Oh I’m Sorry – Will You Please Buy My Album?

I know it’s been awhile, but hey – I’ve been busy in the studio making music… that’s what “they” pay me for, right? (For more info on “They”, kindly submit your query via email)

In all fairness, and in response to several email inquiries, I have been writing… almost daily — just not on the comp. As is my current, I’ll likely post an inordinate amount of transcriptions simultaneously “one of these days”… but ’til then, may this piece enrich you:

What you are about to read initially started as a reply I left on a good friend and colleague’s blog — you can read the original article here, and will definitely need to, if context plays a significant role in your life. Go on, then… I’ll wait here for you.

 

Okay, groovy. Let’s press on:

Had you scrolled down to peruse the comments (and perhaps you did, and maybe you even left one of your own?) you would have noticed a rather… bulky response from ‘Yours Truly’™.  So after I had hacked it out and sat back to think about what I might have failed to mention, the thought occurred that it was a good topic to expound upon for a blog of my own, and the lazy bastard in me jumped up, hands clapping with a fervor I thought lost forever to misspent youth, and nodded excitedly “YES! YES! COPY AND PASTE!! IT’S OKAY!! HELL! YOU WROTE IT, RIGHT??” 

After bitch-slapping the fat fuck relentlessly, it occurred to me that maybe He/We/I had a point?

Voila! A classy cut and paste job awaits you below — the original text in italics and any addendum’s in this regular font.  Take heart (I did), as the scissors used were gilded:

 

So good to see these very important truisms put “out there”. As you know from our many talks, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’ve just tweeted this to my 3 000+ Followers in the hopes that both artists as well as fans stop by and take it in. Seeing as how “indie artists” have – in a completely NON-artistic, NON-“be true to thine own self” kinda way (replete with an irony that even the hippest of the “hipsters” would likely fail to grasp) effectively rolled over and supplicated to an imaginary endless internet-spawned fan base, perhaps it’s just time for fans to start saying NO to the musical panhandlers; the bands who behave like squeegee kids, annoying music listeners while simultaneously lowering the bar for the rest of us by (passively)aggressively trying to foist their often times rather mundane and uninspired music on to any and all who might be cajoled in to “liking” their FB page, or following them on Twitter.
As an artist and free thinker, frankly it’s embarrassing to witness. And I fell prey to it to some degree as I started out on this recent “DIY” path during the making and self-promotion I ‘ve had to participate in surrounding my latest album ‘Analogue Verses’.

I’ve since learned it’s about the worst thing one can do, and yet my gut was telling me that all along?

What I’ve come to realize is the “social media experts” are hardly that – experts on fleecing gullible people out of a few bucks, maybe… but wrong otherwise, at least where music is concerned. Mostly because they try to apply broad marketing principles that are designed to work for tactile product sales, NOT creative expressions in art. Music is highly subjective and “speaks” to people very differently. Bottled water… not so much.
You’ll notice, too, that many seem to be either frustrated or failed artists, or worse – rabid fans looking for a new way to place themselves on to the RADAR of their music idols, under the auspices of “professional social media strategist”. (Pffff. Yeah… I read those books, too. BUY NOW! www.insta-cred.com) 
They WANT the artists to basically dialogue with them personally – this, to me, is a form of negotiation, and that’s just messed up. I recall seeing a “fan” personally take Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins to task on the price of a box set. It disgusted me. I’m happy to say that not long after, Corgan’s Twitter presence has all but disappeared. Not his record sales. :)
By returning to my “art first – fuck what people think” attitude, I’ve watched a staggering increase in both traffic and downloads. FANS, in other words. 
Maybe it’s time for ME to write a book? 😛

But don’t even get me started… 😉

Great piece! I hope it gets some views!

 

Hi. It’s ‘Yours Truly’™ again. (well, it kinda always was, but you know what I mean)

So there you have it – somewhat of a rant based on my personal experiences over the past few years. What I didn’t mention, and wanted to add, was another off-putting scenario artists have been acquiescing to that I’ve watched emerge recently: The internet-based  “indie radio station” holding out the little tin cup to ARTISTS and expecting THEM to pay to be played?? HUH?!

