Archive for the ‘Blog from Sam’ Category
This Ascension and other new additions to Bandcamp
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal.Digital Downloads
Although much of the music industry is about digital downloads of single tracks, Projekt is fortunate that our fans still love listening to full albums; listening to the entire vision of Projekt’s artists. For that reason, our Bandcamp store is set-up for full album downloads.
I’m often asked, “Which site is most popular for Projekt?” iTunes is the #1 source for Projekt digital sales. You might be surprised to learn that our Bandcamp store is #2. This is good news for us because (a) Bandcamp takes a smaller fee than other sites (10%!) and (b) Projekt’s Bandcamp store has FLAC files available for those of you who prefer higher resolution music. There’s a nice win-win!
A lot of Projekt’s catalog still needs to be added to Bandcamp. Since this is a manual project – and I do all the work – it’s time consuming, but I’ll eventually get to everything.
I’ve recently added some catalog titles, all of which are on sale for $5 until Midnight on Monday the 15th! Also available is a new retrospective from ethereal/darkwave act This Ascension (this is the Dru’s band from the 90s, before Mercury’s Antennae and Mirabilis). Click the cover below to go to the page on Bandcamp:This Ascension presents the digital-only release Deeper and Further Away: An Introduction to This Ascension. This five-dollar digital-retrospective includes songs hand-picked by the band (including a couple available digitally for the first time) that represent their dark, alternative, ethereal beauty. From the band’s first song, 1998’s “Isabella,” to the majestic anthem “Mysterium,” Deeper and Further Away is a great chance to become acquainted with this darkwave pioneer or say hello again to an old friend.
Music for your Holiday enjoyment!
Various Artists: Holiday Twin Pack: Ornamental 2-CD compilation and Jill Tracy’s Silver Smoke, Star of Night | $20
Ornamental contains 20 previously-unreleased tracks recorded exclusively for this compilation as well as three tracks only available on obscure compilations. Jill Tracy’s Silver Smoke, Star of Night will take you to a dark, elegant netherworld full of hidden passageways, wonder cabinets, and opium dens. Of monsters, marvels and mayhem. You know it’s not safe here; but with Jill Tracy as your guide, you’ll be in no hurry to leave.
My life was saved by Rock ‘n’ Roll | ProjektList#20141209
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal.Movies in the Dark
On Friday, I hosted the Tony Scott-directed David Bowie film “The Hunger” at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre. It was the first installment in a series I’ve started, called Movies in the Dark. It’s an opportunity to hang out with goth friends in a non-club environment, watching gothically-tinged films. There’s beer, and food, and movies! Nearly 200 people attended! This was a fantastic start to the series. Thanks to all the Goths who came out to watch q rare 35mm showing of this cult 1983 film!
I was chatting with people in the lobby before the movie started. One woman told me about herself, and it reminded me of this verse from the Velvet Underground’s “Rock ‘n’ roll”: One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station And she couldn’t believe what she heard at all She started dancin’ to that fine-fine-fine-fine music Ooohhh, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll Hey baby, rock ‘n’ roll
She told me about growing up in Alabama in the 90s, discovering Projekt Records and Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and how that bond created something deep and meaningful for her. I paraphrase here, but she said it saved her life. Hell yes! That’s what art is about: that deeper connection that tells you there’s more out there in the world than what you are stuck with where you’re at. It’s great to know that (like so many of us) she found community and acceptance within the music, and it resulted in an escape to a better life! Conversations like this make being “the guy behind Projekt” especially worthwhile. I’m proud of the impact that Projekt has had over the years.
If you have a story about being saved by rock ‘n’ roll, please post it below or send it to me in a message.
You can join the Movies in the Dark email list. I will update you about the second film soon.Saved by Rock ‘n’ Roll
What would I be doing, if it wasn’t for making music and running a record label? It’s really hard to imagine. One thing I mentioned in my introduction to “The Hunger,” was that the film came out in 1983: the same year the first Projekt cassette was released. Thirty-one years ago, can you believe it? Projekt’s been my full-time for the last twenty-three of those years. Running a record label is what I do. That means riding the waves of the changes in the music industry; keeping informed on the evolution — or perhaps ‘devolution’ is more appropriate. The Music Business isn’t what it was five years ago, or ten years ago, and certainly not thirty-one years ago!
Thirty-one years. Think about everything that has transpired in the world in those thirty-one years! All the changes, advances, problems, dreams. There were a few people at the movie who weren’t even born when the film came out. That was interesting, too. “Remember this, remember that?” And they were thinking, “Nope, I don’t remember any of that, oh elder goth!” : )
But the idea I’m having here is about being saved by the music. Whether the goth or the electronic side of the label, music is really the pulse that matters to me. The thread that runs through my life.
