Next Monday, October 26th, we’ll be premiering Danielson’s Weathervane Music Project, “Moment Soakers” on our Projects page! This is the last release of the 2009 season, and we’re very proud of this final installment.
It’s not often that a senior thesis turns into a music career, but for South Jersey’s Daniel Smith, that’s exactly how it all began. The eldest sibling of five, Smith experienced a revelation in his final year of art school: that his family was an incredible blessing, and that he needed to sing about and with them. Over the course of the next 15 years, Danielson has evolved as a collaborative project between Smith, his family, and many friends – including Sufjan Stevens, Deerhoof, and Why? – and has earned a cult-like following for its experimental style and the unabashed celebration of life in its songs.
Beginning with 1995’s A Prayer for Every Hour, Danielson has released seven full-length albums and a slew of 7”s and vinyl pressings, but it’s perhaps his latest two – 2006’s Ships and 2008’s Trying Harts – that best personify the project’s ethos. Ships, hailed by critics as “a superdense wall of beautifully ramshackle orchestration” (from Pitchfork, who gave the album a rare 9.1 rating), is the culmination of over a decade’s worth of work. The album is a kaleidoscope of musical images that shatter notions of traditional song structure, and without fear embrace the Christian faith that ties the Danielson family together (though in perhaps untraditional ways). Trying Harts, in contrast, is a collection of the music that brought them to Ships, and celebrates the music’s evolution since Smith’s senior thesis back in 1994. And if one thing is decidedly clear from these two albums – and from Smith’s entire body of work – it’s this: his music is about celebrating the beauty of life and the relationships between family and friends. It’s all joy.
It’s not exactly a shock, then, that such a loyal group of fans has gravitated towards Danielson. This music is about community, after all, and it’s hard to resist one so full of gleeful exuberance. Those who have had the pleasure of seeing them perform live will have noticed their onstage garb: matching white nurses’ uniforms, with red hearts stitched into the sleeves. Listening to Danielson is a healing experience, and the nurses are here to deliver that healing power.
“Moment Soakers” will be released for purchase through Sounds Familyre records as the A-side of a 7-inch (and later through iTunes), but you’ll be able to stream the song on our site through Apollo Audio. The video from Danielson’s session and the stream will both go live Monday morning, so come check it out then!
Danielson will also be with us for our First Annual Concert Fundraiser - November 12th at Johnny Brenda’s - along with the rest of the 2009 Project Series artists. You won’t want to miss it! You can get tickets here or by donating to our Kickstarter campaign.3 years ago
Tuesday, day 3 of the Future of Music Coalition’s Policy Summit featured an excellent assortment of highlights in the AM. Daniel Ek of Spotify was interviewed by FMC Communications Coordinator Casey Rae-Hunter, an hour long conversation and open question session with Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, Discord Records) and Wayne Kramer (MC5), a conversation between Radio Head Manager/Advisor Brian Message and WIRED mag writer Elliot Van Buskirk. The afternoon continued with smaller focused breakout sessions.
We’ll have more detail on the highlights of the whole summit, particularly answers for our concerns about Spotify, and information on legislation that is near and dear to our hearts.
I can say that hearing Ian MacKaye speak, and especially talking to him (even a question from the audience that didn’t really seem to move him all that much) will always be a total thrill for me as long as I live. It certainly was today.
Another thing: There’s this thing called Band Metrics (@bandmetrics) that is coming soon and I can tell you it looks incredible. It will likely be one of the most powerful tools a musician can have to navigate their career. It’s still in private beta, but I spoke with the brains behind the project, Duncan Freeman and he is hopefull it will be out by late 2009, early 2010. I can say this thing is scientifically thorough, while at the same time capable of some pretty subtle and nuanced analysis as well. The demo showed radio plays (down to a single spin per station? - uhh… ANSWER THAT, ASCAP and BMI!) among all other relevant data, and from there could make incredible suggestions, among them, planned tour routes. There was much more from there. It felt like anything I could think of was possible in Freeman’s mind.
In the same breakout session that Duncan demo’d Band Metrics, another very promising application called Bands in town was discussed. A demo proved frustratingly impossible for the presenter, as their were adapter/projector problems. In a nutshell it aggregates all data from the top 60 ticket selling agencies, and from there can tell you a great deal. Bandsintown also has a widget for an artist to sell tickets as well, and the commission they receive from the ticket seller ends up getting split with the artist. Seemed very interesting. Can’t wait to see it in action.
