Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sep 21

ProjektList #20140922, Music Discovery in the 10s

From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal. I’m listening to R.E.M. rarities at rdio. Why? I heard “Talk about the passion” at Trader Joes a few days ago, and I’ve had R.E.M. stuck in my head since then…

In response to last week’s post, Andy G wrote (and I summarize):

Hi, Most entertaining reading. Way back, through the seventies and eighties, for me, the thrill was always in finding that new band, new artist; finding something new each time I picked up a magazine. Some people just play safe with one band or genre, others are braver and let their mind take them to new musical dimensions. Cue the new millennium – the internet and mp3s – now, all of a sudden, to the discoverer of new music, there are hundreds of thousands of bands worldwide in every genre known to man, all available to listen on the web – it’s mind-blowing.           The late John Peel was on record as lamenting that he couldn’t listen to all the cassettes and vinyl that was sent to him and he shuddered at the thought that in that box may be the next Fall or Undertones but because he can’t listen to everything, they may go undiscovered.           Here in Scotland I have a weekly radio show for unsigned bands, primarily from Scotland, but worldwide depending on what I find. Now, in Scotland alone, there are new band springing up every week – right now I have a list of about 100 bands from the last 5-6 months who I’ve yet to check out. But, thanks to downloads and mp3’s I am able to get new tracks, EP’s and albums every week; a lot of music, although probably not a great deal more per week than way back.           Through all this, there have been many many tracks that have not hit the spot which have been discarded along the way – but the new technology has allowed me to find a huge wealth of fantastic tracks which I could simply not have found any other way; I am now able to play these on the radio show in the hope that someone without the same time available as me will find that one gem that makes them go weak at the knees; then it’s job well done.      It’s all down to using the technology, not being phased or daunted by it, accepting that you will only ever scratch the surface, but at the same time, still finding that thrill of the next new band or artist. All the best, Andy G.

In reply, I wrote:

Hi Andy, You are a braver man that I. I don’t have that thrill, anymore; I gave up on demos ten years ago. For every 200 demos, there was maybe 1 gem worth releasing on Projekt. And the torture of listening to the other 199 made the price-of-the-hunt too impossibly high. We actually ran an “unsigned band” contest in conjunction with Gothic Beauty Magazine, in 2004. Out of the entire box of demo CDs (and there were at least 150), there was only one band that Shea and I thought good enough to sign; and it turned out I had already signed to Projekt a few months earlier (Autumn’s Grey Solace)!

Just this week, somebody I know sent an artist my way. In his cover email, the artist included this line: “His influences range from Iron Maiden, Rush, Zebra and Carol King to name a few.” With influences that horrible, my curiosity got the best of me, I gave it a listen. Pass! It didn’t sound like any of them, it sounded like poppy dark rock. (A friend on Facebook pointed out that he spelled Carole King’s name wrong!)

With that said, I will admit that I lament, “There are no good new bands anymore.” The only new music I hear that I like comes from bands I already know. It is very rare when something unknown to me suddenly shows up on my radar as amazing. So my favorite “new bands” are now bands that are 10 years old.

I guess I need a filter, just like everyone else. Somebody sending new bands my way. Because these days, for every 10 new bands that contact me with Soundcloud pages or Bandcamp pages, I hear 0% that interest me enough to want to listen further.

I find it hard to imagine that you could find 100 new bands that you are excited about. Bravo for you, for having the patience.

So now — a few days later — I am reading back on my response. It’s not that I am phased or daunted by the technology. It’s that I’m not excited by what I find via that technology. Sure, I’ve always been picky. Most of us are. Somewhere out there is the next Lycia or Mira or Android Lust. But I’m resigned that I’m going to miss them. Unlike John Peel, it’s not because I don’t have the time to listen. It’s because I don’t have the stomach to listen to all the bad ones. I know this post is going to get a lot of responses from bands who want me to listen to their demos. That’s fine, post your links below. I’ll try.

How can I get signed to Projekt? In fact, the #1 question you asked, when I put out a call for my recent Q&A, concerns how I find bands to sign to Projekt. These days, it is via the recommendation of other artists on the label, and occasionally the recommendation of writers. For a while, I discovered new bands when they opened up for Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Back in the early days, it was often from demo cassettes. Nowadays, most of the new acts on Projekt are electronic/ambient artists who collaborate with other artists on the label (ie: Erik Wollo, Byron Metcalf, Loren Nerell, etc).

There are bands out there who believe that all they need to bring to a label is their beautiful raw talent. But more than ever, talent is just a portion of what it takes. Bands need to be able to market themselves. They need to be able to spread the word; this is a talent just as important as making the music. If a band has no fans and no “buzz,” there’s not a lot Projekt can do. I can put out CDs, sure. But I cannot make people care. It’s different from the old days. I think about when I released SoulWhirlingSomewhere’s Eating the Sea debut in 1993. Michael had a few fans in Phoenix and he didn’t play live to spread the word; yet Projekt was able to release the CD and get quite a lot of people to discover the music. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. Or rather, people discover the music, but they don’t necessarily purchase it. There needs to be some additional “connection” that the band makes with the fans. Good music has never been enough. Talent isn’t enough. What is it? I was writing to Jill Tracy a few weeks back, and I was telling her that she has it. That undefinable charisma and star-power, mixed with talent, that an audience loves. Voltaire has it. Nicki Jaine had it. I personally don’t have it; I’m not exciting and ineffable on stage! I make music that people care about, yes. but I don’t have that stage persona that I define as ‘it.” Yup.

Can we all get along? Two people responded to last week’s post by attacking my friend Case, and being quite rude about it. I messaged them back that they seemed to have missed the part where I said Case was my friend! And that perhaps they could have disagreed in a way that wasn’t insulting. Couching their criticism in insults and attacks really prevents their communication from being heard. I doubt these two would have been as rude in face-to-face meeting; the internet does that, doesn’t it? Have you heard of Non-Violent Communication? I love the concept. It’s about taking the tone, blame, criticism out of difficult conversations, so you can get your message across with as little distortion as possible. It’s a way of communicating your feelings and thoughts in a non-confrontational way, with the hopes of everyone getting something positive out of the solution. Does it work? Well, I think it can come off a bit pedantic. At least that’s how people hear it, when they want to fight with you. But still, it’s worth a shot. Check out Marshall Rosenberg’s book at Amazon.

Is Technology the New Opiate of the Masses? I’ve been meeting more and more people who admit they have a problem. An article at HufPost said, “A 2010 survey found that 61 percent of Americans (the number is higher among young people) say they are addicted to the Internet.” This percentage can only be more dramatic now.

I’ve mentioned this problem in past lists: I’ll go to Facebook because I am looking for a message from one particular person who insists on messaging me there; then find myself waking up from a daze 30 minutes later, reading an article on BuzzFeed, or watching an animal video. Did you see the squirrel that photobombed Bernie Sanders? Jump in 5-minutes on this John Stewart video.

I’ve been trying some techniques to reduce my wasteful use of technology. The first step is awareness. “I’m going to just answer that one message, and then get the hell out of Facebook.” There’s also where you can set yourself a timer.

The biggest time-suck is our inbox. I just finished reading the book The 4 Hour Workweek which has some useful advice for focusing on priorities (and a lot of talk about adventuring in foreign countries… filler, if you ask me). The part I found very useful is now written on a large note stuck to my computer:

    Complete most-important tasks before 11 am. Then check email. Don’t check email again until 4pm.    

Ok, it’s hard NOT to check my email more than twice a day. However, getting my most-important tasks done before I start getting distracted by email… wow! This is a great idea. I’ve been doing this for about 10 days, and I feel like I’ve gotten so much more done. This strategy forces me to ignore the less important stuff, because I don’t have time to do busy work. The book is worth reading, just bare in mind that 30% is going to be about Ferriss’ obsession with going to foreign countries and learning kickboxing. : )


“CD-Loving Japan Resists Move to Online Music.” Read the article at The New York Times. “Japan may be a perennial early adopter of technologies, but its attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.”

A review of Steve Roach’s The Desert Collection from ProgArchives “Gently soothing, hypnotic and endlessly melodic, the disc is a perfect way to relieve tensions, slowly unwind from the busyness of everyday life while still offering fascinating light progressive-electronic soundscapes for fans of the genre. Mr. Roach has successfully chosen a fitting selection of pieces that maintain an evocative mood in line with the title of the disc, always full of direction and variety yet frequently open-ended and unhurried.”

Speaking of wasting your life with your technology, Shea brings to my attention this Goat Simulator app. A customer review says, “Imagine the old Tony Hawk pro-skater games, but you’re a goat and you run around laying waste to the city in ridiculously unimaginable, completely laughable ways. This is the kind of game where you can pick up and play a few minutes just to kill time, or get really into it and waste a few hours.”

This one is NOT a waste of time: Rust Radio streams Neil Young concerts 24/7, with shows dating back to the 60s. I find it remarkable that this site has been on-line since 2003, yet I just now heard of it!?!? Nice!

A great video introduction to Projekt’s Soriah. Watch at Vimeo.

Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal with Bonus CD | $15

Now shipping; Limited edition of 300. Dirk Serries returns to Projekt Records with The Origin Reversal, a re-boot of his classic vidnaObmana sound. This is ambient music that flows from its discreet origins: sonic purity, washes of harmony, and organic textures which slow time to a phase of transcendence.

$10 at Bandcamp

Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter with 2 Bonus CDs | $15

Shipping late September; Limited edition of 300. Submerse yourself in the third ethereal/darkwave foray from Mirabilis featuring Dru Allen and Summer Bowman, two of the genre’s most-celebrated vocalists. As Mirabilis, these women go beyond the rock-hued sounds of their respective bands (This Ascension/Mercury’s Antennae and the Machine in the Garden).

$10 at Bandcamp

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Sep 14

Projektlist #20140915, My music discovery in the 70s and 80s

From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal…

My 20-something friend, and I were messaging about music. She wrote:

I feel like having access to so much of something devalues it. I had few toys growing up. The toys I had were very valuable to me. I knew each of them by name and played with them often. When I went to the houses of other kids my age, I found them filled to the brim with plastic toys and junk. Entire floors covered like a scene from Hoarders, the reality TV show about people living with too much stuff.

Many people are digital hoarders. They acquire something simply because it is there (in this case, music) yet rarely look at it again, or savor it. When I dug out my hard drives from 12 years ago, I found 250 gigs of music. Almost all of it was crap. I realized that I had only acquired it because I could. Once I had it, there was too much to listen to. I didn’t savor each song because everything was the same, a name in a digital list. Compare that to my dad’s music. Thought I would make fun of him for purchasing so much, especially what I considered overpriced CDs, that’s where I got the most joy out of listening. Each CD or album or cassette in the living room was a new experience waiting to be explored.

I feel like the MP3 culture was anemic. Growing up, most of the people I knew who downloaded MP3s had absolutely awful taste in music. They didn’t respect it. At LAN parties we’d trade entire hard drives full of music. Did it make anything special? Did we cherish any of that music? Absolutely not. It was just hoarding behavior. The understanding of a limit had been lost. The exceptions were people with parents who passed down their excitement for music.

