Why is “Blurred Lines” so popular?

Screenshot: Ryan Glaspell

For some the answer is obvious, for others, it’s a burning inquisition that ceases to be answered. What is it about the Marvin Gaye-esque, groovy single off of Robin Thicke’s new album that is generating such a huge response? The censored and uncensored(NSFW) music videos combine for over 200,000,000 views. Sure, the scantily clad models prancing around help those numbers, but what about its chart success? “Blurred Lines” recently broke the record for the longest reigning song on Billboard’s R&B charts, stealing the throne from Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.”

Is it because the song is so musically brilliant? Maybe Robin Thicke paid buckets of money for great marketing and advertising. Others may say the go-to solution of, “it’s the illuminati!” More than likely, the success comes from a more than one source.

If we pull ideas from modern society, we could attribute it to a number of things.

Check the social media.
Notice those colorful, bold hashtags at the beginning of the music video? Functionally, they don’t directly serve a purpose. People can’t click on those or search for them. What it does, though, is throw the bait out there. Step one: you watch this catchy, slightly (or severely for the NSFW) controversial video. Step Two: you do what anyone from this generation does, tweet about it, and they did.

Three heads are better than one.
Robin Thicke has been floating around the charts for years, but “Blurred Lines” marks his first #1. It also marks his first collaboration with T.I. and his second with Pharrell. I discussed the advantages of collaborating with other artists in a post two weeks ago. T.I. has experienced huge hits, and Pharrell just struck it big while joining forces with Daft Punk in the song “Get Lucky.” Combining three fanbases, especially from three different genres, increases the amount of people that want to listen to it.

People talk about it.
Whether you’re blogging feministic fumings in response to the suggestive lyrics and lack of clothing in the video, or writing a self-professed five star review of the song, it is being discussed. If enough people are talking about, it will garner attention. Did everyone watch Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video because it was a stellar piece of musical art? I sure hope not. Yet it has 58 million views on YouTube. Due to its controversial discussion that it has generated, everyone knows about “Blurred Lines”. Controversy truly does love company.

It’s a good song.
Critics rev up your engines I’m inputting opinion. This is a commercially “good” song. It has rhythm, melody, dynamics, and by golly it is fun to listen to. It held the Billboard’s top spot in the HipHop/R&B charts for 16 weeks,which is a record. There are many others who think it is a good song too. There is a little bit of seductive falsetto, some sly rapping and, and here’s the haymaker: a cowbell-heavy beat. There are definitely other factors that make “Blurred Lines” so popular, but credit has to be given when credit is due.

What are your opinions? Is “Blurred Lines” worthy of its fame, or is it through eye candy and shock factor that it is the hit that it is? Some say it’s because of it’s similarities with Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up,” or the number of beats per minute. What do you think?

Comment below with your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.


Twitter Tuesday: Robin Thicke

Son of Growing Pains’ lovable father, Alan Thicke, and soul man behind this year’s biggest hit, Robin Thicke, is more popular now than ever. Before this summer’s chart topper, “Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke was playing the background. Now, his presence is undeniable, on the radio and social media alike.

Thicke is pretty formulaic about his use of Twitter. Although his bio includes some personal thoughts, “Let’s change the world one soul song at a time. I Love u @paulapattonxo & Julian Fuego,” his personality is limited in his tweets.  Even when he seems to be posting something unrelated to himself, there is more than likely an ulterior motive.

Although I’m sure he sincerely loved Baggage Claim, Thicke’s promotion of his wife’s movie is probably strategic. Much like when plugging his own ventures, Thicke’s tweets are straight forward with intent.

His lack of obscenity and crude tweets are actually a nice change of pace from other musicians in the spotlight. By viewing his Twitter feed, one would be hard fought to identify @RobinThicke with the guy who has drawn so much criticism for his racy release and music video of the hit single, “Blurred Lines”. Scrolling through his tweets, he is transparent about his intentions and seemingly humble. He is actually engaging and considerate of his followers.

Although he engages his followers to respond, his responses to them are few and far between. The most common tweet of his features a mention, according to Twtrland, but those mentions are most often to a person or organization that he’s collaborating with.

Thicke’s reach is less than that of musicians that Twitter Tuesday has hosted so far, but he’s also not quite as established as a few of them. And while his controversial and irresistibly catchy “Blurred Lines” is the driving component behind his rise to super stardom, his smooth, nonchalant attitude seen both in person and on Twitter adds to his alluring persona.

