Rendezvous Music by Matt Leigh

“Easy listening,” “instrumental pop,” “lite jazz,” and “elevator music” are just a sampling of the ways in which “Smooth Jazz” is often classified. Smooth jazz typically features one primary lead instrument or vocal, accompanied by a standard pop arrangement. “Many songs are simple, and/or by-the-note, instrumental arrangements of pop songs.” The format tends to fit radio programming nicely, in that, most songs fall under the 4-minute mark in length. This comes as no surprise considering the format is said to have been created by radio itself.

“Smooth jazz, was literally created by radio. Indeed, the birth of the term is said to have happened during a focus group held in Chicago, as a marketing research group sought to find the right label to sell a new brand of easy-listening music being played on radio in the ’70s. Thus, smooth jazz is more of a format or branding device than as an actual organic musical style. And smooth jazz artists have long been seen as joined at the hip to the stations that play their music.” – Jim Harrington, The Oakland Tribune.

Because of its inception in broadcast radio during the early ’80s, major labels began signing smooth jazz artists in an attempt to profit off of the new mainstream radio format. In recent years, however, the smooth jazz format is widely being replaced with more appealing radio formats, like classic rock and R&B. Despite this shift in programming, a number of independent labels are finding success with their roster of smooth jazz artists. Continue reading

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With a name like Broken Bow Records most people would shy away from it, but Broken Bow is anything but Broken! Today Broken Bow is one of the most successful Independent record labels on Music Row. With artists on its roster as James Wesley, Kristy Lee Cook, up and coming Dustin Lynch, and their most successful independent artist Jason Aldean who has had a total of six number one country hits, with songs such as “Hicktown”, “Why”, and “Amarillo Sky” just off of his debut album that was certified Gold in 12 weeks and soon after was certified Platinum.

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Hopeless Records By Andrew Burton

By: Andrew Burton

History: Louis Posen and Hopeless Records

Three years after Louis Posen left California State University-Northridge from studying film, he had been doing assistant work as a director. In 1993, he directed a NOFX music video and was dared by the California band called Guttermouth into opening up his own record label. As he was pondering the thought of this new idea, he went out and bought a book called “How to Run an Independent Record Label.” He took $1,000 and gave it a shot with no set or solid plan. Louis Posen opened Hopeless Records in 1995 and made it his full time job. He hired his first team member Darren Edwards and they signed 88 Fingers Louie, Funeral Oration, The Nobodys, Falling Sickness, and Digger. Continue reading

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The Commuters Project By Andrew Ferguson, Cory Smith, Paul Keiss, and Will Strickland

The Commuters – New York, NY
The Commuters are a relatively new band, playing their first show in late 2010. They released their first EP in August and have completed a full length album scheduled for official be released in early 2012.  Their first video, “As I Make My Way,” has recently appeared on mtvU.

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Team Jenn Bostic: Alicia Adams, Britney Simmons, and Susanne Smith

Jenn Bostic Change

Artwork for Jenn's new EP! Click on it to go to her website.

We feel blessed to be able to work with the wonderful and talented Jenn Bostic this semester. She has taken our advice and run with it, yielding some great results! Here are those results, broken down by social media property:
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Tomas Doncker: The Power Of The Trinity by Desiree Blevins, Sam Kerley, & Jessica Dover

Since the beginning of the Fall 2011 Semester, the Cyber PR ® class at MTSU has been working in conjunction with Ariel Publicity helping several artists create and expand their online presence. Our group, which consists of Jessica, Desiree, and Sam have been working with Tomas Donacker a Singer, Songwriter and Producer who just released his latest album at the beginning of November.

Although, Tomas has been making music for the last 20 years, this assignment was to help him gain an online presence and promote his recently released album Power of The Trinity. The album which has an “afrobeat and soul” feel to it also incorporates a heavy Ethiopian vibe. In fact, Tomas credits Selassie who was a defining figure in the Ethiopian society, as a prime influence of the album.

Power of the Trinity video contest

For Tomas Doncker’s Youtube contest we decided to use an idea that Tomas was already doing called “From The Couch” and created a contest. Originally Tomas would post a video on Youtube every once in a while of him sitting on a couch and jamming out to music. There was so much opportunity for Tomas to engage his fans but it was left untouched so we took it upon ourselves to come up with a way to engage his fans. We did this by creating a contest that asked the fans to upload a video response of themselves rocking out to one of Tomas’ songs, hopefully using a song from his new album, Power of The Trinity. We invited them to do this through Twitter and Facebook. Below is a video explaining what the fans need to do!

