How long it has been

Well it has been a while.  I mean, seriously, like months.  That doesn’t mean that Sully and I and the rest of the REB team hasn’t been moving forward, it’s just been a time of subtle movements and progress.  Building relationships and figuring out new projects.

Current projects include:

New tracks form Theft to the Gallows, being put together to be played live by the end of the summer, as well as official release of the “First Knot” album!

Tarek22 is in full swing, with 9 tracks outlined and written in the last couple weeks.

We’ve also begun work on a musical with a working title of “Button.”  Keeping this under wraps currently as we work out the details of production, writing, scripting, and the creative process are on their journey.

The website should be updated soon as well.

 

So there is a lot going on and we’re all working hard to keep creating and working with creative people.

 

Ryan

The Stage Design for Theft to the Gallows

Sully and I have been working to put together the stage design for TttG for several months.  We have the cool sign: Theft to the Gallows Headboard2

We have some cool music:

Concert_4

We have a great concert that we’re hosting coming up:

We have a sweet venue:

IMG_9013
Some sweet equipment:

MMM_GT_MX300
And Now we have a state-of-the-art stage:

20140404_115355_2

Erg… Speed of Business – The Sheet Method

It moves… slowly.  When it is going well it feels like things are happening quickly, it is exciting, there is motion and phone calls and emails flying around.  That is fun.  When it is going slowly, well it feel indefinitely slow.  Not like slow motion, but more like 2001 Space Odyssey.  Things are happening, but, what is in the right direction?  What is good?  What is bad?  What do you have control over?  Each is ambiguous.

Added to this is The List or “The Sheet Method,” as I’ve had students call it.  The List is a sheet of paper tucked in my pocket each day.  On it are written all of the small tasks that I need to get done.  Not necessarily done today, but done at some point in the near future, day, week or month.  It is actually titled “Things I get to do!” list, which puts quite a different spin on the dozens of tasks, distractions, emails, phone calls, grading of paper, writing of assignments, mixing of tracks, writing out lead sheets for Theft to the Gallows stuff, holiday gift ideas, (yes these are all on the current sheet) that slowly fill up The List each week.

The list serves two primary purposes.  First it allows me to write down distractions, so that they do not pull attention away from the tasks at hand.  This means that phone calls that can be made while grabbing lunch, or sitting in traffic aren’t made while I should be mixing or hanging out with family.  Things like that.

Secondly it means that things that need to get done, get done.  When it’s written down the task is not floating around in my head, to be forgotten or shoved around when another more inflated, muscular, testosterone player comes over to the bench.  It’s still there, maybe at the end of the bench, but not forgotten.

If things don’t need to be on the list, they don’t make it onto next weeks list – “clean apartment for Thanksgiving,” is not on the list for the 2nd week of December, even if it didn’t get completed.

The awesome side of this is that at the end of the day, the long term direction is being shaped and honed, little by little, every day.  REB Records, the Theft to the Gallows

project, The Cleft Way, trumpet, drums, guitar each get love.  It is not just talk it is action, even if the action is difficult to see from such a close perspective.

Criss Angel was on in the background the other day, and made an aside that really drilled home the idea.  He said “It took me 18 years to become an overnight success.”  Of course dozens of people have said very similar statements, but it still puts perspective on REB Records as only being one year old.  It’s a baby and the development may be a little hard to quantify, definitely hard to financially analyze, but it is happening.

In the mean time it’s fun and fulfilling, and that is a pretty awesome.

– Ryan

The Sheet Method

 

Theft to the Gallows at The Heartland Cafe

10/30/2013

Theft to the Gallows went out to do their first open mic style performance last night.  One song only; they chose “Lucky to Love Me.”  The Heartland Cafe is a cool restaurant on the north side of Chicago that has hosted an open mic on Wednesdays for 25 (or maybe it’s 26) years.  This was the anniversary and it was also Halloween, so there were costumes and congratulations.

Theft to the Gallows Headboard2

This is Lucky to Love Me – not the version from Heartland, but similar – Acoustic, one take.

Theft to the Gallows came up on stage around 10:40 PM, and opted not to use a microphone.  After a rousing “Welcome!” chant thing, that is given to new participants in the open mic, Theft to the Gallows went into Lucky to Love Me.  BB Mayes nailed some moves why Ryan took the opening lead, and then, having gotten the jitters out, BB Mayes rocked the crowd going into the first chorus.  Pointing, gesturing, and singing to the intently listening audience, (they had to listen intently because there was no amplification) it was a fun performance that continually picked up temp.  A three minute song ended up being about 2:30!

Looking forward to the next show.

