Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh How the Music Business Keeps Changing

Oh How the Music Business Keeps Changing
By Christopher Knab
(copyright 2009 Christopher Knab)

Let me start out with some sobering thoughts.

95% of music downloads are illegal downloads and are NOT paid for. (Funny, I thought most of us in the music business wanted to make money from whatever audio or music business profession we chose to get involved with) Well, there is SOME hope on the horizon. Internationally, 2008 saw a 25 % growth in LEGAL downloads for a dollar total of $3.7 billion dollars! We shall see what 2009 has to report in a matter of a few months from now.

Digital platforms on the Internet that sell LEGAL downloads have increased online and through mobile devices as a new generation of music subscription services, social networking sites and new music licensing channels are emerging. In 2008 digital platforms accounted for 20% of recorded music sales, UP from 15% in 2007!

The music industry continues to change dramatically, but how will you make money from your music, as the industry shifts from a “sales-to-a-customer” model to “monetizing” ACCESS to music across a multitude of channels and platforms?

CD sales, as of 2008, are still the number one way record labels make their money, but the writing is on the wall that the future is NOW for you to implement this new “access” approach to making money from your music.

Some researchers and experts on the subject of selling music predict that by 2012 the shift from CD sales dominating the labels revenue to other approaches already mentioned will take place.

Music is no longer about a pre-prepared set of songs released on a CD by a artist or band but it is a growing business of customers selecting from a wide catalog of individual songs, like on iTunes or eMusic.

So, many artists will be moving away from their ingrained habit of coming up with 10 to 15 songs to record a traditional ‘album’ and moving toward creating compositions released individually, and finding more ‘uses’ for their music in the marketplace, like: song placements in films, television and placed on the Internet, as well as used in commercials and even selling sheet music copies of their compositions. Also look more for bands and recording artists to offer individual song downloads from their growing catalog of material available on their own websites, and the many social networking sites that will act as distributors of music.

How music history repeats itself

I found this unaccredited article on the web about 6 months ago. If anyone knows who wrote it, I would like to know so that I can give them credit for it….Chris Knab 11/19/2009

Well over a century ago, the music industry businessmen of that time argued that its future was threatened by a new method of creating and distributing multiple copies of a performed song. That new technology was...the player piano roll.
Actually, throughout history, when any new technology comes along, from the Gutenberg printing press to Napster and any form of today’s file sharing choices, the businesses that had set themselves up to control creative content have felt threatened and have fought to try and maintain their lucrative control. New technologies have always posed a threat to the owners and creators of music, movies, books and other artistic works.

Those publishers, writers, artists and other owners of copyrighted work have always reacted to any threats with lawsuits and calls for stronger laws. Through time, congressional action and judicial decisions have shaped and reshaped copyright law, and in most cases the powerful businesses have won.
Let’s take a quick look .at some key historical confrontations between emerging technologies and the businesses that felt threatened by those technologies.

The recording business has been dominated from its beginning in the 1800’s by large firms which held valuable patents on first, the wax engraving methods of preserving recordings and also the recording stylus. Since 1902, the American Graphophone Company (Columbia) and the Victor Talking Machine Co. had pooled their patents on the lateral cut method of recording in an attempt to monopolize the market. Those major companies were challenged by a growing number of smaller manufacturers, including Vocalion, Emerson, Brunswick and Starr. The giants sought protection in the courts, and in Victor Talking Machine Co. vs. Starr Piano Company (1922) the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held the Victor patent void for lack of invention and for abandonment.

Not only did the lawsuit effectively end the major’s monopolization of lateral recording, it formed a bond between the smaller companies that joined in fighting this case. By the mid-twenties, for example, one company called Gennett was producing 3 million records annually, in addition to 15,000 pianos and 35,000 spring-driven phonographs. By 1928 Gennett cut 1,250 master records, compared to Victor's nearly 7,000.

It is always smaller, innovative companies who, throughout history, have been instrumental in moving technology and changes along. And it is always larger, more powerful and financially secure companies who want to either block the change and stay with the norm, or if that fails, sue the innovators of change so as to keep their monopoly intact. And too, if the legal approach fails, what we see is the bigger companies buying the innovative companies, so that they can fool the public into thinking they came up with the innovation all along, but were just waiting for the right time to introduce the technology they once feared, but eventually land up richer then before their reluctance to whatever threatened them in the first place.

So, for almost two decade now, the music industry has been moving forward reluctantly into this inevitable digital future that is with us now, dragging its heals, screaming and hollering in the courtrooms and through the media about the rights of this or that person or business entity and trying to hold on to what is impossible to hold onto....change.
Please remember though, this is hardly the first time the entertainment industry has decided that a new consumer technology will bring about the end of their world, and so we have endured endless posturing emanating from that delightful trait in human beings known as greed.

So back again for another history lesson. In a move whose impact was not felt for another 50 years, piano rolls in the early 1900’s were still a very lucrative business and the music industry of that day, (the rapidly growing companies that controlled that era’s recording techniques that led to the flat disc technology of ‘78’s) did not want that ‘old’ technology to stick around , so they hired legislators who wrote section 115 into the 1909 Copyright Act, allowing anyone to make a mechanical reproduction without the consent of the copyright owner. IF notice to the publisher and a payment of two cents per reproduction was paid. Congress wanted to protect against a publishing monopoly, since the early music industry of the 1800’s was run and controlled by Music Publishers.

However, Section 115 of the Copyright Law of 1909 had the unintended consequence of helping create many more record labels, which emerged from that controversy in good health, thanks to their lawyers, and the smaller labels found themselves with the ability to secure master recordings, influence changes in distribution, and sell records for whatever the market would bear. All the labels had to do was pay the publishers a couple of cents a copy and, after paying other costs, they kept nearly half of retail sales.