 If only I could pay my rent with Facebook ‘Likes’; take all my Twitter Followers to the grocery store and trade them, along with a few coupons I clipped, towards some Angus beef and red wine? Alas.

While I “get” that running a station requires time and resources, there’s a model that still works — exceedingly well — called ADVERTISING. People go to radio stations for ONE REASON ONLY – To LISTEN TO GOOD MUSIC. If Station X – who brags of having an audience in excess of 100k listeners — can’t convince a handful of sponsors/advertisers to shell out a few bucks to “help cover costs”, then they’re either A) Completely amateurish twits or B) Full of Shit about their numbers. Either way, not my issue. I make GOOD tunes. But you already know that. Heartfelt; compelling; intricate… TIME CONSUMING. Ever priced a recording in a pro audio facility?

Thought so.

These clowns are yet another permutation of the scam artists who’ve been bamboozling young, naive artists all along. Those who are just desperate to get their music out there. It is, after all, one giant popularity contest now that “Social Media” has become the new ‘currency’. If only I could pay my rent with Facebook ‘Likes’; take all my Twitter Followers to the grocery store and trade them, along with a few coupons I clipped, towards some Angus beef and red wine? Alas.

But I can’t. And never will. So don’t ask me to pay YOU to support YOUR hobby and help plump YOUR listener-ship/ popularity using MY fans. The gall?!? It ain’t gonna happen.

If you’re a SERIOUS  independent artist reading this, think long and hard about who you submit your music to. (and for chrissake, stop begging people to check you out!! Desperation has a cloying smell… yuck!)

Most of them aren’t even licensed. They don’t pay royalties. Here’s a common jig they’ll run to guilt and shame artists in to paying for rotation:

“We charge a fee to weed out those who aren’t serious about their career.”

Really. The irony. Beyond the obvious fact that a professional recording can run an artist anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars (or much more if major labels are involved) PER SONG, who are these characters really appealing to?

I have a pretty good idea: The bedroom and basement hobbyists looking for bragging rights on Facebook, etc., who cobbled something together on a laptop and don’t mind paying a recurring monthly fee to have it played. To such hobbyists, the “pay for play” model IS the investment. And it sounds like it. Literally. I know this because I’ve been working with bands and singer/songwriters in a professional capacity for over 15yrs. The most serious, dedicated and independently financed of the bunch. How many are lining up to throw money at these hucksters? None that I know, anyway.

Some standard, fellas. Well done.

(Disclaimer: For educational purposes, I chose 3 indie stations to watch for awhile then “pay for play”. Informed opinions on offer here)

 

Phew! That feels better!

I realized much earlier that I may have run a bit wide of Dr. Sean’s original message regarding fans and starving artists, so I’ll bring it back as I wind down:

Something’s obviously completely upside down at this point, and while it’s been touched upon, I don’t think trying to root out and expose the various causes is the issue here. What I wanted to do was shed just a little more light on how artists – whatever their stripe – are being once again exploited, this time, however, beyond the obvious examples given, it would seem the very listeners of music have joined in, possibly lending to a form of self-exploitation.

I’ve seen this comment – or a paraphrasing of it – WAY too often “out there” on the web:

“Dude – You actually PAY for music? LOL!”

But who could blame music fans for not wanting to actually PAY for something when it’s so widely… given away? To hell with napster and file sharing circa 2000-2004, I’m talking about all the artists who are standing on binary street corners and trying to stuff their EPs and albums in to every digital passerby’s iPod/Pad/Tablet/Smartphone! These so-called “indie” bands need to realize that they have dug their own graves as far as sustainable careers are concerned.

O V E R S A T U R A T E D

So now I turn to YOU – Music Fan. Taking everything in to consideration you’ve read both at Sean’s blog and now here, what’s YOUR take on this conundrum?

Tired of whiny artists who are “too nice” trying to push their material on you?

Do you still pay for music?

What would make you run out and buy an album?

Do you listen mostly to NEW artists (last 3-5yrs) or older artists (pre-social media — 2006 on back)?

