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Please Self-Release Me, Let Me Go

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Dean View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 30 2010 at 14:11
One of the technological revolutions of the Internet age has been the marked increase in Self-Release and Self-Publishing of all creative arts. Fine-art, the written word and music have all been caught-up in this flurry of activity that promises to banish the corrupt self-serving corporate monster moguls to the annals of history and allow "the artist" the freedom to connect directly with the art-loving public.
But is this Utopian idyll an egalitarian dream or a self-delusional nightmare?
I have ventured into this world on many occasions, from the early beginnings of the World Wide Web and the look-at-me progenitors of social networking where I could create a "Home Page" to publish my confused rantings and musings on all manner of subjects and to present a primitive form of the eNovel for all the world to read or ignore at their leisure. Later I had several attempts to releasing my home-made music via numerous means from an AOL home-page, the original version of mp3.com, MySpace and LastFM to (finally) giving some of it away under Music and Musicians Exchange here at the PA. And more recently I have used a web-based vanity press to produce an actual printed paper novel replete with glossy paperback cover. What these experiences have taught me is that this is not a simple process, that the skills required are more than just being good at what you do. Of course my relative success or failure in these endeavours could be seen as jading my personal view of the whole process, but simply dipping a hand into these waters and plucking a self-released product at random will show even the most optimistic of "purchasers" that this is a far from perfect solution.
 
For all these one-man table-top ventures suffer from a number of failings that immediately mark them as being substandard and amateurish (in the worse possible connotation of that word) - they lack the judicious hand of the experts - the editors, the producers, the graphic artists and layout specialists and the management agents, the A&R men and the marketing teams who stand up to "the artist" and say that the product is not good enough, that the packaging is in need of refinement, that the work needs more work to be in any way, shape or form saleable ... While it is fashionable to cheer at the demise of all these industry middle-men and corporate hanger-oners under the assumption (though not completely without foundation) that they have corrupted the very nature of the business they draw their substantial salaries from, they do actually perform a valid and worthwhile role in the furtherance of the art as an art-form and therefore are a vital part of the creative process. While on the surface their job-functions ensure that the product will give a return on investment, it has the underlying responsibility of maintaining a level of quality that filters the worthy from the also-rans. This does not imply that they sort out the commercial from the unsellable, or even the professional from the amateur, but that they provide some necessary critical feedback to the artist prior to unleashing their prized creation onto the public, to ensure that what is heard or read is the best that the artist can produce.
 
Quality Control is not something that can be bolted on at the end, it has to be prevalent through the entire process, from the moment that *someone* says that a particular phrase is clichéd and should be re-written or discarded all the way through to the final presentation in its packaging and overall look, so that the product placed on the virtual shop shelves not only stands out against the plethora of other items from all the other dreamers, but is of equal quality to the best of what is on offer. So for a book not only does it have to be of the right readable standard, or if it is an album of music it has to be of a given listenable standard, but it has to be of the same professional standard as those produced by the established publishing houses and record labels.
 
Without this the music world (and by that I mean the music world at all levels – the underground and the specialist markets and not just the commercial pop and rock world) will be reduced to the lowest common denominator (if it hasn’t already), that all product will be as bad as each other rather than being as good as each other. Once we, as the buying/downloading/listening public, accept the limitations of what the artist deemed was good enough and take into account his excuses for the known faults of his work then we have bought into this myth and will have acknowledged sub-standard production methods (of content, packaging and promotion) as being the norm. The question then becomes how will be recognise a masterpiece in all the flotsam and jetsam that passes through our media players and hi-fi systems and by what means will the crème de al crème rise to the surface when all that is produced is produced by all that can produce?
 
Now, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that any single artist can possess all the talents to raise the level of what they create to an acceptable standard, or that a single band can contain individuals within their number with a share of theses skills, but in many ways they are complimentary and even counter to the creative process and would ideally be divorced from it. Artists often say that they are their own worse critic, but are they really? In reality are they any worse than their immediate friends and family, who to a man (and woman) will invariably be supportive rather than honestly (and brutally) analytical?
 
"You know what uranium is, right?
It’s this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Finnforest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 14:39
Exceptional post and spot on. 

The "new way" of doing things present the hugest chasm of contradiction.  On the one hand, as Martin Orford noted here recently, the "new way" creates an ocean of "musicians" the world over who fancy themselves "artists" because they can now release their "albums" to the world without "the man" being involved, a process we help aid here by our new guidelines allowing such releases.  The fact is that so many of these projects are of sub-standard quality in terms of writing, recording, and final product.  You have what in the past would be weekend-hobby musicians now deeming themselves recording artists.  You have reviewers who should know better willing to outrageously overrate some of these albums without much context (sorry, but I'm not one of those people opposed to the use of the word "overrate", it's a very legitimate concept.)  I admit, I've been guilty of doing this myself sometimes though I try to keep my emotions in check and often adjust ratings later when I've had time to consider the larger picture.

However, on the flip side, I'm not actually opposed entirely.  First off, the truly quality musicians will gravitate to the top and get noticed, perhaps eventually getting an official label release.  Second, for the majority that do not, I have been more than pleased on many occasions by the lovely work of hobby musicians and web-only bands whose myspace page serves as their main point of contact with the world.  There IS good stuff in this ocean.  One simply has to approach such releases with honestly in termsn of how good the quality is overall when compared to those "real" bands who have grinded it out for years, kissed all the arses, and sold their souls to the devil.  This long process sucks of course, and is no guarentee of quality, but it is a process that does force out a lot of sub-standard product from reaching your living room. 

The whole "new way" of approaching the music landscape just requires one to scoop the water from the ocean one cupfull at a time, throwing most on the beach and discovering the magic maybe one time over the course of one's day at the beach.  It is something I welcome, because I am a person who enjoys the search for new music and the pleasure of writing about it for people.  Again, I'm not opposed or afraid of the new world order, just sayin' its a very mixed bag and takes a lot of time to wade through the weak to find the awesome.  Have fun with the hunt!Smile


Edited by Finnforest - January 30 2010 at 14:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pekka Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 15:53
A very interesting post, Dean Thumbs Up

For me this "new way" of releasing music is a great blessing, or at least so it feels at the moment. I'm a complete amateur in every positive and negative sense of the word, just doing my stuff slowly as a hobby realizing the very home-made production quality I'm capable of with my humble skill and equipment, and as long as that stands I have absolutely no intention to try and charge anyone money for listening to my stuff. But I love being able to get it out there as soon as I finish anything and get direct feedback. Mostly it's all positive since most people, like me, don't really like to give negative comments to beginners, but I've got a couple of friends who can say to me if they don't like something. And of course I enjoy when someone says they like my music. That little amount of feedback I get from this is much more valuable than the no feedback I'd get just messing around by myself with nobody else hearing my music.

