Entries in Landon Smith (4)
I love getting things for free – I remember the opening day of Chipotle in Fort Worth, TX back in the fall of 2000, they gave away burritos to all of us “starving” TCU students. I got the barbacoa burrito because it sounded delicious, and sure enough, I remember enjoying every bite of it…until the next day when I either by coincidence had a stomach bug, or else got food poisoning from the burrito. Either way, I do remember the period before the aftermath; I had enjoyed getting the burrito for free. Now being a number of years removed from the situation…I still will enjoy Chipotle from time to time.
Nevertheless, why did Chipotle decide to give burritos away to students for free? Of course, there is always the notion that people won’t know if they like your product until they try it, but does it cheapen the value of your product if you give it away for free? This question has plagued marketers for years, and arguments from both camps have great foundations to stand on. So, when it comes to music, where does the cost or reward of “free” stand?
2012 is a far cry from the music world that I grew up in the 1990’s. My only access to music was the radio, The Box (that cheap network television version of MTV…remember that?), the local record store, and occasionally the copy of Rolling Stone that my friends would give me to after they were through reading it. Looking back, I really only had knowledge of a handful of musical acts at a time – I never really felt like I was overwhelmed with choice when it came to music. And while I never paid the $18 price tag on CD’s that I would see at Sam Goodie at the mall, I would typically pay about $12 for a new release of whatever band I had been exposed to from the one of the few channels I mentioned. The music that I purchased definitely had an assigned value to it.
In 2012, because there are so many channels to hear about new music, it almost becomes a case of paralysis by choice. I’ve addressed that before in multiple posts on my site, but the problem left over is, how do artists get their music to their fans? It seems like we live in the technological era where that should be relatively easy, but because there are so many channels, artists are tasked with really trying to understand who their fans are and what their listening habits are in order to try to connect with them in the appropriate mediums. That is a great thing because fans and artists will hopefully become better connected as that trend continues. The question still arises, beyond word of mouth, how can artists reach new fans? This is where I believe “free” comes in…
My good friend and cohort, Landon Smith, and I rewrote the music to an old Christmas hymn in the fall of 2010, and released it for free on Amazon.com as a music download. We figured, it was the first time we had written and recorded a project together, and because we just classified it in the “fun” category, we decided we’d make it available for free as a little reward for all of our faithful fans’ years of support. 14 months later, the song has had 64,000 downloads from the Amazon website. Needless to say, that song’s success (it is called “Christmas Anthem” if you’re interested in hearing it by the way) far exceeded anything we could have ever imagined.
When we consider the fact that a record will reach top 20 status on the billboard charts if they break the 50,000 unit mark, that was an incredible statistic for Landon and I as independent artists. There isn’t another avenue out there than I can imagine that 64,000 people would not only have access to an artist’s music, but also have it to access later either on their computer, ipod, phone, or whatever other storage device they have. I’m excited about that, because with services like Spotify and I-Match (offered by Itunes), I think music is heading in the direction of subscription services anyway, so our experiment with Amazon just drove that theory home a little more for me…
So, if an artist has the capacity to reach over 50,000 people with their latest project, and all they have to do is make it available for free on a major website? (I realize it’s a little more complicated than just that, but for purposes of this post, we’ll go with it) If that’s the case, my next record might be available at a 100% discount...stay tuned.
Keep on rockin’ in the “free” world,
No - I'm not talking about the Hickory Farms Gouda that your Aunt Lily sends each year. Christmas "Cheese" (more specifically, the music, decorations, cards, stuffed animals, sweaters, or anything else that can be commercially exploited) can be an excellent complement to your holiday experience (like Brie on a baguette with fig compote), or can just as easily make one grit their teeth and pine for the hasty debut of the new year (like Easy Cheez with bacon bits).
So, how do we separate the good from the pungent? There are 2 main processes one should consider when making "cheese" for the holidays - age and quality.
Age - The release of your Christmas cheese should not be premature. Just as cheese needs to age in order to get the desired flavor and result, you probably don't want to start promoting your Christmas products in September. To everything, (turn, turn, turn) there is a season, and that includes Christmas. Let people enjoy each holiday and plan a timely release so that they don't feel like you're getting cheese all over their Halloween candy or Thanksgiving turkey.
Quality - I'm sure we have all noticed that some believe the holiday season enables all to become "cheese makers." I've heard my fair share of well-done Christmas records, but I've also heard some that make "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" seem an eloquent, poetic piece. Yikes. Quality control should definitely be exercised in selecting and producing whatever Christmas cheese seems to be one's particular area of expertise.
In that vein (bleu-cheese vein, right? Wow, what a terrible joke) - I truly hope that Landon Smith and I have considered both the timing and the quality concerns with producing a bit of "Christmas Cheese" for this holiday season. The song "Christmas Anthem" (Landon Smith and my first collaborative effort on a song) will be available to download on Itunes and Amazon mp3 tomorrow. and with any luck, you'll barely be able to notice the cheese.
