Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

DIY Ditty: A little bit of Kickstarter

March 1, 2014

I love Kickstarter, and I hope to devote many more DIY Ditties to the joys and pains of Kickstarter. However, this time I’d like to briefly note a couple things before I head out for the weekend.

Adam Rich’s Kickstarter to fund a re-release of his mid-90s debut album, which was set for the small sum of $125, has just under two days left of funding. In a world where million-dollar Kickstarter takes are possible, it’s refreshing to see someone fund a little project. Chipping in 5 bucks here goes a loooooooong way.

The Musicians’ Desk Reference, which I have sung the praises of before, is doing a Kickstarter to re-launch their product. It’s an excellent product that helps bands make careers; it’s the best resource I’ve yet found. It has my highest recommendation.

Here’s my favorite “how to run a Kickstarter” article. It’s the longest that I’ve found and the best, in my opinion; I recommend it to every person considering running a Kickstarter project.

Finally, here’s a piece from Medium talking about why you might choose to cancel your Kickstarter. I don’t agree with everything in this piece (I think you should always run Kickstarters to completion, because you could get a pop at the end that pushes you over the hump), but this is something that people should think about in terms of goal-setting and overall project planning.

DIY Ditty: Allison Weiss will buy you a souvenir.

February 6, 2014

There are two reasons I know of Allison Weiss:

1. She ran one of the very first successful Kickstarters.

2. She wrote this beautiful song.

Given that she’s an pioneer of Internet marketing, it’s not super-surprising that she continues to come up with interesting ways to fund her career. For her latest tour jaunt, she funded part of it with an interesting sale. You could still buy regular merch, but she created a special Tour Shop (currently inactive, but still available to peruse). In this tour shop, you could lay down money and get a personal postcard, a photo Allison took, or a little souvenir she buys just for you. It’s a cool way to fund touring and make connections with fans. (I think it’s especially cool for fans that don’t get to be at one of the shows, for whatever reason.)

There’s been plenty of handwringing over the commodification of music (/everything), but I’m not so worried about it. I think that this small scale sort of project is something that builds connections, not obscures them. I’d pay $40 for John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats to buy a souvenir, for sure: I’d put that in my office and tell literally everyone who comes to my office that John Darnielle bought that for me. Yes, I would pay $40 for that.

[There's some analog to Kickstarter gifts here--especially really good, personal Kickstarter gifts. Perhaps this could be seen as the personalization of Weiss's Kickstarter love; the project is "I'm going on tour"; the rewards are these cool things. The website is hers, and no money goes through Kickstarter. Maybe this is an indication of a trend to come?]

So maybe this isn’t a grand-scale, career-changing DIY Ditty, but it’s still a cool thing that I would love to see bands do more of. Seriously, what if your favorite band bought you an action figure? Best action figure ever.

The Gray Havens play a show for you! And write a new album for you!

September 5, 2013

I’ve been a real big fan of The Gray Havens’ Weepies-esque acoustic-pop since they first sent an EP my way earlier this year. After some touring behind the release, the married duo is getting down to business and cranking out an album. In 2013, that means a Kickstarter campaign is about to happen. LO AND BEHOLD:

Here’s the full Kickstarter page. If you don’t know the Gray Havens yet, NEVER FEAR! They’re throwing a free concert in their living room and live-streaming it tonight at 7 p.m. central time. You can watch it at UStream, their website, or below:

So, here’s a to-do list:

1. Watch show at 7 p.m. central time.
2. Fall in love with The Gray Havens.
3. Have your day brightened.
4. Contribute to their Kickstarter.

The Lion of Tallasi

July 12, 2013

lionoftallasi

The Never Give Up Kickstarter officially ended yesterday, as I mailed out the last of the rewards and got covered on Cover Lay Down (which was a huge thrill). It was an incredible project that I’m extremely proud to have completed. We did the whole thing right at budget, too, which is exciting. The Lion of Tallasi contributed a really fantastic version of “Recycled Air” that put a whole new spin on the tune, and it ended up being one of my favorite renditions in the whole project. So it’s with great excitement that I tell you about the Lion’s debut album, God, Love, and Death. (And yes, the band did include the Oxford Comma. Take that, Vampire Weekend.)

The album is built off heavy folk strum and Matt Howard’s Conor Oberst-esque roar. A full band accompanies, but they are firmly supporters of Howard, who stands front and center throughout the record. The most prominent member of the band is Kristen Durrett, who provides vocal counterpoint in many of the tracks; the rest of the band makes sure that things keep pushing forward without drawing too much attention to themselves.

