inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #0 of 169: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 26 Mar 12 16:47
    
An open discussion of making (and acquiring) music in the 21st century
among WELL musicians David Gans, Rik Elswit, Adam Powell, Eric
Rawlins, and friends.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #1 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Mon 26 Mar 12 17:07
    

Here's an article in The New Yorker that might be a good place to begin this
discussion:

<http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/26/120326fa_fact_seabrook>
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #2 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Mon 26 Mar 12 17:26
    

I'm David Gans, a working musician and radio producer.  I may be one ofthe
happiest people in either of those industries, because aside from a year of
corporate syndication more than 20 years ago I have been independent for my
entire career.  I produce and distribute The Grateful Dead Hour
<http://www.gdhour.com> and host a two-hour show on KPFA in Berkeley
<http://dttw.gdhour.com> called Dead to the World, Wednesdays at 8pm. I also
host a call-in show on SiriusXM's Grateful Dead Channel.  I tour nationally
as a "solo eiectric" performer, doing music festivals, club gigs, and house
concerts.  Here at home (and on the road soon, I hope), I also play with an
acoustic quartet, The Sycamore Slough String Band <http://s3b.us>.  I am
delighted with the variety of gigs available to me, and I make the most of my
opportunities, both creatively and commercially.  An increasing share of my
income comes from my performances.

I have released three sets of recordings in the last couple of months, all of
them in the online marketplace (with a CD-on-demand option).  There isn't
much money to be made from recordings these days, but they do serve a
function - and that is one of the things I'd like to talk about here.

My three recent releases:

Sycamore Slough String Band, "First Rehearsals":
<http://flink.livedownloads.com/show.asp?show=7293>

David Gans and Eric Rawlins, "Desert Wind, Rollin' River":
<http://flink.livedownloads.com/show.asp?show=7136>

David Gans 3/26/11 Rollinsville CO:
<http://flink.livedownloads.com/show.asp?show=6977>

"Desert Wind, Rollin' River" is also available in 96/24 from HDTracks:
<https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php?file=catalogdetail&valbum_code=HD0639444120
94>
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #3 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Mon 26 Mar 12 17:27
    

P.S.  I have appeared twice before in the Inkwell:

<inkwell.vue.107>     David Gans - Solo Acoustic
<inkwell.vue.275>     The Life and Times of David Gans
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #4 of 169: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Mon 26 Mar 12 20:14
    
I'm Eric Rawlins. I've been an amateur musician most of my life. I've
performed off and on with David for the last 15-20 years, and we've
recorded 2 CDs together. 
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #5 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Mar 12 08:58
    

More grist for the discussion:

How ASCAP Takes Money From Successful Indie Artists And Gives It To Giant
Rock Stars

<http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120323/18055718229/how-ascap-takes-money-
successful-indie-artists-gives-it-to-giant-rock-stars.shtml>

<http://tinyurl.com/blb43ea>

The short version of the story is basically that, to make its own life
easier, ASCAP just pays those performance royalties to the top 200 grossing
tours in the US, and every other touring musician is more or less screwed --
unless you can convince ASCAP that you play "serious music."


Zoe Keating's blog post is cited in the above.  Here's a link to her post:
<http://zoekeating.tumblr.com/post/19796519069/another-post-where-i-attempt-
to-understand-the>
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #6 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Mar 12 10:17
    

Carole King tells how she broke into the songwriting biz in 1957.  THings
sure are different today!

<http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/carole-king-2012-3/>
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #7 of 169: Scott Underwood (esau) Tue 27 Mar 12 13:46
    
Hi, I'm Scott Underwood. I play bass and guitar with a few different
people for love and small amounts of money -- why, last weekend I made
$100 and a couple bottles of red for playing at a winery!

Like many here, I listen to a wide variety of music, and I'm old
enough to have bought music on vinyl (33 RPM LPs and 45 RPM singles),
eight-track and cassette tapes, and now digital files of varying
quality. I have a Victrola and a few dozen 78s, and accounts on Pandora
and Last.fm. (My son is trying to get me on Spotify, but I'm
resisting.)