That's some stream of consciousness babble I have from this subject. Every single piece of music I've finished in my life is up for free download, so far it's working great for me but give it a couple of years and perhaps it'll lead to great embarrassment LOL


Edited by Pekka - January 30 2010 at 15:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:06
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

Exceptional post and spot on. 

The "new way" of doing things present the hugest chasm of contradiction.  On the one hand, as Martin Orford noted here recently, the "new way" creates an ocean of "musicians" the world over who fancy themselves "artists" because they can now release their "albums" to the world without "the man" being involved, a process we help aid here by our new guidelines allowing such releases.  The fact is that so many of these projects are of sub-standard quality in terms of writing, recording, and final product.  You have what in the past would be weekend-hobby musicians now deeming themselves recording artists.  You have reviewers who should know better willing to outrageously overrate some of these albums without much context (sorry, but I'm not one of those people opposed to the use of the word "overrate", it's a very legitimate concept.)  I admit, I've been guilty of doing this myself sometimes though I try to keep my emotions in check and often adjust ratings later when I've had time to consider the larger picture.
As you know, I do have an issue with the over-use and misuse of "overrate", however in this particular instance I do agree and indeed aprove of its use. Rating some of these self-releases on equal terms with other releases is rating them higher than they have any valid cause to be - that is judging the intention and ambition of one artist while over-looking its shortcomings against the actual achievement of another.
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:


However, on the flip side, I'm not actually opposed entirely.  First off, the truly quality musicians will gravitate to the top and get noticed, perhaps eventually getting an official label release.  Second, for the majority that do not, I have been more than pleased on many occasions by the lovely work of hobby musicians and web-only bands whose myspace page serves as their main point of contact with the world.  There IS good stuff in this ocean.  One simply has to approach such releases with honestly in termsn of how good the quality is overall when compared to those "real" bands who have grinded it out for years, kissed all the arses, and sold their souls to the devil.  This long process sucks of course, and is no guarentee of quality, but it is a process that does force out a lot of sub-standard product from reaching your living room. 
This is one thought process where I didn't quite get my words in order before posting... I do not believe that the quality musicians will rise to the surface, they will be lost in the miasma of mediocrity because the Internet is not a point source. As Momus said in 1991 (paraphrasing Andy Warhol) - in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people - and the interet and self-releasing is making that future a reality.
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:


The whole "new way" of approaching the music landscape just requires one to scoop the water from the ocean one cupfull at a time, throwing most on the beach and discovering the magic maybe one time over the course of one's day at the beach.  It is something I welcome, because I am a person who enjoys the search for new music and the pleasure of writing about it for people.  Again, I'm not opposed or afraid of the new world order, just sayin' its a very mixed bag and takes a lot of time to wade through the weak to find the awesome.  Have fun with the hunt!Smile
I'm still discovering artists from 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago that I hadn't heard of - and those are from the days when the record labels did this filtering for us - now it will take a lifetime to sift through the self-releases from just this month alone.
"You know what uranium is, right?
It’s this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Finnforest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:16
^

I'm still discovering artists from 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago that I hadn't heard of - and those are from the days when the record labels did this filtering for us - now it will take a lifetime to sift through the self-releases from just this month alone.


Truer words have never been spoken...
LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Henry Plainview Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:20
Why does self-releasing inherently cater to the lowest common denominator? Wouldn't the freedom of not being confined by label executives let them do whatever they want?
 
You recognize the masterpiece by listening to it. ;-)
 
I almost never listen to self-released artists, because as you said, if in this era they can't get anybody to sign them, they probably are terrible. But I can't see the ability to self-release as a bad thing in any way. If you'd rather only listen to music that other people think is good, there will still be plenty of label releases this year...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote clarke2001 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:46

Good post, one that makes you think.

Indeed, it's a new era of artistic freedom - bordering on anarchy - but at the same time following (more or less) strict rules of sociology, or its rendering on a virtual plane.

The reflections of this 'movement' were (and still are) felt here at ProgArchives - in trying to determine what un/signed status means for an artist nowadays; it's more than hazy.

While putting all the pros and cons on the scales, it's necessary to observer an increased number of artist -and music in general - suitable for a music consumer. Before internet, there was a plethora of amateur musicians, and a fraction of ones who actually released something. Today, even if standards are set strict - and there's no allowance for below par recording that doesn't meet a professional level, let alone quality music, it's inevitable some cracks will appear in our virtual dam; one way or another there will be bigger number of artists then ever - and that is already happening, regardless of filtering.

The next issue is the actual quality that pops out from the crowd occasionally, and that is actually worth listening.

It's questionable will those artist sink into obscurity or be pushed forward to recognition, perhaps even stardom. In a primordial soup - ocean - of amateurish artists recording their idea badly - some will stand out of the crowd; one in 100 or one in 1000, creating something worth investigating. This is already happening, and some artist already have minuscule but present cult followers. I really doubt they will be propelled to the higher level of recognition and media; there are plenty of forgotten 70's records (mostly forgotten) which widened a circle of admirers, but most likely that is their threshold; they perhaps had a small base of followers back in their heyday (and they were released on a real, physical media), a few more that stumbled upon them in years to come (in a forgotten attic),but before internet, and a sphere of web surfers craving for obscurities - and that's about it. Not bad considering a short lived band from a 'small' country that released 500 copies in the 70's; 500 more CD reissues and 2000 downloads, be it legal or not. There are just too many names. Perhaps they will became a global phenomenon out of the blue in 2031, but that's less than likely.

The same applies to the new names recording and 'releasing' ints on their own, on internet. But in this case, chances they will be recognized are even slimmer - they don't have 20 or 30 years of history and a small fanbase for jump-start, Internet-wise; there is no avalanche (no matter how small it might be) to push them forward. What is left is the quality of a product as an advertising for the product itself; or at least its very existence - the domino effect of hyperlinks, forum recommendations and various audio/video samples will be smaller. But the feedback will exist, irrelevant of how far (or not) its branches are protruding. Basically, we're back to the word-of-mouth in the era of sophistocated communications technology. Blogosphere, social networking sites will do the job of mouths. It does rely on quality of the music - and perhaps that's the bast part.

The things will crystalize, in a way - before, we had thousands of amateurish bands, and selected ones that released something. Nowadays, determination will be in hands of an average surfer; if a surfer want's to turn the thing off just a few seconds after the music starts, it will get lost in digital vasteland. If it's interesting, it will get recognition among fans - perhaps fast, perhaps slow and tedious, and most likely non-profitable, but it could be measured by various traffic counters and a sheer number of references.

New genres, styles and movements will emerge - one that would never happen under the dictatorship of labels - the price of that is wallowing in an ocean of junk.

It's not necessary a bad thing, but each of us has to do our own, personal filtering before group and/or global filterings will occur.

