last days last days – the new another cultural landslide album – has just been released.
There were times over the last four years we didn’t think we’d ever type that last sentence – but… there it is: music.anothercultland.com 😉 (We’ll post additional links shortly.)
And now that it’s out in the wild, we’re doing some pretty unusual things with how we’re releasing it.
Think of this as Our Big Experiment.
This is a long read – but we think it’s a good one.
The Basic Dilemma
Around 18 months ago, this album started telling us it wanted to be promoted (yes, our albums talk to us – it kinda creeps us out, but we’ve learned to accept it) – and we needed to do whatever was required to get the word out.
And, most likely, promoting this album was going to require us to create a CD.
Problem is: we don’t make CD’s.
For all of the 11 years we’ve been making music together, we’ve only released our music in an electronic/downloadable form – we embraced this decision from the very start, as it granted us the freedom to do whatever the hell we wanted to do with minimal cost; and we could then throw our very limited resources into doing one thing, and one thing only: Making Music.
Even better, it allowed us to give away our music for free. Music literally saved our lives – that statement isn’t an exaggeration, and living through that experience had an earth-shaking effect on us (we’ll write about it one day) – so we’ve tried to return that gift by giving our music away, creating a one-on-one relationship with our listener and then encouraging them to embrace their dreams in whatever way possible.
(Yeah, we’re weird. But that’s just who we are.)
So, even though we’ve received a lot of requests to make CD’s, since we didn’t sell our music, and since we believe that having a one-to-one relationship with our listener is awesomely important & manufacturing a mass-produced CD kind-of negates that relationship, making CD’s was something that we were just not going to do.
The Philosophical Hard Decision
The fact that we needed to step away from how we’d always done things to actually create a CD also posed a major philosophical dilemma to us, since we sincerely believe that over-commodification has been the primary eroding factor affecting music today – not file-sharing.
There’s an air of desperation within the music world today: you see it in every promotional Tweet or Facebook mention; you hear it in all the licensing & copyright battles; you read about it with the labels trying to argue rights-termination clauses for music they marketed in the past by trying to tell the courts that the music was actually produced as Work-For-Hire (surprise!). It screams from every battle, lawsuit & online discussion over streaming royalties, or the lack of them thereof; it hides in plain sight, the ever-so-subtle context peeking out from behind every discussion about “music’s value.”
In reality, all those things only revolve around one thing: Give Me Your Money & I’ll Give You Some Music (Or At Least A Limited License To Listen To It).
And that’s seriously fucked-up.
This is a dehumanizing attitude that basically states that people don’t matter – except in large anonymous groups – and all that really matters is What’s In Your Wallet.
Worse yet, this diminishes the music being created: the need to view music as strictly a commerce-generating activity is a corrupting influence, insideously worming its way into the subtext of what’s being created; risks don’t get taken for fear of alienating an existing fan-base, and growth doesn’t occur since that might alienate the core demographic.
And let’s be honest: if you are constantly worried about generating capital, of producing a singular “product” – how can it not affect what you are creating?
Moreover, as a musician, how can all of this background noise not make your listener feel like they don’t matter to you?
And if you don’t care about your listener, why the fuck should they give a shit about you?
It’s as if music has now become an after-thought behind a desperate need to monetize & survive. Image, identity, maintaining fan-base & generating a living wage are much more important that the actual music being created. It’s a devil’s compromise of ever-diminishing returns, one that eventually robs us all blind and sucks the life out of Music.
In essence, it’s putting all those things before what you are creating – thus putting walls up between you and your music.
And that just seems ass-backwards to us.
People are not Wallets. They are individuals – and deserving of the respect as such.
People Matter, Dammit.
And Music is not a product, or content. It’s Music.
Our entire musical mission has been centered around those two simple beliefs.
And as we have stated before, our primary rule in making music is The Music Must Come First. And we have held fast to that principle.
So we were in a quandary – how could we reconcile the need to create & the costs involved in creating CD’s to promote this album – and at the same time stay true to ourselves, while making some of these CD’s available to our listener – all without violating our stated desire to NEVER sell our music?
That was a toughie.
But… after a great deal of thinking on how to resolve these oppositional forces, we think we’ve found a way.
Let’s Get Physical
We designed the CD’s with a built-in capacity to be personalized, so that each & every one of them are unique – while still providing media outlets with a mass-produced CD.
And we decided that if we were going to do this thing, we were going to do it right – it would be a spiffy CD, and would look like something acl would do, with as little plastic/carbon footprint as possible.
And then the wonderful Rachel Sclare volunteered (!) to work on the cover and actually made it look good. (We are not artists, and you do NOT want to see our original design. No Way In Hell.)
And we ended up with this:
We did deep research into CD manufacturing, got past all the overpriced main players (boy, we have some interesting stories about that side of the business), found a decent small manufacturer in Texas who offered DigiHub technology, locked in a sweet deal at around half the price, and then set aside our paltry income tax refund to create a limited run of 250 CD’s.
Out of that run, we set aside 100 CD’s for our listener. Each CD will be individually signed, numbered – and if asked for, personalized – with the foreknowledge that we will never create a mass-run CD again. (This will be the only time. Period.)