Or perhaps it’s this transparency and formulaic approach to the Twitterverse that contributes to his rising popularity, as well as the popularity of “Blurred Lines.” Thicke has an interesting approach to the professional vs. personal ethics. When in a professional setting, such as a music video or live performance, he is unafraid of being raunchy and provocative. In personal settings, like interviews or tweets, he is calm  and collected. He doesn’t aim for the shock factor in an every day setting. He always seems to be in control of what he’s saying and doing. Instead of riding the coattails of dropped jaws and offended blog posts to fame (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*), Thicke is staying cool, calm and collected, using the tools at his disposable, like Twitter.

Check back Thursday for a look at how “Blurred Lines” became the record breaking song that it is.

Thanks for reading.

Twitter Tuesday: Eminem

I know I reiterated last week that this was truly a bi-weekly thing…but I unintentionally lied. Apparently people like Twitter Tuesday, and I like doing them so it is a win/win for me to decide to do them every week!

On to this week, as promised I will be venturing away from glamour-filled divas. What better direction to venture than half angry/half humor-filled rapper Marshall Mathers? Everyone’s favorite Caucasian rapper recently released his first single off of his new album, which is due out November 5th.

Eminem isn’t as busy behind the keyboard of his Twitter feed. It’s not uncommon for him to go a week or so without posting something. When he does start tweeting, it is apparent there is a reason. As of recently most of his tweets have included hashtags for either Berzerk or MMLP2 (Marshall Mathers LP 2).

As for fan interaction, most of the time there’s nothing. He follows a whopping 0 people and has only 238 tweets, a relatively tiny amount. He is pretty direct about where he wants his fans to go. Included in that are plugs for things that he’s not even directly involved in.

Although most of his tweets are dedicated to constant links or hashtags and reminders to “catch” or “check out” this or that, Eminem recently tried out some fan interaction. Asking a trivia question, he rewarded the first correct answer with his new album’s cover art, before anyone else got it.

The question worked. Many people quickly responded, and he got to dole out his cover art early. But how about the rest of his tweets? Does his lack of consistency and hashtag and link heavy posting style help or harm him? According to stats it definitely isn’t hurting him. Twtrland shows that Eminem generates 56,000 retweets per 100 tweets, and he tweets 0.1 times a day. That seems like a staggering amount, and compared to some it is. But when looking at other rappers in the genre another story is told. Eminem, Drake and Lil Wayne all have between 10 and 15 million followers. Drake boasts 333,000 retweets per 100 and Lil Wayne 366,000. Eminem has more than nearly twice the amount of replies, though, at 89,013 per 100 tweets. As an additional stat, 46% of Eminem’s tweets are links, and 36% are plain tweets. Drake and Lil Wayne tweet 52% and 75% plain tweets respectively (both tweet less than 5% links).

This seems backwards to me. I would think Eminem, who puts out a lot of information and links to relevant information, would have more retweets. Drake and Lil Wayne, on the other hand, would have more replies since they tweet more plain tweets that are easier to respond to.

So Shady’s retweets are lacking on Twitter, but a lot of people are mentioning him. How does that apply in the grand scheme of things? His song-only and music videos for Berzerk don’t mind the lack of retweets. The original song has over 16 million views while the music video has over 21 million. The crazy part is the amount of comments. There are 102,000 comments on the official music video, which has only been up since the 9th of this month. As a frame of reference, Whiz Kalifa’s hit from two years ago, “Roll Up” has 97 million views, yet only has 118,000 comments. Eminem’s video is almost assured to pass that before too long.

The verdict has to be that Eminem’s use of Twitter may not be as interactive and personal as other celebrities, but in a sense it is extremely effective. People love to talk about Slim Shady, and maybe his straightforward use of promotion contributes to that. And when it comes down to it, the number of views something gets isn’t as important as the number of people that are interested enough to talk about it, right? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

Blog-a-Day Week: An Overview

First and foremost, to all professional bloggers who post daily, even multiple times in a day, I applaud you. It takes concentration and effort to form an informative, info-rich post. Doing it every day definitely was not easy, especially having to schedule a few in advance for days I would be incapacitated, although I think my two posts I wrote for the weekend were better quality than my mid-week posts.

