Essays


Does jazz really suck

If you’d like, you may read and respond at medium.com.

Once regarded as a prestigious and respected art form, for many jazz has become the ugliest kid at the dance, and somehow simply mentioning its name can be a total buzzkill. What happened?

By now, most of us have read that jazz is officially the least popular genre when you judge by album sales. That’s certainly not anything to be proud of, but it’s also a vast misrepresentation of the genre.

Something most people might not understand about jazz albums, even the historic ones — is that all jazz recordings are flawed. Listening to jazz albums is like watching videos of improvised theater; no matter how good the performance, you’re still missing part of the point. If you really want to understand what’s going on, you need to experience it in person, and then re-experience it again to see how the art is its own dynamic language.

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The other reason to be skeptical of online streaming services like Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify

Click here to view this essay on Medium.com


Writing about the valuation of music and the effect of subscription based streaming services is a popular topic, and I think that’s a great thing. There’s a lot to explore, and a lot to fix.

Most articles I’ve recently read on this topic usually focus on the super low royalty payments payed to artists from services like Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music. And yes, it’s all true. It’s not a topic of debate, it’s something we know and already accept. What’s causing me to sit back and scratch my head is the way most critics of the streaming model use the “smaller independent band” to further justify their argument for unfair payouts. The truth is that smaller bands are being screwed long before they get to put their albums online.

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How to take advantage of on-demand services to create music merchandise

I recently committed myself to figuring out the best ways to create really cool merchandise for a self-released album – without spending a dime.

Why? Well, for starters I’m releasing a new album soon, and with that I have been spending a lot of time looking at merchandise options, and exploring the different ways that people value music. What I’ve learned is that there’s a big difference between music that we just listen to, and music that we want to support.

Using myself as the prime example, if I want to put something on or discover something new, I’ll *gasp* go to Spotify, or iTunes, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, eMusic, YouTube or one of the hundreds of other websites that make it easy to discover and hear new music. Most of it is free, and it’s right at my finger tips.

However, when I want to support a band, I buy something. I’ve spent years touring with bands and I know that merchandise is crucial. I’ll even go so far as to buy stuff just to buy it; I recently bought a friend’s new CD at a gig, and I don’t even own a legit CD player anymore. Lot’s of people have no problem paying slightly higher prices for stuff when it’s all about the support, or when they get cool merch in exchange. $20 for a CD? Sure. $45 for a hoodie? Ok. $25 for a t-shirt? Hell yeah! It’s a great way to rep the band, helps them with gas money to the next show, and you can never have too many t-shirts. In stark contrast – I would never pay $25 for a basic t-shirt in a store… but if it’s wrinkled and coming out of a stinky box that’s been in the back of a van for several weeks? Sold. I might take 2.

If you’re in a band and you tour – you gotta have merch. That’s not changing, and it’s still in your best interest to find the cheapest manufacturing and order bulk items that you know will sell to maximize profits.

But what about the bands that don’t tour or play live? Are those projects limited to giving their album away on Bandcamp? Or what about specialized items for album releases? It’s so boring to only have CDs. There’s gotta be another way right? Well, yeah there is. It costs a little more, but there’s ways to get around that, which I’ll explain below.

Again, this whole exploration started because of my album. It’s a solo recording project, there’s no performances, and there’s no tours. I have an awesome fan base, but it’s small enough that it certainly doesn’t make any financial sense to spend money on merchandise that is going to take up closet space and eventually be given away for free. However, I still want to make some really cool stuff and sell it.

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Music industry 101

I stumbled on a good read this afternoon over at http://www.budivoogt.com/.

He’s writing a series on understanding the music industry. While it doesn’t answer every question you might have, it certainly provides a great overview of several important topics like managers, labels, agents, publishers, sync licensing, etc.

If this is something you want to learn about, then check out the latest article