David and Goliath or Musicians and the Industry

I finally got around to watch the documentary Artifact by my favorite band Thirty Seconds to Mars. The film was going to be about the process of making their third album but quickly developed into something else when the band had to fight a relentless lawsuit with record label Virgin/EMI.

This film is totally worth seeing even if you’re not a fan of the band. It gives a good insight on how things work in the music industry today, mostly, but not only, as an effect of illegal downloading. Major labels have a hard time getting the money they’ve invested back so they come up with other solutions to do so… suing their bands for instance.

You can buy Artifact on iTunes or Artifact on DVD. It is also available on Netflix at the moment so go and check it out before they take it down!

It tells a very personal story about this band, fighting for our creative lives. It was a battle that saw us risk having everything taken away – our art, our work, and our dreams.

We were sued for 30 million dollars. We fought for our lives. And we filmed it all.

We made this little film ourselves. Just a small group of artists and crafts people. We shot it. We produced. We financed. We edited. We directed.

– Jared Leto

 

 

I wanna rock n’ roll all night!

Last night me and my boys (Daniel and Chris, The murder of my sweet) went to see our friends in Smash into Pieces and Skillet at Debaser Strand, Stockholm. It was great spending time together outside of the studio and both bands delivered, as expected! I tried a Brazilian cider of witch I can’t remember the name but it had lime and menhta flavor *tasty*! Got to look it up ’till next summer!

Some pics from the show

Wacken Open Air ear plug case

Never go to a live show without ear plugs. These ones I got when we played at Wacken Open Air. Gotta love the case!

 

Hanging out at the bar waiting for the show

Hanging out at the bar waiting for the show

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

 

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

Smash into Pieces

Angelica Rylin and Per Berquist

Me and Per

Angelica Rylin and Chris Adam Hedman Sörbye

Adam and me

Benjamin Jennebo and Per Berquist

Benjamin Jennebo and Per Berquist after the show

The Murder of My Sweet Daniel Flores Christopher Vetter

The two men in my life, Daniel Flores and Christopher Vetter

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Skillet

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Skillet

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Skillet

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Skillet

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Jen Ledger Skillet

Skillet live at Debaser Strand

Skillet

 

Storytelling – Like a Swede

After last week’s post about storytelling some of you requested that I’d share the report I was going to do for class. So here it is, my report on storytelling for the campaign “Like a Swede”.

Like a Swede is an initiative from TCO, a trade union confederation, and the PR Bureau ANR BBDO in order to get Swedes to learn more about the unique model which distinguishes Sweden, and its neighboring countries, from almost every other country in the world. The Swedish Part Model is a collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organisations.

“Many look at the trade union as an insurance policy in the workplace. Meanwhile, most Swedes live with the belief that the state regulates our labour market. That’s why they are surprised when they hear otherwise. That it actually is the trade unions and employers’ organisations that negotiate the conditions on the labour market. The state has handed over the responsibility to these two parties, and it isn’t really that surprising. Who else are best suited to address the issues if not the ones that are the closest to them? That’s what we call The Swedish Part Model, and the results of the negotiations are the collective agreements. In the contracts you can find agreements on salaries, pension, insurances, annual leave days, parental leave and much more. Things that are easily taken for granted in Sweden. That’s why we created Like a Swede. A way to show how everyone with collective agreements in Sweden can enjoy the same benefits that are usually only available to the very richest in other countries.”

For the video they created this character “Joe Williams”. He looks like a celebrity and he’s rich and therefor can afford to live like a Swede. He explains it as the latest life style trend and has previously tried Kabbala, Kundalini, Kama Sutra, Raw, Vegan and Mediterranean without success.

You get to follow him on his maternity leave,  when he uses his ”friskvårdsbidrag” and role playing as a Swedish ”pensionär”. You also get to meet his long time friend who’s not as privileged as Joe and can’t afford to live “like a Swede”. They compare our annual leave system with the Americans’ and finish off by drinking “nubbe” and singing “nubbevisa” about the Swedish part model.

The video was recorded in Los Angeles and went viral in America although it was originally aimed for the Swedes.  The video was released on Jan 21 2014 and became the second most shared video on YouTube in the first 24 hours. The most shared video was Volvo’s “The epic split”. Today is has about 650 000 views and American medias, among them The Atlantic, cared to explain the benefits of this model to their readers.

I like the fact that they created a story that both Swedes and Americans can relate to. The message is easy, informative and fun. The question is if it backfired and gained more ground in America than in Sweden and whether that’s a good thing or not?

What I think they could have done differently is simply to take it further. The campaign gained so much buzz in social media that it should have been easy for TCO and ANR BBDO to be inspired by Old Spice and create one or more follow up videos where Joe answers questions from his fans. Did the money run out or didn’t it even cross their minds?

