Alain Clark and The Dan

Moses Avalon

Last week the co-manager of 30 year-old Dutch artist, Alain Clark invited me to his LA recording sessions.Who was there when I arrived: Steve Gadd and Dean Parks.If you don’t know who they are and you’re into music, then you’re probably under thirty-five.They are the cats behind the tracks on albums like Steely Dan’s Aja and about 5 out of 10 of the great studio recordings made from the mid 1970s to the present.

To hear Gadd/Parks work their magic before it’s mixed and layered is pure heaven.At 65 years old, Gadd is still playing perfect and gigging all the time.Ask him if CD sales being down is relevant.

With hundreds of studios in Europe and some of the best musicians, Alain (pronounced A-lan) crossed the pond to work in Los Angeles.Why?He liked the vibe.That’s it.He wanted US cats and a sound that he felt was obtainable via the LA scene.

I was there and I think he got it.His next album will resonate with anyone who has a kink for the Dan, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, etc.

And here’s the part that concerns you.


Alain’s talent is impressive.He produces and arranges his tracks, he’s young, and has the look and personality of a star.In fact he is a star– over there.Over here he still has to wait for a table at Dennys.

I saw Alain perform at the 2009 Eurosonic conference in Holland.(I was the Key Note speaker that year.)He blew me away with a great R&B song called “Father and Friend.”It’s quadruple platinum in the Netherlands but in the US the majors don’t know what to do with him.He had a deal on Warner for US marketing. It went nowhere.Why?

The fact that these label-luddites keep paying him lip service about “loving it” but not moving forward resonates with why I left the creative side of the business.It’s too heartbreaking.Anyone who has the power to do something, listens to this guy’s music and then shrugs at what to do with it, has no juice or has no soul.It’s that simple.And there are just too many people in positions of power that fit this description, unfortunately.

Why have labels decided that people’s tastes in music are somehow different in the US?Why, with the internet and social networking, will the US be deprived of Alain’s work?What has to happen before the “global economy” hits the music business and an artist that is big in Holland can come to the US for a warm welcome?


This is why CD sales are down.It’s not P2P.It’s not the downfall of radio.It’s that labels can not pick a winner anymore.

It doesn’t matter.Alain’s now on our radar.Someone reading this will hear him, grow a pair and have the singer in every iPod, while majors are still asking themselves why he spells his name wrong.

Take a listen/look to this YouTube video and see if you can guess why Warner failed to figure out a strategy. If you have a clue, respond in the comments section below.I’d like to hear it and so would others on this list.

Mo Out


60 responses to “Alain Clark and The Dan”

  1. why warners can’t break it? no one there plays an instrument or has a decent record collection…their are no music people in the music bz & hasn’t been for quite ahwile …this is not news

  2. Deeder says:

    We can look at this in a number of ways. If you look at the trends of the big 4 over the past 10-14 years there has been a shift from some form of development to little to none. To be signed to a major, artist seem to have to fall into two categories: be well established as an act (the Stones, Madonna, Springsteen, etc) or be appealing to the untrained YOUNG ears of society. (hence the ironic terms like “pop-punk”). Also, to “break” an artist today the label needs to shell out roughly 500k to add or advertise one song through clear-channel radio stations in the usa. (remember its not payola, your buying space on the playlist through a middle man).
    In the case of Alain, (awesome voice might I say) by the tone of this song, it looks like it could be licensed to various forms of media quite easily. Warner knows this. Also from what I have been told from a number of touring artist, Europe cares more for the music and less for the image, as apposed to the states where its the other way around.
    So, in warners mind they are stuck in a situation in which someone (who probably only knows music from what is on the radio) doesn’t know what or how to do anything with the artist. How can they market someone who is competing with the jonas brothers. (by no means am I comparing the two genres as the same. just marketing aspects) In my opinion, Alain should go after america not through the majors but through his lawyers. License the song(s) out, build the “buzz,” collect the revenue, and tell the majors to piss off.

  3. Val Gameiro says:

    I’m not even into R&B, and I loooooove this track! Heartwarming and emotional. Beautiful!

    My guess is the majors are too busy playing guess games than actually asking people what they want to hear… they’re more concerned with making a profit than delivering a product that their audience will love! They’re focused on the money instead of satisfying the customer! EEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHH! Thank you for playing!

  4. Mike Ososki says:

    W o w ! That is one soulful, heartfelt song and performance– thanks for turning me on to it. Seems to me that in today’s strangling tight radio formats, a place for it cannot be found. Such a shame. For God’s sake, open up, people!

  5. Steve Goodale says:

    Perhaps this is too positive a vibe for bureaucrats to relate to. With negativity so popular, they’re afraid to commit to a statement this unabashedly loving and gentle. But word of mouth isn’t so shy. Alain deserves to go ballistic and viral passalong could put him there.