And outside, in the real world, bands who care will be playing live.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:55
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

Why does self-releasing inherently cater to the lowest common denominator? Wouldn't the freedom of not being confined by label executives let them do whatever they want?
(Note I said reduced to not cater to). Doing whatever they want is not necessarily for the good. I don't mean in an excessive self indulgent way, but in a not learning by experience way. Most of everything is fashion driven, including literature and music, regardless of how experimental and futuristic people think they are being, the bulk of what they create is essentially derivative and influenced by whatever is fashionable at the time - that's how genres form, how a new album or novel becomes popular - by appealing to people who like similar material within that genre. In the worse case scenario that I depict here, (and I admit that it is a deliberately melodramatic and exaggerated worse case dystopia), the system is self-feeding and self-perpetuating - once poor quality becomes the accepted norm then people will automatically produce to that level. It is also limited by capital resource - and even though there are plenty of budding and aspiring artists out there who will try and convince us that $500 of home recording software and reading a book on sound engineering and music production can produce the same quality as a $500,000 studio, a $200/day sound engineer and a top-flight producer the reality is somewhat different.
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

 
You recognize the masterpiece by listening to it. ;-)
And how, from the thousands of self-released albums let loose on the internet each week, do you find this masterpiece to get to listen to it in the first place? :-Þ
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

 
I almost never listen to self-released artists, because as you said, if in this era they can't get anybody to sign them, they probably are terrible. But I can't see the ability to self-release as a bad thing in any way. If you'd rather only listen to music that other people think is good, there will still be plenty of label releases this year...
And with that the concept of self-release is doomed to inevitable failure and will never spark the revolution that many hope it will.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 18:55
A very thought provoking opening post certainly and knowing just how much of a gentleman the original poster is, he manages to raise a lot of very unpalatable issues in a typically non-confrontational way.

Enough praise already, time to irritate some hippies. What you are describing strikes my caffeine addled brain as tantamount to a democratization of the arts driven by dilettantes. I've always believed that democracy has no place in the arts whatsoever as let's face it, only scarcity confers a value on anything surely ? I agree also that much as we might profess to disapprove of those business professionals who massage the artist's creations into a viable and fit for it's purpose form for the marketplace, without the latter's intervention, we would be drowning in 'Acoustic Ladyland' demos sheathed in comic sans typefaced covers depicting the creator's pets and/or holiday snaps. Similarly, I think you nailed that sucker re the invaluable filtering process that conventional music enterprises provide.

I too have availed myself of such internet outlets for my own works of fiction and would have to agree that without a steady dose of corporate 'tough love', it seems unlikely that sublime artistic expression would ever be able to extricate itself from the deluge of mediocrity that surrounds it should this burgeoning internet phenomenon hold sway. (I'm happy to concede my fiction ain't viable so probably won't get published, but ain't resentful about it and like you suggest, vanity publishers are aptly named)

It's interesting that one of the many regrettable effects of seizing the 'means of production' from the hitherto reviled entrepreneurs, invariably leads us from Formula One to the Lada hatchback.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 19:26
Originally posted by Pekka Pekka wrote:

A very interesting post, Dean Thumbs Up

For me this "new way" of releasing music is a great blessing, or at least so it feels at the moment. I'm a complete amateur in every positive and negative sense of the word, just doing my stuff slowly as a hobby realizing the very home-made production quality I'm capable of with my humble skill and equipment, and as long as that stands I have absolutely no intention to try and charge anyone money for listening to my stuff. But I love being able to get it out there as soon as I finish anything and get direct feedback. Mostly it's all positive since most people, like me, don't really like to give negative comments to beginners, but I've got a couple of friends who can say to me if they don't like something. And of course I enjoy when someone says they like my music. That little amount of feedback I get from this is much more valuable than the no feedback I'd get just messing around by myself with nobody else hearing my music.

That's some stream of consciousness babble I have from this subject. Every single piece of music I've finished in my life is up for free download, so far it's working great for me but give it a couple of years and perhaps it'll lead to great embarrassment LOL
While this thread was not intended to be a critique of the amateur or aspiring musician per sey (for that would be the ultimate in self criticism Wink) I should at least emphasise the difference between sharing a few tracks between friends and trying to promote a self-released album.
 
For myself, I have fallen guilty of "releasing" everything I ever recorded (though back then it wasn't possible or practical to upload everything to the internet - it was on request by snail-mail only) - on reflection it's probably a bad idea to do that and the quality control I spoke of in the OP should have been applied - it's one thing to subject your friends and contacts to a couple of tracks or perhaps a CDs worth - but in my case it was over 200 tracks (many of which were over a hour long LOL)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 20:12
Originally posted by clarke2001 clarke2001 wrote:


Good post, one that makes you think.

Indeed, it's a new era of artistic freedom - bordering on anarchy - but at the same time following (more or less) strict rules of sociology, or its rendering on a virtual plane.

The reflections of this 'movement' were (and still are) felt here at ProgArchives - in trying to determine what un/signed status means for an artist nowadays; it's more than hazy.
 
While putting all the pros and cons on the scales, it's necessary to observer an increased number of artist -and music in general - suitable for a music consumer. Before internet, there was a plethora of amateur musicians, and a fraction of ones who actually released something. Today, even if standards are set strict - and there's no allowance for below par recording that doesn't meet a professional level, let alone quality music, it's inevitable some cracks will appear in our virtual dam; one way or another there will be bigger number of artists then ever - and that is already happening, regardless of filtering.
I was partly the instigator behind PA accepting self-release as being equivalent to being signed based on subjective assessment of the "professional" quality of the release and then later proposed expanding that to include free-downloads and free-releases, the final decision is still at the discretion of the genre teams: ("Recorded and mixed in a professional manner, such that it meets commercial sound quality as found on average CDs released by commercial record companies") - so by that releases that fail this subjective quality control can legitimately be discarded.
Of course that is still a wishy-washy defintion with enough holes in it to drive a London bus through, especially if the standards of commercial recordings are no longer a valid benchmark.
Originally posted by clarke2001 clarke2001 wrote:


The next issue is the actual quality that pops out from the crowd occasionally, and that is actually worth listening.

It's questionable will those artist sink into obscurity or be pushed forward to recognition, perhaps even stardom. In a primordial soup - ocean - of amateurish artists recording their idea badly - some will stand out of the crowd; one in 100 or one in 1000, creating something worth investigating. This is already happening, and some artist already have minuscule but present cult followers. I really doubt they will be propelled to the higher level of recognition and media; there are plenty of forgotten 70's records (mostly forgotten) which widened a circle of admirers, but most likely that is their threshold; they perhaps had a small base of followers back in their heyday (and they were released on a real, physical media), a few more that stumbled upon them in years to come (in a forgotten attic),but before internet, and a sphere of web surfers craving for obscurities - and that's about it. Not bad considering a short lived band from a 'small' country that released 500 copies in the 70's; 500 more CD reissues and 2000 downloads, be it legal or not. There are just too many names. Perhaps they will became a global phenomenon out of the blue in 2031, but that's less than likely.

