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My Way In: Introducing Cotton Mount

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Following from the last My Way In post – as promised I am dedicating this post to tell you about the band that I am now managing.

Cotton mount

So first of all who are they?
Well to be short and practical about it we have:
Daniel Minten (bass, trumpet, viola)
Pierre Schilling (drums)
Thibault Zanoni (guitars)
Igor Varidel (vocals, guitars)

Four really down-to-earth yet opinionated creative guys, very different yet complementary, who made me feel comfortable with their sincerity and excited by their dedication to their music.

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What’s their sound?
Dark, raw vocals beautifully juxtaposed onto light and complex instrumental to create a perfect unique melancholy indie sound.

The genre?
Well if you absolutely have to put them in a box then probably it would be indie rock/alternative

Their musical influences?
This is a difficult answer to get without causing a band fight but they finally agreed on the (kinda) communal: Radiohead (yes I know, but you’ll hear it), Pink Floyd and Bashung.

Where are they from?
Geneva. That’s right – Geneva has an indie band. Hard to believe, but true. And because of the scarcity of this sound (but also left-of-centre mindset) in this commercially dominated glitzy city – music was their much-needed self-prescribed Prozac in some way.

Their story?
The guys have been playing together for over 10 years. They have experimented with many different genres and different band formations. Finally things got serious in 2011 as they found themselves on the same new unique sound and the same complete determination to dedicate themselves to music and to each other. And since things have picked up at quite a speed.

Something that made me laugh?
When they first started playing they use to play KORN covers and spent a good portion of their rebellious teenage years vandalizing their school and public places by carving the word UROK everywhere –  their band name back then. UROK you ask? Well it’s KORN spelt backward with the N flipped over. Obviously.

Big News?
After gaining support from founders of Le Chat Noir andL’Usine and sound engineer Renaud Millet-Lacombe Cotton Mount have recorded their début album Still Life. The concert for the launch of album will be on the 27 April at Le Chat Noir – I will see you there.

More Concerts?
11 April at Vernier, Salle des Fêtes du Lignon, more INFO
16 May at La Gravière, Genève (with Technicolor Orchestra)
Many more to come

Like the sound of it?
Well feel free to favourite our Website  which connects you to all platforms,
Like us on Facebook  to be updated with our latest news
Stream us on Bandcamp or Soundcloud
And watch the teaser video on Youtube

What’s next?
We are organizing more concerts in Switzerland but also all over Europe including the UK, the digital and then physical release of the album (fingers crossed) and who knows and indie label deal?

My Way In: I have a band

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Continuing on from the previous My Way In posts:

The 31st of October was my last day at work. What a day. So I organized a week-long trip to London mid-November to go test out the waters and figure out the best way to break into the music industry. Luckily since I had publicized my plan, several lovely friends helped me out and put me in contact with people to speak to in London.

The conversation with these music contacts all went a little along the lines of: Do you realize

– That this is an incredibly tough industry – yes
– Artist management is possibly the hardest job in the industry to get – great
– It is going to take you 3-6 months to get an internship/job – yes
– They will not pay you – fantastic
– Finally when you get a proper job they will pay you close to nothing – pasta all the way
– You will work crazy hours – sleep when you dead

Are you sure you are up for this? hell yes!
Ok then you need to:

– Sign up to the following newsletters – done already
– Read the following books – ticked
– Order the following directory – being shipped to me as we speak
(all info on recommended material for the music industry is in this post)

Oh ok you are actually serious about this? Yes.
And then you win the trust. And people really start to help you because they realize you are not another flaky person who wants to work in the industry but has no idea what they are getting into. Their advice was: 1. move to London as fast as you can so you can be on the ground to network 2. Find a band to manage.

So I laugh – find a band to manage? How exactly do you do that? But I promise to try when I move to London.

And back to Geneva I go, thinking about planning my move. Three days later a friend invites me to go watch his band in concert. I have other plans but my lovely friend Eva agrees to go with me after our dinner. So off we go. They play and we have a good time – and we are about to leave when another band gets on stage. They play one song – and my mouth drops. They are brilliant.

