Pomplamoose Blog

“Pomplamoose 2014 Tour Profits”

I don’t hate Jack Conte.

I hate the people who are forwarding me this blog.

What don’t you get about capitalism? The law of supply and demand?

What I hate about artists is the constant bitching, as if the world owed them a living. I’ll go on record once again that I believe in a social safety net, I believe no one should starve, everybody should have a roof over their head, even health care, but no one is entitled to be a successful artist.

But what the internet has wrought is a bunch of sour grapes from people who think someone stole their opportunity, that if only there’d been no online, they’d have a deep-pocketed label to support them, that they’d be rolling in dough.

Hogwash.

Let’s start with the audience. Who don’t want to come to your show.

That’s right. The way artist development used to work was there was a series of clubs across the country, which the labels supported. The companies bought drinks and tickets and the venues could survive. But what killed these venues is not the internet so much as people’s lack of desire to attend. They’d rather go hear a deejay. Or go to a sports bar. Going out to hear live music in a club just doesn’t have the pull it once did. Which may flummox those of you on the music treadmill, but get your head out of your rear and look around, most people just don’t care that much about live club music anymore. And don’t blame it on the internet, you can’t steal a show. Then again, the internet is more interesting than most music you make.

But you decide to hit the boards anyway. You record your music, bitching all the while that no one else is paying for it. Wait, let’s stop right here. Now we’ve got crowdfunding sites, so you can raise the money to record. But not a single act has ever broken out of Kickstarter. What I mean is crowdfunding is an echo chamber. You reach your fans, but you reach no more. Probably because most people just aren’t interested. Sorry.

And then you can’t get an agent and no venue wants to book you, and you don’t realize that they too want to get paid, that they too are in business.

But let’s say you get shows via an agent. You want to do it your way, with production and support. I’d like to drive an i8, but I can’t afford one. Furthermore, I’m not presently on a path to afford one. That’s my choice. But I don’t go around bitching the system’s stacked against me, that BMW won’t give me a break, that the world isn’t raining coin into my bank account.

Music is a business. And if you’re not getting rich, give up or change.

So Pomplamoose goes on the road and loses money. Why’d they go on the road to begin with? It says right in the article it’s an investment in their career. Good for them. But to believe labels supported everybody in this way in the past is fallacious. Labels signed very few. And they didn’t support those whose careers weren’t happening. Want to experience bitter? Talk to a baby boomer who was signed to the label. If the label didn’t work it you were dead in the water, there was no YouTube, no social media, no way to cheaply reach your audience. Labels pulled tour support just after rehearsals. You were beholden to the man. You’re yearning for those days?

And Pomplamoose is bitching that they didn’t make any money even though they sold 1129 tickets at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

Please put that in perspective. San Francisco is the 14th most populous city in America, hell, it’s the center of a metropolis with many more people, San Jose is close and even bigger than San Fran, but they could only do one show there?

And then there’s all this claptrap about the million view YouTube clips. They’re novelties! Sing one Pomplamoose song, I dare you! Pomplamoose is Jenna Marbles once removed. Do you hear YouTube queen Ms. Marbles bitching that she can’t make it on the road?

OF COURSE NOT!

Jenna is leveraging what she’s got. And she’s not complaining. Which is pretty good, because her talent is limited.

I’d say the same thing about Pomplamoose. It is the MUSIC business after all. Where’s the music? So Nataly is cute and the videos contagious. OK Go can say the same thing, but I don’t see Damian Kulash bitching. And I hope Damian knows he’s the leader of a cult band, because that’s what OK Go is, and they were once on Capitol!

But Jack goes on how bleak it is for middle class artists.

And he’s right, the middle is getting squeezed. Because everybody has access to the best all the time. Want to bring back the middle? Stop shopping at Amazon, stop going to Wal-Mart. Pay a grand for a flat screen. Drive miles for your music.

I’m not saying times are not challenging. But I am saying let’s look at reality.

With the entire history of recorded music online, you’ve got to be as good as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin or else…most people are not interested. Believe me, if Led Zeppelin reunited they wouldn’t be bitching about money.

And neither does Katy Perry.

And you may say she sucks, but her producer/writer Max Martin does not. He knows how to create a hit. Which you don’t. Sorry.

That’s what I hate about the modern era. The cabal of cretins lamenting the system is stacked against them. It’s an echo chamber of delusion. The same way they used to say the major label was holding them back. It’s fifteen years after Napster. Show me all the great bands who were being held back by the man, they don’t exist. It’s all sour grapes.

But you forward articles about Spotify screwing you.

Everybody’s against you.

You’re a student of the game. You believe since you’re passionate, you deserve not only a chance, but success.

But the truth is everybody wants to play. And the sieve to success is extremely narrow. Because people don’t have time for mediocre, they don’t even have time for good! That’s right, Windows Phone can’t compete with Apple and Android and it’s a very good product, but not good enough!

