Tag Archives: Live

Rock-and Roll in the Digital Age: How the Garage Band and the Internet has Democratized Music

Yesterday I led a session at Unsummit about the democratization of music entitled, “Rock-and-Roll in the Digital Age”.  The personal computer and the Internet have significantly altered the path of music history.  With virtually no technical roadblocks to recording music, everyone with access to a computer can do things that would have cost thousands of dollars just a decade ago.  Put simply, artists can now focus on their art.

Back in the day (pre-2004), getting a “pro” sound recorded meant spending thousands of dollars in a recording studio. We had to pay for the space and also for the audio engineer.  Then we had to pay for master tapes and, God forbid we wanted a CD to play at home, we had to pay for that.

Today, we have an opportunity to record music using stuff we mostly already own.  There is no need for an audio engineer.  “Space” can be anywhere that is quiet.  And your computer is your recording studio.

The impact of this shift in ease-of-recording is that more and more artists are able to create music.  This is great.  Couple that with free or pay-as-you-go national and international distribution (i.e. websites, iTunes, Rhapsody, and Napster) as well as an organizational and categorizing tool (i.e. Google), and we’ve got everything we need to get rolling!  (Securing fans is a different story…)

As you have probably read, this democratization of music has REALLY pissed the record labels off.  They have sued everybody they can think of to sue.  They have squandered so many opportunities to become relevant that they are now a laughing stock.  Today, the record labels’ main assett is their connections/network.  They can still open doors for musicians but only because they have a solid stable of established bands that signed up before the digital age changed everything.  They can offer opening slots and give bands credibility.  And they can loan you money.  They can also provide you with a business organization.

BUT most of that is irrelevant for most musicians.

Most musicians make music for the joy of it.  And even the ones who are trying to make it big don’t really need the labels.  It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to make a career out of music, but it would take a similar amount of hard work and persistence to get noticed by a record label.  In fact, record labels are now looking for polished acts with a proven track record of success, basically serving as loan sharks to established bands.

Some perspective on my session.

In any case, here is me rapping at yesterday’s Unsummit (from multiple angles!!!).  🙂

And here’s another video clip from the session.

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The Value of Small Crowds

Last night at played what can be considered a “secret show” at the Dubliner Pub on University Ave.  It was secret, because nobody was there to see it.

Sometimes it is nice playing to a small, quiet crowd.  When I took the stage, there were 6 people in the bar, including the bartender and me.  By the time I finished, there were, probably, 30 bar patrons, talking loudly, clanging glasses, and otherwise watching me do my thing on stage.  To tell you the truth, I had a lot more fun when it was just me and 5 others.  That isn’t to say that I always like performing to small crowds.

Sometimes I like the big, loud, ornery crowds.  Other times I like the intimate, paying-attention crowd.  Last night I wasn’t feeling 100%.  My hands were moving slowly.  As a result, I wanted to do things a bit different.  I wasn’t interested in putting on a big performance as I usually do.  Rather, I chose a bunch of songs that I normally don’t play and performed them to the best of my ability, letting the music speak to the scuffed up floors and empty bar stools.  It was beautiful.

The attached mp3 was recorded at the end of my set when there was a large contingent of busybodies talking and otherwise making noise.  You can get a sense for the difference between a quiet room and a loud room.  Sometimes I like it noisy, sometimes I don’t.  🙂

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Jungle Red Salon

I just got back from Jungle Red Salon, where I played a fun 45-minute set. The crowd seemed to dig the show as well, which is always nice. 😉

Next show is Wednesday at Station 4 in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention. I go on at 8 p.m. and will be sticking it to the Republicans! Booyah!!

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Station 4 Last Night

The show at Station 4 last night was memorable more for its sparseness than for its rowdyness. I played my set to a crowd of 5 staff members and 3 patrons. BUT it should be noted that BOTH the staffers and the crowd were into what I was doing – a nice improvement from some of those lonely nights at Sportsman’s Pub where I would many times play to 20 people who could give a damn about my music.

So we declare victory and move on!!!

Also, Jesse showed up and did an impromptu set that totally brought me to my dancing feet!

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Terminal Bar Rocked!!

Last night’s show at The Terminal Bar in Nordeast Minneapolis was grrrreat! We were a bit rusty, playing our first show as a band in 3 months, but the rustyness equated to pure energy and musicianship onstage. Many times I felt like my guitar chops weren’t up to snuff, but John’s drumming and Ryan’s bass playing picked up my slack and allowed my vocals to bring it home.

Speaking of vocals, my pipes are a bit tired at present, as I have been recording vocal parts for the new record between practice sessions for upcoming shows and yelling at friends on the basketball court (I’m a rather vocal bball player). Speaking of that, here’s some trivia for you – Did you know that I was an NCAA Division II basketball prospect coming out of high school? Of course that doesn’t matter these days, except for the fact that I get to say that, which sounds cool to say – kind of like saying, “I toured the West Coast!” I do love basketball, though. My old knees are barely holding up these days, though, and I am forced to run in straight lines and play lazy defense as a precaution to causing my body serious injury – WTF?!

So I’m playing a show tonight at Corner Coffee at 8 p.m. which will feature Jim from Crows in the Corn on the washboard. Can’t wait! Here’s the map to Corner Coffee:

— Map Removed —

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