(SIDENOTE: MY 1st installment of the ‘Analogue Verses’ project – Book 1 – will actually be available FREE here on the site… but only for TWO WEEKS. Like any clever dealer, I’ll hook you now… and make you pay later! he he he!)

I wanted to end this post on a positive note:

I’ve met some great indie radio folks – none of whom have ever asked me for a dime. My music gets played regularly in and among some great music and classic songs, so I assume it got there on it’s own merits.

Go find a station (or FIVE) that fits your tastes, and tell them I sent you (and feel free to request any of my songs – they all have a good Jon Mychal stash!!)

 

Jon Mychal / Toronto — Dec 6 2012

 

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“Oldies”… but Goodies.

I’d be 45 had I lived.

“I know! That’s like SO sad, right??”

The inane reply to an ignorantly distasteful statement I overheard while standing in line waiting for a cup of coffee earlier today: “Wow, I couldn’t believe how many “oldies” were at the Sam Roberts show?!?”, and delivered with an air somewhere between disdain and disgust for her fellow concert-goers.

The two in question were “20 something” females. Apparently “oldie” is a term coined by the same clever lot who brought us “foodie” (lover of food and dining out — like this actually requires a pet name??), “resto” (where said “foodies” go), and other profound abbreviations, and refers to those who are over 40 and thus deemed “too old” to be partaking in an activity that is “20 something” oriented, I’ve come to learn.

(For those of you who don’t know who Sam Roberts is, you can check him out here. He’s also closer to 40, so technically on the cusp of “oldie” status as defined by the ipod generation.)

Wrong. What’s “so sad” is being part of a generation that’s left only with the option of combing through their parents old vinyl collection when on the quest for something “new and original”.

Here’s why:

From an anthropological standpoint, the teen years have always been considered to be among the most significant in our species development because that’s when individuals are supposed to venture forth and seek their own personal expression; strive to break free of the apron strings and distance themselves from any and all parental conventions that have — until then — defined them.

In a word: Rebel.

Apple products are made in violation of human rights codes — but we knew that in our 20’s…

It’s no secret that over the past decade or so, there’s been a noticeable increase in the numbers of teen through college-aged listeners (the current ’20 something’ crowd) who cite bands and artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Queen, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan ( the list goes on), etc. as personal favourites. Do you see what I see?

I’m hotter at 42 than I was at 22…

When I was 14 through 21, I had an affinity for all of the above as they played an integral role as “soundtrack contributors” to my earlier childhood, but nostalgia gave way to creative exploration, and with a musical smorgasbord as diverse as Motorhead to The Cars; Yngwie J. Malmsteen to Slayer, Level 42, Tom Petty, Iron Maiden, Bauhaus, The Cure, U2, and literally dozens of others, it’s not hard to see why the thought of poking through my Father’s Perry Como records held very little interest.  Nor was it necessary — all the artists I mentioned offered such rich, unique and original listening experiences that each artist was literally like a self-contained aural eco-system to me. They sounded about as different from one another as they looked, as well, and yes — once upon a time, rock and roll had an image. It was Show Business.

I STARTED lifting weights when I was 40…

Of course, there was gluttonous excess; vapid “scenes” (think Miami Vice circa 1986) and frivolity (“cock rock”a la Cinderella, Poison, et al), but Generation X  became contemptuous of all the banality and parlayed that eclectic musical landscape I mentioned in to what has become known in modern music history books as a “musical revolution”.

I’ve compiled a partial list off the top of my head  — the first 20 names that came to mind, in no particular order, who are all “40 something” and actively creating new music at the time of this writing. The only exceptions would be Kurt Cobain (deceased but would have been 45 this year — and coincidentally, arguably more popular now than ever??), Jeff Buckley (deceased but would have been 46 this year) and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who’s 52 or something, but impacted the others on the list to such a degree that I included him anyway. Deal with it.

