Wednesday, April 07, 2004

i'm getting nervous about the pending release of my true data 12". i sent in the test pressing approval w/final payment on march 31, so i anticipate that the records will arrive in the next couple weeks (hopefully before the april 23 show in dayton, or even better before the doormouse show on the 20th so i can try to get dan to do a trade with me). then i get to start the hard part, which will be trying to get some real distribution for the damn thing, so that i'm not the only one selling it & people who want a copy can actually find one with being forced to get one from me personally.

so yeah, i spent a lot of time making sure this is some of my best material ever, that the music itself would actually be worth spending close to a grand on getting pressed, & i think it is. the test pressings sound great, & the few people who've heard them so far (namely, the bad taste crew) love the record. but i still can't shake the feeling that nobody will give a shit, that i'll sell maybe 20 copies & the other 180 will sit around collecting dust in my bedroom until i just smash the things bobby vomit style.

it's not the money. i've spent a little under $900 on this record so far (& that doesn't include the shipping costs i'll accrue when i start distributing the things). i can afford to lose all that money & not even feel it. but if i did, i sure wouldn't waste more money on getting 12"s pressed. no, it's not about the money; it's about recognition & respect.

wallowing in obscurity is hard. it's hard to watch 18-year-olds who've been producing for a few months pop out of the woodwork & instantly become stars while you're still a nobody who's lucky to sell in the double digits. drbmd & i have had this discussion before. i've been producing under the stAllio! name for about 6 years now (though you can probably ignore a couple of those early releases) & i don't have a lot of fame or prestige to show for it. yeah, i somehow got my name in playboy. i have personally appeared on 3 radio stations (often as part of awia) & have had stAllio! or awia material played on maybe a half dozen more. i have performed live in IN, IL, OH, TN, WI, & PA. i have a dedicated fanbase of a couple dozen people i know about, with maybe a couple dozen more that i don't (yes, this site has served up a couple thousand mp3s but how do i know that the listeners didn't hate them?). but as impressive as all that might (or might not) sound, it hasn't translated to record sales, reviews, event attendance, offers for record deals, or any of that good stuff.

i watch these other artists come out of nowhere & almost instantly get multi-label deals, world tours, & tons of press... & i wonder what is so wrong with me or my bad taste cohorts that we haven't gotten any of those things. i'd like to think that a lot of our stuff is pretty good, so it can't be simple quality issues, can it? all i've come up with so far are the issues of consistency, accessibility, & promotion.

consistency: bad taste has no set sound. sure, we aren't putting out punk rock or emo or anything like that, but seeing the BT logo really doesn't tell you what you're getting. dr butcher md does breakcore & electro with a dash of noise. bobby vomit does harsh noise & turntable experiments. humdrum does hard techno & power noise. we're all pretty much doing our own thing with little regard for what else is happening on the label. we don't "cannibalize" each others' sound. i take that to an even further extreme & make records that don't even sound like each other... in some ways, true data is reminiscent of dissonance is bliss, & maura's milk chocolate bath has some stylistic similarities to awia's mono a mono, but generally i go all over the place & there's no way of knowing what a stAllio! release is going to sound like.

drbmd says this variety, this non-cannibalization, is "what makes bad taste special". in a way he's obviously right: we're just making whatever music we're inspired to & putting it out there. a lot of other labels are highly specialized: a breakcore label, a noise label, a plunder/collage label... these sorts of labels sometimes seem to care more about promoting a certain "style" of music than actual quality; everything on the label starts to sound the same. so artistically speaking, a wide variety of styles is a good thing, but for a marketing/promotion standpoint maybe it's not so good. if everything on your label fits into a predefined set of styles, before long your audience knows what to expect. the label has built up brand identity, associated with a certain sound, & the fans know what they're in for. there are some labels where i know that i could buy just about anything in the discography & not be too disappointed, for precisely that reason. by being so adamantly diverse, are we actually hurting ourselves in terms of marketing? by continuing to do whatever i want & just slapping a stAllio! logo on there, am i actually hindering my career? i don't know, but the only obvious alternative (using different project names for different-sounding material) sounds even worse to me...

accessibility: most of these "big name" kids i've been bitching about (& it's important to take "big name" in context; 99.99% of the population has never heard of any of these guys, as much press as they might get) are making somewhat accessible material. it might not be disposable garbage like most "club music", but most of it is still basically dance music: breakcore, idm, whatever the fuck. it makes people want to shake their asses. now i've made some danceable material too, but then i'll make abstract noise too. i've played for "goth nights" a couple times, & i never seem to learn my lesson: i still play really spastic noisy material, & for a crowd that's expecting saccharine club music, it's too much to handle. they don't get it. there's a pretty good local dnb night at the melody inn... i bet dr butcher md could play there & get a great response. but i kinda doubt i would: i don't make dnb. sometimes i think i forget just how truly weird some of this stuff is to the average person.

promotion: this is the most obvious, & possibly our biggest problem. most of us are broke (i'm the only one with any real money). on top of that, our social skills are poor. i am a social leper, unable to talk to people i don't know, & drbmd isn't much better. yeah, bobby vomit will talk your ear off, but he lives in muncie, &... well, let's just say he's eccentric.

i promote stuff online: here, on mailing lists, on bulletin boards. but i never send out demos to other labels. none of us send out stuff to reviewers, the press, or to shops or distributors; drbmd was preparing to send out a bunch of stuff right before bad taste went on hiatus but that hasn't happened yet.

i don't know what i really expect. do i think other labels are going to beg me to release my material if i don't ever send demos to any of them? are they just supposed to find out about me on their own & be so impressed that they beg me to work with them? the same goes for reviewers, distributors, etc. i don't put much effort into contacting them, so it hardly seems fair to expect them to flock to me. but is that how everyone else "made it"? did all my favorite artists totally whore themselves into getting record deals or distribution? i don't know, but it's an awkward subject to broach. maybe it's just my introverted nature but i feel dirty promoting myself like that...

well this has turned into quite a lengthy bitch session. i'm sure i've lost focus & overlooked some things i meant to post, but right now i just want to end this entry so i can do something else for a little while...

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