Putting Out A Record Without A Band

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Is it crazy to even attempt it?

How do you even find/approach a record label when you don't have a band (nor particularly, do you ever want to have "a band", or perhaps even "play gigs" again - unless you could make like Brian Wilson and send someone else out to tour for you)?

Would any record label in their right minds even touch a project like this?

I've got tons of recordings, and a decent amount of press, attention, etc. What's stopping me? I mean, seriously. That's a question.

masonic boom (kate), Friday, 15 December 2006 14:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I've often wondered the same thing, as I'm saving up to buy myself an iMac and firepod so I can finally start working on the solo project I've dreamed about for a while.

My guess is labels would prefer someone who's going to go out there and promote by playing gigs, but I'm sure it's not impossible, especially if you already have some footholds and connections in the biz.

After all, David Berman (Silver Jews) didn't tour most of his career. Then again, he was connected with Pavement, and he also probably would have sold a lot more records if he had toured. And also he's a fucking genius.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:04 (sixteen years ago) link

I think it really depends on the results you're after. If you want big publicity, big distribution, and big sales, then there's plenty of obstacles. If, however, you don't mind "pulling a Jandek" -- lo-tech recording techniques, minimal advertising, records/CDs made on the cheap -- and if you are satisfied with less-than-universal acclaim, then you should definitely do it.

If you are going down the cheap-n-dirty path, you ought do it in style: If you expect to sell 500 CDRs, press 100. Package them in hand-crafted, numbered sleeves, available only thru your site. If possible, find a friend with a letterpress to make the sleeves -- fold-in, not glued. Cryptic liner notes, if any, and if you include contact info, put it on a badly-photocopied insert. And so on.

You can't go half-way on this kinda thing, either way you go.

Oddly enough, staying here I saw seven golden bowls make cakes and religion (goo, Friday, 15 December 2006 16:06 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm thinking quite hard about the Brian Wilson route, of making someone else gig/tour for me. Just retiring to the studio to be the songwriter/producer and never play live.

Thing is, I feel like no one ever *noticed* the contributions that I was making to the live music when I was gigging. So would anyone notice if I stopped?

masonic boom (kate), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:08 (sixteen years ago) link

x-post I'm not talking about "doing it myself" - I could do that with or without a band.

masonic boom (kate), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, I didn't mean you were - it's just I'm planning to play all the instruments myself and I'm debating whether I'm going to want to go through the hassle of getting a whole band together just to learn my parts and play them the way I want - so I was wondering about the non-live-playing option. Getting ahead of myself of course, as usual.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:14 (sixteen years ago) link

If you are asking whether a label would put out recordings from a non-performing artist with no pedigree and no CD trail, I think that the obvious answer is "extremely unlikely". Which is why I approached the question from a DIY standpoint. There's a tremendous amount of competition for space on even half-assed labels, and if you are up-front about not touring, then that's like telling them that 95% of their advertising opportunities are gone. A losing proposition, nay?

Oddly enough, staying here I saw seven golden bowls make cakes and religion (goo, Friday, 15 December 2006 16:21 (sixteen years ago) link

(My apologies if I implied that you have no pedigree and no CD trail incorrectly: I'm just unaware of what you have in that area.)

Oddly enough, staying here I saw seven golden bowls make cakes and religion (goo, Friday, 15 December 2006 16:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, I have both a pedigree and a CD trail, if that's what you mean. I've attracted (indie) labels for my past two projects. I'm just wondering if that's enough to persuade another to take me on, "sight unseen" as it were, with regards to a new project that I would never be touring. (though I might assemble a band and send *them* touring.)

masonic boom (kate), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I could almost see that working as a PR angle - if you had a band touring for you but without you.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Friday, 15 December 2006 16:52 (sixteen years ago) link

A seed is germinating in my head WRT this idea.

masonic boom (kate), Friday, 15 December 2006 17:05 (sixteen years ago) link

xpost - I can't honestly anyone being interested in that as an angle or a hook for a band though. Elvis Costello's album for Wendy James failed to excite anything but ridicule.

There is a lot more precedent for being a writer/producer/manager of a young, attractive band than there is for Brian Wilson's thing. Write their stuff, produce them and manage them let them enjoy doing all the shitty stuff you're obviously tired of.

The usual wheeze for this sort of thing is to identify a role model and try to follow the same steps as they did. I can't, at this moment, think of someone who quit a band in possession of tons of material and successfully put out an album without any live shows. Unsuccessfully, yes: Donna from Elastica, Tim Smith of the Cardiacs, Carl Puttman from Cud etc. They all seem mega-low key and forgettable.

The most logical thing would seem to be to make all your music yourself and just rent musicians for short tours ala Divine Comedy, Edwyn Collins etc, making yourself the centre of the band. Then people would notice you more.

everything (everything1967), Friday, 15 December 2006 19:42 (sixteen years ago) link

There is a lot more precedent for being a writer/producer/manager of a young, attractive band than there is for Brian Wilson's thing.

The female Kim Fowley, perhaps, but hopefully more talented: Take it one step further and make it an "indie-rock" boy band. Write their songs and their contracts, be their spiritual "adviser", and generally mack the scene while they sweat onstage.

This concept has some real cultural cash-value. Play it well, and you can buy a home in the Marina. OK, maybe not, but at least a respectable flat in Potrero Hill. (You'll pardon my San Francisco-centric view of the world, s'il vous plait.)

Oddly enough, staying here I saw seven golden bowls make cakes and religion (goo, Saturday, 16 December 2006 02:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I was toying this weekend with the idea of writing songs for a male voice, because I've never done it before.

I just wonder if young boyband boys would put up with management and songwriting from a female, though. I suppose I had better make myself hott again, then they might go along with it.

masonic boom (kate), Monday, 18 December 2006 10:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Course they would - they'd view you as a mother figure.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Monday, 18 December 2006 14:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, ouch!

Stupid, and is severely rationed, when I am: happy for sweet pickles, and t (goo, Tuesday, 19 December 2006 02:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Hey, I mean assuming they're like 15 or something - I didn't mean that as a dig.

Hurting (A-Ron Hubbard), Tuesday, 19 December 2006 04:47 (sixteen years ago) link


masonic boom (kate), Tuesday, 19 December 2006 10:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Assuming that our album comes out next year, (big assuming,) there are definitely precedent for well-known labels that put out artists who don't intend to tour a lot--that said, we didn't get an advance really, and the producer was not a really expensive one. And when I say "we," it's more like me and my gf. Not really a "band." So there's that. Our producer, though, is a veteran of many bands, and was on an associated label of Mute's, and he's a bit more cavalier about finding another label for his current band. We just sent out demos to labels that we liked, and literally that was it. Needless to say, it wasn't the best strategy, probably--but still. Not to jinx it completely, but our label head has been very patient with us (me and gf both have day jobs and whatnot.)

Have you thought about approaching other labels with your press/demos?

Jubalique die Zitronen (juicefriend), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 22:53 (sixteen years ago) link

^ I meant precedence.

Jubalique die Zitronen (juicefriend), Wednesday, 20 December 2006 22:54 (sixteen years ago) link

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