Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good reading ~

Just a small blip about playing live/touring/festivals and booking ~ if you have a second these are great articles!

Read article (a little bit about LIVE venues) 1 HERE

Read article (interview with Tom Windish) 2 HERE

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 31st Shows

Gillian's show in Gibsons has been cancelled due to the Bistro's fam emergency- but please come to the Cellar Jazz- this Saturday July 31st 8pm! Michelle and Olga will be putting on an amazing show for YOU!

Hey everyone two shows of note, if you are either here or on the sunshine coast, check out one of these amazing nights of music! (I know that I say 'amazing' a lot - how can I help it- all these artists ARE amazing!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Ideas On An Old Theme

Hey everyone, i hope you'll take 30 minutes out of your day to watch this series of videos, and to help me brainstorm. I have been chatting with these guys about bringing the Vigour Project to Western Canada, right now we're just talking about how and when.

I hope you will all want to be involved, it doesn't take science to know this stuff - it's a no brainer actually - let's get on it!

Happy Monday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Repost of Acid House Interview with Lenny Bronstein!

Hey everyone, as you know I am interviewing friends and colleagues for the 'Acid House Interview' series - I am posting the Can Con interviews up over HERE, and the International ones here (somethingorother about funding).....Enjoy my chat with Lenny here and this week I feature Shari Ulrich over at!


I am so fortunate, and down right lucky to work with this man. Lenny Bronstein is one of the power-trio of US radio promoters, and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions. I have asked Lenny to purposely name-drop in this interview, as I wanted everyone to be able to connect on some level with this man, and have some sort of scope of the amazing work he has done and a taste of the life he has lived so far! This is interview is uncut - Brontstein unplugged…

Lenny Bronstein - On Radio

ja ~ Hi Lenny! Can you tell me a bit about your background, accomplishments and where you are at now, in your career?

lb ~ Hi Jenn, sure. I co-founded the Brooklyn College radio station, WBCR, in 1968 after being a very rabid radio listener and participant on air at NYC Top 40 WMCA, where I created the first of my radio friendships with the many disc jockeys and programmers there.

While at Brooklyn College, I and another college radio programmer, Gary Cohen, convinced all the labels to start college radio promotion departments and directly service college radio with new product. Previously, for 40 some odd years, the IBS was its only advocate and very ineffectual.

As labels started those programs, A&M Records contacted me and hired me to do NY/NJ/Conn college promotion. In less than a year, I became the local NYC rep for A&M. I was moved to San Francisco in 1974 and 8 months later was promoted to west coast regional rep. 8 months later I was moved to the home office heading the national album department.

During my tenure, we broke artists as diverse as Frampton, Supertramp, Styx, Nazareth, Billy Preston, Joe Cocker, Carole King, Cheech & Chong, The Police, Joe Jackson, 38 Special, Ozark Mt. Daredevils, Pablo Cruise, The Tubes, Brothers Johnson, Chuck Mangione, Gato Barbieri, Nils Lofgren, Bryan Adams and many more.

I also initiated concepts that became industry standards including the "Dollar Concert Series" with the Ozarks and Joan Armatrading. I started sending out monthly A&M advance listening cassettes to radio to preview our new releases and priorities, which became the industry norm for most labels and big business for the tip sheets.

I launched the first of a series of live concert albums partnered with Lee Abrams for his client stations which we distributed exclusively to radio which never was available to the public so radio could bask in providing a one time only experience for their audience. In 1980, as the industry slowly constricted with early downsizing, I started my own independent promotion company, which I continue to operate today (with a short detour in 1990 to help launch the Charisma label in the US for Richard Branson with some old A&M cohorts). A short list of the many artists I helped to break include:


I also helped resurrect radio airplay for artists like: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Elvis Costello, Eddie Money, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Van Morrison, Robin Trower, Bob Dylan, Dokken, Slaughter, David Lee Roth, Deep Purple, Bad Company Molly Hatchet, George Thorogood, Little Steven, Jethro Tull, John Mayall, Ian Hunter, Alice Cooper, Meatloaf, Great White, Ted Nugent, David Bowie and more.

At Charisma, I directed the Gary Moore campaign which gave him his first gold album and helped the KNACK get to #7 on the charts in their comeback.

Today, I'm working with mostly independent label acts and helping former superstars go back to radio with new music.

ja ~ Ok first wow, you have been in on some major musical history in the making!