That, and movies, I suppose. I was a TV/film major in college. These are the stories that take you out of your world and into a different climate, so you can reflect back. That’s pretty exciting stuff.Alex Cox’s new film
This is incredible. I didn’t know that Alex Cox (the director of Repo Man, Walker, Sid & Nancy and others) teaches film at the University of Boulder, nor did I know that he crowdfunded his most recent movie as a student project. Bill The Galactic Hero is having it’s West Coast Premiere in Portland. It’s a SciFi move made for $114,000, which is one thousandth of the budget of Gravity; one two hundred and fiftieth the budget of Ender’s Game. I think it’s sort of sad that Cox isn’t a Hollywood Hero, but ends up teaching at an out-of-the-way college; then again, maybe this is the way he wanted it? I am not sure.
I know many people are bugged by his movies for not being all that accurate, but they certainly have a unique voice. And that’s something important. He’s not another generic Hollywood director. But then you probably already know I’m weird! My two favorite directors are Gilliam and Herzog.Link a-doodle-doo
I was Dennis Hopper’s henchman | Article at The Guardian. For a time in California, Alex Cox was Dennis Hopper’s No 4 henchman. He recalls the director’s brilliance and breakdowns – and how John Wayne once tried to kill him.
Side-Line Poll 2014 – participate now! | They write: “The end of 2014 is drawing nearer each day, so it’s time to have our yearly poll at Side-Line magazine. This year we added some different questions too such as your media use. The results will be communicated in the first week of January 2015! You can cast your vote here.
Anne Rice: David Bowie and the end of Gender 1983, Vogue Magazine | Read
Donate to a Charity and get a free Projekt CD
Hello … Did you know that today is Giving Tuesday ? It’s a day to celebrate generosity and to give. I’d like to incentivise your giving with a free CD from Projekt.
1 Make a donation (of $25 or more) to an organization that does great work 2 After you donate, email a receipt or confirmation message to email@example.com. Include your mailing address, and your choice of CD (from the list below). 3 I will pay for postage in the USA. For overseas contributors, I will respond with a paypal postage total, to cover shipping costs. 4 Please send me your email by midnight, Thursday December 4, 2014Here are the free CDs you can chose from:
The Deadfly Ensemble: Aspiring Arsonist (Eclectic, darkwave, post-punk) Every silver lining has a cloud: debut (ShoeGaze) Forrest Fang: Animism (ambient, electronic) Sam Rosenthal: The Passage (DarkAmbient) Various Artists: A cat-shaped hole in my heart (darkwave, dream-pop, etc) Weep: Alate (postpunk, 80s, pop)Here are some of my favorite charities:
Blind Cat Rescue & Shelter :: donate button is a red heart on the right side of this page Center for Sex & Culture :: red donate button on the right side of this page ;(this might be considered NSFW) The Hollywood Theatre :: web page to donate Planned Parenthood :: web page to donate Thich Nhat Hahn Foundation:: web page to donate The Treehouse Humane Society :: web page to donate (I’ve been supporting them since 1999)
All of these are located within the United States and are Tax Deductible. You can also donate to an organization of your choice; let me know why it rocks!Suggested by You:
luciesplace.org | a group that helps LGBT homeless kids in Arkansas.
Thanks for Giving, Sam
2-day $2-download celebration from Black Tape For A Blue Girl
Whew, finally! I’ve concluded my task of uploading all our releases to Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Bandcamp store! And to celebrate, I’ve switched all the prices to $2. Yes! Just $2 a download — of course, you can give more if you think the album is worth it, they are all set to name-your-price. It’s our 2-day $2 download celebration. Many of the albums are deluxe, with extra material (for example, Halo Star includes a second disc of live tracks). This price includes all albums (plus my solo work and most collaborations). The celebration runs through midnight-ish, Tuesday December 2nd.
Bandcamp allows you to gift albums to your friends. Instructions here.
Thanks for your interest! Sam
Please share this on your Facebook & Twitter: https://www.projekt.com/store/?p=7050
Cyber Monday Sale : 20% off physical CDs
Physical CDs: 20% off
20% Off purchases at Projekt’s webstore. Use discount code 20%holiday during checkout (sale excludes items in the PRE-ORDERS and NEW categories). Sale ends 11:59pm EST tonight, Monday Dec 1, 2014.A free CD with your $20 purchase
While supplies last, get A Dark Noel free with your $20 (before postage) order. Add the CD to your cart to get your copy. Because of the way our webstore is coded, the CD counts as one item towards your postage total.Top-10 November webstore titles:
1 Unto Ashes: Ghosts Captured (with bonus CD) 2 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with 2 bonus CDs) 3 Steve Roach & Jorge Reyes: The Ancestor Circle 4 Various Artists: 10 Projekt CDs for $30 (Ambient/Electronic Clearance Box) 5 Weep: Weep (2014) 6 Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal 7 Chandeen: Forever And Ever CD (pre-order, due in December) 8 Mercury’s Antennae: A Waking Ghost Inside 9 Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard: Big in Europe Vol.2: Amsterdam (2 CD + 2 DVD) 10 The Birthday Massacre: Violet Vinyl LPDigital Downloads: 50% off
Take 50% Off your purchase at Projekt’s Bandcamp store. Use discount code november at http://www.projektrecords.bandcamp.com and http://www.blacktapeforabluegirl.bandcamp.com This sale ends tonight, 11:59pm UTC, Friday Nov 28, 2014.