Finally, I enjoy reading about music. In the last couple of years,
I've read four books by two authors that I highly recommend for helping
understand the music we listen to ever more deeply: 

"Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues"
and "How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of
American Popular Music," both by Elijah Wald
<http://www.elijahwald.com/>. Both of these books overturned some
received wisdom I've been carrying around about the origins of popular
music; essentially, how did we get here from there?

"This Is Your Brain on Music" and "The World in Six Songs," both by
Daniel Levitin <http://daniellevitin.com/>, a
musician/engineer/producer turned neuroscientist who summarizes the
emergent research into how we perceive music and why it is such a
central part of human history. 
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #8 of 169: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 27 Mar 12 15:22
    
I'm Rik Elswit.  Addicted to music from age 9, when the uncle who raised 
me built a Heathkit stereo and bought a stack of jazz and classical LPs 
with which to show it off.  He was also the one who was watching the 
Dorsey show on TV when Elvis Presley made his video debut, and yelled, 
"Ricky, come down here!  You HAVE to see this."

So my progression of musical interests began with Count Basie, Louis 
Armstrong, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach.  I was blown out of the water by 
Presley, charmed by the Kingston Trio, which led me to the Weavers and 
Pete Seeger, who taught me the joys of home-made music, and led me to take 
up guitar.  Then the Beatles came along, and I immediately plugged in.
 
Spent just enough time in college to learn how to play well enough to get 
paid for it, worked the bars and clubs in LA and San Francisco, and wound 
up on the ground floor of Dr. Hook and the Medicine show.  15 years, and 7 
gold singles later, when we folded up the band, we found that, not only 
were we broke, but we owed the management money.  My career as a 
second-tier rock star wound up as a cautionary tale.

I sell guitars, I teach people how to play them, and have rediscovered how 
to make music for the fun of it.  Currently, I'm lead guitar with Gayle 
Lynn and the Hired Hands, a six-piece band working the Americana scene in 
Northern California.  And I get together fairly regularly to play with 
Eric, David, and Scott, for the sheer joy of it.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #9 of 169: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 27 Mar 12 16:30
    
Let me add that I found the New Yorker article that David pointered well 
worth your time, and a great way to get into this discussion.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #10 of 169: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Wed 28 Mar 12 10:37
    
My musical interests have been swinging back and forth, on about a
20-year pendulum, between classical and pop all my life. I started at
about 5 when I discovered my parents' collection of 78s: "Sheherezade"
(that one took about 10 discs, which I would put on in random order)
and lots of singles by the likes of Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday and
Satch. Then classical piano lessons at 11; then switched to guitar in
high school when the Great Folk Scare came in; which led in a natural
way to bluegrass, and pop via the Beach Boys and the Righteous
Brothers. Then back to piano after college. Then back to guitar when my
marriage broke up and I didn't have the emotional energy to play a
classical instrument. Finally, a year or two ago, back to piano. I like
to think of each of these shifts as an enrichment and gain, not as a
trading one for another. I still play all those styles (well, maybe not
the Kingston Trio) at times.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #11 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Wed 28 Mar 12 11:09
    

> 10 discs, which I would put on in random order

John Cage would approve!
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #12 of 169: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Wed 28 Mar 12 14:12
    
Hi, I'm Adam Powell. I've been playing music since I was a toddler. Formally
trained in piano, I became more and more interested in percussion, string
instruments, and finally the recording studio as a kind of musical
instrument. I bought a Tascam 4-Track with paper route money and never
looked back.

I played in countless bands and at one point tried to figure out how many
records I've played on -- it turned out to be about 50, and that was many
years ago.

Predictably, none of the bands ever blew up big, but I never lost the taste
for composing and recording.