...or, as a gift from Landon and I, get it here on Amazon Mp3 for FREE:
Let us know how it matches with your Thanksgiving turkey. Enjoy, talk to you guys soon.
Wow. There are tons of things coming up within the next few weeks that I need to direct everyone's attention to! I have some great musician friends that are putting out records, and Landon Smith and I recorded a Christmas tune that will be out next week, so without further yakking, here is the timeline:
Poema, "Once a Year" - These girls harmonize together fantastically, and they are genuinely some of the nicest people I've ever met. Their Christmas EP, "Once a Year" comes out tomorrow on Itunes and Amazon MP3, check out the preview on Amazon here (I think "Wool Coats" will be a favorite):
Abraham the Poor, "After the Flood, Into the Wild" - My good buddy Josh Gaines returns with his sophomore record "After the Flood, Into the Wild" If you're into Iron and Wine or Ray Lamontagne-style music, you definitely do not want to miss his new record! It's due out mid-December, so I'll keep you guys posted, or google "Abraham the Poor" for more information
Landon Smith and The Real Matt Jones, "Christmas Anthem" - Landon Smith and I teamed up for the recording of this song - it's an old hymn, but we redid the chords and melody in a very upbeat, John Denver-esque, hoedown Christmas tune. Landon and I both sing, harmonize, and play instruments on this one...can't wait for you guys to hear it! It will be available to download next Tuesday, November 23rd on Itunes and Amazon mp3!
DSC Band, "Cause for Praise" - I recently played electric guitar on a live worship record called "Cause for Praise" that was recorded at the church where I attend, Desert Springs Church. I've heard about 5 of the 10 mixes for songs that will be on this record, and they are sounding incredible. My buddy Drew Hodge is singing, and there's cello, choir, and all kinds of stuff on this record to really enjoy. I'll keep you posted when this is due out, it's looking like the first week of December...
At any rate, I just wanted to direct you guys to a handful of good music that will be out soon - hope you're having a great Monday, check back in with you soon!
If you're any type of artist, you've more than likely heard this question a million times - with good reason, of course. It's very difficult for an artistic person to pursue a career in their field and make a full-time run of it. This small series in multiple parts is intended to provide some encouragement to those trying to pursue their art as a means of generating an income as well.
Two Sides - As a quick disclaimer; I would never discount the purists who have other jobs or sources of income (legal ones, that is) in order to allow them the freedom to do whatever type of art they desire, without thought of financial strain or repercussions. Some might argue this is a truer form of art, because the pressure of building an audience for the art form is alleviated, and the art can just be a product of raw emotion. Kudos to you all, please continue to do so. This posting will not be about that path, however.
Part I - Success Stories
It's awesome to have a post where you don't just trumpet your own successes, but can cite other examples of artists that are making a full-time go of their work. Obviously, since I'm in the music field, I know many more musicians than any other type of artist that is doing this...here's a brief list:
Landon Smith - a long time friend of mine, and a great songwriter, Landon moved to Denver from Texas in the last year and has been doing music full-time now for at least 3 years. Check out his music here: www.myspace.com/landonsmithmusic
Daniel Park - I've known Dan since 2004, and he has been building his way up to a full-time music career in Las Cruces for a number of years, and about 2 years ago (I think that's the right time frame!) was able to quit his engineering job and play, record, and write music full time. He's got an excellent live show with looping, violins, and guitars. Check out his music here: http://www.danielparkmusic.com/
Shane Wallin - Only in the previous two mentions have I met an artist who is booking shows as aggressively as Shane is. Shane is constantly recording new material, and bouncing all over the state of New Mexico playing shows and getting the word out about his music. Check out his music here: http://www.myspace.com/shanewallinmusic
Angie Stevens - I met Angie through a press contact of hers when I played a barely-attended coffeehouse show in Boudler, CO in 2005. The first time I played a REAL concert in Denver, Angie invited me to open for her band, and she graciously provided a crowd of at least 200 people for me to play in front of. She's an awesome musician and friend. Check out her music here: http://www.angiestevens.com/
Guy Forsyth - I was fortunate enough to open for Guy in Houston back in January - he said during his show that he's been doing music full-time for 20 years. He's got an incredibly powerful voice, and his capacity for storytelling in song and in between songs is unparalleled. Check out his music here: http://www.guyforsyth.com/
I wanted to give you guys examples of people that I've met in my travels that you may not have heard of, but are making a full-time go of their music. None of them are signed to major labels, none of them have been featured in tabloids (as far as I know), and for the most part, they are happily living their lives doing what they love.
You've got the examples today, I'll do another posting with ideas for revenue in the next few days. Enjoy reading about these artists and hearing their music!