Tomas Video Contest

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The Ryan Michaels Band Experience by Rachel Cunningham and Eric Richter

          Ryan Michaels is a California-born but Nashville-dwelling man of rock.  Personable, talented, and hard-working, he is the ideal front man for any rock band, especially for one named after him.  The Ryan Michaels Band has become one of Music City’s premier rock music performers.  This past summer, the group won two Nashville Independent Music Awards for Best Pop/Rock Band and Best Live Rock Performers.  Armed with positive messages and a great pop-rock sound which rivals similar artists with mainstream air-play, RMB has the drive and the skills to stay relevant and on top of the game.

Ariel Hyatt, owner of Ariel Publicity and the brain behind Cyber PR®, and Professor Charlie Dahan teamed up this fall to teach 18 lucky (or just skilled in the art of registration) students Cyber PR ® at Middle Tennessee State University..  Cyber PR ® is a form of online marketing which is geared towards musical artists but can be applied to an array of products or services..  As a client of Ariel Publicity, RMB had the option to assist the class for hands-on Cyber PR ® projects.
The Team: Rachel Cunningham, Eric Richter & the Ryan Michaels Band
The Cyber PR ® Marketing Strategy
The Research: Our first step was to get to know RMB and their music.  The band is originally from San Francisco but they have made a strong name for themselves in the Nashville rock music scene.  They have a sound similar to Daughtry, Bon Jovi, and Shinedown.  They are well known for their strong lyrical content and the positive messages found in their music.  The single off of their most recent album, “Live Is For The Living,” is a prime example.  The video for the single tells the stories of real Nashvillians striving to live better lives. RMB is about personal connection.  Ryan Michaels said “We want to connect with our audience in a way that makes them feel uplifted.”  Actually, one of our obstacles during the project was because of this.  We used email and Ryan prefers a phone call or a Skype session.  It is hard to argue that that is a “problem.”  An artist that wants real face-time and to connect on a more personal level is a great thing. Once we hammered out our small communication misunderstanding, it was smooth sailing.
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May McDonough & Company (by Angela Walton, Jeremy Randolph & Jacob Allen)

Over the past few months our class has been conducting research and learning about various social media marketing techniques in order to help us create online marketing campaigns for artists who are clients of Ariel Publicity, a New York-based company run by CyberPR® guru, Ariel Hyatt. Recently our 3-person team, which is composed of Jacob Allen, Jeremy Randolph, and myself (Angela Walton) has begun creating and conceptualizing those campaigns.

We began our 6-week online marketing campaign once we were assigned an artist. The company chose to pair us up with Los Angeles/Orange County-based band May McDonough and Company. The band is headed by lead singer May McDonough. If one had to describe the music the band makes one would tell you that it is filled with soulful, almost jazz-like lyricism over what the band calls a cacophony of sounds created by anything from bicycle parts to trumpets.

After being paired with this wonderful band, we then spent several days pouring over pages and pages of a marketing plan created by Christina Duran, head of CyberPR® Urban. After looking over the plan we created our own plan of attack.The team was tasked with creating a social media analysis.  The social media analysis gave an overall assessment of the band’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Channel. We then provided suggestions on how the band could more effectively utilize each platform in order to increase its overall social media presence. Throughout the analysis we provided the band with ways in which we would measure the overall effectiveness of this campaign. Continue reading

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Daniel Levi Goans Project with Holly Cunningham, Zac Ingraham, and Justin Stutzman

Daniel Levi Goans

After seven years of touring and writing with Nashville based outfit The War, Daniel Levi Goans recorded Choice Cannonballs in the heat and humidity of a North Carolina summer in the very basement where he discovered his love for playing music as a child. His early explorations of the piano evolved into an attempt to capture the rich tradition of American folk. The songs are stripped down tributes to the folk storytelling tradition with sparse soundscapes that evoke the feverish density of the summer in which it was recorded.

Daniel’s second solo release, BrotherStranger, looks into the loneliest moments of human experience with a piercing gaze that weaves them into a place of tenderness and safety. These meditations are nestled in a poetic cadence that resists modern cynicism and fragmentation while harkening to a place in our hearts and our heritage that recognizes the sacred nature of narrative. Intrusive in his hope and with penetrating confidence, Goans leaves a peace in the footsteps of his voice, a suggestion that while beauty is often well hidden, it is freely found.

