The Techniques Major Labels Use To Develop Artists LAMES Analysis

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So many of the musicians I talk to have trouble making decisions or coming up with music video ideas or the posts they’re gonna put on Instagram and 99.99% of the time it’s because they have no clue who they are. Now before you hit stop on this video, let me plead with you. I find nothing more boring than discussing finding yourself or some quest to discover who you are. It’s right up there with astrology in things that if you subjected me to for five minutes of discussion, I’d tell my best friend secrets that would lead them to life in prison.

But what I want to talk about today is that so many of you know you are somebody people should pay attention to, but deep down, you know you haven’t quite developed yourself into the artist you want to be, and you need to complete that journey to get a little further. And this is how we’re gonna do that. In my decades in music, there’s a clear line I’ve seen between the artists people pay attention to that have longevity and the ones that get ignored and never amount to much, and that’s having a clear vision of who they are as an artist to make decisions that continue to move in sync with the artists they aspire to be as they get bigger opportunities and budgets, as well as things that, for lack of a better word, reinforce their brand and align with who they are naturally as an artist or as a collection of people.

Truly what I see over and over again is the artists who are developed and understand who they are can make content audiences respond to because it makes it way more powerful and amazing when they know who they are and it all lines together, which excites the audience because when they see something that really is exceptional, they share it. But here’s the thing, when you hear about artist development that happens with big management and record labels, much of that is knowing who you are and what you want to be as an artist. The reason your favorite artists are your faves is they know what they’re trying to accomplish, and while they may experiment, fail, and even sloppily get to where they are going, they understand the boundaries that they want to work within. And when you know this, it’s easy to make decisions that lead to making things people really like.

Think of it like this: when the Sex Pistols made their record “Never Mind the Bollocks,” it said exactly what they knew they wanted everyone to see them as—the band being the most real about life in England at the time, with more honesty about a really miserable era of life in that cursed country of tea and crumpets. And when they put on their cover a record that, to translate it since I know most of you don’t know what that means, “Never Mind the Lies, Here’s the Truth,” they knew it would make the record hit harder when they told truths. And when Billie Eilish first hit the scene, we all remember her for the really baggy clothes, yet they were highly fashionable fits. Okay, some more questionable, but since she had a sound that was new to the pop mainstream, this touching just outside of fashion norms and pop norms in fashion made everyone see her as just adventurous enough to be in the mainstream but be seen as an iconoclast doing important work, which solidified what she’s known as today.

The technique we’re about to go over in this video is about how you find out how to do artistic work and promotions and marketing and even imagery, and in fact, even make your songs more powerful by knowing who you are and what is good about you. But you obviously want to know how to do that development. So let’s get into it. As some of you may have watched a video I made when this channel first started where I discussed what we need to often use to do this is a SWOT analysis, which is a corporate kind of consultant thing where you figure out strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. But over the last year, I’ve been reflecting a lot. Yet again, no spiritual journeys though, and so many of the things I see happening in the meeting rooms I’m in of major labels and big managers, well, they come from the business and startup world. And like all those cringy entrepreneur techniques, they don’t work well in the music business since, while it is a business, it’s also art, and those two have to work in unison together.

And so much of the advice in the business world does not square with art, even though all these idiots try to shoehorn it into the music business and into the art world, and that’s one of the many reasons so many artists are so miserable. So I decided to SWOT away my SWOT analysis and develop my own method, and after trying it out with a bunch of artists the past few months, this just works way better. It is much more helpful to getting the answers an artist needs to find within themselves what they should be making each and every day. So, of course, you want me to get to the technique. Ladies and gentlemen, non-binary friends, and the people who don’t give a f***, I present to you a Lame’s analysis.

Yeah, now you may be thinking, “What in the f***, Jesse? I don’t want to do something called lame,” but I assure you the reason it’s called this is the analysis actually prevents you from doing lame s***, and trust me, I will explain how. So obviously, Lame’s analysis is an acronym. So you want to know what it stands for, and I’m gonna actually work in reverse order of what it stands for since it makes a little bit more sense. S is for strengths, since whether you’re performing a vocal in a song, choosing an outfit, or considering a music video, you want to consider your strengths so you can play them up. E is for exploits. Now, this may be a term you’re not familiar with, but exploits is a term hackers use for when they see a hole in the system that they can use to get inside and exploit to do their mission. For you, exploits are the unfair advantages or opportunities you may have from a connection and other advantages you have as an artist that can help you grow faster.

