Earlier on in the week, I found myself commenting on a Facebook post by a slightly discouraged musician from a new younger band out of NYC called Candy Brain that feels that the music industry is ruining music for him. I think he was speaking more about the local “seen” which is basically just a staging area and not the be all end of all the music business(Thank God). Luckily, there were a few people like myself to shed some light on this. Years ago, the Record companies decided your fate and very few bands could control their own destinies. Simply because the resources available to us now where not there 20, 25 or even 30 years ago.Remember there was no Itunes or Cdbaby, so no record deal meant no distribution. Yes you could go into a studio on your own and record(if you were lucky enough to even afford that let alone getting your finished product duplicated), hoping a record label would take notice of your valiant effort and offer you some sort of deal which would included redoing whatever songs you did in some state of the art “real” studio with an actual producer. Even if you gave them a usable recording they wanted you to re-record, such was the case of the band Boston (but even the engineer at the studio ignored the labels request and kindly gave the studio time away to another band). However, Those days are long gone. The record companies want you to have a perfectly recorded and mixed demo for them before hand. And with the technology availible to us today, that is not hard to accomplish. In most cases, you can even do that at home which years ago was only a luxury that the big names in the music industry could afford. This is mainly because of the transition from old analog “Reel to Reel” tapes, to Digital hard disk. Analog gives you a nice and warm sound, but the maintenance involved combine with all the components needed to eliminate “Tape Hiss” (that’s a term most of you haven’t heard in awhile huh?) was very expensive. Digital is much easier to acquire and edit with. But along the ease of use, may have come less effort. The “cut and paste” ease of technology may have made it too easy for musicians. That’s just one school of thought, shared by myself and one Jimi Hendrix:
The point I was trying to make was along those lines of the old saying: “they don’t make them like they used to”. Years ago, with less technology available artists would crank out a full length album about every 8 months. That is unheard of these days. Some bands take up to 3 years to finish an album (under normal circumstances, not the insane situations I have dealt with). I think that in many cases years ago people worked harder with less. I am reminded of this by this old picture of the Marquee of the movie theater in the town I grew up in, Ridgefield Park,NJ.
I was amazed to see how fancy this theater looked about 100 years ago in such a small town as if it was a Broadway theater. Especially after the Marquee for the Rialto that I knew growing up:
I think perhaps back then people had more of a sense of community and sharing. They probably didn’t see it as a something they had to do, but something customary. If you were unfriendly and selfish, word would get around and no one would help you when you needed help. Perhaps these old ways are long gone due to how hard times have been and the change in people’s attitudes. I really don’t think there has been a band since the Beatles that has changed the way people interact with each other, but I do think some of these old ways would make the music community or “Scene” better. If you read my blog entry Set the bar for yourself you would know why I blatantly misspell that word and refer to what we have in NYC as a “Seen”.
Anyways, with so much available to us these days we can really be our own record labels, booking agents, merchandiser and beyond. Just look at video for example, it was very expensive to acquire a halfway decent camera to shoot video and many didn’t have the skills to get the best footage. I have been lucky enough through trial and error to learn how to shoot video(or probably after manning my family’s video camera as a kid and hearing my Mother complain several times that she was getting nausea from video I took with the camera shaking around). Which I have gladly done for many bands around town, just because I saw the need was there and not looking to gain from it. At the end of this blog, you will find a video a just filmed for Richie Rye.I would like to point out that in the early 80’s Richie’s old band, Frank Reeves & the Sneaker boys was able to film an actual music video with green screens and all(which can be seen on his facebook page) because of connections they had a music college in Manhattan. Like I had read in the book I don’t need a record deal by Daylle Deanna Schwartz (one of the books that I will have on my list of recommend industry books in a future blog) I learned of bands networking, pooling resources with each other to “trade shows” in layman’s terms getting band from another city a show in your city in exchange for a show in theirs. Or even doing a non traditional show such at a studio, someone’s home or other place besides a club. Or even in a town that is not known for music, sort of a “big fish in a small pond” concept which seems to work for some,since you are the focus because their is not much or any competition.
My young friend is actually taking this approach today, despite his discouraged feelings early in the week. He and his band have teamed up with another up and coming band, the Amatory Murder to host a free show at a studio in Brooklyn today. I am excited to be going to see a free show in a non traditional venue. Hey, its something different and may cause a ripple effect that is much needed here. So hopefully there will be more shows like and people can link up, discover new bands and have fun. But we all need to realize that it is work and not always fun. As we know hard work can be rewarding, so If you have something to bring to the table, any talent at all such as artwork, photography, merchandising connections, Public relations, modeling or any other. It is best to find like minded people to include in your ventures and work towards and a common goal. That is how a “Scene” should be.
So I hope this made you realize that a blend of our technology mixed with the work ethic and mannerisms of the past are probably the best path to success. In closing I would like to share with you a video that I have filmed and edited for a friend of mine mentioned in an earlier blog, Richie Rye performing a song that shares the same name as this blog entry.Until next time Enjoy, Nate