When the Web hit, I began writing articles for HotWired, where I worked, on
how to post snippets of audio using RealAudio 1.0, Shockwave, and eventually
mp3s. In this fashion I became a frequent panelist at SXSW and a known
industry pundit, specializing in the intersection between audio and the Web.

In 2000, I co-founded Angry Coffee LLC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angry_Coffee
----
Angry Coffee, led by Adam Vincent Powell, Todd Tate and CTO Jeff Burchell,
deployed the first publicly available web interface to P2P networks when
they launched Percolator in June of 2000. When Napster denied Angry Coffee
users access to their database, the story appeared on the front page of The
Wall Street Journal.[1]

On June 27, 2000 Angry Coffee made this statement: "Napster has shut us out
of their network. We think it's lame that a company that built its business
through unauthorized distribution would consider Percolator to be an
unauthorized use of their resources, but they're entitled to their opinion."
Soon after this event Angry Coffee went on to assist EMI and Capitol Records
with the marketing and promotion of internationally famed band Radiohead,
with the release of Kid A in 2000.
----

Today I continue to release at least one full-length album each year, mostly
because I enjoy it. I put out =Hatchet for a Heart & Wild Panther Blood= on
February 29 2012, and I'm busy working on a new project centering around a
single 55-minute song.

I'm looking forward to the conversation!
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #13 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Wed 28 Mar 12 14:26
    

> Tascam 4-Track

Oh man, I remember when the Portastudio came out in the early '80s.  It was a
dream for guys like me.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #14 of 169: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Wed 28 Mar 12 14:49
    
Amazing, isn't it?  I've got more recording firepower in the laptop I'm 
typing on than the entire studio we were using at CBS recorders in the 70s 
to make our 2nd and 3rd albums.   And CBS was charging us the equivalent 
of $850 an hour, in today's dollars.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #15 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Wed 28 Mar 12 15:13
    

Yes, the label was charging the band.  That's one thing about the present-day
recording world that I prefer: I may have to pay for my own recording, but I
also get to keep every single dollar there is to be realized from my CD
sales.  At least in the ones I sell at gigs, which is probably more than 80%
of what I sell.

The music industry set it up so they advanced the costs of recording and then
recoupled all of that - and marketing costs, and all sorts of other stuff -
FROM THE ARTIST'S SHARE of sales.

Nowadays a label expects you to deliver a finished master and the will
distribute it and market it for you.  Except there aren't many retail outlets
any more, and nobody buys music anyway.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #16 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Wed 28 Mar 12 16:21
    
Recouped, not recoupled.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #17 of 169: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Thu 29 Mar 12 06:56
    
Yes, it was the Portastudio! A dream indeed. It was using low-fi
cassettes, but I learned how multi-tracking, busses, and collapsing
tracks worked. A very useful device. I think I paid about $500 for it,
which seemed like a fortune to me.

As far as the labels charging recording fees back to the artist,
there's a great story where the Beastie Boys, smart kids but unschooled
in the deviousness of the record industry, start to realize while
making PAUL'S BOUTIQUE that they are paying $700 an hour to play
ping-pong, and maybe moving that ping-pong table into the studio wasn't
such a hot idea after all.

The labels weren't exactly forthright with that information, as I
understand it.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #18 of 169: David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 29 Mar 12 09:05
    
This sure is a big topic and can go in many different directions. 
Since you kicked off the discussion by suggesting John Seabrook's New
Yorker article, I'd like to ask about music and technology.  Most of us
first come to music through the aural side of things.  We hear the
music, get entranced by some of it, and then want to make some of it
ourselves.

Seabrook shows us how much pop music production today is like the
assembly line in factories.  Carol King was sitting in the Brill
Building roughly doing the same thing in the late 50s and early 60s. 
She had more "toys" than George and Ira Gershwin had, and the top line
producers have even more "toys" than she did.

