The MMM poster with the “micro-feature”

Some serious thought went into this idea; “what do you call a featured artist in the opening slot without taking away from the ‘feature’ main act?”  For the hosts of the MMM (Theft to the Gallows) this is an important concept as this idea is going to be a steady part to the show.  For the April 23rd show we’ve booked Stolie!  A very talented songwriter and artist that brings something unique and refreshing to the Chicago Music Scene.  Check out some of her work here.

Some options were “micro-feature,” “mini-feature,” “featurette,” with and without the hyphen… anyway the point is at this point it is “micro-feature” which lines up with the name of the series and allows “featured” to still have its importance for the headlining act.

Here’s the poster.

MMM_poster_20140423_V1

Moving forward with the Micro Music Mash!

REB Records has been working hard to put together a residency style performance and the first steps are finally falling into place, (still waiting full confirmation, so maybe I’m jumping the gun a little.)  We are excited to be doing a set of two shows at Gorilla Tango at 1919 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL on April 9th and April 23rd!

On a business note the idea is to see how the space works, if marketing brings in new demographic then “current fans” and if we as performers can put on a great show together.  The performers currently booked are Theft to the Gallows and Terrible Spaceship.  These two groups are polar opposites in stage presence with Terrible Spaceship rocking labcoats, synths, lights, video; techno-soul music, while Theft to the Gallows wraps themselves in t-shirts and ducktape, plays acoustic, and builds some stuff from scraps; you’ll have to see it to see it!.  Really just check out the music, these groups are both doing some unique and interesting music and put on super interesting shows.

If these first two shows go well and the kinks get worked out, we will be looking to begin a residency in the summer.  Every other week or so.  What we are doing is transplanting a band based musical show into a musical theater or comedie theater business model.  Meaning there is a set venue (think of Million Dollar Quartet at Apollo or Second City here in Chicago) that generates traction over time as the word gets out.

The current model for bands is to go play a whole bunch of gigs all over the place, mainly at bars where people are sort of paying attention, then after doing a couple dozen shows (translate to hundreds of hours of work) booking as an opener to a larger band, or booking a larger venue.  There are several issues with this method.  First is that ninety percent (I’m making numbers up – and being conservative) will never play 24+ shows in a meaningful time frame to generate a fan base that will then actually pay for that larger gig.  Secondly once you hit a certain age – around 27? or so – the rock band local tour life style loses its appeal.  The bass player starts talking about what carpet they’re putting in their condo this weekend, or the drummer can only rehearse for 1 hour 13 minutes on Thursday evening starting at 7:04 PM.  Life starts to get in the way.

Great musicians and bands stop playing, music becomes something that “I did in college” or that you gear up for once or twice a year to rock out in front of your friends and coworkers.  This is not necessarily due to a lack of commitment (though there are cases where it is completely that.)  The expected route described above does not compliment having a house, family, pet, job, or anything that warrants waking up before 1:00 PM.  Now I would argue that someone could do musical theater, local theater, even be in a local or professional symphony (in which I have several family members) and because there is a structured schedule, at a set location, with a committed audience and various means of funding, can still work a day job, and have a pet; and a life.

The point is not to become famous or make a bunch of money (we would love to break even since running a record label and recording does cost thousands of dollars); it is to perform, entertain, enhance a community, pursue creative outlets and have some fun.  This is what the Micro Music Mash is about.  REB is extremely excited that it is happening and maybe you will be there!

– REB Records

Basic Studio Design layout

This is a design for a studio that Sully and I are building for REB Records in 2014.  It’s just a layout; doors, windows, assets, and textures will be added in the next week or so.

There are still some basic issues with the walls that need to be worked out, but it has all of the key components for a studio that REB Records would need.  Those include

A semi large tracking room (In this case it is 26′ x 36′)

A large control room that is also a chief creative space.  (28′ x ~20′)

A Sound lock between the control and tracking rooms

An isolation both (6′ x 8′)

A room for HVAC stuff

A small lounge/kitchen

Storage space – In this design there could be 3 possible storage closets.

A  bathroom space.

Having all of these features would definitely make an amazing space to work and create, and as the design continues it is exciting to see a physical manifestation of much discussed ideas!

SketchUp Basic Studio Animation

REB Records is looking at properties and the possibility of building a studio.  This is a design that was more for the practice of using Google SketchUp then for the actual design of the space.  The walls are 4″ thick and the total floor area is 30′ x 40′ so square footage is 1200 sq ft.  This is basically a glorified garage style set up, something that would be feasible to build from the ground up using Everest , Owsinski/Moody, and/or Gervais books.  (I’ll add links in a bit.)

Web Updates

Posted on September 12, 2013
As REB Records works to move forward, lately it’s been fighting Hackers who think it’s funny to play with peoples time, pursuits, and money, but also doing some research on how to improve the web site as a whole.

The basic idea is it needs to be simple. When someone goes to the site it should be two to three clicks and you’re listening, reading or watching what you want. It’s not about six columns, having large comment threads (go to REBrecords1 on youtube.com for that,) or one hundred links to everything. There are two concepts that we’re thinking about, discussing implementing.

The first is pretty prevalent (and easier now with HTML 5) and that is embedded videos. Not links, but videos that actually play right there on the page with source files hosted on youtube or vimeo. Yes this is common, but in our case the question is does it support the music and artists, or does it detract and distract?

Something like, “check out this very neat interview with Mick Guzauski, the engineer who mixed Daft Punks latest album “Random Access Memories, on Pensado’s Place!” He talks about the process of recording to both analog tape and digital Pro Tools especially for drums, and also how the mixing process was done in a several month time frame. Guzauski also makes some of the most advanced monitor speakers on the market, cool stuff, worth watching for those interested in how the industry works behind the scenes as opposed to how the marketing teams and media portrays it.

 

The second is the idea of having the ability to interact without any information collected. Possibly a like/dislike button where the results are not public. This information would allow REB and it’s artists to see what people are interested in. It would allow an interaction, and while not personal would be directly useful to bring art back that is in line with both fans and artists goals. By having it not public, it is not influenced by other fans; it is your opinion.

Nothing too final on these, just thoughts we’re playing as we work on videos for Theft to the Gallows and TEE.

– REB Records

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….

: )

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

Working Hard

Posted on March 10, 2013

REB Records is working hard to move forward. We are developing this web site to let people know what we at REB are doing. The founders (Ryan and BB Mayes – collectively The Cleft Way production team) really love creating music, and are lucky to have family give them time to pursue these projects. The internet gives them the ability to connect directly to fans and hopefully this will result in the ability to have REB become a primary source of income and a place where time can be spent working with artists to create great products that consumers want.

Some of our thoughts parallel those found by people like Amanda Palmer (check this TED talk out) or the awesome people over at tunecore.com. BB Mayes recently made the decision to leave his previous label, to which he was signed for almost ten years, and put his full effort towards the future of REB. Like many out there, we are going to utilize the amazing resources on the internet (like bandcamp.com, wordpress, youtube.com, and we hope to stand out because of the effort, quality, and thought that goes into every production.

Ryan and BB Mayes can’t stop creating music. REB Records is an avenue to continue this work in a formal way, and one that will provide some stability to the artists, musicians, and designer that we work with. We look to find those people with a similar passion to create, and who are interested in creating art that makes people think.