Making it From Louisiana in an Internet-dominated Music Industry

An industry that once found its talent using talent scouts, produced its product through competing record labels and determined its success through physical album sales is now suffering at the hands of the internet and popular streaming sites.

The music industry now survives on a system where a count of digital streams holds more ground than the sale of a record.

The following graph, created with data found through the Nielsen SoundScan system, made to track points of sale, shows how physical CD sales have declined and digital sales have increased over a five-year period.

wsj album sales graph
Photo Courtesy of thewallstreetjournal.com

Internet search bars are replacing talent scouts. The day a full-sized touch-screen keyboard application for smartphones became available for free in the iTunes store, it sealed the fate that physical instruments are no longer necessary to create music. Owning a smartphone with a camera and internet access is now enough to film a music video and upload it to Youtube for the world to see.

In 2011, a song about the day Friday  exemplified the true power of owning a Youtube account when it reached over 90 billion views simply because the internet took to its content and pushed it to go viral.

In a world where anyone can upload a video of them singing to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, what does it take to stand out and make it in the music industry from a state like Louisiana?

Jake Gremillion, a junior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is an aspiring DJ based out of his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana.

Gremillion started his music career during his senior year of high school when he volunteered his guitar skills to help out his church group for a performance. From there, his interest in playing the guitar resurfaced from his first lessons at the age of 10.

Gremillion said he started playing acoustic sets regularly at a local bar for 3-4 hours a night.

“After a year of that, I decided I wanted to try DJing. I jumped into it, bought equipment and spent a whole bunch of money,” Gremillion said.

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Photo by Austin Richard (Instagram @live.fast.fly.highmedia)

From word of mouth and connections through the downtown Lafayette bar scene, Gremillion’s DJ career took off. He now has residency at two Lafayette bars, Marley’s Sports Bar and The Office Bar.

“I get to play what I like to play. I’ve really developed my own style,” Gremillion said.

Although Gremillion has had success in playing covers that he mixes on the spot, he said his main goal is to make it in the music industry as a DJ that creates his own mixes.

Instead of working with an established producer, Gremillion said he will purchase the producing software, and instead of working closely with a team on a record label, he anticipates he’ll listen to the feedback from his friends and fellow musicians he works with on a normal basis.

“You can do it all on your laptop really nowadays,” Gremillion said in regards to producing and recording your own music.

In regards to the streaming sites that are taking over record sales, Gremillion created a Soundcloud account that he will eventually upload his original mixes to, which will be a huge bonus to his growing fan base.

Taylor Reed, a sophomore child and family studies major at Louisiana State University, who has known Gremillion since his acoustic days, praised his performance as a DJ.

“He was very good about getting the crowd involved and mixing up  the sound so that it wasn’t all the same genre,” Reed said.

Regardless of the positive feedback Gremillion continues to receive, he still cites some difficulties he faces as a rising DJ from the South.

“I think as it pertains to Louisiana, in the South, people are often times set in their ways. It’s hard to bring a new sound,” Gremillion said.

With an upcoming, under-the-wraps, project in California this summer and a growing fan base at shows and online, Gremillion is on the right track to dominating the music industry through the use of technology.

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Photo By Austin Richard (Instagram @live.fast.fly.highmedia)

For Gremillion’s DJ career, the big move in the music industry that’s relies heavier on technology is beneficial, but for bands of other genres, there are other challenges to making it big.

 

Every Memorial Day weekend since 2010, Baton Rouge has hosted the Bayou Country Superfest in Tiger Stadium, which showcases national and local country music talents.

One band that will not be performing at Bayou Country Superfest, but that has ties to Tiger Stadium, is the Cayden Bergeron Band.

Walter Johannes Johnson III, a senior mechanical engineer major at Louisiana State University and the drummer in the Cayden Bergeron Band, remembers the band forming in mid-January.

“It all started with Cayden, our lead singer,” Johnson said.

Johnson once played the drums for a heavy metal band, but when Bergeron asked him to help out and play the Cajòn at a few acoustic shows alongside him, it turned into something more permanent.