  6. Jason Miles says:

    The Europeans and other countries around the world have always had way more appreciation
    of our great music music than we have. They respect our legends and they have influenced them over the years.
    The Labels over here want to sell music to the audience that has no problem stealing it. They have no sense of musical history and how to mine it to another generation and make it grow. In the last number of years they have abandoned any sense of musical growth to make sure that they were able to keep their jobs
    To me using Steve Gadd and Dean Parks is no big deal as guys like Steve Dean were al a part of making the great records of the past 30 years.I worked with many of the greats all the time.Add Richard Tee, Steve Ferrone, Eric Gale,Michael Brecker and you’ll know why records lack these days. The masters of the craft aren’t apart of them anymore
    I said it to my friend the other night-They guys who helped Craft the great albums of the past are either not with us anymore or totally underutilized.
    I miss those days and realize they may be gone forever
    Oh Yeah-Alain sounds like the real deal
    Peace, Jason

  7. Jimi says:

    It’s not just the music industry, it’s the whole entertainment industry.
    & nobody wants to lose a job.
    Practically every major motion picture is a remake of an old TV show or an old book or story.
    Mad Men is so ’60s it probably causes cancer. NeYo has taken fashion backwards even further.
    Avatar is doing well because it IS a new story, green & relevant, & hopefully will turn some things around on that side, & yes, Alain will continue to grow in popularity in the virtual world. My kids have had him on their ipods for a while already.
    But as you mentioned, yes, his sound is a lil’ retro too.
    I haven’t heard a cool new groove since…new jack swing?

  8. Hartmann says:

    Mo: Good call, Alain is a great artist. If he can make it in Holland, he can make it everywhere. No record company will help him. He must come here and build it from the cyber-grass-roots up. Send him to and he can learn everything he needs to know to build a music business of his own. We have thousands of members world wide and none of them are lost in the fog of showbiz. Pax. .j.

    P.S. I have a book in the editing stage called: “100 Q&A on the Digimodernization of the Music Industry” Just so you know I didn’t get the idea from you.

  9. Natalie says:

    Oh. My. god. WOW. Thank u for letting me know about Alain. He’s amazing.

    I don’t trust US labels to deliver anyting but mass marketed pap and this has too much soul and depth for them to know what to do with it.

    Why don’t US majors know what do do with this real artist?
    Where’s the cross-dressing shock value to get publicity from? Where’s the tabloid fodder? He’s 30, waaaaayyyy too ‘old’ for major labels to take a chance on. They still think sex and youth sell. Yah, tell that to whoever A&Red that git Heidi Montag’s ‘album’. I mean, like that 2 million dollar budget really moved a whole lot of units . Anyway, my point is that US Major labels don’t know what to do with real, authentic talent. That’s why they are struggling, but they still don’t see that they are the cause of their own problems. Their product is utter shit for the most part and they really have NO clue what people want.

    Anyway Moses, thank you SOOOOO much for introducing me to this amazing, true artist.

  10. Tonehenge says:

    A great tune….anchored around melody, harmony, and positivity. Moses, you helped make me feel 20 years younger. Thank you!

  11. Hank Bordowitz says:

    That non-US artists can’t get a hearing in the US is not news. Think of the Beatles. Part of the reason (the main part) that 24 US labels passed on them before VJ took a chance was that “Americans don’t want to listen to English music.” As David Byrne would sing, “Same as it ever was.”

    People have tried to make inroads for years. During the 80s, ever New Music Seminar had a large contingent of extra-national attendees, often funded by their country, promoting their artists. At one of these fests, I heard and fell in love with a band called Santa Sabina (think Genesis in Spanish with an Iberian twist). These were very early days for the rock in Espanol movement, but I tried to get people at RCA to see the light (or hear the brilliance). No dice.

    Thanks for the tip. As an avid Dan fan. The forthcoming Clark album sounds interesting.

    BTW, I forwarded your info to folks at Sweet Relief as an alternative to Lefsetz.

  12. Michael Huey says:

    Don’t ya think it’s obvious why he’s having a difficult time in the U.S. . . .
    1) Talent
    2) Quality
    3) Craft
    4) Soul
    What on earth would a label jackass do with this guy. Talent seems to terrify those folks . . . it’s just sooo ‘un-hip’.
    Michael Huey

  13. Natalie says:

    The only other thing I can think of after listening to everything I could on MySpace is that perhaps he covers the ‘ground’ that Gavin DeGraw on Sony is covering? I wonder if Alain was a competition signing and now that Gavin hasn’t done so well on the charts, the project has gone cold? Or perhaps just plain old politics, which has been known to ruin many an artists’ career at a Major label. It happens all the time. Regardless I agree with Deeder who said that his management should pursue licensing. That would definitely be a way to break into the US market. But I would tell Alain to understand that the US market is not the career holy grail anymore. He can play live and do his thing in many other countries for his entire life. People are so short sighted thinking that a successful career can only be had by breaking the US. It’s just not true.

  14. I knew so many overseas bands that were huge there and their US label counterparts would not push them here at all.

    Why? Well I asked some A&R people and was told that IF the US end of the label takes it on and the act flops,
    then the US label team will be blamed for flopping the campaign, they will get fired.
    They don’t want to be told that their overseas team was successful when they weren’t and have to be reprimanded.

