March 22nd, 2013
Our crack Figment editorial staff has looked through all of the great billboard entries we received, and we’ve narrowed it down to these 5 finalists whose designs have been sent to our guest judge author/photographer Robert Landau. Robert, as you may know, is an quite an expert on Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards having just published his book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip.” If you haven’t checked out his book we suggest you do!
Here are the finalists in no particular order:
Temple’s Children “Fine Line Between Sorrow and Betrayal” Billboard
Design by Tyman
Eccentric Arcade “Under Your Skin” Billboard
Design by frizbee
Design by FuriousGrace
Red Flames Rising “Theory of Red” Billboard
Design by TMTYTF
Let’s Not and Say We Did “Japanese Euphemism Song” Maxi-Single
Design by poppinfresh
So now it’s in Robert’s hands. Check back to see who wins!
March 13th, 2013
It’s that time of year again! The time when you get to recognize those fake bands on Figment you think deserve to be awarded for their achievements in 2012.
The Figment Awards, or “Figgies” as we like to call them, are awards that are handed out once a year to those Figment bands and albums that garner the most votes from the Figment community. They recognize excellence in fake band creation and design.
Our crack Figment editorial team have selected the fake bands, albums, singles, tag lines, new bands and tours of 2012 we thought deserved to be nominees, but we’ve also given you the opportunity to write-in a nominee.
While clearly these awards are all in good fun, we ask that you try to be as fair and impartial as possible when casting your votes. Try to vote for the band or album that you think best deserves the award. If you honestly think your band or album deserves your vote that’s fine, but keep in mind that everyone else might not feel the same.
Also keep in mind that any Figgie Awards for Album, Single or New Band only apply to those releases or bands created in 2012, so if you write-in an album, single or new band that isn’t from 2012 they will be disqualified. As for the tour Figgie, we will only recognize those tours that started in 2012. If you created a tour in 2012 but it didn’t begin until 2013 then it will not be considered for an award this year.
An email linking you to your official ballot will be sent out to all registered Figment players* on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 , so if you want to cast a vote, make sure you have a Figment account or create one now! All ballots must be submitted by Wednesday, March 27, 2013, and we’ll reward every player that submits a ballot with 50 pieces of Lucre.
As we did last year, you’ll be asked to cast a vote on the following award categories:
Best Developed Band – this award recognizes the fake band that was the most complete in every facet of the game – bio (back story), artwork, album cover design, song titles, band news, marketing/promotion, collaborations with other players bands, and fan base development. In short, we’re looking for you to cast a vote for the fake band that is 2010′s best and most complete fake band. Last year’s winner was Let’s Not and Say We Did.
Best Tagline – this award recognizes the fake band with the best tagline. Promotion is important in the fake music business, and with so many bands trying to capture people’s attention you have to find a way to cut through the clutter to get a fan’s attention. We’re looking for you to cast a vote for the band that not only best summed up their band’s aesthetic in one line, but also created a memorable slogan that grabs your attention. Here’s last year’s winner from The~Sexeh~Tacoz.
Best Band Name – this award recognizes the Figment fake band with the best name. A name that captures not only your attention, but also a bit of the band’s aesthetic, while also being clever and original. Last year’s winner certainly fit the bill!
Best Single – this award recognizes the best song title! We know a lot of you are releasing singles these days, but we’re not looking for you to cast your vote on album covers, but instead simply on how great of a song title it is and whether or not it made you want to buy the album . Yeah, we’ve included quite a few funny ones in the nominees we put forward, but we’re also looking for a song title that resonated with you, so if you have a favorite that appeared on a 2012 album that isn’t funny please write it in – and remember to include the group that created it! Last year’s winner was the single “Artifice of the Orifice” by Vorpal Queen.
Best Tour/Festival – We’re looking for the best tour or festival, but there are a lot of factors that go into what makes a fake tour or festival seem real. Obviously the name of the tour is the first thing that grabs your attention, but we’re looking for more than that. We want you to consider the concept behind the tour or festival. How original of an idea was it? Do the bands involved fit with the overall concept, and how involved were they in the tour or festival? How was the artwork for the tour? Did the creator publish news, use the shout box or other online media (i.e. Twitter) to promote the tour before, during and after? How well did they merchandise the tour? All of these things should be factored in when you cast your vote for this Figgie. Again, if you write in a nominee please keep in mind that the tour/festival you nominate had to have taken place in 2012, and not just created in 2012. Last year’s winning tour/festival was “Up The Creek”.
