Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Am Poor (Or, "Nobody needs a record label to make music.")

I don’t know how many of you guys ran across this article in Wired by David Byrne. I ran across it via The Daily Swarm, which is one of my fave music industry sites. In it, Byrne basically lays out six financial / management model for bands working in today’s market conditions. In it, he covers everything from the big Madonna-like equity deals to the DIY methods of distro and promotion. He has also includes some awesome charts.

Basically he lays out the things that a label is supposed to do for an artist, or what they have traditionally done, which are (if I read this thing right) :

1. Front the money for the artist's recording and manufacturing costs

2. Promote the release

3. Do the accounting.

And then he discusses the different ways these arrangements have changed in today’s industry.

As kind of an addendum to Byrne's article, I wanted to expand on the different DIY models I have run across – and this will post probs just be the first of many on the topic.

I have been thinking a lot about my friends who are musicians and write songs, but that don't have bands. I guess they are in a non-commercial (not about money or fame) class of DIY musician that doesn't really fit the commercial models Byrne expounds on, but I think they're as good a group of subjects as any to launch a discussion about contemporary DIY methods with. I guess you can call them “closet auteurs”, and I will classify them as the folks who don’t tour, don’t release CDs in the “traditional” manner, and just make little recordings – either just for themselves and/or their friends on myspace.

For musicians in this category there is no need for distro, promotion, or any “record label” beyond their myspace account. They are self contained and cost effective – since they don’t tour or print CDs, they are not spending money on gas, CDRs, packaging, press – and I am convinced that because of these advantages, they will slowly take over the world.

Below the cut are MP3s from some of my fave closet autuers. Passive Disaster, Pasture and Reid May. Take a listen and let me know if you think they are going take over the world.

Passive Disaster

Based out of Seattle, WA, Passive Disaster is a one woman synth-drum-machine project. Aggressive, angular and caustic; the songs have a rough edge to them and the lyrics showcase snide remarks, clever put-downs and a sparkling wit. Much like early Bob Dylan in lyrical tone, the overall effect is less sentimental and nostalgic than Dylan – Passive Disaster tends to be much more gritty and beat up and irreverent.

DOWNLOAD : Passive Diaster - I Hate Parades


Pasture is Matt Orme – he has played drums in Rademacher (most notably on our record Stunts) and has recorded, or helped record, most everything I have ever worked. He has also amassed an amazing collection of songs that he has assembled in his studio. Everything from Wilco styled alt-country songs to dark synth metal. A very talented guy. I just wish he’d update his myspace page more often.

DOWNLOAD : Pasture - Not Country

Reid May

Probably the weirdest out of all these guys, Reid May is a super productive and creative musician based out Oakland, CA. Working off a home studio full of crappy mics, a beat up PC and a ghetto ass keytar, Reid manages to heap together epic piles of noise that somehow remain completely detached and compellingly interesting. His pieces can be really hard to listen to, but rarely are they unrewarding.

DOWNLOAD : Reid May - Naked

1 comment:

daily said...

we like you too. more than you will ever know.