    So, no in house marketing team will take on a foreign act on their label roster.

  15. Skooh Islam says:

    Corporate America can’t promote what it sees as a myth. Black Men don’t Love each other. They Don’t raise there Children. maybe if they were in a jail cell together they might be able to work with that. If Robin and Alan thick did the same song they would get a tour and a sitcom out of it.

    • Moses Avalon says:

      Wow! Shook’s may be my favorite response yet. What insight. But Sal wins the pool as far I as I can tell so far. The answer is fear. A&R/Marketing “gurus” live in fear. If they sign crap and it fails they cannot be blamed. Sign a talent it fails then the target of that failure can only be them.

  16. Sarah says:

    Skooh is absolutely correct. They are not perpetuating the ‘stereotypical black man’ myth. The labels are now catering to primarily ‘tweens’. Skooh mentioned the Thickes – and if Miley Cyrus did this song with her father it would be heard everywhere. It’s sad but true. Until we take back the labels and put them in the hands of real musicians/music people, this will continue to happen. Unfortunately we know the problem -I wish we had the solution.

  17. DB says:

    Doesn’t anyone on this list understand that exposure through old media, i.e. radio, TV, and movies is essential. This is not a radio song. Maybe for a movie. If this had gotten on radio, the Label would pour support money in. Radio needs a kind of content other than tasteful A-student art. American media specializes in C-student mass appeal. Popular Techie myth may say otherwise, but the Labels do not control media, they fight to get songs in media. And radio plays what your middle of the bell curve mass appeal neighbors who watch American Idol request because they need ratings for advertising. Blaming Labels is more often knee-jerk reaction without basis. The taste of the American public has always sucked and that is often reflected in media. Consolidation of media by Clinton giving rise to Clear Channel and Fox should have been seen as a criminal action. If someone on this list believes in this song, then put your money where your mouth is and take it to radio with the promotion company specializing in Indie airplay at

    • Moses Avalon says:

      DB has a valid point re: Clinton/CH Media consolidation, I agree and wrote a scathing article about it back in the day, criticizing Bill, despite the fact that I supported him in most of his decisions. However I disagree with DB on one point: I thinik Father & Friend is middle of the road enough to make it. If a label poured cash into the proper promotion it would hit. I believe that.

  18. I think this guy has ‘star’ written all over him. I’m actually a little surprised he hasn’t happened yet. A label tends to act like sheep when another passes. They figure that perhaps the other label knows something they don’t. It’s really kind of pathetic. Few labels have the balls to act on their own gut and it’s always been that way. But with the advent of artists like Lewis Taylor and James Morrison, I would think he could snag a nice deal out of the UK first.

  19. Michael Huey says:


    Alain has now sold two CDs, . . . to me.
    After listening to many cuts on iTunes, I bought both CDs.

    Also, on iTunes there’s a video ‘Track Comments’ ~Very soulful man, and he knows how to choose players to work with in the studio.

  20. The best artists have been “discovered” by “music people,” whether they be record company execs, independent producers, or managers. In the 50s and 60s, there were plenty of the above and the result was some of the most memorable music and genuine artists to ever write, record and/or perform. As the music people were displaced by non-music people, the downward spiral of the industry began. It’s now at the point where talents like Stevie Wonder or Carole King would not get signed; or even have their songs placed with other artists.
    What’s interesting is, I’ve had a successful recording studio for over 32 years, and some of the best music, songs, spoken word, and even soundtracks, have been recorded here. I get to hear lots of amazing stuff! And I always encourage new artists to go indie rather than going major label. If they make a big enough splash as indie, the majors will come looking for a way to make $$ off of the already successful artist. At that point, the artist has the upper hand and can cut a dist deal or continue being indie. With all the web outlets, indie artists can make a great living while doing what they truly love (and what listeners truly need–great music that creates emotional impact). Alain’s duet with his dad is exactly what this world needs more of–totally honest, genuine, frank, sweet, love.

  21. Tom Truitt says:

    Right on Moses! Thanks for giving some exposure to Alain. The track is amazing – positively uplifting! Two terms seldom used in the same sentence with the words major label.

  22. elektrolad says:

    Maybe cause it sounds like music used to?
    We live in a society where “Pants on the ground” gets covered on a major network. Real talent is overlooked in favor of the fast buck.
    How many ‘Idols’ are still on the radar? If they didn’t save their checks I’m sure they’ll be working at Denny’s as well.

  23. Ben Seigel says:

    Hah! If this straightforward, accessible, well-crafted pop tune can’t get him signed, I don’t feel bad that my independent album of progressive pop has been met with dead silence.


    Soccer moms will love this tune. What’s the big deal?

