Does Listening To Music Increase or Hinder Productivity?

This is a debate that’s been going on for as long as I can remember, especially in schools and in the workplace. Everybody has their own way of working of course, some prefer complete silence whereas others want a full on rock concert going on in their office.

There has been test after test to determine what the “right answer” is and it seems like there is never going to be anything completely definitive – the correct answer purely depends on the person and the situation.

For exmaple, I find that listening to music whilst I work helps me focus on the task at hand (like writing this post) and block out everything else around me – l’ve also used music to help my memory when it comes to subjects that I’m rubbish at like Maths. My Maths tutor at college was amazed at the affects music had on me, suddenly something  I couldn’t do 10 minutes ago was as simple as 1 2 3 (no pun intended but feel free to laugh.)

Now seems like the right time to introduce you to an infographic created by WebPageFx, an internet marketing company. I discovered it from an article on the Linkedin Business blog and was both pleased and blown away by the numbers, have a look:

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As you can see from the above, the overall concensus is that listening to music whilst you work is the best thing for you to do. Lately I’ve been making the effort to read up on music and the brain and am putting a lot of time into showcasing the importance of music therapy for those with mental illnesses. Music has incredibly positive affects on the human mind – the infographic shows that increased concentration and productivity is one of them.

Of couse there are people that can’t work with music in the background which is fine. Sometimes I have to turn it off because I’ll find my musician’s brain taking over and I’ll start analysing the song, it’s a habit of the job I suppose – but 9 times out of 10, I can’t survive those 2000 word Music Education essays without rocking out to my favourite aritsts!

What does your experience with music and productivity look like? Leave your thoughts and lets discuss!

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The Ex-Factor: Is Simon Cowell Losing His Grip Of The Music industry?

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Music industry mogul Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is one of the most influential and famous music industry moguls in the world. He has dedicated his life to building solid brands such as his label “Syco” and worldwide talent competitions like The X Factor,American Idol and two “Got Talent” programmes in the U.K. and U.S.

The success he has acheived in his career cannot be disputed. However, in recent years it has been no secret that rating on all of his shows have dropped significantly, it even looks like The X Factor UK is getting either axed completely or given a complete overhaul by Simon and his team.

THE X FACTOR: Logo.
THE X FACTOR: Logo.

Well, that looked like the plan anyway. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be gaining the backing that Mr Cowell had hoped for. This coupled with the ever dropping ratings and the recent shocking news of girlband “Little Mix” parting ways with Simon’s label “Syco” really has made me start to wonder if the music mogul is losing his touch and influence within the music scene.

Although he has been known to give stars the breakout they have been waiting for (Louisa Johnson, One Direction and Olly Murs are the top three examples), his shows have also been plauged with negative press, with accusations of fixing and many former contestants  openly speaking about the fact that they had no control over their song choice during the audition process and at other stages in the competition.

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Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium – Arrivals Featuring: Louisa Johnson Where: London, United Kingdom When: 11 Jun 2016 Credit: WENN.com

In my mind, there isn’t really any use for shows like X Factor and Got Talent anymore. The shows have become less about talent and more about commical acts gaining airtime to drum up ratings, Simon has lost sight of what the music industry is about and is ruining careers before they’ve even started in some cases.

Furthermore, musicians and artists are becoming increasingly aware of how easy it is to release their own music without the need for a contract with a big label. I think that this will be the ultimate cause for Cowell’s downfall.

 

He has created success stories I won’t deny that. Equally, he has used artist’s lack of knowledge to take advantage of them during the most crucial time in their career. Simon isn’t the only selfish big name in the industry, but I think he has made too many mistakes and that his time at the top is coming to an end.

I know he won’t give up without a fight, but a fight means doing desperate things and the first thing that’s going to happen is the increase in low-standard contestants being placed on TV for commical appeal to increase ratings. I for one, am not looking forward to the industry being turned into a circus for the benefit of one person.

Has the biggest industry name become an ex-factor in today’s modern music world? I guess we shall have to wait and see.

 

Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m A Whore?: Everything wrong with Ariana Grande’s latest release

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Ariana Grande comes back into the limelight with new album

After taking a short break from releasing records, pop music sensation Ariana Grande has come out with a new album titled “Thank You, Next.” I was scanning the tracklist earlier today and came across a track with a title that rang alarm bells immediately, it is titled  “Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m Bored.”

