Saturday, November 30, 2013

J.B. Beverley Feature Interview On Saving Country Music

J.B. Beverley's album cover for "Stripped To The Root" illustrated by Kitty Barks
Check out original post on Saving Country Music

Purchase J.B. Beverley's new album - Stripped To The Root

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"There’s been some big news here lately. A good Outlaw country artist named Wayne Mills has passed away. Did you know Wayne very well, and if so what did his music mean to you?

I didn’t know Wayne very well in the big scheme of things, as far as for a long time. The joke we made when we were hanging out in Altamont [at the Outlaw and Legends tribute concert] was that we knew of each other a lot longer than we’ve known each other. But he impacted my life in a great way, both personally and musically. An amazing, from the heart and from the gut songwriter, very pure, very true to his personality and cultural roots. And as a man, he’s was as stand up of a guy as I’ve been around since I can remember. He was a really remarkable person that was taken out of this world too early, that’s for sure.

You’ve said about your new album Stripped to the Root that it’s not a country record; that there’s some country stuff included, but it’s not a Wayward Drifters record which is your country band. Explain to folks what the idea and inspiration is behind the album, and what they can expect.

The album was sort of a happy accident. It wasn’t something that I planned to do. I had the same band in the Wayward Drifters for a long time, and Johnny [Lawless] took a temporary retirement from the road, Dan Mazer my banjo player had moved to the West Coast, so for the first time in a decade I found myself without a band and some time to kill. And I was going through some really tumultuous personal stuff. My long-term girlfriend of several years and I had split up, a couple of my friends had passed away, my dad had taken ill, and I left Virginia and moved to North Carolina. But through all of this, what became Stripped to the Root basically was a collection of songs both that I had written, or either heroes or friends in some capacity had written that were helping me get through that time.

The best way to put it is that it’s not so much a record, or if it is a record, it’s a concept record. And to look beyond that, a good friend of mine named Cameron Romero who’s a filmmaker said it best, he said, “This is less an album in a conventional sense, and more a soundtrack to the last three years of your life, which is very bold and very naked.” There’s a certain vulnerability to this record. Every song is very personal. This album was very cathartic for me. It was something that I had to do, and something I don’t think I could ever do twice.

What made you decide to release Stripped to the Root through the Rusty Knuckles label?

I have a lot of love and respect for the folks at Farmageddon, but it wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. I really wanted the album to come out, and the Rusty Knuckles folks offered me finishing funds and a means of really promoting the album and getting it properly distributed, and really just wanted to see it happen as bad as I did. At the time I’m sitting here with medical bills and legal bills, plus my fans have gone since 2009 without a Wayward Drifters record. I had to do something. I couldn’t wait another six months or a year. I really had to move on it. And so it really came down to just having to get it out, and doing what was best for the record and for the fans.

You say these songs are really personal to you, so let’s talk about a couple of them. The first one “Disappear On Down The Line” has been out there for a little while. It’s a song that has spoken to a lot of people. What was the inspiration behind that song?

That song, and the song “Stripped to the Root,” I kind of call them sister songs in a way. They were both written on the same night. And they were the two songs that led to my concept behind the record. So I can thank both of those songs for being the springboard. The actual story behind “Disappear On Down The Line” is pretty much transliterated through the lyrics. I was in my home, totally isolated and alone, my woman had left, I’d buried my friends, and all the proverbial voices of doubt and chaos, and all this negative stuff was fueling my mind at the time. I use the parable that the demons were dragging me down. Granted, there weren’t literally ghouls in the room tugging me through the floorboards, but as far as the emotional, spiritual, and mental direst and in some instances torment I was under, it was very real.

“Disappear On Down The Line” and “Stripped to the Root,” both those songs, I wrote those songs to avoid picking up my pistol and doing something real stupid. There’s no real other way to put it. I’ve never been a suicidal type, I’ve never tried it, I’ve never threatened it, I’ve never really entertained the idea. But at that point in my life, I was so down and out, I did find myself sitting there staring at my pistol. And the instant that I felt that way, I knew I had to get it out of my system or I was gonna die. So I penned those songs in an effort to get through that night and keep from doing something stupid. And the beautiful part is that I’ve been able to treat the execution of this record as a catharsis, as in the sense that you have all these negative feelings and all this stuff weighing on your ticker and spirit, and if you’re able somehow to leave it in the art work, leave it in the song, then it no longer haunts you.

