An Open Letter to Paxahau

Dear Paxahau,

After much thought and a little prodding from fellow Detroiters that seem to know members of your collective, I have decided to write this open letter to you. At the time of penning this, the festival is less than two weeks away now. In researching things leading up to the festival, I recently found that your site was down for over two days, which is a bit disappointing coming from an organization that appreciates electronic-based content. Granted, I know we are talking about music and not the web, but one would think they would go hand-in-hand. Not to mention, the fact that the user experience of your website is a bit off-putting is also fairly disconcerting.

A quick introduction, I am not what you may consider a diehard electronic music fan. I appreciate all forms of music, but my formative teenage years were spent listening to Wu Tang, De La Soul and Boot Camp Clik. I grew up listening to The Electrifying Mojo, but it was in my college years that I began to pay more attention to electronic-based music. This letter is not about me though. It is more about what is being observed and the things I have gathered when talking to people that have been behind the scenes.

In the past, I have heard people make mention that your organization is cheap. I have grown to look at it as jealousy, because the sources never seemed to be doing anything comparable to give reason for me to really give creedence to their put-downs. That was until I had a friend who was hired to do some work with you guys in which I got a taste of what your leadership was like. Unfortunately, myopic was the takeaway word that came to mind when I was exposed to the potential squandered.

Let it be known that I respect the level of organization that you guys have inserted into the historically-dysfunctional festival. I admit I balked when we had to pay for tickets to enter a once-free festival, but that was when I was young and dumb. As a less-dumb but still young business owner, I understand your need to produce an event that can actually generate revenue. I could not be more in your corner in that regard; naysayers – whether in the streets or on the DetroitLuv forums – need to find another bridge to troll under.

That said, there is a big opportunity that you have been letting slip away from any major success for the Movement festival. The one thing our poor city of Detroit is terribly lacking is its sense of community. Electronic music has been our claim-to-fame forever, but we have yet to really own it like we should as a community. The Movement Festival should be our opportunity to do it, but it should not end there. Paxahau officially posts information on the aforementioned DetroitLuv forums. Why not provide more incentives for the community to support you?  I guarantee the number of trolls will go down when the stories of your giving back, or however it is phrased, in your way to keep the community flourishing. Whether you care about that is another conversation altogether though.

What I am getting at is there is absolutely no reason that Paxahau does not embrace its own hometown community more than it does. Producing the biggest techno fest in town just cannot cut it anymore. As a Detroiter, I feel we should be more in the loop. You need to give me a reason to want to attend, outside of wrangling a “who’s who” in electronic music today. The age of mystery does not bode well anymore in the days of massive corporate failures. I can understand waiting until the last minute to deliver the schedule for the festival from a business perspective, but it is a smarmy practice. A business should not need to do that if there was more understanding of the people being served.

And with that I want to give some suggestions on how to take your organization to a higher level. Paxahau is a respected brand in the international electronic music community, but it gets a mixed review in its hometown. Sure, that happens to everyone, but you are in a position to fix that before the worst thing that could happen to Detroit happens. By which I mean Paxahau needing to focus its operation somewhere else due to losing the city’s interest in hosting your festival. Detroit cannot afford to lose you, but Detroit cannot afford to have you if you cannot make the money needed to keep the festival running. My suggestions below are geared to help guys like me HELP YOU.

Build a world-class crowdsourced website.

I may be wrong with this and I will accept that if I am, but your website seems to be a dormant space a few weeks after the festival in Detroit and it stays that way until you begin back with the PR push for next year’s event. Every year there is a question in the media as to whether the festival will or will not happen; even though, attendance has reportedly increased each year that we have been able to tally tickets. Use your webspace as the place you can keep us engaged and interested. There is great potential in your trusted brand. The web is a great place to tap it. Invest the money to keep it a secure and trusted place to find information about electronic music and the place(s) where it is fostered.

A great way to prevent attacks is to allow your community to protect it. We have a lot of smart people that probably would help out for a little of nothing. You just have to ask them and be good about showing appreciation. That means you will have to be a bit more transparent.

Find Your Brand Evangelists and Reward Them.

In writing this piece, I made an announcement that I was going to write this letter and I have gotten a lot of feedback. People forget a lot of the details in the past festivals, but many of them know they still believe you guys put on the best festival in the country. A buddy of mine, who has volunteered in past festivals, just told me that he is not sure whether he will volunteer or attend this year, but he is certainly going on the Voyage Royale booze cruise on the Detroit Princess. The fact that he has not been called to help again is kind of weird. If you have gotten great help from your volunteers, then you should keep them in the loop. E-mail them from time to time, give them free entry to your other events and let them know they are appreciated!

Come From Behind The Curtain.

People like familiar faces. Apple has Steve Jobs. Microsoft had Bill Gates. IBM is a big brand too, but we do not seem to talk about them much. Mystery is sort of sexy when you are an artist, but even today’s most successful cases are of those that are more open to share and relate to actual people. People are talking about you, but you are nowhere to be found. DEFEND YOURSELF. You guys do great work. Again help us – those that believe you are doing the best of what you know to do – help you. I have seen all sorts of crazy things said about people in your organization. It is times for you guys to set the records straight.

I extend these suggestions to you as me doing what I feel is need to help Detroit. This is not only your city, but mine as well. As a fellow business owner, I want to see us all succeed. We deserve it. If you need help, ask for it. I am available to lend help wherever I can, if not this year definitely in the future.. Contact me at hubert [at] sorsaw dot com.