Share on your Facebook & Twitter: https://www.projekt.com/store/20and50/
50% Off at Bandcamp
50% Off at Projekt’s Bandcamp store. Use discount code “november” at http://www.projektrecords.bandcamp.com and http://www.blacktapeforabluegirl.bandcamp.com — Sale ends 11:59pm UTC, Friday Nov 28, 2014.
Everybody loves the old days
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal.People love the old days.
Ok, I get it. There was that certain point in time when that certain song just hit you. Or the first time you discovered an artist. Or maybe it’s a special somebody, and the music they always use to listen to, which still brings back great memories. There’s all sorts of good reasons.
And sometimes it’s because, “Music was just better back then,” or, “All new bands suck.”
Yes, there are many reasons why the 90s were a high point in music.
I get Facebook messages from people along the lines of, “I just discovered your page. I didn’t know Projekt was still around.” I ask a few questions and discover the last album they purchased from Projekt was something like PRO51, Love Spirals Downwards’ 2nd album Ardor. And, oh boy! Projekt has released 259 albums since then! (They’re reminiscing about a very thin sliver of a pretty lengthy Projekt history.)
And hey, I appreciate those memories! I appreciate that Projekt was there for you at a certain point in your high school or college years. But artists keep making art; and times change. Love Spirals Downwards and Lycia aren’t even on the label anymore, they haven’t been for years. Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’…
Swag, merchandise, stuff! I was wondering a few days ago: What do people our age want? I know that the majority of my readers are not millennials. My estimate is the average age is 45, with most of you falling into the 35 – 55 range. What do we want? I recently received a care package from the Treehouse, a no-kill shelter in Chicago that I’ve donated to since the late 90s when I released A cat-shaped hole in my heart (a benefit CD, where all royalties went to the Treehouse). The care package contained a metal water bottle, a t-shirt (Ewww, white!!! Who’s gonna wear that?), a reuseable supermarket bag, and a set of writing cards. I guess this is the sort of stuff that people like me want? Actually, the water bottle and supermarket bag were immediately useful to me. And a black American Apparel Medium shirt would have made it 3 out of 4!
Cards? Do you write a lot of cards these days? Would you like a set of 5 cards with images from Projekt albums from the 90s? That’s something I could put together!
Water bottle? Yep. We already have that, in fact two: 24 oz and 32 oz. We also have an 18 oz corn travel mug and a nice cobalt blue coffee mug.
Maybe we need something new? A new thingie with the Projekt logo on it. Do you have suggestions? Post them in the comment area below.
Back on topic… People love the old days. I admit it: I listen to a lot of old music as well. I guess I don’t hear that many new bands that excite me. Is it because I’ve listened to a thousand bands, I am too picky, or what? I try. I try to listen to new things, but I do keep finding myself drifting back to music I already know I love.
Robert S wrote: “By the way, your music (Black Tape…) and the music that you recommend has been a part of my life going back to the late 80’s when I first started working for Parks and Recreation. I loved the manual stuffing of the packages when you mailed out everything by hand, especially the post cards. Would you believe it, I am now officially retired and I still follow your music endeavors although on a pretty fixed income; I cannot buy as much as I used to. I hope you keep up the interest in creating music and ensuring that the younger generation has the opportunity to listen to, enjoy and even learn from quality music. I may be old fashioned to a point but the current “pulp music” really has nothing to offer and makes no significant statement that has any kind of meaning. Thanks for what you do.”
My reply: Well, the orders are still stuffed by hand; just that it is Joe doing the stuffing these days. And it’s interesting what you said about a fixed income. More than one person replied that they don’t buy as much music as they used to, because of the economy. That sort of gets to the heart of last week’s rant. But ok, wait. Not ranting today….What about Black tape for a blue girl?
With my own music, I’ve tried new things. In the 2000s, I released three albums, the latter two approach a “pop” territory, perhaps fully realized on 10 Neurotics. I’ve heard from people who love it, and also people who don’t love it so much. Ha! Taste is such a fickle mistress. I think artists have to follow their muse. I love when bands release another album that I love; but I also respect them for trying something different. Doing what strikes their fancy at that moment.