I realize now that some people learned about music from siblings, or friends, physically bringing records over, or going to record stores and listening there, or at local live shows. How did you get introduced to the music of Brian Eno or David Bowie?

I’ve been thinking about this. How did I discover music when I was young?

I was introduced to David Bowie on the radio, along with Kraftwerk, The Strawbs, Frank Zappa, the B52s. It was strange music, compared to the popular mainstream rock of the time: acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Meatloaf, Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd – remember, I lived in South Florida! WSHE (103.5) was our local rock radio station mixing in unusual tracks along with the mainstream hits.

The first song I remember hearing a million times on the radio was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which went to #9 in the USA in 1976). It is a weird rock song! Can you imagine something that bizarre getting radio play today? I remember being at the beach with a friend (and his mom) and the song blasting out of car windows in the parking lot.

Wow! WSHE played odd music, which led to finding more odd music.

I cannot honestly say I remember the first time I heard Bowie on the radio; but it must have been “Space Odyssey” or “Starman.” It was the end of the 70s, but his tracks of 5 years earlier were still new to us. Bowie’s music came before his image. I’m sure I was interested in the space theme (teenage boy in the 1970s, of course I was into SciFi), and also the alienation. You know: feeling like an outsider in your own world.

But where was the connection from Bowie to Brian Eno? You might think it was via the Low album, but I don’t remember getting into that side of Bowie until a while later. It was the very early Ziggy Stardust-period that was familiar to me.

There were two magazines – Cream and Circus – which covered rock music. Lots of Bowie, Alice Cooper, Stones, etc. Rolling Stone Magazine was a bit too square for me (Hall & Oats, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton) and SPIN didn’t exist yet (it started in 1985).

Ah ha! Here’s the holy grail. I remember buying the October 1978 issue of Trouser Press with Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. This was the doorway to a variety of amazing English music I didn’t hear on WSHE. Trouser Press covered mostly prog and English artrock; then in the early 80s it morphed into New Wave & New Romantic. There were also UK magazines (cannot remember the name, but probably Smash Hits, Slash, Underground or something. I still have some of them in a box in my storage space.)

The three magazine covers included in this blog are iconic in my mind. They bring me right back to that era, pouring over the words before I heard the music, and then eventually entering the new sounds and new worlds created for me within this music.

By this time I had bought the Eno Working Backwards 11-LP box set, yet I cannot honestly say that I listened to the first two albums. I was a fan of Before and After Science, Ambient 1, and Discrete Music. I was more about his ambient side and wasn’t interested in his glam / pre-punk sound. Nowadays, I love Here Comes the Warm Jets; it’s a really catchy and quirky album!

Moving along with the “weird electronic” music, I introduced to Gary Numan when a redneck friend in high school gave me the “Cars” single. It was alien, distant, bizarre. I liked it and dug into Numan, purchasing The Pleasure Principle, but more importantly, Replicas. From Numan, I leaned about an obscure band that influenced him, Ultravox! (Check out “I want to be a machine:” Ultravox! produced by Brian Eno.) I was late to the game, John Foxx had already left the band. The week it was released, I bought Midge-Ure-era Ultravox’s Vienna album. I also hit upon other electro pop / synth bands, such as Depeche Mode (bought the first album when it came out!) and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. A friend in high school turned me on to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, and I had a new favorite band! And let’s not overlook DEVO! Are we not men? was an amazing find (again, produced by Eno!).

For me, then, it seems RADIO served as my introduction to music in middle school. In high school it was MAGAZINES, FRIENDS and exploring at RECORD STORES.

There was a amazing shop — Open Books & Records (1979-1994) — that stocked all the imports and the local bands and underground USA music. I would read about a band in a magazine, then go to Open to check if they had a copy. I’d listen to a track or two to see if I liked the music. Sometimes I picked things up, based purely on the cover (such as The Last Man in Europe Corporation.) Leslie at Open would say, “David Sylvian’s solo album is coming out in two weeks, would you like me to order one for you?” or “You like Ultravox, have you checked out Visage? There’s a different singer but Midge Ure and Billy Currie write the music…”

My friend talked about trading hard drives of music, but it having no real value, being merely unseen data without context, unsavored. Our situation was just the opposite back in the early 80s; we had to intentionally work to discover music. Each new musical experience was gained by overcoming obstacles, finding something unique. The hunt gave the music a lot of value. While most of my classmates were listening to The Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” or “Sgt Peppers” for the seven thousandth time, I was adventuring into the musical unknown. These albums I found meant so much to me. The obscure music we followed was wrapped deeply into how we identified ourselves. We were underground, individual, non-mainstream. Music was part of that identity,

I began my fanzine, Alternative Rhythms, to cover a mix of the European bands I was interested in, plus local South Florida bands I’d hear about from singles at Open Records. South Florida’s music scene was diverse; we had electro-pop from Futurisk (“Split Second Decision” 1982, on YouTube) and Stones/Velvet Rock-n-Roll from Charlie Pickett (“If This is Love, Can I Get My Money Back” 1983, on YouTube). Writing about music served as a pretext to get into bars when I was underage, I went out to cover these bands for the ‘zine.

Music discovery meant everything to me. That’s still true today. My job at Projekt is finding new music, and spreading the word. It’s a different era, yet it’s similar to 35 years ago; the difference is now I have taken on the role of being the person who exposes new music to people. Music is part of who I am.


DOVE: the band of love. Devo’s Christian Rock alter-ego from 1980. Read a short article & watch 3 videos at Dangerous Minds

Burger King Japan goes goth with a black bun and burger.

I just voted for STEVE ROACH! Show your support by voting for Steve’s music in Echoes Radio’s 25th anniversary poll.

Because we all want to smell a bit more like Brian Eno! Knock-off perfume using the Before and After Science image.

This New York Times article had an interesting factoid regarding how little experience the current Republicans have. And I mean experience making the government function. Besides the speaker, no member of the House Republican leadership was in Congress for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or the invasion of Iraq. The top six Republican leaders have served a collective 64 years in the House. The top three Democratic leaders have served 80. “This is unique,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “You now have a sizable number in leadership who were not there when the parties routinely worked together or who have a significant understanding of operating in divided governance. The only thing they’ve seen is tribalism.”

September Top-5 in the Projekt webstore Dirk Serries – The Origin Reversal (with Bonus CD) CD $15 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with 2 bonus CDs) (Pre-order, shipping late September) CD $15 Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP (sold out) Metcalf, Nerell & Seelig: Intention / Tree of Life / Dream Tracker 3-pack 3-CD $29 Sam Rosenthal: Rye (an erotic novel) Novel $12

Sep 05

10 cds for $30 — Electronic Clearance Box — limited offer

Hi. This offer is limited to 60 copies, order your box today! Shipping within the USA + international.

• 10 CDs in the box. This is an ambient/electronic box: all 10 CDs are ambient / electronic. • These boxes are pre-made from overstock CDs. We cannot put specific titles in for you. We pick the albums you receive. • All barcodes are struck. • Most CDs are in digipaks or ecoWallets. CDs will be removed from jewel boxes where applicable (this saves you postage). • If you purchase two boxes, you will receive the same titles twice • No refunds or replacements except if you receive a defective title. Then you will be issued a $3 refund.

Sep 01

Non-attachment & writing & not over-laboring

“Once you label me you negate me.” – Soren Kierkegaard

From Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…

Hello to everyone on this day of non-laboring.

My novel, Rye, was published nearly two years ago (Nov 5, 2012). It’s an erotic novel; however for myself, many of the reviewers and people who’ve read the book, it’s more than that. Ultimately, it’s about characters and the lives they are trying to build together.

Underneath all the androgyny and fluctuation, the book’s about human connection. Rosenthal’s use of sex and gender identities to illustrate how we reach toward and away from relationships is merely a new approach to an old idea: We all need intimacy with others to deepen our understanding of ourselves.”— Time Out Chicago.

One of the subtexts of Rye comes from a nugget I found in Buddhism’s Diamond Sutra text. As in the Kierkegaard quote above, it’s the idea that most of the time we don’t see things for what they are, because we are misled by our perception of the thing. Once we categorize or describe something, we expect it to behave like the label we have ascribed to it.

In this bit, Matt (the narrator) relays to his partner Rye (a science teacher) a few quotes from a monk he interviewed for a documentary he’s working on:

     “ ‘Where there is a description there is a deception.’ And something about ‘we’re all part of the continuity of things changing their form, because the real nature of things is that there’s no definable single state.’”      “I was with you there at first. But that second half…?” Rye sounds doubtful.      “Rye, the world changes under the weight of our perceptions.”      “That’s crazy-talk, Matt! Things are what they are. Don’t taunt me.” I picture his wrinkled nose and frown. “I respect Buddhism, but it can be a bit out there. Science is absolute.”

Later in the story, without really noticing it, Rye has a more understanding view of the topic. This is an exchange between Rye, and Mischa (Matt’s 12 year old son), as they walk home from Misha’s Summer Camp.

     “It’s different from what you’re usually taught,” Rye says.      “Dad reads to me about something like that. About illusions and not being stuck in how we describe things. The words that are just a story.”      I smile at Mischa, proud that he made the connection.      “Yeah, you got it, kiddo,” Rye says, standing slowly and patting his shoulder. “They’re all a bunch of words. I’m just me. You see who I am.”      “…and the words don’t really matter,” Mischa says, finishing Rye’s thought.      “You two are great,” I say, taking one in each arm. “I think I’m gonna keep you both.”      Rye smiles and kisses my cheek.

Since concluding Rye in 2012, I’ve been thinking about the follow-up novel; my plan is to pick up where the story left off.

I’d like to report that I’ve been doing more than “thinking about” it and actually “working on” it. But that wouldn’t be true. I’ve been unable to begin, as often happens after finishing a creative work. Some artists go right back to work; they use their head of steam to get down to business. I’m different. I always feel the need to delay and collect new ideas; to let the sail deflate, and wait for the next breeze.

I’ve had vague ideas about what would happen with the characters; I’ve been preparing for an idea to show up, another Buddhist theme to serve as a subtext for the next novel. [ Yes, I know. As an aside one could ask, “Who writes an erotic novel, based around Buddhist ideas?!” ]

Reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I came upon this line:

“In The Discourse on the Many Realms, the Buddha taught that all of our anxieties and difficulties come from our inability to see the true face, or true sign of things, which means that although we see their appearance, we fail to recognize their impermanent and interbeing nature.” (Page 77)

Oh, I like that.

I like that this builds upon Rye‘s thread about failing to see things as they are. My brain quickly connected that with other ideas concerning relationships, and the pain we feel when they crumble. I wrote this in my journal:

Part of suffering comes from our attachment; our inability to accept that everything is transient. We fall in love, and we want it to stay that way forever. We take it for granted when we have it. And we don’t want it to end when we have already lost it. How can you enjoy love to it’s fullest while it’s happening, yet let it go when it’s over? Can we say, “That was nice, and now it’s gone”? Because that’s going to be true of everything in life: there is nothing we will take with us, at the end. How can we enjoy it to its fullest and then smile and let it go?

