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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 60
INTERVIEW with "jammin'Dave"
Zzaj: I really like the idea of a "central" place to check on CD's, .mp3files, etc. There are similar efforts going on around the net (like Bryan Baker's INDIEONESTOP)... what makes your site unique (for artists)?
Dave: I've seen Bryan's site and it's nice (Short run music is a great deal). I guess what makes it different is me. I am part musician, part teacher, and part computer nerd. I try to moderate the site to avoid having yet another "spamathon." Also as a software instructor, my newsletter occasionally gets slightly technical (but as an instructor, I feel I can bring it down to a digestible level). I will put almost anything in the newsletter. I even promote other similar sites. My goal is to point musicians at cool sites, and share our experiences to help each other grow. At first it was weird publishing items about Europe, then I researched to see that the members represent a wide global presence. This makes the site even cooler. Other sites charge you for subscriptions etc. My newsletter, and site are free (except for a very SMALL fee for listing a classified).
Zzaj: I notice that you are a performing artist yourself. Do you play live?
Dave: I currently play in two groups. My main group is a seven piece blues/R&B band called the $ugar Daddies (www.thesugardaddies.com). I also play in a blues classic rock band called "Beyond Blue" that is slightly more guitar oriented. I released a "Solo" CD this year that is part Metalica part
Poison. Between my bands, job, wife, church, and web site I stay pretty busy. I try to hit the ground running every day, and hit the pillow tired.
Zzaj: What is the difference between a "classified" & a "press release" on your site?
Dave: As the newsletter is published every two weeks, we needed a place for people to announce things immediately. I created the "Press Release" section for this reason. This also helps cut down on the newsletter being loaded too heavily with "listen to my new mp3" posts. These can be posted immediately. Anyone looking for this type of information now has it readily available. I originally set up the "Press Release" page to be a classified section. However, as more and more posts came in, they would get lost in the shuffle. I created the classifieds section to ensure that all the listings are one page (so your classified is seen). It's the only section of the site that is not free (and even then it's only a buck a week). I'm getting a good response, and things seem to be selling quickly for folks.
Zzaj: Are there "too many artists" out there, or just not enough listeners?
Dave: Well with the music business force-feeding us the latest flavors, I believe there are not enough informed listeners. With the recent bland pop kind of running out of steam, I think the average listeners is now open to a wider range of music, and is hungry for good music. The problem is finding it.
Zzaj: Is the Internet a viable tool for artists, or does it just create a "glut" for listeners?
Dave: I believe it will be a viable tool. I mean Prince tried to market his stuff with the Internet, and didn't have much success, so it's not the answer right now (and there have been other "known" artists who have tried). It's a great tool; the only problem is that not everyone is aware of the
resources. I've met some great folks on the Internet. I listen to a lot of Internet radio, and I've been turned on to some really great artists. When I find a tool that I enjoy, I always share it with the group. Right now I love listening to spinner.com The whole point of the site is for EVERYONE to do
that (share ideas). I think we're right on the edge of everything changing. The mainstream music business just hasn't figured out how to get their hands around it.
Zzaj: Since the focus of my 'zine is on high-energy independent (home-produced) musicians, what "words of wisdom" do you have for them?
Dave: This is an easy question. BACK UP YOUR STUFF. I have a VS2480 digital recording studio, and just lost about 6 months worth of stuff (ouch). On another note, I would say experiment with mic placement when recording, and don't skimp when buying a vocal microphone. Lastly, don't put a deadline on our release unless it's necessary (get it done right). Then before you release it, put it away for a week. Get it completely out of your mind. Then go back and listen to it with a friend. You'll find stuff you will probably want to tweak.
Zzaj: What are your thoughts on the recent moves to stifle Internet Radio stations?
Dave: I was really bummed. As I mention, if I'm on a computer I am more than likely listening to an Internet station. To me this is a great direct path to listeners that bypasses the mainstream, and we NEED that. In Cleveland (where I live near) at 8 pm ¾ of the rock stations play a Metallica block. I
like Metallica, but it just goes to show the lack of originality in programming. If it's not a college station, good luck getting your stuff played here locally. I sent letters to my congressmen via live365's site when the bill was up for a vote.