For me, I’ve been thinking about the stylistic elements that make up the sound of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. What are the elements and genres that are primary to my music? I find that I’m making Ambient tracks at the moment. Lots of Ambient! I guess that’s part of the process to get to the ethereal / song-like tracks that I know are coming…
I planned to tell you about my idea for Black Tape For A Blue Girl… but I was introduced to a website that seems to provide the service I thought I’d have to code and build myself! I need to do some more investigating to see if it fits the bill. I might be able to realize my idea more fluidly than I previously imagined.Polyphasic sleep
I posted this blog about the polyphasic sleep I have been doing for the past 300 days.What’s new at Projekt?
We have November releases from Unto Ashes and Roach/Reyes (read about them below). Both are amazing & wonderful albums! There are two January 20th releases going in to the pressing plant, and an early February release I am about to guide into production. I am out of town again most of this week, and THEN I will start nailing down the plan for my new Blacktape thingie-doodle.
This is very exciting: I wrote a short scene in the style of Rye. I went to a coffee shop and wrote, without distractions. That is a preview of my personal plan for 2015: focus on priorities. More time to work on my art. More great scenes to write. More lyrics and music to create.
Thanks for your support in that.Projekt’s two November releases
Unto Ashes: Ghosts Captured
For fifteen years, acclaimed darkwave ensemble Unto Ashes have been unrepentant and uncompromising purveyors of apocalyptic folk, neo-Medieval, gothic, neoclassical, and ethereal music. Their newest release, Ghosts Captured contains a total of 25 cover songs (18 on the physical CD and an additional 7 available for free download at Bandcamp), breathing “blood-lit” life into an incredibly broad array of songs from some of the most improbable bands on record.
Facebook-fan William K writes, “I purchased this the day it was released. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long. A very diverse mix of covers. Amazing album. It is truly like hearing these songs for the first time.”
Read the full the description at Projekt.com
Steve Roach & Jorge Reyes: The Ancestor Circle
Conjuring images of a primal futurism, this alchemical blending-of-sound is a ceremonial offering to the forgotten gods. The Ancestor Circle is a new tribal-ambient-electronic collaboration, steeped in a frothy mind-altering blend, waiting for years as the potency increased. Like the audio artifacts of a lost tribe, the studio source recordings that form this album’s foundation were uncovered in 2013 on a cryptically-marked set of tapes. Created the week before Roach & Reyes’ May 2000 concert at Tucson’s Temple of Music and Art, this is their last joint studio project as Reyes passed on to The Ancestor Circle in 2009.
Joe T wrote on Steve’s Facebook page: “Just received my copy today! Totally excellent and evocative of all that is Jorge Reyes (of which I have all his music) and the perfect ambiance of Steve Roach who I’ve followed since Structures from Silence premiered.”
Paul O: “This is a important part of musical history. A gathering of great musicians, such as Steve, who are taking us on a spiritual journey via music of the spheres. This is some of the best music happening now and hopefully for some time to come.”
Chris R: “This album is spellbinding, that calls from that deep well of magic and mystery. The circle will never be unbroken, Jorge lives and breaths in this release his presence is felt throughout the whole album. A fitting bookend to the Roach / Reyes collaboration. Farewell Jorge…”
Read the full description at Projekt.comLink-a-doodle-doo
Not One Artist’s Album Has Gone Platinum In 2014 Ouch!!! Read at Forbes Magazine.
Steve Roach is included in this Oberheim DMX feature Read at TheVinylFactory.com.
Voltaire: The Legend of Candy Claws Pre-order yours at Voltaire’s website.
Mapanare.Us Miami Art Show Thanatos’s Patrick Ogl is crowd-funding an art show at Kickstarter.
NYC pastor: Starbucks is flavoured with the semen of sodomites Oh shit, I just thought the problem was that Starbucks was burning their roast…. : ) Read more at pinknews. This guy is kookoobirds! Funny comments from my facebook friends.
My son likes to remind me that you’re more likely to die from a soda machine falling on you, than a shark bite. This is another good statistic: In the average year, you’re around 10x more likely to be bitten by an inhabitant of New York City than you are to be bitten by a shark. Read more at Shark.ch. And then all this, from my friends on Facebook: Julie B: With the Ebola fears, I’ve cut way down on biting strangers. Susan R: And during the zombie apocalypse, this number will go up significantly. Steve M: “New Yorker injured by falling soda machine after being bitten by a shark.” Susan R: Shark, attempting to bite face off man exiting subway, crushed by mysterious soda machine falling from 11th floor of near-by building. Susan R: OR, band of zombies throws soda machine onto shark. Steve M: OR, sharks attack zombie with soda machine during New York “Hug a shark for Christmas” Susan R: ^win Sam Rosenthal: I assume the soda machines are falling onto people who are shaking them, trying to steal soda. The machines take revenge! Susan R: Clearly then, the sharks need to be shrewd and seize this opportunity, by hiding IN the soda machines and biting the hands of people as they reach in to retrieve their sodas.