J.B. Beverley strumming the night away

There’s another song “All The Little Devils” co-written by Ronnie Hymes…

Yeah, Ronnie is singing on it as well. I was working on that song, and Ronnie had just come by my studio to visit, and he made a couple of lyrical suggestions. And after his second or third suggestion that I actually liked better than what I had written, I just said, “Okay man, I’m going to use your words and you officially co-authored this song with me. So it kind of came about impromptu. It was really organic.

And what’s the message you’re trying to convey with “All The Little Devils”?

I’ve seen a transition in music in recent years. I’ll give you an example. I loved what Hank3 did with Straight to Hell. I felt in a very real way it was a concept record with a very honest depiction of where his heart was at the time. But what I saw in the aftermath of the popularity of that record has been a wide variety of bands that are basically trying to cash in on the whole “drinking, drugs, Satan, let’s raise hell.” There’s a time and place for all that. I like to have a good time. I’ve fucked up many things in my life. I’ve not always been a great person. But at the same time, I don’t understand why a lot of these people feel the need to celebrate being a degenerate, to celebrate having no honor. I just don’t get it.

Like I say in the song, I’m not saying I’m any better. I’ve made many of those same mistakes. The difference is I learned over the years, and I no longer celebrate it. It ain’t me trying to force feed my politics or spiritual beliefs on anybody. I’m not trying to put anybody down. I’m all for people trying to reflect their feelings, and their sentiments, and their dreams however they choose to. But the problem is that there’s got to be more to it. You can’t have all Saturday night without Sunday morning. You’ve got to have some inner reflection. You’ve got to have that honest look in the mirror and say, “Am I choosing to be a decent person, or am I choosing to serve that lower order? Am I choosing to corrupt and corrode?”

J.B. Beverley at a moment of introspection
You’re also a renegade studio owner now. What are some of the projects you have done, or may have coming up with Rebel Roots Studio?

The first thing I ever did was the last Wayward Drifters album Watch America Roll By in 2009. I did Jayke Orvis’s first record It’s All Been Said, and I did Owen Mays’ first record. Matt Kellie and the Idle Americans. Husky Burnette’s album I engineered, produced, and played bass on. Carolina Still’s album. Man, there’s been a bunch. Me and Buck (Thrailkill) have been staying pretty busy since I’ve been down here. It was sort of a default thing. I had to reconfigure my lineup, I had to take care of some family stuff, I couldn’t tour like the way I had been, so I figured the logical thing was if I can’t do what I’ve been doing for the next year or so, at least not full time, and there’s no work to be had here, you might as well use one of your other skills. And I had been doing recording before I moved to North Carolina, but Buck and I stepped up the workload once I got here because I wasn’t touring as much. So I sort of defaulted into it."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nine Inch Nails Brings The Stage To Life In A New Way

Trent Reznor embraces technology to keep his sound and visual in harmony and aiming for the future
Trent Reznor is an individual that understands one of the only truths in all of life. Change is the only constant. Looking into the past is great for a moment of reflection, but it doesn't challenge what is possible to create with a fresh perspective. 

Stage shows are meant to be a spectacle of performance. The ambient noise of feedback from a Marshall stack is just as important as to how a lead singer can make every single audience member feel spoken to individually. A banner backdrop with a logo is great for your local dive, but the bigger and or better venues have a lighting director and enough gels to fill a stage with plenty of color wash furthering the spectrum of a live show. 

Having seen plenty of stage sets that can be done on a DIY budget with good ideas, there are a plethora of options. One of most punk and DIY operations I ever saw was when Botch used two power strips to create a visual rhythm to match their sonic intensity. Two on and off switches created an instant strobe light set to their pounding rhythms. Pure and simple genius setup and all accomplished for under thirty bucks and the addition of an extra band member focused on the visual cues.

Hopefully as time moves forward more bands outside of Electronic Dance Music will also start to focus on lighting and set design to help further their live show into an actual experience. Sorry folks, but the music isn't just enough anymore. We are all ADD riddled media junkies and we crave more if you want our hard earned bucks to see ya perform live.

Check out the post on Buzzfeed

Gif animation of Nine Inch Nails live show
"Why Nine Inch Nails' Tension Tour Is At Least A Decade Ahead Of Its Time Nine Inch Nails’ Tension tour isn’t a typical arena rock show. Whereas most artists with a similar level of success and resources aim for spectacle, the execution tends to be very predictable – a few signature set pieces offset by a lot of basic lighting effects, half-hearted video elements on big screens, and maybe some pyrotechnics. In most cases, it’s all purely functional, and simply places an emphasis on musical moments in the show. Nine Inch Nails’ show, however, takes a more holistic approach, with the visual presentation constantly shifting to imply distinct environments for each song in the set while advancing an overall structure that’s more like a film than a concert. Though other recent tours by Kanye West and Lady Gaga may have a bigger, bolder set design, the NIN show is far more visually versatile and more complete in its design, with all the dimensions of the stage serving as a canvas for digital art that would seem more at home at, say, MoMA or The New Museum, than a rock concert. 

Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor told BuzzFeed he’s motivated to put on this sort of elaborate show as a matter of artistic expression, but also out of a sense of responsibility to his audience. “My goal is that — I can usually see the audience because I’m lit from behind a lot — is that I want to keep you from looking at your phone,” Reznor said. “I want to make you hold your pee because you don’t want to miss something. We’ve thought about all this stuff, and want to make this experience something that was worth your time.” 

Tension is the result of a long term collaboration between Reznor and the band’s art director, Rob Sheridan. The production follows the basic template of Lights in the Sky, a 2008 tour that Reznor and Sheridan agree was the pinnacle of the band’s live presentation, and the culmination of nearly a decade of experimentation. “We accidentally came up with physical light structures and a template where we could milk a lot out of it, and by the end of it, we’d run out of time and resources to keep going and it never felt like we finished it,” Reznor said of the Lights in the Sky tour. “We had these transparent screens that gave us a strange sense of depth and immersiveness, depending on what we put on it. We could turn the stage into something that felt more alive.” “

It was really impressive, but it was also on the tail end of a long, long time of touring around North America, so it didn’t have the hype and the impact we wished it would have when we got it out there,” said Sheridan, who oversees the overall design for the Tension tour and has been working closely with Reznor since he was hired to design the band’s official website when he was a teenager in the late ’90s, having never picked up a camera or edited video in his life. “It was kinda only seen by really hardcore fans, so that became part of the impetus for going back to it, because we just want lots of people to see what we can do. You don’t want to go out on tour with a production that’s new for the sake of being new.” 

It’s been a busy year for Reznor and Sheridan. In addition to creating the elaborate Tension tour, they also designed a striking minimalist presentation for Nine Inch Nails’ spate of summer festival appearances. “As I finished this record, we had a few festival appearances booked before, and that went from it being a couple fields in Germany to some pretty high-profile worldwide broadcasts, and it would be the real reintroduction of the band into the public psyche,” Reznor explained. “The challenges when you’re in a festival situation, to present a band live, if you’re not just walking out on stage and calling out songs, there’s different production restrictions and a bunch of boring shit. We decided build a little mini-show that’s made for festivals, that becomes governed by what you can and can’t efficiently bring into a festival. So everything was on the floor. I was obsessed with [Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads concert movie] Stop Making Sense. I think it went well. It was an interesting way to present the band, but not what we were planning for the Tension tour.” 

Reznor’s biggest challenge to his collaborators came when he decided just before production rehearsals to completely overhaul the show to focus heavily on the well-received new album Hesitation Marks and a newly expanded live band, featuring bass legend Pino Palladino and two backup singers. “He turned everything upside-down,” Sheridan said. “Totally new setlist, totally new band, totally new structure. It was a really turbulent process.” 

Sheridan designed the Tension tour, which is built around a set of three custom-built screens – two of which are transparent – and a complex lighting rig, with the assistance of the band’s longtime lighting designer Roy Bennett and the Montreal-based interactive design studio Moment Factory, based on direction by Reznor. Though the tour has been in the works for well over a year, Sheridan’s team had to rework large portions of the show on the fly, and are constantly tweaking and creating visual elements to suit Reznor’s ever-mutating setlist and musical direction. “I work on the visual elements on days off or when I’m on a bus, I edit and tweak it,” Sheridan explained. “If you look at YouTube clips from night to night, you’ll see that the production can change pretty radically because every day, I show up at soundcheck with a hard drive and say, ‘Hey, load up the new files.’” 

Sheridan keeps an eye on social media to get a sense of what aspects of the show are connecting with the audience. “I start to pay attention to, What are the things everyone Instagrams?” he said. “Why did everyone take a picture of this one thing? I’ve noticed there are different types of triggers that do it. It’s either something that’s really mind-blowing, and they try to capture something, like the ‘Disappointed’ thing with the spinning cube, or it’s something where the set has become something that’s just staying put that looks cool and they feel like they can capture that, to take the phone out and tap the focus button and get it.” 

