Archive for the ‘shows’ Category

indie musicians and indie writers; whose future?

nwcMUSIC is a geekmusic festival that I’m building at the Norwescon Science Fiction Convention. We have chiptunes, nerdcore, geek rock, elfmetal, filk, nightly concerts, daytime workshops, panel programming, late-night open mics, filkcircles, the whole deal.

Our programming includes “business of being an independent artist” panels. Going indie – not wanting a record deal – has become more and more common as the technology to record competently on your own has become more and more accessible. As my mastering engineer for Dick Tracy Must Die said, there used to be a time when you recorded your demo on a four track and recorded your studio album in a professional studio, and demos sounded like demos and label releases sounded like real albums – but now people like me walk in with recordings they made in studios they built at home, and sound real.

It kind of freaks him out.

So now, doing your own album is considered not just valid, but important. It’s a positive. It shows the ability to complete a project and the talent necessary to produce something listenable. Labels now tell bands who want labels to “bring tribe with you.” (And a lot of smarter bands are replying, “if we have our own tribe, why the fuck do we need you?” The RIAA are desperate for good reason.)

Writing isn’t like that, yet; just finish the damned manuscript. Self-pubbing through a vanity press? Folly, reserved for rampaging ego muppets with too much money.

But the technologies are changing, and the economics of book publishing are in flux.

Now, there are cheap eReaders. Companies sensing opportunity have jumped in with distribution models: CD Baby has BookBaby, Amazon has its Kindle-only programme, etc. These all let you not just produce your own eBooks, but make them widely accessible, in a variety of formats. And having done both, the technology of taking a manuscript and laying it out into eBook form is dramatically easier to grasp than that of recording.

So some midlist authors are starting to reissue their out-of-print backlists in eBook form. Some for free, but others are apparently making enough money at it that imprints are trying to claim eBook rights from contacts written before eReaders even existed. And with examples like Amanda Hocking out there, you’re seeing some re-evaluation of self-publication, as well.

So this year, I floated multidisciplinary versions of our business panels, specifically calling out artists and writers. I had one sign up, a well-respected writer/artist of graphic novels. I’m really pleased to have her! But I had no interest from any traditional-book authors.

In part, this shows how a lot of musicians know the recording industry exists substantially to screw you. It also implies that publishing houses do not currently have this reputation. From here, that difference looks legitimate; if you go through a major label and sell 20,000 copies of an album, you’re bankrupted and you won’t even own your recordings; if a writer goes through a major print publisher and sells 2,000 copies of a paperback book, they’re earning royalties.

It’s probably also relevant that record labels haven’t traditionally added much, artistically. They’d bring you people who could and often did, but you’re paying for it, not the label, in the form of advances against earnings. By contrast, book imprints – by which I mean a good editor under the employ of that imprint – historically could add a lot, and they paid that bill.

But cutbacks in publishing have had visible effects. Editors are hugely overworked and understaffed, and it absolutely shows. What if that added value continues to decline?

Do writers need to be looking at us indie musicians, for their own sakes? Do they need to take some notes?

I’m wondering about it both as a future necessity and as a future reasonable – at least, non-embarassing – option.

Hopefully it won’t become a necessity. Me, I’m in this for the music, and the recording part is fun because it gives me opportunities to work with other musicians and play with sound toys. I am not in it for the marketing, management, distribution, product design, advertising, packaging, shipping, and on and on and on. But as an indie musician, I have to do all of that too.

An indie writer would find themselves in the same boat.

I have writers in my audience; what do you think? Are we living in your future? And if so, does that sound cool, or do you look at this whole scene and want to run like hell?


PS: Happy birthday to my favourite writer, Angela Korra’ti. Smoochies! ^_^

just one more thing

While everyone is on SOPA/ProtectIP/PIPA and the just-as-much-fun international-treaty version known as ACTA: when you read this article on how the DMCA is already abusive enough, you might want to also keep this in mind: I’ve had three of my own videos flagged as DMCA violations.

