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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Hot Features

Are VIP Fan Experiences Now a Necessity for Artists?

Q&A with Stela Cola

Top 10 Albums of 2018

Stacking The Deck with Blake Morgan
Friday, January 18, 2019

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

When Blake Morgan was in his early teens, growing up in New York City’s Lower East Side, he’d go to Fat Tuesday’s (which was on 3rd Ave. at 17th Street) to see legendary guitarist Les Paul, who had a residency there, playing the first Monday of every month.

A young Morgan would sit down, order a hamburger, and in a crowd of 50 to 60 people, watch Les Paul perform.

“I remember thinking to myself, that’s what I want. More than anything I want a home base where I can play my music, and have guests, make it a scene.”

A few decades later, Morgan is currently in his fourth year of a residency at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, performing to a sold out crowd every 8 weeks, and bringing a special guest each time.

“It’s a total dream come true.”

Guests have included Chris Barron (of Spin Doctors fame), and Tracy Bonham, among others. Duncan Sheik will be joining Morgan in March.

In addition to his own music, Morgan has been at the forefront of fighting for artists’ rights with his #IRespectMusic campaign, which aims to help artists receive their fair share of earnings from both radio airplay, and streaming.

I caught up with Morgan at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about attending Berklee College of Music at just the wrong time, the Greatest Hits album he listens to every year, and how he ended up buying Bo Diddley a drink.

Randy Rhoads and Extreme

I have nothing against Extreme or Randy Rhoads.

I don’t know enough about Nuno Bettencourt to know why he really has never been a bigger deal, because I think he’s a really badass guitar player, and not like a douchebag badass guitar player, like an actual badass guitar player.

Either he’s really amazing, and just didn’t want to do any of the shitty stuff, or he’s really not amazing, and it just kind of ended for him.

Randy Rhoads died tragically, and was the guitar hero for so many, and the reason I know he was the guitar hero for so many is because I went to Berklee (College of Music) right in-between all of the great music that was happening in the late ‘80s and Nirvana. I went there right between them.

I showed up in Boston as a lifelong native New Yorker at the worst time possible to go to Boston, because my beloved Metropolitans had just won the World Series and I was proudly walking around with my Mets hat.

I went there with a very open mind, but I hated Boston. Bill Burr, the comedian, has a great line, he’s from Boston, and he says people think Boston’s really quaint, but it’s really just a racist San Francisco.

I showed up at my first Ear Training class and this guy who I didn’t know was sitting next to me, his name was Harold, and he was from Alabama. I grew up on 13th Street (in NYC) and went to United Nations School for 12 years. This was the first time I had been a new kid in a school in a really long time.

We left the Ear Training class and he said, “You know, Blake, that was a really tough class.” I was like, “It really was. This is pretty amazing.” He said, “This is just one of those moments I wish I was black.” I went, “Totally … wait, what?” He said, “I just wish I was black because then I’d have all this music just naturally.” I was like, “Wow, you know what Harold, I’m really glad you said this to me instead of Luther over there who’d kick your ass, and I’d hold you down while he kicks your ass.”

That was the environment at Berklee, and extreme Randy Rhoads idolizers were also (there).

Berklee was like the Jets and the Sharks, but it was different than other music schools, it was jazz heads and metal heads. I wasn’t either of those.

And this was during a time when metal was gigantic.

Gigantic, and (it was) terrible metal, not cool metal. Not even good Van Halen metal.

“So Blake, who’s your favorite guitar player?”

“Um, George Harrison.”

“What are you a f*ggot!”

“No, but I believe in fairies.”

“He doesn’t even play fast!”

“I don’t know what that means. I get really excited when he plays guitar, and I love The Beatles, and I love other people, too.”

“You’re an asshole. You should listen to Randy Rhoads.”

“OK, I’ll listen to Randy Rhoads.”

And I did, and I think he’s amazing, but he never fucked me in the heart with anything he played. I was pummeled with Randy Rhoads' music, though, as if he was the idol of a fallen religion.

(When it comes to) Extreme, they are, to me, one of the tragedies of that period – late ‘80s/early ‘90s – because they’re actually kind of a good band, and their one hit (“More Than Words”) was a sensation because it was, in the midst of all the hair metal stuff, it was like – we wrote a good song, that has a good melody, that we can sing together.

