Interview with Red Wanting Blue [Podcast]

Red Wanting Blue is a rock n’ roll band from Columbus, Ohio. They’ve been making waves since 1996 with a steady output of albums and tours. Their frontman Scott Terry called in to the Murfie office recently to chat about the band’s experiences, including signing with a record label, and avoiding a near-fatal car crash that inspired their new album. We cover topics in the music industry of course, like transparency in the streaming business, and the paradox of choice that comes with infinite access. Scott is definitely a fan of music ownership and collecting physical music, and in fact, he points out how physical music can be an extension of your personality. He also embraces the amazing influence computers can have in creating music and reaching fans.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Who: Scott Terry; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Tuesday July 7th, 2015
How: via phone

K: I’ve got Scott Terry on the phone from the band Red Wanting Blue. And Scott, you just started your tour called the Our Little America Tour, how’s that going so far?

S: It’s going great, it’s going great. Actually right now we are in Columbus, Ohio, and we’re just now getting ready to make a trip up to Edmonton Alberta Canada. So we’ve got kind of a long way to go and a short time to get there.

K: Well this definitely isn’t the first time you’ve gone on a tour, and it’s going through the end of August, so I was wondering if you have any tips for going on tour, for a musician who hasn’t gone before. What do you do to get through?

S: You know what, it’s funny you say that because I have literally thought of writing a book, or like a short guide, for survival tips when you’re on the road with a rock n’ roll band. I don’t want to give away too much of my book. But I would say, if I had to give some tips to some young bands: try to avoid gas station restrooms. Usually there is a hotel off that same exit. They’re in the hospitality business, so they’re not gonna question you if you’re a guest at the hotel. You can just walk in and go straight to the lobby. That’s a Scott Terry survival tip, although we haven’t had to use that one in a little while. We’re fortunate, we’ve got a bathroom on our bus now. More important tips on the road would be: try to stay active. One of the things that we do is we try to avoid fast food, because I think it makes you feel bad. Even if it tastes good going down, you usually regret it a little bit later. Or a lot, depending. We also try to stay fit while we’re on the road. You’ve got a lot of downtime sometimes between load-in and sound check, and performing. So we’ll try to go for jogs and keep ourselves in shape, and so that’s a good thing to do. Again, I don’t want to dig too much into my stash of secrets.

K: We’ll have to keep a lookout for that book. You need to have your own hashtag, #ScottTerryTourTips. Well those are definitely helpful, staying active and eating right.

S: Yeah and it sounds lame to say it like that, but the truth is that—I don’t want to sound preachy—but we run across bands who live up to the illusion and the idea that a band that’s traveling, you know—rock n’ roll band, partying every night. At this point in my career, I think that’s a difficult thing to sustain, it’s hard to maintain that lifestyle and live like that. It’s good to cut loose every now and then, but I think ultimately, you’re going to be going from town to down, driving from cold weather conditions to hot weather conditions. You’re putting your body through a lot of sleepless nights and the schedule can be rigorous and brutal, and the best thing you can be doing for yourself in order to make it through the shows so that you’re not apologizing to your fans like “Sorry I have a sore throat, sorry I got sick,” is to—because the road will run you down, I mean it is longer than you, it will definitely run you down if you open yourself up to that—so the thing you have to try to keep in mind, is: pace yourself, and always try to stay on top of your health. That’s my fatherly tip to the young bands out there.

Red Wanting blue Little AmericaK: Right, coming from experience. I mean that’s great to hear. and you guys have experience touring, you have experience putting out a lot of albums, so I was wondering if you look back at everything you’ve done so far—I  know you have a new album out, but—considering everything, is there a certain album you’ve put out that you personally feel most connected to?

Continue reading Interview with Red Wanting Blue [Podcast]

Interview with DJ Pain 1 [Podcast]

DJ Pain 1DJ Pain 1 is a prominent hip-hop producer, and over the years he’s worked with names you know like Young Jeezy, Public Enemy and Ludacris. He’s also a Madison local and active community member who volunteers for non-profits. We had the great pleasure of having him here at the Murfie office recently.

In this interview, he brings up some important topics—like the pressure that Madison police put on venues that try to book hip-hop shows. Unfortunately, the lack of hip-hop in Madison makes it hard for talented acts to really blossom in town. What you might not know about DJ Pain 1 is that his real name is Pacal Bayley. He’s a true lover of all dedicated musicians, a physical music collector, and a mushroom hunter—although he’ll never tell you where he finds morels.

Now, I don’t want to give away all the best parts. Here’s a transcript of our interview along with the recorded version (below) on our Soundcloud player.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Who: DJ Pain 1; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Wednesday July 1st, 2015

K: So I am currently in one of the Murfie warehouse rooms surrounded by discs with DJ Pain 1. Welcome to the office, first of all.

DJ: This is kind of surreal.

K: It is. Being surrounded by so much music kind of makes you think about all the albums that have come out over the years.

DJ: Well all I see is boxes, so I’m just smelling cardboard—and there are all these boxes with numbers written on all of them. It’s like musical coffins or something.