This got me quite excited.

It seems that one of the hardest things to do is to live with this sort of non-attachment.

Many assume ‘non-attachment’ means to not care for things. Rather, it means to care deeply, yet also to allow things to be free; to not hold too tightly. “Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.” – Kathleen McDonald, How to Meditate

Thich Nhat Hahn says there are three essential elements: Non-attachment, impermanence and bliss. I think a thorough understanding of the first two leads to the third; Hahn would also say that they all inter-are. That you cannot have any one of them without the other.

Much to think about.


New in the store

Ataraxia: Wind At Mount Elo | CD $18 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Holdrejtek | CD $23 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Rego Rejtem Re-issue | CD $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Of Dreams Forgotten and Fables Untold Re-issue | CD $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Mohalepte Re-issue | 2-CD $25 Spiritual Front: Vladimir Central 12″ (Extremely Limited, Only A Few Copies Available!) | Vinyl $35


Listen to Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic performed in an aquatic center. This is a pretty great live rendition of this piece. Video at youTube.

Maybe Raccoons are the new goats which were the new cats. Oy! These things change so quickly! Raccoon dentist at youTube.

Cats say, “Wait, we’re not done with our reign just yet!” An oldie goldie, Olympic Cat Curling.

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email

I posted a Facebook link to this New York Times article. As a boss, I totally endorse what it says; I think it’s CRAZY that many of my friends are expected to answer their work email 24 hours a day. Screw that! You’re not slaves; employers don’t have the rights to expect replies when you are off the clock.

My friend, Sam Saia, replied: I’ve always refused linking my business email to my cell phone for this very reason. My shift begins at 8:30am and ends at 5pm Mon-Fri. End of story!

This blog by Tim Ferriss talks about making more time for your own work, by spending less time taking in other people’s work. To that end, he suggest checking your email only twice a day! “The real hard part, of course, is keeping yourself away from that damn inbox. Get on a strict low-information diet and focus on output instead of input; your wallet and weekends will thank you for it.”

Aug 24

ProjektList#140825, Sam’s thoughts about music, Projekt, Q&A

From Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…

It’s become obvious to me: over the last few years Projekt has become a (primarily) electronic/ambient label.

For clarity, I do not mean the EDM/dance style of electronic & ambient music. I mean floating, drifting meditative ambient, or adventurous drone / space-music electronics. For simplicity, I will refer to this side of Projekt’s sound as “electronic.”

I began Projekt 31 years ago, releasing a few compilation cassettes, and a whole bunch of my own solo-electronic music. In 1986, I released the first album from my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl; the label’s sound began an evolution toward a goth / ethereal / darkwave perspective. Projekt really came to people’s attention in the early 90s, with the success of the rock-side-of-the-label acts Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Lycia, and Love Spirals Downwards. Fans and writers called Projekt “the American 4AD.” But I wasn’t soley focused on one sound; at the same time as the darkwave heyday, I was releasing electronic music. In fact, the fourth band on the label was O Yuki Conjugate, with their tribal ambient masterpiece, Peyote. In late 1995, I released the first Steve Roach album on Projekt, his double-CD collaboration with vidnaObmana, Well of Souls. Parallel to the darkwave sound, the electronic side continued to grow.

I dug into the numbers, to see if my hunch was right about the direction the label has taken. I tallied up the last 12 month’s royalty payments, and sorted the artists into electronic or darkwave.

On royalties paid to the label’s top-25 acts, 69% went to the electronic artists, 31% to the darkwave artists. Yes, 69%! A big chunk of the 69% goes to Steve Roach, while on the darkwave side much of that 31% goes to Voltaire. If you pull those two artists, and compare the rest of the acts, the ratio skews slightly more darkwave, yet remains nearly the same: 64% electronic / 36% darkwave.

My hunch was correct.

Now, part of this shift can be attributed to the lack of releases from my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. We were a big part of those sales in the 90s, but as the label grew busier I’ve taken less and less time to work on my own music. With Lycia and Love Spirals Downwards and Mira gone, the bands that contributed the bulk of the rest of the darkwave side are no longer here to keep up the tradition.

You might have noticed that Projekt’s CD output reflects this switch, with many more electronic releases in the last two years. I still love the darkwave bands, of course. But I want to focus on what you are interested in.

Various Artists: 10 Projekt CDs for $25 Projekt has tons of overstock CDs in our storage space: wonderful music that longs to be heard! Help us clean up the place, and receive hours of enjoyment at the same time! $25 gets you 10 random Projekt CDs focussed more on the darkwave genre: a surprise selection of amazing Projekt music.

Questions and Answers

I asked people on Facebook to post questions for me. If you have a question, email, and I’ll get to it.

‪Chris Zubryd‬ asked: Is being in a band AND running the label like directing a film in which you have a main role?

Sam: I put your question first, Chris, because the answer is a good seque from the section above. As I said, as the label devoured more of my time, I spent less time on Black Tape For A Blue Girl. This is one of the reasons it’s been five years since the last album. At any other label, if the #2 band wasn’t making music, the label owner would beg, plead, and blackmail them to get off their rear-end and make new music. Wearing both hats, I find it hard to get out of the Projekt chair, and into the studio. I feel an urgency with other artists’ work. They contact me, and ask, “What’s up with my album release?” While the guy at Blacktape never sends me an email. : )

‪Scott M. Neth‬: Are you still running Darkwave distribution? The reason I asked is because I used to buy from Darkwave for a record store I ran back in the 90’s and I’d be kind of curious how you think think the distribution industry has changed since then. Back then, distribution used to kill our small store because for major labels we could only buy direct (from Warner, BMG, etc) and we couldn’t compete with the Best Buy’s and Walmart (they’d force us to buy a large inventory of ¢rap we couldn’t sell to get the stuff we could) so we totally shifted our focus to buying from small(er) indie companies like Darkwave, a few little punk distribution companies and Saddle Creek Records (and it saved our store).

Sam: Yeah, that was one of the many STUPID things the record industry did: co-op. Basically, us labels had to bribe the stores (Tower, Borders, Best Buy – but also indies) to stock our CDs. Discounts at places like Best Buy were so deep that they could sell for less than what a small store like Scott’s paid to buy the CD. It was idiotic. There were other kinds of co-op besides discounts. A Borders’ listening station was effective in the 1997-2001 period. We introduced a lot of people to Projekt’s music that way. But buying a 1/4 page ad in the Village Voice so Virgin-Union Square would do a Mira instore? That probably wasn’t the best use of Projekt’s money. Still, it was the game we all had to play back then.

These days, chains like Newbury’s in the Boston area want a massive discount. They want something unreasonable like a $4 discount per CD (a store usually pays between $10 – $12 per unit); the discount is not so they can stock it in their stores, but so they can undercut everyone else in the Amazon marketplace. Apparently many labels give them this deal, we do not. I don’t need Newbury to sell at Amazon. I need them to stock Projekt CDs in their stores. Which they do not. So screw them, basically! : )

Back to Scott’s question. No, we don’t really sell directly to retail stores anymore. eOne Distribution and the one-stops do that for us. If you run a store, and you want to talk about whatever, drop me a line.

‪Brian John Mitchell:‬ Would you rather be remembered as the ‘Projekt guy’ or the ‘black tape for a blue girl guy’ or something else?

Sam: BJM – I’d rather be remembered as a good dad. By my son. : )

‪Brian John Mitchell:‬ Also… is the blog more for your personal use to document things or to give fans insight to what you do or to hopefully generate additional traffic & sales (essentially an advertisement in a way) or a mix of all these?

Sam: A mix of the second two, definitely. There’s a movement to take the internet back from Facebook: a return to using your own site to host your thoughts. I think that this blog also serves as “therapy” to get myself through Facebook-withdrawl. I spend time writing these blogs, instead of looking at cats scratching bob marley vinyl on Facebook. (ha!)

Also, I’m sick of arguing with people / pirates on Facebook. They tell me how the music business works, when they don’t know what they’re talking about! Running a label is what I do. I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s not just a “hunch” when I say sales are down, and people getting music for free has hurt sales. I have a good deal of experience in the music business!

Ooops. Sorry, I got onto a Facebook rant. I have a lot of experience running a label, and it’s fun to share what Projekt has been through. So, yes, it serves a combination of your 2nd and 3rd suggestions. And yes, I hope it encourages people to support Projekt’s music.

‪Alisa InCupcakeland:‬ Why did you decide to start with Projekt Records?

Sam: The label began 31 years ago, and I’ve been running Projekt as my full-time job for over 20 years! When I started, I was making a fanzine in Florida, called Alternative Rhythms. In 1783… oh, I mean 1983… I released a cassette of some of the bands I was writing about, called Projekt Electronic South Florida vol. 1. You can see a list of out-of-print Projekt releases from that era.

‪Nils Inge Graven:‬ I would like to know how I can get the South Florida compilations!

Sam: I suggest eBay. I don’t have contracts with any of those artists anymore. I don’t even know where to find most of them. I couldn’t ethically re-release those cassettes at this point. Those early cassettes are really rare, I made perhaps 100 – 150 of each of them.

‪James Hopkins‬: More about distribution would be interesting. How you set it up and kept it going all these years. That’d be great to read.

Sam: When Projekt started, I was in College, living in Florida. I would put cassettes on consignment at a few local record stores and also sell them mail-order via little ads in magazines like Option and Sound Choice. As I moved into LPs and then CDs, I worked with a variety of distributors that sold to stores. In the 1991-1997 period, Projekt didn’t have an exclusive distributor, to get CDs to stores we sold through Cargo, Silent, Rough Trade, Caroline, etc. etc. I sold to everyone, and it was a mess getting paid.

Here’s a story.

One of the companies that bought from Projekt was Tower Records. In around 1994 (I believe), Tower owed Projekt $50,000 for Blacktape, Love Spirals Downwards and Lycia CDs they ordered and sold through the stores. Like almost every vendor back then, they were late at paying. Or just flat out refused to pay. I put Tower on hold and kept nagging them, but they wouldn’t pay up; they knew Projekt needed them more than they needed me. $50,000 not paid for 6 months would have put most little labels out of business. Fortunately for me, I had cash flow from other distributors, including overseas. Hyperium sold a lot of Projekt CDs, at that time. Eventually, Projekt had new albums from a few of the bigger bands, and I remember talking on a pay phone while visiting New York City, I was telling the finance person at Tower that they’d have to pay up to get these new titles. I guess they wanted the releases because they agreed and sent me a check. After I cashed it, I told them to screw themselves. I wasn’t going to send them any more CDs unless they paid me up front; I didn’t want to find myself stuck in the same situation with them, in six months. They were REALLY pissed off and told me Projekt will never be stocked in Tower again. Maybe it was stupid of me to make that choice, however I don’t like working with partners who dick me around.

In 1997 when Projekt went exclusive with Ryko Distribution, Tower stocked our CDs again. So, it ended well. For Projekt, at least. My label is still in business. A few bankruptcies later, Tower is gone.

