my new hobby.

Today I won a copy of The Mommyheads’ new CD, Finest Specimens, on eBay.

The release date, of course, is two days from today.

When I first searched eBay for “The Mommyheads,” I was actually looking for some specific things – a few 7″s from their discography that I don’t have.  I’m looking for these because I’m working on another Mommyheads-related project for Dromedary.

The first thing that came up, though, was a copy of Finest Specimens.

At first I thought this was pretty cool.  The seller had gone through the trouble to dig up my promotional info, the band bio and such, and add it to his listing.

But then I started getting annoyed.  He was selling this before the release date, and it was a promo copy.

Now, I don’t have a huge issue with people selling promo copies.  But wow – could you wait ’til the release date?  I mean, it’s tough enough for bands to keep their music from leaking all over the place before the record gets released.  I’m sure if I looked at the torrent sites and such, I’d find Finest Specimens floating around, since we sent out something like 400 promo copies to various radio stations, writers, zines and websites.

But hell, a CD?!

Like a lot of other people my age, I discovered Napster in the late 90s.  The speed with which the entire music distribution game caused me, like many other people, to start re-thinking the whole business model of the music industry.  Suddenly I was watching local, New Jersey bands gain the same access to music fans that bands like Metallica had – and the celerity with which an unknown band could find their music circulating around the world was enough to get anyone thinking about the changing business model of the music industry.

Not that it ever changed, really, because the record companies mostly just kept trying to litigate, in hopes of keeping the status quo.  Such as they are.

But music fans will do what they do, and the people with the wallets will always be the ones that get to make the ultimate decisions.  And so, before too long, you’re having conversations with people in clubs like the one I had a few months ago, where a guy at a reputable label was telling me that his company generally presses a thousand copies of something, and that’s it.  Or the one I had with an account rep who told me about an excellent indie band that had released a new record, gotten pretty strong press, generated a nice buzz, and sold fewer than 100 copies in two months.

So we’ve been back in this game for less than a year, and we’ve tried a few things.  We did a compilation CD.  We stream our music – all of it – for free, right here on our website.  We keep the prices low, and had a month-long sale where every download was just five dollars.  We released two EPs – one of old music by Footstone, one of newer stuff by Stuyvesant – for free.

And we will continue to try different ideas, different ways to get music out there in unorthodox ways.

But Jesus Christ, if we release a CD the conventional, tried-and-true way, do you think you could help us out and keep your promo copy in your hands until the release date has passed?  Maybe you don’t like it.  Maybe you think it’s awful.  But could you have just the tiniest amount of respect for the band, and give them a day or two to sell their music through the conventional methods, before you float a barely-used, promo copy out there on eBay?

So my new hobby is to scour eBay prior to the release date, and buy back whatever of my promos wind up there.  Once the record hits the streets, eBay is fair game.  Whatever’s up there is available for whatever price, to anyone who wants to buy it.

But I’m not making any promises.  Maybe I’ll start adding bonus tracks to the retail versions of our records.  Maybe I’ll start adding in special download codes.  Maybe the folks who buy our music at retail will get rewarded somehow.

I don’t know.  We’re trying stuff here.

Don’t forget our show at Maxwell’s this weekend, by the way.  All this crazy talk about MP3s, bootlegs, Napsters and eBays is overlooking the simple fact that the best way to experience music will always be live, and I am personally guaranteeing four incredible live acts, all in one room, all in one night.

Shirk Circus will be making their first appearance in ages, and Josh has already told me they’ll be playing “So Nice,” my favorite Shirk song.  Hopefully this will be the first of more Shirk appearances, as they were always one of the best bands in the area, and Josh’s music needs to be out there.

Jenifer Convertible will be performing what I’ve learned is their first show at Maxwell’s ever.  For anyone who’s read this blog, Jenifer Convertible are all over it.  They were always a tremendous live band, full of energy and this wonderful, unique quality about their songwriting that was so deceptively complex, with all sorts of harmonic intensity and weird, dissonant scales blended with gorgeous, melodic song structures, I really can’t say enough about them.  But one thing I can say is that Jenifer Convertible would never get on stage if they weren’t prepared to deliver an intense performance.

Stuyvesant is, simply, the best live band I’ve ever worked with, and some of the best songwriters as well.  In a perfect world, Ralph Malanga’s music would be everywhere.  But in my perfect world, it will be in Maxwell’s, and those of us who are there will get to experience Stuyvesant in the club where they’re best, the one that’s really been their home for the better part of 15 years now, between Footstone, FRC, and Stuy.

And of course, The Mommyheads, who are everywhere lately between Magnet, Paste, and the national TV campaign they’re featured in (for Time Warner Cable).  Celebrating the release of Finest Specimens, which we’ve been hyping the shit out of for two months, they’ll be back at Maxwell’s for the first time since the mid-90s.  Fresh off a run of dates in the NYC area that included some celebrity visits that got them mentioned on Page Six of the New York Post, the band is on top of their game, playing better than ever, and seemingly standing on the precipice of something bigger, finally.  You’ve had 21 years to see them, so that you could say “I saw them when…”  This might honestly be your last chance.

And we’ll be doing one of those “trying new things” things that I refer to above – we’re giving away Small, But Mighty, a sampler CD that we made just for this show.  It features brand-new music (or old music you haven’t heard yet) from Stuyvesant, Jenifer Convertible, and Shirk Circus.  It features music from The Mommyheads’ Finest Specimens CD.  And it features music from some other Dromedary releases from 2010, just to let you know what else we’ve got out there.

Lastly, check out that record cover in the picture.  That dog is our dog, Ricky, when she was a puppy a few years ago.  This past Friday night, while we were watching the Yankee game, Ricky was getting into a bottle of doggie painkiller pills that we have for our older dog, Lucy (that’s right, Lucy and Ricky).  The bottle was pretty much brand-new, and so Ricky ate 50 or 60 pills Friday night.  He’s been in the hospital for two days now, receiving fluids to counteract the kidney damage that an overdose of painkillers will do to a dog, and having his blood count monitored as the poison makes its way through his body.  The jury is still out on whether or not Ricky is going to make it, so if you’ve got any spare vibes you can send our way, and don’t mind sending them to a dog you’ve never met, please do.  He’s a good dog, and the kids love him.

See you Friday.

~ by Al on October 17, 2010.

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