Searching…

med_searching_ver3Recently, the world was dealt the hand of losing another talented musician and rapper Mac Miller due to a drug overdose.  People come in and out of our lives through death, loss of connection, and/or lack of communication.  The film Searching really hits home on how loss can affect us as it focuses on a typical Asian family living in America during the technology age as the teenage daughter (Margot) goes missing mysteriously one evening after a study group.  The father (David Kim) desperately searches through emails, social media, and friends to find out that maybe he didn’t really know his daughter at all.

The story was predominately shot through a computer camera, chat messages, live-streaming, video recordings, and social media platforms such as Facebook.  I think the director really focused in on our obsession with social media and how technology is the center of human interaction.  The fear, paranoia, and hurt that can form when people can hide behind screens and make unruly comments and lie and think no repercussions can come back at them.  The mask you can wear behind a camera or through a chat room can change your perception of what those people’s lives are like.  Who they are?  How they think?  Even their motives for being online and doing what they are doing.

Searching shows what technology has done to our lives – the good and the bad.  It helps to create a mask, a mask which Margot hid behind for so long after her mother passed away from cancer.  Putting on a brave face for her father and moving past the pain and insecurity she felt.  She talked to people online that didn’t know her story, she took solace in the people that would let her vent without judgment, she distanced herself from most of the people that use to be important to her, and she became agreeable and compliant.  Margot became a loner because she didn’t know how to deal with the pain and in turn, it brought her into an even darker situation.

I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but Debra Messing’s character (detective in the Margot’s missing person’s case) has some skeletons in her closet.  Bravo Messing for a great performance!  The character, Detective Vick is very complex in her thought process on what is right.  The script is on point and the best advice that I can give you while you are watching the film is really listen to the dialogue, read everything that is typed, and pay attention to each character’s actions.  You get to understand their personal thoughts and feelings that they don’t share with anyone.  Their interactions, images, and tone of voice when they are talking to one another are vital to the story.  Attention to detail is key to solving the mystery.

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Artist Promotions – Times They Are A Changing

dont-ever-let-someone-tell-you-that-you-cant-do-somethingRiding the metro in Los Angeles you see talent and some people who are just beggars.  Yes, there is a difference between an artist and a beggar.  An artist doesn’t have to say “we are coming around with a hat and dream” after a performance in public.  An artist does what is necessary to improve their art on a daily basis.  It is not about gaining fame, money, or validation, but about crafting their skill.

This past Tuesday, a violinist and a guitarist were playing on the redline.  From the looks of these two young (20-something) African-American men they had just been riding up and down the redline playing popular songs such as The Fray (How To Save A Life), Michelle Branch (Everywhere), The Beatles (Here Comes The Sun).  Their honesty, conviction, and dedication to their harmonies and musical stylings had the train clapping after each song and numerous train riders giving them donations in their beat-up guitar case.  They didn’t ask for donations after each song; they just continued to play consecutively throughout the 30 minutes I road from the North Hollywood station to the 7th Street Expo Line connection.  This on the ground marketing isn’t a new thing, in fact, it was something that was designed before marketing was even considered a job.

So what is it about artist promotions that really creates a superstar like Taylor Swift?  Selena Gomez?  Mandy Moore?  Travis Wall?  Is it timing?  Is it having talent?  Is it hard work and dedication?  Is it having the right branding, marketing or promotions team? Working in event marketing the last few years, I’ve learned that you need a mix of things to make magic happen.  Here are my top five tips to bring your promotions to the next level:

  1.  Advertise Without Advertising – This goes for everything you do as an individual and as a company.  If you are an individual artist you want to show people why they should watch and pay attention.  You shouldn’t need to give a speech before your performance.  Let your talent speak for itself and let the curiosity of the audience make the choice to stop.  If you are a company promoting an event it should be about the people associated with the event (the talent), the people who have attended and their experiences as well as the business relationships you have with sponsors.  Each of these aspects always draws more attendees because they feel like they are missing out, or a new business who sees their direct competition tearing into another market that they haven’t touch yet.  Fear of missing out is a strong promotional tool and it is vital to show that in an advertising campaign.
  2. Be Active On Your Social Media – Yes posting regularly on your social media is important, but when I say be active on your social media I’m talking about interaction.  Following people or businesses that could increase your promotions on other platforms or bring you to the next level as an artist.  Also, interacting with your followers from Q&As to comments to videos that ask what they want to see from you.  As the saying goes, give the people what they want.
  3. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words – Lots of promotional photos and videos are important.  It helps to develop marketing strategies, strong branding, and a cohesive platform on who you are and what you do as an artist or company.  Sit down and figure out what you want to show and present to the world and how you want to be represented.  Set-up photo and video shoots to stage promotional materials and constantly have someone dedicated to social media at events to get live shots and reactions from the audience and participants.  This is what is going to develop that concept of “fear of missing out” to drive attendance in the future.   Think about Coachella, LalaPalooza, or any awards show.  Each event has live streaming/broadcasting, they are constantly posting about the people at the shows and the talent that is performing.  It is always about showing someone something that could be their experience.
  4. The Personal You – Society is obsessed with people’s personal drama.  Think about Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Bachelor.  The one thing about these types of shows is they help you invest in the people as they are sharing personal aspects of their lives to the audience.  Granted all of it is not real and probably a lot of it is staged, but the point I’m trying to make is let people get to know who you are – what you like (i.e. music, films), your friends and family, your favorite places…etc.  People want to feel connected especially if they are investing time and/or money.  Show them more than just your talent.
  5. Attraction – This may sound a little crazy, but bear with me.  No, I’m not talking about how attractive you are as a person, but what individuals are drawn to.  Think about when you see someone saving an animal that is in danger.  You are attracted to someone’s kindness.  Think about a new headshot with colors that make your features pop.  You are attracted to someone’s beauty.  Think about a big open space with no one around but nature.  You are attracted to the freedom.  Promotions are all about attraction.  What makes your audience tick?  What will get them to see the next show?  What will get your next follower to commit to what you put out?  Your audience is comprised of all different people from all walks of life.  You have to know who your audience is to make the impact you are looking for in this world.

In the words of Chris Gardner (Will Smith’s character in the Pursuit of Happyness), “If you want something, go get it.  Period.”

Before The Sun Goes Down – An Album You Need In Your Life

31175If you haven’t heard of The New Respects you need to get on Spotify now and check out their latest album Before The Sun Goes Down.  This family band comprised of siblings Darius, Alexandria and Alexis Fitzgerald, as well as their cousin Jasmine Mullen, was listed as one of the top 10 artists you need to know in 2017 by Rolling Stones Magazine.  Their sound takes you back to the 70s with their electric grooves like Led Zepplin, soul like Aretha Franklin, and catchy lyrics like The Beatles.  Creating a new music genre all their own, they are breaking the mold and rules of what music can be in the 21st century by combining rock, soul, and pop music with acoustic lyrical overtones.

Recently signed to Credential Recordings, the Nashville-based group is making waves with their family affair by taking their positive views on life as well as reaching into society to bring back songs that have heart and meaning from the music to the lyrics.  These refreshing, hard-hitting lyrics are more than catchy pop, but send out messages about strength, challenges, and the push we have to give ourselves every day to be the best versions of us.  In the pre-chorus of their single, “Before The Sun Goes Down” it says:

“Maybe we won’t find the answers every time
But I wanna find a little peace of mind
There ain’t nothing wrong with working over time
So let’s make it right”

Another song that really stood out to me was “Come As You Are.”  It is a slow-moving lyrical wonderland that makes you feel like you are the last person on earth, but that one person who has your back is following you as someone to hold you up when you feel like falling down.

“I’ve been telling you for some time now
You’re not a burden, not weighing me down
So fight that voice that says you’re on your own
You don’t have to do this thing alone”

If you are looking for your music to have a little meaning, a lot of soul, and a dash of a groove, The New Respects have you covered.  Check out one of their videos below to help you get over the middle of the week.  It will have you energized in no time.