In the video the rest of the band is sitting with their feet up, and holding lighters, so it was like their “Yesterday,” but I liked it when it came out. Because of that, they were like the first band I can remember, and the ‘90s were filled with this shit, where a band had a sound, and then they had a hit with a song that was an outlier for them that wasn’t really their sound, and then right after that everything they did was trying to recapture what they did for that hit, and these guys did exactly that. They fell into that trap.

Billy Idol

Three things about Billy Idol come to mind.

1. He fuckin’ rules. He’s great.

Once a year I put on his Greatest Hits and I become completely convinced that I’ve wasted my life and that he’s the greatest recording artist in the history of the world. By the end of the Greatest Hits I feel a little nauseous, I’m not happy, but I realize 12 months from now I’m going to be able to listen to it again.

2. He had a guitar player named Steve Stevens, who I think he still plays with. Steve Stevens had the biggest hair in the universe.

He was a crazy great player, had great facility. I think he was also his music director, and did a lot of the arranging.

Steve Stevens, I don’t know how he would rig this up, I still don’t understand the technology, in his guitar he had two buttons, one of them, if I remember correctly, was a machine gun sound, and the other one triggered a bomb sound. So he would take some hellacious solo and it would end with KABOOM!

3. My senior year of high school the girl I was in love with ended up going back to her older French boyfriend who she’d been cheating on with me, and then a few months later she went out with my best friend.

She sounds like a real peach.

The best friend was the real peach.

We all went on a senior trip to Jamaica. Our whole grade went to Jamaica together. We had these little bungalows, and I set up all these speakers outside by the swimming pool and had “Rebel Yell” on a loop. I listened to that song probably 400 times in a row on that trip because it was the perfect angry, awesome hot song.

Endearing yourself to the people of Jamaica forever.

Correct. And pissing off all the other people at the resort.

Bizarrely, as luck would have it, two years ago I performed at House of Blues Las Vegas. I did two nights there. The venue has an upstairs and a downstairs, and the downstairs is where there’s an artist in residence, and the artist in residence was Billy fucking Idol.

That is so strange.

I thought to myself exactly that. But that is what oldies music is now, it’s not Dean Martin.

Did you bump into Billy Idol while you were there?

I did not bump into him, but that’s a great gig for him. I swear to God I bet he kills it.

Britney had a Vegas residency, Blink-182’s doing it. Jennifer Lopez. No Doubt has one coming up.

What people figured out, in the rock world, is – touring is really hard, what if I just stayed put and people came to me?

The first person really to figure that out from the pop standpoint was Celine (Dion). She was like, “Wait a second, I’ll just live here.”

And in terms of people, and having an audience, there’s ONLY turnover in Las Vegas.

There’s only turnover, and if people like you they’ll say, “Remember when we went to Vegas last year? Let’s go back and see Celine Dion again, that was great.”

Tom Petty

Three of the components to great art are originality, quality, and consistency.

You can’t argue with quality with Tom Petty.

You can’t argue with originality, either, because nobody really did that the way he did it. He’s deceptively simple, but (at the same time) he’s not, and he’s deceptively pop. There’s just nobody who did that.

It’s the consistency that’s so frightening, because they’re all good songs. They’re ALL good songs.

You mentioned him being “deceptively pop,” which I think is a great phrase. Do certain artists have to be deceptive about their pop-ness because of the assumptions we make when we hear the word “pop”?

Well, kind of.

You know, the thing that I’m the biggest fan of, artistically, is when the best version of something is also the most popular version of something. I’m a Shakespeare guy, I’m a Hitchcock guy, and I’m a Beatles guy. The Beatles are deceptively pop, as well, because they were the first boy band, but there are at least six revolutionary arranging choices in their first single, “Please Please Me,” that rocked and changed the world. They were the Black Sabbath of their day with that shit when they came out.

I think you’re the only person who will ever compare The Beatles to Black Sabbath, and that’s awesome.

You know what, I bet you the guys in Black Sabbath would be like, “Yeah, that’s what we were trying to do.”

So I think Petty is an example, to me, of how something can be fantastic and also be popular. I love it when that confluence occurs. It shouldn’t be a dichotomy. The best burgers should be the most popular, not McDonald’s.