But you think you are. Since you went to Guitar Center and bought an axe. Because you practiced in your bedroom and spammed everybody on social media.

I’m gonna tell you how it works. And it’s very simple.

It’s all about numbers. You’re either growing or you’re not. Either more people are consuming your art or they’re not. If you’re on the growth curve, you have the option of continuing, of even starving in the pursuit of your dream. But most people are not growing, they’re only bitching.

Evolve or die.

Ever think you weren’t destined to be a musician? That you’d be better off at the tech company? That if you hate your service job you’ve got to educate yourself and do something different?

Why does everybody believe they’re entitled to do everything?

Why does everybody have a chip on their shoulder?

Why is it that anybody who breaks through is the enemy, helped by the unseen machine?

Instead of tearing everybody else down, crying alone in your beer, why don’t you build yourself up.

That’s right, no one’s holding you back but yourself.

If you’re as great as you think you are, you’ll succeed. On what level? Who knows!

Maybe this is as big as Pomplamoose gets. Maybe the act has already peaked. Like PSY but on a smaller level. Maybe this tour document isn’t an explanation of middle class musicianship but the dying throes of someone who eluded the mainstream.

That’s right.

If you’re not a successful artist it’s your fault.

Over and out.

Charlotte

Do I have to sacrifice my seat?

As it was I didn’t get the seat I wanted, I wanted to leave on the 11:45, but that plane sold out before the travel agent could jump on it. So here I am flying two hours later and the fortysomething mother implores me to give up my aisle seat so she and her ten year old daughter can sit together.

That’s right. She wants me to give up the aisle for the back row, where the seat doesn’t go back and I’m up against the wall so she can get what she wants. Meanwhile, this was not an upgrade, I paid full price. Am I supposed to cave?

Ethical dilemmas. We hit them all day long.

Or maybe it’s just an issue of standing up for yourself. I mean I consider myself a nice guy, but I’m flying four hours in one direction to spend less than a day to return in the tube for five and I’ve got an ancient prostate and I’ve got to pee and there’s no way I’m gonna do it.

And when I told her I was on business and I wouldn’t she refused to let her daughter sit next to me in her assigned seat and this mother plopped her ass right down next to me. Talk about uncomfortable…

And then I spilled Sierra Mist all over myself during the bumpiest flight of my life and I wondered if karma had bit me in the ass.

That’s right, I went to Charlotte for the day. Landed at 9 PM and was out at 4:40 the next day. And I had a WONDERFUL time!

How can that be?

Well, at first I felt like Neal Preston, who told me he’d flown around the world shooting Led Zeppelin and seen nothing. That he’d like to go back without his camera and soak it all in. I mean I’ve never been to North Carolina before. Exactly where is Charlotte? Is that where the Panthers play?

Turns out it is. The stadium is right downtown, by L.A. standards anyway.

So it’s pouring rain when we touch down.

And by time we get to the hotel I’m rearing for action. How about some BBQ?

That’s right, at least let me make the most of my time.

And Tiffany’s driving me around pointing out the sights, answering my questions.

Exactly why is Charlotte here?

That stumped her. She had to go to Wikipedia for that one.

And then she told me about the banks, that Charlotte was a financial center, and then we made it to Mac’s, a barbecue joint/biker bar/sports bar.

Sunday night football was on, it was funny hearing Al Michaels after he spilled his guts on Stern last week, and what stunned me most was they had the audio in the bathroom, so you wouldn’t miss a play.

And then we had to order.

We didn’t have barbecue in Connecticut. Oh, occasionally we got “ribs,” from King Cole, the upscale market, but they were beef and I didn’t know the difference until I lived on the west coast and we were not kosher.

And I’m like a kid in a candy store. I want to try everything.

And the waitress with the tattooed chest and knuckles, with a boob job, I thought they were limited to L.A., recommended the combo platter.

So we ended up with pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage.

Even better was the sauces.

You see if you read Calvin Trillin enough, you get intrigued by BBQ , which supposedly is best at his hometown Kansas City eatery, Arthur Bryant’s.

And I always heard that North Carolina was vinegar-based.

And the food came and it was scrumptious. Other than the fact that I was overeating at midnight when I had to soon go to sleep, it was a fantasy come true. I’m mixing the multiple sauces, the vinegar, the mustard, the Carolina and the Red, and my fingers are sticky and I just can’t stop. The green beans, the cole slaw…MMM!

And then I was done.

But the waitress implored me to get banana pudding.

What is it about human beings that we can’t say no to food? Sure, there’s the skinny-minnie woman with no body fat who lies to herself that she’s never hungry, but most of us are glorified Homer Simpsons, unable to push our bellies back from the table.

And I’m partial to banana. Don’t ask me why. And Tiffany asks the waitress if she can make it to go, as if I’m gonna have somewhere to stash it in my hotel room if I don’t finish it at the restaurant.