That forces all listeners to contend with Howard’s voice and lyrics as the make-or-break points of the band. Howard has the Oberstian roar, as I noted; but he goes farther back in the folk history to draw heavily off Dylan’s lyrics. “A Million Dark Roads” calls up the poetic stylistics of “The Times, They Are A’Changing” and “A Hard Rain’s A’Gonna Fall,” while the downtrodden, stark “Down to the River” reminds of some of Dylan’s more impressionistic work. Highlight track “Don’t Put Me in the Grave” is the catchiest tune of the lot, sounding like a lost track from the chipper sessions of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning in melody and arrangement. An organ peals, a tambourine shakes, and a mandolin chirps out the instantly memorable melody. It’s an excellent song, and it’s placed right after the intro track as a sign of things to come. It’s not all protest anthem shout-alongs, as there are some love songs sprinkled through, too.

If you’re not down with Dylan or Oberst, then God, Love, and Death is maybe not for you. If you like either of those artists, even just a little, you definitely should listen to The Lion of Tallasi: you will find much to love.

The Collection! Kickstarter! Important! Yes!

June 27, 2013

It is a profound mystery to me: when I have the most to do, I get inundated with beautiful music. I am all for it, as it makes the work pleasant; however, it’s hard to find time to tell everyone about it. I’m taking a break from the mixtapes (they’re almost done! truly!) to tell you about The Collection’s new album.

The Collection is one of my favorite bands that I’ve been blessed to find and know through this blog. David Wimbish and co.’s version of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” was the opener on Never Give Up: 10 Years of Celebrating The Postal Service, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. When Wimbish sent over the Kickstarter for a new Collection album, I was so excited that I started telling all my friends personally about why they should support Ars Moriendi.

And boy, are there a lot of reasons.

1. Ars Moriendi is about the death of loved ones and how to deal with it. The last time this was the hook on an album, we got Funeral. This album has just as much potential as that one.

2. I once wrote, “If Wimbish keeps on this tack, his future music is going to be absolutely incredible.” It very much looks like both ends of that sentence have come to pass.

3. Since the band has 12 members, they have the largest amount of Kickstarter rewards I have ever seen, including multiple rewards at the same cost level. That’s just mindboggling.

4. This shiver-inducing song will be on the album. Tl;dr? Skip to 1:30 and let it wash over you.

So here’s their Kickstarter. And here’s their Kickstarter video:

Help them out! Put more good music into the world!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (and SXSW)

March 11, 2013

The Kickstarter for Independent Clauses’ 10th birthday compilation album ended yesterday with $1432 donated! This will allow us to stream the album until the end of 2013, and then give away 4300+ free song downloads! I am blown away. Your support has exceeded my wildest dreams. The album will come out May 15, 2013! I am thrilled! I will keep you all posted on the details as they arise.

Also, I will be at SXSW starting tomorrow, so I will be running around Austin like a crazy person. If you’re in austin too, drop me a line at indieclauses@gmail.com with the acronym SXSW at the beginning of the subject line. I’d love to meet and say hello!

I will be posting here throughout the week, as well as at the Oklahoma Gazette and on Twitter at @scarradini. Here we go SXSW!

Musicians' Desk Reference wants to help you make it in music

February 22, 2013

counter-logo

Independent Clauses is all about helping musicians navigate the thorny and confusing world that is independent music, so I was very interested when Brian Penick of The Counter Rhythm Group told me about his plans to make that journey easier for musicians. Brian is running a Kickstarter to fund Musicians’ Desk Referencea comprehensive guide to making your way in music. He was kind enough to take some time and explain the project to me and IC readers.

IC: What is the Musicians’ Desk Reference? 

Brian Penick: Musicians’ Desk Reference is an eBook that establishes a protocol for progression in the modern music industry. That is a mouthful so let me explain. Essentially this is a software driven experience for the user that aims to help a musician or a band receive information and working guides (including templates, instructional guides, examples and video tutorials) on specific areas of the music industry, with a majority of the information being customized around the WHEN, WHY and HOW something is completed in their unique situation. It’s very “hands on” in a digital sense.

What types of things are covered in the book?

We have been helping to introduce musicians to the servicing side of the music industry with The Counter Rhythm Group for about two and a half years now, gaining an understanding of what general areas of interest repeatedly come up. The working model of the book deals with and delves into several areas, ranging from information about starting a band and recording your first record to properly going on tour, promoting your project and building a team. There is a LOT if information in here and it is meant to be used throughout an artist’s progression, expanding on information as the users grow in the industry.