For a long time, record companies made a lot of money, and publishers were no longer the dominate profit makers in the evolving record industry. In the early days, it was a great business. A label paid for the content, and paid for the license, then sold the recording at a higher price--and made a good profit.
Things move along fairly well, even after the demise of the ’78 disc, when in 1948 and 1949 the ’45 disc and the long playing 331/3rd LP were introduced. In fact, as far as musical styles go, it is independent labels who back then, as now, are the ones who take the risk on a new style of popular music, and when it makes a significant dent in record sales, the major labels are there to jump on that new trend and create mass appeal and sales of whatever new musical trend.
The cassette arrives in the early 1970’s and things go along pretty well, until in the early 1980s, a bunch of major labels declared war on record stores who sold blank cassettes. The labels threatened to pull their co-op advertising dollars (money that helps stores buy newspaper ads, in exchange for promoting specific titles) from any store that also advertised blank tape, claiming that the stores were promoting piracy. They backed up these claims with a study, commissioned by Warner/Elektra (as it was then known), that "proved" billions of dollars of record revenue were being lost to home taping.

Their “studies” however proved to be a load of crap, and another study, paid for by a consumer audio manufacturers' coalition--who presumably had a much smaller axe to grind, since they could go right on selling equipment no matter who won--showed that the vast majority of home taping consisted of people making dubs of records they already owned, for use in their cars and personal stereos, and that in fact people who taped albums at home bought more records than people who didn't.
Nevertheless, the labels, through the RIAA, pushed for a blank tape tax, the proceeds of which would be distributed, through some undetermined formula, to artists who were purportedly hurt by home taping--Michael Jackson's name was bandied about a lot. Frank Zappa, in his autobiography, made the case that the record companies were so hungry for the extra revenue that they were willing to stifle their own artists and accede to the "Washington Wives'" demands to put parental warning labels on albums, if Congress would pass the tape-tax bill. Fortunately, the bill stalled, although some other countries have not been so lucky. As far as the warning labels are concerned, you can see for yourself how effective they have been at keeping offensive records out of kids' hands.

(Note: this is as far as this article went, but we can learn a lot about how new technologies always threaten the power-owners of today. Sure wish I knew who wrote this!!...chris knab.)

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Endless Flood of Crappy New Releases

We live in an era of instant gratification. For musicians this means you may tend to hurry your project...get that new song out there fast, like you were in some kind of race to be a 'star'.

Well, I have written a lot about that drive to "be a star" but I haven't written all that much about the impatience that is rampant with so many bands and artists these days.

If you want proof of what I am talking about all you have to do is look at some facts about the increasing number of new music releases each year. For the first time in recorded music history 2008 was the year when new releases passed the 100,000 mark!!

I have been watching the increasing number of new releases for the last decade, and for just a peek at the statistics check this out: Since 2001 the number of new releases coming out each year has jumped from just over 30.000 in '01 to the 100,000 that I just mentioned.

I know there are valid reasons for this increase. Technology's advances in inexpensive recording choices is high on the list, making it possible for anyone to make their own CD, and either manufacture their own CDs or just post songs on various internet sites and then Twitter away and post what you have on Facebook and/or MySpace. But there is more to the problem of the growing number of releases that come out every year.

I think an after-effect of the original Napster revolution has been the adoption of the idea that says in effect "If is so easy to record and get some music out there, why don't I record some songs, and just get them out there and see what happens".

The problem with that attitude is this. We now have a music business that is overloaded with new songs, new bands, new singer/songwriters and so when you try to digest the fact that there are over 100,00 new releases coming out each year you are confronted with the inability of anyone in the music industry to be able to deal with this massive output.

How in the hell can anyone possibly deal with this huge output of 'product'. It's insane! So, here is what happens: when you have over 100,000 new CDs and/or digital releases to deal don't deal with it. You can't. It's too much!!

So this brings us back to my initial point of having all this new music trying to catch the attention of the public, or even a niche corner of the public?

Why are so many artists and bands in such a hurry to create and get their music out there?

Well, as many of you know from my book Music Is Your Business, and my many Internet writings I try to drive home the idea that in order for your music to stand a chance of being heard, let alone being accepted by a portion of the music-consuming public there are what we call 'Gatekeepers' in the music industry who hold the key to allowing you past certain barriers. These gatekeepers are invisible to most of you, but, they are the people who do their best to listen to as much of the clutter of new releases as they can. Gatekeepers are overwhelmed by the amount of music they receive on a daily basis...they can't keep up with the onslaught of new music that is being released, so they don't even bother listening to most of the crap that comes to their attention...there simply is no time in a workday or workweek to listen to it all.

What can you do about this situation? For one thing...slow down!!
The industry always has, is now, and always will look for GREAT songs to work with.
GREAT songs are very hard to find in this inundated marketplace of music.

I get access to hundreds of new releases that come to radio stations, on and offline press businesses, wholesale and retail music buyers, and talent bookers, and I have an exercise I do in the classes I teach and seminars I present. I choose about 200 or so of the new releases I get and bring them into my classes to show my students and clients what it is like for a Gatekeeper today to go through and try to listen to as much stuff as they can. At first I put on display several dozen randomly chosen CDs and ask the students and clients to choose a CD that is attractive to them, or choose a CD they may have heard of, and judge the CDs appearance...the cover, the back cover, the spine, the disc information itself, the CD booklet (if any) and then we try and guess what kind of music is on the CD, based on the graphics alone. (The artwork SHOULD give a clue, ya know!)

Then comes the final test...I ask for volunteers to give me their chosen CD and we listen to the CD as if we were Gatekeepers ourselves!

What happens? In 9 out of 10 cases the students and clients ask me to stop the CD within 30 seconds to 1 minute. Why? Because its crap! and that is my point...if the artist or band had spent some serious time on crafting their music, and the manner in which it was recorded, and NOT rushed to get their music done and out the door, maybe, just maybe, the number of CDs released would actually, over time, sound more interesting and be more innovative in the songwriting process.

