Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I cannot believe how hard it is to get my music heard. I know there are plenty of musicians like me out there who want nothing more than exposure. Forget mansions and SUVs, we just want appreciation for our art and the knowledge that something we have an emotional investment in is being shared by others. But sometimes it seems almost impossible.

Why is it that innovative, intelligent music is almost never popular? And what causes the situation when an artist is "ahead of his/her time"? Why must popular music first be developed as a niche before "blowing up"? How does that process work? If everyone that considers him/herself a music connoisseur knows so much about what makes music good then why isn't the music they like more popular? What the hell is music anyway? (Perhaps that question is way out of the scope of this blog). How did the current business model for music develop, and why do almost all business models stifle creativity (music, movies, TV, video games etc.)? Can creativity and profit coexist? Is there a balance to be found between innovation and profit, and should one even be found?

I kind of like those last two questions. It's obvious that in most businesses the ultimate goal is to maximize profit by whatever means necessary. This goal also serves to stifle creativity and promote imitation and the blockbuster mentality.

Science and art differ strongly here because with science (and technology) all R&D is done by the same companies that benefit from the R&D. They have a vested interest in innovation - they pay for it, and they profit from it. If a tech company rests on its laurels and uses its profits to reward its employees instead of promoting R&D the company will fall behind the curve and die as a result. It's all about evolution and competition, we all know that.

Art is different, because corporations (music labels) do not develop talent themselves. (In the past this was done to a limited extent). The innovation is done, for free, by individuals and bands as a form of self expression and for fun. The labels then decide which artists will provide them with the most profit and attempt to turn that music into cash. It's a capitalistic system, in that the labels have all the capital (money), and therefore they assume all the risk but also get to make all the decisions.

Now, it's true that innovation is not the only way to make a profit in tech businesses. After all, when a new product comes out the imitations are not far behind. And I can only guess that inordinate amounts of money are probably allocated to R&D divisions that have the greatest chance of developing a blockbuster product or technology, rather than the ones that provide the greatest boost to knowledge or usefulness. So I suppose there are more parallels between the tech sector and the music biz than I thought.

But I still think there are severe limits to the similarities. A tech company cannot simply repackage old ideas/technologies. Take computers, for instance. No matter how Intel markets an old 333 Mhz Pentium chip, it ain't gonna bite. Nobody wants that, because it is quantifiably worse than today's cutting-edge chips.

And I think that is the crux of the problem. There is no quantifiable way to judge music, and therefore no objective means of placing value upon it - music is therefore vulnerable to subjective opinions, and that's what marketing and buzz is all about. Innovation is unnecessary if consumers can be convinced that existing music and/or existing styles of music is worth a piece of their wallet.

Another aspect of music's subjectivity that hampers the business side of things (from an artist's perspective) is that music is purely free. It's like an open source code. If I start a band and create a new style of music, there is no way for me to patent that style. Any band can copy my style and add their own personal touch to it. This is a good thing. I can't think of a single person who would be an advocate for patenting musical styles, both on the ground of principle and feasibility. It would be impossible.

But this fact serves in favor of big labels, because they have no motivation to seek out innovative bands on the cutting edge. Sure, they'll keep an eye out and track various subgenres of subgenres, but they have no need to invest in these bands until a subgenre grows in popularity, at which point there will be many, many bands to choose from. But by this point the vanguard of music will have already been passed on to other subgenres, still far outside the scope of the labels' interest.

All this time I've been talking about musical innovation, which is great, but certainly not necessary and it definitely does not guarantee quality. What about all the artists, new and otherwise, who are of exceptional quality but not popularity? If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there is no denying a quality band or artist, no matter what my personal tastes may be. If you're good, I'm going to realize it. I still might not like it, but you'll have my respect. Likewise, if your music is truly heartfelt and meaningful you can get away with a few lame lyrics… I won't mind. In fact, they won't even be lame, because they'll take on a certain gravitas. The appreciation for musicianship that I am talking about is highly subjective, so I don't want to pursue it any further. I don't think talking about it will help solve the business problem.

So, you and I can appreciate good musicianship and musical quality because we're really, really into music. We're the connoisseurs. We're the outliers on the bell graph. We simply cannot expect the average consumer to appreciate music the same way we do. Yet we're all frustrated and pissed when Britney goes platinum. Yes, we're frustrated with the system. I don't think anybody really blames the consumer, or the artist for that matter. But we certainly blame the middleman, the one who makes it happen: the labels. Should they have a responsibility (a financial responsibility or, dare I say, an ethical one) to provide the consumer with the highest caliber music possible? Well, obviously labels don't have an ethical responsibility; as I said before, it's their dollar, so they can decide what to do with it.