Bo Diddley

I’m an only child, but I grew up with a lot of godfathers and a lot of godmothers, and a lot of them were artists. My rock n roll godmother was Lesley Gore, famous for “It’s My Party,” and “You Don’t Own Me.” Later on I ended up producing a record with her on my label. It turned out to be her last record. We didn’t expect that.

I grew up with her (in my life), and she was like the first person to really teach me what it entails to be a professional musician. She would come back on a red eye from a gig somewhere, she’d be tired, and I was a little kid, so I’d be like, “You flew all night after a show and came home …”

I got to be backstage with her to see how she prepped for shows, and she did a lot of shows with Bo Diddley. They would do co-headlining stuff, and they would do a lot of early ‘60s music together, so I got to hang out with him. The biggest problem for me, as a kid, hanging out with him – I was probably somewhere between 11 and 14 – was I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. He was imparting (wisdom), he was like, “You’re a musician, {unintelligible garble},” and I could only say “what” so many times.

Once I was an adult, I was in my 20s, and Lesley was doing a show with Bo Diddley, I got to buy him a drink. I got to buy him a Jack on the rocks, and I remember thinking to myself – I don’t know what the next bunch of things that are going to happen in my life are, but I got to buy Bo Diddley a Jack on the rocks, and he said, “Oh, thank you, that’s great.” That I did understand.

I really didn’t even start listening to his music until long after that, until I kind of grew up and came together, and he’s an unrelenting badass. He’s a great guitar player, a great musician. He was really great with Lesley.

Later on, when we made a record with her, we did a lot of touring with her. I met a lot of the people from her era – most of them were much older than her because she was so young when she hit – and a lot of her so-called contemporaries were real assholes. Diddley was not that at all. He was a really lovely guy, and really fun, didn’t begrudge anybody, never begrudges playing his hits. A super cool guy.

For more Blake Morgan, check out ecrmusicgroup.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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7 Players Who Deserve More Love From Hall of Fame Voters
Thursday, January 17, 2019

On January 22nd the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) will announce this year’s entrants into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Some of the game’s greatest players, however, will be on the outside looking in.

As of January 15th, 43% of the ballots had been revealed, and that’s a high enough percentage to know some of the players that won’t be getting into Cooperstown because they’ve already been eliminated from meeting the enshrinement requirement of being on 75% of the ballots. In fact, there are two players who I feel are worthy of consideration that might not even receive the required 5% just to stay on the ballot. We’ll call this the Jim Edmonds and Johan Santana club.

The following are 7 players who’ve been eliminated from getting into the Hall of Fame this year that I feel deserve far more consideration than they’re currently receiving.

Please note, I used the word “consideration.” I’m not saying all these players should be in the Hall of Fame, just that they should be receiving more of the vote than they’re currently getting.

Fred McGriff – Currently on 36.2% of the ballots

This is a sad year for fans of the Crime Dog. In Fred McGriff’s 10th, and final, year on the ballot he’s once again been passed over by the majority of Hall of Fame voters. Personally, I have no idea what these voters are looking for, because McGriff was one of the most consistently great players of all-time.

Over the course of his 19 year career (which was really more like 18 years, as his final season was just 27 games with Tampa Bay) he slugged 25+ homers 13 times, and topped 100 RBIs 8 times.

A tough out, and a guy who was a steadying force in the middle of the lineup, McGriff was a guy you worried about facing, and when he was coming up to bat you didn’t leave to get a hot dog.

Hopefully the Today’s Game Era Committee will put McGriff in the HOF when his name comes up on their list.

Omar Vizquel – Currently on 35.6% of the ballots

Talk about consistency personified, Omar Vizquel’s career spanned 24 seasons, and for 14 of those years he played in more than 140 games, at a position known for injury.

Speaking of that position, shouldn’t 11 Gold Gloves at SS earn you a spot in the Hall of Fame? Oh, and did I mention his 400+ SBs?

How is this guy not getting more votes?

Scott Rolen – Currently on 20.9% of the ballots

A 7 time All-Star and 8 time Gold Glove award winner, for some reason Scott Rolen has become a forgotten man among Hall of Fame voters.

