Welcome to the home page of the 2007 Muse's Muse Awards.
If you are the recipient of an award, or if you represent or work for someone who has received one - or if you are just curious as to what this is all about - here's a brief overview of the Muse's Muse Awards.
The Muse's Muse Awards were created in 2004 to generate publicity for the superior songwriting, vocal talent, and recordings (which I refer to as "projects") that I review throughout the year.
Since 2007 marks the completion of my 5th year as the Senior Music Reviewer here on Muse's Muse, I've decided to celebrate this occasion by ranking the top twenty projects that I've reviewed over the course of my 5 year tenure with a special Half Decade Muse's Muse Award.
The Half Decade Muse's Muse Awards are given this year to highlight the top 20 CDs that I've reviewed in the past 5 years since becoming a music critic. If you (are your artist) is the recipient of a Half Decade Muse's Muse Award, congratulations! Your CD project was picked out of thousands to represent the best of the best.
HOW THE AWARDS ARE DEALT
I did not use a complicated process like the American Music Awards, or some political voting strategy like The Grammy’s to determine who would receive a Muse’s Muse Award. Aside from my “commercial” criteria requirement, and a scoring system that I've had since day one, I also used 20 years of recording experience and my industry ears to select the recipients.
The CDs and singles that I review, are selected in comparison to the top-ranked songs and high-charting artists that everyone listens to, or has heard of. My evaluation is based on a combination of factors including originality, identity, vocal/songwriting talent, musicianship, competency/proficiency in production, and sonic quality (mixing/mastering).
2007 A&R OUTLOOK: PERSPECTIVE ON DUE DILIGENCE
Because I credit my work here on Muse's Muse as the inspiration and the impetus that led to my career change as an Independent A&R Specialist, I have become far more critical of music and artists than I used to be. This is not to say that I can't listen to music without analyzing it; to the contrary - I enjoy music more when it does not contain foul elements that cause it to be analyzed. It's a matter of both training and conditioning which forces me to see the realities and the possibilities of the music simultaneously.
My job as a music critic and music business professional is to provide a filter to the public and the industry so that they can find - and ultimately enjoy - music that has been given it's proper due diligence. In my experience, music that is handled with due diligence, is music that is given the best chance to succeed.
What is due diligence? Attending to the fine details that create quality - in anything.
When you are only motivated to write a song instead of being inspired to write one, those with industry ears can tell. Inept songwriting skills, unpolished vocals, pedestrian performances, and songs that are not mixed and mastered proficiently (or in some cases not mixed or mastered at all), indicate lack of due diligence. Lack of attention to these fine details is usually the reason why I don't review a project.
Due diligence extends far beyond your music. It's reflected in everything from the consistency of your "brand," the manner in which you handle the most minute of your business affairs, to keeping your contact information current. We (professionals) just don't have the time to do things like visit deleted web pages, sites that are perpetually "under construction," or go on a goose chase because the information (that artists give us) is outdated, incomplete or inaccurate.
Due diligence calls for accuracy and relevance.
In spite of the frustrations I sometimes experience as a music critic, I'm just as passionate as I was at the very beginning, and I still get excited about opening the packages I receive - even after 5 years and thousands of CDs later. Some inspire me to offer my assistance in the realization of their dreams. All of them contribute songs to the soundtrack of my life. Reviewing these songs is merely my way of sharing my enthusiasm about them with industry colleagues who include fellow A&R, label executives, publishers, and music supervisors.
So who are these artists that I've chosen to review? They tend to be:
-Talented with some development or refinement (naturally gifted, or well-versed through practice, school, training, etc.)
-Experienced (they've spent time actually doing what they've practiced)
-Quality Songs (written by or with someone who thoroughly understands The 6 Rules Of Commercial Music Success)
-Good supporting cast (experienced producers, musicians, etc.)
-Financially backed (to pay for their musical supporting cast and professional support)
-Strong Identity (their voice, sound, or style is distinguished)
While the artists that have the ever elusive X Factor are indeed rare, those that I review fit the above profile and they tend to exercise proper due diligence with their projects. This is the reason why only 40 of the 303 artists that submitted music to me got reviewed. Which brings me to a partial statistical breakdown of my submissions...
-Number of overall CDs submitted in 2007: 303, a decrease of 138 from the 441 I received in 2006.
-Number of CDs reviewed this year: 40, only 4 fewer than the 44 I reviewed in 2006.
-Number of female artists CDs received: 200
-Number of male artists CDs received: 103
-Number of CDs from independent artists: 111
-Number of CDs from "signed" major artists: 15
-Number of CDs from "signed" major artists that were reviewed: 1
-Number of artists submitting follow-up CDs from 2006: 3
-Number of artists submitting follow-up CDs that got reviewed: 1
-Number of CDs submitted through record labels: 27
-Number of CDs submitted through publicists: 37
-Number of CDs submitted through publishing companies: 11
-Number of artists reviewed through online submissions: 8
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Before I get to this year's Muse's Muse Award Winners I wanted to update the readers of my column on what's been happening with some of the past winners since I've reviewed them (in alphabetical order).