Best New Artist – The Best New Artist Figgie will be awarded to new bands that were created in 2012. We’re looking for a new band that best exemplifies a great fake band – name, band description, logo, tagline, etc. We’re also looking for a new band that’s built a strong fan base and released some great albums in the past year. So think hard on this one, because you’re picking a band we expect to see great things from in the future, and if you’re writing in a new band make sure you only nominate one that was created in 2012 or it won’t be considered. Case in point, last year’s inaugural winner of this Figgie was none other than x-muffin-x.
Album Cover of the Year – this award recognizes the best album cover design of the year. We’re looking for you to vote for the cover that not only has the best design and visual impact, but also best communicates the album’s genre and content. The cover design for Zandergriff Miggs album “Wabi Sabi Bang Bang” was last year’s winner.
Album of the Year – this award recognizes the album that is the best of the best. We’re looking for you to take into account the cover design, the album description and the song titles when casting your vote. In short, which album do you think was the best of 2012. x-muffin-x’s “Tragic 8-Ball” took home last year’s award!
So those are the awards we’ll be asking you to vote on this year. We hope you’ll take a moment to check out all of the bands nominated before filling out your ballot. The last day to submit your ballot is March 27, 2013, so make sure you get your votes in before the end of the day on the 27th. The winners will be announced here on the Figment News blog on Friday, March 29, 2013, and each of the winners will receive an icon for their winning band/album page as well as 1,000 pieces of lucre.
Check your email because we’re sending out the invite that will link you to your ballot later today. We’re looking forward to seeing who you vote for!
* Only Figment players who have NOT opted out of the Figment Email Newsletter will receive an official ballot. If you have opted out of the Figment Email Newsletter and would still like to cast a ballot, please contact our Customer Service department to request a ballot by clicking on the feedback link on the bottom of any page on Figment.
February 27th, 2013
There’s only a little over 2 weeks left to enter your billboard design in our Figment Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards Contest. Up for grabs is a copy of Robert Landau’s stunning new book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” and the chance for your billboard to grace the home page of Figment for 1 month! So don’t delay enter your billboard now!
And for a little inspiration, check out this video Robert Landau put together talking about his new book.
February 13th, 2013
Today is Figment’s 5th birthday! And as a present to you our loyal Figment players we’re launching a new contest! If you haven’t already read our interview with Robert Landau, author/photographer of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip”, then you might want to check it out, because the focus of this contest will be Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards!
I know what you’re thinking, billboards? How are we going to create a billboard? Well, you know that big flash animation that takes up a big portion of the Figment Home Page? Well, that space is in essence an online billboard, and if you win it will be occupied by your band’s billboard! Better yet, the winner will also receive a copy of Robert’s book!
So how will this work? Here’s the rules:
1. You must be a registered Figment user to participate. If you don’t currently have a Figment account please click here to create one. This contest is open to Figment users worldwide.
2. Design an original billboard for one of your Figment band’s albums. The billboard needs to be 750 px wide and 243 px tall.
3. DO NOT release your billboard on Figment. Please send it to us using the feedback link at the bottom of any page on Figment or directly to our Customer Service dept via email at customerservice at figment.cc
4. Any artwork used in the creation of your billboard should either be original or at least artwork you have the permission of the copyright owner to use. If you do use someone else’s work you need to make it your own by adding text, altering it through manipulation or doing something else that makes it your own. Any billboards that are judged as being a copy of an existing work will be disqualified. We will also disqualify any billboard that is offensive in nature – sexist, racist or hate-based.
5. You may enter as many billboard designs as you like.
6. The contest will run from Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 until Friday, March 15, 2013. All submissions must be posted by no later than 11:59 pm ET on Friday, March 15, 2013 to qualify.
7. By no later than, Friday, March 22, 2013 the Top 5 finalists will be announced, and sent to Robert Landau for his review. Robert will judge the Top 5 finalists and select a winner and two runners up. The winner and runners up will be announced on Friday, March 29, 2013.
8. The winner will receive a copy of Robert’s book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip”, 2,500 pieces of Lucre, and will have their billboard placed on the Figment home page for a month with a direct link to the album advertised on the billboard. The two runners up will receive 1,500 and 1,000 pieces of Lucre respectively.