– Ryan (Theft to the Gallows)

 

First Performance for Theft to the Gallows

Theft to the Gallows played their first show.  It was awesome, but not at all in the way that was planned.  The performance was really just a workshop for the new songs, and it was unexpectedly cancelled.  Dang!  So, the evening was open, but looking for some victim on which to lay those sweet sounds, calls were made, and friends having drinks were found nearby.  A captive audience!

Buy em’ some drinks, some onion rings, chit chat, and before you know it the guitar is out.  Right there on the street we’re doing a five song set.  People stopped and watched, couple of em’ clapped.  It was a great way to play!

– Theft to the Gallows (Ryan)

Momentum

Momentum seems to be something that is very hard to explain, even harder to see from the outside.  It is something that you feel, specifically when you are connected to it.  That connection comes not from a super clearly defined goal, though that may help, but rather from the pursuit of something that has meaning.

The journey starts with planning and such, but at some point you have to start driving.  Once the driving begins there are obstacles, there are plateaus, there are down and up hills, none of which can be planned for perfectly.  And interestingly the first 900 miles seem to be driven in a tube by ones self.  The tube has pinpricks through people can see that something is moving inside.  People peer in, some say “oh, look at that.  Very interesting.” others say “Hmmm, that’s a nice hobby.” Once in a while it’s “I remember when I to had dreams, good luck,” and then on occasion “Hey, I’d be interested in be involved in that!”  sometimes followed by “pay?” and in the rarest occasion “I’m in! What can I do?”

The last 100 miles are where people will say “Oh, I knew that would be successful,” or “What luck!” and often mean this in all sincerity.  The holes in the tube grow and it is easier to see inside.  Eventually they grow larger so that there is more visibility then shade, and melt, leaving the a trailing coattail upon which some may try to jump.  We’ll see if we get there, knowing that this will happen is assuring that it will not.  The journey is the goal.

Those who are on the journey understand what is happening; can feel the ball rolling, and while understanding is not fully under control or explainable, know that the trip is in progress, and are probably having fun doing it.  This journey has begun for REB and those working with it.  This is what life is about.  This is passion mixed with action.  I hope this feeling will continue to last and will grow.

– Ryan

The hackers

If you’ve looked around this web site lately it has been changing significantly; daily.  One day you may find that it went to a “Penis Enlargement can be yours for only $.22 a day!” site.  Other times it was blank, or a WordPress default page, or “This page cannot be found, how embarrassing” message.  Basically a team (yes really, they have call names and a facebook page, and put their “trophies” – sites that they’ve hacked – up on display) decided that our fledgling site was one to fuck with.  Thanks guys.

How do grown ass people think this is fun?  Or useful, or in any way beneficial?  Here we are, a self-funded record label working to really help artists, trying to talk to investors, and now we have two months of fixing and updating,  learning HTML, talking to professional web developers, and tech support.  I understand that this security concept is important, but it’s kind of like poisoning someone’s food to get them to buy/use health care… I get the idea that people need to be aware of the failures in their web design so that “bad” things don’t happen – But then you are the bad thing.  Like a real life video game, but playing with people’s lively hoods and pursuits, and career’s – and to what end?

Anyway, I think that things are in fact back to being secure.  Passwords are way more difficult, updates have been made, the entire code was deleted and rebuilt.  All plug-ins reinstalled.  The posts have been re-uploaded, mainly because it’s beneficial to feel that all of the work in the past has meaning.  Those post represent thousands of hours of creative time and hundreds of hours of business time.

So REB is moving forward again in the digital domain.  We should have all the albums back up  (they’re still hanging on bandcamp.com which we’re using as a host for this site,) by the end of the weekend.  Art work is uploaded to the databases, and needs to be implemented back on to the web site.

And I will say I have learned a lot.

Money, it matters

Posted on August 10, 2013
Maybe this experience will help some other artist looking to start their own businesses or interested in the process.

Recently REB Records had a meeting with an awesome person who works as an institutional investor for one of the large banks (BoA, Chase…) Someone who is very good at analyzing companies and their assets, business plans, personnel, history, reports etc. She was nice enough to meet with us, and it’s not like we’re uneducated, or lack a business plan that has been modified many times over the last two years, or experience working for and managing companies, but she has the clarity to see us as just “another business.”

Her main question was “What is your primary source of revenue?” That’s it. What ever that is, it is your business, no matter what else you are doing, your business is selling _______ to happy consumers. And here we were back to the discussion – “well, what if the product you’re selling is not something people buy?” And REB has embraced that people want and expect free access to music. So what is it that music fans will buy?