After playing a show at the Bandit in Baton Rouge with duet-performance Maddie Monroe and Peter Mates, Bergeron and Johnson ended up joining with Mates to collaborate. With the addition of two more people, the Cayden Bergeron band formed.

Mates, a sophomore coastal-environmental science major, said the band already has played shows at the Bandit, Fred’s In Tigerland, Bogie’s Bar and Caliente Mexican Craving Restaurant since forming as a band.

According to Johnson, The Cayden Bergeron Band is mostly a cover band that plays country and classic rock, but sometimes they will throw a few pop songs into the mix.

“We try to keep the set list as modern as possible,” Johnson said.

As it stands, the band has a few original songs that Bergeron wrote, but they mostly opt out of playing them. Original music is something Johnson said will come to be more prominent when they reach their goal of playing larger venues like the Texas Club in Baton Rouge.

So far, a lot of the venues the Cayden Bergeron band played came from a simple conversation with the venue owners. Johnson said it was helpful that all of the band members are a part of a fraternity because the managers saw that they would be able to bring in a crowd.

It also helps that the band promotes their shows. Johnson said they’ll usually hand out fliers to the many sorority houses on LSUs campus or post to their social media accounts when they have an upcoming gig.

Mates also said he will simply take to his Snapchat account to post a photo they day of a performance with information of a show he’s playing that night.

Through the use of social media and networking with managers, the Cayden Bergeron Band proves their beginning success. When asked about what steps are necessary to overcome their challenges of reaching a larger audience base, Johnson cited important advice for beginning artists.

“The biggest challenge is a large enough audience to create a ripple or a presence in the industry,” Johnson said.

Mates, however, did not seem to have much concern for the bands continuing success, something he attributes to the Baton Rouge bar scene.

“Baton Rouge is such a perfect place to start because the bar scene is so prevalent and they’re going to have a crowd,” Mates said.

Since the band is something that fell in to place and is mostly something they do for fun – they don’t even have a regular practice schedule – the concerns do not seem high about breaking into the music industry.

However with two back-to-back shows booked Thursday night for Cinco De Mayo, it’s obvious they are already in high demand in the Baton Rouge area.

As a country band and classic rock cover band in Louisiana, the Cayden Bergeron band appears to have no problem using traditional means of networking mixed with relevant practices of social media use to get their name out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Miss LSU-USA Pageant Crowns New Title Holder

The LSU Union Theater is buzzing with noise as the conversations of hundreds of people compete to be heard. Most of the seats are filled and the last few audience members to arrive are passing through the entrances and speed walking to their assigned seats.

The stage in front of the panel of judges is empty aside from a giant screen displaying advertisements from the various sponsors of the event that is soon to start.

A Woolly Threads advertisement flashes onto the screen for the second time in ten minutes and then the stage goes completely dark as the lights throughout the theater are lowered.

For the first time in the night, the room goes silent, but not for long. Spotlights illuminate the stage in shades of pink and blue and a country song begins to play throughout the theater as the 23 contestants take the stage to perform their choreographed dance. The Miss LSU-USA Pageant has officially begun.

Photo Courtesy of the official Miss LSU USA Facebook
Photo Courtesy of the official Miss LSU USA Facebook

Twenty-three contestants took to the stage Sunday night to compete for the title of Miss LSU-USA 2016.

The pageant, hosted by Louisiana State University’s Sigma Chapter of Delta Zeta, is held annually on campus to raise money for Delta Zeta’s local and national philanthropies. The 2015 pageant raised more than $50,000 for these philanthropies, according to the Miss LSU-USA official blog.

Miss LSU-USA 2015, Ashley Barbier, helped in crowning Emilie Hebert as Miss LSU-USA 2016 Sunday night.

Photo Credits to the official Miss LSU USA Facebook Page
Photo Credits to the official Miss LSU USA Facebook Page

Contestants compete and are judged based on four categories: a pre-pageant interview, a swimsuit segment, an evening gown segment and an on-stage question reserved for the top five finalists.

During the swimsuit portion, Emcee of the night, Jennifer Hale, introduced the contestants individually based on their hobbies, interests, life motto and greatest achievement.