Animated GIF from Nine Inch Nails live show
A production on the scale of Lights in the Sky or Tension requires a huge investment, and Reznor pays for much of it out of his own pocket. “Economically, it’s pretty stupid, and I’m being reminded of that right now,” he said. “The bills are showing up while I’m trying to pull this shit off.” As a result, the band is planning on a completely different and more streamlined production on upcoming legs around the world. “I can lose money, but I can’t lose that much money. The other side of it — and I think this is something I think is pretty valid — is that if you make a presentation where, by its nature, it becomes very rigid, it’s easy for it to become a bit tedious as a performer. Something that’s keeping us all feel sane, though it ends up being more work, is to look at each leg of the tour as its own mini-tour. The festival tour was focused on aggression; this tour the focus, I would say, is the new album, deep-groove stuff. I think the next one is going to lean a bit more into electronics, and experiment with that a bit.” 

Reznor is willing to sacrifice some profit to make sure his show goes beyond typical expectations for an arena gig. “Today, if you’re being troubled to come out and experience a show, I want that to be the best it can be,” he said. “I want the experience to be the best, I want to challenge conventions. Who wants to see a show in an arena? Not me, usually. But fate has put me there, and there’s no better option that I can come up with, given the size and the economics and every other thing. So if that’s the place where you’re going to go experience a rock show, what can I do to make it something that becomes as immersive and interesting for that space? The buildings are made for sporting events, generally. How can I make it sound better? How can I make it immersive and interesting, like an art project instead of just another band rolling through town? If I can figure that out, either by thinking harder or spending more time, then I’ll do that.”

Stevie Tombstone Lands On Itunes Country Charts

Stevie Tombstone is featured on Itunes Country New & Noteworthy for the week of 11.26.13

The era we live in now, akin to many in the past is full of hype, perceived relevance and one in which media outlets can be bought. Paying for a digital marketing campaign can help to quickly cast a wide shadow, but does it leave a lasting foot print?

Artists struggle in our new era of digital media, as they are continually thinking about the rules that were set into place from decades past. If you don't like how things are moving, just break the glass ceiling above your head and realize the only one standing in the way of broken glass, is you. 

This is a straight forward and no nonsense approach. But then again, anything worth having is worth working for. Laziness will get you nowhere and in the long haul the practice of self defeat is a worse haunt than any abandoned house or insane asylum could ever be. 

After listening and really absorbing the depth of the artistry within Stevie Tombstone's music, it is easy to witness his continual push of boundaries and limitations. Does he look outside of himself to conjure up new ideas? Surely, he does. What also sets him apart is critical thinking and forever examining his approach. 

Stevie is like many savvy individuals that will go the extra mile. There is reward in the long haul, but it just takes that much more of a commitment. 

Download Kevlar Heart from Itunes

Fifth On The Floor Is Conquering New Audiences Nightly

Fifth On The Floor on tour with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, photo by Ann Sydney Taylor
Fifth On the Floor is one hell of a band. Let's just get that phrased correctly and be right to the point. It goes well beyond being solid musicians with great songs, as that is just scratching the surface of the these road dogs. Seeing the photos that Ann Sydney Taylor has been taking from the road with them makes me feel as though we are right there along for the ride. 

Really stoked to hear about their tour with Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers going so well as they truly deserve to be playing in front of sold out crowds each night. Two thumbs up to FOTF for kicking ass and taking names through DIY attitude and hard work. See yall in a few weeks for the big show in Kentucky.

Lucy B. Cochran hitting those perfect fiddle notes with Fifth on the Floor

Parson can often be spotted with a cool record label's shirt on, with Ann Sydney Taylor

Otis Redding memorbilia

Roger Cline & The Peacemakers

A view from back of the stage with Fifth On The Floor

Ryan Clackner shredding with Fifth On the Floor

Fifth On The Floor at BB Kings in New York City

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grumps Garage Is The Place To Be In Southern California For Motors and Music

Feed your addiction for all things motors and music, check out Grumps Garage in Lake Elsinore, CA

One of the great aspects of running a company such as Rusty Knuckles, is all the great folks I get to meet. It could be fans of the bands or folks who purchase from us online or many of the dealers and distributors that carry our products. Each of those individuals means a great deal to us as we value our business and the reputation we choose to uphold.

On a recent and very brief trip to southern California to work on the Billy Don Burns documentary, we made time to stop off in Lake Elsinore and meet up with Mark Carrillo of Grumps Garage. Let's get right to the point, Mark is a solid dude and what he has built there on Main Street is something truly impressive. The attitude, the vibe and the overall presentation of all that is Grumps Garage is quite awesome to check out. Details about in his store layout along with his plans for promoting more shows for bands stopping in on tour. 

