Originally published in early 2005:
It’s 2005. Where is your music going?
Podcasts. I create a show where I play a couple of pieces of my music and talk about them. They’re made available via a RSS feed so that anybody can subscribe. It’s a great way to hear from the artist and to check out new music.
I’m probably also ready to start working towards some kind of a music publishing deal. I have nearly 175 titles entered into the ASCAP database. There’s even more to add, so the final number will soon be near or over 200. That’s a lot.
Live shows. I’ve been asked to provide music for a visual arts show in Cedar Rapids in late January, and I’m hopeful there will be more events as the year progresses. So far I’ve been unable to win over the coffeehouses or wine stores in the area, but they’ll come around. I’d like to have or be a part of an electronic music showcase in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area during 2005, but that will take some planning and effort.
Perhaps a new album. I completed The Driver’s Companion by March 2003, but I didn’t “release” it until a year later. Since early 2003 I’ve probably created enough decent music to fill 3 or 4 CDs and that doesn’t include all the Yamahopper, Caswell, and Metro Man tracks I’ve worked on.
It’s difficult for me to think of things in terms of albums. It’s such an old concept and it really doesn’t apply to the way that I want to present my music. It used to be (as late as the 1980s) that you released a 12″ vinyl record and it usually had two sides. Each side had about 17-22 minutes of music and sometimes one side sounded different than the other. I grew up with that concept. Then along came the CD with the shrunken graphics and 74 minute running times that everybody eventually filled up. You didn’t have sides anymore, you had tracks. Now, with iPods, MP3 players, minidiscs, and file-sharing services, you can pick and choose whatever you want, in what quantity, and in what order. Graphics have been totally replaced by the ID3 tag. And how long has this change taken? 20 years. Not long at all.
So if you’re not going to do an album, what are you going to do?
Oh, I’ll probably make an album.
What would you do with the album?
My focus with The Driver’s Companion was to put out an album via CafePress.com so that I wouldn’t have to deal with buying 1000 copies from some pressing plant and having to hawk them all to local shops or give them away to radio stations who wouldn’t play it. I liked having zero up-front costs and the quality with CafePress is outstanding.
Along the way I found out I could put a few copies at CDBaby.com and they could get me onto iTunes, Napster, Connect, and the other download services with a small fee. This has been very worthwhile and actually more profitable than even selling CDs.
The next album would probably be done the same way, unless of course some label wanted to try and hawk 1000 copies on my behalf!
Why would you continue do it this way if the last album wasn’t successful?
I want to present my music in an innovative way, and that way may not necessarily the most commercially viable. That’s why I’m on iTunes and do Podcasts and offer lots of MP3s available for free. This is the future.
The future for me isn’t spending thousands of dollars on a pile of CDs I’m going to give away and be ignored or collect dust. I don’t want inventory. I knew that from the beginning.
Listen, I sent out my CD to numerous college radio stations, especially those in Iowa or those with electronic shows, but the response was next to nothing. The only station in Iowa that played me, that I’m aware of, was KUNI. Bob Dorr’s show, Down On The Corner. He had very nice things to say on the radio about my music. He’s The Man and knows quality. I’ve listened to him for over 20 years. I don’t know how to connect with all of these MDs, PDs, and DJs at college stations who would rather just play the CMJ Top 200. I get a far better response to my music when I offer it for free and post a message in any of the message boards that deal with electronic music.
It would be nice to get some acceptance at the college radio level, but I’m now resigned to the fact that it takes a professional label with a particular kind of reputation and a backing of certain critics in order to make things happen. You also have to be willing to tour. I have no desire, nor the time with my day job and family, to do that sort of thing.
I figure I’ll keep the ball rolling and stick to my guns. It’s been a lot of learning and a lot of fun over the last few years. As long as I do the work and it’s quality and interesting for me, that’s all that really matters, right?