Contestant 19, Kaelah Cobb, said on-stage that her life motto is “dreams won’t work unless you do.”

Before Miss LSU-USA 2016 was crowned, contestant Priscilla Lustig was awarded best swimsuit 2016.

Following the swimsuit portion, the contestants make their way back to the stage in their evening gowns, accompanied by an escort. The judges awarded Tiffany Sporl with the best evening gown of the night.

After the evening gown portion, Hale announced a 15-minute intermission, during which the judges met to tally their votes. Following the intermission, the 23 contestants emerged on the stage to participate in the first round of cuts for the night.

Hale announced the final five in no particular order, naming Karli Willis, Emiley Dillon, Sydney Saia, Emilie Hebert and Hailey Hebert as the contestants still in the running for the crown.

During the final round, the top five took to the stage to answer a question that they each chose from a glass bowl. The questions ranged from thoughts on LSUs budget crisis to what advice the contestant would give their younger self.

As the judges calculated their final decisions for the night, Delta Zeta sorority played a video showcasing their philanthropies that will benefit from the money the pageant raises.

“My favorite part about Miss LSU is the money it raises for charity,” said Carlee Borque, who attended Miss LSU-USA for the third year in a row Sunday night.

Once the five judges reached their conclusion, the participants took to the stage for the final time. Hale took a moment to announce the night’s superlatives. Karli Willis, a member of the top five, took home the award for most photogenic.

Contestant eleven, Bria Davis, won Miss Congeniatlity 2016, and Sporl took home the people’s choice award, which was based on votes across social media using the hashtag #mymisslsu. Cobb, a member of Delta Zeta sorority, received the award for best pre-show interview.

 

 

Louisiana State University to Welcome Back Miss LSU-USA Pageant

Baton Rouge– The Sigma chapter of LSUs Delta Zeta sorority will host the Miss LSU-USA Pageant Sunday, April 10 at 6 p.m. in the Union Theater on campus.

Delta Zeta hosts the Miss LSU-USA pageant annually to raise money for both their local and national Philanthropies. According the the Miss LSU-USA blog, Delta Zeta’s Sigma chapter raised more than $50,000 from the 2015 pageant.

The pageant is judged based on four categories- personal interviews before the show, a swimsuit segment, an evening gown segment and an on-stage Question.

According to Amelie Hardy, Miss LSU-USAs ticket sales assistant, doors to LSUs Union Theater open at 4 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the box office  for $10.

Anonymous Hacks in Turkey Raise Online Security Questions in the United States

Photo Courtesy of americannewsreport.com
Photo Courtesy of americannewsreport.com

An unnamed hacker claimed to publish the private information of nearly 50 million Turkish Citizens to the internet Tuesday morning.

According to The International Business Times, the online database includes everything from date of birth, full name and current addresses to personal identification numbers of 49,611,709 Turkish Citizens.

In February, the United States government dealt with similar issues as a hacker uploaded the personal information of more than 20,000 FBI agents to an online database.

The issue of cyber-hacking has become so common that CNBC News created a segment dedicated to continuous coverage of cyber hacks and threats.

When asked if he felt his private information was safe on the internet, junior Petroleum-engineer student at Louisiana State University, Nasim Dimassi, responded that he really was not sure.

“I guess I keep most of my social media sites set to private, but I never really thought about that in terms of security. I just didn’t think strangers needed to know what I was doing,” Dimassi said.

Small business owner, Santia Macwilliams, had a different response to how safe she felt while using the internet, especially after news broke that there was a successful hack directed at the United States.

“Well, my initial response was, you know, holy crap, how are they going to use that information against us? And who are they going to sell the information to? Not to mention, what does that mean for my safety and security,” Macwilliams said.

Immediately after the incident of the hacks , Macwilliams said she updated all of her passwords across social media. She said that she also felt safer using her Apple phone to access her financial information due to Apple’s claim to being a hack-free system.

“I had less concern about viruses that could be triggered,” Macwilliams said.