‪Alisa InCupcakeland:‬ This is kind of off topic but.. do you have a book recommendation?

Sam: Sure. My book recommendation is my erotic novel RYE; a good option if you’d like a fun, silly, serious love story. With lots of non-mainstream sex…. : )‪ Get it for Kindle at Amazon or buy the signed physical book from me!

‪Frost V. Insomnium‬: I also miss printed catalogs, I could meditate on what to buy while lying on my bed, watching tv, using the bathroom. Instead of spending time tied to a computer

Sam: But ‪Frost,‬ you can do all those things with a laptop: “lying on my bed, watching tv, using the bathroom” : ) But yes, I have ideas about a new printed thingie! I am thinking of making a paper-catalog again; perhaps starting with the 3-fold sheet of paper, like in the early days. I think that would be very cool.

Ok, we have time for one more question. Over there in the back, Yeah, the guy raising his hand… : )

‪Steve Baldwin:‬ Well, was it worth it?

Sam: I support myself from Projekt. I haven’t had “a real job” in 20 years. So hell yeah, it’s worth it! All of you make it possible for me to do this. I support myself and my son from your interest in Projekt and the artists I work with. That’s really worth it!

Back in stock

Voltaire: Hate Lives In A Small Town CD $14 Android Lust: The Dividing (10th Anniversary edition Vinyl) 2xLP $25

Some recent review excerpts Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence (3-CD reissue) reviewed in Yoga Journal

“Each track arises from silence, coming to full volume like a film slowly coming into focus. From there, listeners waft along a gentle current of majestic bass swells, chimes, and soft-focus clouds of billowing sound.” – Yoga Journal September 2014. Purchase the CD for $18 at the Projekt site / Stream or Digital Download for $18 at Bandcamp.

Steve Roach’s The Long Night Structures From Silence reviewed in Santa Sangre Magazine

“Using analog and digital synths but also traditional instruments such as ocarina and cedar flute, as well as field recordings, the first words that come to mind when searching for a verbal description of this music, are ‘shamanic’ and ‘earthly.’ . . . A mysterious, ghostly aura always hovers above this landscape of abstract elements and fading apparitions.” – Santa Sangre Magazine. Purchase the CD for $14 at the Projekt site / Stream or Digital Download for $10 at Bandcamp.

Erik Wøllo’s Tundra reviewed at Star’s End

“As with all of Wøllo’s releases the use of sound on Tundra is not only dramatic but infinitely subtle in its scale of values and carries a hidden story… Some of the five tracks on Tundra suggest a yearning for spiritual fulfillment through increasingly bright hues and mounting forms, while others explore the lure of the unfamiliar, the remote and the primitive.” – Purchase the CD for $14 at the Projekt site. Only 5 copies left! / Stream or Digital Download for $4 at Bandcamp.


Bettie Page was the #8 top-earning dead celebrity in 2013. Who knew!?

There’s a new Amanda Palmer article, that got everyone all grumpy on my Facebook page. I don’t know if anyone actually read it, or were just upset by the headline and Amanda’s name. Honestly, I haven’t had a chance to read it, yet, but Amanda often has interesting insight into things. I’m going to make a bullet points list of the things she writes that could apply to us.

Interesting infographics from the New York Times. Very few New Yorkers move to Oregon. Californian transplants are the largest people moving in; this explains why Portlanders love New Yorkers and dislike Californianers. Check your state…

And here’s the other half of The Dresden Dolls! Get your Brian Viglione t-shirts, Underwear, etc…. it’s the Viggie close-out sale.

Saturday September 6 Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace Book Panel. Brooklyn’s Rough Trade Record Store present this discussion on 1980s goth subculture (fashion, music, evolution) in the US/NYC – moderated by Kate Eichhorn. Athan Maroulis (of Black Tape FOr A Blue Girl and Nori is on the panel). Frankie Teardrop spinning rare postpunk and goth vinyl. No wristband required.

Not surprising to anyone who works in the record business: Streaming Isn’t Saving the Music Industry After All, Data Shows. Read the article at Digital Music News.

“Life After Brooklyn” is an informative New York Times article about housing prices in Brooklyn, and how it is driving many long time residents out of NYC completely. I was one of those in the diaspora.

My son is very excited by the Goatcam. We have it as a private channel on the Roku Box, so we can stream goats all day! : )

Digital Ferret exceeded their indiegogo goal. The store will transition to Joe soon! There’s still time to donate, and get some great music at a great price.

A free sampler from Black Tape For A Blue Girl The Collection sells for $5 at iTunes, or get it for free at blacktape’s Bandcamp page. Ten songs spanning twenty-eight years of music. Thanks so much for your interest.

Please share this link with your friends:

If you want to share this email with your friends, here is the shortcode:

Aug 12

One year anniversary

From Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal

We just had our one year anniversary. “Of what?” you ask? Of Joe running the webstore. “Joe?” you ask, now even more perplexed as you lean in toward your monitor. Yeah. You remember? Remember last year at the end of August, I packed up Projekt and drove cross-country? At that point, Joe took over the fulfillment on the Projekt webstore. “Really?” you ask. “I don’t remember this!” Ok… Maybe it’s because I never mentioned it. That must be it. : )

But things have been running wonderfully, haven’t they?

Projekt orders are filled out of Philadelphia’s Digital Ferret record store. Joe has been the full-time manager of the shop for ten years (that’s him in the photo above, note the Remnants of a deeper purity vinyl on the shelf behind him!). Last Summer, as I prepared for buggin’ out of Brooklyn, Shea and I discussed possibilities for the webstore. One idea was for Shea to take it over, get a space and keep it in NYC; but the rents are just too high out there; without the label income, the webstore would have a hard time making ends meet. Besides, Shea had other plans (moose, travel, lattes, sheep, bikes, life!).

I hit upon the idea of out-sourcing. But India was too far away for mail-orders (Ha! No. No! I never actually considered India). When Shea and I discussed possible partners, we realized the best fit would be a similar business with experience filling web-orders. Ideally, it would be a partner that understood this genre; who could keep things moving seamlessly.

Working with Joe made perfect sense. Digital Ferret Records was already a customer for Projekt CDs; and we both stocked similar import titles, sourcing a lot of the releases from our friends at Audioglobe Distribution in Italy. A big up-side to working with Joe was combining our ordering power, he could order more often from Audioglobe, providing faster fulfillment and a wider variety of titles in the Projekt store. This change was an improvement, not just a solution.

Now it’s been a year and everything has been running great.

[ I have to admit that it was odd for me, to part from my mail-order department. I’ve been sticking musical recordings into packages – and then into the mail – for 30 years. It was a change, not having this department under my roof. But now it feels really good, because things work so effortlessly. And since you’re probably wondering… Yes! Shea still works for Projekt. She does behind-the-scenes label promotions stuff, as well as works on the website, tweets, facebookering, etc. Stuff she can do from the international space station, or wherever she’s at this week! ]

I asked Joe if he wanted to add anything to this post, and he emailed back: “I am not really one for words. Music is my passion. The more engulfed in this world I am, the happier I am.”

Shea and I really want to thank Joe for picking up the ball and running with it. And I bet our mail-order customers want to thank you, too. Now they know who to thank. It’s Joe!!

You can leave Joe a comment when you place your next order at

Bandcamp top-5 of the last 30 days#1 Various: Summer 2014 – electronic & ambient sampler #2 tie: Erik Wollo: Tundra (ep) #2 tie: Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever #4 tie: Loren Nerell / Mark Seelig: Tree of Life #4 tie: Steve Roach / David Kelly: The Long Night

Aug 11

ProjektList#140811, Sam’s thoughts about music, creativity, Gimme Shelter…

Grab your cup-o-joe, and get into today’s email list from Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…

Last Friday, I went to the movies and caught a 35mm print of the Maysles’ documentary, Gimme Shelter; it’s about the 1969 Rolling Stones tour that ended with the horrific Altamonte free concert. There are so many thoughts still running through my head. Imagine being Mick Jagger: 26 years old, at the height of the Stone’s 60s popularity. What an amazing & scary position to be in. And think of the culture as the 60s drew to a close: “It was also a grim time around the world. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the Tet Offensive, the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring – all of these were recent memories.” (open culture)

Mick was attractive and charasmatic, the Stones were hot! What did people really expect them to do? They were in the middle of a messed up situation, they tried to calm the audience and Angels down, they played their music, they got the hell out of there. Obviously there should have been real security, and a moat between the audience and the stage. But sometimes things are just bad; none of the acts on stage were able to prevent the way that day went down.

That day, almost 45 years ago.

Although I run a goth/electronic/ambient label, I was informed by the late-60s rock-n-roll sensibility. I think in those terms, as far as success, and popularity, and reach. Sadly, it’s a world that is receding into the past. What band is as big as the Beatles or the Stones? Who puts out music that is as meaningful to such a large group of people? Do fans still follow a band’s progress like they did back then, anticipating their next single or album?

Download this great compilation, your soundtrack to today’s elist. It’s a pay-as-you-wish Projekt electronic / ambient sampler. Ninty minutes of fabulous music, available for download or streaming at Bandcamp.

People often tell me that in order to keep Projekt alive, I have to get with the times: I have to run a label based on the modern way the record industry works. This is usually said by people who don’t realize I have been keeping up with the times; I am aware of the industry trends. It doesn’t mean I agree with all of them, or want to follow all of them. It doesn’t mean that all of the trends apply to the music Projekt releases.

Projekt is still here; I run the label for the people who follow the label. Projekt still functions in the world of selling stuff, and money earned off albums that artists have recorded.

The music business today is about giving music away for free to gain “exposure,” to enable touring and merchandising – this is where the big artists make their money. The Stones or U2 or Lady Gaga earn hundreds of millions of dollars touring. The biggest source of income is no longer the recorded album.

Which is sad. Because there are so many classic albums that mean so much to me. Fripp & Eno’s No Pussyfooting never would have existed, if 1973 was only about playing live or singles. Sad.

And yet I am still thinking about albums, and concept albums, and my friends recording in their home studios. That’s what I do, that’s the way I work. The nice thing is that there are fans out there who appreciate the recorded work of Projekt artists. When I check the stats, about 66% of Projekt’s digital income comes from full-album downloads. And physically, the label is almost entirely full-albums.

Projekt’s not a hit-song label. Voltaire is the exception. He has tracks that are massively downloaded individually, rather than as part of an album. But when somebody is interested in Steve Roach or Erik Wollo or Unto Ashes, they generally want the whole album. They want to dive into the work. I think that’s  a legacy of the 60s and 70s perspective on music.

I am told that’s yesterday’s news, and I should get over it. But come on! I love that world.

I’m a rock-n-roller. I want to listen to an artist’s vision: 40 or 60 minutes of their work. I rarely put on single songs. I listen to albums. I know it’s archaic of me; yet it’s the way music exists for me. As a listener and as an artist.

