crass question

Talk about the band, the records, the shows.

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NatureBoy
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Post by NatureBoy »

omphale wrote:hm. so, i know a bunch of people who actually freelance as writers of jingles for various and assorted car/beer/crappy chain restaurant ads, and they are really musicians, who are really talented and really need the money.


Like David Silver did in the later seasons of 90210...

Does anyone else think Brian Austin Green watches Justin Timberlake's career unfold and says to himself, "Wait a second, what did I do wrong?"
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anthropomorphizing_kitty
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Post by anthropomorphizing_kitty »

I think most people who oppose bands "selling out" their music to commercials are people like me who are struggling musicians without two cents to rub together. I used to feel like those people too, and then I thought...wait a minute, what if I came up with a song today, and tomorrow some ad exec asked me if I would sell it to his company for a bazillion dollars...of course I would take the money and run. We don't want bands to sell their songs to commercials because we want to relate to them as bands that are just making enough to get along selling records out of their vans so that we can identify with them and see them at little hole-in-the-wall venues. But almost any musician would take the cash if offered. After all, if it were ONLY about the music then people would just be playing in their garages and not doing live shows at all. These people are trying to make some money doing something they love and if they can, I say more power to them. I can totally see TLW in a Volkswagen commercial by the way. They've already used such awesome unknowns as Orb and Polyphonic Spree.
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Post by CarstenWohlfeld »

hope i don't kill this very interesting discussing by returning to the original question. just to give you an idea - the shins first album initially sold 75 000 copies according to someone at sub pop who should know. this was before the second one came out though and i'm sure that a) they've sold some extras of the first on the strength of the second and b) that the second sold more than the first (or will as soon as they've conquered the ROW by summer).

you can sell a lot of, um, "units" in unconventional ways, too. the posies sold about 10 000 copies of their first tape "failure", even before it was released on vinyl and CD and mary lou sold about 60 000 copies of her first kill rock stars mini album, most of them ON THE STREET while busking.
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John
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Post by John »

I've learned a lot about this stuff in the last few months. In terms of sales in the indie world there is a magical place, well shy of 35 thousand, where most of your favorite indie records top out. Between 16 thousand and 22 thousand. The Shins and Built to Spills and Modest Mice and DCFC's are in a much higher sales bracket than the Decemberists and Pernice Bros. and Long Winters. Even bands that you would think were big sellers, like Spoon or Dismemberment Plan, you'd be surprised to learn how few records were actually sold. In the Major label world, 20 thousand records is considered a major flop, (see: King James Version), but in the indie world it's pretty triumphant.

It's great that Sub Pop is doing so well now. I was quoted a bunch of times last year talking trash about them, which I always meant in the best of good humor, but now I feel a little bad about it. The Western State Hurricanes didn't sign to Sub Pop because we were a stupid band full of stupid people. That label is doing good things in rock, I think.

When I Pretend to Fall is still selling pretty well, and everyone at Barsuk is trying to dream up ways to keep promoting the record for the rest of the year. There are plenty of people who haven't been turned on to it yet and we're hoping to get the word out even more this spring with all the touring we're doing. Down in Austin this year I heard a lot of nice things from people about the Long Winters, and even though we've been in the studio working on some new stuff I'm still so excited about the last album that I want to keep touring it for another year.

That's the funny thing. People who have owned Pretend to Fall for ten months are ready to hear a new record from the Long Winters NOW, but there are still new people discovering the record for the first time, and in an indie world where we don't have the resources to expose everyone to the record as soon as it comes out with a huge media campain we need to take a more methodical approach so that word-of-mouth can really work its magic. The Shins toured to support their first record for over two years beofre releasing another one, whereas we released our second record before many people had even heard of the first.

There's so much strategizing that goes into all this, and I'm adopting the attitude that it's all a fun game. Indie bands that I know are all competitive with each other in a pretty low-key, fun way. There's some jostling, and a little back-stabbing, but mostly it's very supportive from label to label and band to band. I know Sub Pop helps Barsuk a lot, and Barsuk and Saddle Creek are friends, etc. It's a pretty great life, really.
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anthropomorphizing_kitty
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Post by anthropomorphizing_kitty »

So if I can continue the crass question with another...how does 16 to 22,000 sales translate into $$$ over to you? Not that I want a copy of your W2 or anything, but are you making a living doing this that's healthy? How does it compare for an indie band to what they'd be making if they finally made manager at McDonald's? And actually, speaking of W2s...how do indie bands report their taxes? If they report their taxes...
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John
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Post by John »

I'm sure that if you were able to sell 20 thousand CD's from the trunk of your car you'd be able to make a pretty penny, but all the aformentioned expenses of promotion and distribution add up and take a huge bite out of the income. Not to mention the expenses that go into recording the record in the first place. For a lot of us, the only real money we can lay our hands on is the day to day stuff we pick up on tour, and usually that just goes right back into the tour. So it's the classic small business dance. You think that when you just reach a certain level of income that you'll have it made, but by the time you get there you have new, unforseen expenses that set the bar higher and higher. This year we hope to move into the black, but I hoped that last year.

That whole tax question is something I'm learning about now, so we'll have to revist this thread in another couple of months.
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ds_in_sf
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Post by ds_in_sf »

John wrote:...even though we've been in the studio working on some new stuff I'm still so excited about the last album that I want to keep touring it for another year.

That's the funny thing. People who have owned Pretend to Fall for ten months are ready to hear a new record from the Long Winters NOW, but there are still new people discovering the record for the first time...


