True Love Waits

Radiohead – True Love Waits

’nuff said.

I’ll drown my beliefs
To have your babies
I’ll dress like your niece
And wash your swollen feet

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

I’m not living
I’m just killing time
Your tiny hands
Your crazy kitten smile

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

And true love waits
In haunted attics
And true love lives
On lollipops and crisps

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave

Just don’t leave
Don’t leave


I love the concept of woodshedding, a term mostly used in jazz circles to describe isolating yourself and practicing your chops. Because there are only so many hours in a day, I tend to fluctuate between playing a lot and playing none at all, and when I’m not playing, attending to the other aspects of music production or life.

The past several days I’ve been getting back to the basics – not woodshedding in the real sense of the word, but just rediscovering my love for and the joy of great music. It’s a serious cure, and lately I’ve been taking it all in…

Sunday night I saw an incredible performance of Steve Reich‘s Music for 18 Musicians at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, put on by Wordless Music

Yesterday I found a copy online of the Dave Matthews Band’s first studio recordings from 1992, which blow me away for several reasons: at times they sound like total shit, which is reassuring. But Dave’s songwriting abilities were mature from the beginning – these early versions show that some of his best songs were forged in the group’s most amateur moments.

Sell Music Directly from Your Website

Thanks to constant tech innovations, there are now a million ways for the independent artist to distribute music digitally. We’ve looked at services like Tunecore and CDBaby that will get your music to many of the major players in digital music sales. And now there are a bunch of ways for the artist to sell music directly from their websites, and enables fans to do the same, with little to no start-up costs. Awesome.

There’s a good introductory article on this topic by David Rose at Know The Music Biz’s Blog. He did a quick survey of his top 10 bands and found that many of them still don’t allow fans to buy mp3’s directly from their websites, myspace profiles, etc. His point being that this just makes it one step harder for people to become your fans. Sure they can go to iTunes, but you might lose some potential listeners that don’t want to bother loading iTunes, etc.

David points to a few services that will allow artists to set up their own webstores for mp3 downloads. These are: Musicane, Hooka, Easybe, and Nimbit.

I’ve checked these out and listed below are some initial thoughts on each one, based on my own requirements as a musician with very limited resources and not a huge fanbase. Most artists aren’t really going to sell that many downloads, no matter how good the music is. So getting free technology is key to making direct music sales worthwhile.

Continue reading “Sell Music Directly from Your Website”

Interview with NYC Musicians Meetup Organizer, Part II

Yesterday we began running our interview with Phil Robinson, organizer of the NY Musicians Group meetup.

Here are more of Phil’s insightful comments on marketing music and participating in the NYC music scene…

How long have you been a musician in NYC?

I’ve been a musician in NYC since I moved here five years ago.  However, I spent the first year and a half practicing and writing, so I’ve only really been publicly active for the past 3.5 years.

What music projects are you personally involved in?

I write and perform my own music, both solo and with my rock band, The Bliss Jockeys.  In addition, I’m also an ongoing guitarist for the Jessica Lee Band.  All of these activities are well-represented on my web-site.

Apart from my own direct projects, I run the indie record label, Roomful of Sky Records, and in that capacity, I produce and/or help promote the recordings and shows of our ten artists.

Has the Meetup had a significant impact, professionally and/or personally, on your singer/songwriter career?

Yes.  The Meetup group has enabled a great and supportive community of musicians to come together and stay strong for the past couple of years.  Personally, I’ve formed many mutually beneficial relationships with other musicians which have given me the opportunity to ‘grow by doing’—eg. when you feel safe enough to try things out in front of other people, so that even if you fail miserably, it’s understood as the kind of healthy experimentation that’s part of progress—by having an environment like that, I’ve been able to both expand my skills as well as increase my confidence, all the while very much enjoying the process and forming quality friendships.

The networking aspect of the group has been tremendously beneficial as well—I’ve found all sorts of collaborators, as well as built relationships with venues, rehearsal spaces and studios which have resulted in me having more power to call my own shots as places are more willing to work with you when you have the strength of numbers behind you.

To what extent has the Meetup improved your skills as a musician and songwriter?

First and foremost, I feel that playing regularly with (and for) others has really desensitized me to most of the nervousness that can often be associated with performing or with presenting my ideas to others.  That in itself has enabled me to feel more comfortable to just GO FOR IT whenever I play/sing/write.

It’s like anything else, you take baby steps and take a little risk and it turns out to be OK, and so next time you take a little bit bigger of a risk and, again, it turns out to be OK, so just by participating in an ongoing process of playing over time, you wind up having the opportunity to keep pushing your own envelope.

Playing regularly with others has also helped me to get my mindset ‘off the page’ or ‘out of the head’ and or whatever you want to call it.  What I mean is, when you sit in your room by yourself, you are playing music and it’s a one-way communication.  When you play with other musicians, however, they are creating music simultaneously so it becomes a two-way street; while playing you are also LISTENING– there’s something going on larger than just you, which is the collective creation of everyone in the room.  So, becoming more sensitive to that and becoming more able to allow the simultaneous listening inform what I myself am playing.  That’s the very essence of musicianship, and you only develop that ability by participating in music making with others, and the Meetup has given me a tremendous opportunity to create and participate in many of those kinds of situations on an ongoing basis.
Continue reading “Interview with NYC Musicians Meetup Organizer, Part II”

Lose the Starving Artist Mentality

I emerged from adolescence with this strange notion that the creation of art is somehow opposed to the principles of capitalism, and that the hallmark of a true artist was his capacity to embrace and suffer the injustices of poverty. This is stupid. In my mind, it suggests that artists should feel embarrassed or ashamed for wanting to make a living from their talents. Society asks them to sacrifice their wellbeing so it can consume the results of their struggle. And an essential part of the archetype is that this suffering somehow engenders better artistic results.

Suffering: Is it Good for Your Music?
Taken to an extreme, perhaps this is true. If Thom Yorke didn’t feel so alienated from society, we’d never have been given OK Computer. And if you had millions of dollars, a handful of butlers and your own private island, perhaps you’d become complacent and would stop looking for new sounds and song ideas. But generally, making good music is hard work, and typically, hard work is productive work when you aren’t starving and can afford clean clothes and a shower. And don’t return home exhausted every evening after your full-time “real” job, at which point you expect creative inspiration to strike. And in Thom Yorke’s case, it’s clear that his alienation is not a function of finances, otherwise his alienation vs. riches graph wouldn’t look like this:

Alienation and Riches graph

On the other hand, maybe the starving artist archetype emerged because the majority of artists will, by definition, always be mediocre, and who wants to give money to someone that sucks? Well, lots of people, in reality.

Get Paid, You Deserve It
Whatever your case is, I’m just saying that if people like your music, you should be paid for it. Which puts me in an awkward position, given that I have gifted myself music from time to time, via peer-to-peer networks.

I foresee contradicting myself over and over as we proceed. Sometimes I’m impressed by how illogical the sum of my convictions is…

These things make for good debate, though…