To go with his excellent fielding, Rolen was also a feared middle of the lineup hitter, slugging over 300 HRs over the course of his career. He also came through when it mattered most, hitting a whopping .421 in the 2006 World Series.

As a Mets fan, Rolen was a guy I absolutely hated playing against, and his 70.2 career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is over 20 points higher than the career WAR of current HOFer Jim Rice (47.7).

I’d like know why people are leaving this seemingly obvious HOFer off their ballot.

Jeff Kent – Currently on 14.7% of the ballots

Speaking of guys I consider obvious HOFers, I don’t know what Jeff Kent did to draw the ire of the baseball writers, but for some God unknown reason the best power hitting second baseman of all-time being is currently on less than 15% of the ballots.

A former NL MVP, who finished his career with 377 HR and a .290 batting average, during his time in San Francisco he was often overshadowed by Barry Bonds, but that’s no reason for voters to ignore his fine career.

Andruw Jones – Currently on 8.5% of the ballots

A 10 time Gold Glove award winner who had over 400 HRs, Andruw Jones’ bat could provide a run just as easily as his glove could take one away.

Remarkably, during an 11 year span Jones played in 150+ games every year, at a position – center field – that saw him crashing into walls on a regular basis.

I think anyone who saw him play thinks of him as a legit Hall of Fame candidate, which is why it’s so odd to see him struggling just to say on the ballot.

Miguel Tejada – Currently on 1.1% of the ballots

Miguel Tejada’s biggest issue is that he’s a PED guy, and the writers don’t like voting for PED guys. Correction – they don’t like voting for certain PED guys. It should be noted that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds continue to rise in the voting, and may have a chance to get in this year, while Latin players like Tejada, Sammy Sosa, and Manny Ramirez, remain punished by voters. One theory worth exploring is the language barrier. It’s tough to plead your case in your second language (although Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire sure did a terrible job of pleading their cases without any such barrier).

Tejada may also be overshadowed by the more celebrated shortstops of his era, namely Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra. Despite the name recognition of the others, however, Tejada is near the top of the list for HRs by a SS, and he won the AL MVP in 2004, when he knocked in 150 RBIs.

He may never make the HOF, but I think Tejada at least deserves to stay on the ballot.

Lance Berkman – Currently on 1.1% of the ballots

Here’s a super confusing one – why have only two writers voted for one of the most notoriously clean power hitters of his era?

Lance Berkman was known as the non-PED guy during the PED era, and he wasn’t just good, he was excellent, finishing in the Top 10 of the MVP voting 6 times, 4 of those times being in the Top 5.

One of Berkman’s most impressive stats is that he walked nearly as often as he struck out – 1201 BB, 1300 SO – which is why he had a career OBP of .406.

Does this member of Houston’s Killer B’s deserves a spot alongside Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio in the Hall of Fame? I think so, but at the very least he deserves to stay on the ballot for future consideration.

So what do you think? Should the BBWAA call me tomorrow to give me a vote, or I should go stuff a giant foam finger up my nose? Let me know!


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
NYC Scene Report – Scruffy Pearls, tha Joint, & more
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

This week’s NYC Scene Report features Scruffy Pearls “Letting Loose” with a fantastic soul-pop jam, O.I.S.D. members Joey Golden and Jonathan UniteUs sparking tha Joint, R&B duo Lion Babe asking “Why,” and Trixie Whitley hitting listeners with her soulful “Touch.”

* If you’re looking for an incredibly joyous soul-pop song that will have you getting up out of your seat and moving, look no further than Scruffy Pearls’ latest single, “Letting Loose.”

“Letting Loose” was produced by RJ Gatsby and Ryan Corn, and features frontwoman Carly Brooke’s powerful, soulful vocals. Believe me when I say hers is a voice you won’t soon forget, and the vibe is one you’ll feel all throughout your body.

A full length Scruffy Pearls album is in the works, with an eye on a Summer release, and the band, which has been impressing live audiences throughout NYC for years, has a show coming up this Saturday, January 19th, at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. If you attend, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see me in the crowd, “Letting Loose.”

* O.I.S.D. members Joey Golden and Jonathan UniteUs have created a new musical endeavor together named tha Joint, and their first release as tha Joint is a really unique, self-titled, EP that brings an entirely new vibe to hip-hop.