But what about a financial responsibility? Is it possible for the label that pushes the boundaries and rewards quality to be profitable, or in the case of major labels, to stay even with or ahead of the competition?
I don't think there is any question about this: of course it's possible. It happens all the time. Almost every label has at least a couple of respectable, and profitable, artists. Look at Interscope: Eminem, Trail of Dead, Beck, Nine Inch Nails. They're a great example of a quality-based label.

Sounds easy, right? But look, just about every artist out there, myself included, wants to make a living via art. I want money for my music. Yes, I began this rant by saying 'forget about mansions and SUVs,' and I mean it. But I do want food on the table. I want a car to drive around town. I want to be able to take my girlfriend out to dinner and to travel. Modest goals, but they all require money. And that means turning my art, music, into a business. And the subjective world of music and the objective world of business are all but mutually exclusive.

To become a musical outlier, someone who truly understands and appreciates music, requires an incredible investment of time and effort, not to mention a specific kind of subjective, emotional intellect. This intellect is pretty much directly at odds with the intellect ideally suited to running a business. Not many people can pull it off. The same time and effort you or I put into appreciating music is spent studying business theories and management techniques by CEOs of corporations. One man or woman cannot be an expert in both fields, or in any two disparate fields for that matter. Something's got to give. That's why there often seems to be an inverse relationship between a label's size and its output quality. To put it differently, the average person could become a superb long distance runner and a decend poker player, or a superb poker player but only a decent runner, or he/she could become pretty darn good (but not superb) at both. The average person, and the average corporation, have limited resources of time, money and energy with which to draw from, and therefore compromises must be made.

(Sidenote: is what I'm writing about right now even considered a tangent? How did I get here? What the hell am I writing about? Who am I?)

It's for these reasons that the majors have all the money and the indies have all the talent. If the owners of indie labels were better businessmen then quality innovative music would be much more popular. Likewise, if the owners of major labels had a greater appreciation for music the same would be true. Or, if the musical intelligence of the average consumer were to be raised the same result would follow.

Which of these three conclusions is most important? I think the third one, because supply follows demand. But let's not forget the famous mouthwash ad campaigns of the early 20th century: "Not even your best friend will tell you" (about halitosis… I think the campaign was for mouthwash, it could have been mints or even deodorant though). In other words, if indie label owners were better businessmen (ie: better marketers) they could create demand. I think indie music can be marketed in a way that gives the average consumer the impression of quality. Just like a 3.5 gigahertz Pentium 8 processor or whatever, I believe indie labels can promote and assume an identity of quantifiable quality and market it to consumers, if only they knew how.

This is a good place to stop for now. I did not even remotely answer my main question, which is 'how the hell can I get more people to listen to my music'? But this was fun to write and there's plenty more to come. The floodgates have been opened. Feel free to write me with any thoughts or ideas about this subject (especially you, Shmails). I'll post em up if I get any good ones.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I just finished a minor update to the website, there's a bit more to come so check back soon. The good news is I've finally managed to hook up a blog site to this news page so I'll be updating news on LOP much, much more frequently.

Work on the new EP is progressing... slowly. I've got about 10 or 12 songs I'm looking at, and it's taking me a while to wade through all the ideas I have for them and decide on the final 6 or 7. I'm also toying with the idea of recording them somewhere else. That could push the release date back... or it pull it forward. I don't know yet. But I'll set a date right now: April 24.

A new lineup might be in the works. Stay tuned.

March 9, 2005

It's 1 AM and I have to work tomorrow and I've spent the past 2 or so hours trying to get a damn blog to publish itself on this page. And it's not working. I am extremely frustrated.

As you can see from the home page I'm in the middle of working on the site. I'm trying to get some cool backgrounds together - that wasn't working earlier either. But at least I'm finally updating the site. It's been a while.

For all my Spanish fans, listen to cielo liquido. It's a radio station somewhere in Spain and they've been playing The Ultraviolet Effect. Which is excellent.

Work is coming along slooooow on the new EP to be released on Sundays in Spring, a Belgian netlabel. I could give you myriad excuses but I won't. I promise it will be done soon. And it will be good. Oh yes. At least it has a title: Blood Pressure. I'll let that sink in. Just thinking about the name makes me want to work on it... tomorrow, maybe.

I promise I'll finish updating the site soon.