The same applies to the new names recording and 'releasing' ints on their own, on internet. But in this case, chances they will be recognized are even slimmer - they don't have 20 or 30 years of history and a small fanbase for jump-start, Internet-wise; there is no avalanche (no matter how small it might be) to push them forward. What is left is the quality of a product as an advertising for the product itself; or at least its very existence - the domino effect of hyperlinks, forum recommendations and various audio/video samples will be smaller. But the feedback will exist, irrelevant of how far (or not) its branches are protruding. Basically, we're back to the word-of-mouth in the era of sophistocated communications technology. Blogosphere, social networking sites will do the job of mouths. It does rely on quality of the music - and perhaps that's the bast part.
While that will undoubtedly work on the wider scale in filtering the some of the good from all the good, all the bad and all the mediocre, it does not benefit the individual artist or help develop their potential. The skill of the record label A&R man was/is in recognising that potential in a band's live performance or demo recording and then realising that as a final product. The situation with many self-released albums is that they are still at the demo stage (all be it slightly polished, but their potential is not fully realised).
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It’s this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 20:35
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

A very thought provoking opening post certainly and knowing just how much of a gentleman the original poster is, he manages to raise a lot of very unpalatable issues in a typically non-confrontational way.

Enough praise already, time to irritate some hippies. What you are describing strikes my caffeine addled brain as tantamount to a democratization of the arts driven by dilettantes. I've always believed that democracy has no place in the arts whatsoever as let's face it, only scarcity confers a value on anything surely ? I agree also that much as we might profess to disapprove of those business professionals who massage the artist's creations into a viable and fit for it's purpose form for the marketplace, without the latter's intervention, we would be drowning in 'Acoustic Ladyland' demos sheathed in comic sans typefaced covers depicting the creator's pets and/or holiday snaps. Similarly, I think you nailed that sucker re the invaluable filtering process that conventional music enterprises provide.
It is one of the contradictions of the world-wide-web that for all its levelling egalitarian idealism, it is not democratic or even socialist in reality, what we have is elitist oligarchies - there is only one book store, search engine, social networking site, infopedia, etc. Given time this idealised concept of music for the masses by the masses will evaporate or at least congeal into a single point.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:


I too have availed myself of such internet outlets for my own works of fiction and would have to agree that without a steady dose of corporate 'tough love', it seems unlikely that sublime artistic expression would ever be able to extricate itself from the deluge of mediocrity that surrounds it should this burgeoning internet phenomenon hold sway. (I'm happy to concede my fiction ain't viable so probably won't get published, but ain't resentful about it and like you suggest, vanity publishers are aptly named)
What I have said for the music business applies equally to the literary world and that for vanity or self-publishing you have to be your own editor, proof-reader, compositor and layout artist, and having mastered that you have to become versed in the art of self-promotion and marketing, all without the aid of a publishing house, their years of experience, list of contacts and promotional budget.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:


It's interesting that one of the many regrettable effects of seizing the 'means of production' from the hitherto reviled entrepreneurs, invariably leads us from Formula One to the Lada hatchback.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JLocke Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 21:11
You either like the music, or you don't. Being professionally promoted or 'refined' by an external influence has nothing to do with it in my opinion. The best music holds its own no matter what method is used to get it out there in the public eye initially. If we are to assume that the 'lowest-common denominator' is all that can benefit from the modern methods of self-promotion, couldn't that perspective just as easily be spun on its head to appeal to the opposite viewpoint? I personally discover more and more unsigned music all the time I fall in love with, and the only reason many of these guys aren't signed up to a label is because they have chosen not to be. 

In fact, many well-known artists who once released music this 'old-fashioned' way are now doing it entirely on their own, anyway. Nine Inch Nails is no less successful than the next artist in the similar vein, and they now do it all 'from home', as it were.

Of course, you could argue that in NIN's case, it is different, because they were already established before making the decision to self-promote, but consider this, also: even now, you Dean are preparing to add yet another successful indie band to the archives. I know this because I recently sent you their bio for inclusion. Now, these guys are living very comfortably off of their self-made fame, and did nothing different than what you have described in you initial post. 

In my opinion, the reason why we haven't seen more independent artists hitting it big is simply because there still aren't enough artists going that route to begin to make a statistical mark when help up against all the past success traditional record labels have built for musicians. I guarantee you that once this tradition becomes more and more common among recoding artists, the amount of successes in this particular approach will begin to slowly but surely outweigh the failures. 

Now, since I'm quite tired, I may have possibly missed your point entirely, in which case I am sorry for wasting you time with blather. But if indeed I did address the very subject you were introducing, then I hope my own perspective on the situation proves as useful food for though. At this point it's really too early to say for sure how successful self-promotion in entertainment is going to be, but in the long run, I believe it is a positive thing, frankly. The music makes the music, not the production or company name behind it. That will always be true, and as long as people truly use their ears, they'll be able to tell the difference between the two-- record contract attached, or not.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 22:11
Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:

You either like the music, or you don't. Being professionally promoted or 'refined' by an external influence has nothing to do with it in my opinion. The best music holds its own no matter what method is used to get it out there in the public eye initially. If we are to assume that the 'lowest-common denominator' is all that can benefit from the modern methods of self-promotion, couldn't that perspective just as easily be spun on its head to appeal to the opposite viewpoint? I personally discover more and more unsigned music all the time I fall in love with, and the only reason many of these guys aren't signed up to a label is because they have chosen not to be.

One of the difficulties already recognised in the 'autonomous' route becoming the norm, was that given the inevitability of the sheer overwhelming volume of releases, how many lifetimes do you think are required to be able to locate and hear the music you might deem to be good ? Imagine sifting through 200 daily spam e-mails from artists who got your details via PA along the lines of: We are a symphonic metal band from Alice Springs and notice that like us, you love this genre too !. Please take a few moments to listen to the samples attached etc blah yakitty ditto

In fact, many well-known artists who once released music this 'old-fashioned' way are now doing it entirely on their own, anyway. Nine Inch Nails is no less successful than the next artist in the similar vein, and they now do it all 'from home', as it were.

Of course, you could argue that in NIN's case, it is different, because they were already established before making the decision to self-promote, but consider this, also: even now, you Dean are preparing to add yet another successful indie band to the archives. I know this because I recently sent you their bio for inclusion. Now, these guys are living very comfortably off of their self-made fame, and did nothing different than what you have described in you initial post.

Dunno who the band is, can't comment.