If you are looking for inspiration, I would suggest you watch this video. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contact us directly using the feedback link on the bottom of any page on Figment. Good luck!
In 1967, a billboard was erected on the Sunset Strip heralding the debut album from the rock band The Doors. It was the first of it’s kind, but not the last. Over the next decade or so, Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards popped up all over the Strip featuring one-of-a-kind hand painted artwork promoting artists ranging from The Beatles to Randy Newman. Author and photographer Robert Landau, began photographing these billboards at the age of 16, and his new book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” showcases these photos along with interviews and commentary from some of the top designers, illustrators and record executives involved with creating these landmark commercial art pieces.
We’ll be running a contest to win a copy of Mr. Landau’s book, so stay tuned to Figment News to find out how you can enter, but first we thought it appropriate to sit down and talk with him about the billboards, their impact on popular culture and how a teenager from LA came to document these fleeting but important works of rock art.
Figment News: Why a book on Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards in this digital age?
Robert Landau: To show precisely what hand-painted billboards in the classic rock period looked like. In their day, these state of the art billboards had a slightly imperfect but more human look thanks to the interpretation and brush strokes of each billboard artist who worked on them. Also, once the exhibit time was up, these billboards were whitewashed and painted over with new images, so Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip is perhaps the only document of these amazing commercial art works.
FN: How did the practice of creating these billboards get started?
Robert: Billboards began appearing on the Sunset Strip as early as the 1920s. They displayed ads for cars, cigarettes and occasionally movies. However it took Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra Records, to see the possibility of using them to promote rock albums when he was ready to release The Doors debut record album. Recently transplanted from New York to Los Angeles, Holzman was aware that many of the key radio DJ’s drove to work along the Sunset Strip and he wanted to catch their attention. The Doors billboard in 1967 is considered the first rock and roll billboard.
FN: You started taking photos of these billboards when you were a teenager. Why?
Robert: I was 16 years old and just getting interested in photography. At the time I was living a block from the Sunset Strip near Tower Records. When I wandered down to the Strip with my camera I couldn’t help but notice these giant renderings of all the rock stars whose music I was listening to. I would also see the guys from the billboard companies installing them or touching up the paintings. Those billboards were primarily meant to be viewed by drivers in passing cars, but when you are on foot and up close, the billboards have a surreal quality that I was aware of even at that age. Also many had no advertising copy and great artwork that made the Strip feel like a giant outdoor art gallery. This initial work led me to a life-long interest in photographing the unique urban landscape of Los Angeles.
FN: How active were the actual bands in the creation of their billboards? Or was it purely handled by their record labels?
Robert: The great unsung heroes of the period were the art directors, designers and photographers (both freelancers and people employed by the record companies) whose job it was to create the album covers and design packaging for the rock stars. I made an effort to talk to as many of them as I could for the book. These visual artists created iconic imagery like the Beatles Abbey Road by designer Kosh, or the Eagles debut record, designed by Gary Burden. They were often friends with the musicians they depicted and would work to include them in the process. Some musicians were more visually minded than others and would have ideas or concepts for the imagery. In Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards, Kosh explains that the Abbey Road design was initially based on a sketch by Paul McCartney. After designing the record album, many took a hands-on approach to adapting their design to the outdoor billboard format.
FN: In your book you talk about some of the designers and artists that were involved in the creation of these billboards. Who were some of the ones that stand out for you?
Robert: Well I mentioned Kosh and Gary Burden, but there were several others I’d like to mention. Roland Young of A&M records, John Van Hamersveld (who did the incredible Exile On Main Street for the Rolling Stones), photographer Norman Seeff and designer Mike Salisbury.
In the back of the book there are thumbnails of each billboard with a credit listed for all of the talented people who had a hand in their creation. Speaking of designers, I’d also like to mention designer Frans Evenhuis who did such an amazing job conceptualizing and laying out the book.
FN: Are there any billboard designs that you think are particularly iconic?
Robert: Besides the Doors debut and the Beatles Abbey Road, there are several other truly iconic images that captured the spirit of the times: Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonizing in the night sky over the Strip’s non stop traffic, Marvin Gaye over the Old World Restaurant across the street from Tower Records, Pink Floyd’s simple image of a pig, dog and sheep with no advertising copy for their record Animals, and one of my all-time favorites; the billboard that depicted two giant chrome pin balls with eyes peering down from the Strip that was for a recording of the Who’s rock opera Tommy.