But no, that will never happen...we are forever stuck, I believe, in a suicide mission of sorts...rushing careers with unprofessional and amateur sounding music, all done in a race to be successful, to be noticed, to stand out from the crowd.

So, know this at least: the number of new releases coming out every year will NEVER go down, no matter how much I and other Gatekeepers scream out "Enough Already"
But maybe, just maybe, the few of you who have read this post will think twice before you release your record, and think seriously..."Is my music truly outstanding" and if so who said it was? You? your family? Your friends?

I have a dream. That someday the flood of new releases will slow,and the restless masses who create so much clutter in the music marketplace will wake up out of their selfish stupor and take the time to craft their music, no matter how long it may take, and slow this raging river of crap so that a day will come when I and other industry Gatekeepers can listen to a new CD and not cringe when we push the play button.

Now,I said it is a dream. Will it come true? Never in a million years. Why? because instant gratification is the order of the day and patience and persistence are old fashioned ideas. Who has the time for that?

Christopher Knab

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Value of Creating 'Community' In The Music Industry

I am writing on this topic tonight because I want to share with you an experience I have been part of here in Seattle involving my old alma mater of sorts...the Art Institute of Seattle. (I taught there for 18 wonderful years.)

Last Friday night,Tom Pfaeffle, a kind and amazing man, nationally recognized for his limitless talent as a live sound engineer as well as an Audio Producer and studio Engineer, and an outstanding teacher of audio production for the last 15 years at AIS, was senselessly murdered while on a weekend getaway with his wife. It has been on the national news, so I won't go into much detail other than to say that while staying at a rural vacation spot in Eastern Washington and staying at a small motel over there, he accidentally started to use his room key to get into his room, but it was the wrong room. The man in that room, without any words of warning or anything shot him through the door and the bullets went into Tom's kidneys and liver. The man was arrested, but Tom lay in his wife's arms for over two hours before help arrived and could get him to a hospital. He died a few minutes after arriving at the hospital.

Those are the raw facts. They traveled quickly over the internet and through Twitter and Facebook updates. Today the school canceled all audio class until Wednesday, and held a special school memorial meeting for any and all students and faculty and friends who wanted to gather to remember him in any way they chose.

This event was one of the most extraordinary gatherings I have ever experienced. Story after story came out about Tom as a teacher, a friend, a mentor, a professional, but mostly about the man he was!

I kept thinking about what I do now since I retired from formal music business teaching,(except for an online course I teach for a company called Music Industry Educators, and also the occasional workshop or classes I teach on my own through my company FourFront Media and Music.) The value of meeting in a formal setting and working with real live students compared to digital ones is huge. I write books, and record podcasts, and blog, and Twitter and all that stuff including some digital social networking, but it just ain't the same. I learned today how important it is to have a community. For that is what teaching or talking about music subjects, for me at least, is all

The music industry is very competitive as we know, but is also one of the most amazing industries when it comes to supporting each other when stressful, sad or happy events happen.

I am still mourning my friend and former colleague, and that will go on throughout the many planned memorial services the Seattle music community is already putting together to honor his memory and his many contributions.

But what I am getting at is this. There is REAL VALUE in creating a music community wherever you live. Yes, I know we can and do have the ability to have online video lectures and panels and classes, and that's all great. However it will never replace the sharing and the (excuse the politically incorrect word) bonding that happens when musicians gather to talk about how they are promoting their music, or what their struggles are.

I have contributed thousands of words over the years to help educate musicians and recording artists about the business of music, but while I was attending today's memorial gathering for Tom Pfaeffle, I realized that continuing to put on 'real world' events has to be in my future plans, not just be a part of my past contributions.

I know all of you who may read this won't be able to attend whatever events I come up with, but I am not the only guy out there who teaches or writes about music business issues for independent artists and bands.

Check out the remarkable work that Bob Baker does for example or David Hooper, Tim Sweeeny, and even Moses Avalon. They all put on some kind of live events all over the United States. In addition go to music business seminars and conferences like SXSW or join NARAS, the Grammy folks, and join a local chapter. They put on events in every city they have a chapter in. (Check out for a chapter near you).

Take my word for it. The internet is great and we can't even imagine what new developments it will offer all of us who love promoting music, but the value of a participating in a REAL WORLD meeting or school or whatever...cannot be replaced.
Shaking the hand of someone, pressing the flesh, as they use to say,IS STILL VERY IMPORTANT today, and will be important forever.

Perhaps someday you will hook up in-person with such a man such as Tom Pfaeffle was. I wish that for you. It will be an experience you will never forget.

Chris Knab

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Says Our Health Care System Is Messed Up? or My Misadventures at Highline Medical Center

An explanation of this Blog: I was recently in the hospital for reasons that will become clear in this blog article. I wrote it for myself, for my family, and loved ones, and also I wrote it to share with any of you that are fed up with the medical care we get in this country. I want to thank all my friends, both those friends who support me in this real life, and the many friends old and new that I have made or rediscovered thanks to Facebook and Twitter. You asked for my story, so here it is:

Once upon a time, or to be more exact, on the evening of Friday, June 19th I was at home making some dinner for myself, and preparing to enjoy an evening of DVD watching when things started to get a bit weird. First, as I was preparing my meal, I noticed that my usual clumsy self was clumsier than usual....I kept dropping things, like my knife and fork, my plate-full of food, and I felt a bit dizzy as well. I tried to ignore all this and went to the living room and sat down in my favorite chair to eat what survived of my dinner. Then, a strange numbing sensation went slowly up and over my right lip and nostril, kind of like a slow lightning bolt that exploded into an even bigger headache at the top of my head.
Right away, I thought of my good friend Jon (who had some even more dramatic experiences of this kind in recent years) so I managed to call him. When he answered I could say "Hi", but not much else. My words were on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn't get them out! I couldn't talk!