A fan alerted us to another wonderful review of Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence, which was reissued earlier this year on Projekt (Records). Read the review at hypnagogue.net. Purchase the 3-CD set or download at Bandcamp.Here’s how you can hear more Projekt music before you buy
In an email message, David B wrote: “The musician-artist has a power that one can’t put a price on. I will gladly pay the money if the artist touched a nerve with me, and gosh, I would hope there are many others out there like me. The problem for me is justifying the cost if after listening the music doesn’t connect with me. A physical artist’s offering is viewed and you either connect or not, then purchase based upon that. With the musical artist, I struggle with music reviews and the 30 second sound-bite to make a decision – do I buy it or do I not.”
About 18 months ago, I heard that fans wanted to preview more than 30 seconds, and I think Projekt’s Bandcamp page provides a great solution for this request. Stream full tracks from Projekt albums; sometimes, you can stream the whole album!
new from WEEP
in case you haven’t heard, there’s a new WEEP release, and we’ve got it!Weep: Weep | $14
Now in stock. Lush and powerful ‘Dark Rock’ with a bit of Shoegaze panache. Remember WEEP’s self titled album WEEP? Remember where you were when you first heard it? Oh, the sweet nostalgia! Well it’s back before it arrived! Released for the first time again, WEEP’s classic album WEEP is finally available on CD. (PS: This is a new album, just in case Doc’s blurb confused you!) Read more about the album.October’s Top-Sellers in the Projekt Webstore
1 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with Two Bonus CDs) 2 Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal 3 Weep: Weep 4 Various Artists: God is Goth (2-CD) 5 Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever
ProjektList#20141020 | Too much input, not enough output!
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal.[ Written Sunday morning ] This weekend, I am supposed to be making one final attempt at writing lyrics for a new Black Tape For A Blue Girl song, so I can record with Athan in New York City next Monday. But frankly, it’s too early in the process to create lyrics I’m excited about (the stuff I’ve written so far is perhaps up to a “m’eh!”). I keep drifting towards writing dark electronic songs based upon my horn sound named “102 Hypocrite=Me” (this is a sound I created in the A Chaos of Desire era). Ok, do what feels right, I suppose. Two new songs started…
But, oddly enough, my brain is having a few ideas for the follow-up to my novel Rye. This is good, because work on that has been stalled (and by ‘stalled’ I mean, ‘not started’). It is so stereotypical to be a writer with writer’s block after finishing a first novel! I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “block” (even thought it HAS been two years since Rye was published). I’d say I’ve just not been making enough time and space to get back in the mood for writing.
Something occurred to me in the car Friday morning on the way to my son’s bus stop. He loves turning on NPR to listen to whatever they are reporting on. I am so tired of hearing about Ebola. NPR is filling all the available space in my brain. It makes me a bit nuts; I realize the radio leaves me no space to think.
Early on Saturday morning, I walked two-and-a-half miles to downtown Portland; headed towards The Fresh Pot coffee shop. Forty minutes of walking. No radio, no news on the ipad, no texts on the phone. The only things I had to do was drop off some promo packages at the mailbox, and drop off my voting ballot at the ballot box (as an aside, let me say it is so cool that every registered voter in Oregon gets a ballot in the mail. We fill it out at home and send it back in. Every state should use this system). Anyway… forty minutes of walking. No NPR. No news. Crossing from residential to the industrial east side; on the bridge over the river, then slipping within the tall buildings downtown. Just walking and my brain randomly thinking about nothing in particular.
While I was sitting at Fresh Pot, I had an idea. I asked the guy behind the counter if he had a sheet of paper and I filled both sides with sloppy red writing. It might be something for my next book. It might be trash. But I wrote SOMETHING!
I am thinking about how to re-introduce my characters in the sequel to Rye. I find it’s a common problem in sequels that writers assume you already know their characters, and they jump right into the story. A writer I met made this mistake in her sequel. Having never read the first book, I was confused by the third sentence. One cannot assume readers know your characters like you do. And yet, you don’t want to bore your return readers with the obvious. This dilemma has been on my mind for a while.
Every day when I was working on Rye, I walked a-mile-and-a-quarter each way to Projekt; I was taking in the surroundings, watching out for traffic, seeing what the druggies at the housing project were up to; and my thoughts were also working on the issues I was gaming out with my characters and plot.
