Saturday, November 7, 2009

I want my nickel back, nickel back, nickel back.

While my kids’ record is being mixed, I’m spending the weekend at a conference in L.A. The conference is for Taxi, an independent A&R organization that I’m in. Remember when I sent out those free instrumentals and told you guys to look for them on TV, etc? That was a connection I made with these folks.

It’s been an interesting experience for me, being here. There are about 2500 musicians at the conference: songwriters, producers, singers; pretty much every genre you can imagine is represented. In addition to that, there are lots and lots of “important” industry people here. Well-known songwriters, publishers, record label execs, that kind of thing.

The point of the conference, as far as I can tell, is sort of two-fold. First, we’re here to attend all kinds of seminar classes and informational panels and keynote speakers and such. Those have been pretty good. Classes about what music supervisors are looking for when they are trying to find music for TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. Classes about how to make great sounding recordings without spending lots of money. Classes about how to market your own music cheaply and effectively. Etc, etc.

Second, we're here to network and schmooze and hand out business cards and CD's and such. That part of it is pretty much a nightmare to guy like me, but I'm trying to be teachable and jsut go for it. There's a weird tension in trying to promote yourself while also fully embracing the Gospel. I won't go into all that here. You guys know that I'm always asking silly questions like that and taking all the fun out of stuff.


Right now, I’m in a huge room (The Grand Ballroom!) listening to a panel of big-time record label A&R reps who are critiquing music that is being played for everyone in the room. Basically, conference attendees can put their music in a big box and hope that it will be chosen, at random, to be played. If chosen, their song is played for maybe 45-60 seconds, and then the panel will critique it in front of everyone. If this sounds brutal, it is. I’m sitting here thinking of how thankful I am that I didn’t put anything in that box.

The conference as a whole has been excellent, but this last hour or so hasn’t been too good.

However, here’s something I just couldn’t resist telling you. A few minutes ago, they chose a rock song to play. The song wasn’t bad, but the singer was pretty great, at least within the rock genre. It was that typical gritty rock singer sound, and the singer did a great job with it. But here’s the fun part. One of the panelists is pretty involved in the pop/rock genre and, when asked what he thought of the song, he said this:“It’s not bad, but this kind of song has to pass The Nickelback Test.”

He then proceeded to tell us about this test. I don’t remember what he said, because every time I hear the word Nickelback, and it isn’t followed by phrases like “sucks toilet water” or “is terrible” or "makes me want me to stab my own ears with meat thermometers," my brain shuts down and has to reboot.

After my brain rebooted, I was sort of curious to know more about this Nickelback Test. Could I pass it? Is it a written test? Essay or multiple choice? Would there be a word bank from which to choose answers? How smart and original would a singer/songwriter have to be before they were disqualified? Would there be any sort of physical or medical qualifiers? Maybe you have to have a bad perm-and-dye job to pass? Maybe it would be necessary to bludgeon the listeners in the ears over a 3 and a half minute period in order to pass The Nickelback Test.

I can’t answer any of these questions, because I didn’t hear the explanation of this elusive test.

So I’ve decided to run a quick contest. The winner of this contest will get the notoriety of being honored on this blog, as well a free copy of Words that Rhyme With Orange when it releases here in a few weeks.

Here’s the contest: Come up with a compelling, convincing theory about The Nickelback Test.The theory must answer questions such as these. What is it? What purpose does it serve? How does one pass it? What happens if one fails it? Does The Nickelback Test have an application fee? Maybe a dime or 6 dollars? If one passed The Nickelback Test 5 times, would that make them a Quarterback? If a band consisted of 5 pennywhistle players, could it be automatically absolved from taking the test? Stuff like this. I just need to know.

I'll take submissions for 3-4 days. Enter as often as you like!


Kaitlyn Michelle said...

Hi Ross! I just discovered your music, and I have to say that it is amazing, and the words are so powerful.
I just purchased the songs "Smaller Victories", and "Veil the Last Discovery", through iTunes. I was wondering if it would somehow be possible for you to share the lyrics for those two songs. I searched the web and couldn't come up with anything.

Thanks so much!
God Bless you and your family! :)


rk said...

thanks for the kind comments. email me directly and i will get you whatever you need.

Alex Burdine said...

The application fee is obviously $.20, but they only take quarters... (wait for it...think about it)

Question 1)
Could you make it as a wise man?

Answer: If yes, you fail. If no, continue to question 2.

Question 2)
Could you cut it as a poor man stealing?

Answer: If yes, you fail. If no, continue to question 3.

Question 3
Are you tired of living like a blind man?

Sub-Question 3-A
Are you sick of sight without a sense of feeling?

Answer: If no to both of these questions, you fail. If yes, continue to the final question.

Final Question
Was that how I reminded you of who you really are?

Answer: If you said yes, Congratulations! You passed the Nickelback test...unfortunately, this means you're a d-bag.

Ross, what prize do we have for the winner?!!?!?

Denbigh Cherry said...

1. What is it? The Nickelback test is the quintessential standard by which all other songs and/or bands must be judged. Hence, if your song and/or band sounds even remotely like Nickelback, even for as little as 2 to 3 measures, then you fail the test. And at life.

2. What purpose does it serve? The purpose of the Nickelback test is to weed out songs and/or bands that sound like said band. Unless, of course, you are a radio station. In that case, find every song and/or band that does sound like Nickelback and commence to spinning their records.

3. How does one pass it? You don’t pass the Nickelback test. It passes you. Like a bowel movement.

4. What happens if one fails it? If your song and/or band even has to take the Nickelback test, you automatically fail.

5. Does it have an application fee? Everything has an application fee, and obviously it only costs a “nickel”. However, being that Nickelback hails from Canada, and given the fact that the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen dramatically, it actually costs somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 bucks. (Here’s a conundrum……should Nickelback be given a pass because they hail from Canada?)

6. And if you are a Nickelback cover band………God help you. Let the flogging commence.

Great post, Ross. Shoot me an email and I'll let you know where to send the CD. I would have posted earlier, but the 7th was my birthday and I've been partying for days.


Patti said...

A few years ago we were visiting family in Dallas and the husband and I were listening to a local pop/rock radio station and the dj's started doing this riff on Nickelback and how all of their songs follow the same ridiculous ballad-crescendo-rock out pattern. So one of the dj's suggests they layer three of the songs on top of each other and they played it with the dj's narrating the ballad-crescendo-rock out in voice over and it was Absolutely The Funniest Thing I've Ever Heard On The Radio. We still giggle when we talk about it. Think that's the Test?