January 8
And it's 2005. I spent a 10 day vacation in Ohio during which the temperature varied by 50 degrees. Santa was very nice this year, I got four packages of Big League Chew (which I specifically asked for). It's been raining ever since I got back in LA. I feel like I need another vacation already.

There are two new reviews up, both to be found at They're in French, so I don't know what they say, but the author gave me some feedback: about the 1st EP: "I didn't like it." About Rising Wildfires: "I loved it." Seriously, this is what he told me. Good news: he invited me to be a part of his netlabel Sundays in Spring. I'm currently working on a 5 or 6 song EP for it, I'm hoping to finish around mid-March.

The long-awaited and nearly mythical Lost on Purpose/Woody Whatever split EP will sort of happen. I have agreed to lay down the basic tracks for several songs and Erik (of WW) is going to produce and mix them. It's going to be another EP, look for that by the end of April.

If you live in LA you can now purchase The Ultraviolet Effect at Sea Level Records and it will soon be stocked at Amoeba. Everyone else, visit the music page for a streamlined ordering procedure via PayPal. There are more songs up there as well.

November 27
Copies of the new EP The Ultraviolet Effect are circling the globe as we speak, on their way to indie labels, reviewers, radio stations and fans. Thank you to everyone who's bought one so far, your support means a lot to a small outfit like us.

Other than that things are moving pretty slow around here. There's been lots of rain and traveling and turkey. I'm proud to say there's now a video for "Right On", which is currently in post-production. It's looking hot.

I hadn't been planning on recording a new album for release, but I've kinda got the itch. So don't be surprised if a new EP is announced within the next couple months.

October 12
First of all, happy birthday Mom!

Second, we've got our first show (not counting the Shmatfest party) coming up October 20 at The Scene in Glendale at 806 East Colorado St. Show starts at 9, we're on at 9:45. $5 and 21+, I can't tell you how excited we are.

The Ultraviolet Effect EP is actually out. Yes, it finally exists. It's pretty and it sounds good, what more could you possibly ask for?

We're going to try to get a couple more shows before everybody hibernates for the holidays, check back regularly and/or check out our MySpace site ( for info.

August 24
Wow. Wow. Wow. My last post is hilarious, cause I was mad that I went a month without an update. And now here is the next update, over two months later. But it's not my fault. I moved at the beginning of July and one of my new roommates hadn't paid the internet bill in 6 months so they shut that down big time. I just got DSL access today. And I can't believe how helpless and lost I am without the internet. A few days ago I found out that this site was all messed up and only two pages worked so this really happened in the nick of time. I'm officially back baby.

A ton of stuff has happened in these two months. First of all, I moved. No more Hollywood, but hello downtown LA. Second, The Ultraviolet Effect has somehow still not been released. Due to the much larger scale of this release I'm forced to work with several other parties to put it all together instead of the completely self-produced process of the earlier albums, and it takes a lot of time to work everything out. But seriously, it's almost finished. Well, the music has been finished for a long time, but the mastering, duplication, and design work is all just about wrapping up as we speak. So hooray for that. Check the music page for ordering info.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Lost on Purpose is a band. Denton Clayton has joined on bass and Jody Abbott is keeping time on the drums and our first show is this Saturday, August 28. We're playing at the second annual Shmatfest, a party for the great Shmat Records in Alhambra, CA. We're looking at a four song set right now, comprised of the song 'Friends' from the 1st EP, two tracks from the new EP, and one new song. It's sounding better every time we rehearse so I'm pretty happy. For those of you in Los Angeles - keep your ears and eyes out for Lost on Purpose shows in the coming months.

That's all for now, I'm gonna work on the rest of the site. But we're back in business so check back regularly.

June 20
Wow, I totally didn't intend on going this long without an update, but there were some unavoidable delays. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like The Ultraviolet Effect EP will get released on June 23 as intended, but for good reason: the scale of the release has been ramped up and will feature full packaging by the Little Jacket design group - I spent last weekend doing business with them in Ohio, another reason for the delay. Anyhow, the release will only be delayed by a week or two so go ahead and get your advance orders in at the music page... only $3 postage paid for beautiful indie music.

As soon as The Ultraviolet Effect gets wrapped up I'll shift my focus to putting the Lost on Purpose band together. You might not expect it from listening to the songs, but I think it's going to be a three piece - I really don't want to bother with getting a second guitarist up to speed, it'll take forever. I figure I'll just pick one up along the way once we're an established band. Oh, and the split EP with Woody Whatever... three songs each, I've got a few of them worked out, it should be great. Exciting things are on the horizon my friends.