What would you buy? t-shirts, food, memorabilia, special edition stuff, live shows, private access to see the process, tolerate ads …

At some point there has to be an exchange, and this exchange allows artists to continue making art. Art is expensive to create, whether measured in money or time, great art takes a lot of it. We haven’t come to a concrete change in how this effects us, and we’re continuing to move forward on the Theft to the Gallows album, but it has given us pause to think.

Hmmmm….

: )

Things one learns

Posted on June 13, 2013
Some things I’ve learned over the last couple weeks.

Everyone says “I’m not doing it for the money” until there’s money. Then it’s “where’s my money?” or “why are you screwing me/us?”
Every artist has a unique perspective, and few of them are based in a reality that works well with others (often part of the reason one can make great/poignant art.)
Lawyers are your (expensive) friends.

If someone needs to tell you they’re “a business woman/man” they probably have no idea what that means.

Some very smart people hear exactly what they want to hear. It’s confirmation bias, but with rationalization.

Some not-as-with-it people hear exactly what they want to hear. It’s irrational confirmation bias, with no rationalization.

Talent is 50% (maybe less) of being successful. The rest is some other stuff (being nice to people, working hard, networking well, little luck, help from others… and some other things that I’ve not yet found out.)

Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” is an amazing song, that gains reality as I live more and see more.

Mentors are people too. Not gods. One should be open to coming back to them and saying “hi! would you like to meet up for a coffee/beer/watch Jaws sometime?”

Sometimes your words can be flipped back on you and it’s hilarious; other times it’s scathing.

Medical Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying for one’s health care. (always fun phone calls)

A little venting on a Thursday morning.

Friday morning, REB Business meeting at 6:40 AM (no I’m not kidding.)

– Ryan

What needs to be done

Posted on June 6, 2013
A question that I’ve been asked many times over the last couple months is “why are you starting a record label?” (sometimes followed by “aren’t you with another label?”)

This is a valid question, and one that often starts with a description of how the industry is supposed to works, followed by the way that it does work, followed by the way that commerce works, and then followed by what REB Records is about (how it’s different) and why I, along with BB Mayes, would be crazy enough to go on this path.

So today as I was going through the many things that need to get done this weekend for REB it struck me that it really is a lot of work; and I have no issue doing the work. Yes it takes time, maybe a couple beers, and go through the list. Here it is.

Set up new REB PayPal account
Uploads to Tunecore for new albums (mainly for internet radio stuff)
Pull albums from iTunes (we don’t want people paying $10 for .mp3 on iTunes and then finding it in .WAV quality for ‘pay what you want’ on rebrec.com)
Make cover art for remaining albums (5 albums)
Print all receipts / payments and notate, scan and send to Tony (accountant)
Create Excel sheet for Initial investment receipts
Re-Do Google drive hirearchy
Order video editing hard drive (probably firewire 800 or USB 3.0 – right now running off of internal drive)
Order back up hard drive for video editing
Call credit card company to get the 2nd card up and running
Email Amy L. with thoughts on the artwork for Theft to the Gallows
Mix Murder Book again (Version 23)
That’s about it, as well as grading final papers (I teach in an Audio Production at an arts college) and practice trumpet, and go out of town to run a 5k beer run in Milwaukee.

It’s going to be a sweet weekend.

– Ryan

Media, Media, Everywhere

Posted on June 2, 2013
This is a challenge (and major expense in time or money) to any artist out there right now. Consumers look to go to the most convenient location and expect to find their media there. This means that an artist now has to worry about YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, MySpace, Google+, Pitchfork, iTunes, Amazon, bandcamp, Pandora, Grooveshark, LastFM, Jango, EMusic, Rhapsody, Spotify, and I’m only getting started. Now you have to figure out which of these stretch internationally, which appeal to what demographic, and whether you are selling or streaming or giving music away; no one wants to pay $10 for an album on iTunes and then find it for “pay what you’d like” on bandcamp! (Also are any of these going to make an income that pays for the year and a half of production that went into the album in the first place?)

Now of course there are resources that make this more stream lined, tunecore for example, but still it takes dozens of hours to figure this stuff out… AND THEN consumers change their loyalties or another site comes on as the big player, and any artist or record label has to take significant amounts of time to keep up with this.

Now with everyone doing this (and no one really knowing the “correct” way) artists are throwing ingredients into the pot with out knowing who the soup is for, and consumers are grabbing into the pot looking for something they might like – and pulling up lots of bones and crap they don’t want. Where’s the filter? Once a consumer finds something yummy, hopefully they follow that thread, maybe even tell a friend about the awesome morsel they discovered (by “liking” or “+ing” or “tagging” or “linking” or “posting” or “thumbs upping” or whatever) and then a bunch of people jump on the thread like capillary action are pulled to listening/watching that artist. Right?