Jon immediately knew what was happening to me and said "Chris, go to the emergency room of a hospital NOW". It's kind of hazy what I did next, but I said something like "OK" and hung up and pondered what I really should do. I probably should have called 911, but the symptoms I mentioned earlier suddenly stopped, except for a dull headache and some dizziness. I live in Burien, Wa. which is about 10 minutes south of downtown Seattle, and I knew from previous health issues, that a hospital called Highline Medical Center was only a few minutes away, and I felt OK to drive over to it. Which I did.

Things started out quite well in the emergency room. I barely finished explaining to the nurse on duty what I had experienced at home, when 3 other nurses or aids, put me in a wheelchair and pushed me directly into the emergency care ward, where I was transferred to a gurney and given oxygen while one nurse asked me to re-tell her what had happened. At this early stage things are going well, and I received close attention from the ER staff. After a half-hour or so, an orderly came up to me and said I was going with him to get a cat-scan of my brain. That went easy enough and then I just waited awhile.

Around this time I had reached by cell phone my partner Sue, and she arrived to be with me in the ER. Within a few minutes the orderly guy came back and said that they wanted to do another cat-scan, but this time injecting some dye in my veins so they could see more clearly whatever it was that they wanted to see. This also went quite smoothly. Then I came back to my temporary gurney room and waited. Some things get hazy again as to what came next, but I assure you that up to this point there is nothing for me to complain about. However, I will learn MUCH in the following week, that I had suffered what is called a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or "mini-stroke", or really a "warning stroke".

I was NOT told that in the ER but when they got ready to release me, that is what was written on the release form for the diagnosis. I was told to take Meclizine, 3x a day as needed for dizziness, and 1 Aspirin tablet a day, and to see a neurologist on their campus the following Monday at 1pm. They gave me a handout with information on what a TIA was and how long they usually lasted, but NO ONE talked to me about what a TIA was and how dangerous it had been, NOR that behind all this was the fact that my blood pressure was VERY high. No blood pressure medicine was given to me at that time, by the way. They did administer a shot of something or other to help my headache, which it did temporarily.

So, Sue and I left and went home. I had a lousy weekend over the 20th and 21st of June, with mega headaches and continued dizziness. And yes, I took my 1 aspirin a day as well.

Monday comes around, and things start to get interesting.
I drove myself over again to Highline for my 1pm appointment with the Neurologist. As I am
walking up the stairs to his office, my headache and dizziness return and are quite pronounced as I sit in his waiting room. When he comes out to call me into his office I tell him right away about my pounding headache and dizziness. He takes my blood is 180/120!! Not good. He tells me immediately that he is sending me back to the ER. Then some drama occurs, as he calls for help to get me to the ER and eventually 3, (count 'em three) firemen arrive to give me oxygen, put me in a wheelchair and take me to the ER.

Little did I know that my stay in the ER this time would last for 25 HOURS!!!

After being admitted to the ER for a second time in 3 days I am told that my neurologist will be coming to see me, and when he arrived he said he wanted me to have an MRI to follow up on the cat-scan.

(OK...time out for some essential background information). You see, when I was a kid from about the age of 10 to 18 I was a sick kid. For almost 8 years I suffered horrible headaches and bloody noses- not from fighting by the way-and my balance was way off. My parents did all they could to get medical help for me, but being the early 1960's the medical equipment to explore any head or brain issues was scarce to say the least. So, my symptoms would come and go throughout my childhood, and it got so bad that after exhausting all neurological avenues to find out what was causing all my pains, everyone involved with my health gave up, and actually told my parents that there was nothing wrong with me. I just was faking it because I didn't want to go to school. Hmmm. Anyway, in 1963 during a relatively good health period, I actually joined the Air Force. I didn't last long, barely 3 months, when all my symptoms described earlier returned with double intensity. So, what did the Air Force do with me....why they released me from being an Airman, and sent me home, whereupon another attempt was made to diagnose me.

Well, finally in August of 1963 I found an amazing brain surgeon who had the insight. if not the technology to take a chance on his hunch I had a brain tumor. On August 12th, 1963 he operated on me, and after 20-odd hours in surgury he found a benign brain tumor the size of a large chicken egg in my brain, and removed as much of it as he could. He saved my life is what he did.)

Now, over the years I have had many reasons to keep track of the remaining part of the tumor, to see if it was growing back or causing any other problems, and so as medical technology progressed, I have had around 8 or 9 MRI's. I am use to them, to say the least and all of them have shown all is well in my noggin.

We now return you to Monday, June 22nd at Highline Medical Center. The neurologist who was dealing with me requested a MRI, as I said earlier. However an unforeseen problem pops up. It seems the cat-scan technician who on the previous Friday night had taken the two cat-scans tell the neurologist doctor that he cannot do an MRI on me because the catscans showed that I had a metal clip in my brain! " I have a WHAT?," I say. I turn to the doctor and the technician and say that is impossible. With over 8 MRI's taken in the last 40 odd years, wouldn't you think someone would have noticed that before? An MRI machine is a giant magnet. If you have any metal in your head, that metal would be attracted to the magnet, and as has been explained to me, the metal object would tear away from the brain matter in my head, which would cause uncontrolled bleeding and simply put ... I would have died 8 times over if indeed I had any metal in my head. This technician refuses to do the MRI. The neurologist is frustrated with him, believes ME, and says quietly to me..." I will get some other technician to do the MRI"...Well, he never did. I never had the MRI at Highline. (By the way, Sue even went home to bring back the copies we have of my last 2 MRI's and the technician at Highline never even looked at them.)

I would like to state at this point, that the diagnosis I was given of having had a "minor stroke" the TIA, was later confirmed by my regular doctor who has been helping me with it since I got out of Highline. My doctor is at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill Campus in Seattle. She told me, after I had told her what I am telling you the reader, that there is a protocol....a set of tests that are mandatory for any patient that is diagnosed with having had a TIA. Highline did NONE of those tests! But, recently in the last week (June-3oth thru July 3rd 2009 I have now had all those tests and we are dealing with what they have shown. More to come on this...lets get back to my misadventures at Highline Medical Center, as things are about to get interesting; if they haven't already.