The biggest struggles I encountered were balancing adding to the conversation and providing interactive information. I can write opinionated jargon about stuff, or I can lay out what others are saying. When it comes to combining the two to provide a relevant and fascinating post, it takes a lot of focus. I think if I had better laid out what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, and where I wanted to incorporate it in my post, some of my postings may have been less cluttered and opinionated. Also, specifically for my collaboration series, I had a hard time finding links and media to add to it. Perhaps I’m not yet proficient at searching the archives of Google to effectively locate and draw out sources to add to my thoughts. At that point, maybe I should have reevaluated the direction I wanted to take with the series. I really liked the idea though, so I tried to make it work regardless.

Through this past week’s process, I learned a few hopefully valuable things:

  • I learned the importance of working ahead. For most of the week I was 1-2 posts ahead of what was to be published that day. That let me feel a cushion of comfort that a pressing deadline would have taken away. Additionally, being a post or two ahead gave me time to look over and see if there was anything I needed to change before posting it.
  • By looking at my stats I think that there’s a good correlation between immediately relevant posts and number of views. I could write a thoughtful, insightful and provocative piece on how MySpace was such a crucial component of bands gaining fans, but because no one cares about MySpace it probably won’t get much attention. My posts that received the highest number of visitors were “Twitter Tuesday: Miley Cyrus” and “The Fight for Internet Radio Supremacy”. Both of these added context to an ongoing conversation. Miley is getting naked and licking sledgehammers and iRadio just came out. They’re both conversations being talked about.
  • Stay involved! This may be something partially learned in hindsight. If I follow the right people, and promote where people are already looking (like my personal Facebook account), then I will have a larger audience at least in the vicinity of the link to my blog. I had a friend text me this week saying he liked my blog. I had no idea he even knew about it. It was through plugging my twitter account and blog on my Facebook and random, personal twitter account that he must have saw it. If I keep up with contributing to social media, as well as being aware of what others are posting, I will probably see my audience grow.

All in all, it was a good experience. Now I don’t think posting two times a week will seem daunting. Good promotion and a balance of opinion and information will make my blog much better. Also, I think I want to make Twitter Tuesday a weekly thing. Initially I didn’t know if it was interesting enough for a weekly thing, but it generated twice as many visitors as my other biggest post. If people want to read about celebrities tweeting stuff then I will oblige and give it to them.

Stay tuned for a more composed and more exciting blog!

Thanks for reading.

The future of broadcast radio

Last week iRadio was released for the masses of music thirsty listeners to partake in. iRadio is Apple’s contribution to the already booming market of internet radio. Check out a post I did on the top internet radio services. With an internet full of on demand, genre and artist-based stations, what does that mean for the future of good ol’ broadcast radio?

As of now people are still tuning in to broadcast radio, primarily while driving. The blend of music, talk shows, weather and current events still create a nice service that people want to utilize. Is that blend enough, though?

My mind wants to think that broadcast radio is petering out. That, in a few years, it will be a fun thing to talk about, like we do with SEGA Genesis and VCRs. I may be completely off the mark, though. There are arguments for why broadcast radio is only looking up. After all, FM radio still boasts, “the largest share of the pie,” when it comes to reach and listeners, according to Entercom’s David Field. Millions of people drive to work or school every day. The most readily available source of media is that radio knob a foot to the right of the steering wheel. Along similar lines, in one of  Don Cole’s “Media Realism” blog posts, he quotes a radio sales executive saying, “I believe that as long as people drive to work in vehicles with radios, and traffic continually worsens, radio will have a future.”

As a student with a car in a college town, I do not see any lack of driving or traffic in the foreseeable future. So assuming car travels and traffic equate to increased radio use, there is most certainly a future. “Assuming” is a big word though. Just because people are in cars a lot doesn’t mean there aren’t increasingly more attractive ways of listening to music. For the past four years or so I’ve relied on my Belkin auxiliary adapter to provide me with music by transmitting my iPod through the radio. Recently, I’ve been using that same accessory to listen to Spotify through my phone. Internet radio services like Pandora, Spotify and now iRadio have a lot of distinctive appeal to them.

While listening to FM radio, if that song that gets played 20 times a day comes on, you have three immediate options: 1) Grit your teeth and deal with it. 2) Find a different radio station. 3) Turn off the FM radio.

