royalties and hidden tracks.

Nick from Dots Will Echo was thrilled to be putting out a CD.  And he was happy that we were doing it; as a Mommyheads fan, I think he was happy to be getting a record out on a label that put out other music he liked.  When Dots’ first record came out, it was on a brand new label, one affiliated with Windham Hill, a new age music label that didn’t have much experience with rock music.  The record came out, sold 10,000 copies, and the band sort of disappeared off the map after that.  Eventually, so did the label.  

It’s all about scale, I think, as 10,000 CDs sold, for me, would have been a gold mine that would have kept Dromedary in business with a healthy release schedule, for two years.  For High Street Records, 10,000 CDs sold gets your band dropped from the label.

Nick sat back and watched for three or four years as his contemporaries signed record deals, and he absorbed everything he saw.  Every good idea went into the back of his mind for the day he was going to have another shot at a CD.

And since Nick was (still is) an outstanding songwriter and his band was incredibly tight, there was no reason to expect that Dots Will Echo wouldn’t have another shot at a CD.  

Nick’s enthusiasm for the project was infectious.  And even though I told him I couldn’t afford to put his record out, he offered to pay for it himself.  When I told him I couldn’t afford it, I had a heavy release schedule ahead of me: cuppa joe, Mommyheads, Footstone, Gapeseed, Toast, Schoolhouse Pop.  Half of that schedule got scrapped, but I still didn’t have the funds to pay for a Dots Will Echo record because I had to repress the Mommyheads record, and was quickly heading to the point where I’d have to repress it a second time.

Because Nick was paying for the record, I decided to stay out of the process altogether.  I felt like I didn’t deserve to have any input into the process, from song selection to sequencing to artwork.  When Nick told me he wanted to silkscreen the title in flourescent pink paint, directly onto a neon yellow jewel box, I suggested to him – in the kindest of terms – that silkscreening might not be the best idea.

But Nick, who also worked in a record store, was very interested in making his record jump off the shelves.  It was hard to blame him for wanting to sell records, and he wanted a record that would attract attention in every conceivable way.

In the late Spring of 1995, Nick called me to talk about sequencing.

“I want to have fun with the song order,” he said.

“Fun?” I asked.  “How?”

“You know, just fun.  Hidden tracks, stuff like that.”

“We did hidden tracks with the Footstone and cuppa joe CDs,” I explained.  “I’m a big fan of hidden tracks.  I’d love it if you did one.”

“Did you ever do a cover song?” Nick asked.

“The hidden track on the cuppa joe CD was a cover,” I explained.  “That’s why we hid it.  I had no idea how to deal with royalties, so I decided to pretend the song didn’t exist.”

“We have three covers,” Nick said.

I wasn’t aware of any.  I thought I had heard all the Dots Will Echo material, and there were no covers included on the tapes I had.  So naturally, I asked about them.

“Well, one song is actually two covers in one,” he explained.  “The name of the song is ‘Within or Without You.’  It’s a combination of U2’s “With or Without You,” and the Beatles’ ‘Within You Without You.’  The third cover is a really, really mellow version of the theme song from ‘The Flintstones,’ played by me on piano.”

“A piano version of ‘The Flintstones’?” I asked.

“Yeah.  ‘Within or Without You,’ I don’t think we have to deal with.  It’s such a combination of both songs that I don’t think we’d have to pay out royalties to U2 or The Beatles.”

“That’s okay,” I said.  “I think U2 and The Beatles can live without our royalties anyway.”

“But I think we’ll make the Flintstones song a hidden track.”

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

~ by Al on August 21, 2009.

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