AVG: Loyal Divide – “Vision Vision” (Directed by BBGUN)

Just like we hope you may do here, we use trusted sources to supply us with the best of the noisy internet. We found the following video on today’s installment from, which is ran by a team of music lovers who work in digital media and digital music. We originally were watching this Asher Roth video and happened to notice that the name of the featured video was on the same Vimeo channel. Based on this one line description:

This is song is disturbingly funky and the vid is ILL.

we decided to give it a look. This is definitely an Audio/Visual Gem. The director duo, BBGUN, have a respectable set of videos. If you’ve got time to kill, check out the rest of them.

#1.5 Music Industry Secret to Success – Listen

I have developed a set of music industry “secrets.” These “secrets” are designed to develop positive behavior, so do not expect a ton of tactical talk. Strategy will be the ultimate takeaway. In each shared “secret, ” we are going to give ideas that should help you make the right changes toward a substantial music career. Be sure you check out the previous “secrets” of “Be Yourself” and “Reach Out” before reading this.

Photo by a_real_horrowshow_devotcha

Today, we wanted to share a small “secret” as we are preparing for major coverage on Movement – the annual electronic music festival in Detroit. In the middle of writing parts one and two for the music industry secrets, we realized there was a prevailing message that needed to be addressed to bridge the two. LISTENING is paramount. If more of us took time to listen more before running off at the mouth or at the keys, there would be less spam. We would not have as many people making tools like Twitter seem pointless to casual onlookers, if they understood that people do not really care that “[you] just ate” as if that is compelling information.

While we already told you the key to collaborating with others was to listen first, we want to reiterate that again. If you are not sure how you should engage, take some time to find some successful activity and study how they seem to be making it work. Better yet, try asking them and then listen some more.

It has been said that we were made with two ears and one mouth, so it kind of shows where the focus should be based by that design. Most of us type like we only have one hand, so you can look at the internet very much the same way. Listening will provide you with greater chance of finding opportunities. It could be a music lover looking for new music in your genre or a brand running a competition that might broaden your exposure if you participate. There is one thing that is certain, you cannot do both at the same time. Something is going to suffer, so make the resolve today to make listening a priority.

Not sure what to use to listen? Here are a few free tools that will help you listen better.

  • Twitter Search – Want to find folks that are talking about you? How about finding people that are looking to guitar lessons? With Twitter Search, you can search for this in real-time. You can leverage Twitter search in many of the Twitter apps like TweetDeck and Hootsuite, giving you the ability to stay up on the trends you actually want to read. Not to mention, this is a powerful that is FREE to use.
  • Google Alerts – Another free tool that bands can use to keep up with what folks are saying about them. It can be used to find bloggers that write about your kind of music. Do you sound like Marvin Gaye? Use Google Alerts to seek websites that are talking about the late singer. Then follow up and see if it is opportunity to introduce yourself and your music.
  • Google Reader – Once you have found relevant websites that are of interest to you, this free tool will aggregate all their material through their RSS feeds. Most blogs have RSS feeds, so if you are looking to keep up with your favorite blogs and you do not want to need to visit the site every day – try Google Reader. It will let you know which posts you have not read. Be careful of Google Reader Overload. Make sure you keep relevant feeds in it, so you do not bog yourself down with content.

This week, we want to know, what are some of your success stories in listening? What opportunities fell into your lap because you were openly listening? Share them with us in the comments!

RCRD LBL Star: Nas and Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley – “As We Enter (Tinie Tempah Remix)”

Here is another music feature series that we are building using one of our favorite places to find new music. RCRD LBL, like SoundCloud, also has a rudimentary social component. You can build a profile and add your favorite artists, so you can stay in-the-know on them.

Check out the RCRD LBL Star feature every Sunday!

photo by Nabil Elderkin

The first one is always the most special, right? This distinction goes to Nas and Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley for their single “As We Enter (Tinie Tempah Remix),” which I don’t know if it’s a real remix, but that’s why RCRD says. It sounds like the original that is posted on the Distant Relatives website.

FUNKY FRIDAY – House Shoes’ Hip Hop Instrumentals

A long while back, I wrote a piece about Detroit hip hop ambassador [DJ] House Shoes. It seems that one of Detroit’s greatest champions of its music may finally be building some serious steam as he has had two (2) releases in 2010 with threats of more. Many of you might not understand why I would even make note of this, but I have been following Shoes’ career since 2000 when I purchased a CD by Detroit hip hop artist Paradime. Before I even knew of his future endeavors, I was intrigued by the fact there was a producer in Detroit by the name of House Shoes. Little did I know, when I finally came back home from my stint in college that he would be well on his way to becoming one of the most respected figures I would come to know personally.

Today, I want to share Shoes’ two recent projects. Both of which contain material that I have been sitting on for quite some time and I glad to see it finally be released for public consumption. The first I will share is his latest vinyl project released on All City Dublin, which features two instrumentals by House Shoes and three by Metro Detroit expatriate Jordan Rockswell. The project is the fourth installment of a series that features beats from artists that live in Los Angeles. It is available for sale now overseas. You can preview all of the songs on the site as well.

FlyingLotus_HouseShoes_Do-Over_Vol1Amazon Link

The second project is another limited vinyl release that was released by Stones Throw Records, which you might recall is one of our favorite record labels. Unfortunately, this release is sold-out, but I will say the packaging is wonderful as I have two (2) copies in my possession.

This is what I am playing a lot lately. You can still buy the MP3s for the Stones Throw project (click the image on the left to buy) and if you got worldly pockets, you can get the other project shipped to you from the Netherlands. As a music fan and supporter of quality work, I will be buying it; even though, I already have the instrumentals on my harddrive.

If you want some free music offerings, check out the Shoes’ House podcast. Shoes has one of the best ears for music around and his taste is vast, much like mine. Have at it. You will be glad you did.