Indie Band Heaven & Earth’s Stuart Smith on The Hurdles of Today’s Music Business

Indie Band Heaven & Earth’s Stuart Smith on The Hurdles of Today’s Music Business

Heaven & Earth band

“The music business is a mess. It’s all so incestuous that it’s hard for anyone to make a decent living in it anymore playing the sort of music we do. The day after you release an album its up for free download from some Russian or Chinese website so you can’t make money selling CD’s anymore no matter who you are. The only way to survive is to go out on tour and sell merchandise and to get on a decent tour you have to bring a crowd in. To do that you have to have radio play but Classic Rock radio is not playing anything new by anybody. They’re just rotating the same 200 songs from that era so if I have to hear “Hotel California” or “Comfortably Numb” I’ll scream. It’s a vicious circle that makes it very difficult for any musician to survive. “- Stuart Smith @HeavenEarthBand

Listen to the interview
Episode #301 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2016/02/25/episode-301-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW STUART SMITH
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

Band: Heaven & Earth

Music business…
It’s a mess. It’s all so incestuous that it’s hard for anyone to make a decent living in it anymore playing the sort of music we do. The day after you release an album its up for free download from some Russian or Chinese website so you can’t make money selling CD’s anymore no matter who you are. The only way to survive is to go out on tour and sell merchandise and to get on a decent tour you have to bring a crowd in. To do that you have to have radio play but Classic Rock radio is not playing anything new by anybody. They’re just rotating the same 200 songs from that era so if I have to hear “Hotel California” or “Comfortably Numb” I’ll scream. It’s a vicious circle that makes it very difficult for any musician to survive.

Pros: I’ve gotten to travel the world, do what I love for a living, met some incredible people and have dated some of the most beautiful women on earth.

Cons: Touring, even done at a high level, is very taxing both physically and mentally. You can travel miles to play a concert only to find it is not well promoted and there’s only a handful of people to see you which is very disheartening. Because of the financial instability it is very hard to keep any kind of permanent relationship together.

Hurdles and pitfalls…
Pure blind stubbornness, iron determination, the support of Bruce Quarto from our record company and an unfailing belief in the great music we make as a band.

Social media…
It definitely has it’s pros and cons but it has made it a lot easier to communicate and get information to people. It helps if you have a good social media team like we do with Embark Music.

The Challenges…
There’s always challenges in whatever avenue you decide to take in life. You just have to have the determination to overcome them, whatever they are.

Singles vs an album…
In the past I think it made a difference if you released a single as that would drive people to buy the album. Nowadays most people listen to their music via MP3’s so they only have to buy the songs off that particular album that they like. In a way it’s a good thing because it makes the musicians work harder to craft good songs so people feel it’s worthwhile to buy the entire album.

With the new Heaven & Earth album, which we’re in the process of finishing, we’ll be concentrating a lot more on getting our music licensed to movies, TV show and commercials. We have our music in 2, possibly 3 movies coming out in the near future. If these movies make a nice dent then they’ll take Heaven & Earth’s music along with them from which we can get radio play. We’re also aiming the music on the new album towards a younger audience.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
It would probably be Eric Clapton as he’s one of the greats I’ve never met and I owe him an apology for waking him up at 3.00am in the Hilton Hotel in Perth, Australia with a very loud party. I didn’t know he was in the room right next door!

Current and trendy…
I think there’s way too much emphasis on being current and trendy as opposed to the quality of the music. In a way though it’s always been that way, ever since people realized that there was money to be made in the industry. I think you have to find an artistic way of embracing various trends without losing your musical integrity otherwise you can end up as a one hit wonder and just fade away.

I am most afraid of… Nothing that I can think of.

My personal definition of success is..
Being happy everyday in life and being able to provide for yourself and your loved ones by doing what you enjoy most.

I am most proud of…
Apart from helping bring my daughter into this world, I feel that our last album “Dig” was certainly a musical success that I’m proud of.

Although it wasn’t the great financial money maker that we all thought it would be, I personally felt that the songwriting, production and overall performance by the musicians made it an incredible success. Every review we had said that it was either the best rock album in the last 10 years or it was voted “Album of the Year”.