Do yourself a favor and dive into all that is Mark Carrillo and Grumps Garage, with a few quick questions below. We are damn proud to have the music of the bands we work with carried in his store and to hopefully get a few tours routed through the shop in the very near future.

Interior of Grumps Garage in the parts section

1. What gave you the impetus to start Grump's Garage?

Been in the hot rod parts retail side for 11 years before I started my own gig. As the time approached I wanted to do the hot rod thing, but wanted to incorporate my love for the music I had deep inside. Had known some shops to carry a few CD's and what not, but never completely focused on it.  Being in the scene and hitting shows, I always knew how key a role the music played. Wanted to focus down and be somewhat genre specific. When you think hot rod, you think 1950's rock 'n roll & rockabilly, as it is incorporated a bunch in the shows. I myself had a passion for Hank Williams and found this whole underground movement of Country music. So I created a hot rod music section that encompasses Americana/Country, Blues, Early Rock 'N Roll, Psychobilly, Rockabilly & Surf. In doing this, I instantly became the only Hot Rod Parts Shop to have a fairly complete Music Shop as well.

Old signs, gas pumps and petroliana are in abundance
Need to find out what is happening in the independent Roots and Country music scene? Call Grumps Garage
Vintage items are in abundance

2. Once you found the right location, what makes Lake Elsinore a great place to run the shop?

I studied the Inland Empire for some time to figure out where I wanted to land. Ultimately, I wanted to be centralized in the County and at the same time be fairly centered between Orange & San Diego Counties as well. Being somewhat of a Hobby Shop, needed to be accessible from many areas. Being located on a Historic Route, Route 395, also is a good advertising tool for my foreign customers as well. And lastly, being located right off of the 15 freeway enables me to have bands visit between the 2 counties I mentioned. Whether they want to do an advertised in store appearance, just visit, or decide to play one of my Saturday night shows once my venue is just felt right.

3. With the large inventory of parts, which areas do you focus on?

While most of my inventory focuses on 1928-48 Ford Car & 1928-56 Ford Truck, I do carry a bunch of accessories that work with any ride. I am also adding in unique used items that can be restored or used as-is on ratrods. It is vitally important to be flexible and work with all car people. If someone wants to start with a ratrod and work their way up to something else later, fine. Whatever I can do to try and persuade a kid to own a piece of American history and not waste money on an import that will never retain its value.

4. Why do you think hot rod folks are so into music?

I just think that at the point in history where hot rodding was born, Rock 'N Roll was just coming to the forefront. Has gone hand in hand ever since. Today, I see a hunger in people of not only exploring the early hot rod history, but also the history of the music.

5. Tell us more about your plans for the outdoor music venue and what type of acts you are bringing to the shop

Well, I'm always thinking of what I can do to keep my shop the most unique. At the same time, want to help spread the word of the music that encompasses my daily life. Venue? Had some good space out in the back of my shop, and decided what I thought I would enjoy. What it will ultimately end up being: A small scale 1940's Gas Station with seating for up to 80 people and standing room for another 20-25. The type of acts is easy...Country (the type I carry, not what's found on the radio), Rockabilly, Blues and some unplugged rare performances from some Psychobilly bands too. I feel that in this sort of intimate setting, the bands and patrons can create a more personal relationship.

Mark Carrillo is doing something great with his store, Grumps Garage

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ever Seen The Strings Of A Stand Up Bass, Captured By A High Speed Camera?

Upright bass musician captured with high speed camera

"Upright bass player being filmed by a camera with a high shutter speed. The strings are mesmerizing. Also, this clip is NOT in slow motion." 

Spotify Or Bandcamp? Growing Your Band's Presence

Enjoying her favorite new band

Not sure about how to get your music heard? Well this is where technology can be your best friend. Labels are just one route to make your music accessible, but with the amount of competition, doing more to engage fans is the optimal recipe for success.  

Creating email blasts, using services such as youtube and soundcloud to stream your music, along with promoting yourself on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are effective strategies, but you have to be on top of all content sources. In the article below, Mashable posted a great article on the differences between Spotify and Bandcamp. Dig in and find out where you as an artist could potentially have your music heard by a wider audience.

Check out the original post on Mashable

"We compared Spotify with Bandcamp, a service known for supporting emerging artists, to see why some artists and labels choose one over the other. 