But with the thousands of hours of material being uploaded to the machine daily without any filter at the front saying this sucks or this is worth checking out, great art is getting lost as any given consumer has a 2″ x 2″ frame through which they are forced to look at “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island” and any artists is just one point. The whole concept becomes one of chance, (and on a cynical note the House are the internet providers who can charge $100 a month for access to all the material, which they don’t pay for and then are free.) We now live in a world where the internet really is the land of the free.

Now add on to the fact that once a fan does find that awesome speck in their 2″ x 2″ viewing field they will most likely do one of the things above (like, +ing, tag, ect…) to show their support, and the concept of creating art (a very expensive – time or money – pursuit) becomes something daunting. How do you create income in an industry where the consumer won’t pay for a product??? Pose this to a business major, as every major label is doing, and it becomes clear there must be a different interaction and model than what many artists are doing now – throwing everything in the pot with prayer.

If one looks around this site a little bit they’ll see several mentions of Amanda Palmer. Her TED talk has some really interesting ideas – and an approach that seems to work for her evangelical (not religious) fan base. There is significant issues with it (here, here, here, just for starters.) But even with all of these criticisms it comes back to the same dilemma; if fans expect to actually pay by clicking “like,” how will anyone be able to continue to create? What does it cost to create an album? I mean really create. For example if I’m an artist/performer I can go tour, until I have a kid. But what if I’m the studio owner, the back up singer with a family, the arranger of the string parts, the conductor, the technician, the string players, … the song writer, the lyricist…; the things that make great albums great. These people can’t go tour, and artists don’t have the money to pay all of them – well at least not if the only income is from touring.

Touring is a short term solution. For example, if I build an awesome fridge, and the only time one pays for the fridge is when I hall the fridge and sell it on location, but the fridges that are in stores all across the world are free, will this generate enough income to make the next fridge? No. Even if everyone in the world loves my fridge and has it, if there is no exchange where is the innovation and evolution of the fridge?

This may sound like a rant, but really it’s the components of the equation that artists, producers (those who are not at the front line) and fans of music must solve. And REB Records believes there is an answer, probably several answers. We’re working (as artists and sort-of business people) on a path that may lead to something that works, one that both consumers and artists and producers can accept. One that allows artists to create with a “___” centric concept for ART, not one that is based on “selling” or capturing a fan base. The fans, the supporters come because art pushes boundaries and it is exciting to be a part of new art and entertainment.

Ok, I’m done … for now. 🙂

Ryan

What we’re doing Today

Posted on May 9, 2013
I’m currently uploading the first TEE album! (Literally I’m waiting for track 7 to upload as I write this.) We’re very excited to bring this album out after two years of production with TEE and the Black’s Backbone production team.

The first album, Groovalicious Smart Hip Chick Dance Music should be up this morning. You can stream it, or download it for free. Steal it send it to your friend if you like it. We’d love to make a nillion-billion dollars, but we’d much rather get the music that REB Records is involved with out to fans and friends. Really.

(Uploading track 8)

Maybe from looking around you can see that we are doing something different, and at some point we’ll go through and discuss the contracts that REB signs with artists. As artists ourselves, we think this is the way the industry is moving, (no crazy royalties, advances, artists’ debt, and music being based on the market which is manipulated through massive marketing campaigns.) We will do a 90/10 split of revenue after costs (which are spelled out not bullshitted up and up.)

For example you want to support TEE and decide that the t-shirt with design by Amy L. is cool and pay $15 bucks for it. If that t-shirt cost REB $5 to print (and we’ve paid Amy L.) the artist will receive $9, and the label will get $1. Same thing with “support” moneys from any other source. Go check out a Major label contract and you’ll see that this is often close to reversed or worse. (A really good book that explores this in an understandable way is Donald Passman’s “All You Need to Know about the Music Industry“)

(Uploading track 9 – Your World)

If artists and producers are willing (or are already) putting in the work, we want to work to bring this to an appreciative audience/fan base. And then let that artist go sign with Universal or Sony for 3 million bucks; sweet.

I digress, and we’re still working out the details, you know with the accountant and lawyers, and so forth.

The point is we’re excited to have two new albums going up. We want artists to have the ability to create and collaborate, and we (as artists ourselves) think that this (as opposed to when we were signed with a pretty significant indy label in Europe) is a step in the right direction.

(and track 9 just finished!)

– Ryan

Art Work up for Under the Skin Vol. 1

Posted on April 1, 2013

Had to scan in CD covers, but now the album, Under the Skin: Vol. 1, has art work!