Influenced by Japanese jazz-funk fusion artists, the EP came together over the course of four whirlwind days.

Check out the single, “One Punch Man,” the title of which was inspired by the Japanese superhero webcomic, turned manga, turned animated series of the same name, and look for flashes of clips from the series in the video.

* NYC-based R&B duo Lion Babe have released a cover of Carly Simon’s “Why,” adding a caribbean twist to the ‘80s song.

The original version of “Why” was on the soundtrack for Soup For One, a 1982 box office bomb about a cable television producer in New York City determined to find the perfect woman. The movie is most known for its killer soundtrack, which included “Why,” as well as contributions from Chic, Teddy Pendergrass, Sister Sledge, and Debbie Harry.

Check out Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman’s version of “Why,” as I, obviously, seek out the reportedly terrible film the original is from (you all know I love bad movies!).

* Trixie Whitley is about to make you feel her “Touch,” and lemme tell ya, it’s a soulful experience.

“Touch” is the latest single from the Brooklyn-based artist, and it features a vibe that’s beautifully retro, with musical elements of the song inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s R&B jams.

The single is off her upcoming album, Lacuna, which was created in conjunction with Run The Jewels producer Little Shalimar, and will be released on March 29th.

The music video for “Touch,” which is due out soon, will be the first of a trilogy shot by visual artist Hannah Marshall. While waiting for that trio of clips, we can enjoy the single, and feel Whitley’s “Touch.”

For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Pop Shots – Change of Plans
Monday, January 14, 2019

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with thoughts on everything from Britney canceling her Las Vegas show, to Jessie J taking a break from social media, to Mike Posner moving on, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Britney Spears will be taking an indefinite hiatus to care for her ailing father. This means her scheduled Las Vegas residency, titled “Britney: Domination,” will not be happening. If you’re still interested in being dominated in Las Vegas, I’m sure a quick Google search will turn up more than a few options.

* Pearl Jam announced their Ten Club singles series – which has, since 1991, annually sent exclusive singles to members of the band’s fan club – will be coming to an end in 2019. If you’d still like to receive random music in the mail, you’re going to have to revive Columbia House.

* According to US Weekly, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting their fourth child, a boy due in May. The couple is once again using a surrogate for the pregnancy, because we all know how much Kanye loves to sample other people’s work.

* Nirvana has reportedly sued Marc Jacobs over the designer’s use of the band’s smiley face image, which Nirvana has owned the trademark to since 1992. In a related story, if fashion designers are going to bring back the ‘90s my entire wardrobe will suddenly look really trendy rather than just “a guy who works from home.”

* Legislators in Washington state have voted unanimously to rename a post office in honor of Jimi Hendrix. Now it’s only a matter of time until an employee decides to set their mailbag on fire.

* Ricky Martin and husband Jwan Yosef have a new addition to their family – a baby girl named Lucia Martin-Yosef. Instead of using a bottle, she’ll be drinking all her formula from the cup of life. Ale, ale, ale!

* Jessie J announced she’s decided to take a break from social media to, in her words, focus on being present with the people she loves. She also cited “some unexpected heavy personal stuff” as a reason she’s logging off, although her social media team will post on her accounts from time to time. I follow Jessie J on Twitter, but quite frankly the only account that would leave me devastated if it were to cease operating is @Bodegacats_.

* Garth Brooks fans can thank Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton for Brooks adding a second show in Minneapolis. While the country superstar’s upcoming stadium tour is supposed to be “all about one special night,” the 50,000 tickets for his May 4th show sold out within an hour, prompting officials at the state-owned U.S. Bank Stadium to ask the governor to ask Brooks to add a second show. I’d just like to say this proves that learning to how pass notes is a viable life skill. Take THAT, every middle school teacher!

* Over the past decade, or so, Mike Posner has morphed into one of the more interesting artists out there. Case in point, the video for his latest single, “Move On.” It’s an incredibly moving clip, and should be viewed using the full-screen option.

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Are VIP Fan Experiences Now a Necessity for Artists?
Friday, January 11, 2019

The VIP Fan Experience – where ticket holders for a concert can pay extra for a litany of bonuses, usually including meeting the artist and taking a picture with them – have become more and more prevalent over the years.