  24. J. Hancock says:

    So fuck the majors, get him on tour with Dave Matthews Band. The majors haven’t had any juice or soul since Robert Plant could still fit in leather trousers. Luckily these days the internet provides an infrastructure for artists to launch themselves, guys obviously got some dough if he’s got Gadd in the studio. This Major label gripe is getting old. The only thing holding artists back these days is lack of creative thinking in business and lack of capital.

  25. He is amazing. The entertainment industry is as lost as the US when it comes to understanding progressive thought. After rap they have been faltering, trying to figure out what comes next. And in that shuffle people are getting either swept up or spit out. The NPR critic in Dec on All Things Considered put it plainly, good music is falling down into a crack because of the limitations on radio play. Combine that with an aging Hip Hop generation, a celebrity driven youth and you have this situation.

  26. Hey Mo,

    The requisite is simple:

    1. They need to be able to recognize excellent music.

    2. They need to know how to reach and sell to a specific market audience.

    3. Appropriate aptitude, knowledge, and competence.

    A, B, C. 1, 2, 3.


    Aaron Wolfson – artist, songwriter, producer

  27. Mike T says:

    I agree with the first comment . In as much as many people have an out of date perspective of the music industry and what it means today. Why are all the major money making acts touring like crazy, Unless your famous you can only make money from touring and merchendise, Why do U think Micheal Jackson was going to do so many tours before he passed. Everybody knows that less people are buying CDs and are shopping on-line for music or file sharing which has depleted the record industries major source of income Apple’s i-tunes has created a new breed of record companies. Online .The Music Business means 2 things music and Business most musicians just learn Music and not the other half and if your any-good at it you hire a manager to do the business side and hopefully make a living , Today just because your good at something doesn’t mean you’ll be successful at it all All i know is no-ones entitled to anything unless they work for it or conspire to get it having said that, I Love the tune , Love the old and new video concept , and wish this artist well.

  28. Zoltan says:

    My impression is that the music business has lost balance and the “music” element is totally neglected. You probably forgive my honesty – what the heck is music about Lady GaGa, or Jay Z for that matter? Or Madonna, the one-time brilliant singer – now a pivot in a heartless, upscale entertainment machine. These are artificial products, not pieces of art. Artificial products don’t inspire, art does. This entire “value crisis” in music will ineviably have a backlash on society – but that takes us too far. Again, I did not mean to pass judgements – only honest impressions.

  29. drhill says:

    my band was signed to Warner USA – then “launched”in Holland – with the idea that if we charted (top 40 required 6,ooo units at the time) we would likely roll over to neighboring countries. It was a fascinating exercise – in store shows at Free Record Shop, showcases, radio station visits. We never got the hit we needed, and I think warner was making educated guesses at best… but I suspect that Alain might be in the USA for a better cut on his music – if he is still waiting at Dennys he hasn’t seen a lot of his royalties to date. I think NLs socialist roots take a lot of money from artists too…I remember hearing about Golden Earring moving to Belgium or something for this reason.

  30. David says:

    If you’re asking whether this could be a hit song (and I’m framing it like that since that’s the overarching criterion that has to be satisfied for major label enthusiasm these days… if you don’t like that, that’s a separate debate)… I’d have to say no.

    It’s a beautiful concept, terrific vocal performance, great melodies and harmonic progressions, nice production… IMHO there’s just one critical issue with regard to getting it on the radio. The song structure is such that the main chorus doesn’t kick in until after 1m30s. In my experience, (and without in any way detracting from how much I like this song and artist) that’s way too late. And the structure leading up to it is not clear… 4 or 5 different sections before we hit the chorus.
    Personally I rather like an itinerant and wandering song structure, but it’s not suited to contemporary radio, which likes its musical messages very simple and clearly laid out… with “here comes the hook!” spelled out clearly as early in the song as possible, and a simple-to-follow dynamic and structure in the song. It’s the kind of thing a producer would normally sort out, and a version of this song that addressed that issue would be a contender for sure. Without that version, Warners are left with an act that they know they can’t get on radio, and hence it’s not very surprising that they were less than enthusiastic, since that’s the only model they feel comfortable with.

    • Moses Avalon says:

      [The song structure is such that the main chorus doesn’t kick in until after 1m30s.]

      The chorus comes in a 1:25, but I get your point. The US radio edit brought it in a wee bit earlier. It didn’t matter. I think a song this good can hold interest for that long. And for gods sakes look at “American Pie,” with it’s super long first verse.

  31. Peter Kearns says:

    They probably didn’t like the video. Ha. But honestly, there are a thousand singers as good and better than this in the states. Why would they want to go to the trouble of importing this when it’s already there at home? I was expecting something astounding, but this is pretty run of the mill. Gadd and Parks would just be paying their rent playing on this, surely. Unremarkable.

  32. This tune is a great exercise in how to write and record a soul song from the 70’s, my favorite kind of music. The black artists of today are standing on the shoulders of this music and adding today’s technology into it making it sound new. Granted this song is recorded with today’s technology but not with the production values of today with all the loops and Akai samplers. The vocals are wonderful but we have already heard David Ruffin, Bobby Womack and Al Green do this exact performance for the last 30+years. Like someone in a previous post said those singers would never get a deal today or at least get promoted so why would Alain be any different.