Excerpts from Jeremy Schmall's "Wartime Poetry" are now up on the Friends page. Check it out, it's excellent.
New songs are up on the music page. Let me know what you think.
A couple new reviews are up; check out the great one done by Shmat Records.


May 24
In my last post I vowed that Lost on Purpose would soon be heard on indie radio... little did I know that I had already accomplished this! A few days after posting it I found out that Lost on Purpose is on WBER in Rochester, NY, who have been playing 'Friends' (off the Emo Diaries compilation) on their indie show. Click this link to check out their website, where you can stream the show and request the song.

In other news, the release date for the new EP draws ever nearer. June 23 is going to be it, but advance copies will be available if you ask politely. Also it officially has a name: The Ultraviolet Effect. If you know what that refers to (without looking it up on the internet) I'll send you a free copy. We're on the honor system here people. A rough mix of the song 'Right on' is up for download on the music page. Let me know what you think.

Come join Lost on Purpose on MySpace! It's like Friendster, only better. And if you don't know what Friendster is, you're probably from Ohio. Just use the e-mail address to search for me, and I'm yours.

A rehearsal space has been procured, and the search for a drummer will begin just as soon as I find a new place to live...

You may have noticed a new link up above to a page called 'friends'. No, this does not refer to the LOP song, but rather a page that will eventually feature both permanent and temporary art, music, poetry, a record label, and other forms of expression by unknown and underappreciated artists who I have come to know over the years. There will also be an indie music review section, so if you'd like some critique by that rarest of creatures, the online reviewer with an actual command of the English language, send your CDs to:
Attn: Reviews
1652 Westwood
Columbus, OH 43212
No, these will not come to me, but rather to my esteemed colleague and professional writer, Jeremy Schmall.

Other changes:
Updated the ordering info cause demand has been a little too high for me to keep up with. 1st is still free though.
There's another positive review of 'friends' on the press page.
Got some new links up to some great bands.

May 11
Reviews continue to pour in and they're all good (so check them out), including some for the Emo Diaries compilation. You can buy it pretty much anywhere online: Amazon, Best Buy, Deep Elm, you name it.

The new (still untitled) EP is going to be great. I am telling you this right now. Get excited, it will kick your ass. What's that? You say I'm being a cocky, braggadocios ass? Damn right, and I'm gonna back it up. Mark my words. Plus there are only going to be five songs, and unlike the previous two releases I'm slaving away getting everything to sound just right. It's going to be a big release, and you will hear it on indie radio stations. This I promise.

Check out the music page for a nearly completed song that will probably be on the EP.

I put up some information for ordering 1st and Rising Wildfires on the music page. Guess what, they're free.

Lost on Purpose: The Band will soon be a reality. A bassist (with a secret identity) has signed on, and a drummer search will begin soon. I can't tell you how excited I am for this. If you like my songs now, just wait.

Finally, there will be a split EP with Woody Whatever. It won't be out before the new EP though, so expect it sometime in July. Six songs of lo-fi indie madness from two up-and-coming artists. West Coast vs East Temperate Plain. Don't miss out.

April 28
The Deep Elm compilation Emo Diaries is out now - pick up a copy for $10. It's really good, and I'm not just saying that because I'm on it. I've got about 57 copies right now so if you're cheap (like me) and you think you can get on my good side then go ahead and write me and I may just send you one for free.

No news on the EP, I've been sidetracked for the past couple months but should soon be, uh, back on track. What's finished so far is probably my best stuff yet. I'm excited. You should be too.

April 6
I finally found a job out here in LA which is not an easy task (just ask Mike Dwyer). Life is officially back on track.

March 10
Deep Elm Records' Emo Diaries Chapter 10: The Hope I Hide Inside can be preordered by clicking here. There are a lot of cool international bands on the CD so try to check it out. I honestly have no idea how I ended up on an emo compilation, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.

Work is underway on the next Lost on Purpose release, which is (probably) going to be a five-song EP entitled The Ultraviolet Effect. I'm focused on making it far superior to the previous releases, both in audio quality and sonic arrangement. I'm excited by a lot of the new stuff I've been working on so I'm going to take my time and hopefully deliver a knockout.

Also, the split EP with Woody Whatever is still in a holding pattern. Now it's my fault, the songs I had designated for the EP are no longer "doing it for me," so it's back to the drawing boards. I've been working on a lot of new songs so hopefully we can get that out in a month or so.

Updates to the website include:
a new song is up on the music page... believe it or not Lost on Purpose covers Outkast. Yes I'm serious.
Pictures added to the bio page
A new review is up at

February 15
Happy Birthday Christy!

The website is finally up in its entirety.