In March, Apple proved their stance on security when they refused to allow the FBI to access an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino shooting. The FBI, however, responded by hacking the phone anyways, proving that Apple’s claim of being hack-free might not be justified.

Even though the Turkish cyber attack included the personal information of many national citizens, The Telegraph reported that the hacker included information that targeted the Turkish president and prime minister, making the hack appear to be politically motivated.

 

 

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Through The Years

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is known for its two-weekend long tradition of live music, local food and shopping.

Photo Courtesy of Gondola.com
Photo Courtesy of Gondola.com

The festival began in April 1970 in Congo Square. Around 200 artists performed at the concert event with nearly 350 people in attendance. That year, popular artists Dukes of Dixieland, Pete Fountain and the Olympia Brass Band made appearances.

Although titled after jazz music, the festival features other genres and artists. Over the years, musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet, Trey Songz and Maroon 5 took to the stages of Jazz fest to perform their varying styles of music.

New genres are only some of the changes Jazz fest has seen through the years. The price for day-of tickets to the festival started to increase following the 1970 opening festival.

The graph shows how Jazz Fest ticket prices changed over the years.
The graph shows how Jazz Fest ticket prices changed over the years.

 

From 350 in attendance in 1970 to nearly 460,000 present at the 2015 festival, the 2016 festival is predicted to see similar trends.

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Data numbers are approximations.

 

The 2016 festival kicks off April 22nd and concludes May 1st. Headliners include Grammy-winning rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, former Jonas Brothers star Nick Jonas and rapper J. Cole.

Photo Courtesy of characterblog.com
Photo Courtesy of characterblog.com

According to an article in the Advocate, his year’s festival will implement new rules, including stricter regulations on lawn chairs and increased standing room. The festival will also welcome two new dishes to the list of dining options.

 

 

 

Highland Coffees Presents Free Live Music For Customers

Photo By Gianna Ferrante
Photo By Gianna Ferrante

Baton Rouge-Marlowe Shepherd sat in the back corner of Highland Coffees Monday night with a tip jar in front of him and a guitar on his lap that matched the color of his signature fedora.

Shepherd lit a cigarette, took a single puff, and then placed it beside him for later.

His fingers began to pull gently at the guitar strings the same moment he started to sing into the microphone, an entire 18-minutes past the time his set was intended to start.

Highland Coffees is known for its coffees, teas and pastries, but they also have a wide variety of talents that perform on their property.

Clarke Cadzow, the owner of Highland Coffees, said the establishment has provided live entertainment for customers for 25 of the 26 years it’s been in business.

“Of course we never charge. It’s never a charge, it’s just something provided for the customers,” Cadzow said.

At Highland Coffees start nearly three decades ago, they hosted regularly scheduled live-music events, including everything from jazz and classical to duos and quartets, Cadzow said.

“The message I got from customers was that we really like the music, but we don’t come to Highland Coffees for that,” Cadzow said. “They found the music a little bit distracting.

Now, Highland Coffees offers no strict schedule for live music, but it is a regularly based thing, Cadzow said.

“We try to do things that are different,” Cadzow said.

The Highlander event, which showcased eight bands at the coffee shop in 2014 remains to be one of Cadzow’s favorite events, he said.

Highland Coffees not only offers live performances by singers and songwriters traveling through Baton Rouge or those who are already members of the Baton Rouge community, but they also host poetry readings, Cadzow said.

Photo By Gianna Ferrante
Photo By Gianna Ferrante

Hayley Abraham, a sophomore petroleum-engineer major at Louisiana State University, said Monday night was her first time at Highland Coffees that they were hosting a live music event.

“It was very cozy. Very relaxed. I was scared at first that the music would be too much to concentrate, but it actually helped,” Abraham said.

Shepherd said his music style is close to acoustic street jazz, but he also describes it as mellow-blues and singer-songwriter. He originated as a street performer from Indiana, who has played everywhere from New York subways to the streets of London.

“I’m moving fast. I travel alone,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd made it clear that he doesn’t like to be tied down. His music is removed from all streaming sites and only available on vinyl, his website is hard to find using a regular search engine and he travels without a band because they can never play to his style, he said.