After the technician refuses to do an MRI on me, I go back to my gurney 'bed' in the ER. I am told several times that I have to stay in the ER because " there are NO BEDS anywhere in the hospital" for me. So, I become what is known in the ER as a "Border", a patient that needs hospitalization, but there is no room in the Inn for them.

I would like to say before going any further that my issues with Highline are primarily with the doctors and decision-makers on staff, NOT with the hard-working nurses, nurses aids, orderlies, or any of the over-worked and under-paid staff. With a few exceptions, the 'troops' working the ER and the rest of the hospital are just that...hard workers with far too much to handle, but doing the best they can. One thing about being in the ER for so long was I was able to see first-hand the many patients that fill that facility and how much work the ER staff does just trying to keep up with the new admittances.

I found out quickly that being a "Border" in ER is a far cry from being admitted to the general hospital patient population, with a real bed of your own, access to 3 meals a day, and a regular routine for being monitored.

I had, in 25 hours 2 so-callled "meals" and I had to beg for something to eat. On the night of June 22nd I finally got around 7pm my first food since being admitted. It was meatloaf with gravy and overcooked carrots, and black coffee. ( I know, I know, what did I expect when it comes to hospital food!) Within an hour of eating my dinner, I had a run of diarrhea. Next up: finding a place to put me so the ER noise and constant activity and lights might allow me to get some sleep. They do push my gurney into a back area of the ER, which was thoughtful of them, but of no value. You don't get sleep in an ER unless they shoot you up with some heavy sleep inducing drug, which I did not get.

So, morning comes, but no breakfast until around 10 am I beg for something to eat....I get a plate with 2 pieces of wet toast, and a cold bland omelet, again with coffee which I don't drink due to the diarrhea from the night before. At around 2pm I ask for a sandwich, and I get what I asked for .... a sandwich (fake turkey).

Ahh, but good news arrives. I needed some, my time in ER included only a short visit from a doctor who did nothing to or for me and my condition, but smiled a lot. The news....they found a room for me!! Hooray!!


I am rolled up to a ward that is used for respiration ailment patients....not my problem, right?, but at least I have a real bed, access to better food, and nurses and orderlies, and nurses aides...actual hospital treatment.

Now, whenever you go into a hospital and are admitted, one of the routines that happens is a nurse comes by at some point and asks you what meds you are taking on a regular basis, so that you can stay on your regime. I have been on a med that I need to take 4 times a day on a low dose. I explain that to the nurse. In fact I explained it several the ER and in my new room as well. So, its time for my night time med, and the nurse comes in with the little pill cup containing my med and says to me: "Here is the 3.75 mil tablet of your medicine you always take. I stop, think, and say " But this is the WRONG DOSAGE, I take 0.5 mil of this medicine 4 times a day and this dosage is 7 times more powerful a dosage than I have been taking for the last 4 years!!!" "Well" she says " THIS is what YOUR doctor prescribed for you in this hospital, and I don't care what your doctor outside this hospital says, when you are in here you take what YOUR Highline Dr says you need to take."

I do not take it. and by the way after I am released I call the physician who gave me the med in question and tell him about this episode. He tells me "thank god you didn't take that higher dosage, you would have found yourself in another ward, and may not have survived."

At this point I could go into the subject of a male orderly making very brazen and obvious passes at me, or I could talk about the poor guy next to me in the other bed who, without warning, and without a bowel movement in over a week, decided to use a simple chair near his bed to take a very large dump. Apparently he didn't know what a kamode was. The stench in my room cannot be described in words....but's a fact, we cannot control who are neighboring bed room-mates will be. That is just part of being in the hospital.

Oh, I almost forgot. the nurse who told me I had no say in my meds, or what other doctors outside Highline had prescribed for me....turns out she wasn't even a nurse!!! She was a respiration therapist, just sticking her nose into my business, with no authority to even deal with meds!

The end is near, dear reader.

Things calm down for awhile. Since I haven't had a bath or shower since I arrived, and I was feeling kinda funky seeing as I was still in my street pants and shirt, with only a gown thrown over me to help keep me warm. (It was roughly 60 degrees in the ER by the way) I asked if I could go take a shower. There was one right next to my bed. Well, the happy orderly I mentioned earlier told me I couldn't do that till the next day, but he would be willing to give me a personal bed-bath if he had time later. I declined, as I also declined his offer to "tuck me in" that night.

At around 1am I am still not able to sleep, and the noise from the hallway is like a party on New Year's Eve, I go out to the nurses station and ask if I am allowed any meds for sleeping. No is the answer, but I am allowed to take one Vicadin....I take it.

Now, get this. It is 3am and all of a sudden the head nurse on duty barges into my room, along with two nurse's aides, turns on the bright lights in my room and shouts out. " Mr. Knab, get out of your bed! We need it for an emergency patient who has just arrived." I'm a bit shaken up, but realize what is going on...I am being kicked out of the room I had only been in for barely 12 hours!. They start touching my personal belongings and packing up my bag and I shout. " STOP,what in the hell is going on here." I walk out to the hallway, and find a doctor, and I recognize him. Actually he was another one of the two doctors who came to visit me in the ER 20 odd hours ago, and actually suggested they start me on a low dose of a blood pressure medicine, and then walked away. But it WAS him. I asked him what was going on, and he explained to me that they needed my bed because it was a special bed made only for certain types of patients that had a particular respiration problem, and there was a patient desperately needing that bed now.

I humbly asked him: "Why did you put me in a special bed made only for certain patients who have a certain type of respiration ailment?" and the doctor says to me: "Well, maybe I shouldn't have put you in that bed". NO SHIT you shouldn't have!