Alice Peacock: This Muse's Muse Award Winner is the driving force behind her Rock For Reading program. The not-for-profit organization which puts books in the hands of children and adults who need to learn how to read or improve their literacy. The organization has raised over $100,000 for literacy and reading programs primarily through benefit concerts which have featured Lucinda Williams, Nickel Creek, and Steve Winwood.
Draw Tippy: This Muse's Muse Award Winner has had his music used on MTV's Inferno 2 and Real World Austin.
Elly K: This Muse's Muse Award Winner has had a song prominently featured in a key scene in a David Bowie film.
Eric Schwartz: This Muse's Muse Award winner is always perfroming his hilariously entertaining stand-up/music routine somewhere. Primarily in Southern California, but he's expanding into venues throughout the country. He has been on televsion shows and in commercials, and has a variety of videos on YouTube. The race is on to see who will reach stardom first: Eric Schwartz or his alter ego, Smooth-E. I'm betting on both of them.
Escape From Earth: You may have seen this Muse's Muse Award winner performing in a Coke commercial which aired frequently during Diddy's Making Of The Band III on MTV. They won a contest through Coke over nearly 5,000 competing bands from across the nation for the most devoted and talented un-signed musical artists in the country. In addition, Escape From Earth appeared in the December/January 2006 issue of Teen People Magazine.
Kai Brown: This Muse's Muse Award winner opened for Hootie & The Blowfish this last summer.
Kelly Sweet: This Muse's Muse Award winner has had songs featured on The Ghost Whisperer and has opened for Dave Koz. She's currently doing spot dates around the globe.
Mike Steed: This Muse's Muse Award winner may very well be one of the hardest working musicians I've met in the San Francisco Bay Area. With shows primarily in Northern and Southern California, he has a gig every week.
Muller & Patton: This truly unique duo has performed in Hong Kong and the Philippines. They are also writing music for motion pictures and preparing the follow-up release to their Muse's Muse Award winning debut CD project.
Sara Bareilles: This Muse's Muse Award Winner signed to Epic Records in 2005. Her new track, "Love Song," was the song of the day at Starbucks, and she was featured (as of this writing) in a series of VH1's Artists You Should Know promotions which air frequently. She and her songs have appeared in numerous television commercials and shows, and she has recently opened for Maroon 5 and James Blount.
Shaan Sharma: This Muse's Muse Award winner has has songs featured on Oxygen's Bad Girls Club, MTV's Next, Parental Control, Super Sweet 16th, and The Ashlee Simpson Show.
Sonicjoy: This Muse's Muse Award Winner has landed multiple licensing deals including the TV movie, "Remembrance," which aired on PBS.
South Border: This Muse's Muse Award winning band signed to Rasiah Records in 2007 and have opened for Brian McKnight in addition to headlining performances in Southern and Northern California, and the Philippines.
Templeton Thompson: This Muse's Muse Award winner had a song placed in Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle 3.
Congratulations to all of you on your noteworthy achievements! I wish you all continued success.
HELLO 2008...BYE-BYE CDs
2008 will mark the beginning of my transition to doing online reviews, primarily, but not exclusively. This will significantly impact the Muse's Muse Awards for Best CD Projects and exponentially increase the number of singles that I review. Please note: I will not listen to entire CD projects online (I don't have that kind of time); therefore only full projects that are mailed to me in the future on old fashioned discs will be eligible for review.
As always, I have to thank Jodi Krangle (Proprietor of the Muse's Muse) for giving me a forum to communicate with artists from over the world. She does an awful lot with very little and she runs The Muse's Muse with the utmost professionalism (and due diligence might I add : )
The relationships that I've built with people through my work on the Muse's Muse is immensely gratifying. I want to thank the marketing companies and the publicists who send me quality material on a regular basis. In particular, Chip Schultzman of Miles High Productions, who has sent me material from artists (Alice Peacock and Kelly Sweet) who have received top Muse's Muse Award honors two years in a row.
In addition, I'd like to thank the many artists who take the time to write and send kind notes thanking me for the reviews I've written. It's an honor to be chosen as YOUR reviewer and it's a thrill to see my quotes used in the marketing and promotion of your music. Thank you all for making me one of the top searched music critics on the Internet, and providing me with the one activity that is my most fulfilling and rewarding.
It is my pleasure to present the recipients of my 2007 Muse's Muse Awards...
Senior Music Reviewer
Click here for a list of Gian's 2007 Muse's Muse Award Winners For Best CD Projects