Created on Saturday, 19 September 2009 09:06
Written by David Rovics
21 Songs and New Poems
by David Rovics
i folks; as of today there are 21 new songs and poems online for free download at http://www.soundclick.com/davidrovics. In a couple weeks they will also be out in CD form. All 21 are solo studio performances with Billy Oskay as engineer and producer at his gorgeous studio in Corbett, Oregon, Big Red Studio, and they sound really good.
The next step for me is my grassroots, DIY attempt to publicize this new recording. I don't have a publicist, radio promoter, manager, or (fill in the blank), so this is where you come in! Basically, I'd say this: if you like my music and you think other people should hear it, feel free to peruse this email and take a few minutes (or more) out of your life to do something described below.
There's a lot of confusion around this (thanks in large part to the confusion-sowing efforts of the corporate music industry). People tend to assume that I put up all my music for free download out of principle in order to get the music out there and reach the widest audience possible. This is true. People also assume that because I put up all my music for free I must be living off of a trust fund since I couldn't possibly be making a living this way. This is not true. However, in order to make a living at music without any help from the music industry – and in fact while flouting everything they stand for – it absolutely requires the active participation of lots and lots of people like YOU.
Spreading the word
Now, if I put my music up for free download (in the form of high-quality MP3's, not just streaming, I might add) and my serious fans could just download everything instead of buying my CDs, this would definitely not pay the bills. What makes the difference is if those fans are big enough fans to enthusiastically tell other people (LOTS of other people) to listen to these songs. The pragmatic aspect to this is my theory that for every 1,000 people who become fans of my music ONE of them is going to organize a well-attended, paying gig for me somewhere in the world. I'm absolutely convinced that this theory works and is the main reason I'm making a living off of music. However, it requires a lot of people doing a lot of well-targeted networking for it to really work.
There are lots of ways to do this which just require a little of your time. There are other ways that require more time, and still others that require money. Whether you have a little time, a lot of time, no money or a lot of money, there are very useful things you can do, and I'll lay out some of them below.
Tweets and updates
Here's a real easy one. Do what I did this morning and do a status update on your Facebook page or blog or anything else like that you might have and tell folks to check out my new songs on SoundClick. Write a little review of the songs on your blog.
More targeted networking
If you go to http://www.soundclick.com/davidrovics and click on “music” you'll find all the new songs and poems right there. If you click on “full song info” for any of the songs you'll get to a screen that has the various ways you can download or stream the song and you'll also see a URL that, when pasted into your web browser, will bring you directly to that page just for that song. So are you involved with or interested in a specific issue that I may have written a song about? You know other people with those interests? Consider sending a link just to the song about that issue or putting a link up on your website if you've got one.
More specific ideas along those lines:
Do you know anyone with a particular interest in US, Canadian or Australian labor history? Send them a link to “Berkshire Hills,” “Song for Ginger Goodwin,” or “Song for the Eureka Stockade.” Tell them to feel free to spread the song around wherever they see fit or to put the song up on their websites -- or to hire me to do a show at their union halls or universities! Know anyone involved with pro-choice activism? Send them a link to “In the Name of God.” Got any friends who are way into pirates? Send them a link to “Pirates of Somalia.” Know anyone who was a friend or a fan of slain Indymedia journalist Brad Will? Send them “Brad.” Know anyone in Lebanon? Send them “Lebanon (2006).” Know any history buffs who are way into the American Civil War? Send them “John Brown.” Know any militant environmentalists? They might like “Free” or “East Tennessee.” Anyone involved with immigrant rights? Send them “Guanajuato.” Anyone involved with gay rights? Send them “I Know A Man.” Know any Chileans? Send them “Santiago.” Anyone who is a fan of the music of the late Al Grierson? Send then “Song for Al Grierson.” Anyone who spends a lot of time alone in cheap hotel rooms? They might like “Travelodge.” Anyone who just got dumped? “Now That You're Gone” might allow them to have a good cry. Etc.