FN: Did it become somewhat of a status symbol to have a billboard on the strip?
Robert: Yes it quickly became an important milestone for rockers to gauge their level of success, much like landing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. In fact there is no proof that these expensive and creative billboards helped sell many records but both the music artists and the record companies who were making tons of money at that time liked them, so there was definitely an ego or vanity element involved. But this aspect is also what allowed these images to veer away from traditional advertising approaches and pursue more artistic visual approaches.
FN: Why didn’t these billboards show up in other cities? Or did they?
Robert: There were a few other places where the occasional hand painted billboard appeared like in Times Square in New York. For the most part ads appearing in other cities were smaller printed versions of the artwork. Los Angeles and the Sunset Strip are unique due to both the car culture here and the open space of this city as opposed to more dense Eastern cities. The Strip with its wide road meandering around the Hollywood Hills combined with the gigantic 14 by 48 foot billboards and the on-site presence of both record companies and iconic night clubs like the Whisky a Go Go was the ideal place for Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards to become an art form.
FN: Do these billboards still exist or have they largely disappeared?
Robert: These billboards no longer exist, with one exception. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip” is the only record of these rock ‘n’ roll hand-painted billboards. Those images were never intended to be anything more than fleeting advertisements, but they became iconic rock ‘n’ roll images that were wiped away shortly after they were created. Few of the boards were up for more than a month and then they were painted over. The rock n’ roll billboard era ended when MTV and VH1 diverted music-industry advertising dollars from hand-painted billboards to music videos.
The single exception, the only remaining piece of art from this era, is Paul McCartney’s painted head that extended off the top of the Abbey Road billboard that appears on the cover of the book. Shortly after that board went up on the Strip in 1969 amidst crazy rumors that Paul was dead, some mischievous teens climbed up with a small saw and lopped off Paul’s head as a prank. Its been missing ever since. However when my book was released I offered a free signed copy through my Facebook page to anyone who could lead me to Paul’s missing head. The next day I received an email from the person, now in his sixties who had taken the head. It hangs proudly on his living room wall, and thanks to him a small but important piece of rock and roll history has been preserved.
FN: If you were a rock artist talking to a billboard designer what three main points would you want emphasized in your billboard design?
Robert: Billboards, unlike DVD covers or magazine pages need to communicate their message in mere seconds. The designs have to be simple and bold and don’t need much in the way of words or copy to clutter them up. They need to be read and digested by someone passing by in a car for about 7 seconds at most. The other great asset that has to be maximized is their enormous size, so bigger really is better when it comes to billboard design. A good billboard image is one that is simple yet provocative and has the effect of a time bomb that goes off in your mind after you have seen and digested it.
FN: Where can we find out more information about the book and your other work?
Robert: Thanks for asking! Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip is available in local bookstores or on-line through the publisher, Angel City Press, and other traditional on-line outlets.
We’d like to thank Robert Landau for taking the time to talk with us. We’ll be announcing a Rock N’ Roll Billboards contest that will be judged by Robert real soon, so stay tuned to Figment News for more info!
January 30th, 2013
The internet is a treasure trove of arcane stuff that’s not always easy to uncover, but fear not, because I, and at least one other Figment player, have scoured the interwebs to bring you this very special “Spinal Tap” Vol. 11 Edition of Cleaning Out The Bookmarks…
Let’s get it started with this great Buzzfeed article sent to us by Figment player frizbee. It details “17 Ways to Make Graphic Designers Cringe”. I know I’ve made a few cringe in my time, how about you?
And speaking of design, ever wonder what happens to the people whose pictures adorn famous album covers? Well, NME tracked a few down.
Don’t call it a comeback, because to many vinyl never went away. Eilon Paz, a Brooklyn based photographer, started “Dust and Grooves”, his interview-based photography project, to document various vinyl collectors around the world. It’s a pretty cool collection of interviews and photos with fellow music junkies that he’s compiling into a Kickstarter funded book (yours truly was a backer) so check it out!
To many, Metal is more than just a music genre, it’s their life. So why not live that life in one of “The 5 Most Metal Places On Earth”.
A lot of musicians think they have that something special. Jennifer Yeko, President of True Talent Management, wants them to ask themselves, Do You Want a Music Career? Or a Handout?