So, could you talk about the interface of artistic work and commercial
product and how it has shaped how we think about music? 
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #19 of 169: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Thu 29 Mar 12 10:10
    
For me, the key moment of that piece is technological. The team is cutting
up all the elements and re-assembling them using a digital audio waveform
editor, while the state-of-the-art mixing board gathers dust.

What this means from a composition standpoint is that top 40 pop songs 
today are not written in the conventional sense (there are exceptions in 
country and hip-hop if you consider that pop).

Instead, you mess around with a beat or a groove, get the singer to spew a 
bunch of ideas, and then pick the stuff that works and loop it. This is a 
very efficient approach.

But it's far from sitting down at a piano with pen and paper, which is 
much more challenging and produces (I think) more rewarding music.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #20 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Thu 29 Mar 12 10:28
    

I exist in an entirely different universe.  I am a skilled digital audio
editor ( see <http://www.dgans.com/mutilaudio/> ), but that to me is a
separate world from my composing and performance.

I record in a studio with live musicians.  The engineer I work with is great
with Pro Tools, and we have worked all sorts of magic to fix things, but it
is fundamentally an ensemble performance without much overdubbing.

<rocket>, why don't you post a link to your recent release?  It's a whole
nother animal from what I do.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #21 of 169: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Thu 29 Mar 12 10:37
    
But remember that Goffin and King weren't trying to create art.  They were 
making a living coming up with earworm hooks with the best technology 
available at the moment.  A piano and manuscript paper.  

I think that it was Bob Dylan who changed the way we saw pop music by 
making it self-consciously artistic.  The Beatles bought into that and 
added mastery of the recording process to the mix.   And slowly, the rest 
of the music world began to see the pop of the day pop as something more 
valuable, rather than something as disposable as a chewing gum wrapper.

It was in the late 60s-earl 70s that the singer-songwriter moved into the 
top 40 in force, and it was James Taylor who resurrected Carole King's 
career by getting her a ticket on the singer-songwriter train.   "Will You 
Still Love Me Tomorrow" is an entirely different thing sung as a ballad 
over solo piano.

As I was saying to David in email earlier, I think we're seeing the end of 
the singer songwriter era in top 40, Lady Gaga notwithstanding.  It's back 
to the Brill Building with the various aspects of songwriting and record 
production being parcelled out to specialists.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #22 of 169: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Thu 29 Mar 12 10:38
    
David slipped in while I was writing that.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #23 of 169: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Thu 29 Mar 12 10:47
    
Sure, thanks David.

Hatchet for a Heart & Wild Panther Blood
http://www.well.com/~rocket/hatchet/

This is a minor effort, but there are some interesting things here
that relate to our topic.

"Sauce!" is made of loops. Some are record fragments, some are synths,
some are drums. At some level I played or programmed or manipulated
all the pieces.

"Hey Julia" is a more conventional song. I wrote it on a guitar and
multi-tracked everything over an original, live performance of
vocals/acoustic guitar.

"Voltage Control Oscillations" was made entirely inside an iPad and
never touched anything analog. 

On the preceding record, "A Story of Decipherment," I managed a
30-minute song suite that was to my ears a more impressive work than
anything on the new record (that happens, and it's OK. Just keep
working.)

Check into "Tokyo/Oslo/Paris/Teenage Dream/Silverlake" for a kind of
summary of my home studio's possibilities. Turntables, sampler,
waveform editors -- yes. But also a real acoustic piano, guitars, and
Fender P-Bass. I like putting those worlds together.
http://www.well.com/~rocket/
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #24 of 169: David Gans (tnf) Thu 29 Mar 12 11:39
    
See, I would need a whole nother lifetime to get up to speed on all these
tools.
  
inkwell.vue.438 : Making (and discovering) Music in the 21st Century
permalink #25 of 169: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Thu 29 Mar 12 11:49
    
And I would need another lifetime to match your guitar + guitar tech skills
-- beyond the playing, you are also looping and overdubbing in real time.

Let's talk about distribution. How are folks getting their music to the
masses these days?
  

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