I say yes.

And what comes in the giant styrofoam cup is an elixir that could create world peace. Everybody would be licking their lips, thinking of tire swings and sweet tea.

Actually, I had the lemonade.

And there are vanilla wafers in the pudding. And it reminded me of nothing so much as my old Tallahassee lassie, cooking the recipes of the south. I’ll never forget her making pimento cheese sandwiches to take to the beach.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, we had those the next day for lunch.

You see the south is different. The same, but not. Everybody has an accent, but they’re not stupid. Turns out the BMW factory is just over the line in South Carolina, where the taxes are tiny. And sure, there’s racism, but there’s racism everywhere.

And Doug told me life was about intersecting with other people, especially those unalike, that that’s how we learn.

And he told me most of the racism came from deep southerners who inherited their land and had never strayed far from it.

And after eating our Q, Tiffany took me by the theatres, and the art museum, we even went up to hipsterland, NoDa, North Davidson, where there was a 24 hour French bakery, Amelie’s, that was packed long past midnight.

And that’s what I learned.

Oh, I also had Cheerwine. A cherry soda that reminded me of the Cott of my youth. I love the flavors.

And the airport had a guy at a piano playing Elton and Billy, as if I was in Nordstroms.

And I’d be lying if I told you all that travel had no effect on my body.

But I can’t wait to go back. We Northerners know little of the South.

I wanna know more.

BBQ

NoDa

Soda

Music School

Screw the “Voice,” when are we gonna have an American music school?

I’m sick and tired of reading about Max Martin and Adele, products of their countries’ respective music academies, and being subjected to the dash for cash lowest common denominator American dreck made by people who can neither sing nor play, never mind having nothing to say.

Now I’m not talking about music BUSINESS school. Ain’t that America. Where we focus on the money as opposed to the art. Rather, I’m referencing something closer to “Fame.” You remember “Fame,” right? The movie about the New York City arts school featuring a soundtrack by Lesley Gore’s brother that evidenced more honesty and pathos than anything emanating from a TV singing show ever. I’ll give Kelly Clarkson some credit, Carrie Underwood too, but the truth is although they have the pipes, they’re the beneficiaries of the best songwriting in the world, oftentimes done by Swedes.

Yes, they focus on the song in Nashville. Which is why that scene is burgeoning. But if we want to reclaim America’s place atop the musical pyramid we have to focus on education.

You think I’m kidding.

I couldn’t be more honest. Someone has to turn the tide of America, run by corporations that everyone is enthralled by. Read the papers and weep. That’s right, there’s no skiing in California because of global warming, the Alps are falling apart, but we can’t have legislation against the polluters, those raising temps, because then the corporations will be crippled and we won’t have any jobs, because everybody knows corporations create jobs.

No, corporations create profits for their shareholders. These faceless behemoths that last forever don’t care about you and me, they’ve got no soul, and that’s what the best music evidences, soul.

And you don’t have soul if you’re twelve. Stop e-mailing me the ridiculous productions of your pre-teen sons and daughters. So they can sing and play, those are just building blocks, they’ve got nothing to SAY!

You learn how to have something to say by living, by reading, by studying. We need experienced people dropping their musical wares upon us. Not people beholden to the company. That’s right, if the guys, and they are mostly guys, at the label could play, if they could be the stars, they would. Instead, they’re businessmen focused on the bottom line, and the truth is most of the money is going to Europeans, where all the art is generated. Lucian Grainge is English. So are Rob Stringer and Steve Barnett. They at least know a good song, where all Americans are off chasing tech, believing dollars are everything.

But back to this education thing. We have to invest in our future. We need a place where people can learn how to create, can hone their chops.

Berklee’s not doing a bad job of it, but by time you’ve graduated from high school it’s too late, you are who you are. And it’s great that there are jazzers and orchestra students in the music programs of universities, but they’re working within precepts, they’re playing by rote, they think they’re testing boundaries but usually they’re operating in an hermetically sealed, self-congratulatory environment that the rest of us cannot relate to.

To get into the music school you’ve got to have talent. Unlike so many plying the boards today. You’ve got to be able to sing or play or write or all three. We’re gonna weed out the auto-tuners. Does Adele need auto-tune? And if you can play, it makes it much easier to write. I mean the basics, the building blocks, are everything. It’s about having the muscle, the reflexes, to put down what it’s in your head.

Who’s gonna rescue America?

Certainly not Mark Zuckerberg. Definitely not Tim Cook.

I’ll give Jeff Bezos credit for resurrecting the “Washington Post,” but by time he’s done we’ll all be working for minimum wage in the warehouse, listening to the sound of industrial machinery, not music.

The bar is too low. We laud people who can neither sing nor play. The Top Ten is dominated by me-too music. And the truth is we all know it but we cannot challenge it because we’re just listeners, inadequate players.