Who is the audience for the book? People with labels? People with agents? Do-it-yourselfers?

One of the most intriguing aspects of this book is that it serves such a wide group of musicians. You can literally work with it while starting your first project (helping to build a strong foundation from the beginning), then using it every time you go on tour to help map out a list of tasks that will help even larger and established musicians focusing on their own promotional practices, while still emphasizing the importance of building a team when the times comes for it. The book was designed to essentially help everyone it could, from new artists to local artists, regional and even up to national recognized musicians. While some of the information may already be known, it is nice to have it complied into one entity that gives the user so much control through customization.

How did you choose Kickstarter? How did you come to the amount that you need for the Kickstarter? As a person who is running a Kickstarter, I’m interested in how people make these decisions.  

Kickstarter is such a wonderful platform that allows the some of the wildest imaginations to become tangible aspects of life, and I could not think of another medium to work with. I got a lot of inspiration from other Kickstarters while considering independent sources to fund this idea, and ultimately I felt that this was the perfect one to run with. Regarding the amount, I have sat down and reworked the numbers over several months, and while the amount we’re asking for is not the final amount needed, it is enough that would get us over the initial hump of production and promotions.

We hope that once Musicians’ Desk Reference is released and helping artists, the users will be inspired enough to share their stories with others about its benefits and uses, calling attention to it a personal touch which is how we feel the best products are promoted. I see that you have already killed it with your own Kickstarter, so congratulations, Stephen!

How much will the e-book cost? How did you come to that price?

The price of the final product is ultimately going to be determined by the final amount of funding received. I am really trying to bypass any third party publishers and keeping the number of any outside investors down will also help us battle the costs. Realistically, this book will range anywhere from $50–$100, but that could change depending on MANY variables. It may sound like an expensive product, but for multiple uses throughout a musician’s career we feel it is definitely fair. Think of it how you would look at Quickbooks for your taxes, only that this helps you progress in the music industry. The more you use it, the more valuable of a tool it becomes. We’re promoting the mentality that it is essentially the cost of playing a show, and if you’re not making that amount per show the book is especially designed with you in mind.

What is your goal (or goals) with the book? 

Without sounding like I am trying to lead my people through a desert to a new salvation, I am essentially trying to standardize some aspects of the music industry. There are so many artists that I have encountered over 13+ years of being a musician and since I started this company that are desperately seeking help and answers, along with so much information and ideas that seem to be floating out in the ether that I hope to pack it all into one piece of information, helping as many musicians as possible.

I would have loved to have something like this when I was working on my own progression, and I hope users will find it as useful as I would have. There are too many artists out there that are working hard without the recognition they deserve, and I hope that this levels the playing field enough so that those hard workers get as much of a chance of finding success as anyone else could. We’re trying to build a community that promotes positivity and a strong work ethic, with musicians helping each other along the way. Call me crazy, but that is the world I want to live in.

Check out the Kickstarter.

Tea, Maps and Noah: An Odds and Ends Jam

February 21, 2013

I was a judge for the latest round of SpinTunes! Check out the tunes!

Ben Fisher is doing a Kickstarter to raise funds for a new album. Noah Gunderson will be helming the project!

Tea for Tyrants is a project that pairs green tea and indie music. How has this not happened already? This is awesome.

Here’s some joyful, intricate indie rock from Maps and Atlases. How can you not love this?

I can’t explain why I’m suddenly so into artsy, dubby electronica, but hey, at least I can explain that I love fireworks because of their mystery.

LCD Soundsystem lives on. So do other bands.

January 12, 2012

As an an unabashedly overenthusiastic LCD Soundsystem fan, it should not surprise anyone that I took today to write a videos/MP3 post purely because the trailer for SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS came out. The film chronicles the last days (and James Murphy’s day after) of LCD Soundsystem. The trailer made me dance around in my office.

IC fave Kickstarter had a humongous third year, and you can see all their stats and stuff from it here. Cool information design for an even cooler site. They are literally changing the way the world does art.

Super Visas, James Hicken’s ambient folk project, has a new video for “The Hum That Keeps Us Cool.” It’s incredibly disorienting and fascinating:

I pronounced Avalanche City’s debut album Our New Life Above The Groundnigh on perfect” in early 2011 and named it #2 on our Top Ten of 2010 list. The rest of the world is catching on: The New Zealand band will be playing SXSW this year, and they got a song from their album posted as a download on RCRD LBL two days ago. Exciting!

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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