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Pomplamoose has done it again

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

A couple years ago, I used Pomplamoose as an example of how to survive in today’s music industry. I posted a link to their unique “videosong” — a cover of Beyonce’s “Put a Ring On It.” They were innovating through multiple mediums, using a quirky, musically sound take on a popular song and doing something creative with the video. I became a fan of Pomplamoose when I first saw that video. They have made many, many more since. What makes them so notable to me, is that they made me sit up and take notice. And that’s what you need in the music business today.

Most recently, they have released two videos using extremely creative and innovative techniques. Everyone is familiar with the mash-up by now. You take two songs and mash them together. Pomplamoose does that in these two videos, but rather than mixing the original recordings together, they do their own unique arrangements of these songs mashing the elements together. They create a beautiful musical fruit salad of sweet deliciousness. On top of this, they throw on top, a nice cool dollop of cool whip in the form of their video.

In these two videos in particular, they are using a single projector to throw images onto white foam boards and other three-dimensional surfaces. It sounds dull, but you really need to see it to get it. It’s brilliant. Watch both videos. They’re short. They’re worth your time. Share them and buy their tracks on iTunes. This sort of creativity deserves to be rewarded.

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Categories: Music, Stuff I Like

A new project

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

My band Junebug is currently starting work on our fourth album, Stan. We’re not exactly sure what shape it will take yet, or really how it’ll be done. But I’ll be co-producing as well as co-engineering the record.

A pile of mics in the music space? How can that be?

A pile of mics in the music space? How can that be?

tony

More

More

All right, boys. Let's do another take.

All right, boys. Let’s do another take.

Categories: Music

Free download: “Copenhagen” by Junebug

January 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Here’s another track I produced!

To commemorate the New Year, Junebug has released this non-album online-exclusive track. May your resolutions be fruitful and productive.

Lyrics by Anthony Bergman, Music by Junebug
Vocals, acoustic guitar: Anthony Bergman
Electric guitar: Dustin Marks
Drums, Piano: Tony L. Kollman
Bass: Dillon Marchus

Recorded at IPR Studio 4, MasterMix studio, and Tony’s home studio, all in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Produced, recorded, edited, mixed, and mastered by Tony L. Kollman.
Special thanks to Kevin Bowe.
Cover art by Tony L. Kollman.

Copyright 2011 Junebug Jones. All rights reserved.

Categories: Music

A new project

My band Junebug has begun work on our third album, Beards.

Categories: Music

My Thoughts on “Friday” -or- Give the Kid a Break

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment


For days I’ve been seeing this name pop up. It’s been mostly in vague terms. I dimly had the idea that some girl released some terrible song or something. But then Bob Lefsetz mentions it in his Letter. And Conan does a parody of it on his show on TBS. So I looked her up today, and I have to say, it’s awful to the point of unintentional hilariousness, but people should give this kid a break.

Image from a fan website.

First and foremost, the song sucks. Admittedly. The song itself is grade A crap. The music is generic recycled pop and the lyrics can barely be classified as such. It’s an unintentional parody of itself. That being said, stop assuming that this kid wrote it. She didn’t. It was written by two adult males, who apparently aren’t worried about being taken seriously. But let me back up a step.

Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey are co-owners of ARK Music Factory in Los Angeles. In the changing music industry, these guys have brilliantly found a niche: targeting the loving parents of somewhat talented kids. Give them $2,000, and they’ll record your child and put out a video. Heck, they’ll even write the song for you. Parents love their children, and they believe in them more than anyone else. So of course they’ll lay down a bit of money to help them follow their dream. Whether the kid is a good singer or not, today’s studio magic can do wonders for them.

But here’s the thing to remember; you get what you pay for. In the production industry today, especially in Los Angeles (where ARK is located) $2,000 is a somewhat nominal fee for a package including songwriting, full audio production, full video production, and legal rights to the song. If you pay only two grand for this package, the reality is you get an okay production of a shitty song that you own the rights to. It’s good for adding to a young person’s reel for a talent agency. And even ARK told Black’s parents that she likely wouldn’t get famous off this song/video. It’s almost as if they knew their production was awful. It turns out they were wrong (about the fame, not the suck), but there’s no way they could have predicted that.