The title pretty much explains the gist of the track without anyone having to listen to it. There’s a man that Grande is clearly interested in, unfortunately he is spoken for. Of course you can see where this is going. Sweet little Ariana doesn’t care about the man’s relationship status and basically spends the entire song encouraging him to break up with his partner and be with her instead. She even goes onto sing about how she knows it’s the wrong thing to do, but she doesn’t care because she’s bored.

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Ariana performing with fellow popsar Justin Beiber

I listened to the track as well as scanning the lyrics and let me tell you, don’t be shocked if the act of cheating in relationships becomes even more common and “normal” than it already is. Grande is (supposedly) a role model for many young teenage girls with many youngsters wanting to be a world famous popstar like her. It is due to this fact that many of her fans will soak up the lyrics of her songs as if it were a verse in a holy book. So, if she’s talking about wanting to break up a relationship to get the man she wants, the chances of her fans thinking that this is the right way to go about things is pretty high.

I’m not saying that just because Grande is in the public eye that she needs to write PG material, but writing songs about wanting a man to leave his girlfriend for you because you’re bored isn’t exactly the most positive message to be preaching. This society needs celebrities that use their fame in a responsible way, by encouraging people to be accepting of different cultures, sexualities and genders and writing songs about working hard to achieve your dreams.

Grande is preaching one thing and one thing only; if you want something, spread your legs and wreck some homes to get it.

Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m A Whore – That seems a much more fitting title to me.

I don’t know what has happened to sweet little Disney Ariana, but she has developed all the class and morals of a backstreet sex worker and it’s certaintly not a pretty sight.

 

My Top Five Love Songs

imagesWell there we go, another Valentine’s Day draws to a close. Cards, flowers, chocolates and vairous assortments of gifts have been exchanged between loving couples all day long. Rest assured to those singletons out there, you can come out of hiding, It’s all over for another year and normal serivce has now resumed. With love being so high on the agaenda yesterday, it got me thinking about love songs. I must admit I am a sucker for the ocassional heart-wrenching ballad. With that in mind, I’ve decided to compose my own list of my top five soppy love numbers. In no particular order of course:

1) If You’re Not The One – Daniel Beddingfeild

This is a particular favourite of mine. With great instrumentation, arrangement and lyrics I’m sure most poeple can connect with, it really is almost the perfect love song. Nothing too heavy, just a good old fashion chilled out 00’s ballad with some lovely harmonies thrown in for the musician’s of the world to understand and appreciate.

2) Hero – Enrique Iglesias

Keeping up with the theme of acoustic guitar led 00’s pop-ballads, we dig up this bad boy from the time capsule. Any male singer looking to get the attention of the ladies is bound to have this in their set list, and if they want to really seal the deal – They’ll sing it in Spanish! I have always loved this song at all times of year and you’d best beleive that being the overly-emotional aritst that I am, I’ve sent it to a few girlfriends. A great number, but a track that many would class as a one hit wonder. That is unless you were a huge Enrique fan and had his whole back catalogue.

3) I Found Lovin’ – The Fatback Band

Now we’re heading even futher back in time as we zoom straight back to the 80’s. Instantly recongiseable with its synth intro and lead riff, this is a song I’ve been raised on due to having an 80’s music nerd for a Dad. This is possibly the funkiest love song I’ve ever heard and also had the pleasure of covering in bands once or twice and my god it’s fun being a keys player if this is in the set list!

4) Bless The Broken Road – Rascal Flatts

Most people don’t know this but I am a HUGE country music fan. The level of musicianship and songwriting in most country music defies belief, so much so that it’s inspired me to save for a ticket to Nashville in 2020 – but that’s a story for another time.

Originally written by Bobby E Boyd, Jeff Hanna and Marcus Hummon, this romantic hit ticks every box when it comes to country music writing and is actually one of Rascal Flatts’ highest selling records, peaking at number one in 2004 and staying there for a total of 25 weeks. It could of course be argued that the success celebrated by Flatts’ frontman Gary Levox and co wasn’t actually theirs to celebrate. Nonetheless, the track was a hit and continues to be in most romantic dinner date playlists across the globe.

