Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Music from Mr. Silverstone and the Silvertone Horns on Bandcamp.com

A college newspaper correspondent at the Academy Awards ceremony this year went backstage to ask Randy Newman for tips about how to break into the Music Industry. He reportedly said, "Who would want to break into it? It's like a bank that's already been robbed." Wit this mordant and self-effacing is always to be treasured, even in someone with so little need of sympathy as the most successful composer of movie scores in the history of brilliantly done blockbuster computer-animated features appealing globally to families with young children. But the genius of Randy Newman has always included his ability to make charmingly humorous mockery of some otherwise pretty bleak realities, so good on him for this.

Speaking of trying to break into an industry which is has almost ceased to be, over the last three years, I have picked 30 songs I like well enough to want them to be played in headphones other than my own and posted them on Bandcamp. Though there are numerous ways to put music on line,  Bandcamp is particularly wonderful for emerging bands and songwriter/performers because of its power and low (no) cost, which allows you to post whatever amount of music you want and have people find it and even pay you for the privilege. You can also simply give it away for them to download as a way to get familiar with it in the quixotic hope that you might someday be able to  crow "a record company, Rosie/Just gave me a big advance!" like Bruce Springsteen.

A visit to Bandcamp.com, demonstrates its enormous utility for people harboring any hope of receiving actual renumeration for their music recordings. Here's my example:  http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com, but after seeing this, you can also go browsing around and find amazing things, like I did yesterday by clicking on one of the "tags" at the bottom the pages, such as a location tag, (New York City) or a genre tag ("death metal") which allows you to find kindred souls (or perhaps kindred soul-less zombies), in the same location or genre. I picked my hometown area of Northampton, MA and found bands and writers I had heard of before mixed in with interesting strangers. It was an enlightening and often surprising experience to click around. For example, for some reason, there was a lot of music coming out of Israel on webpages laden with Hebrew text when I looked under the genre of pop. I hadn't even considered that making popular music was not an entirely NY/LA Amero-centric phenomenon. This just begins to scratch the surface of the surprises that await, I'm sure.

Some performers (nationally known, and I now presume in Israel, Yemen, and the Ivory Coast as well) sell a lot of their music directly on Bandcamp. I have had this experience. It was kind of mindblowing when it happened. I got an e-mail saying that there was money in my PayPal account from the sale of a some downloads--a statement that took me right back to the extistential questions: What is money? And even more to the point, what is PayPal? Is it real? Are you, reader, am I? And who is the I that asks the question?


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