  33. allen wentz says:

    Well.. the short answer to your question is this..

    It sounds “dated”. (BUT.. doesn’t everything when you get down to it?)

    And I agree with Jason Miles.. the good “old” days are exactly that. There is a terrific article by Eno that is quite astute from Eno’s always unique angle.

    The race thing is bullshit. Get over it. We have a black president. If Lil’ Wayne WASN’T black he’d be washing dishes.

  34. Kinobi Quinn says:

    I don’t know. I hate that I’m so suspicious now. Am I just being manipulated by Moses’ website to move this guys music? I enjoyed the song, but I’m hesitant because I don’t like being tricked. AAAAA! I hate this industry. You just don’t know who to trust.

    It’s time we start over…don’t you think?

    Kinobi Quinn

  35. Wendy Bolt says:

    They are gutless idiots. This song is BEAUTIFUL and it is sorely NEEDED in this country (USA). At the very least it could be used as a PSA to promote responsible fatherhood and to dispel the bad stereotype of black families, which I think is racist crap, to coin a phrase.

  36. Max says:

    I don’t know which is worse – Alain’s situation(beautiful song, btw) – or the many brilliant artists I know and work with in Los Angeles and sadly watch banging their heads for decades against the very same lame rotating execs confused by anything not “processed-cheese manufactured for lowest common denom…”(my terminology.). Quite a few are starting to have better success abroad. I commend you for plugging an excellent artist’s music when you do. We need all the help we can get. Specially, those of us refusing to conform to label indentured servitude!
    But the worst recent experience I had in showing one of my clients is from a new digital distributor who’s now taking the label’s excuses route – when at the beginning of our relationship boasted of their being different from the labels in supporting new unknown artists! Wasn’t expecting the old standard “we don’t know what to do with this guy” litany of gobbledygook from someone who only too recently supported Indies. Meet the new boss… same…
    Anyway, I agree with Jason Miles(brilliant technician I wish I could afford to hire). We used a couple of excellent veterans on our latest project, and the beauty they lay down is incomparable.(can I take a moment to plug my buddy Jeff Stetson?)

    • Moses Avalon says:

      Max, why don’t you tell us who the digital distributor is. That way we all get the benefit of your experience. In this way, we each build a better, more honest music business.

  37. Mii says:

    The cynical answer:

    1. Re-work the video to include father/child survivors from Haiti and make it a charity single.

    2. Get it on Glee.

    It is very good, very commercial, very radio friendly, very American.

    The UK is not a good market for real music right now. Keep him in the States and work him on the college circuit.

    Anonymity from paparazzi is OK; ask Robbie Williams. A table a Denny’s is overrated. It’s sales that count.

    My very best wishes for his success.

  38. Anthony j says:

    Great song love the video if I was a ar person work at a major I will sign this artist asap becase he a great songwriter. Not a indie act.

  39. Jeff Pitzer says:

    I’ve had similar responses from Record Companies about artists I’ve produced. “This Sounds Great!” or “I Love It”, followed by “But I don’t know what I would do with it.” I’ve come to the conclusion that Record Companies usually have a square marketing machine, a triangle marketing machine, and a circle marketing machine. If you walk in with a quadrangle they say “This is great, but I don’t know what to do with it.” If it won’t fit into their pre-existing shapes, they don’t do anything. They don’t know how, or aren’t willing to build a quadrangle marketing machine from the ground up.

    Occasionally you will get a label (usually an indie/imprint) to devote the time and energy to make a quadrangle successful, and then all the other companies build their own quadrangle marketing machine. And of course everything is fine until a hexagon comes along.

    On a more personal example, a few years ago I produced 3 tracks on a very talented young singer songwriter named Landon Pigg. I like to say he is a bit of a John Mayer meets (earlier) Cold Play. Interesting melodies with some great sensible yet poetic lyrics. Anyway, He got signed by RCA off of the demo I produced. Now he is in the big marketing machine (working with one A&R guy under Clive Davis). I’ve always thought that he was more outside the box than straight top 40 radio, but they tried to turn him into the next teen rock singer songwriter (so he can fit in that square marketing machine they have).

    Before his full album was out, they released a 4 song EP that contained one of the songs I produced earlier (“Dressed To Kill”). It was more left of center than his full album. Even after they released a video and radio single with all their marketing, “Dressed To Kill” remained one of the top 5 downloaded tracks on iTunes with out any hype what-so-ever. I believe its because it was truer to what kind of artist he is.

    After the album went nowhere, he did a demo of a song called “Falling In Love In A Coffee Shop” with some newer producers he had met (not with the big time hit makers that did his full album). What was their response? “Love it! Not sure what to do with it, but love it!” Well it landed on a Diamonds are Forever commercial during the holidays. It quickly became his most downloaded song. They built an EP around it for iTunes, and then used these new (but not big name) producers to do his next record. The songs has also been placed in an AT&T cel phone commercial.

