust that everyone is my friend, but I’ve had a lot of friendships/relationships that did not pan out.  This is not a “oh, poor Phillip moment,” this is me stating how music really brings out different emotions in me and makes me reflect on my life; that’s the magic of music.  For example, if you asked me before listening to “Tomorrow” if I was happy with my life, I would probably have said yes.  It’s not exactly perfect at the moment, but it could honestly be a whole lot worse.  But upon listening to “Tomorrow,” I’ve realized that there is a big thing missing from my life, which is why I know I’m not at the top of mountain of life…if that makes sense at all…

Furthermore, I find “Tomorrow” to be such a beautifully composed and performed song.  In particular, I think the acoustic guitar is so warm and, want for a better word, fulfilling.  It just adds the right tone, a sort of rawness.  Also, I think the “hey yeah yeah”‘s during the bridge are just perfect.

Another reason why I’m in awe of this song is the fact that it was never a single, but it’s as though it was.  I kind of feel like Avril Lavigne’s album Let Go is my generation’s album.  I just remember growing up and everyone having a copy of that album and singing along to it.  Whenever you mention this song or play it, people tend to know it.  It’s odd, usually that only happens with singles.  Like you know all Beyoncé’s or Rihanna’s hits (songs that were singles), but can you name a song  of theirs that wasn’t a single but still a well known song?  I can’t.  It just goes to show how much success Lavigne had with Let Go, and it marks her as a great musician (at that time).

So, yeah, “Tomorrow” by Avril Lavigne is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay, and here’s to hoping tomorrow things may change!