Things to Know
the first CRUMBS Night Out panel discussionóthe music critic
panelówas a blast. We were still going strong after 75 minutes,
answering a ton of questions. The conversation was more philosophical
than I was expecting, but thatís where it wanted to go.
Next Thursday (Nov. 13), Scientific Maps will perform, followed
by a panel talking about licensing music to TV and movies.
While weíre blessed with a couple local commercial radio stations
and a bunch of college stations that regularly play local
music, for the most part radioís dead and irrelevant in terms
of getting music heard. These days more songs break, and more
money is made, on television shows and commercials and in
movies. Find out how it works from Steve Ellis, president
of online music-placement service Pump Audio, musician and
music publisher Gary Burke, television composer Rich Tozzolli,
music attorney Paul Czech, and yours truly. If youíre a recording
musician you want to be here.
This being Metrolandís Local Music Issue and all, Iím
gonna list some things a local musician ought to be thinking
beyond Albany. Listen, being the king or queen of Lark
Street doesnít mean squat, unless your primary goal is getting
laid. Open your eyes; weíre within three hours from a couple
a dozen markets roughly the size of the Capital District,
and a couple of major markets. Go to them, even if the trips
are money-losers to start.
Donít submit ďdemo versionsĒ of songs hoping to get some kind
of deal. You can circulate demos to fans (in fact, thatís
a really powerful way to keep your fans engaged), but when
you want to really make a move, take the time and make a recording
thatís ready to ship. With decent recording studios on everybodyís
laptop, itís not a money issue anymore.
deals. A record deal doesnít need to be your goal. You
can do it all yourself. You really can. Thereís plenty of
good reasons you might wanna be on a label, but itís not the
only path anymore. And for a lot of you, itís probably not
the best path.
Thereís no such thing as working the Internet too hard. A
major music consultant recently suggested that any serious
band should have one full non-performing member whose job
it is to work the Internet. These days, the number of MySpace
hits matters; the number of fans you can blast matters; you
have the ability to have a one-on-one relationship with your
fans. Have it.
Donít diss other bands on the scene. Thatís small-time
crawfish-in-the-bucket stuff (see Look beyond Albany,
above). If your big ďcompetitionĒ on the scene gets signed
and goes double platinum, guess where the labels are gonna
be sniffing for their next big thing?
One of the really exciting trends Iím seeing is local
music collectives, groups of artists that pool resources and
expertise and act as DIY labels and event producers (see page
18 for an example). Create your own scene, share expertise
in graphics and production, share equipment and music talent,
cross-pollinate fans. One of you breaks, everybodyís connected.
Who knows? Your cheap-wine apartment-based music collective
could be tomorrowís major indie label.
works. Understand that payment for music is more or less
voluntary these days, so donít be stingy about giving your
tracks away from time to time. Would you rather have 1000
free copies of your song on peoplesí iPods, or 10 copies people
paid you 99 cents for? Which alternative is more valuable
to you in the long run?
your fans. Involve them, engage them, feed them information,
make them part of your world. Thereís a theory floating around
that if your band has 1000 real fans per band member, you
can make a comfortable living. And Iím sure you can squeak
by with a lot less than that.
about the biz. These days, being the aloof artiste,
man, just doesnít cut it. You have to understand how the business
works, where the money comes from, how royalties work. Read
a book like Don Passmanís All You Need to Know About the
Music Business. Once you understand how this stuff works,
you can pretend to be the aloof artiste, man, with
confidence, ítil the cows come home. Knock yourself out.