This got me thinking, why can we not find the original art work? Thought it was here, or there, looked, searched, and came up empty.

File management, archiving and backup are crucial, but annoying parts of what artists must do to keep moving forward. With everything being removed from the tangible form to one that is digital, the ability to lose files or even worse entire hard drives looms over the artists’ head. Every time a HD spins up, it rotates hundreds of times per second and the platters wear themselves out a little more. Maybe use the solid state (SSD)… As far as I can tell they can still go down, but are totally not recoverable.

There are those who have lost important data, and those who are going to lose important data. That’s it.

Now one could argue, well just store everything in the cloud, then it will always be available and secure. Well, maybe this option will become more feasible when a cloud storage of 100 TB is easily affordable and accesible.

Currently at REB our back up is as follows:

1) Main hard drive – 1 TB pretty full

2) Back up 1 – using the Apple Time Machine to a 1 TB drive

3) Back up 2 – by hand, just a drag and wait drop onto another 1TB drive weekly

4) Back up 3 – by hand, once a month

5) Back up 4 – completed project BU stored off site (always a BU at your mama’s house)

6) Individual back ups on Optical storage of final projects.

There’s also some Google Drive stuff to backup legal docs and contracts and stuff, and to make things accesible for download.

And I’m still scared. 🙂

Keeping Up

Posted on March 24, 2013

Weeks go by where one is so busy they can’t do anything. Day jobs are nice because they give structure; a set time to work, and a set time not to. Starting a business this is not the case, that is where teams are needed. An explanation: It seems that there are often groups of two or three individuals that work together to make big things happen. Often one one person gets more of the credit (Bill Gates and that other guy, Ahmet Ertegun and… Herb Abramson) and this is probably fine, because consumers can perpetuate the mystical genius and luck, as opposed to hard focused work and time. (Ok that was a little cynical…) If you want to go more in depth on this check out Michael Eisner‘s book “Working Together.”

So this week has been one of those weeks where nothing got done, at least of the important stuff towards REB Records. There was substantial paper work, planning of lectures and classes (I teach audio production) Benefit dinners, trips to the doctor, trip to the DMV, run out recording for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (great concert by the way,) taxes, and other stuff. No mixing, no writing, no web updating, no composing.

But then B.B. Mayes got a little free time, and started working on the verbiage for the website (probably the one you are on now.) And stuff got done. The momentum kept going. The drop did not happen, the one that seems to come when I work alone. It’s probably happened before, but this week it was obvious.

The pursuit gives meaning, and with so many necessary jobs and “important” distractions of life, it is often justified to not have time to get to these passions. Then the momentum fades, has to be built back up, and is now on a slightly shoddier foundation. It is a balance, one that is made easier with a team.

This week the teammate stepped up and caught the ball coming down the hill. Next week (or even later today) we’ll be ready to roll.

Hiccup

Posted on March 15, 2013

“The albums going to be done this weekend!”

“Awesome! That’s great to hear.”

“Oh, hold on a sec, I’ve got a call on the other line…

You still there?”

“Yep.”

“Well looks like ____ passed away, so I’ll be out of town all weekend, and the album won’t be done this weekend.”

“Aww, that’s horrible. Well do what you’ve got to do. Best of luck with the weekend. We’ll get it done in the next couple weeks.”

———————————————–

And that is the wispy 300 lbs defensive linemen stepping up and blocking that perfect last run. So yes true, and now the album is delayed again because of… life, I guess. It’s all good, TEE has 16 of 18 tracks that are pretty much done – one more listen through, and a bounce without compression on the master. Two more tracks to go, one of which is close to completed.

Here’s another track, maybe as an apology or maybe as more of an offering, asking for Life to give the space to finish. Savage Heart. This song explores the relationship of powerful men to their captive females, from the females’ perspective. It was originally a response to the song Man Eater by Daryl Hall & John Oates, explaining why the She is a man eater; that Man (especially those with power) has essentially made her this way through centuries of history.

Man Eater is an amazing song, but also an awesome video. 1980s as they might be remembered, with mirrors, mustaches, tight pants; angular yet smooth.

Today on the Net

Posted on March 11, 2013

Today saw some inspiration, for the 20th time, on this guy named Zack Hemsey. I can’t find a personal site for him, but he has this great interview on SoundWorks Collection that I often use in classes. It is inspirational yet shows humility and also his passion. The music that he shows in the video is also very interesting, working with full orchestral music (though not live musicians,) and then bringing an “organic” drum sound, all to support rapped vocals.

If you are into audio the SoundWorks website is really an amazing resource. It explores the people and work behind film and video games. For example the interview with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (NIN) while long, is really interesting. Their process is organic and yet structured.