When the popular television clip show Tosh.0 aired Black’s video, it caught on like wildfire. The viral nature of the Internet propelled this video to heights never anticipated by anyone involved. But for the wrong reasons. It caught on because it’s just so bad. And people have not been shy about coming down on this kid.

But let’s be honest here. What has Rebecca Black done wrong?

Did she sing poorly?
We don’t even know. The production on this song is horrendous. There is so much processing done on her voice that it’s really hard to tell. Was the Auto-Tune employed because the girl sang off-key? Or was it used because these producers feel it is “hip” among Black’s age group? We don’t know. After watching her sing a couple bars of the National Anthem on Good Morning America, I get the idea that the kid can carry a tune. Apparently she has even sung the Anthem in Angels Stadium. I don’t know the circumstances, but you generally don’t get that by sucking.

Did she write a terrible song?
No. She sang a terrible song written by two adult males.

Rebecca Black talks with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show

Should she have known going in that it was awful and asked for a different song?
Perhaps. But in fairness, the package her parents paid for allowed for a choice of two songs. The other song was about “adult love,” she said. Something she knows nothing about, therefore did not want to sing about. She already turned down the other, so she was apparently stuck with this one. Should her parents have intervened? Possibly. I don’t know how anyone could think this was good.

Does she deserve all the media attention she has received?
Based on the merits of this particular project, definitely not. But good for her, as an aspiring entertainer. She’s got global attention.

Does she deserve the scathing personal attacks she has received?
Definitely not. Saying that this is probably the worst song ever written is fine. Saying that you hope she gets an eating disorder so she becomes pretty is not. Neither is encouraging her to cut herself to death so you no longer need to hear her song. Making fun of the inane lyrics is perfectly fine. But please differentiate between this kid and the professionals who let her down.

…or did they?

As of this writing Black’s “Friday” video has almost 65,000,000 views on YouTube. The ad-share revenue from that alone is more than $30,000. “Friday” has been downloaded for pay 30,000 times. She has had radio airplay. Rebecca has been a featured guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America. She has been parodied by Conan O’Brien and Nick Jonas. Ryan Seacrest has been really sweet to her and Simon Cowell wants to meet her. She may be famous for many of the wrong reasons right now, but she is famous. And it is most likely fleeting, but right now, she is the most talked about person in music. She charted on iTunes higher than Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Chances are good that she’s just a fad. But all of this for $2000? Her parents got one hell of a deal.

The bottom line is this: Rebecca Black has not done anything wrong. She is a kid with some measure of talent that is trying to follow her dream. Her parents had means enough to get her started on something and it blew up. The song sucks. She didn’t write it. The adults in her life are running her world. Again — she’s a kid with a dream.

She’s a kid with a dream.

Make fun of the song all you want. I’m with you. It’s one of the worst songs produced, I think. But when it comes to personal attacks, give the kid a break.

 

UPDATE: Rebecca Black’s mother has said that the total cost of the production was $4000, made in two even payments. This ends up being a much more standard price. So the argument of “you get what you pay for” does not apply as strongly. However, $4000 should still get you better lyrics than “gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal.” Though this figure may be more appropriate for the service, it seems that ARK Music Factory didn’t really deliver.

Workin’

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Junebug: Anthony, Tony, Brandon, Dustin

I have been lucky enough to have been involved in a number of musical projects over the years. At one point, I was active in five regularly performing bands at one time. Now and then we’d play shows in which I played in the two opening bands as well as the headlining band. I would end up playing balls-to-the-wall for four hours straight. I loved that. I’ve always been a fan of the long concert. This took place in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where I used to live. Take a peek at my old South Dakota bands, The Blue Orange and Fed By Doris.