In my opinion, the reason why we haven't seen more independent artists hitting it big is simply because there still aren't enough artists going that route to begin to make a statistical mark when help up against all the past success traditional record labels have built for musicians. I guarantee you that once this tradition becomes more and more common among recoding artists, the amount of successes in this particular approach will begin to slowly but surely outweigh the failures.

Practically everyone I know in Brisbane is in a band and yes, they have a self-produced CD and yes, they do sell some of these and make a meagre living on the local live circuit. Most of these bands have been pursuing a wider audience solely by their own means for several years. Sadly the 'public eye' is attracted to bright shiny loud glittery things shouting 'look over here people !' and a shed-load of corporate marketing dosh don't talk (it swears) As far as the 'big time global impact' thang goes, the market will inevitably shrink, not become accessible to more artists.

Now, since I'm quite tired, I may have possibly missed your point entirely, in which case I am sorry for wasting you time with blather. But if indeed I did address the very subject you were introducing, then I hope my own perspective on the situation proves as useful food for though. At this point it's really too early to say for sure how successful self-promotion in entertainment is going to be, but in the long run, I believe it is a positive thing, frankly. The music makes the music, not the production or company name behind it. That will always be true, and as long as people truly use their ears, they'll be able to tell the difference between the two-- record contract attached, or not.


Ears, and finding enough of them, make the music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Epignosis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 22:19
I am in my cups tonight, so I'll keep this short.

Nursery Cryme.

An album regarded by many as a masterpiece of symphonic rock music (and rightly so) has some of the crappiest production I've ever heard, and it was recorded at Trident studios- a state of the art facility at the time- and yet still sounds awful, comparatively speaking.  This was not the band's first OR second attempt. 

Fast forward to 2002.

Vapor Trails.

Rush is no stranger to the game, and yet, even under the guidance of veteran Paul Northfield, they managed to release an album that clips so awfully many critics slammed it for the production alone.

However:

1. I love them in spite of (maybe even because of?) their production (I gave Nursery Cryme four stars and Vapor Trails five).

2. They were produced with the leading technology at the time and competent people at the helm.

You see, I get bored with the shiny production modern symphonic bands employ, such to the extent that they all sound the same.  The Flower Kings, Simon Says, Transatlantic, Discipline, Spock's Beard, Neal Morse...hell, they're excellent acts, but they all sound the friggin same!  Not to say I don't like them (on the contrary), but the production is so polished it gives my ears the aural equivalent of a toothache.

Give me some grit.  Give me a little static.  Give me some breaths between lines.

Let me know there's real people behind those guitars and mics.

I don't mean be incompetent or lazy or noisy- I just mean play your music and have a good time and just do your best to make it sound decent.  Besides, there's always been people promoting their sh*t even if most people (including their friends and family) think it sucks.  The Internet is simply a faster conduit of the best and the worst of everything, so no reason we should be surprised that music is included in this.  I personally would not have found some amazing bands that I love were it not for their self-promotion on the Net and their "nuts to the man" attitude.  If I find crap I don't like, I don't have to listen to it.  Simple as that.  Same way it was in the old system really.  No one is forcing me to hear anything.

I personally am far more interested in the compositions anyway, and if those are excellent, then the production qualities will likely only endear the music further (which is precisely what has happened for me with the above albums I mentioned).

Besides, if you don't start somewhere, you have pretty much no chance of getting a record deal anyway.  So who cares?

As a wise man once said, "Get out there and rock- and roll the bones.  Get busy."

Well damn that wasn't brief at all.  Time for another beer.


Edited by Epignosis - January 30 2010 at 22:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Atavachron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 30 2010 at 23:57
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

For all these one-man table-top ventures suffer from a number of failings that immediately mark them as being substandard and amateurish (in the worse possible connotation of that word) - they lack the judicious hand of the experts - the editors, the producers, the graphic artists and layout specialists and the management agents, the A&R men and the marketing teams who stand up to "the artist" and say that the product is not good enough, that the packaging is in need of refinement, that the work needs more work to be in any way, shape or form saleable .


ah, if only;  the disappointing reality - especially with a smaller press - is they barely have the time or manpower to 'edit' or 'produce' much, and expect the writer to do most of it including format, graphics and images.  And then they still might not actually print or distribute the book you poured your heart&soul into, rewrote and rewrote again till it barely resembles what you envisioned. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 31 2010 at 06:04
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:

You either like the music, or you don't. Being professionally promoted or 'refined' by an external influence has nothing to do with it in my opinion. The best music holds its own no matter what method is used to get it out there in the public eye initially. If we are to assume that the 'lowest-common denominator' is all that can benefit from the modern methods of self-promotion, couldn't that perspective just as easily be spun on its head to appeal to the opposite viewpoint? I personally discover more and more unsigned music all the time I fall in love with, and the only reason many of these guys aren't signed up to a label is because they have chosen not to be.

One of the difficulties already recognised in the 'autonomous' route becoming the norm, was that given the inevitability of the sheer overwhelming volume of releases, how many lifetimes do you think are required to be able to locate and hear the music you might deem to be good ? Imagine sifting through 200 daily spam e-mails from artists who got your details via PA along the lines of: We are a symphonic metal band from Alice Springs and notice that like us, you love this genre too !. Please take a few moments to listen to the samples attached etc blah yakitty ditto

To quote the MySpace blog of the band referred to in the next para, "The downside of all this is the scope of our reach." What they mean in that context is that while they can reach a wide virtual audience, they are limited to a geographically restrict live audience - without a label to bankrole a coast to coast tour they are confined to playing the West Coast. This strapped for cash situation that they find themselves in is limiting the amount of self-promotion they can do, and with that the size of the market they can reach.
 
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


In fact, many well-known artists who once released music this 'old-fashioned' way are now doing it entirely on their own, anyway. Nine Inch Nails is no less successful than the next artist in the similar vein, and they now do it all 'from home', as it were.

Of course, you could argue that in NIN's case, it is different, because they were already established before making the decision to self-promote, but consider this, also: even now, you Dean are preparing to add yet another successful indie band to the archives. I know this because I recently sent you their bio for inclusion. Now, these guys are living very comfortably off of their self-made fame, and did nothing different than what you have described in you initial post.

Dunno who the band is, can't comment.

Firstly the fact that NIИ, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins were/are established bands is the only reason they can be mega-successful following this route. Unfortunately this has inspired is a seemingly unmoveable group-think that this is the future and this will work for each and every band or artist who can record sounds onto a PC. Those three bands have pots full of cash to fund their endevours and they can pretty much guarantee a fixed number of bankable sales with whatever they do that will at last cover their costs. To do this they still employ an army of behind the scenes experts to realise their dreams -  just because they are self-funding independant releases does not mean they are not doing all the things a real label would do.
 
The point I am making is that all those other bands and artists who think they are following the same self-release path as NIИ, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins are not, they are attempting to go from point "A" to point "Z" without all the very necessary intermediate steps.
 