    All that to say, I believe mixed media is quickly becoming the new radio. More and more songs are being bought not because they are on radio, but on TV, film, video games, etc. Unfortunately, the big labels are still trying to find squares, triangles, and circles to fit into their marketing machines.

    Thanks for everything and keep fighting the good fight!

    Landon Pigg “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop”:

  40. CT says:

    Nice song… in my opinion, maybe could do something at AC/Urban AC radio, but it will not go CHR… and we know where the numbers are between those formats!

    Does the guy live and have his roots in the USA now, or is his team still working out of Holland? If they’re not here and working a scene, it’s really hard for anyone to justify spending any money on him.

    Someone said “Get him on tour with Dave Matthews…” Uh huh. Jeeze, getting a booking agent with any pull is 10x more difficult than getting signed in the first place. It’s a numbers game… he needs to be based here in the USA and self-touring for a while before he’s going to get attention.

    And yes, licensing should be a major pursuit with this project.

  41. Jazz Cat says:

    OK, the musical, vocal, and video performances are wonderful but this song is NOT a hit. It has no hook.
    Which is weird, because “Love Train” by the O’Jays was a huge hit, and this song steals a LOT of harmonic ground from it. The real problem with this piece is that it sounds like three songs, not one, with very forced transitions between the main themes, not a flow or outgrowth of one ideaa into the next.

    I agree with David that the first 1:30 is entirely forgettable.

    The bizarre harmonic ground covered by the transition to the chorus and the odd changes in the bridge don’t revive the song, they seal its doom.

    The harmonic structure of the verse is pedestrian. There’s an imbalance between almost no harmonic motion in the verse, which firmly diatonic, and the transitions/bridge, which take some truly odd harmonic turns in rapid succession (the transition around 2:00 navigates two key changes in as many seconds)

    The chorus is a total ripoff of the O’Jays “Love Train.” Unintentional, I’m sure, but done better long ago nonetheless.

    By the time we get to the bridge, I’m thinking, “What? ANOTHER idea? They haven’t done anything with the first three.’

    Now, this is just my take after listening to the song twice. I did not transcribe it or do a real analysis of the chords/keys/subs. I’m just saying that my initial impression is that the first 1:30 is boring and what follows is like two additional song ideas stapled onto the first.

    The three ideas don’t fuse to create a cohesive whole like they would in a Dan tune. These ideas are linked together with some bizarre chord subs that really do not set up a transition between keys so much as force one to happen.

    I’m sure your average pop producer isn’t going to get into anywhere near even that level of detail, but the capsulization of “not knowing what to do with it” fits because three half-songs of differing styles do not a complete song make.

    And the other reason this won’t fly is that America is not ready for biracial love songs. There are a whole bunch of people still freaking out because, horror of horrors, we have black President.
    That’s probably the real reason so many labels in America are afraid of this artist, and his father, who can sing their asses off and may have written some stuff I would love. But my take as a professional musician is that this song needs work.

  42. David says:

    “It didn’t matter. I think a song this good can hold interest for that long. And for gods sakes look at “American Pie,” with it’s super long first verse.”

    Right, but that’s precisely the point I’m making… what radio demands by way of the structure of tension and release in a hit song has changed. Not for the better, for sure. But it HAS changed. LOOK (or rather listen) to the structures of the songs radio now loves. Without exception they provide a quick rush, a cut to the chase, an immediate gratification through a very simplistic and easily consumed formula of tension and release. Slow burn doesn’t do it at radio any more. if you can think of any recent (ie from say 2003 onwards) examples that disprove this, I’d be interested to hear them.

    So while you and I can listen to this and love it, the fact remains that radio won’t play it. Sucks. But that’s ALL major labels now know how to market… artists with radio hits. Ultimately that IS the only marketing strategy majors engage in at this point… get it on the radio. So again, no wonder Warners turned away. It is no reflection on the artist, who is wonderful, but rather on how much modern pop radio only plays songs that conform to a very limited structural template. Which, if I have to clarify, I think is BAD.

  43. Dan says:

    FOLLOW THE MONEY. More than anything else, that is the key to understanding the causes of the disintegration of quality in the music business and in the culture at large. Many of those who actually decide which artists get signed to contracts with major record labels have no proven talent for determining musical quality or even which artist or style of music will become popular. But this has always been the case. Some idiot in a position of power told Elvis Presley that he had no future in music, and should go back to driving truck. The Beatles were passed over by every major label in England. One head of a major label even went so far (in the early 1960’s) to infamously proclaim: “Guitar groups are dead!” Semour Stein passed on Jimi Hendrix, as did the Manager of the Rolling Stones. So, the difference today is not the incompetence of the major labels at discovering new talent. They never were very good at that. The difference between the era that produced those music icons, and the uninspired era in which we now exist, is that back then there were still several ways for a talented artist to be “discovered” by the public. These days, if the musical reincarnations of the aforementioned artists are not owned or “branded” by the relatively few corporations that own or control the various media necessary to become known, they die in obscurity. Pop Quiz: Who wrote the lyrics “Art for art’s sake; money for God’s sake!”? FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  44. David says:

    Here, let me make you a nice cup of tea and you’ll feel better.