I began playing music with a couple guys, Anthony and Dustin, many years ago in North Dakota. We have been playing together off and on for about sixteen years, but we started getting a little more into it just a few years ago. We moved from the Dakotas out to the Twin Cities, since there’s such a vibrant music scene here. We’re called Junebug and we like to play funky and fun rock music. We try not to take ourselves too seriously and our main goal is to have and to provide a good time.

We recorded our first album Share at IPR with two engineering students, Gabe Masterson and Dan Hartwig.

Our second album Modern Day Fairy Tales was recorded at Fur Seal studio in Minneapolis with engineer Joe Johnson.

We’ve played many shows in the Twin Cities, including the Twin Cities Pride Festival, the Basilica Block Party, KARE 11’s “Showcase Minnesota” along with other television and radio appearances, thanks to our former bassist, Nick, who had a real knack for booking and promotion. Our new bassist Brandon has been working hard and holding his own and finding his place in our lineup. We’re currently planning, writing, and rehearsing a couple EPs.

My work in this band consists of playing drums, creating and maintaining our web presence, overseeing our bank account and managing our merchandise. Soon, I’ll be sharing a good deal of the engineering and production duties, too. It’s a lot of work. But y’know. When you believe in something, you go above and beyond.

Looking to the future, I would love to own and operate my own fully functioning media center targeted specifically toward independent bands. I would love to offer all band-related services with no exclusivity contracts. You want your album or EP recorded? Come to us. You want your music video produced? Come to us. You want photography, podcast help, press pack construction, a live album or live show DVD? Come to us. That’s my ultimate goal. That’s how I would love to earn my living.

It never hurts to dream. Daring to dream is what got me to the Cities and got me in the place I’m in now, studying engineering and music business and putting me on a path to discovering my life’s work.

Find more Junebug videos (with actual music) at the Junebug YouTube Channel

Categories: Music

Making Money in the Web 2.0 World — Can it be done?

November 27, 2010 1 comment

Web 2.0 is both a blessing and a curse. First of all, it is easier than ever to do what you need to do to make a record. Digital audio workstations are readily available. Services such as TuneCore and CD Baby allow you to upload your audio files and for a modest fee, they will distribute them to the world’s major online music retailers. You don’t have to be good, you just need to know how to get your hands on the increasingly simple-to-use services and methods. Web 2.0 has made much of our job easier and cheaper. We don’t need to get noticed and signed to a major record label to get our stuff made any more. But, on the flip side, with the ease of using these methods, the market has been flooded with millions of artists all wanting your attention. Overcoming obscurity becomes one of our major obstacles.

Another hurdle we must attempt to leap is simply the newfound laziness of the consumer. It used to be that a person would have to read about an album in Rolling Stone, put on their coat, shoes, and hat, get in the car or wait at the bus stop, drive to Best Buy, shuffle through the inventory to find the physical disc in question, take it to the counter, make a transaction, go back to the car, get back home, unwrap the CD, fight with the damn spine sticker, insert the disc into the player and press play. In this new Age of Instant Gratification, however, it is far simpler to type the artist/album name into Google, followed by the word “torrent,” click the desired link, download and double-click to play. This is easier, and it is lighter on the pocketbook. There are a number of problems with this, of course. First, due to this, consumers are generally not excited about music any more. When a person was forced to shell out $15 for an album, they would listen to the entire album on repeat for days on end at times, building a love for the music and a loyalty to the artist. It’s a pretty safe hunch that only a minute percentage of people do this today with music being so disposable. Listen to thirty seconds and if it doesn’t strike your fancy, send it to the Trash Bin on your system. Possibly more notable is the fact that torrenting music provides no compensation to those who put very real money into producing the music.

With increasing amounts of people believing that musicians and artists do not deserve compensation because they are in an industry of culture, it is becoming harder and harder to break even on our investments. A growing number of consumers believe all music should be free. Therefore, they are reluctant to spend 99¢ or even $1.29 on a single track, when they could as easily download the entire album for free. The question of legality no longer even enters people’s minds, since it is so commonplace to get music in this way.

So these are some of the problems. What do we do?