With alternative listening sources you can easily skip or down vote a song that you don’t feel like listening to. It can get to the point, after so long of down voting and up voting songs, that internet radio seems like it is in your conscience and it knows what you want to hear. This is sadly not the case with broadcast radio.

As mentioned before, I think the main thing broadcast radio has going for it is the integration of different components of broadcasting, all lumped together on one station. I can listen to WKKW (a local top 40 station) and hear the new Taylor Swift song, the weather update, breaking news and some back and forth banter from talk show hosts all while never having to lift a finger.

This multifaceted form of listening gives broadcast a slight advantage over its competitors. That doesn’t stop some people from trying to predict the gloom and doom of radio, though. Joanne Ostrow from Denver Post says, “People are still tuning in — Denver’s stations together pull a whopping 2.1 million listeners each week — but they are listening for shorter periods of time. And radio is making a lot less money.”

It seems like for broadcast radio to stand strong something new is going to have to be introduced. The good news is, maybe it has.

HD radio is everything that was good about FM radio, except better. Better audio quality, flashier, more interactive interfaces, and a plethora of stations to choose from are a few features of this new form of broadcast. It’s still in the early stages, but an article from Radio World stated that around 50% of new cars will be equipped with HD radio receivers and technology by 2015. I see this as something to rival built-in Pandora systems in cars.

What the HD radio interface could look like. Courtesy of hdradio.com

What the HD radio interface could look like. Courtesy of hdradio.com

Naysayers beware, it appears that HD radio may just be the haymaker needed by broadcast to stay in the game. Even analysts at marketingcharts.com are projecting a comeback of the airwaves.

Just as it is with other forms of journalism, the future of broadcast looks different than what we’re used to. Different doesn’t mean dim, though. If anything, HD radio is flying under the radar and will surely surprise the market when it becomes a fully integrated competitor.

I’ll admit, when I first started writing and researching this, I assumed the worst for radio. I thought I was going to read sobbing articles by radio personalities about the morbid future of their beloved profession. My assumption was as accurate as a drunk man in a game of darts. While the impact and success of future broadcast radio is a little more than speculative right now, it shines hope and potential for the world of radio lovers.

Thanks for reading.

What’s more important, audio quality or ease of access?

We live in a society of convenience. A convenient life is the life to live. But what about when it comes to audio quality of music? Does the warmth and naturalness of a vinyl outweigh the storage capacity and mobility of an MP3? Vinyl was overcome by the new technologies of cassette tapes. After that compact discs came along, and then of course the majestic MP3.

With each new form of technology released, two main things happened.

1. The amount of music able to be stored in a certain space drastically increased.


2. The audio quality of the music decreased.

I don’t want to spend a whole post comparing vinyls to CDs, not explicitly anyways. Rather, I want to dig into what holds more importance to listeners, audio quality, or ease of access?

First, the argument that older means of listening yields higher quality listening is often debated. Whether it be CDs versus MP3sor vinyls versus CDs, or the current argument of vinyls versus MP3s, there is not a lack of opinions on the matter.

In mass music promotion, there is an obvious advantage of packing as many songs as possible into a given device. The smaller the file, the easier it is to spread around the internet. That comes at the expense of sound quality, which is a complex topic involving data rates, but do people really care?

Quora hosted a discussion on the matter. The consensus seems to be something along the lines of, “We love listening to higher quality audio, but we would rather listen to lower quality music if it hosts a better selection or convenience.”

In his comment, fellow blogger Ethan Hein said,

“He (engineer Paul Geluso) prefers big fancy speakers when they’re an option, but like me, he cares more about the content of the music than its presentation.”

On an audiophile site a poll was hosted asking if people prefer quality or convenience.

This multiple choice poll, which sparked a discussion, was posted on a site about audiophiles, so the participants are more than likely audio quality aficionados. The interesting thing is that, despite their bias, the majority of votes were for a mixture of convenience and quality. If audiophiles aren’t full steam ahead for the best quality of music, what does that say of the general public?

According to Mashable, vinyls, the kings of sound quality, have increased their sales by 17.7% in the past 2 years. Is it a hipster trend or a renaissance of audio quality? At the same time, digital downloads are still increasing so it’s not a tipping of the scales, but a battle of sound.

These graphs are a portion of a larger graphic created by MusicBed. Once again, I’m not trying to compare vinyls and MP3s, but these graphs show that there is a demand for the convenience of an MP3 and the audio quality/hipness/nostalgia of vinyl.