"So what do you plan to do with me now doctor?" I ask. It's 3 o'clock in the morning. No one has really done anything for my problem with the TIA diagnosis, except give me an aspirin and start me on a low dose of a blood pressure med. AND you have a technician who won't do an ordered MRI on me because he wrongly is convinced I have a metal object in my head, which I don't. So, why am I even here. I would like you to release me from this hospital NOW" " Will you do that?"

He said he couldn't do that, and if I left on my own without a doctor's signing my release, I would risk having my insurance company NOT pay the hospital bill.

I asked what he suggested we do now. His answer, with a straight face was:" Well, we can put you in a wheelchair and you can sit in the hall for 3 hours, until 6 am, when a new doctor comes on duty, and ask him to release you."

Sit in a wheelchair in a hallway for 3 hours and wait for some other doctor to show up?! This is medical care from a hospital that puts patient care first, as their motto proclaims.

The next thing I know I am in a wheelchair, and two nurse's aides are wheeling me down a hallway, and all of a sudden one of them says..."lets take a look in this ward, maybe he can stay here". I am pushed into a ward called the Observation Ward. The two nurse's aides look into a couple of rooms, and find a bed open next to another sleeping patient. They turn on the bright room lights, waking up the stunned patient and plop me in the bed next to him and leave.

After about an hour of being as quiet as I can, so the poor guy next to me can get back to sleep, I notice he is coughing and moving around and awake. So, we talk. He tells me his misadventures at Highline and I tell him mine.

Then, I get an idea....I get up and walk down the long hallway of the ward, and funny thing, I look into about 12 rooms, and you know what? All the beds are empty!!! They fucking lied to me the whole time I was in the ER for 25 hours. They had plenty of beds but for some reason refused to put me in one, until I was kicked out of the bed in the respiration ward, which I never should have been in, in the first place.

I go up to the nurse’s station. There actually IS a nurse’s station with a nurse on duty.
I get bold. I say this: "Hi, I'm Chris Knab, the wandering patient and I am now in your ward. I tell you what I want. I hear that a new doctor is coming on duty at 6am. Good. Now I want you to do me a favor. When he arrives, you tell him that you have a new patient in your ward who wants to speak with him and demands to be released from this facility. Then I paused and said to her:" Do you know what I have done for a living most of my working life? Well, I have been involved with the Media. and I have friends in the media".

"The media love a good story, and my experience in this hospital is going to make a great story for the media. So, I want this doctor who comes on duty at 6am to come down to my room, and tell him I want to speak with him ASAP regarding getting out of this place."

I went back to my room. At 6:05 am on Wed June 24th that doctor came into my room, signed my release papers, and lamely apologized for my experience at Highline Medical Center.
"I can assure you Mr. Knab that the type of incidents you have been through are not typical of the care we give our patients. And, I will make it a point to inform the Board of Directors of your situation, and I apologize for everything that happened to you. You are free to go."

I was out of there faster than you can say "We need health-care reform."

And that, kind reader, is the story of my stay at Highline Medcial Center, in Burien Washington, just 10 minutes from downtown Seattle, Washington. I welcome your comments.

Chris Knab

Friday, June 5, 2009

After Using Facebook for a Week

I have always advocated that musicians and bands MUST use Facebook and most should use MySpace as well

However, using Facebook personally never appealed to me. But two weeks ago I took the plunge, and now I can say...for MYSELF...I don't really have the time that so many seem to have to describe their activities on a minute by minute basis (plus even more boring details on their tedious Twitter pages.) I have had some good experiences with it. I actually heard from folks I haven't been in touch with for 20 or more years, and that was 'nice'.

But after making 'friends' with so many of them, I feel burdened down by it. Obligated in some way. I have enough to do as a semi- retired music biz consultant and I don't want to be more engaged or feeling like I HAVE to stay in touch, or say something to my 'friends' since I did indeed sign up and get an account.

I think if I was younger I would be posting like crazy, but I don't want to be busier than I already am.

I am happy being semi- invisible, so to speak, and so I will go back to hiding in my already created digital arenas (website,blog. email,etc.) Hell, I have been on the web with my website,
since 1995! Now that's what I call being visible...I have tons of fans of my writings all over the world, I am not that hungry for more.

Right now, as I said at the start. for any musicians and bands out there needing to promote the hell out of yourselves. Facebook, and yes, MySpace and of course Twitter are all a must.
I think what I will do, is slow down. Ignore my guilt for not wanting to be very social. and get back to doing those things I like to do.

Like: I am writing new chapters for the next edition of my book due late this fall. And...

Big news! I now have the audio MP3 disc version of 'Music Is Your Business' FOR SALE on my site so go BUY IT!! and of course I will spend a lot of time getting the word out on it. It is so cool to be able to rip and burn and transfer my WHOLE BOOK into a MP3 player. Take as much, or as little of it as you reading!! Just Listen and Learn.

So, I guess we all find our balance in this crazy world and I will use Facebook and I will use Twitter....when I have something to say.

Bye for now

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Feel Your Pain

As many of you know, over the last 9 months or so I have recorded the audiobook version of my book "Music Is Your Business: the 3rd Edition".

It is a MP3 audio book, so that you can play it in the NEWEST CD players that are now on the market, OR put it into your computer to play it, and/or rip it so you can sych it to your favorite MP3 player. (i Pod, Creative Zen player, etc) and carry it around with you and listen at your leisure.

But as I went through all the stages...recording to production and editing (with cudos to Andy Boyd of Prescription Audio in Seattle,) to putting together the cover art and all the graphics any CD has to have + the EXTRAS, a free data file of the charts and graphics from the print edition, with more thanks to my graphic artist extraordinaire (Sue Cook of Sue Cook Visuals in Seattle)

I realized that after 30 odd years in the music business, with experience in music retail. independent label ownership, radio station management and teaching music business marketing...that THIS project was my first exploration into experiencing what so many millions of artists and bands have to go through to get their CDs, Music Files and graphics looking great and prepared for the marketplace.