Black Lung: The Great Golden Goal  $15 Die Form: Rayon X Standard CD | $19 Grendel: Soilbleed Redux V.2   $12 Hexperos: Lost in the Great Sea | $20 In Strict Confidence: Lifelines Vol. 1 (91-98) – The Extended Versions $16

In Strict Confidence: Lifelines Vol. 2 (98-04) – The Extended Versions $16 The Klinik: 1984-1991 8-CD Box Set | $90 Lacrimosa: Live in Mexico City  $30 Lustmord: Beyond Re-issue  $15 Lustmord: The Dark Places of the Earth Re-issue  $15 Noisuf-X: Invasion Limited 2-CD  $24 Raison D’etre: Requiem for Abandoned Souls Expanded 2-CD Re-issue | $22 Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever with Bonus CD | $14 (only a few bonus CDs left) Steve Roach: The Desert Collection (Volume One) | $14 Tanzwut: Eselsmesse Limited Edition 2-CD | $25 Various Artists: History of NDW  $22 Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP | $10

I am often told by people (on Facebook) that the album format is dead. They say we should all give up on that and release singles. Or Eps. I know the Cocteau Twins used to do that in the 80s, and I was always excited to hear their new work. Yet, I really loved getting a whole album, so I could drift below the surface and immerse myself in the world they created.

That’s the way I imagine Projekt fans: I imagine you’re a lot like me. You anticipate hearing where your favorite artist is going to take you. What new experience will they bring? That’s what music means to me. Yeah.

And that’s what I do in my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. I work on a set of songs that capture where I am at; I capture a certain moment in time. Alas, it takes me longer and longer between albums; I get distracted by all my obligations at Projekt. But I try to give myself time alone, to focus on music. This weekend, I created the basis for two new songs. When I begin, I don’t have a melody or lyric in mind. I turn on the synths, or get out the guitar, and I layer sounds together. I let it evolve. There’s some sort of ineffable process. I don’t know why this instrument needs to be turned up, or why I chose that chain of effects to process a sound, or why I think, “it needs something stringy here.” But I just know it needs to happen; that’s the creative process. You can’t explain it.

I have a number of new tracks evolving (separate from the June’14 studio access release, which you can still download for free here). These are song-oriented pieces; some sound like they are going to be dark-instrumentals, with violins on top.

There are two pieces to this concept in my mind. One is “time” and the other is “return.” I have an idea to return to the mood and sound of this lush garden or remnants of a deeper purity. To work in that vein, but with modern tools. I am intrigued. The “time” component has to do with all of us changing, growing, evolving. What has happened to us since those albums were released? It was almost 20 years ago!< I'll be in NYC in October, and I plan to go into a studio to record with my band. We will work on the pieces I've begun here in Portland; I'm excited to hear what we come up with. If I'm happy with the progress, I plan to Kickstart a new album for 2015 release. Yeah, I know. Six years after 10 Neurotics! Forever. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” as John Lennon said.

See, that’s the way I think. All these quotes, and moments, and events from rock-n-roll history. They have shaped my brain. Shaped my identity. And shaped who I am as a musician.

Projekt is 31 years old this month. Most of my life has been shaped by rock-n-roll!

And who thought I would quote Taylor Swift, but here goes:

Arrows Through the Heart There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.

However, some artists will be like finding “the one.” We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans.

10 Projekt Cds for $15.

Purchase Here. Projekt has tons of overstock CDs in our storage space: wonderful music that longs to be heard! Help us clean up the place, and receive hours of enjoyment at the same time! $25 gets you 10 random Projekt CDs: a surprise selection of amazing Projekt music. This offer is limited, order your box today!

I know there are Projekt artists that you cherish, that will stay with you all your life.  Those of you who read this list and order from our store have probably found “the one.” And I really appreciate that it’s an artist I’ve released on Projekt. You are the people who support our creativity and truly value that we’re still out there on the edge, making new music.

Three weeks ago, Projekt released Steve Roach’s The Delicate Forever. The first 500 customers (at and projekt) received a bonus album, The Delicate Beyond. Steve and I brainstormed many different ideas for how to release that second disc, and what felt really good was giving it away with initial orders. We appreciate your support of Steve’s music, and your dedication to his creativity.

For artists, the number of loyal fans have decreased over the years. Yet speaking from my own experience with Blacktape, those of you who have stuck with me are more devoted than ever. I’ve learned this doing a few Kickstarters. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I’d connect with people via snail mail. Letters. Then when the internet came along, communication dropped off (strangely enough). Doing Kickstarters has rekindled this relationship. You tell me about the joy you get from the work I create. It really is a big thing for me.

I have to be honest. Back in the day, recording a song was a relief valve. It was a way to deal with personal angst (“For you will burn your wings upon the sun,” for example!). Over the years, I changed. I got more comfortable with myself. And being a dad has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with somebody, to love somebody completely, and be more than my own personal collection of angst and drama.

I still make music, but it serves a different purpose.

All along, the song itself was not the source of my satisfaction. What I was excited about was connecting with listeners: having my communication received. In other words, I don’t think I’d keep making music, if nobody heard it. It just wouldn’t fulfill me to make a song, and put it in a drawer. The completion of the communication is what I like.

For that reason, I should get over this concern I have about my music being out there for free. I will admit that I’m a contradiction in this regards. I grew up in the 70s, and came up through the 80s music scene when we sold cassettes and LPs. On into the 90s, Blacktape (and Projekt) sold a lot of music. Blacktape has sold over 120,000 units! These things (sales) indicate “success” to me as an artist. It meant my communication was being received. Nowadays, so much music is heard, but there is no real way to measure that ‘success.’

Maybe I just need to get over it?

I have to really think into this. Am I attempting to justify the change I don’t like? Or can I let go of the past and the old way of doing things? Can I move on with the way things are? As Buddhists say: Suffering is not accepting reality for what it is.

“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

I’ll admit that it fu¢ks with my head. Can I work with the way things are? My views of the past are sometimes productive, but sometimes they get in the way. There is only now.

I have a number of musician friends who – thought they won’t say it publicly – have given up on making music. They feel like a very personal part of themselves is taken for granted, or worse: stolen from them. They just aren’t happy anymore with what is going on, as well as the reality that they cannot break even making their art. It’s a great loss. It’s sad that they are chosing to quiet their voice out of disappointment.

For me, I know I have a dillema about this. I could use a therapist who talks us musicians off the ledge. Somebody who helps us see what we’re gaining in the new music industry. We’ve been raised with certain mileposts. Things have changed. That is clear.

Back to the Stones.

I never expected to write another “Gimme Shelter,” or play a free concert for 300,000 people. But I have grown up on rock, and music is my world. I do what I do because it’s part of me.

It’s really great that you enjoy it, and you allow me to live my non-mainstream life, via it. That’s pretty cool, people. Thank you again.



Agonoize: Apokalypse Limited 2-CD Berlin-based inferno of hard beats, brutal shouts and thudding bass. $23 Android Lust: The Dividing (10th anniversary 2-LP Vinyl edition) Limited edition on clear vinyl. $25 Ataraxia: Wind At Mount Elo Modern Classical/Neofolk masterpiece by the Italian project. $18 Cocksure: TVMALSV Bridging the gap between waxtrax! era industrial and future sounds of mass corruption. $14 Deine Lakaien: Acoustic II $25 Deine Lakaien: Farewell/Where the Winds Don’t Blow CDS First taster for the new album Crystal Palace. $11 Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Box A return to the sonic atmospheres of the early days (1986-1990). $49 Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Digipak +3 Bonus Tracks $25 Funker Vogt: Survivor 3-CD Box Collector’s Edition with bonus material and rare, unreleased tracks. $26 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD BOX A unique mix of electro-sounds and medieval atmosphere. $85 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD $23 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts $19 In Slaughter Natives: Cannula Coma Legio The band delves into more obscure ambient territories. $14 KMFDM: We Are Live album features favorites new and old. $14 Lustmord: Kraków October 22 2010 Live limited edition. $24 Pride and Fall: Turn the Lights On EP Remix contest EP with exclusive b-side. $15 Project Pitchfork: Blood 2-CD + Book An interlocked, carefully conceive, powerful dark electro album. $59 Project Pitchfork: Blood $20 Prude: The Dark Age of Consent Wild mix of 70’s NYC punk/glam with a harsh, damaged electronic edge. $14 Sequential Access: Sex Addict Anonymous 13 tracks of pure golden era electro-industrial. $14 Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht CD/Book All-new album with 36-page book. $55 Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht 2-LP $90 Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 4-CD Box Berlin-based group walks the tightrope between cinematic rock anthems and fragile ballads. $53 Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 2-CD $23 The Birthday Massacre: Violet LP Limited Ediition purple vinyl. $19 The Lonely Soul Experience: Path of Blood Blutengel’s Chris Pohl takes us into opulent fantasy-worlds. $19 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Holdrejtek Medieval-influenced ethereal vocals, violin, acoustic and percussion. $23 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Mohalepte 2-CD Re-issue Bonus cd includes three previously unreleased songs! $25 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold Re-issue $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Rego Rejtem Re-issue $22 Various Artists: Amphi Festival 2014 Who’s who of the electro and gothic scene. $15




Kurt Sutter Calls Out Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy Read it at Variety | This is really good, and worth reading. And sharing. “Google is in the process of systematically destroying our artistic future, and more importantly, the future of our children and grandchildren. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws.”

Tricky trademark question! Read it at | Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright

Stephen Colbert Gives Life Advice to Young Girls Watch it at 

Clintons Support de Blasio’s Push to Bring Democratic Convention to Brooklyn Read it at N.Y. Times | Well, don’t actually read it. I just wanted to point out this high quality, NYC snarksmanship: Asked about Mr. Rendell’s comments on Wednesday, Mr. Ragone replied, “Can you quote me shrugging?”

The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records Read it at N.Y. Times

Your Favorite Songs, Abridged Read it at | When they say “twice the music,” though, they actually mean half the song. That is, this station plays songs that have been heavily edited: long opening riffs, instrumental breaks, even a chorus or two might disappear. The goal, the station’s representatives say, is to keep listeners from getting bored.


Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever

“The title for this release is more than adequate, as the atmosphere it creates is so fragile and otherworldly that it feels as if it might shatter to little pieces at the slightest touch. . . . A concept so unreachable that it resembles a desert mirage.” – Santa Sangre Magazine

Purchase the CD $14 | stream or digital download at Projekt’s bandcamp store | 24/96 High Res at Spotted Peccary | purchase a download at iTunes .

Summer 2014 – Projekt electronic & ambient sampler

(pay-as-you-wish) Available at Bandcamp.

If you’d like to share this eList with friends, you can link to:


Aug 04

ProjektList#140804, Sam’s thoughts (continued). News, links + griping about the record industry .

Grab your cup-o-joe, and dive into today’s email list from Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…

Good morning! I want to start right off by saying Projekt is doing fine, my life is pretty great. Some people translated all the griping on last week’s list as some coded message that we’ve reach the end of days ’round these parts. Nope, not the case at all. I have a nice life thanks to all of you! I work for myself in a really lovely house from 1907, with my cat by my side. My son is here half the week, and I take breaks to make him lunch and be talked at about Minecraft. Almost every day I get on the phone with one of my favorite artists: Steve Roach! We’re always brainstorming great new things for you, working on album covers and promotions that keep the music flowing. I get to work with many other talented artists; and I just finished the bi-annually royalty payment mailing! I guestimate Projekt has paid $500,000 in royalties over the last 30 years. It’s a pretty sweet, gig, all things considered.