I turn to Eva and say – I should ask them if they have a manager. We both laugh. They continue to play and at the last song I have tears in my eyes. So after the concert I go speak to the singer. I tell him I am looking for a band to manage and to move to London. He is interested. Turns out this hugely talented band made up of four, 20 something, wonderful guys – don’t have a label or a manager. And they are in the mist of recording an album. I arrange to meet them 3 days later at a bar.

We chat.
We drink beer.
One week back from London and I have a band.
I am a band manager.
They are called Cotton Mount.
(more about them in the next post but for now I ask for a simple like on FB pretty please)
They rock.

And so does the fact that you prepare yourself for this tough journey when you follow your heart. You are scared like crazy to jump.  But then you do, and you wait for the hard fall. But actually you find yourself flying. And people will positively surprise you with just how much support and cheering they will do for you. And you realize that all those lame clichés about chasing your passion are true: fortune really favours the brave.

My Way In: Knowledge is Power

So in the last few posts of My Way In we have discussed searching for your passion if you are not satisfied in your job. I recommended picking up a good habit of investing into something you enjoy and immersing yourself in the details. The beauty really is in the details – that is when you will find your dream will turn into concrete realities and you will find out jobs you never even heard of.

Apologies for the long post but this is a just a depository of all the knowledge I gained about the music industry and it is broken into three sections: Music Inspiration from websites/blogs; Music Industry News from Daily Mailing Lists and more in-depth Musical Industry Structure and Jobs coming from books.

Music Inspiration. To get inspired I would recommend getting into the details of the pure CONTENT of your passion. So in my case – get to really know the music. Training and developing your ear is just as true as for your taste buds – developing an acquired taste. Nothing can replace several hours of listening a day. For music inspiration I normally go to these websites regularly:

Pitchfork
Stereogum
HypeMachine
CLASH
GorillavsBear
NME
Record of the Day

Music Industry News. If your love for music isn’t so one-dimensional – i.e. you love music but you wouldn’t want to be an artist – I would start looking more into the industry.  I would recommend reading one of these three daily subscription mails (or all of them but they do get quite repetitive and it does take a lot of time on a daily routine):

Complete Music Update (CMU) –free and the most thorough daily feeds
Music Week – About  £150 subscription per year – although daily updates with some articles available freely. The biggest benefit to signing up to Music Week is their directory – the biggest music yellow pages you could ever dream of with EVERYONE’s numbers and emails. Priceless.
Music Ally – for all your tech inclined readers – this is really a great and well written update. You need to pay but there is about 3 months of free trial so you can start with that and see if you feel it is worth the money

Musical Industry Structure and Jobs. I would also recommend reading books to really solidify your knowledge of the jobs out there and the industry structure.For anyone who is trying to find out about the different TYPES of jobs and roles that are out there in the music industry, I highly recommend:

Working in the Music Industry by Anna Britten

This book is really great it is what gave me the aha moment when I got to the last chapter and read the artist management job description and ticket every box. What I like in this book is that it is very honest and practical. It describes all the positive and negatives of each job, what talents and personality types are suited, practical tips on how to get a job and how to work towards getting hired and some first-hand case studies from people working in the industry. It’s an absolutely essential first read if you want to find out about possibilities in the industry

I then read:

All You Need to Know about the Music business (7th Edition) by Donald S. Passman

This much less inspiring but essential book is really a bible when it comes to the technicalities of the music industry. It is written from the angle of teaching an artist but can be used for everyone.  It covers the roles and responsibilities of the different people in the artist’s ‘team’ (lawyer, manager, agents) and what to look for; a very detailed description on record deals ; a very detailed description on publishing deals and then smaller sections on Group Issues, Touring, Merchandising, Classical Music and Movies

This book is VERY dense. I will not lie that at times it feels like you need a cup of coffee per page when you get lost in the technical rules of royalties on discounted CD sold in foreign territory at a lower rate with a distributor and then how that applies to a premium. However the book does give a guide on how to skip over the more intensely technical areas. Apart from parts of it being tough to get through over all the book is really well written in the sense that he explains all concepts like he would to a 5 year old child – so if you can stay awake you should all be able to understand. And overall I really enjoyed understanding the ins and outs of all the contracts and the complexity of each deals. It’s really a big wakeup call on just how hard it is to be recouped or make money in general. It is definitely a tough but essential read.