A full Summit review will be forthcoming in the near future. We need to absorb some of these things, and we’ll get back to you!3 years ago
This was a great day.
I am going to geek out a little bit, here, folks, and possibly (no, DEFINITELY) neglect to talk about a lot of great things that were discussed. In my defense, I bet everyone in the room today at FMC Policy Summit has some artist or band that largely inspired their entrance into the music business. For me that was REM.
Bertis Downs, REM’s career long lawyer and advisor, sat on a fantastic panel to start the day about DIY Models in music. I must tell you that from the time I was 12 years old in 1985, I not only knew everything about REM, the band members, their songs, and their videos… I was the kid who also knew who their MANAGER was and who their LAWYER was. Yep. By 36, the name Bertis Downs has been a part of my personal music register for the most of my life. “Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe”, was incomplete, in my mind, without “Holt and Downs” tacked onto the end.
Flash forward to today, Monday morning at the Policy Summit: There I am, asking the panel a question, and there’s Mr. Downs answering …. conscientiously, enthusiastically, and respectfully … and for that little interaction with a guy who’s name I’ve know 20+ years, there was a little part of me “flipping out” on the inside.
But Mr. Downs’ really put the icing on the cake a couple hours later that same morning. After REM Bassist Mike Mills’ fantastic interview with newly sworn-in Senator Al Franken had let out, and sufficiently after the hub-bub died down in the lobby outside the conference hall, Mr. Downs seemed to go out of his way to pull me aside and introduce me to Mike Mills.
Talk about connecting with the customer!
The day was packed with informative debate all around. I feel a little bit silly for not delving into my thoughts around debates about net neutrality, ISP monitoring and filtering issues, the Performance Rights Act, Health care for artists, and many other key important topics.I encourage you to read the chain of messages surrounding all of them and more by searching #FMC09 on twitter.
I am having incredible fun.
- Brian3 years ago
I remember seeing the film “Berkley in the 60s” (a documentary about the free speech movement at Berkley College in CA which preceded and led to the hippie movement), and thinking to myself, “Man, these kids are so intelligent! I was a complete idiot when I was their age!” Perhaps this comes to mind because the sheer level of intelligence that surrounds me here at the Future of Music Coalition’s annual Policy Summit in DC. I am also here with Weathervane’s very own with Katonah Coster, too. She IS only 21. All around, I am thoroughly impressed.
Perhaps the most important thing I come away with from day 1 was a thorough understanding what the FMC is working toward. Founder and Policy Director, Michael Bracy described Radio’s demise since the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act which deregulated radio and within quick succession did away with locally owned, independent radio, making the chances of local independent artists receiving airplay near to impossible. He then explained the concept of Net Neutrality, which simply boils down to keeping telecommunications companies from limiting what their customers can access on the web. It’s amazing to understand the potential revenue Comcast could earn if they only allowed the highest bidder to distribute music through Comcast, for instance, and that Warner Bros could actually offer a package that allows customers to pay smaller bandwidth rates if they use the limited selection of net coverage WB “bundles” in the package. This was particularly insidious once explained.
The Future of Music Coalition decidedly concerns itself with matters of public policy, and therefore WON’T be putting its nose into private service providers’ matters. I for one, though, see this as a bit of a missed opportunity to be the voice they are for the musician. FMC believes that the marketplace will determine what flies, for instance, with regard to Spotify’s decision to only allow artists that are on labels to stream through their service. (See this article from the Guardian Aug 2009). This looks a bit like the “structural payola” Bracy defined in his conversation about Radio Policy, and while I know Spotify is NOT a part of the terrestrial radio and FCC monitored structure, it certainly seems like it could corner a market, and therefore have similar effects. I personally don’t believe the average consumer will stop using Spotify with this knowledge (and for most they will never know what they are missing). This is not to say anyone can regulate service providers decisions, but musicians and consumers can use an informed voice. The FMC, clearly the most intelligent voice on behalf of the artist, should not miss key opportunities to clue consumers in on matters such as these and their ramifications.
I’ve been reading FMC articles for some time now, and they usually don’t miss such opportunities. … Just sayin’.3 years ago
In this time when all musicians should be engaged in the struggle to define a future model for career sustainability, I can’t help but fear that the FREE business models, ubiquitously held to be the future of music, media and just about everything else, will be an embarrassing footnote in recent industry history. Worse yet, I fear musicians and artists themselves, the willing subjects they always are (yet rarely the financial beneficiaries) will be no farther along in their pursuit of a security with their art.
