Tag Archives: finance a record

Keyboard Sessions

So tomorrow we’ll finally be laying down the keyboard tracks to the first tracks off ‘Slouching Toward Babylon’. Russell Graham will be doing the tracks. He’s been touring Europe with Chic, so it’s been kind of a wait. This process really seems eternal…


Radio Crystal Blue

We will have a song played on Radio Crystal Blue this Sunday on the Novus Ordo show which runs from 5:30 – 6:45 EST on the Live 365 Network of internet radio.  To tune in go to Radio Crystal Blue’s site or the Live 365 site. This show will also be rebroadcast by Radio Bracknell, an internet station in the UK on Saturday, May 2, at 1pm EST, and then Tuesday, May 5, at 7pm EST.  The archived show can also be heard at http://cblue.lunarpages.com.

Radio Crystal Blue is a very cool internet station here in NYC that focuses on up and coming indie artists as well as nationally touring acts.  Definitely support them and freeform internet radio.

The Gowanus

Here’s a pic from outside our studio on the Gowanus Canal.  It was taken on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.  It had been raining and the waters of Brooklyn flowing into the Canal gave it that beautiful sheen.  As nasty and polluted as it gets, I still love Gowanus… gowanus

Welcome Brian!

Brian Douglas has joined us as Comandante Zero’s official ‘Communications Manager.’

When Ken and I began the ‘Indie Way’ project,  the idea was fundamentally to figure out new ways in which an indie band could survive in an era when the old models of the music biz were collapsing.  The traditional route for a band went something like this – write songs, play gigs, gain a couple of fans, get a manager, get a lawyer and get picked up by a record company.  The record company would then give the band, their manager and lawyer some $$ to do a record, to live on (all recoupable against future sales) and then they would hire a PR agent, booking agent and get their songs placed with a publisher.

Fastforward to 2009.  The model is broken.  The failing record companies aren’t picking up many bands, and when they do, they often expect them to come to them with a finished record and an established fan base.  (the question remains – why should they get such a high percentage of the artist’s royalties if they are no longer putting in such high initial investments, but that’s another  post)

The death of the record companies doesn’t make us sad in the least – it’s a really exciting time.  Essentially, with the web, a band has the ability to communicate it’s music, videos and other content to the entire world.  Whereas, the day of the rock stars may be over, a new era may be emerging in which a middle class of bands emerges.  These are musicians who can support themselves as artists, not with private jets, and mansions, but enough to be able to simply continue making their art and not be destitute.  These artists essentially will be supported by their network of fans who can now be spread throughout the world but tied together through the internet.

Basically, we believe that bands of the future are going to have as a key member of their team a person who is in charge of their online content, overseeing it and making sure it presents a coherent image to the world.  However, as it becomes more important for bands to constantly release content besides music (i.e. videos, interviews, blogs, tweets) this person will act as a producer as well – documenting shows, producing videos and other material to transmit to the world.  Currently, this job does not even have a title, and often is given to multiple people, but we believe that more and more, bands will take on this person as one of the first members of their team.

We’ve worked with Brian for a couple of years now.  He designed our great ‘Indie Way’ website.  So were really excited that Brian’s agreed to work with us and we’re sure he’ll be one of the first of the many ‘Communications Managers’ that will arise in the music biz (or whatever other title someone thinks up in the future)

Enter The Rain

Today I worked on a new version of ‘Enter The Rain’  Ken’s in Florida visting the fam.  Sisko ordered us to have this version done by tomorrow, and it’s pretty much finished.  The way we generally work – we come up with a groove first.  Then I create the chord, words and melody.  I model the whole thing in Garageband, which has iffy sound, but is good because it’s quick and simple.  If we want to record stuff seriously, we then enter it into Logic where Ken produces it and mixes it.

For the record, the stuff will be modeled in Garageband, we will then rehearse the drum, bass and guitar parts live and record those in the studio.  Subsequently, we will create the electronic sounds in Sisko’s studio on Crosby St in Soho.

Here’s a version of ‘Enter the Rain’ from the Garageband model.  I know it’s a big no, no to put unfinished stuff out there, but if anyone wonders what a tune in progress sounds like, here it is.

The keyboard horns will eventually be played by a live horn section, the backing vox will be done by female singers and hopefully we’ll have a chance at using an actuall B3 and Rhodes for the keys.

Some music industry news…

Since starting the ‘Indie Way’ project, I’ve set google to hit me with everything related to the recording industry daily.  Thanks to the election being over, I’ve shifted to being a political news junkie to a record industry news junkie.  Here’s a couple of interesting recent stories, some relating to the ‘indie way’, some that I find compelling

1.  The record companies are now adopting variable pricing online, meaning the days of .99 cent downloads are over.  They will be priced at .69 cents, .99 cents and $1.29 cents.  I think the idea is that stuff which sells better will be priced higher.  But why have stuff sell for less?  And what will sell at .69 cents?  My guess is that this will hit indie bands – essentially their tracks will end up in the .69 cent category while Top 40 acts will move up to $1.29.  Why the price hike? It’s not as if the price of distribution has increased.  It strikes me as another desperate attempt of a dying industry to squeeze money from it’s increasingly alienated customers.

2.  Also have been following the case of Joel Tenenbaum. He’s a grad student at BU who was sued by the RIAA (the legal arm of the record companies) for downloading 7 songs on Kazaa while in high school.  Tenenbaum decided to fight back, at first defending himself and then enlisting the aid of Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson.  Nesson and his team of Harvard Law students are really trying to use Web 2.0 to their advantage in this case, and in a fascinating legal precendent, fighting to have the procedings broadcast on the web.  As an artist, I can definitely appreciate how much artists suffer by music become a free commodity, however, the tactics of the RIAA – suing kids who download a couple of illegal tunes for thousands of dollars, are ridiculous.  Unfortunatley, the cat’s out of the bag – helped out by the record companies who made huge profits actually digitizing their collections in the 80’s and 90’s – and recorded music has become a very cheap and widespread commodity.  I think instead of trying to reverse this fact – which is like the King who ordered the tides to halt –  artists have to find new models which will take this fact into account.

3.  A company doing something similar to the Indie Way.  Definitely interested in checking it out to get more deets.

Thoughts on the Indie Way after 3 months

The Indie Way project has now been in existence for almost 3 months.  The question we’re asking ourselves is: how successful is this as a model for indie bands looking to finance themselves?  From our own experience thus far here are a couple of observations:-

a. This requires of a fair amount of time sitting behind a computer, constantly updating the online presence and maintaining contact with online world.  Moreover, one thing that we have not done enough of, but will do more of is to pour content onto the internet.  A band in the era of web 2.0 can’t simply put out music once every couple of years as in a past era – it’s got to be constantly dumping out written content (blogs, newletters) videos and photos as well as music

b.  Gathering e-mail addresses is crucial.  Within any given e-mail list, perhaps 1 – 2% of the folks there are true fanatics about the band.  Maybe 20-30% of the list is actually interested in what is going on and follows and occasionally comes to shows.  That means that the main purpose of an indie band should be building the list at all costs and maintaining contact with these folks.

c.  Live shows are still fundamental.  Live shows are still the best way to hook people,  give them an experience and collect e-mails.  Also, they can be good ways to produce content as well.  That means there can never be any throw away live shows ever.  If you have to do a throw away live show, it makes most sense to invite people to a private  open rehearsal.

d.  Likewise, good songcraft.  The old requirements for getting buzz still hold true, it’s simply that there has to be creativity in the use of the new medium of the web.