 

Behold — my contemporaries and “oldies” supreme:

 

  1. Kurt Cobain — Nirvana
  2. Dave Grohl — Nirvana/Foo Fighters
  3. Thom Yorke — Radiohead
  4. Chris Cornell — Soundgarden
  5. Eddie Vedder — Pearl Jam
  6. Anthony Keidis — The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. Moby — MOBY
  8. Trent Reznor — Nine Inch Nails
  9. Billy Corgan — The Smashing Pumpkins
  10. Matthew Sweet — Matthew Sweet
  11. Jeff Buckley — Jeff Buckley
  12. Billie Joe Armstrong — Green Day
  13. Jarvis Cocker — PULP
  14. Maynard James Keenan — TOOL
  15. Tom Morello — Rage Against The Machine
  16. Bono — U2
  17. Thurston Moore — Sonic Youth
  18. Frank Black — The Pixies
  19. Gwen Stefani — No Doubt
  20. Dave Navarro — Jane’s Addiction

 

So you see, my dear younger readers, If “Generation X” AKA “oldies” didn’t completely redefine the way you listen to and/or create music, it undoubtedly played a pivotal role… and still does.

I got 5 Grammys for my 44th birthday…

Once upon a time, rock music was a voice for change; revolution… rebellion. It was dirty, sexy, subversive, made no apologies, and “took no prisoners”, as the saying goes. It was the antidote for mainstream advertising, NOT the lackey of.

What’s become of that is anyone’s guess (in fact, I have several theories, but that’s for another time), but what can’t be denied is the distinctly UN rock and roll vibe emanating from the bespeckled, beard and cardigan-wearing, Mac laptop-toting, latte-sluggin’ hipster “rockers” that pervade these days. A less original, more apathetic crowd could not be imagined.

“… that’s like SO sad, right?”

Yep.

So don’t ask or expect me to get excited about the latest litany of insincere, kitschy and “ironic” clones — I was fortunate enough to come up around that golden list of remarkably prolific and inspired artists, so I just happen to know better… a symptom of being an “oldie”, you could say.

 

Jon Mychal / Toronto — Aug 12 2012

 

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It’s Always ‘NOW’… brought to You by ‘Then’…

 

Ruminating on a lecture I recently watched by neuroscience researcher and popular “new atheist” Sam Harris on ‘Death and the Present Moment’, among other things, I was impressed by the fact that he was able to cajole 4000+ atheists in to doing a 5 minute “mindfulness meditation” akin to certain Buddhists practices. And rather effortlessly, too, I should mention. No small feat. While I love Sam’s approach —  his research, presentation, and gift for reasonable yet concise (and sometimes rather entertainingly pointed) debates, some of his more recent concepts are, admittedly, both a tad difficult to wrap my head around, and somewhat counter-intuitive (which he’d likely be the first to acknowledge with a sublime smile — think Mona Lisa).

Enjoying the moment...

Not to be confused with credulity, but rather a distinct set of “other” tools we as humans seem to quite realistically be in possession of, when I’ve relied on my intuition (AKA “spidey senses”) thoroughly — and I mean with no ego-based distortions taking place somewhere between the thought arising and the subsequent response to it (causality), more often than not, it’s been the “right decision”. Not too scientific, I know, yet nevertheless, most (if not all of you) will be able to relate to this idea from experience alone. Experience firmly rooted in the past.

In fact, as Sam often maintains, we’re constantly being bombarded with thoughts that seemingly arise out of nowhere, moment to moment; “hostages” to an often negative or foreboding “inner voice”. I can totally relate, and so can you. It’s human, after all. Additionally, he states that our communication arises in real time from the same mysterious place; no one ever knowing what their next string of words will look or sound like. Again, I completely agree. Who fully forms complete mental sentences prior to speaking aloud during a lively conversation, after all? We just “go with it”; trust ourselves to be able to properly articulate our thoughts with a tool set combining languages and specific words that we’ve all learned many years ago.

[thoughts and experiences] are also clearly valid conduits to an enriched Present, without which the NOW would literally be a blank.