I take my hat off to all you out there for going through this horredous process, and I take back any comments I have made through the years that may have suggested that carrying out all this work to the end is a breeze and no big deal. Well, IT IS a BIG DEAL!

I wonder how many of you lost a relationship along the way, grew weary of the important proof-listening, and proof-reading you had to do, blew-up a hundred or more times with your work partners and apologized even more often to them for your short temper and lack of appreciation of their skills?

Anyway, I have learned a lot by going through all this, and I can assure you that the lessons I learned from putting this MP3 Audio CD out are lessons I wil not quickly forget.

Maybe we should create a special day for these folks. Like there is a Secratery's Day and a Support Your Home Team Day....lets create a Support Your Creative Music Technician's Day!!

I know I have learned a new appreciation for the tedious and laborious work so many creative folks do to get our music projects completed... Here is a toast, in my case, to Mr.Andy Boyd and Ms. Sue Cook. How did you ever put up with all the bitching and moaning I managed to throw out? Oh, I are getting paid for this!.. I guess that could provide some slight motivation. Well, the check is in the of these days. Just give me some time to do what I do for a living....promote and market the danged thing!

Thanks one and all!



Monday, May 25, 2009

Holidays Are A Waste of Time

Bah, holidays!

Who can take time out from twitering, blogging, reading all the Google Alerts that come pouring in?

Not me, and hopefully not you. You're a musician. Either in a band or on your own. The best quote I remember regarding this issue was from a panel I was on at a CMJ conference. (the one that was postponed due to 9/11, and the one that was on the weekend of the anthrax attacks)

Anyway, there were two young girls, from an Irish band there with me (I forgot their names, shame on me) but when we took questions from the audience, someone asked them "You sound so busy, when do you take your vacations?) They turned to each other and said simultaneously
" what vacations"?

Ahh, what a great answer! Really as independent musicians there are no days off. So, when a holiday comes along like this recent Memorial Day weekend, how many of you stopped because you thought you could? It was a holiday!

Wrong...maybe you should think of most holidays way in advance and put on a free show to compete with the all-too-expensive "Star" attractions that are put on all over town. or if you need a time to catch up on any bookkeeping what a perfect time to sit down for a few hours and get caught up.

Ever since the explosion of Interent Marketing, all of us have more to do than ever before!
So, we have another holiday coming up soon...the 4th of July. AND this year it is on a weekend!! Whoa... are you really thinking of taking 3 or 4 days OFF!!!. Yikes i say!

Its not too late to change any plans you have for that holiday and any activities you could come up with to further your career.

Think about it, IF you need some down time, and for sure that IS needed. they don't HAVE to be on a holiday weekend. Look at a calendar and pick some off peak times to rest up, but the thing of it is...the rest of the population HAS to take those typical holidays off to rest up, maybe you don't. Maybe you could entertain some of them, and/or, as I said, take that time to do the backed-up business of paperwork of some kind.

Just a thought, rest up now :-)

Chris Knab

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some Good Things about the Not So Good Ol' Days

I was listening to the latest release of a client of mine today. I won't mention their name due to some of the comments I have to make about it. I don't want to offend them, overall they made a good new release. But there is a big difference between a good record, and a GREAT record.

I would like to share some of my thoughts while listening to their release because as I was listening I was reminded about the music industry I grew up with, and especially some of the good things about an industry that in the 60's thru the 90's was a whole different animal.

You have all heard some stories about all the rip-offs of young, (and old) artists and bands, and how horrible some of the recording contracts were back then. But before I launch into things I want to stress that no matter how many ripoffs there were, or how the business of music was conducted before the dawn of the digital age, there were also some good aspects of being signed to major label, and even the earlier independent labels of era's long gone..

1. When a record label signed an act and gave them an advance to record that record, standing right beside those artists were legions of seasoned music business professionals. From the A&R reps that discovered a new act, to the label brass that approved the signings, to the producers and engineers who recorded them, to the amazing promotional people behind getting them radio airplay or working the distributors and store buyers, and even the talented publicity folks who knew how to make the press excited about an new act. Many of these old school guys had a inherent talent, and that was the ability to smell a hit record, and how to make it a hit.

2. We wouldn't have the rich legacy of amazing music that we do have without this army of talented label reps doing what they do a record in such a way that got that act's songs to become the hits, and played over and over for many months or even years.
The men and women who created the hits of the past had a skill. We used to compliment
these people by saying " So and so has really got ears!" In many ways it was THE compliment to get back then. If you had that ability you stayed employed a long time.

3. So what happened? Why aren't the thousands of new releases I have talked about so much, (over 80,000 new releases in '08 for example) producing as many lasting songs as they used to 20, 30, or even 40 years ago? One main reason is technology. By this I mean in the past, not every musician had the luxury of going into a studio, let alone having their own home studio, or computer software available to record themselves. What I am leading up to is that maybe it isn't all that great that technology has evolved so rapidly that everybody and their sister can and does record themselves, because therein lies a strange phenomenon: Without an experienced music professional, who has the ability to hear in a recording what is right AND what is wrong with a song? Where are we now? We're on our own, and for the most part we don't always know what we're doing.

4. So, back to my first thoughts while I was listening to the new release by this client of mine.
This band, overall, is amazing. The lead singer is a woman with a voice to die for, and they do have experienced musicians in their band who are quite good to say the least. But, and it is a big BUT...what they lack is the 'business sense' of those old guys who could hear in a mix or a demo, or even a finished product, what was right about it and what was wrong with it.

So, I am listening to their new CD and I am blown away by the first track and the second, and even the third tune, and then the momentum stopped. and the next couple of songs are ok, but I found myself losing interest quickly, and around track 7 or 8, I forget which, the amazing lead vocalist doesn't sing, maybe she does a bit of background vocals but that's it. And what do I hear, ruining the whole pacing of the CD...another voice, a male voice, who can't sing for shit dropping in to fuck up the whole record. At this point I stopped enjoying the CD for the most part, and now it is ruined for me. If I listen again I will have to delete that song if I have any chance of liking it again. What happened? I'll tell you what happened...there was no label guy butting in, and stopping the session and saying loud and clear "What is this??!! Why are we recording this limp dick singer with a lousy voice and letting him ruin a very good recording??"