As to Rishloo - having read a little more about them I seriously doubt that they are living very comfortably off their self-made fame, I suspect they are not even making a living off their self made fame, another quote from their blog: "The bands who are left, with or without labels, still have to make money.  One of the ways that they do this is by charging other bands to tour with them (usually to the tune of at least $10,000-$20,000 minimum) by the time you add in travel expenses, the bill gets very steep for four guys, 2 of whom are in school full-time and 2 of whom work jobs that keep them right around the poverty level.  The point I'm trying to make is that it's not as simple as just, "emailing such and such band and telling them they should let us go on tour with them to Kalamazoo or Tanzanianoligergorgiastan."  Whether they like our music or not, they need to keep making money too, and even the biggest ones are businesses, not philanthrotropic charities." ....  Now I don;t know the personal circumstances of the four guys in Rishloo to know whether they were referring to themselves in that quote, or some hyperthetical unsigned band, but it is a fair assumption that they would not have written the words unless they had personal experience of it.
 
It is a sobering reality of the music industry that very very few can afford to make a living solely from the music they sell and the gigs they play - and this includes many signed bands.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


In my opinion, the reason why we haven't seen more independent artists hitting it big is simply because there still aren't enough artists going that route to begin to make a statistical mark when help up against all the past success traditional record labels have built for musicians. I guarantee you that once this tradition becomes more and more common among recoding artists, the amount of successes in this particular approach will begin to slowly but surely outweigh the failures.

Practically everyone I know in Brisbane is in a band and yes, they have a self-produced CD and yes, they do sell some of these and make a meagre living on the local live circuit. Most of these bands have been pursuing a wider audience solely by their own means for several years. Sadly the 'public eye' is attracted to bright shiny loud glittery things shouting 'look over here people !' and a shed-load of corporate marketing dosh don't talk (it swears) As far as the 'big time global impact' thang goes, the market will inevitably shrink, not become accessible to more artists.
I agree with Iain - I think the unsigned, self-released independant artists reach market saturation very quickly and that saturation-point is very small when compared to the markets achieved by the least successful of the signed bands - we are talking orders of magnitudes here - sales of 100s and 1000s compared to sales of 10,000s and 100,000s. The pool is fixed and the maths is the same - 1000 self-released bands selling 1000 albums each, or 100 bands selling 10,000 albums or 10 bands selling 100,000 each.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


Now, since I'm quite tired, I may have possibly missed your point entirely, in which case I am sorry for wasting you time with blather. But if indeed I did address the very subject you were introducing, then I hope my own perspective on the situation proves as useful food for though. At this point it's really too early to say for sure how successful self-promotion in entertainment is going to be, but in the long run, I believe it is a positive thing, frankly. The music makes the music, not the production or company name behind it. That will always be true, and as long as people truly use their ears, they'll be able to tell the difference between the two-- record contract attached, or not.


Ears, and finding enough of them, make the music.
Even within the realms of self-released, self-promoted, self-funded, independent and unsigned there is a a hierarchy - from established bands and once-signed bands who have "gone it alone" for whatever reason through single-band-only independent labels who perhaps could be signed, across to the out-of-fashion underground bands who can only self-release all the way down to the haven't a hope in hell of every being signed dreamers and bedroom studio musicians who just want to share their music with anybody who will listen. And it is the lower two or three echelons I am addressing here.
 
As I said to Pekka, I'm not criticising these artists for what they do. I am being hyper critical of how they do it and what they produce as a finished product - that they firmly believe that what they have made stands any comparison to a professional product. It is easy(ish) at the moment to carefully select a few choice examples and state that they are typical of the rest, but it is simply not true in what I have listened to since this phenomenon first appeared.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 31 2010 at 11:31

Originally posted by Epignosis Epignosis wrote:

I am in my cups tonight, so I'll keep this short.

Nursery Cryme.

An album regarded by many as a masterpiece of symphonic rock music (and rightly so) has some of the crappiest production I've ever heard, and it was recorded at Trident studios- a state of the art facility at the time- and yet still sounds awful, comparatively speaking.  This was not the band's first OR second attempt. 

Fast forward to 2002.

Vapor Trails.

Rush is no stranger to the game, and yet, even under the guidance of veteran Paul Northfield, they managed to release an album that clips so awfully many critics slammed it for the production alone.

However:

1. I love them in spite of (maybe even because of?) their production (I gave Nursery Cryme four stars and Vapor Trails five).

2. They were produced with the leading technology at the time and competent people at the helm.

I'm not overly concerned with how poorly a few bands produced their albums in the past within the system when similar bands managed to produce exemplary albums using the same tools and the same resources within the same system. With Genesis it is clear that their aspirations were in excess of what they could technically achieve with their expertise at the time - that they learnt from that and went on to perfect those techniques on later albums is a mater of record, With Rush the situation was slightly different, but in some ways very much the same - they were using technology and recording methods that were new to them at the time and they made mistakes which they have admitted to.

Originally posted by Epignosis Epignosis wrote:


You see, I get bored with the shiny production modern symphonic bands employ, such to the extent that they all sound the same.  The Flower Kings, Simon Says, Transatlantic, Discipline, Spock's Beard, Neal Morse...hell, they're excellent acts, but they all sound the friggin same!  Not to say I don't like them (on the contrary), but the production is so polished it gives my ears the aural equivalent of a toothache.
Give me some grit.  Give me a little static.  Give me some breaths between lines.

Let me know there's real people behind those guitars and mics.

That is an issue with the perfectionist approach enabled by modern production tools in that everything gets the same vanilla flavoured production that results in a homogenised generic sound. Unfortunately it is not just Symphonic that gets this treatment, although the faux-orchestral symphonic "sound" that permeates all subgenres of music (including Alt/Indie pop) is probably the most noticeable. That this technology is available at all levels means that not even on-a-budget self-released albums are immune, although many cannot even achieve that level of polish.

Originally posted by Epignosis Epignosis wrote:


I don't mean be incompetent or lazy or noisy- I just mean play your music and have a good time and just do your best to make it sound decent.  Besides, there's always been people promoting their sh*t even if most people (including their friends and family) think it sucks.  The Internet is simply a faster conduit of the best and the worst of everything, so no reason we should be surprised that music is included in this.  I personally would not have found some amazing bands that I love were it not for their self-promotion on the Net and their "nuts to the man" attitude.  If I find crap I don't like, I don't have to listen to it.  Simple as that.  Same way it was in the old system really.  No one is forcing me to hear anything.

Unfortunately I am forced to hear what people put in my Crossover In-tray to evaluate, which means I do not have the luxury of picking and choosing everything I listen to. What I am not forced to do is to like everything I hear, but I still have to listen to it with a critical ear.
Originally posted by Epignosis Epignosis wrote:


I personally am far more interested in the compositions anyway, and if those are excellent, then the production qualities will likely only endear the music further (which is precisely what has happened for me with the above albums I mentioned).

