One Final Dispatch from Singapore: It’s the Song, It’s the Song, It’s the Song

I’m just about to fly home from Singapore where I spent a profitable number of days at the Music Matters conference, part of which included something called The Academy, a chance to artists from around the region to get some serious mentoring and advice about how to maximize their chances in the music biz.

The Academy was conducted largely by a contingent from Coalition Entertainment, the Canadian management group from Toronto who oversees the careers of Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan, Finger Eleven and many others. They also run the very successful Artist Entrepreneur Program, an intensive schooling in how to be in a band.

The Academy sessions in Singapore involved sessions on songwriting, touring, band psychology and many other topics with much of the advice coming from some top-flight extras.

(Hint:  If you’re a songwriter, you must MUST read Ralph Murphy’s book, Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting.  Learning things like how to “play the pronoun card,” how to effectively title a song and why you need to pay attention to BPMs will change your life. Trust me.  

After hearing Ralph speak twice I suddenly have way, way more respect for–wait for it–Taylor Swift.  Ralph deconstructed her music beautifully and now her commercial success makes all the sense in the world to me.)

Another mentor parachuted in for the event was Seymour Stein, the legendary co-founder of Sire Records and the man who discovered and/or first signed the Ramones, the Talking Heads, the Smiths (for America), the English Beat (ditto), the Pretenders and some woman from Detroit named Madonna.

The Coalition guys asked me to conduct the public interview with Seymour since he and I have crossed paths many times over the last few years.  (He took me to a punk club in Beijing in the middle of the night once. That was…surreal.)

Seymour spent more than an hour telling his story of struggles, successes and failures, dating back to when he got a job at Billboard magazine at age 12.  In the end, though, his message to the artists could be summed up like this:

1.  It’s the song.

2.  It’s the song

3.  It’s the song

Yes, you have to prepare to work hard, take care of business, be in it for the long haul, etc. etc. etc., but if you don’t have The Song, you have nothing.

Seymour is also very, very high on Asia because he believes that this is the region that will generate the most global breakout artists in the near future.

Gotta go.  They’re calling my flight.  Thirteen hours to Heathrow, all in economy, of course.  Then another 8 to Toronto in the back of the bus.  But given what I heard/saw/experience here this past week, it was all worth it.

Our interview was videoed by the Music Matters people.  When it comes online, I’ll make sure yo give it a post.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38542 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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