The topic of the resurgence of vinyl is a post by itself. But is there a chance that the spike in vinyl sales doesn’t have to do with trendiness, and people just want to hear the bright, detailed sounds that are lost by more compressed MP3 files? By the discussions so far, it seems like high fidelity listening is preferred, but if low quality music is more easily accessible (both in terms of the amount of music and the availability of listening), then listeners will sacrifice that crispness for more convenient listening.

What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading.

Collaborate and Listen Part III: Splits

We are here! The last day of the series has arrived. So far I have discussed two different forms of collaboration: guest vocals and compilations. Today I’m going to highlight perhaps my favorite form of collaboration, split extended plays (EPs). When two musicians/bands join together to release an album where half the songs belong to one band, and half to the other, it is known as a split EP. Originating from the idea of a vinyl record being split in half, where one side hosted one artist’s songs and the other side the other, the idea migrated to CDs.

Why are split EPs worth mentioning? Sure, you won’t see Kanye West releasing a split with Justin Bieber. Mainstream, popular music doesn’t really need what split EPs offer. What do they offer? Well let me tell you.

  1. Lowered production costs: I know this doesn’t directly relate to music promotion or better branding of an artist, but by splitting the costs of production and distribution between two bands significant money will be saved. Then, that saved money will be available to be spent on other things, like tour or promotion. This is especially helpful with newer bands.
  2. A strong partnership is formed: Regardless of whether a split EP is made because two bands are best friends or because it is convenient, going through the process of releasing an album with another artist is going to tie you two together. The success or failure of the release rides on how cohesive the album comes out. Therefore, it is hard not to be bonded with your split partner, for better or worse. The advantage of this is that the two acts can’t promote one without the other. It becomes a joint effort.
  3. Strengthens identity: I know I’ve said something along these lines for each of the collaborations so far, but each are brought about slightly differently. If you are a honky tonk country purist you won’t want to partner up with a tattooed metal band to release a split. On the other hand, you don’t want to find a carbon copy of you to release a split with either. The balance comes by finding an artist that complements your sound. An artist with a sound you respect, and a sound you could see yourself touring the country beside. My favorite band, Bayside, released two split EPs. One with Name Taken and a four-way single split with I Am the Avalanche, Transit and Saves The Day. While all three of those bands sound completely different, they bring forth a punk-infused rock sound that play perfectly off of each other.

When it comes to collaborating, it doesn’t get more involved than split EPs. Though they aren’t necessarily featuring in each other’s songs, the amount of band to band interaction is notably present. Do both bands on a split go on to achieve widespread fame? Not at all. But what does happen is the formation of a relationship and projection of who you want to be as an artist. Who knows, maybe someone will pick up an old split of Fall Out Boy and see that they really love that other band, Project Rocket.

So what can we gather from collaboration? It may be something that is often overlooked when analyzing how well a band is promoted. An artist should use all tools available when it comes to promoting. I think that few things work better than forming relationships with other artists. Once those relationships are formed, whether it be from guest vocals, releasing a split together, or something else, that tie will be there until it is severed. In the music business a big key to success is all in who you know. That is the oft repeated line, but it’s not necessarily a bad one. Take time to collaborate and share the music experience with others and in turn you’ll reach larger audiences.

Vanilla Ice once eloquently said, “Stop! Collaborate and listen.” That gem of advice may not have been meant to help steer young musicians in a successful direction, but it sure as heck is applicable.

Thanks for reading.

Collaborate and Listen Part II: Compilations

Yesterday we talked about the advantages of having a guest vocalist in a song. Today I’m going to discuss a different type of collaboration, compilations. Compilations, or albums consisting of songs from multiple different artists, may not initially be thought of when thinking of the word “collaboration”, but it plays just as big of a role as guest vocals.

A “Greatest Hits” album is also considered a compilation, but for this post we’re going to be talking specifically about albums filled with a variety of songs from a variety of artists. Compilation albums usually are created by specific genre, as a soundtrack to something, or for a charity.

