#077: Roundtable – Controversy Abounds

The Bolt!Apple and Lala sitting in a tree,  K-I-S-S-I-N-G!  What does the music giant have up it’s sleeve?  Statistics show that Twitter use wanes.  Spotify payouts come under fire from some high profile artists.  The Podcasters discuss their own musical projects and recap last weeks interview with Corey Smith.  Plus a slew of exciting calls addressing the usefulness of Twitter, Bolton’s on-air name (The Bolt!?) and an unbelievable listener success story that you have got to hear!




  • Oddly enough, my most successful sales “technique” is to offer all albums for a “Pay What You Want (even nothing)” price.

    I would transmit this message across Social Media channels and to my email list:

    Atmos Trio 3-Day Holiday Music Special: Pay What Yo Want (even nothing) Digital downloads & sheet music. http://bit.ly/3Uefou

    Plenty free downloads occurred (fine by me) but about 50% elected to purchase.

    This proved so successful, that I felt as though I had deployed some kind of ‘trick.’

  • Musicians are wasting too much time and energy tying themselves into knots over social networking. In the end, it’s just another way to reach people.

    What makes it worse is the steady drumbeat coming from the overwrought press, well-meaning “music business” blogs and social media hucksters looking to sell you a “secret” in a $29.99 e-book, that if we artists aren’t constantly blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, YouTubing, etc. then we’re not “serious” and are missing out on massive opportunities.

    The thing is, while you’re doing cartwheels and handstands on Twitter trying to convince people to buy the record you recorded five years ago, your competition is writing their next album. While you’re surfing some musicbiz guru’s “advice blog,” your competition is making phone calls and booking that gig slot you wanted for yourself. While you’re figuring out a “social media strategy” that still magically lets you sell CDs for $15, your competition is loading gear into the van.

    You can drive yourself crazy trying to put all these pieces together before you finally realize that none of it is actually work. It just feels like it.

    In the end, no one is going to praise or remember you for your follower count.

    So, like Twitter? Use it. Don’t “get” Twitter? That’s okay, because there are a kabillion healthy, creative people out there who don’t get it either. These tools will still be here when you’re ready, and if they aren’t, it just goes to show how wise you were for not wasting your time with them to begin with.

    (Wow, this comment really went off the rails.)

  • This first bit, is directed to Kevin and Hello Morning so please bare with me.

    Kevin, if/when I do hear your EP, be warned, mastering influences my opinion of a release much more than the content. I may love the songs, the lyrics and stories they weave but, if the mastering as is so often true today, destroys any semblance of dynamics, that release is torn apart giving no quarter.

    Moving on….
    Chris, The Bolt? Are you striking or running away? Hmm. That name reminds me of the old bad science fiction/wrestler super hero movies spanish television used to dub to english. I must admit, I enjoyed those movies a great deal in my younger years, still… If I may suggest an alternate, perhaps a simple C.B. to differentiate you from Chris Robley?

    Twitter et al. Sorry, I personally, though I do use them, feel that most social networking sites are today’s equivilent of C.B. Radio. A fad that faded but never quite died out completely. When it’s new, people jump on board in droves. As it ages, it becomes passe’

    I have a major disagreement with you on recording however. Broadcast quality? Exactly what is that? Television and film require terribly different formats. Radio, broadcast radio, is compressed to death so the DJ’s don’t have to be engineers anymore.

    An album such as those I cited in the previous episode comments, not only meets but exceeds broadcast standards for all but modern radio. Listen to radio, it’s a wasteland. Same ole crap, day after day. Over compressed, no dynamics and though some shine through, they are also rans within a month.

    On the quality, actually, Meet The Beatles was recorded in 1962 at EMI on a 3 track mono deck. Those recordings are still, better than the majority of todays 24+ track recordings.

    Equivelent money? Nope, a thousand dollars then, was just as far out of reach for the average musician as it is today. Using the economic equivilence tact is a false premice. Yes, a thousand dollars today is a lot more money with the dollar being worth cents but, earnings wise, it’s not.

    Back then, cents per hour was the going wage. Today, many dollars per hour is. The dollar is worth cents, so, 10,000 dollars is really just as far out of reach for most, as 1,000 dollars was then actually more-so since the dollar is worth even less.

    If you cannot make a commercial record, with 16 and more tracks, you’ve no business recording in the first place. Better to spend your time practicing as a band/artist and then go into the studio.