That’s right, my own videos, me, doing my own music, or trad, live, flagged for DMCA, three times. Under SOPA, PIPA, or any variant thereof, I’d’ve had to sue to get back online.

Tell me this won’t be used to smash independent artists. Go ahead, tell me that, while I laugh in your face.

And yes, I had content go offline thanks to the Megauploads takedown, too. Fanac stuff, and of course I have copies, but nonetheless.

There’s talk of Black March: buy no music, books, movies, etc, download no music, books, movies, etc. Guys, I’m not the problem? People like me aren’t the problem? Please try to stay focused. Even with major publishers, I’m divided; I really do see the point, but you’re going to hurt starting authors and midlisters far more than you’re going to hurt any publishing house. At least, in books. (If they’re in music and on a label, they’re already screwed.) I know someone who has a series starting in March. The first book’s March sales will determine whether she gets Book 2.

To with: nngh.

But, of course, I gave my rather extensive opinion about what to do that will work on Wednesday. I know, I know, it’s TL;DR – I wish I’d been able to make it shorter, but I wasn’t.

Show with Leannan Sidhe and Kräken-Röhl next Friday! I’ve been rehearsing my set, looking forward to it. Please grab and print and post posters? Thanks!

Other than that, I’ll be one-daying Rustycon as soon as weather permits, which probably means Saturday. Given the TOTALLY AWESOME snowstorms we’ve had this week (photos at link), I admit I kind of do not envy their transportation department. Good luck, guys! And everyone else, too.

Have a good weekend! Say hi if you see me at Rusty. ^_^

concerts

A couple of updates! First, I had some bad data, so I’ve revised the poster for the January 27th show at B-Side Music. Nothing critical has changed, but if you’re downloading/forwarding/posting, please re-download the latest. (Revised PDF here, big-ass JPEG here, more here, Facebook event here.)

Second: the Portland show has a Facebook event page! But only on Facebook. And it’s invitation-only, so please tell me if you’re on Facebook and you want invited!

Third: I still want more house concerts! If you’re willing to host one, please please contact me! I’ve also been applying to festivals and stuff; if you have a good venue, tell them you want me to play there. Then tell me and I’ll conveniently apply. It’ll be perfect!

Fourth:


it snowed a little

so instead of going out, I made


buttons.

These aren’t merch; you can’t buy these. You have to host a show, or bring someone other than yourself to a show, or something like that. Then you can get one. BUT NOT BEFORE! It’s a plan, see. I planned it. Muah ha ha.

my latest obsession

I recently found turntable.fm. It’s kind of a chat site except for playing music. Each room is a also DJ room; you can play music for everybody in your room, your own or from the site’s library. People can take turns playing DJ, and they make it easy to buy tracks you like, which is how they make their money and how they don’t get shut down. You need a US proxy server or a an IP in a block that is generally believed to be in the US because of DMCA bullshit, but if you have that, it’s pretty epic.

Here’s the thing; I live in range of KEXP and C89FM, two of the best independent music stations in North America. I listen to them! They’re locally programmed and that’s awesome, because they’re run by people who care about music.

But they each have their preferences. There’s a definite KEXP sound. Same for C89FM. Once upon a time, a decently-sized city would’ve had a few of these stations – if you were lucky, several – so you’d have non-generic options in the ways you don’t, generally, now. Most towns ended up with zero; we’re lucky even to have the two.

This brings some of that back. Different rooms, different DJs, taking turns, a lot of different styles. You guys, I have bought so much new music in the last couple of days it’s just stupid. And cool. Like a fez.

WE HAVE SHOW POSTERS! TAKE AND SHARE! Print some out for your bulletin board! You must have something, right? I know it’s the Friday of Conflikt, I take the gigs when I gets ’em. NOT ALL OF YOU ARE GOING TO CONFLIKT! So come here if you’re not, and bring a friend. Three bands, three sets, no cover! Show page here, poster:


Click image for the JPG; the PDF version is here.

