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February 4, 2004

Acoustic Demos, Part 2

It's February. Time for some songs!

Cut The Wire, electric version [3.4 MB] - this is the rockin' arrangement of the earlier acoustic version linked below. Also a little experiment in online collaboration — this version features Erik Ostrom on mandolin and backing vocals, and Shannon Campbell on backing vocals. I've been chipping away at this version for awhile now; it's pretty hot level-wise, with lots going on, and a real challenge to mix. Expect to see at least one more version of this song with yet another guest player.

Thanks, Shannon and Erik, for your contributions to my silly country song. I'm considering renaming my project "Scott Andrew and his Buddy List."

In Harm's Way [4.1 MB] - I wrote this about two weeks ago. I hardly ever play slide guitar, so I just kinda noodled for about half an hour then hit "record" and kept the first take that didn't totally suck.

I learned some valuable lessons recording this song. Among them: it's very difficult to sing the word "insects" without it sounding like "incest," or worse. And: importing a sample of your own sloppy drumming into FruityLoops' Beatslicer in hopes of "making it more precise" is always a bad idea. And: my falsetto sounds a bit like Dan Fogelberg.

In the first verse, the image of the child grabbing at the airplane was inspired by this post by Greg Knauss, four years back, although the song is about something entirely different. I'm considering submitting this song to a certain new folk festival contest. (hint: rhymes with "Shmerrville.")

Previous demos this year:


February 3, 2004

Magnatune: Under The Hood

John Buckman reports to Linux Journal that the top Magnatune artists are making about $6,000 US a year in royalties. Interesting to read about the software running under the hood (AOLserver for images, Mathopd for audio files) and some of the reasoning behind the sales pipeline methodology (no shopping carts = no shopping cart abandonment).

This marks the first and hopefully last time the phrase "sales pipeline methodology" is used on

February 2, 2004

The Talkeetna Report

My heart already had a soft spot for Whole Wheat Radio since they were one of the first webcasts to play my record. Now I have another reason to love them. In my inbox last week was an email from WWR with complete stats on which songs were played, how many people heard them, the average listener rating and a chart showing the approximate locations of listeners. I might not be the world's most played folk-pop artist, but it's utterly cool to know that people in Wyandotte MI, Wasilla AK and Tallinn, Estonia have heard my music.

Idiotainment (Because They Think We're Idiots)

I guess the most absurd thing about the aforementioned Pepsi/iTunes ad is how they desperately want us to believe that iTunes is subversive, and downloading free music with a Pespi cap code is sticking it to The Man — somehow. (Sort of like how they desperately want us to believe the defrocking of Janet by Justin was an accident — somehow.) There's so much major-label music available through iTunes that I don't think it's much of a stretch to say iTunes == big fat money pipe to the RIAA, non-affiliated indie labels and artists excepted.

Speaking of Janet, the press release for her new single should win some sort of award for Most Marketing Hyperbole In A Single Paragraph.

January 30, 2004

Tune Recycler

Tune RecyclerDownhill Battle is up to some fun new mischief. Their Tune Recycler campaign is collecting unused codes from the upcoming Pepsi/iTunes promotion and using them to buy non-major label music instead:

When you submit a winning Pepsi code to the Tune Recycler, we'll redeem it for music from honest, independent labels. There are a few great independent labels in the iTunes store that give their musicians up to 40-50 cents, right from the first sale. When you use the Tune Recycler, you know that no money is going to support price fixing, payola, or lawsuits against families with children — and most importantly, the money goes to a musician. That way, you don't have to sign up with iTunes to get one song, but you can still put that cap to use.

By the way, have you seen the television spot they're running as part of the Pepsi/iTunes campaign? Words fail me.

UPDATE: via iTunes RSS, I see that the Green Day cover of "I Fought The Law," which is playing in the background of the aforementioned commercial, just became available on iTunes. How. Convenient.


January 28, 2004

you get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

There are times when I feel completely centered, confident of my place in the universe, at ease with my talents and shortcomings, finding a clarity of purpose that helps define my chosen path. I am determined in my progress. I have set reachable, measurable life goals and have laid workable plans to achieve them. I sleep soundly, secure in the knowledge that I know exactly who I am and why am I here.

And then: this happens.

Dare I live my dream?


January 26, 2004

time you'll never get back

I've been grooving on some more Magnatune artists.