  45. Ted M. says:

    Okay, I haven’t read all the comments, but some of them are pretty right on. First of all, in response to Pete Anderson, I’ve been in the music biz for more than 30 years — I’ve been a recording artist, signed to several major labels and a songwriter signed to several major publishers. I’ve had my songs covered by some major artists — and I now work in A&R at a major indie music group (not one of the big 4, but close). I also worked at Rhino for 11 years producing compilations, and have a pretty good record collection.

    Frankly, while I thought Alain was pretty good, this track is really not that special, innovative or unusual. The song plays it pretty safe and, in all honesty, it didn’t push any emotional buttons for me — seemed kind of superficial. He’s good looking and has some vocal chops, but so do half the contestants on American Idol. I would not go to bat for him at my record company. Sorry, Moses.

    Keep up the provocations!


  46. Justin B says:

    Maybe Tila Tequila will sign him!!!

    Seriously though. I can’t blame majors for not being interested. And I assure you that it has nothing to do with race; if anything that makes it easier to market. They’re not interested because it won’t sell. Even if it got radio play, it’s the kind of song that I might listen to while driving and not be tempted to change the radio station, but at the same time, I’m not going to make a mental note to check out more of his music. And the way radio stations tend to take money and play something over and over again, I’d end up hating that song after 3 listens. The best thing they could do with this song is just sit on it and start marketing it heavy around Father’s day and hope to get lucky.

    Music isn’t going to change until the radio format changes first. Right now everything, save few indy stations, is top 40. Therefore, labels are marketing to the people who listen to top 40. That’s why they jump all over artists like Ke$ha, who has been dominating the charts selling 150,000 LPs in one week (76 percent being downloads *Rolling Stone). Guess who had the number 1 AND number 2 spots of iTunes top ten downloads for the last few weeks of January? Ke$ha. Have you heard her music? And I thought we were getting away from using “vocal tune as creative expression”. In my opinion, if radio stations changed their tune, labels would seek out more creative acts and all those indy artists that the musically-incline deem worthy would get the radio play that they deserve and take over the charts. And who knows, maybe everyone would make more money because that seems to be the bottom line here.

    [How many (American) ‘Idols’ are still on the radar?] – last I checked there’s a new season on so a shit ton. I don’t care for the show or it’s contestants or winners but it’s important to point out that 2 American Idol winners were in the top 25 record sales of the decade. I saw an Adam Lambert video the other night and I was really looking forward to hearing him sing. I was shocked at what I saw and heard. I guess I had no idea that they were going to turn him into Britney Spears post children.

    [Give us some links, Peter. 1000..? I’ll settle for 10.] – see above. American Idol turns out some great singers. So there’s your 1000 (or at least 10 percent of it) but I don’t care about how well some one can hit the notes. I would much rather have a UNIQUE singer than a polished and trained vocalist that sounds like all the other polished and trained vocalists. I think of guys like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and Tom Petty and Conor Oberst and Anthony Kiedis and Ben Bridwell that, for all intents and purposes, are not good singers. In fact, you could argue that they are terrible singers, but I wouldn’t tune them or have Adam Lambert sing their songs. Then there’s singers like Ray LaMontagne and Ryan Adams and Harry Connick Jr., and Michael Buble who are amazing singers yet have a unique vocal. Alain Clark is just kind of middle of the road. When I played that video for my girlfriend she said “oh he’s cute” and then was bored.
    I think we’re all in agreement here that radio is still the driving force behind selling music. I like the shapes analogy. So the radio either needs to change its shapes to allow for more content or the labels need to change their shapes; which would force radio to change theirs.

  47. I’m sure these cats are great. The reason why labels can’t move is because they have no money. CD sales are down because of P2P – I don’t even think that point is debatable. No money, no signings, no promotion. Yes, its a shame. We have to monetise P2P at the ISP level. That’s where the money went.

  48. John Picard says:

    It’s all about ‘the singer and the song’, and yes, Alain is a good singer, (so is Dad) but its not a great song. Nice sentiment, but certainly not a ‘hit’. And as far as naming even 10 people as good? Here’s one, Jordan John:
    Early 20’s, great looking, sings like Stevie Wonder meets Aaron Neville, and plays incredible guitar.

  49. Marny Wiesner says:

    Are you kidding me? Anyone who is not moved by this song must have some major daddy issues and major wax in their ears. What a wonderful song, lyrically and melodically. Stop over analyzing. I would buy this music all day long. American idol? Are you one of those Ted M? Based on your comments and job description it would appear you are part of the problem, the reason there is not better music available to us real music fans and consumers these days. 30 years? Retire already.