Next up a more focused book:

The Music Management Bible edited and compiled by Nicola Riches but written by several members of the MMF

This was a great book to read for me as it focused more on the specific issues I was interested in and yet still recapped and summarized some important issues of the Passman book. Although technical I found this book really interesting and clear. It was really well written and to the point and included and explained several parts of the managers contract you would need to sign with your artist. This is the recommended basic contract by the Music Managers Forum (MMF).

How Music Works by John Powel

This was more out of personal curiosity than for my job. I wanted to find out what made music so special and why it moves so many people (including myself of course). I have mixed feelings about this book. My biggest disappointment is that I didn’t feel like it really cracked music’s magic – although maybe because you’re not supposed to. Also as I played piano for 10 years I was a bit bored with some sections, as it is written for people with zero musical knowledge and explained chords and notes and instruments. However I did enjoy several sections: what is music vs. noise, what is perfect pitch, how we came to our scales, why the same note on different instruments sound different, what is a harmony, rhythm etc. The only problem about this book is the author continuous attempt to be funny but failing terribly. I landed up cringing every few pages.

Lastly a not music related but definitely inspirational is the book I am in the middle of:

The 4 Hour work week by Timothy Ferriss

For anyone who is either going through a career change or is thinking of it and thinks really out the box and is willing to invest into a seriously different way of approaching work to enjoy your life NOW and not when you retire – I can only but recommend this book. It is very radical and it does aim to shock and although I do not agree with all parts of the book – overall this book has been so incredibly mind-blowing and inspirational I cannot help but recommend to every like-minded person I meet. An absolute must read to your crazy thinkers who want to shoot for the stars and not settle for the ordinary.

Well that should keep you busy for now. If you have some books or websites you’d like to recommend please do so. It be great to have some recommendations.

My Way In: The Big Corporate Myth

This is now my fourth post of My Way In, and in my first post I mentioned a Big Corporate Myth so I’ll now expand on it:

There is a Big Corporate Myth, forced on us lost students or young employees, that we need to invest some good years into training with a big company for the sake of credibility on our CV. We are often pressured into conforming rather than encouraged to diverge. And to be fair I think that if you really don’t know what to do – it’s perfectly correct to take the ‘rational’ option that has the highest chance of helping you in the future. But the problem comes in when it becomes an excuse to never go and find out what you really want. Because after you do one year, they sell you that a real experience only counts after two years, and then two roles, which land up becoming four years and then you are so close to that promotion….And next thing you know you feel like you invested so much you are stuck.

And if you do not know what you want to do, how can you say you need that company on your CV. There are many jobs out there (and probably most of the really interesting jobs) who will look very lightly at your big corporate CV tick. Who will value it for maybe a year or two, but the extra years after that are just a waste. You proved your point – move on. And the only way you can find out if you need this wonderfully-high-esteemed-by-society-experience is to find out WHAT ON EARTH YOU WANT.

And maybe you just don’t know. Or maybe it is a corporate career. Or maybe the investment makes sense. I am not trying to prove the point that all corporations and corporate jobs are bad or boring or unrewarding. In fact at University my best guess was being a Financial Analyst. I actually enjoy maths (the best part is I can do it while listening to music – I should have seen the clues) and wanted a people orientated job and so you are advised to work in a big corporation. Corporations, like they say, let you do anything (different industries, roles, assignments). But what they don’t tell you is their addictive status of success may lock you into unfulfillment. Also because we give ourselves less freedom in our career choices than in our relationships.

So I tried in the hopes of finding a part of anything that I liked. After a short while it was clear that not only was I completely in the wrong company, I also doubted corporate finance altogether. Even observing people at 4 times my level, sure their job seemed more rewarding, but it’s definitely not what I wanted to do with my life. And it seemed that if I wanted to really be happy it would take a bolder change than a different role or getting promoted or moving to a similar industry related company.

