Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Embrace The Horror

If I talk to or read about one more musician bitching about how the internet has made their job so much harder I am going to fucking scream. What is the primary job of a band or musical artist? I am pretty sure it is to make music. The internet and social media have nothing to do with it unless you can't get your bass player to the studio because he is addicted to internet porn. Once you have some music recorded you can do several things. Maybe you don't give a damn if anyone ever hears your work. I am completely fine with that (and those people usually are doing us all a huge favor) but most bands that endure songwriting and recording do it for others to hear. The internet has actually made your next job easier. What is that you ask? I think it is to deliver it to as many people as possible for them to hear.

The complaints I usually get are in regards to the amount of time it takes dealing with social media. Well boo-fucking-hoo. What a horrible world we live in where you can create music and have limitless boundaries and avenues of distribution. What a horrible world we live in where you can communicate with your fans daily and make your band a part of their daily life. What a horrible world we live in where your fans can turn others on to your band. What a horrible world we live in where if you create something special and work your ass off, you at least have the chance that someone you will never ever meet in the flesh might get turned on by what you do. Hard work and creativity might in some cases create luck and opportunity. Feel lucky if anyone is paying attention to you at all. The days when all musicians did was make music, play shows and talk about themselves in interviews are long over so get fucking over it and get to work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Full Length Recording Cycles

In a recent article on Noise Creep, Rob Zombie was quoted saying "I like the thought of the band writing, say, one song a month and putting it up there," Zombie said. "Say we've been on tour for six or eight months and we don't have time to stop and make a whole album. It would be cool to put out two or three songs we've written and then keep going just to keep it energized. And truthfully, when you make a new album ... you go, 'OK here's 11 new songs, five of which we'll never play live. And here's the two or three singles that will always be in the set.' So it could just be a different way to do business that's really sort of like the old way of doing things. Back in the '50s and '60s people weren't making albums, they were pressing singles and then an album was basically a collection of all the singles."

This is not a new concept. I have been having discussions with friends for years regarding this topic and have touched on this concept before on The White Light. Aside from having a full length CD available to sell at your shows or as special editions or to get your music on Pandora (another topic altogether,) is the full length CD cycle nearing extincton? My take is this...

In my humble opinion, releasing songs as you get them done is what bands should be doing. With all the shit being thrown at us (much by our own design) digitally and otherwise on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, we have the attention spans of toddlers. I still buy full download albums but will tell you, even when I bought CD's, I spend about 2 or 3 weeks with a new album before I am off to the next thing. Now factor in that there may only be half of that album that I think is worth a shit. In the best case of course I will continually listen down the entire collection but sooner than later, I am on to the next thing. Because of aforementioned shit being thrown at me (again, much of it by my own design,) the next band, song or video is just a mouse click away. 

Close your eyes. Check that. You can't read with your eyes closed. Now, think of your favorite band. Would you visit the band's website/facebook/myspace/youtube/twitter etc. far more often if the band was releasing material in monthly or bi-monthly cycles? Now think of how your fans would react to this. Music is the core content on the web for your band (unless you are OK GO but that is another topic altogether.) Do you think you would see a larger retention of your fan's attention and see them visit you far more often if this was a strategy that you used to fight the shit? 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Local Award Contests

Last week I hosted the ABOT awards put on by Garage Media and Tulsa's weekly entertainment newspaper The Urban Tulsa. I can tell you that these type of local band award things has really never been my cup of tea. Back in the old days, Gravity Kills only won one award in a similar contest given out by the Riverfront Times. This was in 1996 and we won the award for "Best Sounding Record." Flattering, but funny to think that maybe people didn't like the songs but sure liked the way it sounded. Usually these type of contests will nominate bands in various categories and then it is up to the band to get their friends, family and fans motivated to vote for them. I am not the only person that really doesn't like this but you know as well as I do that people will complain any way. As the award ceremony was happening, I had some time to talk to someone that works for the Urban Tulsa and he mentioned to me that they had received tons of messages "hating" on the event.

I get why a band would do that on several levels. Maybe they think they are sooo indie and above such nonsense. Maybe they were pissed off that they were not nominated at all. There could be a million reasons.
I get all of that but to those bands once again, YOU ARE MISSING THE FUCKING POINT!

In previous posts I have talked about what I feel is the biggest reason that local scenes don't happen. BECAUSE THE BANDS WON'T SUPPORT EACH OTHER. In the case of this award show, at least someone is trying to gain attention for local music. You may not like the format, the way bands are nominated or the way they win but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Compulsory License

There are many of you out there that have busted out a cover tune from time to time in your live set. There are also many of you that have recorded a cover as well. In the last week, I had a band out of Iowa (the home of the pissed and aggressive) ask me for permission to perform "Guilty" at a benefit they are playing in a couple of weeks. My answer was, you don't have to have the band's permission to cover a song live. Then there is the question, do I have to have permission to record and release another band's composition? The answer to that is also no. What you have to do if you're going to record and release another band's song is send a letter of Compulsory License to the publisher(s) of the song.

Considering today's technology, it is funny to think why Congress first enacted compulsory license into our copyright laws. Does anyone remember player pianos? As I understand, Congress first enacted compulsory license to protect copyright holders of musical compositions when bars and restaurants (and probably brothels) started using player pianos to entertain their guests way way back  in the day. At that point, the song arrangement scrolls could be sold for player pianos and the rights holders could get paid. From there, Congress has updated the law a couple times to include the changes to recording and distribution technologies.

Why do I do this and what does it cover?  In essence, Congress has given you the right to record and release any song you want but you have to tell the rights holder(s) that you are doing it so if you sell some copies they can get paid. It covers you remaking a song and stylizing the song to fit your band but it does not cover you using or sampling parts of the original recording and going all P. Diddy with it. In other words, compulsory license does not give you the right to use the original sound recording in your cover. That is part of the mechanical use and in most cases that performance is owned by a record company. To use that stuff you must get permission from the rights holder(s) of the actual recording and compulsory license does not apply. Are you with me?

How do you find the rights holder of the composition you ask? Most music in the U.S. is affiliated with performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Each website has a searchable database where you can find publishing rights holder(s).  Here is an example from ASCAP:

 1. GUILTY     Work ID: 370272474 
        ISWC: T0700694718 



  M 300183

    449 S BEVERLY DR STE 300
    BEVERLY HILLS, CA, 90212
    Tel. (310) 286-6600

So in this case, if you were going to cover "Guilty," you would send your letter of compulsory license to the publisher/administrator. Since I am not a entertainment attorney and want you to be as informed as possible, please check out before you embark on "your own, personal Jesus."