In regards to achieving it, I think a lot of the credit goes to Bruce Quarto, the head of our record company. Apart from supporting it financially he was very instrumental in the end result. He would say, “I don’t care how long it takes or what it costs, but if you go into the studio and record something and the next day feel you could have done it better, go back in and do it again”. That kind of support free’s you up from watching the clock and allows you to maximize your creativity. Also communication played a huge part. Bruce and I would talk for hours on the phone each night after he’d heard the days work on MP3’s and we would plan and argue as to what needed to be done and although I resisted a lot at first we ended up using a lot of his input on the songs. The album would not be anywhere near as good as it turned out without that constant communication between us.

My over all goal for my life & career is…
to have a successful album and get out on a decent tour so everyone can get to know Heaven & Earth’s music, pay our record company back and make enough to keep doing what I love for the rest of my life.

3 Ways that I challenge myself and how each one moves me forward towards my goal.

1) Strive to be healthy and fit through martial arts and exercise.

2) I try to learn a new song on the guitar as often as possible so that I can see how other songs are constructed.

3) Pick up the guitar and play whenever I can.

I was born in England…
and I played guitar from 8 years old taking Classical lessons and when I was 14 I saw Deep Purple which turned me onto Rock & Roll. I started playing guitar professionally at 18 when I found out that I could not follow in my father’s footsteps and be a jet fighter pilot due to being color blind. When I was 19 I met and became good friends with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and he mentored me in the business. I went on to play with numerous bands around England before moving to the States in 1983 where I went on to play with Sweet and Keith Emerson and Heaven & Earth.

I Don’t Know What Love Is
is a song that took a long time to come to fruition. I came up with the title about 25 years ago and thought it was such a powerful statement but never found the music to go with it that I thought would do it justice. When we started writing for the “Dig” album our singer Joe Retta went to visit his parents in Rochester for 2 weeks and I decided that I’d pick up the acoustic guitar and not play the electric guitar again until I’d come up with a great rock ballad that we could use the title for. It all came together on the very day Joe got back so I gave him the music and the title and he disappeared into his room with it for a few days. At the time I was going through a very difficult and heart rendering break up and actually felt that I didn’t know what love was anymore. Joe Retta and I share a house so he must have picked up some empathy by osmosis and a few days later he came out of his room and sang what you hear today which blew me away.

If you like well played music harkening back to the glory days of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and Pink Floyd then you’ll like us.

As I stated earlier, at the time we were writing “Dig” I was in a very dark place but creating and playing music heals you so the first titles I threw at Joe were “Back in Anger”, “House of Blues”, “No Money, No Love” and “I Don’t Know What Love Is”. As the writing progressed I came out of the darkness I was in and the mood of the album got lighter to where the titles were ones like: “Rock & Roll Does”, “Good Times” and “Live as One” so we pretty much started the album in the order that the songs were written so it has an overall feel of being taken through a roller coaster of emotions from dark to light. That being said as CD’s and albums are virtually non existent now people will buy individual MP3’s so when people have the songs on shuffle you don’t get the same effect.

Heaven & Earth indie band featured

What we hope to accomplish with Heaven & Earth is to bring well played rock back to the forefront of the music scene again. Joe Retta and I have a new line-up with Lynn Sorensen from Bad Company on bass, Kenny Aronoff, who has played with just about everybody on drums and Ty Bailie on keyboards who was currently out on tour with Katy Perry, but we try not to mention that.

To market “Dig we hired a social media team, a publicist, an art director, radio promoters and even went out and toured Europe.

Download the music: http://heavenandearthband.com/store/

I live in Los Angeles…
I don’t really go out too much unless there’s a band I really want to see… so when I do…. I like places like The Greek Theater, Hollywood Bowl and The Forum.

Tell me about one fun thing you like to do that can be music or non-music related.

I study martial arts. I’m a black belt in Shotokan and am working on my 2nd degree in MMA. I’m up to a green belt in that.

 

Social Media
Main website: www.heavenandearthband.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth/
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HeavenandEarthBand
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeavenEarthBand
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/officialheavenandearth/
Google: https://plus.google.com/+Heavenandearthbandofficial
MTV Artists: http://www.mtv.com/artists/heaven-earth/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/heaven-and-earth
Reverbnation: https://www.reverbnation.com/heavenandearthband
Talent Watch: https://www.talentwatch.net/artist/myvideo