5) Careless Whisper – George Michael

Alot of people reading will now be groaning and rolling their eyes as I hadn’t managed to dodge the typical George bullet. I’m sorry, okay? I’ve recently started working with a George Michael Tribute band and I’ve offically caught the bug (no, not that one, mind out of the gutter please…) Moving swiftly on and back to the music, everyone on the entire planet who isn’t a toddler or a newborn will recognise the unmistable sax riff that opens this ball of musical cheese up. Often found on the guilty pleasures list if you’re not aged 40 or above, but even the “cool kids” can’t deny it, that sax gets you everytime!

 

And there we have it folks, my top five love songs. Now, as I finish writing this it is 12:36am which does in fact make the date the 15th January thus, Valentine’s Day is no more, lovey dovey couples who are far too fond of PDA can get safely back into their little love nests and normal people can go about their days undisturbed! I like love and affection as much as the next man, but a whole day of it is just a bit too much.

Is The CD Dead (and is it killing the music industry?)

cd-81826_960_720.jpgThe CD or Compact disc has been the most popular form of audio consumption for years, decades even. Everyone remembers their first CD, mine was Mcfly’s “Room On The Third Floor” – A great record that I still own. As time has gone on and generations have succeeded mine, I have started to notice a decline in the purchasing of CD’s, in 2019 people much prefer to stream their music instead of having a physical disc copy.

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HMV have been fighting closure for a number of years.

The rise of streaming coupled with the slow death of brick and mortar music stores such as HMV have made me really question the future of the CD as a viable audio consumption and distribution method. Let’s be real here, what are you more likely to do, add your favorite song to your Spotify playlist for free and from the comfort of your own home OR go out to an actual store and spend money on a CD? Unfortunately, the majority of the modern generation, including myself, would choose option one.

 

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Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming platforms

The only time I’ve even seen a CD in recent situations is if I go to see an unsigned live band and they happen to be selling an E.P of some kind, but even then the band rarely make sales and would be much better off promoting their Spotify handles.

Why has the music and audio industry become so streaming heavy? Purely due to the convenience OF streaming. As stated above, in order for someone to grab the latest tune, all they have to do is add the track to their Spotify playlist with one simple click. Frankly, the modern generations have become lazy in many ways of life and would rather not venture outside and spend money when they can get the music they want online to stream for free.

So, we’ve looked at why the CD is becoming less and less popular, what does that mean for music industry professionals and the music they write, produce and distribute?

Let me start this off by saying that it’s not a pretty picture. It is near on impossible for unsigned artists to make a solid living off of streaming royalties, if you want to make money from your music, you’ve got to think of other ways to do so. I can imagine some of you are skeptical about this so rather than take my word for it, lets look at the actual figures.

Pretty shocking numbers right? What the above image tells me, is that in order to make any form of decent money purely from streams, you have to have serious backing from a label. Obviously, bands at all levels make the majority of their money through touring and merch sales anyway but its a real kick in the teeth for artists knowing that in the streaming world, their music that they’ve worked extremely hard to create, holds pretty much zero monetry value.

I’ve heard the argument that if you want to make money from your songs then you’re better off selling CD’s. My response to that is always that nobody in this day and age is going to buy a phsyical CD when they can just go home and stream the track online. It may be an extremely pessamistic way of looking at it, but no matter what bands do, the reality is there is no money in selling records anymore.  This is the conseqeunce of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

I’d like to wrap this up by encouraging music consumers and fans to support their favourite unsgined bands by going to shows, buying their merch and if they have a CD for sale, by that too! They would’ve slogged in the studio for days, sometimes even weeks to get the record finished, the least they deserve is some form of small finacial reward.

My Top Five Unsigned Artists of 2018

My Top Five Unsigned Artists of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, I want to take the time to reflect on some of the great unsigned or independent talent I have discovered throughout what has been an interesting musical year. This list is in no particular order, it is just a list of unsigned artists I have discovered and really admire.

1) Orla Gartland

45208142_10156052955682956_6301618678601351168_oYou would’ve seen two features of Orla Gartland for the blog this year. I reviewed her latest release “Between My Teeth” recently and also featured her on “Artist Spotlight” when I first discovered her. Since I last wrote about her, she is doing extremely well, releasing new content regularly as well as touring for the rest of the year, I’m excited to see what 2019 holds for Gartland and will be following her career closely.

Listen to “Between My Teeth” HERE.