That kind of input from my environment doesn’t seem to hamper my creativity. It seems to stimulate it. But the radio, the internet, information-inflow? That seems to be a problem. My friend often says: too much input, not enough output! Too much pre-chewed information is bad for my creativity. I have to turn off the radio, stop reading so much news. Walk a mile to a coffee shop. And let me brain do it’s thing.
Hey, check this out: I finally got into the last decade and bought an iPhone. My old blackberry-styled phone wasn’t ringing anymore and the back was being held on by painter’s tape. It was time to get semi-modern.
I am very aware of a problem I’m about to face: iPhone addiction. I don’t want to use the phone as a time-filler, or as a video-watching-device. I want to use it to make my life better (find things on Yelp when I’m out of the house, read texts from the people I am about to meet, make phone calls). I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Yeah, good luck on that one, Sam!” But really, I want to fight the urge to nurture this addiction. I sense people are losing their connection to other people and their environment, as they crawl into their technology. They’re walking down the street watching cat videos and reading about the ten hottest actresses in SciFi films. All well and good, if that’s how you want to fill your life.
I want my life to be filled with creativity.
Speaking of… I am supposed to be in the studio, rather than procrastinating here writing this blog. At least blogging is writing; it’s creating something; it’s output.
(Yes, I admit it, I shot this photo of my ESI on my iPhone!)
I am out of town next weekend and after that, there are two new Projekt releases to announce. Then I’ll pick back up on the intrinsic value of music (which I started talking about in last week’s blog).
Take care, SamLink-a-doodle-doo
Hi Florida. Which Billionaire would you like to buy your governor? Article at The New York Times.
Not One Artist’s Album Has Gone Platinum In 2014. Read the article at Forbes.
This Thursday in Portland… Sound & Chaos: The Story of BC Studio. For over 30 years, Martin Bisi has recorded music at his studio in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood. Brian Eno worked on the album On Land there. Bisi worked with many other influential musicians there, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Angels of Light, John Zorn, Foetus and the Dresden Dolls. I recorded Brian Viglione’s drums for 10 Neurotics at BC Studio. This film plays Thursday 10/23 at the Hollywood Theatre. There’s a free afterparty + performance by Martin at Club 21. Facebook Event Page.
DEVO free Concert in Times Square from last week. Watch the whole thing on youTube.
Weep: Weep (Pre-order, expected late October) | CD $14 Doc Hammer’s latest CD of lush and powerful Dark Rock with a bit of Shoegaze panache. I Die You Die writes: “The tack that the group’s taken with their fourth full-length, from its unassuming eponymous name to its intentionally buzz-forsaking promotional strategy, to its less bombastic yet no less memorable sound seems specifically designed to avoid putting Weep in the same category or conversation as its predecessor.”
Please share your thoughts below. If you are signed in, your comment appears immediately. Otherwise, it will appear when I get on-line to approved it. If you want to share this blog on your pages, here’s the shortcode: https://www.projekt.com/store/?p=6584. Thanks. Sam
ProjektList#20141012 | What does the future hold?
From Projekt Record & Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Sam Rosenthal.
On Friday afternoon, I hung out with the people behind the electronic label Spotted Peccary Music. They release great CDs plus they’re the company that serves up Projekt’s 24/96k high res files.
We were sitting at picnic tables in the open-air back-porchy-like room of a typical Portland-styled drinking establishment. Wood-planked walls, beer signs over the steps to the bar, a food-cart belching scented smoke as it turned out Philly-styled Italian food. I’m painting a picture for you, a little setting of reality before this blog heads off and becomes cerebral. We’re sitting there, drinking our what-have-yous, having a really great brainstorming session concerning many tangents in the music industry, including physical vs. digital, will people pay for music, and the new landscape for survival.
Howard looks up and asks a question, I begin to answer, but then go off topic and start talking about how fans interact with bands. In “the old days” (the mid ’90s), Projekt could release an album from a band with no image (and a lot of mystery), mention it a few places, buy a few ads, send postcards and catalogs, and wham! We’d sell 2-3000 copies. People were itchin’ to hear new music, and Projekt was a reputable source for interesting new acts.
But that’s not how you get involved with music, these days, is it? Let’s face it, “fans” can access most music for free, if they really want to. The old model of a label releasing a faceless band, you heading to a record store to buy their CD, and then hearing their music for the first time when you get the CD home… that’s sort of over. What I find through my blogs, Facebook, and Kickstarter campaigns is that you want a connection to the artists you’re excited about. Few bands can survive, reclusively hiding in their bedroom-studio-caves. Yes, maybe a few legacy bands can get by on that, but certainly not younger bands; and certainly not older bands who never successively made the transition to the promotion-connection of social media in the modern age.