Two different entities, the fundamental difference seems to be that the former caters to consumers, while the latter revolves around producers. 

Nevertheless, each service still has its virtues and downfalls, most of which depend on what kind of artist and label you are.

Spotify: Exposure

One benefit of Spotify is the exposure to a large audience. With over 24 million active users in 32 countries, Spotify is an easy way for artists to cast a wide net and make their music available, especially to listeners who may not otherwise actively seek out their music.

"Spotify is just so huge and everybody seems to use it,” says Andy De Santis, promotions manager of Polyvinyl Records. One of the handful of labels that has a Bandcamp page, Polyvinyl also goes through a distributor that posts its releases on Spotify. "It’s good to have your stuff up there just as recognition for bands.”

With both new and established artists on the Polyvinyl roster, De Santis says the label tries to put everything up on Bandcamp, while a distributor handles bigger services such as Spotify and iTunes. 

Bruce Willen, one-half of emerging band Peals, agrees that Spotify gives the band access to a wider audience. "Any way you can get your music out there for people to easily access it, I think it’s a good thing,” says Willen.

A music veteran himself, Willen was part of Baltimore-based Double Dagger for nearly a decade before forming Peals, which released a debut album earlier this year. Though the band doesn’t have a Bandcamp page, the album is available to stream on Spotify.

For many emerging artists, Spotify is just another way to adapt to the ever-changing industry landscape. 

"Spotify is good for me because it’s exposure, if anything.” R. Stevie Moore, dubbed a lo-fi legend, has been releasing albums on cassettes, CD-Rs and now digital formats since 1968. Moore has experienced the shifting music industry since before digital even took form. While he operates primarily from his Bandcamp page, which includes hundreds of releases, Moore has released a select few albums on Spotify. "Forget the musical industry, it’s a digital industry now. That’s the new music industry.”

record playerImage: Flickr, Anna Vernon

Bandcamp: Profit

Bandcamp’s payout model is one of its most lauded features. Known for paying artists a hefty profit and cutting out the middleman, Bandcamp collects 15% of digital sales and only 10% on other merchandise. Compared to Spotify’s comparatively petty payout of less than a penny per stream, Bandcamp is a much more profitable option for artists who want to sell directly to fans.

"It doesn’t really make an incentive for musicians to distribute their work [via Spotify]. It’s not sustainable for people trying to make a living from making music,” Willen says. "I think it’s just contributing to the devaluation of art.”

While Willen believes Spotify provides exposure for emerging bands, it is detrimental for up-and-coming bands that have a solid audience but are far from Top 40 status. "Their stuff is getting out there, people already know about it, but it’s not really adding as much for them,” Willen says. To him, Spotify is more valuable for unknown bands or chart-topping artists who might get millions of plays.
Additionally, because Spotify only distributes via labels or distributors, independent artists have to find another middleman to get their music to the streaming service.

Jason Shanley, an independent artist who records as Cinchel, says he went through TuneCore, a third-party distributor, to get his music on Spotify. TuneCore, however, requires a yearly subscription, the cheapest of which starts at $9.99 per year, not including other fees for setup. Other than the lag time, he says the payout was too low. "I’m losing too much money with an account there. I think I made $2 from it this year or something.”

Instead, Shanley opts to put most of his discography on Bandcamp. Even though he prices most of his albums at $1 or free, Shanley points to Bandcamp’s name-your-price model as an opportunity for profit from enthusiastic fans. "Maybe about 25% of buyers paid more than the minimum,” he estimates.

"I think there’s a psychology where if you don’t charge anything for it, people don’t think it’s worth anything," he says "But there’s a point where if you charge too much for it, then they don’t feel like it’s justifying that much of a cost.”

Josh Brechner, also an independent artist, notes that Bandcamp helps artists in giving their albums an optimal price. He says Bandcamp recommends charging around $4 for a five-track album. "But they’ll pay more if they like it,” says Brechner, who records under the moniker Visager. "In a way, that’s sort of like, ‘We believe in you.’”

Spotify: Convenience and Distributors

For bigger labels, Spotify may be a better choice to handle a large amount of input. Sub Pop, which has signed hundreds of artists since the ‘80s grunge heyday, works directly with Spotify but does not have a Bandcamp page.

"If we were to add our entire catalogue to Bandcamp, it’s a lot of content, it’s a lot of metadata,” says Richard Laing, Sub Pop’s director of sales. "To be able to manage that stuff, [Bandcamp] is not quite where it needs to be to work efficiently.” 