K: That’s one way to think about it, for the people who store their CDs here. We do have people who get their CDs digitized and shipped back to them. But I suppose it is a good resting place, and these boxes are actually like water resistant and temperature—

DJ: Oh they are?

K: Yeah we make sure everything stays nice and cozy in there. But you know there are a lot of things to talk about in music, especially someone like you who is involved on all these different levels. So over the years as you’ve gained all your experience, the music industry has changed a lot, especially recently, in terms of the way people listen to music, and the way it’s being released. So in your opinion, is the music industry changing for better or for worse?

DJ: I think it’s always a duality. I think access is a good thing, and access has been improving for decades now. And so what access begets is saturation. And of course it changes the landscape as far as fans are concerned and their expectations of artists. They expect a lot of music, and they expect instant access, and they expect free most of all. And so that’s not necessary a bad thing, because it’s forced artists to really adapt in new and innovative ways, whether it’s just challenging the traditions of a genre or finding new and exciting ways to market and promote themselves. So, it’s good for some and bad for others, I guess that’s a subjective question. And I don’t necessarily know, because I’m benefiting a lot from it—but then on a macro level the music industry is just kind of crumbling before my very eyes. At first that kind of scared me, but now I’m just sitting there looking at my watch waiting for it to happen, because I kind of can’t stand the paradigm. But it also every now and then lets me in through a door, and then I make some money and get some notoriety off it.

DJ Pain 1K: Well I like what you said about finding ways to adapt that are new and interesting. I feel like that’s gonna be the differentiator between people who succeed regardless of how the music industry ends up being. So what are some of the best ways that you’ve learned to connect with your audience and make a living?

DJ: I give a lot of stuff away for free. And maybe the ratio is somewhere around 10:1 or 15:1. 15 being what I give away and 1 being what I sell. It gives me more leverage for the people that are following me and benefiting from the resources I give out. So I don’t know if it works, but it’s worked for me in some capacity, so I’m going to keep doing it.

K: Well especially if your music is good and people like it.

DJ: Yeah with me I really speak more to the producer community, so: free resources for producers, a lot of video advice for just aspiring artists of all kinds, and streaming Q&A shows, panels, the professional development stuff that we do locally here. I’ve done it around the country too a little.

K: So you’ve seen Madison’s music scene, and you’ve also traveled to different places. How does Madison’s music scene compare to other places?

DJ: That goes back to the word access. I’m gonna use Appleton as an example just because it’s so close and it’s so much smaller than Madison. I mean, their population is a lot smaller than Madison’s. You know alone we have 40,000+ just students, just like a transient population, but Appleton has more venues, more music events going on concurrently, more music festivals, and just it seems that there’s more access. And I know that things have changed maybe in the last year or two, but when I go there it appears to me that they have more going on. When you come to Madison there are very few options as far as live music goes, and especially if you’re a fan of what people would consider—quote urban unquote—styles of music. That’s unfortunate. Because I mean the talent here isn’t any less amazing. And I’ve been all over the place and we have great talent here. But I think access and opportunity not only allows for sustainability, but it also promotes talent too, and growth too. I mean people feel boxed in here, so I don’t think we’re all growing as much as we could be.

K: You know, when you say that, I do realize I haven’t seen a lot of hip-hop and rap shows being promoted.

DJ: No they’re all banned, it’s banned. Name a venue and I’m probably banned from it.

K: Really! Majestic? Frequency?

Continue reading Interview with DJ Pain 1 [Podcast]

Cowboy Mouth Interview

Cowboy Mouth is an energetic, fun-loving, pure-hearted New Orleans rock band with a twist of cajun and blues influence. Since the release of their first album, Word of Mouth, in 1992, the band has gained notoriety nationwide. With a current string of shows and a new album, Go, the time was perfect for us at Murfie to get in touch.

Below is a transcript of a phone call between Cowboy Mouth frontman Fred LeBlanc and myself (Kayla), from a few weeks ago in January. Fred is an entertaining fellow with a lot to say about the 90s music era, the changing music scene, the influence of big labels, and the vibrant energy in the southern United States. Read on and enjoy!

Fred LeBlanc Cowboy MouthK: Right now I have Fred Leblanc on the phone from Cowboy Mouth.

F: Woo-hoo!

K: Welcome! Where are you calling from today?

F: I’m calling from my house in Mississippi.

K: How’s the typical winter in Mississippi?

F: Well, seeing that you’re calling me from Wisconsin, I really have no reason to complain about anything as far as winter goes, ‘cause I could sit here and whine about the temperatures in the 40s, and you guys would probably think, “Oh, what a puss”—and you’d be right about that! But I get to do the same thing during the summer. As you sit there and complain about temperatures in the 70s and 80s, I’m sitting here, you know high 90s early 100s, or something like that, and I could call you a puss back. So I’m not gonna complain, it’s beautiful, every day above ground. Right?