So how do artists use compilations as a means of furthering their reach? Well, in a time long ago, before internet radio and YouTube sidebars with related videos, it was not as easy to stumble into new music that you love. Sometimes I would go into FYE and look in the “Punk/Ska” section for a band with a cool name and cool album art and take a gamble and buy their record. While exhilarating, that isn’t the best means to discover new music. The other thing I would do is go into Hot Topic, where there would be really cheap compilation albums with a lot of songs on them. I would throw down five or six bucks and pick up the latest “Take Action,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” or “Punk-O-Rama” compilation. What happened after I bought these music-filled, low cost CDs? In many cases I found a band I really liked, and bought more of their stuff, and then told others about them. I think my experience with compilations is what artists hope happens.

But one case study of a dumb kid doesn’t prove anything, right? Well let’s break it down. There are three key things that make compilation albums so valuable.

  1. Wide scale appeal to people who haven’t heard of you: Like the advantage of bringing in guest vocals combines audiences to view one product, compilations also combine audiences. It’s not as much of a guaranteed thing that a fan of one song on the album will listen to all of them, but the fact that the songs are in the same vicinity is a big step. Then there are the weird people, like me, who buy a compilation CD without knowing any of the songs, in an adventurous search for new music. I discovered one of my favorite bands, The Spill Canvas, off of Take Action vol. 6, a compilation I picked up from Hot Topic.
  2. It’s a relatively passive process: The great thing about compilations is that they don’t  require a massive effort to write and record  a whole new song. An additional vocalist doesn’t have to be contacted and recorded. All it takes is getting a song (it can even be a live version or remix) that is relevant to a compilation into the right hands. Sure, you have to know the right person, or have a really great song, but even then the amount of resources that have to be exhausted are minimal compared to other forms of collaboration.
  3. It is a chance to join a community and broadcast that: Similar to strengthening your identity (from the part I), joining a compilation is a way to portray yourself how you want to be seen. Compilations are released often with a theme, specific genre or for a charity/non-profit. The “Punk Goes…” series consists of different compilations of punk influenced bands covering songs of a specific genre. To be a part of that compilation shows that you like to have fun and be creative (also it’s kind of inferred you’re a little bit punk). The Hopeless Records-sponsored Take Action compilations which coincide with the Take Action tours, donate a portion of their proceeds to charities that help in teen depression and suicide prevention, among other non-profits. Being a part of that compilation is a great way to show that you’re compassionate and care about current issues. Compilations also include soundtracks. If you get a song on a Twilight soundtrack that shows that you are in love with vampire/werewolf romance. Just kidding, Twilight actually has great soundtracks. But getting on a soundtrack is a sure way to be heard by many more than the average compilation.

Earlier, I said compilations are what I went to before there were “related artists” sidebars easily directing me to new music. So what does that mean for compilations now that YouTube sidebars and artist-based internet radio do exist? Sure there is increased competition, but there’s something special about compilations. Whether it’s a magazine, record label or some other organization, a tangible compilation of intentionally designated tracks has an allure to it. There are still compilations on compilations in existence, many in the form of samplers, compilations compiled by a record label to let people hear a taste of what’s on their label.

Despite the increased competition, it still stands that compilations are an effective form of collaboration. Putting a song you more than likely already recorded on an album with a bunch of other artists to be released to the masses sounds like an easy way to potentially get a lot more fans.

As with any thing, these points are just a portion of the benefits of being a part of a compilation record. Can you think of any other major benefits? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

Collaborate and Listen Part I: Guest Vocals

Hey there! Welcome to the first of a three part series on how musicians can/do use collaboration to their advantage. This first post I’ll be focusing on collaboration in the context of individual songs. In other words, when two or more musicians are featured on the same track.

It goes without saying that musicians try their best to reach bigger audiences. Many different techniques have been employed, one of the more exciting ones being collaboration. When I get a new album, if I see a song that says, “Feat. ____,” that’s one of the first ones I want to listen to. Even if I don’t know who the featured guest is, I’m always excited to see how two musicians will work with each other. Also, I expect that track to bring something different than the others, seeing as how there is an additional member with additional inspirations.

So what are the significant advantages of having guest musicians?