That’s when you need to start searching for the next thing. Because saying I’ll just keep doing this job till I find out what I like is not necessarily going to work. But how? Well I wrote about it in my last post and in short: get into the habit of investing into discovering your passion every morning. I also read this wonderfully intense article last week called How To Have A Year That Matters by Umair Haque on the Harvard Business School blog that suggested answering the question: what about the world breaks your heart? Whatever you feel really truly emotional about –that’s what you should go out there to change or work on or create.

And remember that when you find what you love, what you are ready to fight for; it’s not an incomplete CV that will get in your way. Because when your head, your heart, your morals and genuine motivation align to achieve something, it’s a whole other ball game.

My Way In: Finding My Way

Hello MasMusic readers,

So as I promised, I would not only be sharing musical recommendation and content but I would also tell you my journey of chasing my dream. So I created this new section MY WAY IN to tell my journey of making it (or not) into the music industry. I’ll do my best to break it down in small digestible part – but I’m really a rambler at heart. I hope you enjoy my story.

I was born in France to a French father and an Italian mother. I lived all around France until the age of 9 at which point I moved to South Africa. After 10 years of schooling in Johannesburg, I moved to Cape Town for University. At the end of my studies I took a 6 months break, living in Rome, and then moved to Geneva to start working. And that’s the short version. So let’s say I have a bit of nationality identity crisis.

Growing up I had many interests (understanding people, learning to play the piano, violin, dancing, singing, acting and directing theatre, events organizing, teaching) most of which I did for several years as hobbies, on and off, but not one that felt like my calling. So I never really focused or developed any of them. Mathematics also came very naturally to me, and since this is a more respected and nurtured talent in the society of today, I did what most lost students do: I studied business (finance and economics). That seemed rational, that seemed prestigious and it seemed safe.

Before I finished studying I was lucky enough to be recruited by a big FMCG company that offered to send me to Geneva at the end of my studies. And again that sounded rational, prestigious and even exciting, so I accepted. But quickly after I started working I started feeling unsatisfied. I was not buying the whole Big Corporate Myth (something I’ll elaborate on in another post). I knew that I wasn’t being true to myself, working in this company.

So to stay happy, and most importantly to feel like I was actually doing/achieving something, I started a side project. When you work you simply don’t have time for multiple hobbies so it forced me to focus on one: and that became music. First I started doing Song of the Day and then joining with other forces it became Indie Nation. The importance of the routine of starting each day with music I’ll also elaborate in another post.

So after I started knowing music content well, I started researching types of jobs in the industry. Working in the Music Industry by Anna Britten was really a great help.  Before reading this I had pictured myself as talent scout (A&R). But then as I read the last chapter of the book, something very special happened. I read a description of a job that was perfect for me. Absolutely perfect. From start to finish. Artist management. Why hadn’t I thought about it before? Maybe it is because it seemed too good of a job to be accessible to me. But no, it turned out there were even artist management small private companies that you could join as an assistant. This discovery ticked the big three things I really wanted:

  1. Work as closely as possible to the music (you don’t get closer unless you are the artist)
  2. Be on the side of the artist (as a talent scout you try make artist sign contracts in the best interest of the label not the artist) and be in the position to nurture music I believed in
  3. Work for a medium to small company (I have had it with big companies – at least for now)

And that was it. I realized how often at University I had wished and hoped to know what I wanted to become. How I had said to myself, if only I knew what I wanted to do – I would do it. And there it was; I had joined this privilege small group of people who did know.

So I had no choice left but to chase it with all my energy…

Song of the day: send us your inspiration

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Hello kids,

I’m starting to run out of inspiration for Feature Fridays – so please make sure to send some suggestion through. Don’t be shy.

For now we can always count on the regular suggestions of Dancing Dries.
This one is a little harder to dance to though.

Today we feature Blaudzun who is the alias of Dutch singer-songwriter Johannes Sigmond who released his third album Heavy Flowers early this year.

Listen to Flame on my head.

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day