I am referring to more than just the Technical Production of the record, but to its composition, arrangement, packaging, presentation and marketting - in other words the whole kit and kaboodle and not just the notes on the stave. If we have to accept the limitations of any single album in order to appreciate it then we have lowered the bar too far in my opinion. If artists want to "stick it to the man" and take control of their own work then they should do the work that "the man" did and give us something of equal value. Taking control should not imply releasing any old rubbish, but actually being in control of what they produce from beginning to end. It seems to me that the one thing control freaks have little control over is themselves. While we all know of countless horror stories of "the man" interfering with the compositional stage and cries of Artistic Control are most common justification for going the self-release route, taking a little constructive criticism before an album is released can be beneficial and actually help the artist get the best out of what they produce and may even improve on the composition. Because at the end of the day that is what we do when we review the final product - we assess the whole thing - the composition, the lyric, the arrangement, the production and the performance - if we don't like a particular section or part of the tune we say so, if many of us agree then perhaps it would have been better if someone had pointed that out to the artist before we got our hands on it.
Originally posted by Epignosis Epignosis wrote:


Besides, if you don't start somewhere, you have pretty much no chance of getting a record deal anyway.  So who cares?

As a wise man once said, "Get out there and rock- and roll the bones.  Get busy."

Well damn that wasn't brief at all.  Time for another beer.

I care. And it is my contention that the artist should care too.

Self-release is not a starting point, it is a finishing point. If an artist is not interested in a recording contract (as many many of them claim) then self-release is the finished article.
 
When artists start being honest with themselves and with their potential public then it shows that they care enough for me to want to care more. When they stop (self) releasing demos on the pretext that they are on a par with a CD I can buy in any normal retail outlet and actually take real ownership of what they produce; when they record, mix, EQ, master and release albums of an acceptable quality to the best of their ability; when it is combined with artwork that is commensurate with the artistry they are trying to sell; when that "packaging" is designed and fabricated to the same care and standard as the music and not thrown together in 5 minutes using Paintshop Pro by someone who couldn't draw water from a well let alone a half-decent band logo; when they can promote and market themselves in a proactive way without recourse to spamming and pretending that friends, family or band members are "fans" who have just discovered this amazing album; when they can take the time and trouble to use every (free) promotional tool available to them and use those tools to the same professional standard of serious artists; when they can show that level of intent then perhaps I can look at them and cannot tell immediately whether they are signed or not then I'll care even more.
 
None of what I am saying here is difficult to do, it just takes a little more time and care, it perhaps may require asking for a little help, but none of it is beyond the reach of the self-released artist.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JLocke Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 31 2010 at 23:49
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:

You either like the music, or you don't. Being professionally promoted or 'refined' by an external influence has nothing to do with it in my opinion. The best music holds its own no matter what method is used to get it out there in the public eye initially. If we are to assume that the 'lowest-common denominator' is all that can benefit from the modern methods of self-promotion, couldn't that perspective just as easily be spun on its head to appeal to the opposite viewpoint? I personally discover more and more unsigned music all the time I fall in love with, and the only reason many of these guys aren't signed up to a label is because they have chosen not to be.

One of the difficulties already recognised in the 'autonomous' route becoming the norm, was that given the inevitability of the sheer overwhelming volume of releases, how many lifetimes do you think are required to be able to locate and hear the music you might deem to be good ? Imagine sifting through 200 daily spam e-mails from artists who got your details via PA along the lines of: We are a symphonic metal band from Alice Springs and notice that like us, you love this genre too !. Please take a few moments to listen to the samples attached etc blah yakitty ditto

To quote the MySpace blog of the band referred to in the next para, "The downside of all this is the scope of our reach." What they mean in that context is that while they can reach a wide virtual audience, they are limited to a geographically restrict live audience - without a label to bankrole a coast to coast tour they are confined to playing the West Coast. This strapped for cash situation that they find themselves in is limiting the amount of self-promotion they can do, and with that the size of the market they can reach.
 
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


In fact, many well-known artists who once released music this 'old-fashioned' way are now doing it entirely on their own, anyway. Nine Inch Nails is no less successful than the next artist in the similar vein, and they now do it all 'from home', as it were.

Of course, you could argue that in NIN's case, it is different, because they were already established before making the decision to self-promote, but consider this, also: even now, you Dean are preparing to add yet another successful indie band to the archives. I know this because I recently sent you their bio for inclusion. Now, these guys are living very comfortably off of their self-made fame, and did nothing different than what you have described in you initial post.

Dunno who the band is, can't comment.

Firstly the fact that NIИ, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins were/are established bands is the only reason they can be mega-successful following this route. Unfortunately this has inspired is a seemingly unmoveable group-think that this is the future and this will work for each and every band or artist who can record sounds onto a PC. Those three bands have pots full of cash to fund their endevours and they can pretty much guarantee a fixed number of bankable sales with whatever they do that will at last cover their costs. To do this they still employ an army of behind the scenes experts to realise their dreams -  just because they are self-funding independant releases does not mean they are not doing all the things a real label would do.
 
The point I am making is that all those other bands and artists who think they are following the same self-release path as NIИ, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins are not, they are attempting to go from point "A" to point "Z" without all the very necessary intermediate steps.
 
As to Rishloo - having read a little more about them I seriously doubt that they are living very comfortably off their self-made fame, I suspect they are not even making a living off their self made fame, another quote from their blog: "The bands who are left, with or without labels, still have to make money.  One of the ways that they do this is by charging other bands to tour with them (usually to the tune of at least $10,000-$20,000 minimum) by the time you add in travel expenses, the bill gets very steep for four guys, 2 of whom are in school full-time and 2 of whom work jobs that keep them right around the poverty level.  The point I'm trying to make is that it's not as simple as just, "emailing such and such band and telling them they should let us go on tour with them to Kalamazoo or Tanzanianoligergorgiastan."  Whether they like our music or not, they need to keep making money too, and even the biggest ones are businesses, not philanthrotropic charities." ....  Now I don;t know the personal circumstances of the four guys in Rishloo to know whether they were referring to themselves in that quote, or some hyperthetical unsigned band, but it is a fair assumption that they would not have written the words unless they had personal experience of it.
 
It is a sobering reality of the music industry that very very few can afford to make a living solely from the music they sell and the gigs they play - and this includes many signed bands.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


In my opinion, the reason why we haven't seen more independent artists hitting it big is simply because there still aren't enough artists going that route to begin to make a statistical mark when help up against all the past success traditional record labels have built for musicians. I guarantee you that once this tradition becomes more and more common among recoding artists, the amount of successes in this particular approach will begin to slowly but surely outweigh the failures.