The label would also have to figure out a new way to pay revenues to the artists involved if they were to start using Bandcamp, Laing adds. "We need payment stream information in a certain way for us to be able to use it.”

For Sub Pop, this is the reason the label chooses Spotify over Bandcamp. "At the moment, [Bandcamp] is best-served for very small labels and self-released artists,” says Laing. "But for a label like us with hundreds if not thousands of releases, it’s not quite in-line with the kind of bureaucracy of a business as it grows like that.”

Bandcamp: No Barriers

Another major plus of Bandcamp is the lack of barrier to entry. Anyone can make an account and upload to his profile in a matter of minutes. There’s no need for a label, distributor or any middle man.

"Bandcamp is for grassroots-level artists,” says Moore, who records and uploads amateur and professional releases on his extensive Bandcamp page. "It’s worked out well for me.”
Because anyone can upload her own music without an intermediary, artists don’t have to wait around for their material to show up on the site either.

"You don’t have to worry too much about publishing. Any kid can do it; he can put it up on Bandcamp and then promote the hell out of it,” Moore says. "I’ve had extreme success with it. It’s right here in the palm of my hands. I don’t have to send out something that somebody else has to put up; I can do it myself. It’s perfect for DIY.”

Similarly, both Shanley and Brechner applaud the lack of restraint on Bandcamp. "For me, it happens whenever I want, in real time,” Brechner says. "They do everything they can to support small artists; they’ve built a platform around it.”

Spotify iOSImage: Flickr, Blixt

Spotify: Multi-Platform and User-Friendly Capabilities

Spotify is a perfect example of catering to the audience. Not only are its slick mobile apps more convenient than Bandcamp's, but it also includes playlist features and more social integration. And with a bottom-up approach, this appeal to listeners is a crucial facet that affects artists and labels, as well.

"One of the core functions of a label is to connect music that we’re passionate about and help that music find an audience. Spotify as a service is incredibly easy for that,” says Laing. "A lot of people listen to it on their smartphone or tablet.”

Laing sees Spotify as just another part in the whole of music consumption. "I think ... what raises the profile and generates interests gives us the best chance of gaining more fans and more interest in that music,” he said. "From there, it’s up to us to serve those people in however they want to consume that music.”

Sub Pop's mission is to release its albums on channels where there are possible audience members. With the current segmentation of the market, it’s important Sub Pop is present on most, if not all, of these channels.

Some consumers will buy limited edition vinyl; others will buy a CD from chain stores; still others will listen to an album online. "I think it’s naïve to think that by not putting a record out there, that the excitement or power of a new Sub Pop record is going to change that behavior,” Laing says. "I think that’s backwards.”

Bandcamp: Flexibility and Engagement

In some ways, Bandcamp also caters to the segmentation of music consumption, but from the perspective of the artists. While most Bandcamp accounts host mostly digital albums, artists aren’t limited in what they can sell. They can list everything from physical record copies to other miscellaneous merchandise.

"It’s cool because younger bands can use Bandcamp as their central hub for everything,” says De Santis. "They can choose what they want to stream; they can sell physical stuff; tour dates get posted on there through Songkick.”

Furthermore, Bandcamp lets artists customize their pages' design. "There’s no ads or clutter. It sort of feels like how MySpace was a long time ago for bands,” says De Santis. "Bandcamp just seems like the next wave of that, giving artists the control that they want.”

Shanley is doing exactly that. In addition to his digital releases, he also sells other merchandise, such as physical art. "It’s a storefront,” he says. "It’s almost like an Etsy site, where you can pretty much sell anything.” 

Even within digital releases, Shanley likes the flexibility of Bandcamp to offer various types of files. "I’m also kind of an audio nerd, so I like the idea of being able to download FLAC files instead of a simple 320kbps MP3 file.”

Along with this flexibility, Bandcamp offers detailed statistics that help artists with fan engagement. "It shows me where people are coming from, what songs they’re listening to, how long they’re listening to them,” says Shanley. "When they download stuff, I can get their email address and their ZIP code for some other kinds of ways to communicate with them.”

Finally, a primarily local artist, Shanley says Bandcamp is helpful in setting up local gigs. "It helps me to get something to my fans quickly.”

Different Audiences and Culture

So, Bandcamp or Spotify? While there are similarities between the two services, each still stands firmly in its own realm.

For example, Bandcamp’s users, by virtue of its service structure, may be more active listeners compared to those of Spotify, who may be more passive with Spotify’s continuous streaming layout.