I know that there have been many changes, and evolutions in radio and in the music industry in general, can you talk a bit about them and how they have affected you and in what ways?

lb ~ Well, radio went through a few different cycles starting in the 80's when new wave challenged a very conservative Southern-based/corporate rock consulted rockers. In the late 80's, playlists shrunk and currents became scarcer in favor of researched safe recurrents, which dominated most rockers.

All of a sudden, a few bold programmers started to program this new brand of young bands and instead of burying them at 3 AM, they banged them up to 40+ times a week in all dayparts. It was the short-lived "hair band" era which immediately was cast aside, despite its success, by the Nirvana/grunge revolution. Instantaneously, all these cautious programmers became experts and flooded the airwaves with all these new bands who had a completely different social image and approach to success.

Unfortunately, with a new population of novice radio jocks and programmers, many who only had college radio experience, all the classic artists were discarded and relegated to classic rock stations while only these new bands were heard. Normally, it would be something to celebrate and most did, but almost none of these bands had an image, an identity or loyalty. Gen X, then Gen Y was about immediate gratification and instead of building a career for long term, bands sold multi-platinum on their first release, gold on their second and often looking for a new label deal for their third.

The Internet exploded and provided even more new avenues of exposure immediately grabbing a music fan's attention, but also deluding many into believing that if they put their music online, everyone would discover and love it and buy it. As Xm, then Sirius entered the picture, they provided music devotees with a new, purer place to hear uninterrupted music.

Today, unfortunately, between the economy and the inability to connect the audience with the artists emotionally, sales have plummeted, record stores have bit the dust and the opportunities of old have reverted to the traditional touring to have a long term career, but dependence on American Idol or some major TV/commercial/movie campaign to break an artist/record to a mass audience.

The other factor that changed the playing field was the Spitzer investigation and clampdown on the record companies and radio relationships which were abused for years. However, the goal of leveling the playing field so indies could compete with the majors, led to internal controls which severely restricted new artists and music at these stations, defeating the original goal. Where some stations would have multiple adds for a week, maybe 5 or 6, they all of a sudden, added 1 or 2 or none weekly, dramatically closing the door on all but the established or researched hits already charting. Of course, we still have formats like AAA, who exposes a wide variety of adult artists, but most of their rotations are too minimal to reach the bulk of the audience frequently enough to become familiar.

ja ~ With some of these changes, there seems to me that there is a division in music delivery, the people who can pay for radio placement and the people who can send in their own music to Net radio etc. Has that higher end changed at all? Or has just the way you work changed ie: email and the Internet delivery systems etc vs telephone and hard copy distribution etc…

lb ~ Not sure how much that division really exists, but I'm cautious about most internet radio and how many people actually hear a particular station at any given moment, which deludes many bands/artists into believing they can "break" from that minimal exposure. What has changed is more "communicators" don't communicate much. There are layers of people, voicemail and multi-station responsibilities that often prevent regular dialogue between radio and records.

Time is highly constricted on both sides with more functions and daily distractions. We also have a new generation of promotion people and programmers who only want to communicate with their "thumbs" or IM's instead of having phone conversations, which I find to be incredulously more time consuming, less spontaneous and less intuitive.

ja ~ Do you have a lot more work these days with so many people out there

making music?

lb ~ Funny, but I have less work than ever because there are so many people out of work from layoffs, who hung up a shingle and dilute the promo pool, which contributes to the adversarial relationship with radio who now has too many people trying to work them. It also is because all these new "indie" artists believe that they have a shot on their own if they have a MySpace page and don't want professional help.

Others are getting used to the idea of music being free online to download so why should they pay someone for anything. Try to get a carpenter to build something for free...tell a plumber you "deserve" to have your pipes fixed for free...try to convince an airline you should fly for free. Truthfully, we all have a harder time taking a record the distance, because in the old days, a number one record would have at least 95% of the stations playing, you could be #1 with 50% of the panel.

ja ~ That being said, do you see a change in the quality of the product you receive, given that so many people now record on their own, away from a label and even away from a professional recording studio?

lb ~ Sadly, much of the music is indistinguishable and unidentifiable. Some is beyond amateurish and (believe me) you hear back immediately about the quality of the vocals, production and even ability to play instruments well. We also, frankly, have more compartmentalization and radio wants things to fit in a prescribed sound they strive for.