Radio and other media
Do you know anyone with an acoustic music or politically-oriented radio show of any kind? Let them know they can download MP3's for free and if they like them they can email me and I'll send them a free CD. Call in and request that they play a track of mine. If they do it once they might do it again without prompting next time... Know anyone who does music reviews or some other kind of journalism? Ask them to consider reviewing my new recording or otherwise doing a story on me and my music. Perhaps they'd find the free download angle interesting, since it's not how most musicians do things. Ever wonder why I've never been interviewed on the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, or Fresh Air? Don't ask me – ask them!
Where money comes in
I rely mostly on my fans to spread the word about my music. However, I'm also going to (temporarily) hire a publicist to help me get the word out. Whether I hire her for a week or for three months will depend on the people reading this. If you want to help get the word out about this CD and you have some disposable income, whatever you send me via the “make a donation” button on my SoundClick page (or in the “support the arts” section and various other sections of http://www.davidrovics.com) or by check will be used to pay my publicist so she can work at this more, or less, depending on how much interest (represented by your hard-earned money) there is in getting my music out there. If you want to mail a check please make it out to me and send it to:
PO Box 86805
Portland, OR 97286
Every little bit counts, but if you're in a position to make a $500 contribution you get a free house concert next time I'm in your area (if you want). And don't worry about any larger contributions being wasted – for time and materials it will cost me $5,000 to hire a publicist for three months. If contributions end up being greater than that sum, no problem – a full-page ad in a music or political magazine costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per ad. If you might like to sponsor an ad in a particular publication and help promote the good things you do in the process, this is also most welcome!
Buy a CD or three
I actually have two new CDs coming out. The one I haven't mentioned yet is a “best of” sort of thing called Waiting for the Fall. That and the CD of new songs and poems, Ten Thousand Miles Away, will both be out in physical form around the same time, in early October. They will both be sold on my estore through the “buy stuff” link at http://www.davidrovics.com
for $15 each plus shipping costs. However, if you want to buy 3 or more copies of either of my new CDs (in any combination) here's my promotional deal: buy 3 or more and you can get them for $10 each, directly from me, including postage to anywhere on the planet.
My hope there is that if you're buying multiple copies you're planning on giving at least one of them away. If you want to give the extra CD (or CDs) to a friend, great. A friend with a radio program or a friend who books a festival or something, even better. As with sending a contribution, you can send money via the PayPal (“make a donation” button) link on my website or by mailing a check (in US funds) to my PO Box. (Make sure to let me know with a note or something if you're sending money for this purpose, and also how many and which CDs you'd like me to send.)
Organize a show
Speaking of house concerts, whether or not you're able to make a large (or even a small) contribution, organizing a show is both a great way to get my music out to a wider audience as well as to allow me to make a living. If you're reading this message it is very likely that I'll be touring in your area again in the next year or so. If you have the time and energy, that and a little know-how is all that's required to organize a show for me next time I'm in your area. If you haven't done this before, not to worry! Just go to the “how to organize a show” section of http://www.davidrovics.com and follow the recipe. Do that and it'll work fine!
Come to a show – and bring your friends
Tomorrow I'm in Dallas. For the rest of the month I'm in the northeastern US. Throughout October I'm touring throughout the midwestern US (with Anne Feeney). In November and December I'm in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe. In March I'll be doing a west coast US/Canada tour (with Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba). In May I'll be doing a tour of Britain (with Attila the Stockbroker). Details about these tours are (or will be) up on http://www.davidrovics.com. If a show is listed on my website then it is open to the public, and you don't need anyone's permission to spread the word about the show. Without even asking anyone you can print out a tour poster from my website, fill it in with the relevant info up on my website about the show, make copies and put them up all over town. Without anyone's permission you are hereby most welcome to tell all your friends about the show and bring them along. If there's a website, calendar, publication or anything else that should have info about the show but doesn't, there's no need to wait and see if the organizer of the show gets the info to them – you can just do it yourself! If the folks that run that calendar hear about the show twice that's OK. In fact it's even better...
OK, I'll stop there! Thanks in advance for any and all efforts you might make!