What I start to see when I explore these facts is the direct and undeniably imperative effect the past brings to bear. Simply put, without that plethora of experiences we went through, even the most basic dialogue in the NOW would be fully impossible to conduct. Nor do I think Sam Harris would disagree with that, I guess I’m just not ready to throw in and concede that the past is merely an artifact in many ways, or that the thoughts associated with it should necessarily be dismissed as “just thoughts” or “sensations arising in consciousness”. While that’s true, they are also clearly valid conduits to an enriched Present, without which the NOW would literally be a blank. While we’re not slaves to our collective past, I don’t think we need to glibly write it off as “not useful”. It absolutely is.

This post was in no way meant to be a pseudo-scientific or “spooky physics”/new age rebuttal, and is likely an over-simplified response to an observation, but the deeper I thought about it, the stronger it held up. I’ll likely elaborate on it at a later date…

For NOW, I’m going to enjoy the moment… it really is all we have.

 

Jon Mychal / Toronto — June 12 2012

 

 

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Rock of Ages

Where it all began...

Most weekends I like to head out with family for a greasy brunch somewhere. Today was no exception, and once done, I felt the need to go for a long walk — it was, after all, an “all you can eat” affair, and one needs to keep an eye on one’s potentially burgeoning midsection after such indulgence!

Anyway, during the course of my journey, I popped in to a large discount department store called ‘Marshalls’ and saw this ridiculously awesome t-shirt — I couldn’t resist. The look on Ace Frehley’s face alone reeled me in!

KISS was the band that, as a wide-eyed preteen, appealed to every one of my fantastical imaginings: space flight, sci-fi and star-people; demons, monsters and other dark forces; pyrotechnics, theatrics and, of course, grinding guitars paving the way for supercharged vocals set atop tribal rhythms!

While I find it quaint and cute that all the “legacy” bands are in vogue once again (for now), I’ve always been proud to identify myself as a fan of the classic Kiss era (yeah, the 80’s Kiss, not so much). I must admit, though, it’s really quite a trip seeing this melange of various periods of rock music converging by way of the youth: Curt Cobain t-shirts worn by Billy, while his little pal Bobby might be found in the Kiss shirt shown here. Their other pal Stevie shows up at school in a Neil Young printed tee, and merrily they all head to the cafeteria, where they don’t actually talk to one another, but check Facebook messages from “smart phones”, or send out tweets and text messages about the “newest” band they’re listening to by way of a squashed digital file (mp3) and an ipod or similar device.

Weird times. Not altogether bad — the youth are picking up on some cool, bedrock stuff, after all (even if it is just for the sheer novelty and “ironic” factor) — just… weird.

Rock on, baby!

Jon Mychal — Toronto / June 2 2012

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Orangey Skies…

(Journal excerpt)

4:57pm — Clear skies, light breeze — lots of sun here at The Brickworks this afternoon… just got word that a break in my work schedule will afford me the much needed time to work on ‘Ben Orr’ again — I’ve spent several hours these past few days, and it’s coming together in record time!

It’s an orangey sky…

To think I was so worked up about “dropping the ball” on this one; so much so that fear prevented me from even attempting to work on it in over three years?! Observing the process — and more to the point, my mental/emotional/psychological head space, and the shifts therein since ’07 and ’08, it makes perfect sense that this would happen now: simply put, I’m no longer “there” — in a bad space; a black hole, where the original idea was birthed in. I’ve transcended that, and am now able to reflect back on all the loss I dealt with point blank and truly write about it — from a safe distance. I was never one for writing about situations — poetically, at least — when I was in the thick of it… I’ve always needed a point of objectivity; to “wide angle” a situation or sentiment, so to speak.

Anyway, I promised some of the Ben Orr/The Cars fans — publicly — that I’d have this ready and available to every one of them by Oct 1st or 2nd, as the anniversary of Ben’s death is fast approaching (Oct 3rd), and I didn’t want to let another year go by without sharing this song with a worthy bunch who will undoubtedly love it and begin to “bond” with it as they grieve Ben’s passing just as I have. I like the idea of having provided them another ‘tool’ by which to aid in the coping process…

 

RIP Benjamin Orr: Sept 8 1947 — Oct 3 2000

 

Jon Mychal / Toronto — Sept 25 2011

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