Please understand that grumbling about the state of the music industry is only one aspect of running Projekt. I’d speculate that thinking about this ¢rap occupies only 5 – 10% of my time! There is a lot of great stuff going on here; otherwise, I would have stopped doing this a loooooong time ago. – Sam

Download this great compilation, your soundtrack to today’s elist. It’s a pay-as-you-wish Projekt electronic / ambient sampler. Ninty minutes of fabulous music, available for download or streaming at Bandcamp.


Previously, on the Projekt eList…

On last week’s list (read here) I discussed the changes at Facebook that mean you’ll no longer see posts from the bands and artists you “liked;” and offered a chart of just how little income Projekt’s earn via Spotify. The most important bit of information (to get you up to speed for today’s list) is this:

At Spotify, on 6 months of Black Tape For A Blue Girl sales, the average per stream payment was $.00523 (before my distributor’s fees)…. If you average 13 tracks per album, and an earning of $155.39 for 2285 albums, that’s 6.80¢ per album. Hmmmmmmmmm? A cup of coffee or a beer is worth $4; an album is worth under 7¢ ?

This is the point that a lot of us artists find hard to believe. Today’s generation of “music fans” find it okee-dokey that an album is only worth 1.75% of what a beer costs at a baseball game!

and now a brief commercial interruption, before we begin… Available for pre-order at Projekt:

Android Lust: The Dividing 10th Anniversary 2-LP | $25

Expected Early August. EMOTIONAL INDUSTRIAL. 10th Anniversary edition of Android Lust’s critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Dividing. Released only digitally and as a limited edition clear vinyl, this version features brand new remixes from Collide, Gregory Stewart (Z Marr/Combichrist), I, Parasite, Inertial and R010R. Spiritual Front: Vladimir Central Ltd Ed Vinyl 12″ | $35 Expected Late August. A superlimited edition of 200 hand-numbered and signed (by Simone) copies. Special screenprinted vinyl (print on Side A, music on Side B). Including an insert and sticker and containing two new, exclusive songs.


picking up where list#140728 left off…

Now, I am sure you are not one of the people arguing that music should be (almost) free; I know that you support artists with your hard-earned dollars and your purchases of Projekt releases. But for the rest of these people: seriously?! Albums don’t just magically appear out of thin air. It takes a lot of time and effort for all of us to create this work. And while most of us love doing it, we certainly don’t mind being compensated for our effort. Voltaire crowd-funded nearly $54,000 at indiegogo for Raised by Bats, and he spent it all (and more) making the album! Artists pour hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into their creations.

When people consume these albums at a rate of 7¢ per unit, how can an artist ever hope to recoup their costs, let alone earn enough to live off? This is where the internet and streaming has brought us.

This is not healthy for society. Our society consumes a lot of art. Somehow, people have to decide that art is worth supporting. If nobody was listening to music, then I’d agree that we shouldn’t be paid. But clearly the music is being listened to… People want to hear music and watch movies and play games. Yet many don’t want to pay a living wage for it.

Most artists earn less than fast food employees.

And let me just say, Don’t give credence to the “but you make your money touring” meme. That’s an excuse to let somebody else pay the bill. Yes, U2 grossed $750million on their last tour. But — surprise surprise — Bono didn’t share any of that with us. 🙂 Black Tape For A Blue Girl loses money when we tour. Most Projekt bands lose money when they tour. A few (Voltaire, Steve Roach) make a profit. But the idea that most artists make a living touring? That is a false meme, designed to muddy the waters.

Where does Projekt’s digital income come from?

I pulled a report for one year of Projekt’s digital sales via our distributor, eOne.     #1 – 58% of Projekt’s digital income is from iTunes    #2 – 18% Amazon    #3 – 7% emusic    #4 – 5% Spotify (average = $.00485 per stream, 206 streams earns a dollar)    #5 – 4% Google Play    #6 – 3% YouTube (average = $.00089 per video played, 1123 plays equals a dollar)

Please note that this doesn’t include Bandcamp; their income does not come to us via eOne, because Projekt works direct with them, Bandcamp would be #2 on this chart, ahead of Amazon! Thanks so much for supporting Projekt directly; I really appreciate that! BC take a 12% fee, vs. the 33% that goes to iTunes+eOne. It’s better for Projekt and the artist when you buy at Bandcamp.

I’ve changed my mind (again) about Streaming music

Back in September 2011, I was completely anti-Spotify. No way! I didn’t want Projekt music up there! But then in late 2012, I saw the writing on the wall. “Everyone” was migrating to streaming, and many label owners told me that Spotify was their third biggest source of digital income, with no decline in their iTunes sales. It was extra found money, they said. It wouldn’t cannibalize download sales, they said. I figured I needed to play the game for a while, at least long enough to get good data to make a decision. I put up about 75% of Projekt’s music at streaming sites in early 2013. I didn’t announce this, I wanted to see what would happen organically. Would people discover the music? Would it find a whole bunch of lost Projekt fans? And would sales increase? I didn’t include every album. I really can’t get behind giving away the music that’s still selling at iTunes and Amazon and Bandcamp.

I know, I know. I’m a capitalist. I like money coming in so I can share it with my artists/friends.

I like paying to keep a roof over my head, and that guacamole I love so much!

2013 turned out to be the year that streaming won the war. Projekt’s digital sales dropped 30% year-over-year as people migrated to free platforms. The first 1/2 of 2014 saw a non-stop series of articles about the record industry taking a big hit in 2013. Why? Streaming. People are growing to like free music.

Hell, I like streaming!

I listen to a ton of music on rdio; albums that I never would have bought otherwise (in one two day period, I listened to the first seven Bob Dylan albums. Another evening, the first four from Depeche Mode. A few nights ago, two early Tangerine Dream albums I’ve never owned but have been curious about). I also stream albums I already own. I was given a free rdio subscription (because I’m in the biz!), but I recently paid for a renewal, rather than mooch another free extension. I use the service a lot, I want to pay…

What I pay will never properly compensate artists for the music I listen to. I know this.

And yet, even with the drop in income at Projekt, I was starting to lean towards an “Oh, why not?” attitude about tracks at streaming sites. If you can’t beat them join them. But last week, I went ape shit and freaked! Why? Tethered downloads! I realized “streaming” is a false term (thank you Fianna Jones and Todd Loomis for pointing this out). When people subscribe to Spotify, those streamed tracks can be downloaded to the listener’s device, and carried with them when they are not online (tethered downloads remain available, as long as they pay their subscription rates).

I’m an idiot, I didn’t realize that. This means “streaming” is absolutely replacing the sales of “digital downloads,” as they serve the same purpose. People can pay $10 for one album at iTunes, or $10 for every album available at Spotify, and they can carry it with them.

Shea commented: A tethered download is essentially a free download with an expiration date. It’s irresistible – what a great deal! It works in the airplane (since you already stored it)! It works in the car in the middle of nowhere. It works on the subway! Complete garbage!

Last week, I changed my streaming instructions with eOne. I left 17% of the label for streaming, essentially one album per artist (plus the entire Voltaire catalog).

Brian John Mitchell of QRD Records commented: “Spotify earnings go up in percentage pretty regularly for me as the overall digital earnings go down. Sigh….”

Yes, big sigh!

Yet another (mostly false) meme swirling around the internet is that streaming leads to sales. I know there are Projekt fans who tell me this is true for them; but they are a minority. For those who try before they buy, I left some music up for “exposure” purposes.

But let me ask this, “If streaming actually leads to sales, why aren’t sales up, instead of down?” Nobody has been able to refute this.

I also ask, “If streaming leads to sales, why doesn’t Spotify have a link to Amazon, with an affliate code so they earn a micropenny with every sale?” Answer: because they know streaming doesn’t led to sales in any meaningful way.

Exposure. If you want to hear music from Projekt’s latest releases, we have bandcamp embeds on all the album pages of the site. And you can hear full tracks from Projekt’s artists at bandcamp.

Spotify Hits 10 Million Paid Users. Now Can It Make Money? read at Bloomberg

Agonoize: Apokalypse Limited 2-CD Berlin-based inferno of hard beats, brutal shouts and thudding bass. $23 Android Lust: The Dividing (10th anniversary 2-LP Vinyl edition) Limited edition on clear vinyl. $25 Ataraxia: Wind At Mount Elo Modern Classical/Neofolk masterpiece by the Italian project. $18 Cocksure: TVMALSV Bridging the gap between waxtrax! era industrial and future sounds of mass corruption. $14 Deine Lakaien: Acoustic II $25 Deine Lakaien: Farewell/Where the Winds Don’t Blow CDS First taster for the new album Crystal Palace. $11 Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Box A return to the sonic atmospheres of the early days (1986-1990). $49 Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Digipak +3 Bonus Tracks $25 Funker Vogt: Survivor 3-CD Box Collector’s Edition with bonus material and rare, unreleased tracks. $26 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD BOX A unique mix of electro-sounds and medieval atmosphere. $85 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD $23 Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts $19 In Slaughter Natives: Cannula Coma Legio The band delves into more obscure ambient territories. $14 KMFDM: We Are Live album features favorites new and old. $14 Lustmord: Kraków October 22 2010 Live limited edition. $24 Pride and Fall: Turn the Lights On EP Remix contest EP with exclusive b-side. $15 Project Pitchfork: Blood 2-CD + Book An interlocked, carefully conceive, powerful dark electro album. $59 Project Pitchfork: Blood $20 Prude: The Dark Age of Consent Wild mix of 70’s NYC punk/glam with a harsh, damaged electronic edge. $14 Sequential Access: Sex Addict Anonymous 13 tracks of pure golden era electro-industrial. $14 Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht CD/Book All-new album with 36-page book. $55 Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht 2-LP $90 Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 4-CD Box Berlin-based group walks the tightrope between cinematic rock anthems and fragile ballads. $53 Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 2-CD $23 The Birthday Massacre: Violet LP Limited Ediition purple vinyl. $19 The Lonely Soul Experience: Path of Blood Blutengel’s Chris Pohl takes us into opulent fantasy-worlds. $19 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Holdrejtek Medieval-influenced ethereal vocals, violin, acoustic and percussion. $23 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Mohalepte 2-CD Re-issue Bonus cd includes three previously unreleased songs! $25 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold Re-issue $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Rego Rejtem Re-issue $22 Various Artists: Amphi Festival 2014 Who’s who of the electro and gothic scene. $15

On Facebook, Fianna Jones wrote: I disagree with you here, Sam. I think that over the lifetime of a song, paying per listen will generate higher revenue than paying to own. I could buy an album once, say for $15.00. After costs, that probably nets Projekt and the artist $3.00-$5.00 in unit profit. I may listen to that album 100 times over the course of the years which I own it. But you’ll never see another cent of revenue on that unit. If I use a service like Spotify, you see revenue every single time I listen to that song, even if I only listen to it for 10 seconds on shuffle. Best rate I can find as an average, Premium subscribers generate .0175 cents per play. So, if I listen to that album (the complete album, so say 10 songs) 100 times over the course of listening to that album on Spotify, I’ll generate $17.50 in revenue, with much lower distribution costs.