TAG! – 5 Grown Men & The Game That Connected Them The Last 28 Years

tagAs we get older, we sometimes lose our inner child.  The part of us that makes us fearless, unwillingness to take no for an answer, and the unwavering loyalty we have to the people we call our best friends.  As a kid, there is no thought process, judgment, or questioning of why we are friends with people; it is more of a way of life.  Moving forward usually means changes to our group of friends, not staying in touch with people that we assumed would be in our lives forever, and huge life adjustments like being in serious relationships or having kids of our own.  The kicker is we subconsciously make those choices by ignoring a phone call, not responding to a text, or deleting an email assuming that the person who reached out will try again.

Recently, I finished watching the movie TAG.  A film based on a true story of five friends that had been playing the same game of tag for the last 28 years.  Seriously, this story was in The Wall Street Journal and a slew of other major publications back in 2013.   These five men had moved to different areas of the country, got married, had children, and were heads of major corporations.  Once a year for an entire month they would show up in random places to tag one another just like when they were kids to avoid not being “it” for another year.  Can you imagine flying 800 miles to hide behind a car or creating an insane disguise just to tag your friend for the sake of not being “it” the next year?  The 11-month strategy and planning that goes into a game that has been happening for 28 years has to keep all of them sharp and a little paranoid but more importantly connected.

The moral of the movie had nothing to do with the game of tag, but more about how invaluable they believed their friendship was to each other.  We have the ability in the 21st century to stay in touch with people that are important to us no matter where they are in this world.  We use life as an excuse.  I’m too tired to text you back.  My kids are more important than responding to this email that will take 5 minutes.  I need to watch the new Game of Thrones episode with my significant other instead of taking this phone call for 10 minutes.  I read an article the other day that said there are 86,400 seconds in a day and the author said this: “Every day we get up we are blessed with this amount of time to connect with the people that matter.  There are no refunds, no exchanges, and no roll-over to the next day.  There are also no guarantees you will be around tomorrow to experience another 86,400 seconds.”

There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year.  Use every second to connect.  Call your best friend from high school for 900 seconds, laugh through text in a college group chat and reminisce for 300 seconds, or spend 1800 seconds with your parents watching a sitcom on T.V.  Use the time that you have to relate to the people that made you who you are in this life.  To every person that made me who I am today – “I like you because you join in on my weirdness.”  I just have one question.  Are you ready to be “it”?

Take Me Back to 2001…

In 2001, I was fifteen years old.  Where every mistake, rejection, and rude comment made you feel like it was the end of the world.  Getting lost in a lyric, a story in a book, a film, my favorite television show, or in the dance studio was my way of dealing with it.  The entertainment industry was my escape, and still is to this day.

Los Angeles is a big high school.  A sea of people craving approval from society.  Hoping that one day they will be accepted into the inner circle.  Every criticism is exactly what Simple Plan fought.  They rejected the normal and craved for people to understand the outcast.  On Saturday night, I got to see one of my favorite bands, Simple Plan, play at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.  It has been 15 years since their first album came out.  It brought me back to a more carefree time.  Remembering how one band or one song can have a such a huge impact on your life.  As I stood in the venue, I looked around at the crowd.  People of all ages from teenagers to adults in their thirties and forties; all affected by the band that was about to take the stage.  To this day, their message hasn’t changed and it still affects everyone that has ever felt like the outsider.

Before Simple Plan took the stage there were two opening acts – Seaway and Set It Off.  Both bands killed it!  Going to concerts like this brings music alive again with strong guitars, energetic drums, and lyrics that fight to give the quiet kid a voice.  It’s not like rap or pop music.  There seems to be more meaning behind rock music that gives it an edge.  It can connect on another level of the developed musical phrasing, the piecing together of the different instruments into a cohesive sound, and the lyrical versing that can help you get lost.  Seaway was the first to step out on stage.  They seem like they are still working on finding their live voice, and how to bring energy to an audience who doesn’t know who they are.  There was a song that really stood out to me and that was “Best Mistake” off of their “Colour Blind” album.  Maybe why it struck a chord was it was the epitome of 90s rock where it sounds like one loud mix of multiple instruments fighting for the lead with an overlay of screaming the lyrics over the guitars.  It brought me back to the night of staying up too late in college where my friends and I were wandering around the streets of a small town singing random songs that we barely knew the words to as we attempted to do piggyback races down the street.  Why I say it was my best mistake?  Well, the night ended with a bloody face (because someone got dropped), a hand being slammed in a car door, and a crying girlfriend, but it was still one of those nights that was the best because it was simple.  We were just a bunch of 21-year-olds having fun on a Saturday night.