First of all, we have to make sure that we are doing our art justice. If you do everything “right” and your music still sucks or is woefully unpolished, you’re still not going to get anywhere. Practice like crazy.

Next, we need to realize that we are no longer going to make money off of selling music products. Those days are done, thanks to the sharing technologies of Web 2.0. We are no longer selling our music, but selling ourselves as a brand. The sooner you wrap your head around that notion, the sooner you can get to work coming up with other money-making ideas, using your music as a sort of advertisement for it. To be blatantly harsh, if you’re among the people that believe it’s “all about the music,” that’s totally cool, but you’ll never grow beyond being a hobbyist. The changing industry is not about the music anymore. The music will not get you noticed or discovered or signed (not that we should really want to be signed in this industry climate to begin with).

I don’t have the answers. Nobody does right now. But some of us have some ideas. Take them with a grain of salt and take them for what they’re worth. There are no blueprints. Take these and other ideas and make your own path.

1. Perform and upload a killer cover tune. I don’t mean take a song you like and reproduce it note-for-note. I mean take a cool song that you think people will search for on YouTube on make it your own. Do it in your own style. Rearrange it. Make it unique. Take, for example, Pomplamoose. This duo writes their own music and puts out their own albums of originals and they produce their uniqe “videosongs.” But they would not have been noticed had it not been for their covers of notable songs like “Single Ladies” and “Beat It.” People found these versions of popular songs and latched on to Pomplamoose’s style and feel. They’ve sold hundreds of thousands of CDs, digital downloads and they have recently had their music used prominently in advertising for Hyundai. They were not marketing themselves alone, waiting for their big break. They did a few very creative things and they got noticed. Sure, they probably still have their part- or full-time jobs, but they’re selling themselves and they’ve got a real fanbase.

2. Consider crowd-funding to make your next record. We’ve probably all got friends in a band on Facebook who post a link to their PayPal account where you can donate to their album fund. You might get a couple bucks from this, but probably not much. What’s the incentive? For the most part this approach just looks desperate and lame. There needs to be some reason why the average person on your fan list or email list would give you money. Try offering bonus material. “If you donate $50, you get the album and a one-of-a-kind watercolor painted by our singer.” “If you donate $100, you get the album, a making-of DVD, and you’ll be listed in the album acknowledgements.” Don’t be afraid to be super bizarre and creative. You never know who’s going to bite at the bait. “If you donate $5,000,  you get the album, DVD, watercolor, and strip-tease from the bassist!” (You should probably get it in writing from the bassist before you post it online, however.) There are websites out there to help you achieve your fundraising goals, such as RocketHub or KickStarter. Or if you have the knowledge of web design and necessary infrastructure, you can definitely do it yourself. The more creative and attractive your incentives or bonus material, the more likely you are to receive funding.

3. Give away music for free in exchange for contact information. The cold, hard truth is that people are going to get your music for free. Flat out. They will. So why not offer it to them from the source under your conditions. If somebody torrents your album, you don’t know about the download, who downloaded or any other demographic information. However, if you offer your music for free from the source, you can require an email address and with the help of sites like BandCamp you can gather limited geographical demos as well. You can then add their address to your email list and target them in your upcoming promotions, such as crowd-funding described above. You’re keeping the consumer within your own circle of influence and that is important. Their support may turn into a couple bucks later on. Of course, you don’t have to give it all away for free. Put it on iTunes anyway. There are some people that purchase all their music on iTunes and they’ll be more than happy to buy it. Just offer it for free, too.

4. Draw attention to yourself in another way. I don’t even need to tell you who OK Go are. They’ve made their mark. But what are they known for? Their music or their videos? They had already captured the attention of a major, but it wasn’t until they started making their own brand of super-creative videos that they took off. Their millions of video views on YouTube have translated into tens of thousands of legitimate download sales and physical CD sales as well.

Like I said, these are just a couple of ideas. They obviously require real thought, ingenuity and creativity. The music business is not dying, it is changing. It’s up to us to determine the turn it takes next.

Categories: Music