M is for misperceptions. For as long as I’ve been able to grow facial hair, I’ve been talking to musicians and they love it. Nothing more than to talk about what people don’t realize about them or what they get wrong about them. The misperceptions can be small things that the audience doesn’t realize or have interpreted improperly about you because maybe your biggest song is a ballad, but you really make fist-pumping anthems. These are important to identify since when you brainstorm content, you can consider how to correct them since you control narratives with the content you make and make people see a message you’d like them to get whenever you’re making that content. Whereas A is for aspirations, since it’s important to consider where you’re going as an artist and what you will be if given more opportunities and most of all, budget. You want to know where you’re heading, what you may do one day. Keeping a consideration of what you aspire to be in the content you’re making and the art you’re making is crucial to making sure it aligns with what you’re looking to do as an artist, as well as changing this as you get to know each other is also a crucial part of consideration in your decisions and can be an evolving part of this list.

Technically, all this list can be very evolving, but we’ll get to that. And lastly, L is for lore, and for those of you who are not Dungeons & Dragons type nerds, lore is a backstory, the details fans understand about you and your art. These are important because leaving little discussion points and details for fans to think about and obsess over is one of the most important parts of building a fan base in this attention economy.

So let’s first talk about how you fill out this list. Like I said, we’re gonna fill this out from bottom to top, which will make sense as we go, and this may take you some time and asking your bandmates, team, and even your friends and family what they think and continuing to grow this list as you understand it more and what it’s used for and as you get used to it and are stumped, you’ll start to learn what you maybe aren’t considering. So for strengths, we’re gonna list everything you do well. This could be that you have a charismatic front woman, great songs, attractive people in the group, whatever your strengths are. Let’s get them down here and feel free to even go down to the minutiae. We want to get every single thing you have going for you on this list.

And I’ll give you some examples of the real world. If we were doing this for the 1975, the singer’s probably the smartest rock star on talking about sociopolitical things in interviews, so they could parade him around and do press and he does speeches on stage that go viral and help spread the word about the band. Whereas, you know, an artist like XXXTentacion, while being an awful person, had a very unique look, so you could almost never find anything they put out when he was alive that wasn’t sure to have a picture of him since he was so unique looking and recognizable. I mean, let’s be honest, they’re also still doing it now and the guy’s been dead for years.

Now let’s get to exploits. This could be connections you have, whether that’s a famous friend who signed to a huge label, or you know someone at a label, have a friend who’s a great director, your uncle owns a sick recording studio or warehouse where you can film videos, if your guitarist has a popular YouTube channel, anything that gives you an advantage most people don’t have, we want on this list. And it can even be ridiculous things since you always want to consider how you could exploit that exploit whenever you’re doing something. But it could even be something ridiculous like, let’s say you have a thumb coming out of your belly button and you know a ton of freaks on the internet will have a fetish for it, Vice magazine will definitely write a viral article about it when you finally reveal that thumb on your belly button. Well, that’s an exploit too. It’s something you could exploit to jump ahead and get attention to build your fan base, and we want that on the list.

Then we have misperceptions. The second you start to have fans or people in your local scene start to know about you, all artists seem to be capable of discussing what people don’t get about them. Even artists with no fans will be like, “Big things coming, y’all don’t know I’m about to drop the biggest bangers of 2023,” and we all totally buy that when we see it. You should really keep making those posts. Anyway, we want to list what people don’t know about you so that when we make content, we can try to correct that misperception and keep working towards people actually knowing the authentic artist you are and what you’re really about. And one of the most common things we’ll do here is we’ll make content to change that perception. For example, if people don’t really think you could sing, maybe we want to put out a song next that shows your singing ability.

Alright, but then we have aspirations. On this list, we want to talk about how you want people to talk about you. It really is, what do you want people to say about you? Now, just writing the MF in goat is a little dumb. Let’s get specific, and even something like the greatest singer and dancer of your time is great, the sickest riffs and technical thrash metal game is great, as is the softest rapper in the game. Something other people would tell their friends about you is ideal, and it could be one to ten things, but I think eventually once you get past three to five in this list, you start to lose focus. Let’s think of some artists as examples: Caroline Polachek. A lot of people call her the Kate Bush of a new generation. Oh yeah, she does kind of hate that, but there’s a reason people say it. Oliver Tree, the weirdest looking guy with the weirdest videos yet total pop song bangers. Polyphia, the only group bridging prog metal and trap. Just think of what you’d want someone to tell a friend that’s unique about you and they would be able to actually say about you and put that on a list.

And lastly, we have lore. This is the parts of your story and is a part of this that you will build as you go along. Let’s say, and this is not a good thing, that your van flipped and you all survived. Let’s say in one of your music videos, an alien came down and did a bunch of drugs with you. Let’s say one of your album covers, no one could believe you were all naked except for fedoras on your junk. You could then refer back to those things that happened, and they could be Easter eggs that you put from your past content or your past story and refer to them later in your stories. You keep reminding your audience this happened and this is what shaped you. Anything that’s part of your story you can draw from, all that is lore and something you can call back to throughout your career and will get people continuously talking about your story as you remind them of it and build a more vivid story about you as an artist.