While I cannot deny that I would love to hear some new stuff, I have to admit that I have listened to Pretend to Fall (and Worst You Can Do is Harm, for that matter) nearly incessantly since its release and have yet to tire of any of it.

And as far as touring, yes, please. The more the better, especially San Francisco. In fact, if you could arrange to play down in SF once a week or so, I'd be very appreciative.
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Post by junkyardtodd »

i will admit to wishing that John had the 'whatever it is' that bob pollard has, to release an album a year, but then again, it's been a while since GBV released a whole record as good as WIPTF...

maybe they could release an EP of the trio version, doing some of the more rockin' new material, huh? i'd buy it, and a t shirt too!
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Post by CarstenWohlfeld »

i for one *love* eps, but i think unfortunately there's a rather limited market for these things. in fact, in most cases you'd be better off to give away the money it costs to manufacture to some charity organisation.
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Midori
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Post by Midori »

John wrote:When I Pretend to Fall is still selling pretty well, and everyone at Barsuk is trying to dream up ways to keep promoting the record for the rest of the year.


I just became a DJ at the UM radio station a few weeks ago, and for my part, from 4-7am on Wednesday mornings, I say lots of good things about you. I play 2 songs from WIPTF every time. The up-before-dawn crowd seems to dig it....

If any of you are up then and are anywhere near the Coral Gables area, check out 90.5 fm at about 4am. I'm rocking it as hard as I possibly can.
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esatnik
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Post by esatnik »

My essay is entitled Indie Rock Makes me vomit...

I have given up my delusions...there is no such thing as indie rock. Eventually the bands have to mass produce garbage (see Chutes Too Narrow, GNFPWLBN)...The music industry is about selling...so sign the fuckking deals...polish the records to a gonad's shine...play stadiums and open for Don Henley...and definitely put songs in commercials (they are usually better than music videos anyway)....

The "classic" indie chord progression D F C G is totally played out anyway...There was a time in this city when the music was great and the scene was exciting...now the records all suck and there are no good shows...the scene is dead. Bury it.

John is a great musician who makes great records and puts on amazing live shows...but I will always prefer WSH...
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Post by Unremarkable »

esatnik wrote:My essay is entitled Indie Rock Makes me vomit...

I have given up my delusions...there is no such thing as indie rock. Eventually the bands have to mass produce garbage (see Chutes Too Narrow, GNFPWLBN)...The music industry is about selling...so sign the fuckking deals...polish the records to a gonad's shine...play stadiums and open for Don Henley...and definitely put songs in commercials (they are usually better than music videos anyway)....

The "classic" indie chord progression D F C G is totally played out anyway...There was a time in this city when the music was great and the scene was exciting...now the records all suck and there are no good shows...the scene is dead. Bury it.

John is a great musician who makes great records and puts on amazing live shows...but I will always prefer WSH...


Jeez Eric, sounds like you're a little burned out...
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esatnik
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Post by esatnik »

burned out....and very, very bitter.

unfortunately I am also right.
junkyardtodd
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Post by junkyardtodd »

D-F-C-G, huh? i'm a gonna go write me a bunch indie rock songs!
Chute's too narrow? that isn't even indie rock! the don't use the good old D-F-G-C progression even once. i used to like that record, but now i'm going to get rid of it cuz it ain't cool enough no more!

Esatnik, sometimes i find it helps to take a break from the indie stuff, and fire up classic rock radio for a week or too. 'round about the 37'th time you hear "another brick in the wall" you'll forget all about the western states hurricanes!

huh? is there a point here? there was supposed to be, but i can't remember what it was...
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LoveSickJerk
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Post by LoveSickJerk »

esatnik wrote:burned out....and very, very bitter.

unfortunately I am also right.


You know, that is unfortunate.
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Post by Liesbeth »

esatnik wrote:There was a time in this city when the music was great and the scene was exciting...now the records all suck and there are no good shows...the scene is dead. Bury it.

if you think you're right, there's no arguing, is there?

but the world is so huge and has so much music in it, some good some bad
I'd say move on if you don't like what you're hearing now...
Last edited by Liesbeth on Sun Mar 28, 2004 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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esatnik
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Post by esatnik »

junkyardtodd wrote:D-F-C-G, huh? i'm a gonna go write me a bunch indie rock songs!


use that pattern in any key and you will crank out hits....
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esatnik
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Post by esatnik »

[quote="Liesbeth"]if you think you're right, there's no arguing, is there?[/quote ]

Convictions are annoying little suckers, eh?

You are all very clever....I would never debate you.
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heather
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Post by heather »

Unremarkable wrote: My essay is entitled Indie Rock Makes me vomit...

I have given up my delusions...there is no such thing as indie rock. Eventually the bands have to mass produce garbage (see Chutes Too Narrow, GNFPWLBN)...The music industry is about selling...so sign the fuckking deals...polish the records to a gonad's shine...play stadiums and open for Don Henley...and definitely put songs in commercials (they are usually better than music videos anyway)....

The "classic" indie chord progression D F C G is totally played out anyway...There was a time in this city when the music was great and the scene was exciting...now the records all suck and there are no good shows...the scene is dead. Bury it.

John is a great musician who makes great records and puts on amazing live shows...but I will always prefer WSH...


GNFPWLBN??

YOU'RE STILL INDIE ROCK! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
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John
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Post by John »

If the songs I'm working on now are any indication, the only car commercial that will want to license our music will be the new Volkswagen Killyourself.
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