2) Harry Cash

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Photo Credit: GEth

Musician & Producer Harry Cash has started to make a bit of noise recently as a solo artist, deciding to release a single “Beauty” which was his first solo release in five years. With the help of the mysterious, yet clever “GEth”, Harry has been able to gain lots of exposure and create a big buzz behind his music, receiving requests for signed photos from across the world as well as having regular airtime on local radio. Who knew that gaining himself a new girlfriend would spark such a creative fire inside of him!

Watch the official music video for “Beauty” shot by Reiss Beckford Media and GEth Films HERE. 

3) Harry Adams

accessory harry coverAnother “Harry” who caught my attention this year was the intriguing Harry Adams. The most recent winner of the “Undiscovered Live Music Project” in Essex, Adams has gone on to release a brilliant single in the form of “Accessory” and perform lots of live gigs around London and hopes to continue her studio work across 2019. I for one, am looking forward to seeing what tricks Harry has up her sleeve!

Watch the music video for “Accessory” HERE.

4) Past Kings

36242408_872541842955482_8268561800060993536_nPast Kings are a 4 piece indie rock band hailing from Essex. They are perhaps the most fresh faced band outfit to feature on the blog, still gelling together and honing their crafts as individuals and as a band. Nevertheless, they certainly made an impression on me, especially with their original material and arrangements. They have been rather quiet recently but do have gigs booked and recording time planned so be sure to keep an eye out for these lads!

Stream their latest track “Night Time” HERE.

5) Fortify

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Last but by no means least are Easycore band Fortify. These guys caught my attention when they supported my friends “Fyresky” at Chinnerys, Southend a while back. They too have been in the shadows recently but we are assured it is for a good reason! I intend to go and watch a few of their live shows next year whenever the chance comes up!

Listen to their E.P “Valhalla” HERE

 

The Continuing Death Of Independent Live Music Venues

The Continuing Death Of Independent Live Music Venues

download-1.jpgMusic and live entertainment, it’s one of those art-forms that is timeless. For decades, generations of people have spent their weekends in venues around the country covered in sweat and rocking out to their favourite bands with like minded strangers. Some of the most successful bands have been discovered and watched at “grassroots” venues like The Dagenham Roundhouse.

The Roundhouse has had bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin through its doors before they skyrocketed to super-stardom. I’ve been fortunate to play on this stage once last year on tour with The Signatures, it was a good venue to add my list.

Unfortunately, during my time on stage at The Roundhouse, I noticed one painful thing; independent live music is becoming less and less popular. Is this because of the increasing popularity of social media? pure laziness from the public? money? who knows.. it just isn’t getting any better. Some of the most famous venues like The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden can be virtually empty on some Friday nights, it’s a sad state of affairs.

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The famous Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden

The decreasing popularity of independent live music means a decrease in takings for venues, a decrease in money for the venues means they can’t keep up with their costs, and ultimately, this means the venues have no choice but to close. According to The Music Venue Trust; a third of independent live music venues have closed over the last decade falling from 700 open venues to 400 across the UK.

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My unsigned band Denzeity

Being in an unsigned band, I know the struggle artists go through, I know how difficult it is playing to 15 people and feeling disheartened beyond belief. A few months ago, me and the guys of Denzeity decided to do some pre show flyer-ing as commuters came in and out of the tube station, the amount of people that ignored us and looked uninterested really got to me, people just simply aren’t interested in going to see or support local grassroots bands and venues anymore, they’d rather watch videos on social media. Whilst this does help bands, there is nothing better than having people take the effort to turn out to your show!

The final question I’d like to ask is: Are venues doing enough for bands?

I know some people will read that and scoff. It’s something that needs to be talked about because I’ve had several experiences of venues preaching in their emails that bands MUST advertise on social media to get people through the door, they MUST bring x amount of people blah blah blah and then? make no effort of their own to do EXACTLY that!

This, for me, is also one of the main reasons venues are closing every month. You can’t put all the blame on the public or record labels, your venue, YOUR responsibility!

I’m going to conclude this post with somewhat of a plea; PLEASE go out and support your local, unsigned bands and artists! A ticket doesn’t usually cost much in grassroots venues, a tenner at the max, that’s cheaper (and a lot more fun) than a meal for two! Live music NEEDS to stay alive, its fun, its good for the soul and the mind and the money you spend on a ticket, merch, CD’S keeps people like me being able to carry on gigging and performing for you all!

Go out and see an unsigned band this Friday, you’ll be surprised at what you hear.