This is not complicated.

It starts with music in the schools. The public schools. We’ve eviscerated art from the curriculum as we starve the beast and focus on the test, as if everyday life were about tests. Come on, do you need a test to have sex?

But the Republicans have defined the debate, the government is profligate, it wastes money, better to keep it in the hands of the corporate titans, who earned it and create the jobs, as stated above?

HUH?

Private enterprise cannot solve all problems.

It’s the government’s duty to educate the populace. And if you think you can do this via home-schooling, you think art is created in a vacuum, that you can do it all by yourself, and you most certainly cannot.

How about the major labels coughing up some dough?

How about the artists of today investing in tomorrow?

How about a campaign to establish a high school in L.A. Just for the arts. Where everybody making coin on television drops in to tell young charges how to do it.

How about refocusing our bankrupt culture away from money and more on soul-fulfilling enterprises. The old adage is true, money won’t keep you warm at night. But a record will truly save your life.

I don’t want to focus on social media. The young know how to connect so well. We’re not talking about marketing, we’re talking about skills.

But in America only the rich have skills. Only the rich can afford music lessons. But after they take them they jump ship to banking and tech, to the corporation, because they don’t want to struggle and be poor.

Once upon a time the middle class generated musical artists, with middle class values, i.e. questioning authority. But the middle class evaporated with classic rock. And if you think screaming into a mic with a bad voice behind speed metal is classic rock, you’d better pick up a dictionary.

We can wait for it to work it out by itself, via the private sector, but just like manufacturing, just like so many other jobs, the creative industries will be outsourced. Ever notice all the deejays are European? And Max Martin has more hits than any American?

It’s the culture, stupid.

So let’s end the bogus competitions with their lame drama. The Beatles may have broken on television, but music never lived there.

And, when done right, music is much better than television, far superior to movies.

But it needs people to make it. Who’ve been trained to the point where they can let their creativity fly.

Are you with me?

“The Sound Of Sweden – Who rules the pop charts? Swedes.”

“According to a 2004 study, 30 per cent of Swedish children attended publicly funded music programmes – and it was one of these that nurtured Martin’s talent”

BRIT School

“As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Very Dry”

“Are the Alps Crumbling?”

Rob Light’s Serial Reference

What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where the agents are hipper than the acts?

Rob Light at the “Billboard” Touring conference:

“Beyonce could learn a thing or two from ‘This American Life”s ‘Serial’ podcast. ‘It’s the single hottest podcast, and it makes geniuses every Thursday when a new podcast comes up – 1 million people are logged on. That’s how we have to distribute music. Why isn’t some artist once a week getting on live, talking about how he wrote a particular song and creating a way every Thursday to see what’s new? The fallacy of the Beyonce stunt, while it was brilliant in its moment, was that most people never listened to all 17 songs or watched all 17 videos. She should have been releasing a new song every Thursday for 17 weeks and engaging us every time.”

What Beyonce Can Learn From Podcasts & More From Rob Light’s Billboard Touring Conference Q&A

That’s right, while you’re sitting at home perfecting your piece of shit album that’s an hour long that’s got more mediocre than delicious in a world where we’ve only got time for great bitching about Spotify payments all the while the public has moved on. As Rob indicates above, despite an idiotic fawning press that treats everything dropped by a superstar who grants access as incredible, the public shrugs, continues to play “Candy Crush” or the saga of the moment, and moves on.

Instead of building that track in the studio, build it online!

Yup, week one is the basics, the drums and the bass. Eventually layer it up to the point where the final week the entire track is complete. Hell, even if it wasn’t a hit we’d be intrigued. Hell, we’d be debating all the time online whether it was until it was finished! Meanwhile, you’d get instant feedback, but more importantly, attention.

But ain’t that the music business. Where the artists’ heads are stuck up their asses believing it’s still all about middlemen when the truth is we live in a direct to fan culture, music is still the canary in the coal mine, it’s not about what you get paid per stream, but whether you’ve got fans or not, whether they’re bonded to you.

In other words, the biggest act in the world is One Direction. And it’s not driven by radio, they’ve barely had any hits, but their career is driven by the Internet and fan interaction.

But Beyonce got a lot of press. We heard about her wannabe divorce. It must have worked.

But the truth is music used to be about risk. It used to be about vulnerability. It used to have warts such that people couldn’t help but embrace those who made it. They were put on a pedestal because they touched the audience’s soul, not because they were rich and famous and dated beautiful people.

But I give Beyonce credit. As I did Radiohead with “In Rainbows.” But those were stunts, one and done. We’re still looking for how to match the music to the audience, getting people to embrace it. And it will only work when it is about the music, not about delivering cookies to your cadre, or delivering tchotchkes via Kickstarter. That’s the penumbra.

Your move.