Avalanche – Music Change Management Consultancy ?

I’ve been told many times over the last couple of years that I should set up as a consultant and that would in some way go towards helping with the costs of the shop. I did look into it but my problem was always that I would not compromise what I do in the shop which is give everybody an equal chance. While I am happy to back bands I like I wouldn’t do it for money. While I’m happy to occasionally contact my friends with other shops again I would not do that for money but only to help bands and labels that had been supportive. 

I’m amazed at how people now give themselves music industry titles and there are even courses on stuff that you should just get on with doing and not “study”. Most frustratingly when young kids come in talking complete shite with some confidence it is often not their fault but something they have heard from an “industry expert” who hasn’t actually been hands on for often decades. Also there is now a whole new generation of bands and even more amazingly “managers” who know absolutely nothing about how the “big world” works beyond a few local gigs, an album launch and a bandcamp page. Similarly “proper” PR companies of course have friends and contacts in the music industry but will cast their net far wider. However many I have been asked to check out seem to rely on a few friends and nothing else. A Scottish band will get reviews in The List and The Skinny that they would have got anyway and otherwise it is clear these people have a few friends with blogs who will review favourably anything they ask them to. Some even seem to have resorted to having their own blogs to review bands who are paying them for press.

Anyway what all this does mean is that I can advise bands on strategies and ways forward without compromising the ideals I mentioned earlier. In fact I would rather people were paying me a relatively small amount of money for sensible advise than forking out for the sort of dubious nonsense that I hear. I still have to formulate exactly how I will work it and to be honest I think it will vary from band to band. If a band is dreadful or probably more accurately “not ready” I will simply say so and take it no further. Most likely I won’t like the music but I will know how I can help the band progress. As I constantly explain to bands while I may not like a particular genre of music that doesn’t mean I can’t recognise those who do it well. More importantly when people come in the shop I sell them the music I think they will like not my own personal taste.  

Of course it isn’t just bands I can help and I’m currently working with the promotion of the Polaris Music Prize. I am regularly asked for the Avalanche “brand” to support something but invariably it is something I wouldn’t support or will involve my time but be of no benefit. I could of course be of most use to bigger bands and labels but they normally have management who often don’t realise just how quickly things change in the music industry these daysSo more later but to be honest I’m quite looking forward to sensibly helping bands progress. And of course if I come across a band I think my customers, twitter followers and readers of the Avalanche blog/website will like I will continue to promote them irrespective of whether I have any dealings with them.

And the headline ? Well I doubt if any industry has changed and is still changing as fast as the music industry and yet you never hear of change management. Band management that needs a course but coping with and more importantly acknowledging and dealing with the continuous changes in the music industry. No ! By definition all the course could do would be to teach the techniques of dealing with change when what there seems to be instead is people talking about how things have changed without realising that change is ongoing and often so rapid that unless you are “at the coalface” you have no chance of keeping up. So with so many others giving themselves fancy or undeserved titles I think I may go with Music Change Management Consultant !

2 Responses to “Avalanche – Music Change Management Consultancy ?”

  • Olaf:

    Wow, that last paragraph is worthy of Donald Rumsfeld. Interesting point about PRs. I can count on one hand how many have contacted me to have their band written about in our Scotsman column. However, I have covered many acts who have sent me a personal email.

    One of the most common mistakes made by musicians when it come to releases is leaving it far too late to contact press. Give yourself at least six weeks to two months. More info at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQJiP1mSo7w&feature=player_embedded

  • I agree about giving it at least 6 weeks though 3 months as some advise is excessive unless you have a serious chance of getting in Q or Mojo. There are of course even more basic things bands and labels with any ambition need to get right like making sure the release is available beyond a launch and a Bandcamp page. I’m amazed how often a band gets a good review that will reach a wider public but they don’t seem to realise that they need more than a small online presence to capitalise on it.

    There can be nothing more embarrassing than getting a good review in The Scotsman, Herald, Skinny, List etc only to realise that key shops and online sellers don’t have it. The same applies to radio play. This happens a lot more than people realise and shops certainly don’t have time to chase these things up and often when the band or label does realise what they need to do it is weeks later and the moment has been lost.

    There are of course examples of labels who get these basics right as a matter of course such as Chaffinch and Olive Grove and of course bands too who also get the simple things right though not as often as I would like !

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