I see this problem, over and over. I speak with artists who haven’t had an album in ten or fifteen years, and they pull out absurd examples for why things should be a certain way; “Back in 1994, when we toured….” or “When the old label was placing the ad campaign for my last album in 2006.” Man, that’s a million years ago. The record industry doesn’t work like that anymore!
Well, I could shorten that sentence down to, “The record industry doesn’t work.”
This is the point where my brain shoots off onto a hundred different tangents. Try to follow me here…..What motivates us artists to keep going?
For Xmas 2009, I posted a blog concerning the topic of Success. In it, a number of Projekt (and related artists) talked about what success means to them. Hold on a minute, I am going to go back and re-read it now, with five years of perspective. …. …. ….
Yep. I still agree with what I wrote back then: “…in the end, what I really enjoy is successfully making the artistic statement I want to make. When each album is fresh and new, it is the most accurate statement of where I am, creatively. At that moment, I am complete.”
But, I would clarify that.
To me, success is having my artistic statement received by the listeners. I like when that communication is completed.
And yet, that’s not what my brain thinks about. I need to do some self-reflection, to understand why I still have a money-centric definition of success.Units and Dollars
Here’s the thing, Black Tape For A Blue Girl and Projekt was huge when the music industry measured success in units sold and dollars earned. Back in the 90s, bands like Blacktape could sell a lot of records. As mentioned last blog, at the peak Blacktape’s 1996 Remnants of a deeper purity sold around 16,000 copies.
( That was then. I don’t live in the past. I only expect a fraction of that, for the next album. )
And yet, I find that I cling to that old belief: units and dollars indicate success. I am using an outdated measuring stick.
I know there are fans of my creations; people who really connect to what I am working on (and what I have created in the past). And yet, I am still thinking that the way to measure that success is the same as it was in the mid-90s: by looking at a spreadsheet containing units and dollars.
I’ve been asking myself, “What is success to me?” or “Why did I want to make art in the first place?” The answer, as I said above, is: I want to communicate. For me, successful communication is the goal of making art. What matters is that people receive my work. They experience it. And that is not at all related to profit. In fact, I probably have more ‘success’ (by my own definition) now, then 20 years ago. Why do I say that? Because anyone can hear my work, without the barrier of having to pay for it.
So, why doesn’t that feel good to me?
Well, part is because I cling to the old paradigm about sales.
And the other part is I have this underlying belief in “fairness.” If I spend the hours doing the work of being an artist, I should get paid!
A friend wrote — when I asked him why this “getting paid” matters so much to me — “Perhaps it’s a matter of ethics, not so much the actual number but the idea of getting paid. After all, you try and pay people what you say you will pay them, on time and quite accurately; then I think you expect the same of others.”I don’t want my favorite artists to be amateurs.
I really want to live in a world where artists can focus on their art. Would I want John Cale to have to work as a viola instructor, so he can take off two weeks a year to play some shows? David Bowie, maybe he’s a graphic designer? Marc Almond, he’s probably a drag queen, or turning high-end tricks with members of the Houses of Parliament : ) . Voltaire is a bartender, the one that you visit every week because he’s so damn entertaining. Think about it! It’s a very weird world where the-average-joe expects to be paid for their labor, and yet people are generally OK with the artists they love working some other job so music can be their hobby.
That’s not really the way I want the world to be.My first job was archaeologist… My first job was computer graphics
You all know that Projekt is my day job. But that wasn’t always the situation. In the late 80s/early 90s, I created speaker-support-graphics for a living. I worked long freelance hours, creating dumb graphics that were projected at conventions for the corporate executives from the likes of Taco Bell, Denny’s, Acura, Mazda, etc. etc. (This was pre-PowerPoint, but the same general idea.) It paid really (really!) well and allowed me to fund the early CDs on Projekt.
Around the time Projekt was having success with Blacktape’s This lush garden within and the first Love Spirals Downwards release, I realized I was sacrificing the label’s potential. I wasn’t at my desk answering faxes from journalists and my overseas distributors; I was somewhere around the country doing freelance work. This was in the days before the internet; it wasn’t easy to keep in touch remotely. I’d return home and have a month off between jobs; and then I worked on music and the label. But too often, I’d leave Projekt unmanaged for two to four weeks, and that was getting to be a problem. I made the decision to stop working the freelance jobs, and focus on Projekt.
Things really took off, there was a lot of interest, and slowly Projekt ate all my time; my own art suffered. By the end of the 90s (because of all the obligations to the bands on Projekt plus the 11 employees), I rarely made time to work on my music. Then into the early 2000s, and the downsizing (mentioned last blog), and I had plenty of work to do (and I had a son!).
My best friend often reminds me that I cannot pass off responsibility for the decisions I made. And he’s right. I chose to put my energy into Projekt, rather than my art. It seemed like a wise move at the time: Projekt was getting very successful.