I also believe they should have created a Facebook page and an Instagram for Joe. There are approximately 2140 posts on Instagram under the hashtag #likeaswede but only a few is connected to the campaign and there are mainly memes of the context that people share. The difference between the campaign “Like a Swede” and the memes “#likeaswede” is the portraits about Swedes. In the video Sweden is a dream come true and in the pictures Swedes are unsocial and unwelcoming. With a profile of their own they could have controlled that since the hashtag becomes so connected to the campaign.

On Mars 21 2014 Swedish TV4 premiered the new Tv show “Wellcome to Sweden” where the American Bruce moves to Sweden with his girlfriend Emma. “Welcome to Sweden” is created by TV4 and the production companies Syskon, FLX and Entertainment One. The show will also be aired in America since NBC bought the television rights. I can’t help to think that there is a connection between the success behind the TCO campaign and the decision to air the show.

Popular memes of ”#LikeaSwede”:

waiting for the bus like a swede

sitting on the bus like a swede

riding the subway like a swede

Why next gen is about more than the consoles

2013 was all about the release of Sony’s and Microsoft’s next generation consoles. We were all dazzled about the new features and the possibility to share your gaming experience in social media.

But “next gen” is beginning to mean something else too. How about a step closer to gender equality? As the gap between the number of male and female gamers slowly thins, so does gender disparity in games media. Women are joining the game (pun intended) and the female stereotype is changing. But there is still a long way to go.

Of the developers taking this stuff seriously, Bioware is taking leadership. And even then it took them three Mass Effects before Commander Shepard started to be used in the marketing material. They also made the effort to use both male and female protagonists in different trailers at E3 this year. BioWare is well regarded as a gender-friendly company both for offering strong, confident women, like Commander Shepard, as playable characters and for depicting romantic relationships beyond the heterosexual norm as in Dragon Age: Origins. But BioWare’s reputation for their progressive stances on these issues would not loom so large if these sorts of depictions were commonplace in video games.

A study from ESA (Entertainment Software Association) show that nearly half of all gamers are women (45%). Adult male gamers have an average of 17 years of experience playing video games, adult female gamers an average of 13 years. It also shows that women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%).

The ESA 2013 report of gaming industry

There clearly is a big group of women playing video games so why aren’t there more female lead characters? It’s not that they are completely missing but let’s face it, there aren’t that many and statistically I bet the number is daunting. I don’t believe mainstream developers have a problem with including women, or racial minorities, in their games but that there’s a deep-seated assumption that the core audience for these sorts of games is mainly white men and boys who won’t accept anything else when it comes to who’s presented as the public face of big franchises. I also believe that many developers at big studios want to start changing that assumption, but don’t really know how to and that they are afraid of the perceived risk.

At GDC (Game Developers Conference) in Mars this year BioWare Montreal designer Manveer Heir gave a speech about stereotypes in gaming. Some say this was the most important moment of the conference. “I want us as an industry to stop being so scared… Let’s create a game that changes the core experience for the player… let’s find a way to challenge the majority and the minority perception of how we deal with race, gender, sexual orientation and all other sources of social injustices we have in our world” said Heir.

Ubisoft is also on to something but they’re struggling to get there. Last year, Assassin’s Creed IV’s ‘Cry Freedom’ DLC cast you as Adéwalé, a freed slave whose story line centered around the brutalities of slavery. But while 12 Years A Slave was winning Oscars, here the same themes were only touched on in the main game and then hived off as downloadable content.

I believe empathy with the protagonist should come from emotional back stories and shared experiences within the game, not from what sex or ethnicity the characters are.

At PAX Prime this year a panel was dedicated to “women surviving and thriving in the gaming industry”. For one hour several women currently working in games journalism talked about their struggles and successes within the industry. Mary Kish [Producer, GameSpot], Neha Tiwari [Executive Producer, GameSpot], Megan Farokhmanesh [Editor, Polygon], Naomi Kyle [Host, IGN], Jessica Chobot [Host, Nerdist], Tara Long [Rev3Games] all shared their experiences and thoughts on stereotypes and a change of the video game culture.

So maybe, just maybe, “Next Gen” will come to mean something more than the consoles. Maybe it’ll mean a more open minded community…

To end this rant I’ll leave you with some great games (in no particular order) with female protagonists:

  1. Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream featuring Ellen Page)
  2. Infamus: First Light (Sucker Punch)
  3. Mirror’s Edge (EA/Dice)
  4. Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics)
  5. Heavenly Sword (Ninja Theory)
  6. Assasin’s Creed III: Liberation (Ubisoft)
  7. Gravity Rush (Sony Japan)
  8.  Bayonetta (Platinum Games)

Storytelling in marketing, movies and music

Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. Storytelling is increasingly used in advertising today in order to build customer loyalty. This marketing trend echoes the deeply rooted need of all humans to be entertained. Stories are illustrative, easily memorable, and allow any firm to create stronger emotional bonds with the customers.