And while we’re on the subject of what you need to do to have a career in music, Thor Harris has some rules regarding “How To Tour In A Band” he’d like to share.
God knows Jay-Z and Beyonce know the first rule when it comes to a music career. Protect your intellectual AND personal property people!
And frizbee provided us with this great comic from The Oatmeal detailing the current state of the music industry.
Inspiration takes many forms, but Jazz record covers inspired by the HBO Show “Homeland”? Now that’s cool daddy-o.
According to this “D News” report, Figment isn’t the only place fake bands are on the rise.
And to end this very special “Spinal Tap” edition of “Cleaning Out the Bookmarks”, we’d like to leave you with this classic design snafu courtesy of “the Tap”.
Until next time, surf’s up, but don’t get caught in the tubes!
January 24th, 2013
“Bands I Wish I’d Made Up” is a Figment News feature where I’ll highlight a real band that I wish I’d made up. You know, as a fake band. Make sense? No? That’s half the point. Stop thinking and start rockin’!
Cloud Nothings are an indie-rock band from Cleveland, OH. HELLO CLEVELAND!!! But I digress. The band is a great mish-mash of indie, noise and post-hardcore music. Their latest album, “Attack On Memory”, was released in January 2012, and easily made my Top 10 for the year. They spent last fall opening for Silversun Pickups and are currently touring Down Under, so if they hit your town make sure to check them out. Now without further ado I present Cloud Nothings…
January 16th, 2013
Industry Insiders is a series of interviews with music professionals who work on both the creative and business sides of the industry. We’ll talk to the people who help musicians create, market and distribute their music to give you an idea of what it’s really like to work in the music industry.
Tom Whalley, the former CEO of Warner Bros. Records & Head of A&R at Interscope Records, once said, “The hardest thing to do in the world in this business is start a band no one’s heard of.”
That statement may never ring more true then in this digital age where music is ubiquitous both in terms of its scope and accessibility. So how does a band stand out amidst the musical clutter, and what role do record labels still play in this process? We decided to find out by talking to Eric Morse, Director of Content + Commerce at Warner Music Group. Eric has a diverse background, having worked as a musician, designer, music journalist, gallery owner, website founder and marketing executive. He talked to us about his role at Warner Music Group, how he helps bands market their music on the web, and the importance creativity plays in his job.
The Job: Eric talks to us about his position as Director, Content + Commerce at WMG and what he does on a daily basis.
The Role of Marketing At A Major Label: Eric explains how the digital marketing team he runs interacts with the other departments at each WMG label.
Digital Marketing & How To Build A Fan Base Online: Eric takes us through some of the strategies that his team at WMG employs to develop, build and engage an online fan base for their artists.
Buzz: We talk about the importance of buzz in breaking a band, and what role his team plays in trying to build it for WMG artists.
Working In The Music Industry: Eric talks about his career track, how it led to his current job, and what Figment players can do to start their own career in the music biz.
The Importance of Creativity: We talk about Trampoline House, the award winning online art & culture website that Eric founded, it’s role as his creative sandbox, and tips for Figment players looking to improve how they market their bands.
We’d like to thank Eric for taking the time to do this interview. You can find out more about Eric by -
January 9th, 2013
formerwageslave recently emailed me to share this great piece of news for anyone on Figment who might playing with a tight budget and an older computer. Adobe is now offering their Creative Suite 2 Premium Plus for free to anyone who has or sets up an Adobe account (accounts are free). While CS2 may have issues with newer computers it’s perfect for those of us soldiering on with older PCs or Macs. You can read more about it here or go straight to Adobe to download CS2. So thanks formerwageslave for bringing this great free download to our attention!
While we’re at it, we’d like to draw attention to something formerwageslave just did. As you might have read in his recent player profile he’s a musician, and he just released his first solo record in almost a decade under the moniker iSv. It’s all 8-bit/chiptune/video game sounding stuff, and it’s available for free or a “name your own price” download via Bandcamp. So check it out and support a fellow player!
January 4th, 2013
A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that we’d be turning the reins of Victor Rossi & His Big Fat Posse over to one of the players who helped create the band, and last night we did just that! From this point forward Victor and his Posse will be in the capable hands of ChildofAlma. We’ve equipped the band with the basic music equipment they’ll need, so now it’s up to ChildofAlma to chart their course forward. In a few months we’ll then switch it to the next player in line, and so on and so forth. So, for now, there all yours ChildofAlma!