Originally we wanted to give these CD’s away online at no cost whatsoever; but upon discovering that there was no internet platform methodology available at this time to do that (not yet, but there will be soon) – there was always some minimal charge involved somewhere – we were forced to accept the platform cost issue, but were able to repurpose the platform’s inner workings to our needs.
Also, sending physical stuff out takes money for packaging & mail – and since we’re tapped out (it’s always a bad thing when the local pawn shop people know you by name when they see you at the grocery store), we had to find a way around this as well.
So we struck a happy medium.
Basically, it comes down to this:
If you can pick up the cost of us shipping it to you, we’ll give you the CD for Free.
This also enabled us to finally respond to the many requests we’ve received to make it possible for others to support what we’re doing in some other way than just spreading our music around – i.e. financially (It’s still hard to believe, but we actually do get asked this):
For anyone donating above the minimal shipping/platform costs, we would also send along an “artifact” from the production of last days last days – these could be actual handwritten lyrics, worksheets, all sorts of stuff; and each artifact would be accompanied by a handwritten note explaining what the hell this “artifact” was and how it was significant to last days last days, giving you some insight into our weird-ass working methodology; and we will also be sending you a nice handwritten note, thanking you for your support. (Our mothers trained us to be polite while causing trouble.) And hey, if you want something associated with a particular song, just ask us – and we will find something special for you.
Oh – here’s an example of an Artifact:
We want you to know that you are special to us – that you matter. And that we will NEVER take you for granted.
Also, all donations received above the minimum shipping costs will be use to promote the album – i.e., mailing the CD to media outlets – so you can help us spread acl to an unsuspecting audience. (Cue evil laugh.)
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
We not only scored an excellent deal in getting the CD’s done, but by the time we got done with discounts and what not, we were actually able to create our first (& only) acl poster basically for FREE.
Now, as stated in earlier posts, we’re not artists. We have weird ideas, but executing them?
Ha. We suck. (See Artifact Example.)
Well, Wonderful Rachel stepped up to bat, took our stupid idea and made it into something even more acl than we could ever have made:
(these are way cool)
And what we did with the CD applies to the Poster:
If you can pick up the cost of us shipping it to you, we’ll give you the Poster for Free, too.
And if you donate above the minimum shipping/platform cost, you get an “artifact,” a handwritten note explaining the “artifact,” and a nice handwritten thank you note as well.
And of course, all donations received above the minimum shipping costs on the poster will be use to promote the album – i.e., mailing the CD to media outlets – so here’s yet another way you can help us spread acl to an innocent & unsuspecting audience. (Cue another evil laugh.)
So if you’ve been wanting to support what we’re trying to do (other than sharing our music with anyone & everyone & telling people about us), there’s now a way to do that – and hell, you get something nifty in return.
Plus you get to spread acl to an unsuspecting world. (Cue… oh, well, you know…)
Finally, we listened to you and created an option to allow you to donate to what we’re doing without getting something in return – yes, finally a “tip jar” – but we’ll still want to send you a thank you note. (Hey, that’s just the way we are. Polite troublemakers.)
And hey, just because it’s how we roll, we also decided we wanted to itemize each & every cost we encountered, and reveal it to you:
CD: at $3, $ .20 to Paypal, $ .30 to Bandcamp, $ .51 for mailer, aproximately $2.07 to mail – we eat $ .10 of the cost (or more)
Poster: at $3.50, $ .20 to Paypal, $ .35 to Bandcamp, $ .90 for the mailer, approximately $2.07 to mail – we may break even (or not)
Of course, on international, we’re going to take a bath.
So there you have it: open, straightforward, ethical. No bullshit.
That said, we estimate our chances of failure at around 92 to 96 per cent.
In other words, odds are we’re most likely going to get creamed.
But we’re going to do it anyway.
You can see we’re not in this for the rock-star treatment… so, then – why the hell are we doing this?
Well, of course, the short answer would be: We’re Insane.
But besides that, what it all comes down to is this:
We believe in People.
And we believe music is a gift to be shared.
And we believe in people helping each other. We’ve benefitted from it, and we want to pass it on. Like a virus.
A good virus.
And we believe in encouraging people to create not for commerce, but for the simple joy of creating and sharing that creation with others.
And so we’re putting our money – what little we have – where our mouth is.
We also realize in doing this we’ve just made ourselves Snark-Bait. We’ve painted a big target on our foreheads and hung a KICK ME sign on our backs.
And we’re okay with that.
Because sometimes Principle Matters – and sometimes it’s the only thing that matters; and we would rather fail miserably in doing something we believe to be right than to succeed in doing something we feel to be wrong.
This is our experiment:
We’re going to believe in people.
This album isn’t about us.
It isn’t about being cool or hip, or fitting in.
It’s about trying to change the way we as a society think about things.
It’s about trying to change the way things are done.
It’s about making a better future.
Being idealistic isn’t stupid.
It means We Give A Shit – about You, about people, about the world we live in.
And what’s the hell is wrong with that?
p.s. mzkitty, as usual, sez hi