At any other record label, the biggest artist (Blacktape) would have been begged, cajoled, and bribed to get back into the studio. The label needed its biggest act to keep releasing music (if for nothing else, for purely profit reasons). But I was the guy at the label and in the band, there was nobody at Projekt pushing me, to get me on track. If I had a manager, he would have asked, “Do you really think it’s smart to keep putting all your energy into dayjobia, rather than into your music?” That was the thing: Projekt was a new day job and just like computer graphics, this job took lots of time away from my art.
It seemed like a wise decision at the time. However, what ended up happening was that I supported 30+ band’s careers, while letting down the most important thing: my own creativity.
I let my art go cold for years at a time.
If I had been focusing on my own work for the last 20 years, would I be surviving at it? Would I be like Steve Roach or Voltaire? Spending a huge chunk of my time making art?
(I hope this doesn’t come across as regret. That is not the intention, per se. This is me reflecting with awareness of choices I have made in my life, and contemplating whether I’ve gotten to the place I intended to go.)
It brings up the question, “Could I survive off my art?” I told myself many times over the years, “I don’t mind that Projekt is taking up so much of my time. If I had to support myself from my music, I’d have to make compromises to get by.” Yeah, sure, a guy in his early 30s can say that. But I’m older now, and I see Steve and Voltaire creating without compromise. And I ask my younger self if that argument was just an excuse, to avoid the hard work. To avoid having to lay it all on the line, and be an artist. If ‘an artist’ is what I am here to be, then was I chickening out? Hiding behind a reasonably justifiable excuse for not making more art.
Ben Franklin looks around the bar
Ok, so back to my meeting on Friday with Spotted Peccary. The smell of Italian sausages fill the air again, Howard looks up and poses another question. “What’s the future for record labels like ours?”
And I reply, “I’m sorry to say it, but there is no future. Projekt will not be able to continue as the label that discovers amazing new acts and releases them on CD. Because these CDs just don’t sell anymore. I cannot keep investing in CDs, when the demand is for less than 250 copies.”
Some will misinterpret that statement, so to be clear: Projekt is sticking around! I will keep releasing exciting music on my label. But the logic of releasing acts that barely sell? There is no logic in that at all.
I have to be realistic.
For me, personally, I want to make a transition back to being an artist who runs a record label, rather than a record label guy who has a (mostly) dormant artistic career.
I have thoughts on how to do that (which I will discuss in an upcoming blog).The intrinsic value of music
For now, I have to be aware of my old connection to dollars and units. I have to recognize that my goals as an artist are not tied up in those numbers. Yes, I definitely believe there are ways to make a living creating music. But even more than that, I believe I can foster a better connection with each of you. Many of you are fans of what I create. And you still value music. It’s the core of what matters to you. It’s your soundtrack. It’s what gets you through your days, both good and bad. And I am told over and over (via email, Facebook, and Kickstarter) that music is worth a lot to you.
You are the completion of the circle that gives what I do meaning.
Music has an intrinsic value to you. It is important in your life. The same way NPR is important, and modern dance companies, and historic art house theaters. You don’t want to see music disappear, or become the realm of amateurs.
We’re thinking the same thing. Music has value, and it’s something that’s worth supporting.
I’ll post some great new ideas about this shortly.
New Releases Now In Stock
Project Pitchfork: Blood 2-CD Book $59 Various Artists: God is Goth (2-CD) $22 $15 Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin (Limited 2-CD) $23 Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht Book & CD $55 | 2-LP $90 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD Box $85 | 2-CD $23 | CD $19October Webstore Top-5
1 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with 2 bonus CDs) 3-CDs $15 2 Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal CD $15 3 Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever CD $14 4 Steve Roach: The Delicate Beyond CD $10 5 Steve Roach & Mark Seelig: Nightbloom ~ SALE $7 CD $7October Bandcamp Top-5
1 Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal Download $10 2 Steve Roach / Kelly David: The Long Night Download $10 3 Steve Roach: Structures From Silence (Deluxe 30th Anniversary Remastered Edition) Download $18 4 Erik Wøllo: Tundra (ep) Download $4 5 Mirabilis: »Here and the Hereafter« Download $10
Malcolm McLaren – authenticity vs karaoke culture
To speed things up, you can skip the first 27 minutes with this summary: “Two key points to explain my struggle today, two words sum up culture: authenticity & karaoke. A karaoke world is one in which life is lived by proxy and liberated by hindsight. It is unencumbered by the messy process of creativity.”
Karaoke society = becoming famous overnight without any talent, while reveling in our stupidity.
Jump in 27 minutes; he’s talking about art school in the 60s: http://youtu.be/E-wtmV0fAAg?t=27m27s
Flamboyant Failure vs. benign success
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