being the SXSW enthusiast that i am, and being that i couldn't attend this year's festival, a co-worker of mine let me know about this interview you gave to npr just after the festival. i listened. and then i wanted to viscously box your ears like a victorian-era governess.
you moan about how "there's nothing. there's no more gold bullion. there's no more — unless you're lady gaga — you're trying to make a fast buck in the slow lane." no shit sherlock! have you not been paying attention? what's left of the "music industry" isn't giving out contracts - "gold bullion" - anymore unless you've already done all the hard work yourself. do you think stefani germanotta walked into interscope and said, "hey, i have this crazy idea that others have done before - ya know, like kiss meets madonna - wanna gimme a contract?" and they did it? i think not.
you, with the three major labels you've been on - the three major labels you've released material for - are complaining about what ISN'T at sxsw anymore? whether you took advantage of it or not, you had/have so many more opportunities for success than a vast majority of artists out there. with your father being who he is (leonard cohen), you not only get a top quality education in lyricism that NO ONE ELSE on this planet has access to, but you also have access to the people who's sole job it is to "make" a congenial, yet cool, outside image: presumably a team of professional marketers, promoters, agents, etc. to whom you (i assume) could go to and ask for advice on how to best promote this, or how to make that more palatable to a large audience instead of having to flounder like everyone else does.
what exactly were you expecting to find at sxsw that you don't have or haven't already had? little leprechauns wearing cowboy hats and carrying pots of gold and fans, handing them out willy-nilly? unicorns that poo elves who will give you money and make you feel good about "just being you"?
let's say you were expecting to get a contract with a label at sxsw. what exactly does that mean anymore? labels don't want to give you money for promotion, so, while you may have an advance with which to make a record, who's going to promote it for you? who's going to print posters and man your facebook page and send out newsletters and keep you interactive and relevant with your fans on a daily basis? not your label. YOU.
in exchange only for the money to make your album, you get to deal with a label, a conglomerate of people and boards, who are going to tell you that 4 of your 13 songs aren't acceptable and track 5 is ok, but it needs a little more zip and can't you get me one really obvious song that we can MAYBE get the radios to play so it looks like we're trying to promote you? is that the kind of artistic freedom you were looking for at sxsw?
you know adam, there are a lot of technologies and "movements" out there these days where you can live comfortably (not a favorite word of mine) and still do what you love through the kindness and generosity of fans. sites like kickstarter.com can help you raise the money on your own to fund your record, promotion and maybe even a tour.
for example: matt the electrician, an austin-based artist that i've become friends with over the years, just recently used this platform with screaming success. he initially set up the drive for 30 days with a goal of $8,000, only enough to get the bones of his record off the ground. after a small amount of promotion and THREE days, he had the $8,000. after the 30 day drive period, he had more than $25,000 donated by friends, family and fans to get his record made and do whatever he needed to do to get it promoted. and he gets all this without the strings and demands that traditional labels would put on him.
interesting, no? i guess this is what happens when you work hard and put a little pride in yourself and what you've decided to do for a living instead of leaving it up to others who have only a tiny fraction of the vested interest that YOU have in, oh i don't know, your life - your success.
yes, $25,000 is no pot o' gold, but matt's no lady gaga either. you must have some inkling of how uncomfortable she is ALL THE TIME. those crazy shoes she wears? she wears them all the time. she's the equivalent of christian bale's twins and the chinese magician in "the prestige": she lives her illusion. if you want to give up your essence, your self, for total and complete public consumption as lady gaga has, then do it, and watch the money roll in. but, until then, realize there are sacrifices and hard work that come with creating and having fans and, therefore, creating and having success in the music industry.
so, adam cohen, i'm curious what kind of experience you were expecting, what experience would have made you happy with sxsw.
an avid music fan who hates whiners.