In the late 90’s we had the Dot-Com Bubble. Hundreds, thousands of businesses all started in a Dot-Com gold rush. Few had any vision for how they’d be profitable. Most of my friends worked at these places, and they were caught up in it as well… stock options, initial public offerings, etc. They could collect a paycheck, a GOOD ONE, for a couple years, but only because of a misguided venture capital trend. When the whole thing came crashing down, they all lost their jobs, and the stock they hoped would be their retirement was worthless.
Flash forward, 2003 - 2007: The Real Estate Bubble. I watched my own home’s “value” quintuple, as did many of my friends in Philadelphia, particularly in Fishtown where I live. But “asking prices” weren’t any indication of true value; they were just a future bane for people who were unfortunate enough to pay these prices. ‘Another bubble, this time fueled by a misguided, criminally lax, even “predatory” credit market.
Our cultural appetite for all things FREE comes from the behaviors and attitudes of the aforementioned era. Paying with credit… It was pretty much like not paying at all. The economy ran on home equity loans and lines of credit, something far too few of us understood and it all came crashing down. The mad rush to start new businesses that run on FREE (and the equal frenzy to retrofit the old businesses to get in on the action) is just all of us clinging to this old behavior. It’s a cultural attempt to keep that spirit of (apparently) “inconsequential” hyper-consumption alive, in a brave new world where we can no longer run up credit to our hearts’ content.
So here we are: 2009, The FREE Bubble.
Most FREE business models will give away products and services with the hope of generating site traffic and advertising revenue. IF advertising proves effective - that is, IF people pay for advertising and, more importantly, IF the advertising WORKS over time, then everything will be fine. But the latter, especially, is one humungous “if”. I know I don’t see advertisements when I look at my desktop. People more sophisticated than I can block the stuff that really gets in the way, and as for the things in the corner, the things that look like advertisements? Our eyes don’t even focus on them. We just don’t see them.
God forbid, if this thin path to revenue fails, then what?
To entrepreneurs caught up in the hype, FREE is quickly becoming the new, apparently “necessary” cost of doing business, and it is driving up a specious, perceived value for businesses by the dozen. In a year… two years?… Will FREE businesses work, or will this simply be another bubble? Only time will tell. If it is, this one is on the backs of musicians, artists, and the value of their work. As always, they are the perennial, willing test subjects, but in almost all industry models, they remain the last ones in line.
This is a great article (thanks for passing it along, Katonah).
You can scroll all the way to the bottom to see my comments, or read it here, below:
The problem is that in the past it has been easy for artists, and the industry behind them, to take their fans for granted. It’s simply shifted the other way: fans take the artists for granted.
I agree that the best spokespersons for a real movement need to be credible artists - ones that don’t simply appear to have eaten sour grapes.
I’ve been working with a few associates to design a new model. We’re in the US, we’re called Weathervane Music, and in a nutshell, we’re a non-profit, member supported artist development organization. We produce a series of high-end audio and video called the Project Series . Through the series a select set of sophisticated independent musicians have a unique opportunity to make recordings they can use and/or license to other for-profit companies, while the creative process is documented in video for purposes of exposure for the artists, and promotion of Weathervane’s mission. 2010’s series will include special guest curators, well known, well respected musicians, who have a chance to expand the significance of their taste in music, by selecting OTHER great artists for the series. You can see the projects at http://weathervanemusic.org/projects.
We can look at this era as a period of Natural Selection for the fittest business models, but I don’t think we can simply expect that the industry and consumer will naturally do what is best for the future of music in our culture. Just like the environmental movement required education and a shift in attitude throughout society to get started, music needs to be saved in the same way: by fans, artists and industry TOGETHER.3 years ago
Check out Kyle Bylin’s recent article. Then see our comments below!
You are onto something, here! But whatever “saves the industry” is not going to just happen on it’s own.
We need to educate and inspire music fans to care for their favorite artists in such a way that they WANT to support them financially. Whether that means buying music (in the present) or participating in other activities that put money into artists’ pockets, it doesn’t matter.
Weathervane Music is taking a crack at achieving this goal. We’re a brand new nonprofit, and much organization still needs to fall into place, but we believe that building a membership of music fans and musicians alike that are willing to ACTIVELY support great independent artists (to be “ACTIVISTS”), we can start a small but powerful movement, one we hope will meet up with and influence whatever developments the industry requires.
It’s reassuring to see Eric Harvey’s (Pitchfork) quote: “… fans could take the initiative to create a new [structure that holds together the industry].” This is what WV hopes to be a part of.3 years ago