June 11, 2009

I Second that Emotion

From Ben's latest post on music biz devolution:

At this stage the cupboard has been rendered so bare that record royalties are more or less a moot point. I'd be happy to give away future albums, settling for crossing my fingers and praying for the odd licensing deal, if only I could figure out how to pay for the damned recordings!

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 11, 2009 07:00 AM | TrackBack


M-kay, does Rev. Norb have a blog I didn't know about too?

Posted by: Nate Pensky at June 11, 2009 09:06 AM

I guess Mr. Weasel doesn't want any feedback...or the Dot Com god is messing with him again. When you click the comment link...nothin' happens.

Posted by: jat at June 11, 2009 04:01 PM

jat, if you go to his myspace page, he re-posts everything there with comment-ability

Posted by: -B at June 11, 2009 04:53 PM

If Ben Weasel thinks "music is boring" these days, maybe he needs to get out of the punk ghetto.

Because, funny thing, I'm sure not bored by music, and there's lots of interesting new music coming out all the time.

It's just not what Ben Weasel wants to hear.

(Though, hey, tastes vary. I know I deeply regret ever spending money on a Screeching Weasel CD. But other people presumably like it.

I just won't predict the "death of interesting music" because my favored genre isn't as innovative as some previous golden age, at the moment.

Or maybe everyone who has something new and interesting to say is making black metal these days? Beats hell out of me.)

Posted by: Sigivald at June 11, 2009 05:57 PM

But, Sigivald, did you understand his point about the "little guy" bands not being able to make albums if they have no money to do so?

Posted by: Matt R. at June 13, 2009 04:15 AM

Maybe the kids these days aren't willing to lay down $10 for the next Screeching Weasel record, but it sure seems like they're willing to spend Mom and Dad's money on a good YA novel. I say this tounge-in-cheek, but Ben's a smart, resourceful guy and has always seemed like he's been able to stay somewhat relevant in spite of it all. I find it surprising that he's just now speaking up about it - I would have thought he'd have figured it out by now.

Posted by: Trey at June 13, 2009 07:16 AM


Ben HAS been speaking out about it; I was reading his blog posts and listening to interviews with him where he has addressed this topic as way back as 2003-2004; he was probably addressing it even before then for all I know. I didn't even download music until like 2006.

It all goes back to what Livermore said one time in one of his columns - back in the day, in big cities like Detroit, newspapers used to be accessible by just putting your dime into the coin slot, and then relying on your own honesty to take one, and only one. Now, people only do things because they are forbidden to do so; people have no conscience that their theft might be hurting the little guy. Myself, I have never ripped one song off in my entire life. I am with Ben 100% on this.

Posted by: David at June 13, 2009 10:06 PM

It's not that I disagree with Ben's point, it's just that it all kinda seems like more of the same. We've heard this argument before, it's a rehash of what so many others have said or are saying on the subject. Why can't somebody talk or write about this subject and actually make some suggestions about how to make things BETTER? I'd like to hear a little at least about what MIGHT work for the "little guy," because let's face it, it's guys like Ben who'll ultimately have to figure it out for themselves. Ben says he's all too aware of the risk of being branded as a whiner, but it's actually what he's beginning to sound like.

Posted by: Trey at June 14, 2009 06:46 AM

More music is being recorded than has ever been recorded before in the history of the world.

Posted by: josh at June 15, 2009 02:05 PM

You've got to talk about it in order to figure it out. And Ben's doing the dirty task of bringing it up and reminding us what is going on.

And, yes, more music is being created. But what about quality vs. quantity?

Posted by: Matt R. at June 15, 2009 05:03 PM

Global assessment of quality or quantity of Music aside, the point as I see it is that though the current situation may well be a music-lover's paradise in some respects, it makes it pretty difficult, if not effectively impossible, for a guy like me to record and release records.

Now, every time I mention that, someone comes along and says something like "good, it's about time." But I know there are people out there who would have liked to hear what I might have recorded over the last four years had there been a way to fund it. There's only so far you can go with bedroom recordings, though I do do a bit of that here and there.

I did a couple of songs to go along with my book and put them on my credit card; it seemed like an okay thing to do because people still do buy books. I don't have enough credit for a full album at the moment, though.

I don't know what the solution is. There probably isn't a solution, other than bowing out, moving on, getting another gig, etc. That's not whining, by the way.

Posted by: Dr Frank at June 15, 2009 05:31 PM

That's what I find so frustrating about all this, Frank. I do fear that unless a workable solution can be found, many people with talent enough to record the kind of music I'd like to hear WILL indeed give up. Maybe I'm just naive (god knows it wouldn't be the first time I've been called that), but it just seems to me like there are too many smart people in the same predicament not to be able to figure out a way to make it work. What the hell do I know?

Posted by: Trey at June 15, 2009 09:41 PM

I understand your frustration, but what is our baseline for comparison? Has there ever been a time where it would have been easier for somebody like you to record an album?

I empathize, and I would really like to hear a new MTX or Dr. Frank album. You could try a fun-raiser. I read somewhere that Jill Sobule did that in order to record her own album. I have no idea how your fan bases compare, but I'd make a donation.

Posted by: josh at June 16, 2009 03:52 PM

"Has there ever been a time where it would have been easier for somebody like you to record an album?"

Yes, Josh, in the 80s and 90s.

It may be that that pledge drive model would work. Or a "subscriber" model. Maybe one of these days...

Posted by: Dr Frank at June 16, 2009 04:02 PM

I just think the damage that music thievery is doing needs to be more widely discussed. That you get what you pay for and all that jazz.

Posted by: Matt R. at June 16, 2009 04:29 PM

Would you be willing to sell "shares" of a self produced album?

Posted by: josh at June 17, 2009 01:26 PM

"Would you be willing to sell "shares" of a self produced album?"

Yeah, Frank, how can WE make money off of liking YOUR music? Us "little fans" are hurting out here!

No, but seriously, I DO think a fan-funded album could be a great idea. It would be interesting to have a discussion about that.

Posted by: Matt R. at June 17, 2009 04:01 PM

Yeah it's an interesting idea. I predict a share-holders' revolt though. This has "hostile takeover" written all over it. The board would vote to replace me with Fat Mike and relegate me to an advise and consent role, or something...

Posted by: Dr Frank at June 17, 2009 07:02 PM

Haha. Indeed, that IS a risk. But, really, wasn't it always?

I still believe we can think through this thing, though. There's got to be a way. There's just got to.

Btw, official working title: "This Has 'Hostile Takeover' Written All Over It".

Posted by: Matt R. at June 18, 2009 01:00 AM

I'd donate money in a heartbeat if it meant there's a possibility of hearing new music from artists I like. I think a "subscriber" model is a great idea. Doesn't mean the music won't end up being stolen, but at least the artist can fund the recordings and the fans get to hear some new stuff.

Posted by: Trey at June 18, 2009 05:01 AM

Frank (and other musicians considering this model) you should check out kickstarter.com for something like this, potentially. Polyvinyl Records is using it to rid themselves of back inventory... http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattlunsford/help-us-save-our-office/

-step one: put in cost of album as a goal
-step two: spread the word.
-step three: record album.
-step four: everyone wins.

Posted by: .jeff. at June 18, 2009 03:32 PM

I would donate either way. It would be more fun if it was an investment and I think I could convince the wife to let me shell out more. Just say your selling non-voting shares, or are selling 49% or something.

Posted by: josh at June 19, 2009 04:55 PM
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