This week in school we were given the task to identify and analyze storytelling in a campaign, free of choice, and present it in class next week. I have already chosen mine and perhaps I’ll share my analysis with you when it’s done 😉 In the meantime, here is a small example that I came across in today’s paper (in Swedish):

Storytelling Kungens Kurva

You should also check out my friend Louise’s blog. She has listed an excellent example of storytelling from Chanel (videos)

PIXAR is kind enough to share with the world their 22 rules of storytelling. This is mainly considered for making animated movies but can apply to anything really. I can relate to a lot of the rules both in marketing campaigns and when writing a song or a new album. For our upcoming album we definitely worked with the concept of storytelling. Especially #7 in the list “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle” We basically wrote the album backwards!

[slideshare id=28123780&doc=pixar-22-rules-to-phenomenal-storytelling-powerfulpoint-slideshare-131111112132-phpapp01]

Copyright law, ethics and respect, a touchy subject!

Today I came across this story by a musician being sued by Lady Gaga for $1.4 million dollars for in the the first place having sued Gaga and her team for allegedly plagiarizing her song “Juda”. I haven’t heard the original song and can’t argue for either of their cases but the story she told was both scary and disheartening. The very thought of us “small time” musicians and song writers risking, that if we stand up to a corporation, bankruptcy.  They’ll slam us with a $1.4 million dollar bill if we cry foul. You can, and you should, check out her post here!

And then there’s the story about illegal downloading… Well where should I start? How about an example of my experiences?

Respect the artist, buy the music

A couple of years ago a “fan” contacted me and asked me to check out his Facebook page where he was “promoting” my band. Happy about his invitation I visited the page and found a BitTorrent file for our recently released album. I approached him with the information that not only is it illegal but also highly unethical if you claim to be a fan. Unfortunately he didn’t agree with me.

I believe that if his intentions were to support our band he could just as easily have linked to a site the sold the album, like Amazon or any other. And why not link to the album on Spotify?

You might think you are doing the band a service by “spreading the word” but you’re in fact keeping them from things like going on tour or even recording another album. Because lets face it, if you can’t show for any sold units no one is gonna be willing to give you a budget for a new one, nor can they afford to send you on tour and let me tell you people, that’s expensive!

And that’s why we have the saying “Don’t quit your day job”, not because your not good enough to be a full time musician, but because you won’t be able to pay rent and food and bills with illegal downloads.

Sad but true…

#ThrowBackThursday & Eve’s Apple

About two and a half years ago I joined a world wide community of female singers operating in the rock/metal music business. There I found some of my very best friends and made bonds that will last for a lifetime. We call our little group Eve’s Apple. You who have followed me for years know these amazing women I’m speaking of. My apple sisters <3

Today I miss some of them a little more, and since we are scattered around the globe I think we’ll have to schedule a “skype & wine” session soon!

And since it’s #tbt I thought I’d share my debutante essay with you so you’ll get an idea of what we do and what Eve’s Apple is all about. Enjoy!

Eve's Apple logo Eve's Apple Sisters Angelica Rylin Grace Méridan Linsay Schoolcraft Sabrina Cruz

ANGELICA RYLIN/ THE MURDER OF MY SWEET: Debutante essay

15 June 2012 at 20:03

Often when giving interviews I get the question “How does it feel to be a woman in this male dominated industry and how have you been accepted?” I always felt like “It’s great! I get to be surrounded by great guys and play the music I love but I don’t have to wear sleazy t-shirts with printing, sunglasses on photo shoots and messy/unwashed hair. I have always felt truly welcomed and accepted and the most important ting, I’ve never had to fake being Me.” However, being a woman among other women in this industry I often get the feeling of competition, like we were to compete for the spot of getting noticed among all the men. Other women smile at you in the backstage area but behind that beautiful red smile is an insecure woman desperately clinging to the opportunity of getting heard and seen. Well, that is what I have experienced anyway.

BUT, since being included in this community of sweet, sweet apples who really love and care and support one another I’m completely blown away, in a good way. Here we are sisters, not competitors. Here we share the joy of making music. Here we listen to each others thoughts and battle the problems as a unit of strong and independent women. It is like the twin sisters you never had. When you reach a certain point of success you sadly and suddenly realize that your old friends are starting to distance them self from you. At first I thought that it was because of jealousy, and perhaps at some point it is, but I have come to the conclusion that it has more to do with them not being able to understand what’s really expected of you and why you’re not able to hang out as much as before and why your sole purpose and focus is entirely on music and every other part that comes with it like promotion and social networking. Being among apples you don’t have to try and explain that because they all already know.