Oh, I forgot; I’m DJ Solarbirdy on turntable.fm, and am usually in J-Pop-and-Anime or Indie While You Work. But I hang out in the K-pop room sometimes too and I will wander around. Wave if you see me. ^_^

show announcements

Two more show announcements already! W00! In addition to January 27th with Kräken-Röhl and Leannan Sidhe at B-Side Music, we add:

  • February 26, 2012: House Concert, Portland, Oregon. Details TBA, but 4-6pm. This may end up being a private show, I don’t know yet.
  • July 14, 2012: Live at Comic Sands/Clallam Bay Comiket, Outdoor show, multiple sets through the day. Details TBA, but this will NOT be a private show! C’mon out, everybody!

ALSO, I posted this a couple of nights ago but everybody missed it because lol, drunk. The final Cracksman Betty track was released on the 31st! Read about all that here, and come back with me, to days of old, when computers weren’t bought – they were built! By hand! Come back with me – to the days of The S-100 Bus!

something new and something best forgot

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Kräken-Röhl, CRIME and the Forces of Evil, and Leannan Sidhe, Live at B-Side Music, January 27th! Doors 6pm, shows start 7pm, more info on the show page and after that to come! 😀

NOW IT HAS BEEN FORGOT: Over on Twitter, Attoparsec‘s Matthew Dockery mentioned clearing out the old CRT computer monitors, and being glad of it. I replied that it’s funny how CRT monitors have no loyalists or preservationists, certainly not of any scale, unlike computers themselves, and vinyl LPs, and to a lesser extent CDs, the like.

It’s me, too; I have a couple of old Amiga CRTs I’ve held onto just in case, and even I want to get rid of them.

And that got us talking about old technologies without fandoms. Examples include CRT computer monitors, and those wretched devices, the FAX machine. So we’re wondering: what other dead tech lacks a fandom?

The polling software I have doesn’t allow fill-in-the-blank answers, but I’m going to start a poll anyway. Add other suggestions in comments!

[poll=22]

a silly little thing

First: I am looking for people willing to host house concerts in February and March. This is very easy – like hosting a small party. I’m looking for crowds of 6-12 people, counting the hosts, and it doesn’t have to be a house per se – it can be a condo or apartment or anything. I can play acoustic sets or can bring my own PA; all you have to do is invite your friends. Check the youtube page to see what one of these is like.

Second: So I kinda went on a bender in the studio? And then it was 3:30am and there were robots. Or I guess technically cyborgs. And robots. Anyway, this happened – and give it a minute, because it builds, the wheels don’t fall off all at once:

And no, you haven’t heard this. You’ve heard parts of it, but this is what actually happened. XD

Finally: Noted Canadian musician Heather Dale, who has a much larger career than I do, called Dick Tracy Must Die “Purity and edge; technical prowess and a kick-ass attitude” and informed you that “This disc will light a fire under you! Check it out!” Please, do. And maybe consider the pay-what-you-like albums Cracksman Betty and Espionage: Live from Mars as stocking stuffers in your end-of-year giving.

Please and thank you!

Annie Henry concert CANCELLATION

Hey, guys, I posted earlier this week about hosting Annie Henry for a house concert – well, she’s come down with the flu! So we’re having to CANCEL THE SHOW. You don’t want flu germs anyway.

We’ll try to reschedule the show for January. Keep an eye out for that!

Anybody here on Second Life?

THREE TOPICS! ONE POST! Much less disturbing than implied by that phrasing!

ONE: On the last tour, people suggested that I should do a concert on Second Life. Apparently this is something people do:


Someone Else’s Gig in Second Life

And they do it with actual live performance fed in via Shoutcast servers. I am adventurous and want to try this. I have found this guide, which seems helpful. But the real trick – as always – is getting an inside contact.

Are you on Second Life? Do you know venues looking for an artist? Talk to me! And show them videos from the last tour, and point them to the band website. This sounds amusing and I want to try it if I find a good venue manager.