I replied: I understand this concept, but sorry, that $.0175 number is OFF! $.00485 per stream is the average for Projekt. 100 streams = 48.5¢. If you listen to a 10 song album x 100 times (1000 streams) you will generate $4.85. I think the math only works for an artist who gets 1,000,000 plays on a track ($4850). It doesn’t add up for fringe musicians.

David Daydodge (and others) wrote: Thank you. Streaming should be illegal until there are fair compensation laws in effect.

I replied: Someday, THE TRUTH will come out. Why are the major labels agreeing to this low royalty rate? The speculation is (a) they got a big upfront payment they don’t pay the artists (b) they have some sort of rigged accounting system, so they don’t pay artists until their # of plays pass a certain threshhold (c) they probably got stock which they will sell at the Spotify IPO.

I was talking about a different problem with the V.P. at eOne, our distributor. He said, “Sam, you’re right. This situation is fu¢ked up. But the whole record business is fu¢ked up. You’re trying to apply logic to the wild west.” And that comment is equally true here. I am making an ethical decision about Projekt artists’ music, even though I know it is mostly a pointless gesture.

On Facebook, Erik A. Ingmanndsen asked: If you feel it’s a pointless gesture (which I don’t) then why do it ??< I replied: Why follow through on a pointless gesture? Because it’s the right thing to do, ethically.

Scott Cortez (of Lovesliescrushing) commented: Yes, take music back and put it in the hands of musicians. Why does everyone feel entitled to take from musicians? No one expects people at Starbucks to give them coffee, a contractor to build your house, a doctor to operate, a portrait painter to paint your picture, or a writer to write shit for you for free or to pay these people fractions of pennies.

Loren Nerell shared this interesting Salon article. “More musicians are taking aim at the rates paid by Spotify and Pandora, and warning whole genres are in danger.”

I realize each artist has their own experience of what works for them; no two stories are the same. I like including comments from other people in the music industry, so you know it’s not just Projekt feeling this squeeze. Let’s read what another small label has to say:

Brian John Mitchell writes: For Silber Records, since Spotify launched I have taken a significant drop in digital earnings & if I could sell every CD in the basement at a loss I would do it, just to clear the space in my house.

My experience with bands I tour with (post rock, drone, metal, punk, slowcore, noise (I’m a little diverse)) is that physical sales at gigs are tough. It’s also worth noting that the rise of festivals modeled after CMJ/SXSW in every city with 100K people in it has made things even worse for young bands.

I do know some people who have generated some success over the past five years & I’m super happy for them. I wish I could say that they didn’t have family members shelling out ten grand per release to finance that success.

As the recent comments have said, all of this is anecdotal & I want to have a positive attitude I guess I must because yesterday I announced that I’m planning 20 releases on Silber in the next few months. At this point for me the music industry is still more fun & rewarding than video games, but maybe less fun rewarding than landscaping….

What about our friends in Greece? 

Hello Sam, My name is Dimitris and I live in Greece. I have to tell you that I really support your struggle for a better Projekt Records. I am not a fan of streaming services and like to buy the physical medium cds or LPs. Soooo I would like to buy some of Projekt records without to pay the double price for shipping from USA. Are there any solutions appart from buying from a record store (I couldn’t find many of your records (or in a reasonable price) here) or paying amazon etc?

Regards, Dimitris    

From Sebastian at my European distributor, Audioglobe: Unfortunately I don’t know which city in Greece you live in, but please note, that following shops in Greece buy PROJEKT titles from us and if they don’t have the title you are looking for, they will order if for you:




Michelle Shocked Releases Silent Album, Names Songs After Music Execs I assumed this article was an Onion joke, but it’s at Rolling Stone. Sorry, this won’t make up for that homophobic rant. Not cool, Michelle.

Much less offensive is the 20th anniversary show from Thanatos; available for free for a limited time at Bandcamp. Patrick is joined by William Faith, Tim Larsen, and Eric Polcyn as they perform a set which includes ten songs from This Endless Night Inside. When Pat runs out of free download codes, there will be a charge, so grab yours now. Or stream it for free, whenevs.

Projekt reviews at Sonic Curiosity: Loren Nerell & Mark Seelig: Tree of life Forrest Fang: The Wolf at the Ruins Byron Metcalf / Mark Seelig: Intention Alio Die & Sylvi Alli: Amidst the Circling Spires Erik Wollo: Timelines & Tundra

Last month, I forgot to mention Voltaire’s July Nooseletter. You can watch it at youTube. Voltaire says, “You’ll hear about the Raised by Bats Indiegogo campaign (what went right and what went wrong), the upcoming Legend of Candy Claws book! Find out what movies I will and won’t be in in the near future… and I unveil my secret project with the talented illustrator, Abigail Larson! Hint: it involves vampires, werewolves, demons and every guest artist on the Raised by Bats album!”

Watch Jean Michel Jarre perfrom Oxygene live, at Synthopia!

Why Is Iced Coffee in NYC Getting So Ridiculously Expensive? Ice ain’t free, ya know. Read at the Gothamist. And then tell me why ice + beans are worth $4.50, and an album is worth 7¢. Ok, wait? I made that point already, right? : )

<– Florian with his big Moog! This website has a good introduction to the many great albums of Germany’s Popul Vuh. Or, if you have no time for eyeball-read-read, this video for “Hüter der Schwelle” is a real standout! It’s an unusual Popul Vuh track that sounds a bit like an instrumental version of the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs!” (Granted, the track is from years later than the photo, and there’s no Moog in it…)

Eric Wøllo: Tundra ep

Limited to 200, our webstore has 25 copies still available, and then it will be sold out. Place your order today for $10 at Projekt, The Tundra EP finds Erik Wøllo creating fascinating atmospheric and rhythmic instrumental electronic music. This 30-minute 5-song ep features all new, previously unreleased tracks that showcase Erik’s ability to incorporate new and fresh elements into his music while remaining true to his unique style. On “Tundra,” “The Native Chant” and “Swirling Lights” the use of throat singing samples and vocals from Arctic indigenous people add a human, earthy element to the electronics.

Streaming & digital download at Projekt’s bandcamp store. Or purchase a download at iTunes.

Alternate Reality

I watched a documentary a few nights ago. In it, a major label band’s manager asked: What might have happened if the record labels had worked with Napster, before fans discovered the pleasures of stealing music?

Here is my extension on his idea: What if instead of suing Napster in 2000, the majors said, “Let’s turn Napster into a legit download store. We’ll give Fanning money, we’ll promote his site….” They could even have bought Napster, and turned it into what iTunes became a few years later. They could have done this, before all of the trouble began. Would it have stopped illegal downloads? No, probably not. But it might have provided a good groundwork for people purchasing music legally.

Sigh. Major labels = heads up a$$.

I message this Alternate Reality to David Lowery of The Trichordist Blog. He replied: True story: Immediately after the Napster ruling, Pfanning and Chris Castle put together something called SNOCAP which would have sat atop the piracy universe of limewire, grokster etc etc, and legitimized each transfer. They cleared it with all labels and publishers. But none of the ISPs or file sharing services would go along.

Ooops. And I was blaming the major labels for being stupid, when… surprise surprise… the problem was the tech industry. Why wouldn’t they go along? Because they like making money off something they didn’t pay to create.

This is where the problem really lies (and The Trichordist does a great job of documenting it with every post). The real reason Congress doesn’t act to stop piracy and/or get artists a fair royalty rate is because the tech industry is against fixing this problem. They make so much money the way things are, they are afeared that a fix will harm their income stream. Status Quo. Google feeds ads to all these sites. The locker sites sell premium subscriptions. Amazon wants you to subscribe to Prime (and forces labels to give our music away as part of the incentives). Why would they want to change any of this?

America has morphed into RoboCopland. We’re all serfs in the fiefdom of the corporations.

Summer 2014 – Projekt electronic & ambient sampler (pay-as-you-wish) Available at Bandcamp.

You like free stuff? We got free stuff!

Projekt’s new elist is an insightful read on how streaming has affected a great #Goth #electronic #ambient label. #ProjektRecords

Share a variation of the text above on your twitter feed (be sure to include the hashtag). On Tuesday, Shea will pick three lucky duckys (from those who shared), and give you a download album of your choice from the Projekt Bandcamp store. It’s easy! Snap Snap! Spread the word. Thanks.

Well. That was a lengthy look at the backstory of running a record label. I hope you found some interesting thoughts in here.

A few of you asked me to create a (non-Facebook) place where you could share comments about the eList. Your command is my wish! I’ve activated the Comments section on this Blog Post. It requires my moderation (unless you have a customer profile and are signed in, then your comments should post instaneous). I’ll check in regularly. Looking forward to reading your thoughts…


Jul 28

The Projekt List: Sam’s thoughts. News, links, and griping about the record business.

Facebook + Spotify. M’eh!

Listening to Swans: White Light From The Mouth of Infinity

Hi. Welcome to the Projektlist. Some of you recently joined in response to a message I sent you on Facebook… Welcome! I’ve been making this list more robust, with insight into my experience in the music business, art, and whatever else comes to mind.

In that personal message, I griped that Facebook has a new policy that is rendering the site useless for artists and labels. According to this article, “Increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach (of a post) is zero.” That’s right. They don’t want you to see posts from the pages of all those artists and bands and filmmakers you friended, unless we pay to promote (and the cost is between $40 – $150 — per post!!!) That means soon you will only see ads for GM and Taco Bell. Part of the plan is to have videos that auto-play, so when you go to check your messages, you will be subjected to squawky commercials. Just like the commercials on many youtube videos.

Boo, Facebook!

Facebook is growing more and more useless for me; at least I have a bright future to look forward to, one without Facebook in my life.

A small number of people (ok, three!) were quite angry at me for sending a business message to their Facebook inbox. Honestly, I’ve always used my Facebook profile for business, so it didn’t occur to me that this would be a problem. I did want to share one response, because it is an interesting opposing point of view:

AP wrote: Facebook has slowly become more and more about people advertising at each other and less about human interaction between friends. I can’t wait for FB to start charging businesses to make the sorts of “advert-posts” they’ve been allowed to post for free up until now. I think that step will significantly clean up our news feeds and bring them back to the kind of human, social, friend interactions that the site used to be focused on. I think you’re a good guy and I’m interested to hear how your life is going, but I don’t really know what “Projekt” is and I hate to say it but I don’t really care. I’m connected to friends on here because I want to find out when they start and end relationships and when they get married and have kids and how their day was and what’s going on with their lives, not because I want to be a captive target audience for free advertising. I wish you all the luck with your business, but I’m not interested in being on the mailing list. Also, please don’t private message me ads for it. Thank you.