    The room has little to no effect on the end result. I’ve heard recordings done in a classroom that are indestinguishable from those done in high dollar studio environments. The artist and the recording engineer are the important bits. The tools are meaningless.

    In fact, I challenge any and all to determine which tracks on my first album were recorded direct to the board versus mic’ing an amplifier. Both were done, but there was no mastering at all, save that which I performed myself before pressing. I’d also challenge any and all to determine which tracks used live drums versus a combination of live and canned drums.

    You see, I am a true indie. I play all of the parts, do the recording, mixing and mastering. There are things I wish I’d done differently but overall, I’m happy with the end result. How many, paying big bucks to studio x can say that at the end of a project?

    I agree, you do need to focus a bit more on the band side of things. Solo artists frankly provide very little good insights for complete bands. Personally, I’d love to have a full band in studio. Would I hire in players, NO. For one reason, it’s my vision. Hired guns may play the notes but contribute nothing to the vision.

    In a band, and I’ve been in many, it’s a collective vision. A very different dynamic.

    On Corey, I’m curious, where are you learning of him and those like him? I follow a number of trade publications and a few select bloggers and until the podcast, had never heard of Corey.

    A bit more relevant, I just finished reading the new Rolling Stone top songs/movies/albums of 00. Personally, I found their lists wanting to say the least. Commercial, yes. Good? NO. Arcade Fire? Amy Winehouse?, Little John? Okay Go? Please. In 2 years, very few if any, will have a clue who any of these bands/artists are.

    Be a Beatles, Be a Maiden, ELP, Steely Dan, Metallica, Slayer, Nirvana and so on. Aim higher. Make timeless music. Indie doesn’t mean unknown.

  • I don’t want to get into a technical discussion about recording here but to say the room has ‘little to no effect’ on the end result is just not true. It’s true that if you’re close miking your gear then the room isn’t too important but the minute you start using overheads as the main source of the drum sound then it has a much greater impact on your sound.

    Likewise with guitar amps; if you’re sticking a 57 right up to the grill then you’re fine but the minute you start pulling back to get a more ambient sound is the minute you start thinking about the room.

    Anyway, that’s enough tech speak!

    Great podcast as usual (as was the Corey Smith one) and some excellent callers too. A band feature would indeed be good.

    As for The Bolt; isn’t that what the world’s fastest man is called? You’re gonna need a different superhero name Chris!

  • Darren,

    I won’t drag you into a technical discussion but will remind you, that the same effect can be gained placing the mic in the corner of a hallway. At the foot of a starwell, in the shower stall of almost any bathroom and so on. You add room ambience to provide air to the sound, what that room is, is meaningless, only how it sounds.

  • Maura Jensen

    I noticed a dramatic change in my fan FB page recently as well! As in there was a relatively steady flow of comments back and forth, (even if only a few a week) And then suddenly about a month or 2 ago…NOTHING! I wondered if something was suddenly wrong with my account, or people just weren’t seeing when I was updating something in the newsfeed. Granted, most of the people I know and therefore probably the majority of my “fans” are of college age. So thinking in terms of semesters, I know the month or 2 before the holidays I was stressing like crazy with finals when I was in college, so maybe people are just too busy to chill and listen to music and read my updates on FB. And now with the holidays they are probably at home spending time with families and going skiing or something:) Who knows.

    In reference to what scottandrew said about social networking, I don’t agree completely that an artist should just drop the ball completely and focus on gigging, writing, etc. I think it is important for artists to at least make an effort–as they have time. But I am definitely one of those artists where it doesn’t come naturally and so I have to push myself sometimes to even remember to update my twitter or send a newsletter. But I agree social networking is not everything, and sometimes seems like a complete waste of time. I tend to find it draining when things like the Facebook “incident” happens, or when hardly anyone opens my email newsletters…when I am putting out effort and getting no response. I think if a particular social network is working for an artist, great. Focus on that one, and update the others as you can. I’m liking YouTube lately… especially if you do RECENT covers and tag properly…I’ve gained a bunch of new fans recently from just one successful cover. But when nothing seems to be happening with a particular site, don’t get too discouraged because obviously the internet is ALWAYS changing, and you can never expect to stay on top of all the “essential” artist websites and still have time to actually make your music! At least, not without hiring a manager or baking cookies for a friend to do it for you. I will keep updating my Facebook for now and see what happens after the holidays. But I already feel like my myspace is a dead zone, and it wasn’t like that a year ago. And yes, social networking should not override your MUSICAL efforts:)