That is what is different today from the so-called good ol' days. Artists are artists, and they are mere mortals with faults like any of us. Except since they can record themselves, even bring in a fairly good producer maybe, that someone or someones in the group is afraid to speak up when the limp dick member of the band comes in with "his" song.

5. That's it. That is what I needed to write about today. Remember my bumper-sticker comment " Just because you can record, doesn't mean you should" In this case I say...bring back the good ol' days!! With all its faults the record industry of old had more say and control of the artist in the studio then they do today, and why is that? Because in those suppodedly good ol' days, the record label was paying for the record. They had an investment in the record, and they wanted the record to be a hit. Because financial rewards are an important reward and an significant measure of success and satisfaction for everyone associated with the record.

Everyone today who is recording their own music can learn a lot about what to do with that recording, during the studio process, and all the way down the marketing phase of the project.
Do you have the "ears" to hear what is right or wrong for your recording? That's the question isn't it. Watch your egos folks. or pick someone you trust to watch it for you. It will be worth it in the long run.

Chris Knab
copyright 2009 all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who Can You Trust?

Who Can You Trust
by Christopher Knab (copyright 2009) all rights reserved

I am what is known as a 'Music Business Consultant' and I was just talking with a former student of one of my Seattle-based music business courses I give several times a year. It is a 6 week course that meets once a week for 3 hours. It is a primer course created for musicians and bands who are new to the independent way of marketing and promoting themselves. I often use the analogy that I am the first stage of a potential 3-stage rocket, and my work and passion is to help new acts get 'launched' so to speak. And if they are fortunate through a lot of hard work, talent, and luck to begin to attract more and more fans to their growing email lists, then I feel I have done my job...pure and simple.

But not all consultants, teachers, or even potential managers have the same goals as I do.
Sadly there are a lot of music business professionals, (or former music business professionals) out there who do not share my goals or ethics, and can be very aggressive about promising young acts the world.

" Hey kid, I really think you got something there, and I really want to help you get to the top. For only $600 a month I can promise you that you will have my full attention, if you agree to let me help you and sign this simple contract with me, that will protect both of us."


" I have been to several of your gigs now, and you are, in my opinion, just a few steps away from stardom. I have so many connections in this business that I know I can really help you out.,,,sure there's going to be some costs involved, and I am willing to reduce my usual fee from $1000 a month to only $750 a month. Now you have to understand. I am going to be here for you and help you fight the good fight, but I have to make a living if I am going to be spending most of my time focused on your career. So check out my contract and don't worry about things...Your music is great, and I'm not just saying that, so whad'ya say...lets find a way to help each other out and get your career kick-started."

I have heard variations on the above examples for years.

So, what should you do? How can you tell if someone approaches you and overwhelms you with flattering comments?

1. Check their backgrounds out.
2. Who have they helped become a star? AND what do people who have worked with the person have to say about their experiences working with that individual?
3. What are their real intentions as a consultant, or manager? What is THEIR motivation to be working with new acts?

What I tell people is what I said above: I like to help inexperienced artists and bands learn that there is a business surrounding any popular music. That the music industry is business oriented, and these days start-up acts should take the time to learn some basics about the business of music. More than any time in the last 100 years, musicians and bands MUST learn how to promote, market, and sell themselves mainly to a focused or niche group of music fans that might enjoy their unique style of music.

Also, these days, it is all about making and keeping relationships going. I say that over and over. Many independent and alternative acts get this and are using the Internet and all the amazing tools available to them, but not enough new acts are doing this.

Another thing I want to point out... When I am asked by a musicians "What do you think of my music", I cringe when I hear that question. I turn it around and ask the act " Why do you care if I like your music, I am not your customer, or potential fan" Too many start-up bands and solo performers get disappointed when some current label guy or a veteran of the music business wars tells them that they don't get their music. WHO CARES IF WE DON"T LIKE IT!

The point is... too many young acts think 'old school'. What they should be doing is playing a ton of live shows wherever and whenever they can,,,,THEN they will find out if their music is "good" or not.
Your audience will tell you if you are good or lame, and they are the only ones that matter me on this. If you get a good response from an audience and your gigs attract more and more fans, guess what? .... Now you have something to build on. The same goes for any online
promotional activities you experiment with. Whether it be a growning number of hits on your website, or more downloads or ' listens' you get on social networking sites, Those are the responses that REALLY matter these days.

And that is how I like to work. This is just me, but getting a career started should begin with attracting a fanbase, and as you do so, a funny thing happens...breaks start to happen for you. Things begin to happen!

So how does this rant apply to me and my career as a music business consultant or how does this rant apply to finding a great teacher. There is an old saying:" When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive"

This is how I try to talk to my students and clients. I like to " pop their balloons" so to speak. Just talk straight with them about this crazy business and what their expectations are. If I can convey that in a consultation or a class I am teaching, I feel I have done my job to help them get that first stage of a career-rocket off and running.

You many think this posting has only been a long ad for my services. Believe me or not, but that is not the case. I just get fed up with too many jerks out there promising the moon to new acts.
These types of 'Flim-Flam' men and women are more into exploiting young acts rather than trying to nourish them. They speak with righteous gibberish about how they value their clients so much, they are like 'lost sheep' and the Flim Flammers are the act's shepard....

Yuck! gives me the chills just writing about these folks. I say this: carry a fully charged 'bullshit detector' on your person at all times!! That will pay off more than handing over $600 or $750 dollars a month to someone you don't even know.

This goes for checking me out as well, why should you trust me if you don't know what my philosopy is or what my intentions are?

Good luck and trust your gut. It rarely lets you down.

Chris Knab