It’s nice to know that my tidy interpretation of the world is not the only version of reality. While I see Facebook’s anti-organic strategy as really horrible, others see it as incredibly positive. I am not a fan of social networking sites for “personal” reasons. I would not be on Facebook for fun, and I get annoyed with myself when I find I spent half an hour on Facebook following links and doing nothing at all. It’s really addictive! Our brain is being rewired by technology and turning our attention span to $hit! Man! I have work to do. Why am I watching these cat videos? We know goats are the future!

Anyhow. It’s easy enough to unfriend me on Facebook. And if you’re sick of this email list, by all means use the “manage my subscription” tool on the bottom to unsubscribe yourself. You’re busy, I get it. I am not offended, and would rather not bother you, especially if you don’t know what Projekt is…

So somebody (on Facebook, naturally) replied in a thread, “Instead of focusing on the cool suggestions people are offering here, you… have given up on trying. So, the problem must be you. I respect your work, and the few real life conversations we’ve had were brief but good – but this attitude sucks, mister.”

This made me realize a few things. (1) People think they know you based on what you post on Facebook. I use it to promote, and gripe – one small part of who I am. I don’t post my real life on Facebook; it’s a buffer against being a public person. (2) People make their own assumptions and apply it to you. Have I given up? If I had, Projekt would have gone out of business years ago, (3) People think that posting variations on “Streaming leads to sales” and “Bands make a living going on tour” is helpful advice to somebody who has been surviving in this business for 30+ years. While these memes might be true for some artists, it is not true for most of us. I have not seen much evidence of streaming leading to sales on a significant level (I have heard individual examples of one sale now and then that results from streaming); and aside from Voltaire and Steve Roach, nobody on Projekt makes a profit on the road. There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution.

Ooooooh, wait, I got off my point. My point being….. I gripe on Facebook. It’s one of my characters over there: The guy at the record label who gripes and stands up for Artists’ rights. I guess maybe this guy missed the previous episodes of the show.

I must tell you that I am very grateful and appreciative of your support. Your love and hard-earned dollars & euros pay the bills over here. I realize that.

When I gripe about these things, it’s because many of you are interested in the inner working of the industry, and I have perspective on what it’s like. And what is it like?

it is like M’eh!  

So, let’s look at Spotify for a minute

Here’s a screenshot of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Spotify sales report for the first 6 months of the year.

The average per stream payment is $.00523 (before my distributor’s fees). The horizontal columns are albums (“the container”). The number on the right is the combined number of streams for all tracks on that album.  If you average 13 tracks per album, this is 2287 albums streamed. $155.39 for 2287 albums. That’s 6.79¢ per album. Hmmmmmmmmm? A cup of coffee or a beer is worth $4; an album is worth under 7¢ ?

The most-streamed releases on Projekt have many more streams than this. While many albums have fewer. In fact, 65% of Projekt’s releases at Spotify had under 1000 streams per; while the best-streamed was around 92,000 (bringing in $.00446 per stream)


Now a little commercial interruption. The ranking of the top-10 sellers since we revamped the webstore just under a year ago. Steve Roach’s July release – The Delicate Forever – moved up to the #2 spot!

#1 Lycia: Quiet Moments CD $14 #2  Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever (+ Bonus Disc) CD $14 (still a few bonus discs left) #3  Mercury’s Antennae: A Waking Ghost Inside CD $14 #4  Various Artists: PROJEKT200 ~ SALE 3-CD $14 #5  All my faith lost… Redefine my pure faith (Sold out!) | Bandcamp digital download $6 #6  Steve Roach: Structures From Silence (30th anniversary Remastered edition) 3-CD $18 #7  Stratosphere With Dirk Serries: In A Place Of Mutual Understanding CD $14 #8  Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP $10   (this one will be sold out pretty soon, buy now) #9  VARIOUS: Possibilities of Circumstance – SALE CD $5 #10  Forrest Fang: The Wolf At The Ruins / Migration 2-CD $17

Whoa! There’s still a whole bunch more eList that I’ve written; but this is already pretty long, and I’m sure your coffee break ended five minutes ago. I’m going to snip the rest, and continue next week. Here’s a teaser:

I’ve changed my mind (again) about Streaming music Even with the drop in income at Projekt, I was starting to lean towards an “Oh, why not?” attitude about tracks at streaming sites. If you can’t beat them join them. But this week, I went ape $hit and freaked! Why? Tethered Streams! I realized “streaming” is a false term (thank you Fianna Jones and Todd Loomis for this). When people subscribe to Spotify, those streamed tracks can be downloaded to the listener’s device, and carried with them when they are not online (“tethered,” as long as they pay their subscription rates). I’m an idiot, I didn’t realize that. This means streams are absolutely replacing the sales of “digital downloads,” as they serve the same purpose. SORRY, I AM NOT GOING TO HAND PEOPLE THE KNIFE TO HOLD AGAINST PROJEKT ARTIST’S THROAT. I’m taking most of Projekt’s music back down from streaming.

Please support Projekt’s artists at bandcamp.

If you want to comment on any of this, visit my Facebook page , where there are plenty of threads about these topics.

Do you want a QR code on your headstone? -Read the article at

YouTube star sued for copyright to the tune of $150,000 per song – Read at engadget | I see both sides of this. On one hand, Google’s argument would be that the label is getting paid their < $.00089 per video played, so they are technically compensated. Yet the artist’s argument is that the usage – like in a film or tv show – should be negotiated and fairly compensated. When does YouTube become like a network TV show? Is it the number of views the video gets? (Next week, I’ll document that $.00089 figure)

AARC Class Action Lawsuit against Ford& GM – Read at arcroyalties Really? The problem in the music industry is the hard drive in your Ford and GM automobile? Seriously, THIS is who they think they should be suing!?

Joe Biden is the last real eccentric, and he knows it, and he plays it to the hilt because it is so much of what he is. Tattered and worn and old as it is. Joe Biden’s freak flag still flies high and proud. – Read at

In Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar,” a record label exec says to the band, “You gotta get an album out, You owe it to the people. We’re so happy we can hardly count.” Great line! : )

I learned me at Wikipedia: The Endless River is the upcoming fifteenth studio album by British rock band Pink Floyd. Produced by David Gilmour, Martin Glover, Andy Jackson and Phil Manzanera, the album is set to be released in October 2014. Described as a “swan song” for Wright,The Endless River is mostly an instrumental album consisting primarily of ambient music. The album is based on unreleased material the band produced with Wright during sessions for The Division Bellin 1994, and was originally recorded under the tentative title The Big Spliff.

Paulina Cassidy review at Hypnagogue. Order the CD for $14 / Download for $9

“Fifteen atmospheric pieces that straddle the boundaries of ambient and dream pop wait for you here, with soft vocals chanting beneath heavy layers of echo and effect. Sugar Wingshiver is another excellent release from this unique artist. Take this journey.”

Two new albums added to Bandcamp: Steve Roach’s Immersion: One and Steve Roach’s Immersion: Two

Jul 21

The ProjektList July 21 2014 (thoughts, humor, and some music too. & Tapirs)

Witty Headline Goes Here

Another day, another band struggles to get their music heard. If you order a pie from Lonesome’s Pizza here in Portland, you might get a one-of-a-kind pizza box including a local band’s CD. Why? Because, few people want to buy music, but many people want to buy pizza!

Steve Roach and I were talking, and he mentioned a new Jon Hassell 3-CD box set version of City: Works of Fiction. It’s a reissue of a 1990 album with 2 bonus discs. I check in at rdio, and it’s up for streaming.

I don’t understand why labels think it’s a smart idea to put their releases up for free streaming immediately. Seems really suicidal. Why would I go and buy this CD when I can hear it for free, whenever I want?

I appreciate your support of Projekt, and I appreciate that many of you still buy our releases (CDs or downloads). You guys are fantastic, because you allow the music to continue by supporting our work.

I know people love free streaming music. I totally understand, I like it to. But Projekt is a “business;” meaning I am trying to earn a living at this. And paying my artists royalties for their creations is part of that business (in fact, I am in the middle of dispersing royalties, in which Shea and I prepare the spread sheets, and then I mail out checks to Projekt’s artists).

Giving away what we’re trying to sell seems like a bad business model to me. And yet so many labels feel it’s what they have to do. I disagree. I don’t put most new Projekt albums on streaming sites (or Amazon prime). I’d like to see Projekt artists earning something for their work.

Naturally, you can listen to samples of the Projekt releases at our website, via bandcamp embeds. But giving away the entire album at release date? Not so exciting to me.

A few weeks ago, Amazon added “free streaming” to their $99-per-year prime service. Effectively giving away the music that they have been selling for decades. Then last week they added a service where you can read all the Kindle books you want for $9.99 a month. As an artist, I don’t like either of these. They might be wonderful for consumers, but yet again the artist is expected to give away their creation so the big corporations can make more money. All Amazon want is to sell their prime service; in that sense, they are a lot like the locker sites that want to sell you a premium download subscription.

Creative artists are the chum they use to bait customers into buying their premiums. The fact that the artist earns $.007 per stream is somehow acceptable in their world.

Shea jokingly asks, “When will things I really consume figure out this model??  How about $10 a month for all-you-can-drink cortados? Or $40 a month for unlimited sushi?  Seriously! Why is it ok to squeeze more and more out of creative/artistic content?”

To which I replied, “Right! Why is it that only intellectual property has discovered the benefits of giving away your product for free? Come on vinyl pressing plants, headphone manufacturers, restaurants and baggy jeans. ‘Profit’ is so last century.”< Shea replied, with noticeable enthusiasm, "What timing!  TGI Friday’s has introduced Endless Appetizers for only $10.” Werner Herzog could have written this line:

6:59 p.m. The (mozzarella) sticks are inevitable, though. Like death, they will find me. 

Werner Herzog in Burden of Dreams Speaking of the jungle: (YouTube clip) “Kinski always says it’s full of erotic elements. I don’t see it so much erotic. I see it more full of obscenity. It’s just – Nature here is vile and base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and… growing and… just rotting away.”

Tomorrow!!! SomaFM and Projekt present the internet radio premiere of Steve Roach’s The Delicate Forever on SomaFm’s Drone Zone. Tuesday July 22 at Noon Pacific Time, 3pm Eastern, 8pm (20:00) GMT. Tune in at

How Coffee Fueled the Civil War – Read at< After studying the Civil War extensively in school - ugh - this is the most interesting aspect of the war. And I guess all wars. Who controls the coffee? True facts about the Tapir – Watch at “Well, I never thought silly hobbies were appropriate for a grown Tapir, but I do have one trick.” And Bear clapped, “Let’s see it!” he said. “All right, oh! Oh my. Holy… is that!?!”

Tundra Excerpts by Erik Wollo – Watch at A two-minute cross selection of tracks from the Tundra ep

“Well Spring” by Steve Roach – Watch at at Beautiful moving video paintings by Steve Matson, 5 minutes long

Go the Fu€k To Sleep – Read by Werner Herzog at “The tiger reclines in the simmering jungle, the sparrow has silenced her cheep…”

Projekt’s July 22nd releases in stores tomorrow…