Additionally, Bandcamp is built for artists, whereas Spotify caters more to music consumers. And even though the latter does affect the way artists distribute music, the two are still fundamentally different in their purposes. "For Bandcamp, it’s about being able to distribute and sell your music and connect with people in a different way than Spotify, which is more or less like free music, like radio,” says Willen.

While each has its pros and cons, both services can coexist in the world of digital music, at least until a new medium elbows in."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Drinking On Planes Doesn't Have To Be Expensive

Have mini liquor bottles, will travel
Rolling into an airport can either be an easy day and one in which you have plenty to read or it could turn into a nightmare of flights. The TSA restrictions are always tight as a noose and if wasn't for the idiotic terrorists and their agenda of vengeance, we could all travel much easier again. 

This is where the travel ninja has come in to save the day. Many have surely employed this tactic, but if you are a penny pincher or just don't feel like you need to keep airline CEO salaries above the seven figure mark, dig into this great write up below.

Check out the travel ninja

I was recently tipped off to one of the most unbelievable travel tricks ever. In this day and age of insane security, invasive procedures and removal of freedoms, here’s a bright ray of sunshine. With an unintentional loophole (maybe intentional with some of the drinking habits in Congress), you have the freedom to take the alcohol (or non-alcohol) of your choice on your flight with you.

I first had a discussion with a TSA supervisor about this a couple of months back. My clarifying question was in regards to the 1 qt bag of liquids you are allowed to take through security. The rule is that you can take as many containers that are less than 100ml (~3 oz) each that you can fit in a 1 qt Ziploc style bag. I then specifically asked if alcohol was allowed. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” In fact, he was enthusiastic about it.

To test this, I waited until Amy and I took a recent trip to Vegas. I drove to the Missouri border liquor store, Macadoodles, and purchased ten 50 ml bottles of liquor. Arkansas liquor stores don’t offer the tiny buggers. They were $2.50 each, compared with $7 each on American flights. I decided to fore-go my Listerine and cologne and was able to fit all ten bottles in my liquid bag.

Mini shot bottles wrapped up and ready for travel
The moment of truth came when I went through the TSA security checkpoint at XNA. I pulled my computer out of my bag, took off my shoes, then reached in and grabbed my 1 qt dream bag. I put it into its own bin, skittishly looked around to see if Tasers we’re being drawn, then moved to the full body scanner. As I walked by the TSA Agent at the scanner, he smiled at me and said, “I like your liquid bag.” I smiled back, more in relief than joy.

Airport bin with liquor ready for travel
I then moved through the scanner, collected my computer, shoes and 500 ml of fun. I asked another Agent if I could take photos and he gave me permission.

So, there you have it. At least for now, you are allowed to take bottles of alcohol that are 100ml (~3 oz) or less through security, as long as they fit in your 1 qt bag.
Some quick tips:
  1. Bottles cost around $7 on the flight, but around $2.50 at a liquor store.
  2. The variety offered at a liquor store will far surpass that on the flight, so you can get the brand you prefer.
  3. Once you buy and use the 50 ml travel bottles, save them so you can refill them later. The refill will cost you around $1 each, based on a $20 1L bottle of alcohol.
  4. There are 88.7 ml in 3 oz. Therefore, you can actually buy 3 oz travel shampoo containers and get more liquor per container, but not necessarily more per bag. The 50 ml travel size is the largest standard size that meets the < 3 oz criteria."

Blanka Berki And Her Sexy Curves

Image video of a hungarian model Blanka Berki at Visage Management.

photographed by Krisztián Éder make up: Richard Fazekas hair: Norbert Kozma music: The Weeknd // Wicked Games

Sunday, November 17, 2013

J.B Beverley Conquers Amazon On The Digital Download Charts

J.B. Beverley sticking at the No. 1 Spot for Hot New Releases on Amazon
2014 is going to be bring in a new level of game play to Rusty Knuckles Music. As many of the bands are starting to hit the charts normally only seen by the major labels, we have been gaining ground in a vast amount of areas. Proud to announce that we also just landed a new distribution partner through Universal for Australia, which also opens up Japan and other Asian markets for touring. Time for that big push across the Pacific Ocean. 

Waking up and checking the reports finds customers going to Amazon and Itunes in droves. Thanks to everyone for the continued support and its great to see J.B. Beverley and Possessed By Paul James and labels such as ours and Hillgrass Bluebilly hitting such a vast audience. This is what hard work is all about.

Order your copy from our store on CD

Download from Amazon