When these packages started popping up I felt uneasy about them. I really didn’t like that artists were making fans pay extra once an already expensive ticket had been purchased. It felt like a money grab.

Recently, however, I began to reassess my position.

Old School vs. New School

I grew up in an era where we eagerly awaited every album release date. We were at the record store the day an album came out, and sometimes even lined up outside the store for a midnight release.

We bought every magazine that put our favorite artists on the cover.

Sadly, these things don’t happen anymore.

Music magazines are now few and far between, and one of my friends who’s a high school teacher took a poll of his class and found out none of them have ever bought an album.

The latter means artists have lost a fairly important revenue stream.

There are a few exceptions, like Taylor Swift and Adele, who still sell millions of physical copies of albums, but the majority of artists aren’t selling anywhere near as many albums as they would have in a pre-streaming world.

Cyber Currency and the Selfie

During a conversation with my friend Rabbi Darkside we began discussing what makes someone a fan in today’s music world. With all the ways of being a fan that we grew up with essentially being no more, he noted that getting a selfie with an artist has become “cyber currency.”

If selfies are a form of currency, shouldn’t artists be able to get paid for them, especially if the person getting the selfie isn’t buying an album?

Obviously, VIP Fan Experiences cost far more than a traditional album sale, which is why I’m still uneasy about many of them, but I feel like in a world where people don’t buy albums, $10 for a photo op would be a reasonable starting point, as it would neatly replace the album sale.

When a Fan Base Gets Big

I’ve always liked the post-show Pied Piper-ism of artists announcing, “Meet me at the merch table,” which is how a lot of artists get fans in front of merch while also meeting, and taking photos with them. Some fans buy a shirt, or an album, almost as a thank you to the artist for taking the time to hang out.

That said, I understand that at a certain point a fan base becomes too large to do that with. When you’re filling a venue that fits a couple hundred people, it isn’t a problem, but when you’re talking about a packed house at a venue that fits 500+, an artist would be at their merch table until the sun rose meeting and greeting everyone after a show.

With that in mind, I’ve come to maybe not embrace, but at least understand the VIP Fan Experience for artists who’ve reached a certain point in their career.

Give Them a Real Experience

There are right and wrong ways of creating a VIP Fan Experience.

A great example of the right way is what Lights did for her 2018 tour. Her VIP Fan Experience included a litany of bonuses, including a pre-show acoustic performance and Q&A, in addition to the obligatory photo op.

What I really appreciate about this is the artist is truly making it a fan experience, and not just a fan moment.

Others charge exorbitant amounts just for a photo with them, and won’t even allow the fans to touch, or hug them. That would be the wrong way of doing things.

One very important rule for artists putting together any sort of VIP Fan Experience, and I can’t believe I have to mention this, is that everything about it has to be up front. I was at a show once where the artist told everyone to meet them at their merch table for autographs and photos, but once you made your way to the front of the line you found out the artist was charging for both. Not cool, and definitely not a good experience. In fact, the faces of the people in line went from joyous to disappointed, which is not how an artist wants their fans to feel leaving a show.

The Major Issue That Still Needs To Be Solved

There’s one major problem with VIP Fan Experiences as they’re currently set up – they define a “superfan” as someone who spends the most money, putting a wall between fans who are financially well off, and fans who are less financially well off.

Imagine the young fan who saves up their allowance for months just to buy a ticket to a show, or the fan who puts away money from each paycheck from their after-school job in order to purchase a ticket. Aren’t these these people also true superfans? Shouldn’t they have the same opportunity to meet their favorite artists? Why are they getting the short end of the stick?

This is an issue that needs to be addressed, because there are plenty of people artists should consider VIPs, and who deserve the access of a VIP Fan Experience.

Going back to the idea that a photo with an artist is the new “cyber currency,” and could replace the money not gained by an album sale, perhaps artists could create a VIP Fan Experience for fans who’ve purchased a physical copy of the album. “Bring the album, meet the artist,” would seem pretty fair, and not shut out the fans who might not have the money to pay for the full VIP Fan Experience.

So Are VIP Fan Experiences Necessary?

This answer may seem like a bit of a cop out, but … kinda.

