We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Playlists (except the one at We Are: The Guard).

I have a love and hate relationship with Charts (except the one at my crowd sourced record label, We Are: The Guard.  Like the Billboard Hot 100 charts are actually a collective conglomerate of…everyone!  From the most discerning music experts and listeners, to my two, 8 and 12 year-old nieces who live in Amish Country Pennsylvania…and everyone in between.

To add to this, I have a problem with the Charts that are auto populated based on virality, meaning like how many Shazam’s, how many blogs posted it, how many RePosts, what’s been upvoted in that certain community.  Because…in many cases a lot of that is often manipulated…and I won’t get into detail with that here because it’s sometimes scandalous.


Furthermore, to even get any traction, it usually takes some type of attention even to get the Gatekeepers to listen or even write about you.

what's in it for us? what? (south park)

Let me give you an example, I know some publicists (and I don’t get me wrong, I love awesome publicists) that won’t even (let me remind you…these are publicists whose job it is to help with exposure) take a new client unless they already have 5 digits of ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page.  So … wait a second? I want to pay YOU to help ME get my artist exposure and it’s a pass even if the music is great?!  BINGO you got it!  On top of that once you have the Gatekeepers attention you have to make sure you take very good care of them or at least make it worth their while.

So basically, what happens here is to even get on the “on ramp” and any chance of landing on any charts, you first need to get picked up by key music blogs…and for that you usually need some sort of social media presence, some Soundcloud metrics taking off, some viral story happening.  You often need to give people some social proof that something’s already happening.  You need to give them an incentive.

An Alternative to Traditional Charts

Anyway…most of these charts…it is what it is.  And you know I LOVE the charts when I have hits on them (check my discography here – shameless self promotion) and I kinda hate them when I don’t (haha). Anyway…Charts are great for the majority of music consumers.  But…

I don’t want that.  And that’s a big reason I’ve been working on my own Crowd Sourced Record Label and Filter…We Are: The Guard, which (you guessed it)…has its own chart.

you're goddamn right

Or as Ayn Rand, author of the amazing “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” once said, “It takes two people to make art.  One to make it.  And the other to actually say “this is the shit.”  (Well, those weren’t her exact words, but it clearly gets the point across).

So, continuing with my rant…to get on any Charts, you need to be the most popular at something i.e. most viral, most streamed, most airplay, most scandalous, most popular on blogs, yada yada.

Well screw me. Why can’t we just have a chart that says…”Damn…this song is the BEST song we’ve heard all week…Ohh wait, hold on a second….I see they only have 452 Facebook fans and no Soundcloud traction…hmm….what shall we do about that….I don’t know.  Oh wait … YES I DO.  This song goes in at #1 on We Are: The Guard charts!  Yeah #1 HELL YEAH BECAUSE THIS SONG IS THE BEST SONG OF THE WEEK!

starting to see pictures, ain't ya?

No story.  No metrics.  No gazillion Facebook fans.  No gimmickry.  And certainly, none of those darned computer algorithms.

Just … simple.   Is this music like the best we’ve heard this week?…with a focus on emerging artists.

You see, part of my fascination with building something like We Are: The Guard, is my vision that one day in the future, the whole world will eventually be online with Google Fiber or other blazing fast internet connection.   (Oh wait you say…everyone’s already on line!!).  Not so fast, my young grasshopper.  Affordable tech along with Google, Facebook, and Amazon putting high speed WiFi across the planet with satellites and drones…once Spotify and iTunes gets in the hands of the entire world…there’s like 3-5 Billion more people coming on line.  At least!

yeah i'm gonna need more time, that would be great (Office Space)

And continually…the problem content consumers and content creators continually face is…TIME!  Time for your Attention.  We are running into a TIME attention economy.

So it’s my vision that one day very soon…a totally unknown artist from a small town in the middle of nowhere (or a big town in the middle of somewhere)…can upload a brilliant new song…and via We Are: The Guard process (which you can learn more about here)…that this song can make it on the top of our charts…and within a matter of 24 hours…the entire world knows about this brilliant new track.

To continue on this thought…that same artist within a month (or less) could have a combined 50,000,000 + iTunes or Spotify streams.  That comes down to about $350,000 for that artist. Just on streaming.

That’s my vision.   That’s what I’m sticking with.

So yes…Charts! Let’s build a new one.  Visit We Are: The Guard here on our home page to see what I’m talking about.

Leonardo DiCaprio - big party

It’s my dream that a totally new and unknown artist will often be at the top of the We Are: The Guard charts…and ultimately be a key “go to” destination for early music discovery.

Love and kisses.

About the Author

The Author of “How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!”

My career in music publishing extends over 25 years, including BMG Music (bought by Universal) and EMI Music Publishing (bought by Sony), as well as the 1st U.S. employee of Kobalt Music Publishing, where he helped build the roster over 10 years as Executive VP of Creative.

Benjamin is currently heading up his own publishing company, Brill Building, as well as label and music filter, We Are: The Guard. Benjamin’s signings range from Ryan Tedder, Kelly Clarkson, The Lumineers, Grimes, Savan Kotecha, OneRepublic, SOPHIE, Ariel Rechtshaid, Greg Kurstin, Tiesto, Kid Cudi, TOKiMONSTA, TR/ST, Cut Copy, Big Freedia, Lindy Robbins, Peaches and yes, even Steel Panther. His specialty in the music business is early artist, writer and writer/producer development.

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