After a few mild complaints from buyers, I’ve become dissatisfied with CaféPress who have supplied the Dan Bryk t-shirts and other merch to date. I honestly haven’t kept up with the progress in the on-demand merch world, but after a fair bit of research and due diligence, I’m going to close the (annoying multiple) merch stores I have with CaféPress and adopt two more streamlined options: Spreadshirt and Zazzle.
First up is Spreadshirt, whose origins are European but have now opened up a plant in Pittsburgh to serve the US.
The main advantage they have over their competitors seems to be the “flex print” technique they use for printing. The results are less like CP’s digital printing, and more like traditional screen printing. The printing is sharper and more colour-fast and durable than direct-to-print. I’ve set up a few variations of a Pop Psychology t-shirt and ordered one, and I’m really impressed so far.
And next up is Zazzle, who use a similar technology to Cafépress for multi-coloured print jobs, but at least don’t charge CP’s monthly or annual fees for the privilege of multiple style items in one shop, or widgety flash panels like this:
But the best part of Zazzle is where you can pick “models” to indicate how the artwork fits the cut of the shirt, and how the shirt might fit different people, which resulted in this bit of digital magic…
…which then reminded me of that Karen Finley song “Tales of Taboo” and its’ immortal lyric: “She’s a real nice granny/and I never touch her snatch/’cause she’s my granny!”
But I wasn’t sure I remembered the exact lyrics to that (and my “The Truth is Hard To Swallow” vinyl is sitting in my parents basement back in Mississauga) so I fired up google with the search phrase karen finley “she’s my granny” lyrics. And this is what I came across:
WTF? I know she’s just a piece of random collateral in their campaign to sell Scions, but this is some of the text of the MOG-ged up track:
She dreams. She dreams of strangling baby birds. Bluebird, wrens and robins. And with her thumbs she pushes back on their small feathered necks, pushes back against their beaks till they snap like breaking twigs.
She dreams. She dreams of being locked in a cage and singing loudly and off-key with her loved ones standing behind her, whispering very loudly, “She has an ugly voice, doesn’t she? She has an ugly voice.” Oh, leave it to the loved ones always to interfere with our dreams.
Like when my father finally told me he loved me after forty years, then went into the bathroom, locked the door, put up pictures of children from the Sears catalogue, arranged mirrors, black stockings and garters to look at as he masturbated, as he hanged himself from the shower stall. It’s that ultimate erection. It’s that ultimate orgasm. Whatever turns you on, girl. Whatever, whatever turns you on.
I love this monologue, but it really doesn’t strike me as an ideal or even compatible marketing message to sell Scions with. (Erin used to joke that I should offer Fingers to the Toronto Conservatory of Music for an ad campaign.) I can’t help but wonder what Ms. Finley would think about this juxtaposition.
The new corporate-sponsored music model once again makes for strange bedfellows.
In the interests of cutting out middlemen and bringing it all back home, the entire Dan Bryk catalogue is now available directly from my Bandcamp mini-site downloads.bryk.com (everything, that is, but the still-eponymous Dan Bryk, Asshole, which is now embarrassing enough that I am considering deleting it once and for all, and I am even considering releasing “Mississauga Rattler”, otherwise known as “the demos that got me dropped from Scratchie.”)
The part of all this that remains unbelievable for me is that I am receiving about 95% of the proceeds of the sales after PayPal takes its’ micropayments ounce of flesh. That is a pretty major game-changer for me, and was the primary reason I decided to sell Pop Psychology directly, give away the 128k version, and allow everyone to listen to it in full.
I think it’s pretty remarkable that a platform like Bandcamp can exist fully-functionally on the back of venture capital. I’m sure I’m not the only indie musician waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of BC instituting monthly fees or taking a percentage off each download, but in the meantime they have shown a considerable amount of goodwill hosting, streaming and delivering a LOT of music bandwidth — for free. And their FAQ is fucking hilarious, as if they hired Chuck Klosterman as ghostwriter. So if there’s anything of mine you’ve ever wanted to check out, these might be the salad days of maximizing the financial reward from my work.
In other, not-as-fun news, IODA (who distributes/consolidates downloads to iTunes Music Store, Amazon MP3, eMusic, etc. for many indie labels small and large) recently raised their cheque-issuing threshold to $250 “to bring them in line with industry standards” (what industry? what standards?) which means that little labels like Urban Myth that used to have to sell 10 albums before getting paid now have to sell about 50 albums of music before they see a penny. I guess I was under the impression that the whole technological long tail thing had some potential to let little indies establish themselves with a track download here, a track download there. I guess I was wrong, and it’s new technology, same old music biz rules.
So here’s an uplifting footnote: my bull city friends over at Reverbnation have hooked up with Microsoft for “Sponsored Songs” — 1000 Reverbnation artists who now have an exclusive track available for free download, with Microsoft paying the artist 50¢ per download. You can argue that this is yet another shot across Apple’s bow in the culture wars — with indie artists as the collateral — but in the end anything that gets the artists paid is alright with me. Admittedly my records have been pretty much made on Macs, but it’s frustrating to maintain a relationship with such an opaque lover.