So now that we have that list filled out, you’re dying to know how we use this. Let’s say it’s time to make your next music video, and we know from my previous videos that if you’re making a music video, you want to come up with the best idea possible since that’s half the battle. And the question you should always be asking yourself when making a music video is what would make other people share it and send it to a friend. So here’s the thing, when you work with huge artists, they often have a whole book of their brand or a mood board that’s on the wall for their team to reflect on. It could even have pictures of other artists, films, and creations that they keep to consider what really moved them, and they use this to think about whenever they’re gonna make something that moves their audience. And they want to make sure everything aligns with their artistic extensions. And this is how you keep in mind what you are as an artist so that you make sure you do that, too.

So we have this list now to refer to, and what’s gonna make powerful content is if we look at your strengths and then make sure we exploit them. If you’re a great dancer, well, that better be in the video. Just as if you have a body that easily gets everyone warned up, well, that should probably be in there, too. We got to play up your strengths, consider them anytime you make content. But also, a music video is the perfect time to think about how you can cure misperceptions. Here’s some good examples. What I love to point to is the group Haim. At the time, they were getting lots of industry plant talk and the usual idiot saying women don’t play their instruments, so they waited to this 670 studio called Valentine that is untouched from the 70s, you know, before computer manipulation, and they made a sick video showing how nasty they were on a ton of instruments, and they could really play their music to cure this misperception about them.

But a misperception too could even be putting a shine on something people view as a weakness. One of the coolest things about music is it really proves no one is ugly, and if the misperception is you’re ugly, well, maybe it’s time to hire a fashion stylist to hit the thrift store and experiment with your look for cheap so you find how to cure that misperception and make a video that shows you actually have swag that makes you go from people thinking you’re an ago to unexpectedly hot, which is what we call every musician who really is ugly. I mean truly, it never stops being strange how easy this is to do once you’re playing a powerful song. Oh yeah, or just get some scribbled on your arms and you’re instantly hotter.

And one of the other examples of how we change from misperceptions is when every female artist seems to turn 18 after being popular as a teenager. We now have to transition them into being a woman, like what Miley Cyrus suddenly went from this to odd. And while now she’s back at the spotlight, we have her at the mature woman phase instead of newly sexualized. It’s kind of weird what she’s doing with that old man hair phase. And who could forget when Billie Eilish went from queen of the weird baggy clothes to a classy mature woman nearly the second she turned 18.

But what about how you use exploits? Whenever it’s time to do anything, look at this list and think how you could bring your exploit into it. That uncle with the empty warehouse? Maybe you could make a video in there or record some really weird guitar tracks in there. You have a connection with a famous friend? Maybe they should do a cameo in your music video. Your guitarist is sick on guitar pedals? Well, that guitarist should definitely make videos on your YouTube channel on the pedals they used in the song and get a shot of it in the video so nerds watch it repeatedly to see which one they’re using. I know they’re insufferable. If your sister’s dance crew makes the Jabberwocky’s look like sparkle motion, well, even if you’re in a death metal band, you can dress them in some sick costumes and have them go off. Exploit what could be exploited for your gain.

And then aspirations should, of course, be considered since as you make content or new songs, are they getting you closer to what you aspire to be as an artist? So many times, artists start to miss the boat. They get pressured by other people. You have to look back at what your aspirations actually are and make sure you’re on course. If you’re trying to get known as a serious poet, burying your vocals in the mix, not doing lyric videos, or printing your lyrics under your YouTube videos is a serious L. Whereas if you aspire to be known as an amazing dancer, telling all your friends you are happy to dance on stage or in a video is a great way to get people to see your style.

And then there’s lore. Whenever you’re creating something, we should consider how to call back to your lore. So much of music discovery and how fans build you up is having conversation pieces where they can tell their friends about you and get them curious about becoming a fan, and your lore gives people talking points to talk about. For example, Easter eggs like if there’s always a purple giraffe in your videos or hanging around in a picture gives a fan a reason to tell your friend about that purple giraffe. If you call back to a song lyric of another song and it gives a fan a reason to point that out to someone else as they’re listening, it shows your artistic depth. Each bit of lore gives more reason for fans to think about and, most of all, repeatedly consume your content looking for lore and then to tell others about it, serving to strengthen your relationship with fans and spread the word about you.

So each time you go to do something creative, you need ideas to be sure to look at this list and make sure you brainstorm what aligns with it and what lore you can bring into it. So here’s the thing, you just learned how to do a Lame’s analysis, but if you really want to learn how it affects what you post on social media, you got to watch the video I have on how to do that, which is on the screen right now. So make sure you watch that next if you really want to level up.

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