TWO: I can announce that we are hosting an Annie Henry house concert this Saturday, December 17th! Doors open 6pm, show starts 7pm. We’ve had to CANCEL! Annie’s come down with the flu. You don’t want it. We’ll try again in January.


Live at Murkworks North

It’s funny; I’ve played house concerts, and been to other peoples’, but I’ve never hosted one before. If you are in Cascadia and want to trek to the Kenmore high lowlands, contact me! And if you’re on Facebook, Annie has put up an event page, here. Go RSVP!

THREE: The recommendations post has a bunch of recommendations in comments now, but you can still add more. I’ll recap on Wednesday, so if you know a local-ish to you crafter, musician, artist, writer, or whatever, and they have items for sale this gift-giving season, comment with info and URL before then!

And, of course, if you’re looking for a gift, I hope you’ll consider giving some of my music. I need ears, so if you want to download and burn some of the pay-what-you-like music as a stocking stuffer, please do! Just tell them where it came from. ^_^ And consider hosting a house concert! I’m trying to set up a February/March tour. 😀

I have some more things in process that I hope I can talk about soon, but that’s all for today.

finally getting ahead of this learning curve

AND HERE’S THE PITCH:

Hey, it’s Cyber Monday! I’ve got second-CD-shipping set to free, globally, on the band sales site, and second CDs are 20% off on CD Baby! Supervillain music: not only does it make a great present, but the locator chip in the jewel case tells us where not to aim the heat ray! GIVE THE GIFT OF NOT BEING SET ON FIRE! 😀

And now that’s out of the way…

I think I’m finally getting ahead of this learning curve.

I’m gonna put a couple of live videos on youtube, from the last stop on this past tour. I’m not sure what songs yet, I’m still narrowing that down. (Got any requests? Let me know.)

The deciding factor for what goes up will be video quality. It’s not how good the sound is, how good my mic discipline was, or even the performances, because really, that’s all just fine. It’s the video part.

And that’s new, and awesome. It’s taken a lot of work for all the many-more-things-than-you-know that go into a live amped and recorded show to come together this way. A year ago, I’d maybe get one live recording from a show that I’d’ve been okay to have public. “Something’s Coming,” on Dick Tracy Must Die, was recorded live at the Lyon’s Den, for example.

But most of them would’ve had one problem or another. Pops in the microphone. Some stupid fade. The minidisc player failing. Bad levels. The sound guy feeding my recorder the reverb effects return by accident, so all I had was reverb and not the actual music*.

Or voice problems! Singing isn’t my core talent, and I am leagues ahead of where I started, and ahead of last year. Getting good vocals was the hardest performance part of the studio album, by far; it took dozens of takes. Now, lately, I can pop off that level of performance without even thinking about it**.

Things like that. Live recording is hard work. So many things can and do go wrong.

But this year, this tour, and particularly, this last show, the first one where I have complete video? There’s also not a goddamn thing on this latest recording I wouldn’t play for somebody. Hell – I sing along.

Sure, there are flaws. It’s not perfect, there are always things I’d like to do better, particularly in vocals. And I need to patch together some way of getting genuinely separate vocal and instrument recordings, so I can do better equalisation and have better post-show mixes.

But this tour really was a level-up experience. Between the Spooky Action show, the guest spot with Leannan Sidhe that got me my own separate two-song encore***, the set I’m least happy with – the Sidhehaven show – being called “wonderful” on Facebook, and this?

I’m starting to think I might just be gettin’ the hang of this thing. I really do.

I like that. I like it a lot.

Stick around, why don’t you? This trip’s starting to get interesting.


*: YES THIS HAPPENED.
**: I’ve got something I want to release for you guys SO MUCH but I’m still waiting for permission. SO. MUCH. First take, one take, true live recording (no separate vocals/instrument recording), BOOM and done. But it’s a cover, so release must wait.
***: and thanks so much again to them for putting up with that! <3 XD

Return top

The Music

THE NEW SINGLE