If an artist has reached a certain point in their career, and their albums sales have stayed stagnant while their concert crowds have more than doubled in size, it might make sense to create a VIP Fan Experience of some kind. Just remember to actually make it an experience, and find a way to include fans who had to save up just to pay for the actual concert ticket.

If, however, an artist isn’t at that point in their career, the old, “Meet me at the mech table” standby – and having merch available that can be autographed, i.e. albums, posters, etc. – should still be employed.

The one thing to remember above all is that no matter which route you take, it should be all about the fans.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
NYC Scene Report – VÉRITÉ, Vaeda Black, & more
Wednesday, January 09, 2019

This week’s NYC Scene Report features indie pop fave VÉRITÉ teaming up with all-female chamber orchestra Little Kruta, 17 year old Vaeda Black proving to be a bold new voice in the city’s the indie pop scene, an indie rock project about a heavy subject from Hawk and Dove, and melodic punk rockers Cycle Static walking the line.

* VÉRITÉ has made a name for herself in not just the city’s indie pop scene, but in the indie pop scene on a national level. Her latest project is Bunker Studio Sessions, a collaborative EP with all-female chamber orchestra Little Kruta. The EP, which is available now, reimagines five of VÉRITÉ’s songs in the most gorgeous way possible.

VÉRITÉ says of the project, “I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to work with an orchestra. It’s such a luxury to work in a studio with live musicians, reinterpreting songs that I’ve lived with for so long.”

She continued, adding, “I was introduced to Little Kruta, a crowd funded, NYC-based orchestra, by chance when I was asked to perform arrangements of my music with a 20 piece, all-female orchestra at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY (in 2018). The reaction to the performance, and working with such talented, badass women, made this EP inevitable.”

You can check out the Bunker Studio Sessions version of her standout single “Nothing” right here.

* Seventeen year old Long Island native Vaeda Black isn’t your average teenage pop artist. Sure, there’s choreography in the video for her latest single, “Suicide Love,” but it isn’t the high energy dance moves one might expect when they see the phrase “teenage pop artist.” Rather, “Suicide Love” features choreography from Tony nominated, and Emmy winning, choreographer AC Ciulla, who brings Black’s lyrics to life in an unexpected way.

Black explains the inspiration for those lyrics saying, “It actually started with a text message from my ex-boyfriend while we were together probably about a year ago. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but he wrote ‘that’s called suicide, love.’ Something about those two words next to each other really struck me. They’re so different. I kept thinking it would be such an interesting way to express love, passion, and deep wanting, so I wrote a song around it.”

She adds that despite the song’s title, “It’s really a love song. Being vulnerable is hard for a lot of people, but I want this song to represent the good things that come from showing yourself to another person and letting them love you.”

Black will be performing “Suicide Love” at her show at Rockwood Music Hall tonight at 7pm, and you can see the video for the song right here.

* Brooklyn-based indie rock act Hawk and Dove have a very heavy subject as the basis for their upcoming album, Our Childhood Heroes – the search for a miracle cure for frontman Elijah Miller’s father’s early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

Sadly, Miller’s father lost his battle, but if the single “Taxidermy Eden” is any indication, on Our Childhood Heroes Miller will not just tell his story, he’ll tell it in a way where anyone who has gone through pain, searching, and loss, will be able to relate, and perhaps find solace.

Out Childhood Heroes will be released on January 18th, and you can check out “Taxidermy Eden” right here.

* New Jersey-based melodic punk rock trio Cyclone Static are readying the release of their full-length debut, From Scratch, due out February 8th via Mint 400 Records, and in anticipation of this they’re hitting listeners with the single “Walk This Line.”

“Walk This Line” – as is the case with the entire album – was recorded at Forest Of Chaos in Hawthorne, NJ by Neil Sabatino, who also engineered and co-produced the project, and owns Mint 400 Records. With all that in mind I think it’s safe to say the label supports the project.

Drawing on influences that range from late-‘70s-punk, mid-‘80s hardcore, and early-‘90s alternative rock, there’s also a fine art influence in the band’s life, as drummer Jonathan LeVine is a well-known curator, and art gallery owner in the NYC area. Additionally, the cover art for From Scratch was created by Orion Landau of Relapse Records who has designed artwork for a plethora of bands.

Check out “Walk This Line,” and get caught up in Cyclone Static.

For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments

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