Shepherd’s style is to play multiple shows in one day, he said. Monday he played the Landmark Nursing Center as well as Highland Coffees and Lava Cantina in Perkins Rowe.

“Some of the best, like uh, most memorable moments on tour are at the nursing homes,” Shepherd said.

Cadzow said it was actually Shepherd that came in contact with him about playing at Highland Coffees. Shepherd is touring on his Loss Leader’s tour and called Cadzow because one of the places he enjoys playing at most is coffee shops.

After a fifteen-minute break from his two hour set, Shepherd returns to the iron chair he started his show in and picks up his guitar, but that’s not before tipping his hat to a coffee-shop goer as they pass him by on the way out.

“That’s the brand,” Shepherd said, referring to the fedora that is pictured across all mediums of his music.

Under Cover With Tenacious C

Photo by Gianna Ferrante
Photo by Gianna Ferrante

Baton Rouge – Chris Hailey, a senior finance major at Louisiana State University, pressed an unlit button on the soundboard in front of him, causing a red ring to illuminate around his microphone. He was live.

“Wassup Wassup Guys. This is ‘Under Cover’ with me, Tenacious C,” Hailey said in an upbeat tone that suggested it was 11 in the morning rather than 11 at night.

Hailey moved his hands in front of him, hitting a series of buttons and ending his motions with a sigh of relief as the first song of the night started to play through the headphones.

Hailey, known to his listeners as Tenacious C, hosted his late-night specialty show on KLSUs 91.1 FM station for the fourth time Monday night.

As a rookie radio host, he said that the difficulties of the job far surpass learning how to use the various pieces of equipment.

“The hard part is, for me at least, has been figuring out what to say- kind of talking back to yourself is kind of difficult. I don’t want to ramble, but I also want to have something cool to say. I want people to want to listen,” Hailey said.

Hailey said he got the idea to host a show based solely on song covers from his older brother, who hosted his own segment called ‘Under The Cover’ when he attended the University of Georgia.

“I tried to make as different of a name as possible and I guess maybe my creativity was lacking, but mine is called ‘Under Cover’,” Hailey said.

Hailey addressed the two-part meaning to his show’s title. He said that most people listening are probably under their covers due to the late airing hours, but also says after a small laugh that he feels like a secret agent when he hosts.

His segment is even introduced with a “Mission Impossible” styled-background theme.

Following his introduction, Hailey said he fills his three-hour time slot with a playlist that takes anywhere from four to five hours outside of the studio to create. He later adds these playlists to the KLSU website.

Although Hailey spoke highly of his interest in music, he said joining KLSU was a way to break free from a Greek-life-dominated friendship base and to make connections with people that shared similar interests.

After several years of being in a fraternity at LSU, Hailey said he got sick of the routine and the mindset of feeling like everyone has to be a certain type of person.

“I felt like I only knew Greek people. I wanted to meet people with other interests,” Hailey said.

Hailey applied to be a member of KLSUs team two times before he successfully interviewed and landed the late night gig playing covers of popular songs, he said.

His initial intent was to have a show that featured local artists covering music, but found it nearly impossible to match schedules every week when he himself has an 18-hour course load during his senior year at LSU, he said.

Instead, Hailey chose a more concentrated path for his show. Hailey said that even though he is a cover-show, he didn’t want to feature cover bands.

“I want the cover to have their band and personality in it. I don’t want to have a cover band that is just going to come in and play the exact same thing as the original,” Hailey said.

Hailey is excited to have a job with music that is giving him experience in something he wants to pursue in the future.

Even though Hailey interviewed with several local artists for his show, he said his greatest accomplishment so far was interviewing the Baton Rouge based electronic-chamber-folk band Minos the Saints.

“They were my first real local band,” Hailey said.

Hailey said his four-week role with KLSU has already started to open doors in the Baton Rouge music industry that may be beneficial to his future career path.

“One band manager has contacted me. Kind of being in the mix of that has been really fun- making connections and figuring out about all of these local bands that I’ve never heard of,” Hailey said.