Zzaj: How long have you been doing your website? What got you interested/started with it?
Dave: My first issue came out on March 13, 2002. I had five members in the group. Now we have close to 450. As cheesy as it sounds. I am a big fan of constant improvement. I had registered my domain (www.jammindave.com) to promote a CD I was getting ready to release ("jammin dave" is an old
nickname). When the CD got pushed back, I was like "Well what do I do with the domain?" One night a bunch of my musicians friends got together and just talked about being in bands. A lot of great ideas were shared about marketing, bookings, etc. I started the group using some tools at yahoo, and I thought this would be a great place to make use of my talents, as a musician, web developer, teacher, and customer service rep all in one. In college I was the editor of the school newsletter (although I could still use a proof reader), and this site uses all of my "talents" in one place.
There is still a page for my CD, and a book I wrote (Get Your Band Out of the Basement (And Keep them Out of the Asylum). The rest of the site is devoted to the Musician's Cyber Cooler. I love the fact that one minute I feel like the "Dear Abbey" of indie musician's (letting someone know it's not a good idea to start a trio with a married couple), and the next I'll be getting some input for myself from a DJ on how to submit CD's to a station. If two heads are better than one, 450 must be fantastic. It's a passion to learn, and help others learn.
Zzaj: Who are YOUR favorite artists (living or dead)?
Dave: I was the only kid in my first grade class to know who Hendrix was when he died. When I was in high school I was a big metal head. I was WAY into Ted Nugent. This was for two reasons. First he is an amazing guitar player. Second, he doesn't do drugs. To me music is about releasing emotion
from your soul through your instrument. To me being drunk/high only inhibits that process, so I was a HUGE Nugent fan. I got to meet him at a book signing this year, and he is really a cool guy. I loved Randy Rhoads (Ozzy's first guitar player). Then I really got into a wider range of music, and was
deeply influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan (I still have a page devoted to him). As a guitar player everyone from Angus Young, Eddie Van Halen, Leo Kottke, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, George Lynch, Chuck Berry, etc influenced me. My music collection goes from Tori Amos to Anthrax (So I am all over the place). In Chicago there is a guy named "Guitar Shorty, that just blew me away at Buddy Guy's club. Someone just gave me a CD of Eva Cassidy. She's a great jazz/blues singer who unfortunately died very early.
Zzaj: Do you think that independent music production is an important part of today's world? Or is it viewed by (the public) as "non-viable"?
Dave: I think it depends on the genre. The problem with most indie music is it sounds exactly like what it is (recorded in the basement). This then gets labeled as "non-viable." Go to a site such as garagband.com or broadjam.com and listen to some of the crap people are releasing (some of it is really bad). In addition to the Cyber Cooler, I also am a reviewer at godsofmusic.com, and I hear some really HORRIBLE stuff in terms of production. Now with today's new technology the line between commercial production and independent is getting smaller, and more people are listening to local bands and asking, "This is you?" cause the quality is getting better. As horrible as it sounds, if the recording quality is bad, I'm too shallow to see through the tape hiss to hear the performance of the music. I just can't take it. Unfortunately I'm afraid most people share my opinion as bad production can be distracting. It's kind of strange, one minute I can listen to an old Little Richard recording and love it (cause I'm not as critical being an older recording). Then if someone hands me a tape, and if
it sounds like it was recorded in the 50's, I may be biased (how hypocritical is that?). This goes for my own recordings. It makes it hard not to be a perfectionist when you're trying to get a 250,000 sound out of a 2,500 piece of equipment. A friend of mine recorded in his basement, and then took it to a professional studio to get it mastered. It cost him more, but it was worth the cash. Getting back to my first point, it also depends on the genre. If I'm listening to the Ramones, I'll accept much less quality. But other genre's require more polish, and when it's not there, it requires an amazing song to get me to stick with it.
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