cool tapes i find and cassette related equipment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

dear musicians, stop handing out cds.

i guess it was in the late '90's or so, when one day, everyone in the biz suddenly had a cd.  looking back, i don't guess we were quite up to our collective necks with the things like we are now.  and it seemed like a real legit thing to do.  to make a cd.  make it look all good.  and hand them out like candy to anyone that would accept it.  wow this person has to be good, they have a cd.

roll the tape forward a few years.  now the deal is, whoa.  the truth is, no one really wants these things.  if you hand them out to people you just met and all that, the recipient doesn't really know what to do with them.  the point is not to say that all cds are bad, but the value of the concept of promoting oneself through handing out cds has waned.  i'm not really sure that was ever a really great idea to begin with.  {my idea is to focus on making the music badass.  don't get sidetracked by having the world's greatest 8x10 or worrying about networking and all that, make the music great.  that's what the world needs.  not another well written bio. i think self-promotion should be called bothering others while making yourself look like an idiot.}  it would be a fair guess to venture forth that just about every person in the music line of employ has a giant box of promo cds that folks have given them.  what does one do with these things other than trash them?  perhaps you listen once, but then what?  it's a waste of resources. in the event that there's some groovy music on there, pretty much the thing to do is rip what you like off there, but then you still have this big plastic thing that has no re-purpose.

here's my suggestion. make tapes. because then you are giving someone something that has intrinsic value. tapes can easily be recorded over and re-purposed.  even if the music is awful, you have something.  {hopefully, they went all out and put it on a position 2 tape. boom. i'll put that dr. alimantado stuff on there.}  

i'll come back to this in a moment.

see, here's a problem.  many years ago, the weirdos were the only group all into music like crazy.  there was all this great stuff, and not much effluvia actually…..well less anyway. records had to be hunted like wolverines.  they didn't just appear.  currently the problem i see with music is that it's too easy for people that don't really like music to consume it.  we'll call them "boneheads."  much like middle aged guys that decide they are going to watch baseball, and then follow the yankees or something, because they don't want to be on the losing side, boneheads get all into these big bands and stuff… and it's really easy for them to consume the product.  the issue is, boneheads are so thick in the head that mountains of crap must be made for them to notice, for they do absolutely zero research on their own.  enter the cd.  cheap to make zillions.  just like big macs.  there's just too many of these things and folks can't figure out what to do with the ones they paid 20 bucks for, why burden them with another one featuring the music of someone they barely know and are likely completely disinterested in…if they were, they would have already gone to the site and streamed the songs for free.

here's the solution.  stand out.  make something interesting.  put your music on cassette.  {it's not going to be in your advantage to attract a bunch of boneheads to your shows anyway.  money is NOT everything.  it's probably best to weed those bastards out right up front.  and believe me, if you try to hand one a tape, they will shudder as though you handed them a dirty diaper.  it's like an automatic rat deterrent.}

one day last year i was playing at a music festival in one of the northern states.  and was talking/hanging with some younger scruffy musician folks after my set and we were talking about music and stuff.  the fellow says "hey can i give you a cd?" i said…"well, do you have anything on cassette? i like tapes." and his eyes lit up and come to find out, he had tons of stuff he was doing himself on cassette.  now THAT's some badass shit.  his name was seth bernard and the tape was killer.  he had several. i'm still listening.  his tape is going to be my first review for this blog.  he made a impact on me.  the odds were that he was really into what he was doing. the way it stands now, pretty much the only folks aware of cassettes are folks that are really into music in a big way.  boneheads think cassettes or other analog formats are "dead." great. that way i won't have to listen to their bullshit.

see, if somehow cds could be made onto useful objects like a carrot peeler or something, one would at least have something.  tapes are intrinsically useful.  man those position 2 and 3 tapes are hard to come by.  those things are real gifts.  very useful for a music fan.  fan as in fanatic.  think of it as putting one's name on a trinket like they advertise for in the bonehead magazine on the airplane.  put your firm's name on a pencil eraser or whatever.  tapes are valuable unto themselves.  

i think the thing for an independent musician to do is to use soundcloud.  they will host your music for free and if you want someone to listen you can just email them and direct them there, or tell them verbally.  {actually, kind of like no one needs to give directions on leaving a message on an outgoing voicemail message.  we all know to leave a coherent message after the beep.  everyone has a site.  everyone puts their music on the site.  stop giving me these cds. stop wasting your own resources on them.}

that way the person can listen at their leisure.  then they aren't stuck with this useless cd, at the end of the process.  in my worldview, the best model is to make cassettes with a free download card.  or a 45 with the free download.  {i think a really good way to do a record would be to record the whole thing as a body of work, stream the whole thing on the site, make cassettes, and a 45 of the two best songs.}

when i go to a real record store and buy some tapes and some vinyl, i can hardly wait to get home and listen.  when someone hands me a cd, i feel like i'm being asked to watch home movies of someone i don't know.  and i can't think of anything less interesting than your vacation.

the conclusion is my suggestion to stop handing those things out.  if someone asks for one directly by all means give them one, but try making tapes.  heck just make a tape of the cd.