Practically everyone I know in Brisbane is in a band and yes, they have a self-produced CD and yes, they do sell some of these and make a meagre living on the local live circuit. Most of these bands have been pursuing a wider audience solely by their own means for several years. Sadly the 'public eye' is attracted to bright shiny loud glittery things shouting 'look over here people !' and a shed-load of corporate marketing dosh don't talk (it swears) As far as the 'big time global impact' thang goes, the market will inevitably shrink, not become accessible to more artists.
I agree with Iain - I think the unsigned, self-released independant artists reach market saturation very quickly and that saturation-point is very small when compared to the markets achieved by the least successful of the signed bands - we are talking orders of magnitudes here - sales of 100s and 1000s compared to sales of 10,000s and 100,000s. The pool is fixed and the maths is the same - 1000 self-released bands selling 1000 albums each, or 100 bands selling 10,000 albums or 10 bands selling 100,000 each.
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

Originally posted by p0mt3 p0mt3 wrote:


Now, since I'm quite tired, I may have possibly missed your point entirely, in which case I am sorry for wasting you time with blather. But if indeed I did address the very subject you were introducing, then I hope my own perspective on the situation proves as useful food for though. At this point it's really too early to say for sure how successful self-promotion in entertainment is going to be, but in the long run, I believe it is a positive thing, frankly. The music makes the music, not the production or company name behind it. That will always be true, and as long as people truly use their ears, they'll be able to tell the difference between the two-- record contract attached, or not.


Ears, and finding enough of them, make the music.
Even within the realms of self-released, self-promoted, self-funded, independent and unsigned there is a a hierarchy - from established bands and once-signed bands who have "gone it alone" for whatever reason through single-band-only independent labels who perhaps could be signed, across to the out-of-fashion underground bands who can only self-release all the way down to the haven't a hope in hell of every being signed dreamers and bedroom studio musicians who just want to share their music with anybody who will listen. And it is the lower two or three echelons I am addressing here.
 
As I said to Pekka, I'm not criticising these artists for what they do. I am being hyper critical of how they do it and what they produce as a finished product - that they firmly believe that what they have made stands any comparison to a professional product. It is easy(ish) at the moment to carefully select a few choice examples and state that they are typical of the rest, but it is simply not true in what I have listened to since this phenomenon first appeared.

I never said Rishloo were filthy rich; I said they could sustain a living off of their music without needed day jobs. As far as I know, that is true. They made a music video that plays on MTV, have an entire European-based fanclub, etc. They ain't hurtin' for the bucks, at least not enough to be living on the street. 

The poinr you brought up about Radiohead and their ilk already being established is something I already touched upon in my initial post. You needn't have brought it up again, since I already made my point that besides that fact.

Your attitude toward 'production', Dean, is something I will never be able to understand, and I'm not sure I want to. I will never base my enjoyment of music on whether or not the musicians recorded in a sleek studio or not. It has no effect whatsoever on my listening experience, and to think that anybody can disregard or think less of an artist simply because they don't have the same resources as the big boys in the biz . . . well, it's insane. 

But in this particular case, Rishloo do pay for studio time and produce their record professionally with the help of others. I'm sure plenty of other indie bands do the same as well, so the poor production argument doesn't always apply, even though I don't think it should to begin with. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 01 2010 at 18:18
Originally posted by JLocke JLocke wrote:


I never said Rishloo were filthy rich; I said they could sustain a living off of their music without needed day jobs. As far as I know, that is true. They made a music video that plays on MTV, have an entire European-based fanclub, etc. They ain't hurtin' for the bucks, at least not enough to be living on the street. 
Confused And no one else said they were filthy rich either Confused
 
You said "Now, these guys are living very comfortably off of their self-made fame". I said "Now I don't know the personal circumstances of the four guys in Rishloo" I think you are guessing, I made no such guess, but doubted they made a living (comfortable or not) - I could make a calculated estimate as to how much they need to sell to make a living, but it would still be a guess since I don't know how many albums they sell in a year. The only way to know is to ask them, assuming they'll want anyone to know the answer.
 
For low-selling artists (<15K units per year) Self-release is the only way to make money because sure as eggs are eggs, they'll never make money as a signed artist with that turnover, but to shift that number they have to produce something that is comparable to a label released album and they have to work their butts off selling them. (which Rishloo certainly have, but more of that later).
Originally posted by JLocke JLocke wrote:

The poinr you brought up about Radiohead and their ilk already being established is something I already touched upon in my initial post. You needn't have brought it up again, since I already made my point that besides that fact.
I was continuing your example to make a completely different point... wasted my time there then Tongue
Originally posted by JLocke JLocke wrote:

Your attitude toward 'production', Dean, is something I will never be able to understand, and I'm not sure I want to. I will never base my enjoyment of music on whether or not the musicians recorded in a sleek studio or not. It has no effect whatsoever on my listening experience, and to think that anybody can disregard or think less of an artist simply because they don't have the same resources as the big boys in the biz . . . well, it's insane. 
I am quite insane of course, so that is beside the point. Wink
 
I do think that you do understand my attitude and simply don't agree with it. It has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the music and it's not just about the music production. I quite enjoy lo-fi production in the right circumstance; I've heard some professional 4-track recordings that are very good and some 32-track ones that are dreadful; I think that done properly the "live-in-the-studio" approach favoured by bands like Neurosis works remarkably well for the right kind of music and conversely breaking each element of a tune down into hundreds of takes and hundreds of tracks works for others; like Rob I grow tired of the homogeneous polish afforded by digital technology that prevails in many of the modern recordings (not just Symphonic and Neo prog, but everywhere), yet other times using that same technology and applying a similar attention to detail (for example by Steven Wilson, David Gilmour or Francis Lickerish) is absolutely perfect. All of these examples can be produced well or they can be done badly, and done badly it does distract from the listening experience.
 
Yet still this does not cover the scope what I am discussing here and misses the point a little.
Originally posted by JLocke JLocke wrote:


But in this particular case, Rishloo do pay for studio time and produce their record professionally with the help of others. I'm sure plenty of other indie bands do the same as well, so the poor production argument doesn't always apply, even though I don't think it should to begin with. 
I'm not against self-releases - I just want them to be done properly and to the best of the abilities of those releasing them because I don't like the alternative and the possible future of music that they represent. Rishloo are a shinning example of a self-released unsigned band doing the job properly. If they ship enough albums each year to keep 4 people off the breadline and without having to take mundane part-time jobs to fund their music then it proves my point to the letter, it dots all the i's, crosses all the t's and places the final exclamation point at the end(!) 
 
As I have tried (and evidently failed Ouch) to emphasise the actual music production is not the overriding factor here, but along with the production of the finshed "product", its cover, presentation, packaging, how it is promoted, the band's website, their MySpace page and how they conduct themselves are all pretty good indicators of the band's own attitude to the music they produce.
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