Ironically though, radio's biggest breakthroughs are usually the records that DON'T sound like everything else they are playing and stand out! Again, with all these musicians producing themselves or their buddies, their sense of reality is often far from the stellar production of major talent. Let's face it, it is a dream that few achieve, but now it is more of a fantasy than that reality of ever happening, although there are other avenues. Ultimately, it's about a team of professionals starting with the artists having good managers who are experienced and even connected - locally or regionally or nationally- along with a record company or surrogate who honestly advises them.

ja ~ I think people are keen to know about sending music to stations, as it is a large part of the self marketing new artists have to do. I know you still do physical mailouts, do most stations still expect that?

lb ~ Most stations still expect a physical cd, though more of the larger markets are almost totally computerized and could get away without one. I am FIRMLY of the belief that we need to hit them multiple ways to get their attention to at least listen. playMPE or DMDS should be a part of the campaign, but having a cd in your hand with some bio/one sheet to tell you something about the artist gives you that extra visual connection. Face it, a cd in a pile on your desk may get another look...a file buried in a computer may never get heard or get dumped a lot quicker. Sometimes the artwork or packaging (like the old days of vinyl) can stimulate you to listen to an unknown offering. It's cheap enough these days to press and mail it - why limit your chances?

ja ~ Yes, I agree, anything and everything you can do/afford, is required these days to even make a blip on the radar.

If you were to give advice to new artists, promo companies, or anyone in the industry really, what would it be?

lb ~ Establish relationships!!! Get to know your subjects, play as many places as possible to build a loyal following and keep trying to improve. Don't send out your music until you're really ready and a few people you trust who are not emotionally involved tell you it's worthwhile. Be committed and don't dream of the money or fame. It's about the art ultimately, which will give you a career and not a moment. Be scrupulously honest despite a path easier taken. Be passionate and be prepared EVERY day!

ja ~ Is there anything else you want to talk about or want to get out there

- the floor is wide open to you!

lb ~ I think I went above and beyond and probably opened up a few cans of worms with my thought is that this has been a lifetime CAREER and not just a cool job. It was never about the salary or power and position. The one word everyone cringes at hearing but has been the major reason for the downfall of much of the radio/record business is GREED. The excesses got out of control and wrecked a lot of the system while many profited more than handsomely taking advantage of it.

Like the banking industry today, the music industry bubble burst while many stayed in denial. The fact that we fought the Internet and downloading and subsequently sued all the "illegal" downloaders did more damage than anyone could have realized. As an industry, we rarely "adapt"...we usually "copy" and wonder why the copy isn't as successful as the original!

ja ~ Lenny thank you so much. I can tell you that feel very privileged to have worked with you, and hope to more often in the future, it has been a joy!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat!

You can reach Lenny at:

or catch up with him of FaceBook.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Watching the winners, win.

Hey everyone, it's ok to feel a bit sad when you watch the winners win!

I am SO happy for everyone winning all the contests lately, but I also hear you on the flipside, the folks who feel they never win, no matter the work they put in, and why do they keep trying?

It is hard when you feel you are being rejected, but know it's not personal.

I know you'll say "Hey Ashton - it IS personal, it's a part of ME it's MY ART!!" -

Well, exactly...remember why you do it.

It's not about winning, and judges make decisions based on lots of internal and external factors.

It's NOT personal.

Now go sing or play or dance, just because you have to....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A quick note about 'roles'.

Before I hog the blog with another AH Interview - I wanted to speak quickly about roles. One of the writers on NxEW sent this out in response to a band who had not done much in the way of PR - moral of the story - check your expectations of people you work with, be clear, and do as much as you can yourself - it is your gig after all!

"I don't know any of the particulars here, but this is a good time to remind bands---if they need reminding---that "talent bookers" are not necessarily "promoters." Some bookers do promote the shit out of the shows they put on, but I know others who don't. And the latter aren't necessarily bad people, it's just that they see themselves as playing a different role. Again, speaking generally, it seems important for bands to know ahead of time which one they are dealing with. And, as someone pointed out above, it's crucial for bands, especially when they are on tour, to be on top of their websites and social media. If they can't do it themselves, they should hire a publicist ahead of time. Even a few blog posts in the right places can help get the word out, especially in smaller markets where music fans don't get as much chance to see touring bands as we do here in Toronto. It's also important to search out complimentary local bands to open or headline, so that you can play to their fans, and make connections for future tours. Etc.

Good luck to everyone on the road this summer."

(And thanks to Luke Setzer for the image!)