WilliamsonWilliamson, a few things to hear before we all blow up. A gentle cross of instrumental electronic and indie pop. Each song is like a mysterious present; unwrapping layer after layer, discovering something new and shiny with each moment. Extra points for the track title "What's On the Ceiling Beats What's On TV."

Lisa DeBenedictisLisa DeBenedictis, Fruitless. Lo-fi ethereal tunes, heavy on tinkling piano and some subtle electronic frosting. For some reason her phrasing reminds me of early R.E.M. and Innocence Mission, although DeBenedictis sounds nothing like those groups. Lisa Dewey fans, take note.

Shane JackmanShane Jackman, Equilibrium. High-caliber Utah-based folksinger, in the storytelling vein. He's been around long enough to collect some serious accolades, and listening to his lyrics makes my own sound like bad pre-teen poetry.


January 22, 2004

iTunes RSS! CD Baby!

Yes, yes. Apple now provides RSS feeds for the iTunes Music Store. No more constant checking to see if Kris Delmhorst or Jay Farrar's latest have finally been added. Now I can just subscribe via Bloglines. Ahhh.

Speaking of iTunes, Where I've Been is now available at CD Baby. It costs a buck more, but who cares? I signed up for the free digital distribution, which means that soon you'll be able to find my tunes in the IMS as well as Rhapsody, Napster, MusicMatch, AOL MusicNet and a gajillion other download sites. You won't get all the extra goodies that come with the physical CD, but if you'd rather not bother with another coaster, there you have it.

In the meantime, if you'd like to write a review of my record at the CD Baby site, just scroll to the bottom of the page, click the link, and have at it.


Pump Audio

Victor points us to this USA Today article that mentions Magnatune, the download-only record label that uses sliding-scale pricing to allow buyers to pay what they think is fair for music. I've been waffling over sending some of my own music in to Magnatune, but I still think it's a positive step in an interesting direction, and for now I'm satisfied to watch how Brad and Victor fare as Magnatune labelmates.

Meanwhile, at the Just Plain Folks discussion boards, a number of us have been debating the merits of Pump Audio, a service that seeks TV, film and commericial placements for indie musicians. The offer is appealing: the artist retains the full copyright, Pump Audio gets a non-exclusive license to seek commericial placements for the music, and the profits are split 50/50. At least two indie musicians have gone on record as having made decent money from this deal, one of them claiming to have scored $10K from juicy placements with Kodak and the World Wrestling Federation.

Money aside, this strikes me as exactly as it should be. Many publishing houses seek to own 50% to 100% of the copyright (and, therefore, publishing rights) and an exclusive license as part of the deal to shop music for commericial purposes. Some require a fee to participate. This, despite the fact that there's no guarantee that the music will be placed. At least with the Pump Audio deal, the artist loses nothing if the music doesn't sell; the copyright isn't locked up in a vault somewhere.

The encouraging thing is that opportunities are starting to open up to musicians who are off the grid and aren't getting pulled down into the tar pit with the rest of the major label mastodons. If you write relatively accessible music, there's a real possibility to make a decent amount of side cash between Magnatune, Pump Audio, CD Baby digital distribution, and selling physical CDs. I think we'll see more you-retain-the-copyright services like Magnatune and Pump Audio sprouting up in the future.


January 18, 2004

Acoustic Demos, Part 1

I usually spend way too much time working and reworking a song to near-death, so in an attempt to be more productive, I'm going try to post at least one ugly, warty demo a month, and try not to think too much about it. Hopefully by the end of 2004 I'll have enough rough material to do another record (full-length this time, I hope), as well as have some feedback from y'all as to which songs to re-record and which to trash. Everything is subject to change. We'll see how it goes.

Holding Back (4MB) is a FrankenSongTM — stitched together out pieces of other songs that failed to germinate, which I'm discovering is not a bad way to write a song. I wrote this last Wednesday and recorded it on Thursday, which is probably the shortest amount of time I've spent on a song thus far (and for all I know, it shows).

Cut The Wire (3.4MB) now officially replaces Cast The Net Wide as the Most Country-Fried Song I've Ever Written. I'd been listening to way too much random alt-country and this just kind of popped out one evening last November. The joke of this song is that it's really about disengaging from media oversaturation and computers and stuff — me, I think there should be way more bouncy country songs written about how Fox News sucks. I'm currently working on a rockin' plugged-in version of this tune, with special guests TBA.

I'll probably end up making a separate page to post the demos I do this year, although I probably won't get around to posting lyrics until later.


Earlier entries...