As members of the Cyber PR ® class at Middle Tennessee State University, Daniel’s team, consisting of Holly Cunningham, Zac Ingraham, and Justin Stutzman, has undertaken three main tasks in order to improve Daniel’s social media presence and increase his fan base. Together, we aim to develop a functional, professional website for Daniel, streamline Daniel’s Facebook fan page, and increase Daniel’s placement on podcasts.  Continue reading

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Metal Blade Records by Randy Molnar

For nearly thirty years, Metal Blade has been aconsistent proprietor of hard rock and heavy metal music. They have unleashed such bands upon the world as Metallica and Slayer, and show no signs of slowing down. But how did this all start?

Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records was founded by Brian Slagel, a young man with a hunger for something new in a mainstream world and a deep love for heavy music. Working for Oz Records by day and writer for The New Heavy Metal Revue by night, he gained approval for his Metal Blade project in 1979 when he asked some distributors if they would be interested in circulating a metal compilation Slagel had developed. Their acceptance of his proposal started a whirlwind of projects that would help shape the future of metal around the world.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games when the label first started. Brian was putting in 17 hour days between Oz Records and compiling artists for his first release entitled The New Heavy Metal Revue presents Metal Massacre. Some artists featured in this release included Ratt, Black ‘N’ Blue, and a little known band by the name of Metallica. However, when Metal Massacre was released, Brian had little intention of turning it into a label. After three years of strenuous solo work, Slagel hired engineer Bill Matoyer, who offered to help in any way possible. With Matoyer’s hiring, the flood gates officially opened and Metal Blade was born. Now, here we stand; 27 years late, and Metal Blade continues to pump out large numbers of quality artists. The foundation of Metal Blade continues to look after the best interests of the artists first, and the label itself second. Metal Blade’s explosion into the business it is today started in the 1980s with the eruption of hair metal into the music scene. It was at that point that Slagel and Matoyer decided to join forces with a larger distributor, since Enigma, their distributor at the time was facing bankruptcy. Warner Brothers Records and Distribution then entered the picture. Unfortunately, Warner’s paring with Ice-T, author of Cop Killer strained the relationship due to added censorship imposed by Washington DC police. Warner Brothers attempted micromanage the releases of Metal Blade bands such as GWAR in an effort to appease the United States legal system. Metal Blade decided it was time to part ways with Warner Bros, and in the process also said good bye to The Goo Goo Dolls who would be the only artist to release a gold or platinum record while signed with Metal Blade.

Not all was bleak in the world of Metal Blade Records, and they would not go down quietly. In fact, they continued to make even more noise when they discovered Slayer, a band out of southern California who made their start by performing cover songs in small bars and venues. The controversy that surrounded Metal Blade from then on would circulate for years. Slayer brought to the table thrashing riffs, driving beats, and proclaimed Satanic lyrics and screams, as well as an image of a darkness few had seen at a rock show. Under Metal Blade, Slayer released their first two albums and a pair of EPs. Slagel, instead of choosing to attempt censoring Slayer, chose not to interfere, in spite of his proclamation to Christianity. The path paved by Slayer would open the door to many metal artists who followed.

To this day, Metal Blade continues to let the artist be the artist, and as a result, metal fans are getting what they’ve asked for. As I Lay Dying, currently signed to Metal BladeNearly 100 artists are currently associated with Metal Blade, and the vast majority of them fail to disappoint. Metal Blade remains consistent in releasing bands in the new wave of heavy metal; such bands as Between The Buried and Me, As I Lay Dying, The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, Amon Amarth, and Unearth. This powerhouse of a band lineup continues to advance the horizons of modern day heavy metal. The label only continues to expand, and now owns subsidiaries in Germany, Japan, Canada, and the UK as well as its founding office in Agoura Hills, California and an office in Arizona. Many bands from around the world have signed with Metal Blade, and more will continue to sign with the prosperity of independent labels on the rise.

Metal, Arise!

So what is metal blade up to now? They are currently distributing their music through the likes of Sony/BMG. Recently signed to the label is Glorior Belli, who will release their album “The Great Southern Darkness” this fall. Metal Blade has unleashed a plethora of Billboard Top 200 artists including Job for a Cowboy, Whitechapel, and the very first on the label to achieve this feat, Fate’s Warning. Announced recently were the tour dates of the Metal, Arise! tour, a concert series featuring up and coming metal blade artists  including The Devastated, Allegaeon, and The Browning in 14 cities, including Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. It is Brian Slagel’s belief that metal will make a second run at prosperity. The one downfall Slagel sees with this scenario is the possibility of a major label intervention, where they may step in and sign metal acts that, under normal circumstances would sign with Metal Blade. Aside from this potential, but uncertain scenario, it looks like all is well in the world of Metal Blade Records.


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