Set It Off had so much energy.  If Fall Out Boy and The Summer Set had a baby I’m pretty sure it would have been this band.  The lead singer Cody Carson has the powerhouse voice and talking fast talents of Patrick Stump and the rasp of Brian Dales.  Can we talk about heaven, because that is Cody’s voice.  Set It Off started as a band back in 2008 and even though some members have changed out over the years they have had a solid crew since 2010 which includes, Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont, and Zach DeWall.  One of the best things about going to a live concert is you get to experience new bands that you may have never heard before.  Set It Off was one of those bands for me and their song “Something New” really brought me out of a funk I was feeling that day.  I have been getting lost in my own head lately.  Worrying about never truly being happy.  Never finding that career that I seem to be looking for constantly.  Worrying that those people that love and support me will somehow disappear.  Feeling frustrated that others are moving faster towards a future with that one person that totally understands them.  At least isn’t that how it always feels because of the images that projected all over social media?  The lyrics go:

“I think it, I say it, I write it, erase it,
And break my back so I don’t let you down,
I’m restless and twisted, strung out, addicted
To chasing after picture perfect sound.

And if there’s one thing in my life,
That I’ve been fighting day and night,
Well, it’s my fear of flying standby,
I feel I’ve opened up my eyes,
I shook the nightmare from my mind,
I checked the clock and now it’s my time.

So lemme show you something new,
I need a little revolution,
This could be like a revelation,
Make you see oh that a change is overdue,
Lemme show you something new”

It was like listening to a song that was saying exactly what I was thinking at that time.  Worried about standing still, the need of something new, and being so twisted and strung out from all the thinking that you just want to scream and throw every responsibility out the window.  That excitement to try something that scares every fiber of your being but you do it anyway.  It is time for that push to jump off the cliff.  Is it weird that I thrive on change, but crave the comfort of the people that have known me forever?  It’s almost like wanting to try different things, but know that a safety net is going to catch you if you fall flat on your face.  After hearing “Something New” I had to watch the music video and that thought process of wanting your friends by your side that you trust indefinitely while doing something scary, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore to do something new.

When Simple Plan stepped on stage the crowd went crazy.  It was like the fire was finally ignited and the audience was ready to get lost in a song that they knew.  The band played their entire first album cover to cover including the song that really skyrocketed their career  “I’m just a Kid.”  It was a song that was really ingrained in my high school years like Green Day’s “American Idiot” album.  The years 1998-2006 were the years of the rock and punk bands.  It was like guitar exploded on the radio – Simple Plan, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Fountains of Wayne, Bowling for Soup, Offspring, Blink 182…etc.  It was the years of thought-provoking lyrics, music that you felt understood your angst as a teenager, and those fun tunes that you would sing randomly with your best friends when you locked yourself in your bedroom as you danced around jumping your bed as your parents yelled at you to turn down the noise.

Living in Los Angeles has been an adventure the last few years.  Unlike going to other concerts on the east coast where you talk to those strangers that you don’t know because you have the same favorite song, and make new friends with those people standing next to you all night, where everyone has a tendency to stick to their own group that they came with at the event.  It’s like sticking to the status quo and if you talk to that person next to you then you might not be the coolest one the in the room anymore.  Simple Plan played a few songs that were off their second album – “Crazy” and “Welcome To My Life.”  Both were popular back in 2003 and are still an anthem for every emo kid to ever exist.  When they began to play the song “Crazy” it got me thinking about life in LA.  The conversations that you overhear about money, dating, and lifestyle.  I haven’t met very many real people out here.  It seems like the whole city is masked which makes it difficult to make friends because you don’t know if someone wants to become friends with you because of what you do or where you work, or if it is because they actually like you as a person.  The city is very materialistic.  It is more important about the car you drive, what you wear, and what you look like than about who you are as a person.  I think when Simple Plan played that song “Crazy” it really went above everyone’s head in the venue.  Did anyone in the audience really understand it?  That it is about people, and caring about people and the person that we are as individuals.  Maybe someday LA will open up their eyes, but for now, I leave you with “Crazy.”