  1. Two or more musicians means two or more fan bases tuning in to the same song: It’s a simple concept, the more contributing artists, the more receptive fans. When Justin Timberlake collaborated with Madonna in 2008 in “4 Minutes” it is likely that a lot of Madonna fans and a lot of JT fans listened to it. Maybe JT got some old school Madonna fans, and maybe “4 Minutes” was what was needed for Madonna to receive some younger fans. The same goes for any collaboration. Who you work with will increase the likelihood of you gaining some of their fans.
  2. It’s a good way to get discovered: This follows along the same lines as 1, but if you aren’t well known yet, and you get a reputable singer on a track of yours, it can help you out a lot. One of the immediate examples that comes to mind hails from the world of post-hardcore. Australian natives Hands Like Houses got not one, but two powerhouse vocalists to feature in their song “Lion Skin”. Jonny Craig (ex Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance) and Tyler Carter (Issues and ex Woe, is Me) laid down some vocals on the track. When I Google search “Jonny Craig and Tyler Carter” that song is the first thing that pops up. Thus, I discovered a new found affection for Hands Like Houses. They aren’t the sole case either. It doesn’t take but a short search on the internet to find the plethora of collaborations that have occurred between newcomers and respected stars.
  3. It encourages competition and growth of identity: If you’re singing side by side with someone who’s got some skills, you won’t want to slack off and write something good enough to get by. When Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy had Elton John sing along side him on his new album’s track “Save Rock and Roll”, you can bet he sang his lungs out to keep up. Aside from trying to be your best, it also forces you to figure out what your musical identity sounds like. Someone like Elton John knows how to make a record, and while Fall Out Boy have been around for a little over a decade, you can bet Patrick Stump was tailoring his own musical persona when he was on the same track as Elton John.

K. Thor Jensen from Ugo, who calls the guest vocal one of the most powerful tools for a pop star, states “…by recruiting a performer who can lend your track their own little something something, the resulting whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

In a time where it is so easy to share music, collaborating on singles is a relatively easy way to quickly increase who is listening to your music. Of the three different collaborative means I will be discussing, this one lends itself most directly and fluidly to increasing a musician’s audience. Even if you hate the guest vocalist, if you love the other musician you will still probably listen to the song. It is nearly impossible to avoid hearing one half of the musicianship in a collaboration.

While it may be fun to pair up with another vocalist, it is also beneficial. On the Billboard Top 100 singles, 34 of them feature guest vocalists. That’s over a third of the biggest singles that are collaborative efforts. There is some undeniable truth that working with other musical artists is a successful way to promote. And guest vocals is only a little piece of the collaborative pie.

Thanks for reading.

Twitter Tuesday: Miley Cyrus

Alright, so I know last Tuesday I said this was going to be a bi-weekly thing, and I still plan on it being that, but this week is a special circumstance. I’ll be posting every day, and in a post-heavy week some analysis of wild child Miley Cyrus’s tweets is a must.



Last week we looked at Katy Perry’s open and friendly use of Twitter. Now, we introduce the fearless, twerkaholic pop star. Once Disney queen Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus is very active on her Twitter feed.

For awhile Miley posted random commentary, sporadic promotions and the occasional absurd tweet.

For the past week or so, however, there has been nonstop spam for her new “Wrecking Ball” video. Whether it is posting links repeatedly to her YouTube video, or just pleading for her fans, now referred to as “Smilerz”, to get “Wrecking Ball” to 150 million views, you can’t go two tweets without a plea for a view.

As for her online voice, it definitely seems to be authentic. Yeah, there are a ton of plugs for her upcoming album and singles, but they’re amid the posts chronicling what Miley is thinking.

Although at times Miley’s tweets may seem lacking in humility, she has no problem gladly thanking her fans.

So how useful is Miley’s carefree and link-heavy Twitter in promoting her? Personally all of those links to her new video drive me crazy. Promotion is good in moderation. Then again, she did break the VEVO record for the fastest a video reached 100 million views, so maybe my personal opinion is nothing more than that. On the other hand, of the 1 million+ up/down votes on YouTube, that video currently only boasts 62% of the crowd that likes it. Is it one of those things where, even though people are talking down on it, they’re still talking? Or is her promotion promoting something that people disapprove of, and ultimately will hurt her?

Despite the ugly amount of people that down voted the video on YouTube, Miley’s fan base is constantly growing larger. She must be doing something right, even if it’s appealing to the shock-loving generation of teenagers.

Her personal thoughts can be entertaining, or at least stir up the pot of drama that is constantly brewing with her. So that, along with her extremely liberal use of promotion, may actually serve her well.

Next Twitter Tuesday I promise to venture away from uber-poppy females. I figured this would be a nice follow up to Katy Perry’s mostly clean cut approach.

Thanks for reading.