Naturally, I was whimsical and/or ungrateful enough to pick perhaps the least appropriate song possible for such a corporate mash-up. I’m apparently up to $39.50 of downloads in less than a week, so please, download and tell your friends.
Still, it’s always special nice to be considered a vital part of a scene you’ve abandoned, and I wish I could be there to watch aformentioned rock machine Bull City play the Compulation CD release show tomorrow night at Local 506. BC’s James “Jim” Brantley plays smoking dual leads (panned stereo for extra width!) on my song. Which is called Hang Around and is two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of whatever it is that I do best. (In all honesty, it’s one part “Brand New Hairdo” and two parts “Love You More.”) In any case, you have my full permission to go and buy it and see what all the hot fuss is about down there in North Carolina!
Did I mention I moved to NYC? I have, and I even booked my first proper Living Room gig yesterday with my friends Noam Weinstein (who’s from Boston, although he lives here now) and Mike Evin (who’s from Montreal). The gig is on Friday August 21st from 8-9:45. Not sure who plays first, or who will have a band ready in time for the gig (cough!). Also, we need a catchy name for the show. Any ideas?
I was doing some personal research on St. Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish priest who was martyred by the nazis in Auschwitz. (I grew up attending a polish Catholic Church named after St. Kolbe.)
But somehow I ended up finding a self-described post-punk band from Virginia named Maximilian Colby.
I don’t know why but I brought this up talking in bed this morning. Was their band name a homage or simple irony? Clever portmanteau or non-sequitur? While a post-punk band of seminarians sounds kind of cool, there was no indication this was the case.
Familiar with my obsession with Fr. Kolbe’s incredible sacrifice, Erin sighed and suggested maybe they just like cheese. As anyone who suffers through another Sunday afternoon listen to How Splendid Was My Table knows, Cheeseophilia is running rampant amongst the foodies.
So we started reflexively freestyling “cheesy” indie rock band names. Please take one for your new band. They’re not even consistently all musical references, sorry.
While any list one makes up lying on your back on a hot sunday morning is (and should be) suspect, I could tell by Erin’s continual groans that some of these are pretty good. Or bad. You know.
• Monterey Jack Johnson (how apropos!)
• Cheddar Kelly (trademarked “cheese food product” version: CHEDD-R Kelly)
• Charlene Stilton
• Mozzarella Fitzgerald
• Semi-Soft Machine
• The Goats Milk (also works with the Mountain Goats Milk)
• Emmental Bachman
• Edam and the Ants (also Edam Yankees)
• Boba Feta
• Brie Sharp
• Bad Companeer
• Gang of Roquefourt
• Quicksilver Limburger Service
• Havarti Bunyan (also Havarti Garfunkel)
• Morgan Grünländer
• OK Asiago
• Blue Wensleydale Morningstar
• Fontina Turner (also Fontina Weymouth, Fontina Yothers, &c.)
• Alberto Y Los Trios Parmigianas
• The Romanos
If it seems as if I’ve been been laying low for a while, it’s true. But I have a pretty good reason. While I don’t usually get too personal in these posts, I had something else going on in the last few months… after years of domestic partnership, I finally married my long-time sweetie Erin in her hometown of Ottawa, Canada. It was a very small family and friends affair (the paparazzi were kept away by armed Polish guards) and even though we’ve had issues with the institution of marriage in the past, our new status and the formality of “being married” has been surprisingly transcendent for both of us. Married life is really, uh, superlative so far. I guess you’ll know how it’s working out a record or two from now 😉
Two more things to announce… I have a gig tomorrow night at Dain’s Place in Durham with Reid Johnson (frontman of one of my favourite NC bands Schooner) and touring Tallahassee singer-songwriter Adam Reid. This is my first time playing at Dain’s, which is getting a good rep for the Tuesday night indie singer-songwriter shows Shayne from Future Kings of Nowhere has been booking. They have 80+ microbrews and reportedly very good food, so if you’re around please come out. 754 9th Street • Durham, NC 27705 • 919-416-8800. Show starts at 9pm — I might be on first.
I was also proud to be one of the inaugural sessions of Sessions@KNC which is NCSU radio station WKNC’s program to document primarily local music in creative new ways. All the sessions will be played on a new “Sessions@KNC” program, and will be available from their website and Jamendo.com (an open-source music library) under a Creative Commons license. The bands also keep the rights to the multitrack masters to do whatever they like with them. I recorded my session back in March and they’ve been mixing the initial sessions over the last two months. The piano I played that day had a bad Bb so I was kept on my toes, but I do look forward to hearing what the final mixes sound like. Keep an eye on the Sessions blog for a release date, and please also check out the amazing Bull City Session they’ve just posted! Good times!!