When we released our debut album in 2010 we spent the summer touring and promoting. There were allot of buzz about this new female fronted band and I as a lead singer gave probably more that one hundred interviews in a period of say two and a half months. When fall came and it was time to start working on the new songs I felt totally drained. It was as if I had used up all of the words in my vocabulary and I had no freaking idea on how to get started again. I faced the total terror of writers block and seriously started doubting my self and my capability in being a songwriter. What was I to do now? The deadline was approaching in what to me seemed like in the speed of light. At that time I wasn’t a part of Eve’s Apple and so I had to figure it out for my self.

This is when I started my soul searching for real. I took time to listen to my heart and started to figure out what I wanted to do and how. I went to the movies, I read allot of books, I actually even moved out of my old apartment and eventually it all became so clear to me. I had to reboot and start over fresh. I had to say goodbye to the little girl I once was and who had inspired me to write the past songs. I had to look at the world through new eyes and for the first time I felt the block was slowly vanishing. “Bye bye lullaby” was finally born.

I got back in the studio with my new found eagerness and decided to use my recent experience as a source of inspiration for the new lyrics. I came up with a song called “Unbreakable”, witch later became our first single, where I wanted to reach out to everyone out there doubting them self or even worse being told that they’re not god enough. The purpose of the song is to tell those people that they are not weak, encourage them to listen to their heart and find their own path regardless of what. Believing in your self is the greatest medicine of all and it’s there just within your reach.

I grew so much in this process and came out stronger and more self confident than ever. I have a clear view of my goal and know what I have to do to reach it. But this time I also know that should this apple fall from its branch again I’ll have the divine assistance of my sisters in this beautiful apple orchard to pull myself together and climb right up again. Should one of my sisters fall I know I’ll have the strength to help her because I’ve been there and I know how she feels.

I want to finish by showing you the video for “Unbreakable” and hopefully leave you with a feeling of being unstoppable and invincible.

Love/ Angelica*

Music, music, music!

When I was still in pigtails I found the love of my life, MUSIC! Back then MTV actually showed music videos and although I was too young to remember it today I have been told MTV was the perfect babysitter. All you had to do was put me in front of the television and I was hooked. My parents were also very much into music and the walls in our living room were covered with classic vinyl records. Music was everywhere and I was in heaven!

Just recently it occurred to me that I have (professionally) been in the music business for ten years! My first published work was backing vocals on a Christmas album by a group called Play. The album was released by Columbia Records in 2004. Happy ten year celebration to me! Yay!

Since 2007 I have been very active writing both for my band The Murder of My Sweet, for other artists (both in Europe and in Asia) and more recently for my self, or my solo album Thrive to be more precise. And I couldn’t have done it without my partner in crime, and as I like to call him; my musical mentor, Daniel Flores. This past year, and especially this summer, has been amazing. Daniel and I wrote a new album for tmoms that is going to blow your socks off! I will tell you more about it another time so stay tuned 😉

Angelica Rylin Sound vs Science studio

Smile to the world and the world smiles back!

Jag har en liten ovana som jag egentligen tycker är ganska så bra. När jag möter folk på gatan, köper en kaffe på ett café, handlar mat i affären eller liknande och blir bemött av en uttråkad eller otrevlig människa så måste jag helt enkelt fyra av världens största leende. Det är liksom lite provocerande att försöka få ett leende tillbaka. Lyckas jag inte i första taget så brukar jag slänga in ett “Ha en fin dag” också. Det brukar få de flesta att värma upp.

Jag brukar tänka att ett leende kan ge så mycket men också ta dig långt. Det är ju roligare att hjälpa någon som verkar glad och visar uppskattning. Idag på väg hem ifrån skolan cyklade jag förbi en mobil cykelverkstad. Ett litet tält de ställt upp på gatan som man kan stanna till vid och få hjälp med service av sin cykel. Ett superbra initiativ tycker jag och eftersom mitt styre har blivit lite löst så svängde jag in där. Killen som jobbade var supertrevlig och släppte cykeln han jobbade med för att komma till min undsättning. När jag erbjöd mig att betala för tjänsten så var det inte aktuellt tyckte han. Stora leenden bytte ägare och så var det klart med den saken. Tänk att det kan vara så enkelt!

Fotografen Moa Karlberg skapade ett projekt som hon kallar Watching you watch me där hon genom en envägsspegel fotograferat människor som passerar på gatan och betraktar sig själva i vad de tror är en vanlig spegel. Resultatet blev mycket intressant och i mina ögon även skrämmande. Rekommenderar starkt att kolla in dessa bilder!

Det är ju ingen myt att ett leende smittar av sig så min utmaning till dig är att börja dagen med att blända av ett stort leende mot dig själv i spegeln. Och sen fortsätter du med det. Kom gärna och berätta sedan hur resten av dagen blev!

Simple as that! 😉

Smile for the camera, Angelica Rylin