    I found this link on youtube of Alain performing with Diana Ross, what a star. AI? LOL! Sorry Moses? Not hardly. Thank you very much Moses for introducing us to this wonderful and talented artist. I can’t wait to buy his music and attend his concerts when he makes it over here. I’m sending the link to Father & Friend to all my friends. If the record companies and radio won’t expose us to new and great talent, maybe we can help each other. Thanks again Moses.

  50. Mark Dodson says:

    I tried to find him on Pandora with no luck…

  51. randy coplin says:

    my story is similar to alain’s:
    In 1997, I left Houston, Texas for Taiwan after living in chinatown (houston) for a few years. I was persuaded to do so by a talent agent recently returned from Taiwan. Her promise was to show me around the record companies. I speak fluent mandarin, though caucasian.
    I went to the taiwan consulate and submitted all forms necessary to get a performing visa. But the consulate said they could not give me one, and that the tourist visa they gave me would be sufficient to perform on TV (this was 100% not true).

    When I got to Taiwan, I was shopped around to EMI, BMG, etc. At EMI I was told by the A&R after listening to my demo , ” If i give you a contract will you leave Taiwan?” I said ” you mean Hong Kong, Japan etc?” he said ” No, i mean Europe. You cannnot stay in Asia.”

    At BMG, they said “We have a rule not to allow any foriegn people in because we, Sony, Warner, have agreed not to compete too strongly against each other.We feel bringing in foriegn talent would raise the bar too much.Also, the mafia might come down on us for messing up things”

    All the while, all the companies told me that my music would not sell in taiwan because Taiwan people only buy western music from westerners who live OUTSIDE TAIWAN. They also said they didn’t know how to market me etc. I told them they could market me the same way they market western artists.
    I have appeared on several TV shows where I dissed the record industry practices. I was immediately verbally attacked by some famous televison star, as if he had been told before hand how to deal with me.

    When I went to the foriegn police bureau to renew my visa, a record company card fell out of my wallet. The office grabbed it from the table and called the producer on the card and threatened him saying ” You’d better not hire a foriegner to do a record. It’s against the law” (actually it is LEGAL with the proper paperwork, but the taiwan government made it so that you an make a record, but you can’t go on TV or vice versa)

    Also, I was schedualed to appear on a radio show. When the announcer found out my list of topics I wanted to discuss (industry practices) he immediately called a famous producer to come over (this was supposed to be a one on one interview). The producer started out by using a racial slur for me on the air, then went down my list, defending the industry.

    There was a club that had a contest in which I won second place. The boss told me she loved my performance and asked when I would come do a show for her.
    When I came back to arrange a time, the boss said she needed my demo. When i said that she hd already heard me, hence my coming back to ask when we were doing a show, she said “no demo no show”. After I sent the demo, she said she was booked up. Finally she said she had never liked my music to begin with.
    I beleive a local “artist” coalition joined to keep me out. As one guitarist told me ” Don’t play too good in taiwan. You’ll be sorry”.

    When I am on ANY show, they try to put me on the very end , even though I was schedualed to be on first. Everytime.

    There is an unwritten rule in Taiwan- foriegners may be in a band, but not front the band. There are forigners who have made records in taiwan, but they were worse than the local standard (token artist). The only one who has done anything is Matthew Lien, and he is undoubtably been picked by the Taiwan Cultural Bureau as a “safe” foriegn artist. In fact, he is so fringe (nature/new age music), he’s zero threat to the pop industry.
    Speaking of “threat”, I have been watched on MORE than one occassion.

    12 years of my life. Thing is,was all of this stone walling necessary? I could have done my little record and been forgotten by now. What was it about me that they just couldn’t let me do one record? Even one little one?
    Randy coplin
    (stage name , Randy Lin)

  52. Jim B. says:

    The intro and first 2 verses made the most impact on me. I just like listening to them. The pre chorus doesn’t really “sit” and sounds a bit forced. The chorus itself is OK but not better than the verse. All in all not a hit in the sense that everyones gonna like it but a song that deserves to be heard and i think that is the key point.

  53. MJ says:

    Alain has talent, but this is the USA. A very tough crowd for sure. I checked out several of Alain’s videos and I can tell you that he’s good…. not great.

    So, Moses, is he the Netherlands version of Justin Timberlake? If so, he’s not quite good enough for the US. Here’s why I say that. Is he better than Robin Thick, Maxwell, Usher, or Joe, to name a few? How about the Idols such as Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin to name a few more? Is he really heads above better?

    As good as he is Moses, he’s not better or it’s a little too close. So, if you are going to break him here something else must be done.

    So, what can be done? We do have guys on the charts right now who do not sing as well as Alain. Those guys use creative production and catchy (gimmicky) songs. For example, David Guetta, Trey Songz and Jason Derulo to name a few.

    Alain & his people must look at where he can stand out amoungst the crowd mentioned above. If they try to go head to head with them, they are ar a enormous disadvantage. I can see why the US labels are backing off. The old saying “we are looking for something unique” does apply here. Good luck to Alain!

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