It's been awhile since I posted an essay!
In the midst of the CD release extravaganza that's going on at my house, I'd like to take a moment to explain about a quirk of my musical career; the reason that I probably won't be coming to a live venue near you.
But first: check it out! It takes a village to release an album, and here's a bunch of wonderful people at a package-stuffing-pizza-party the other night.
All the rewards are going in the mail this week to the fine people who pledged to make this record Let's Be Brave happen. All the promo packages are heading out to 100 folk & community radio stations across the country. Borne from the Thomas Fire and the metaphorical fires we're all facing, with a full-on commitment to resilience, I'm so proud of this album and excited to share it with the world.
Meanwhile, I am gearing up for the big CD release party I'm doing in Ojai. I've got a killer band - eight of us - and I'm so excited to get to perform the album with its full orchestration. (Tickets here.)
So, here's the deal.
A singer-songwriter’s elegy for a “magic show.”
Derek Delgaudio’s one man play/magic show/indefinable theatrical experience In and of Itself closes on August 19, and I am really bummed out about that. I don’t know him, I don’t have any connection to the play, but I’m sitting across the country with a weird sense of mourning. At the same time, I also feel an expanding feeling of possibility and even duty to make what I’ve learned from it live on.
I’ve seen In and of Itself four times — more than I’ve seen most bands, let alone most plays — and I’d go again if I could make it work. I would really love to be there for the last night to see how he ends it. And I’m hardly alone. Many people have spoken glowingly about this play, and some of its most vocal fans are fellow artists, including Ru Paul, Mark Hamill, Judd Apatow, Laurence O”Donnell, John Mulaney, Mike Bribiglia, Larry Wilmore, Bebe Neuwirth, Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman. Stephen Colbert described sitting in the theater with “a still layer of air around me that I didn’t want to disturb.”
I talk about myself all the time: “Rain Perry is a Southern California folk rock singer-songwriter who wrote the theme song to blah blah blah…” I’m good at it. I’ve thought long and hard about the right way to describe – and promote – myself as a concept. And as the record industry has imploded, I’ve also wrestled with painful questions about who I am now. Is one’s value as an artist contingent on how many people experience one’s art?
Between now and June 19, I'm going to post a series of behind-the-scenes stories about my music. I thought I'd start with the project for which I did my very first Kickstarter, back in 2010: the video for my song "Keanuville."
Also: Bill & Ted 3 is in production! Did you know June 9 is Bill & Ted day?
#1: Keanuville video
"Keanuville" is about an obsessed fan I met at a Dogstar concert. (Yes, I went to see the grunge band Dogstar, featuring Keanu Reeves on bass. But the song is not about me, I swear.)
"Keanuville" is the true-life tale of a middle aged woman who's seen Dogstar over a dozen times. Here's the amazing Sasha Heslip as The Fan.
Yesterday you said that in order to win more Grammys, "women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level" need to "step up" professionally.
I am so relieved you cleared this up. I thought if I just felt creative, I'd automatically have a career.
Oh wait - I did start my own label and have released four albums and a documentary film through its imprint. I joined NARAS as soon as I was qualified. Is that what you mean by stepping up?
And then today you apologized, talking again about outreach to women who "dream of careers" in the industry.
Look, Neil, I'm not sure what planet you're living on, but you've got an industry already full of women who have careers, who are fighting for respect and professional acknowledgement. Those women have now been told by the head of their professional organization - to which they pay their hard earned dues - that he doesn't really even understand they are there.
Since you "don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls," let me help by putting up one of my own. I hereby rescind my membership in NARAS and am encouraging my fellow female members to do so too. I'm not interested in investing in an organization that is so deeply clueless about the reasons women struggle for parity in their industry.
Precipitous Records headquarters, before and after:
It's really incredible to me that the post I put up before this one was called "Crossroads." I just reread it, and it really couldn't be a better prologue to a post about the fire.
(and heads up: for whatever reason, the formatting in this piece is just weird - and that's appropriate, I guess.)
Sometimes -- like for the past couple days -- I find myself obsessively refreshing Twitter and Facebook. I know I'm doing it for no good reason. I spent the time and resources to attend a half dozen music conferences this year and have a ton of followup work to do, but I have to fight myself to get it done.
By now I also know this means something's up that I haven't yet figured out.Read more
I'm in Iowa City at FARM-Folk, the Folk Alliance Region Midwest music conference, to screen The Shopkeeper and do some showcases, and I thought to write a post about the music I'm hearing and the nice people I'm meeting and the drive from Kansas City yesterday through the cornfields of Missouri and Iowa. But the thing I've been thinking about the most - and posting on social media about the most - is "#MeToo." So that's what I'm going to write about today, but it's going to work its way back to music at the end of the post.Read more
Well, which is it? Is it the best of times, or the worst of times? I am on a million email lists and I have google alerts for "Spotify" and "streaming," so - every day now - I get a heads up whenever another breathless article comes out praising streaming as finally "saving the industry."
And in nearly every single article, after the chart of rising revenues, down at about the second-to-last paragraph, is The Caveat™. For example:
"Sure, there are problems–artist payouts suck and need to be addressed." Or: "Cue the ongoing debates about whether music publishers are getting their fair share of the streaming boom, as well as individual artists and songwriters." Or: "There’s also the small matter of how much of these major label streaming revenues go back out of the door – especially to independent label partners." Or: "More of the streaming money goes to the label side of the business, and under traditional record deals the label keeps the majority of that income."
From the start, Spotify and the other streaming services have promised that as soon as the proper scale has been reached, the whole model will work for musicians - and that it will finally be profitable for the companies. Are we there? This is now being called the "golden age" of streaming, and yet payments to the people creating the products are still not equitable. So is this an unsustainable model, built on the backs of starry-eyed creatives, destined to implode?
On the artist side, far smarter people than I have weighed in, and you can learn a lot from reading what they've had to say. I've been particularly moved by David Byrne and Zoe Keating, and The Trichordist has a ton of great and snarky information all the time.
I want to look at this from a slightly different angle.
I've had an idea brewing, and I'm going to lay it out here in its embryonic form, and I would love for you to weigh in. As some of you know, I made a movie about the state of the music business, and I've developed a survey about music creation and consumption and have been gathering feedback there. I haven't come to any big conclusions just yet, but I've got some thoughts.
So, ladies and gentlemen...Read more