K: Absolutely. You guys are doing your thing down south, and Cowboy Mouth has been in action for two decades at least, so it’s cool to talk to you because you have all this perspective on rock music and the industry—

F: Haha! That’s a nice way of saying, “Gimme what you’ve got, Grandpa!”

K: Haha! So it’s really valuable, and I’m sure you’ve seen a lot, which leads me to something I was wondering about—the rock scene, and how it’s changed over the years. I know it was kinda grunge-y when you got started. So how have you seen things change?

F: Well we were kind of like, not the antithesis to the grunge thing—it’s more of a matter of timing. In fact, we were around a couple years before that burst forth on the national zeitgeist. In fact, we would see a lof of those bands in the same clubs that we played. I played at a club called Raji’s in L.A. a bunch of times, and then I saw that club on the back of Nirvana’s first album Bleach. There’s a picture of them performing at Raji’s. So it was all kind of bubbling under, and then it just kind of took over for a while. You had big bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, other bands who got notoriety like Mudhoney. They had all been around a while. Then a few years later, we were kind of lumped in with some of the other 90s bands who weren’t quite as angst-ridden, bands like Better than Ezra, Hootie & the Blowfish, Matchbox Twenty, all these bands who had just been touring around the same time. So for me, in terms of changes, a lot of the big changes came close to later in the 90s, when everything changed and went either hard-hard-hard rock, or obscene hard-hard-hard pop. And for me, I was kind of glad to see the whole major label game disappear because, as their influence became a lot more…unable to shake off—the music got kind of worse. You had the emergence of things like Britney Spears and Fred Durst [Limp Bizkit] at the same time. You know, it’s just not my cup of tea because musically they were both so extreme. This music fits comfortably into this box. I call it “McDonald’s Music”, in that it’s designed to be eaten, and crapped out, making room for the next musical Big Mac. And there’s a place for that—that’s fine, but that’s not why I wanted to play music. I always wanted to be a more creative person, take a chance with styles, learn new ways to perform, and ingratiate those. I didn’t want it to be just one thing continuously over and over and over again. But that’s me.

K: Sure, that’s some truth about the industry. And yes, there’s a consumption element to it all, that maybe wasn’t there when music was more pure…

Continue reading Cowboy Mouth Interview

Owned -vs- Rented Media and the “Right to Resell”

Bill Rosenblatt of GiantSteps Media published a thought-provoking article The right to resell: a ticking time bomb over digital goods. It’s worth a read. Below I’ve shared some of my comments on his article.

When it comes to media in our culture today, we have two crisp models of acquisition, as defined by contracts, legislation, and case law: ownership and rental. Ownership falls almost exclusively into the “physical media” bucket and “digital media” is generally a rental (licensed) model. I for one hope we can someday work out a third model for “digital ownership” that works for consumers and for creators and for rights-holders.

If we as a society can create this third model of “digital ownership” sooner rather than later, we can leave “rented media” behind, in what will be a comparatively small bucket of “non-transferrable assets.” For example, over the last 30 years, US consumers have invested, in 2012 dollars, on the order of a quarter-trillion dollars in physical CDs, each with crisp fair-use and first-sale rights. The comparative total investment in rented digital music in the last 8 years is on the order of 5% of that.

We should be thoughtful about railing against rights-holders for the legal rights (or lack thereof) of the digital music that consumers have (bought) rented. In theory, we consumers knew exactly what we were getting into. That is to say, the terms of the licenses we agreed to are not unclear. Of course one can argue whether the average 18 year-old can and will read and understand all that legalese.

The ReDigi solution strives to expand the scopes of both legislative dicta and case-law. As Mr. Rosenblatt suggests, they’ve chosen a challenging mountain to climb. I’m not so sure I agree with his aside that it’s an odd position for ReDigi to take to enable first-sale-like rights AND bring the rights-holders in to participate as well. While this is indeed a deviation from what legislatures and judges have enabled, let’s be open-minded about asking questions like “why not?” as we attempt to sort out these thorny problems.

The fundamental challenge here (IMHO) is that most consumers of downloaded content make certain assumptions that they have fair-use and first-sale rights. They do not generally have those rights.

Each and every day Murfie wrestles with these issues of ownership -vs- rental as we attempt to integrate all of our customers’ music purchases across any and every physical and digital format.

Borrow My Borrowed Book

The issue of media ownership vs. rental isn’t just a music industry concern. Earlier this week, Publishers Weekly published a news item questioning and explaining some of the mechanics about how libraries purchase (license) eBooks from publishers.

Libraries to most folks are all about conservation and permanence. Heck, over 90% of all the US libraries that Andrew Carnegie funded 100 years ago are still standing! It struck me as curious to think of a library patron borrowing an eBook from a library who in turn has effectively borrowed it from the publisher. How far can that be extrapolated?

The next few years will see all forms of media wrestling with the issues of folks ‘owning’ media versus folks ‘renting’ their media.

Speaking of libraries, the attached photo is the ~3,600-disc-strong CD collection of the Medfield Public Library in Medfield, MA. Discs that they own and lend to their patrons.