A bunch of CDs went out in the mail today, so if you’re expecting one, chances are it’s on its way to you and hopefully it won’t take too long to arrive.
I reneged on the promise I made to myself never to send a CD to a record label again, but only ever-so-slightly. Where in the past I would send a new album to anywhere between twenty and sixty labels of all shapes and sizes, this time I sent an album to just to one of them.
I was going to send a CD to a second label (living on the edge, man!), and it was going to be very much a fuck-you gesture. See, I sent some CDs to Ace Fu Records (home to Man Man, Pinback, et al) about four years ago, in part because they claim on their website to always respond to everything they receive “in due time”. I even emailed a warped little one-act, one-scene play to one of the people who works there. No dice.
I think four years is a little more than “due time”, don’t you?
I wrote them a somewhat bitter letter, essentially telling them they’re full of shit, and included a copy of the new album. I was going to give them a cracked jewel case just to be especially immature, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that, and they’d probably just think it was damaged in the mail.
I realized this would be a blatant waste of a CD. I don’t think anyone who works at a label is going to be interested in listening to anything you send them when your letter shoves two middle fingers right into their face (and that gives me a fun idea for a pop-up book, come to think of it). But I figured at least I was only wasting one CD instead of the hundreds of them that died horrible deaths in years past at every record label in existence, hoping for someone to just listen to them, crying themselves to sleep at night.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have saved all those CDs for people who might have actually had some interest in them.
Anyway, at the last minute I changed my mind and decided Ace Fu didn’t deserve any music. I’d rather give the album to someone who might do something more ambitious with it than chucking it into their fireplace or using it as a doorstop.
The other label I sent a CD to is a pretty small indie operation I have no bad feelings about. I don’t think I ever sent them any music before. I really only sent a CD their way now for fun, and for a little bit of inside-out continuity. I also sent CDs to a few radio shows/DJs.
I used to write nice letters to every record label or just any old place I would send CDs to, explaining who I was, what I did, providing contact information, and throwing in a bit of silliness for good measure. I’m not going to do that anymore.
I banged out a few brief letters on the old manual typewriter with its decaying, ancient ribbon that keeps trying to eat itself, and basically said, “Here’s a CD, for no real reason, from some guy you’ve never heard of. You probably won’t want to give me any airplay since there’s no hype built up around my name and I don’t have a million Myspace hits, and that’s fine. I really don’t care. If you’re not going to give it a listen, maybe give the CD to an intern who’s into sexual pickle play or something, or use it as a makeshift frisbee if you like.”
Now watch what’ll happen. It’ll be like the part in The Shawshank Redemption when Morgan Freeman, after being denied parole every time he’s docile and tells the board what they want to hear, finally blasts them at a parole hearing and tells them they’re full of shit and he doesn’t care what they do, they pull out the “approved” stamp, and he gets his freedom.
Realistically, I probably just killed whatever microscopic chance I might have had of getting some airplay by letting my fingers get all caustic. But I’m tired of “playing the game”, and I’m not interested in any of the bullshit involved in the business, or record label politics, or navigating my way through any of that stupidity.
No one wants to read a biographical blurb or a press pack about me anyway. I am what I am, I do what I do, and I have no interest in kissing ass to get anywhere. If the only airplay I ever get is on CJAM, I’m more than happy with that. I think we’ve got one of the only radio stations worth listening to anywhere right here in Windsor, and I’m beyond flattered that anyone there has felt my music is worth playing and calling attention to.
I’d send a CD or two to WDET just for kicks, but they don’t even really play music anymore. It’s a sad affair. I have some good memories of listening to WDET in high school, usually when I had some time to kill on a spare period. It’s a shame they decided to kill most of what was good and interesting about their station.
Why I feel the way I do about self-promotion and the like — and what drove me to decide I wouldn’t waste CDs on record labels anymore — is a bit of a long story. It isn’t worth getting into, though, because it would turn into a long, bitter rant, and I’m not in a ranting mood right now. So we’ll save it for some other time.
As for the whole giving-CDs-away-for-free thing, that’s complicated as well…but part of it comes back to how a few years ago I couldn’t even pay people to listen to a CD. I’m just happy to share the music with anyone who wants to hear it now. On some level I think the whole concept of paying for music is ludicrous to begin with. And that’s another rant waiting to happen, so I’m going to back away from it slowly while scratching some imaginary person’s chin.
The airplay I’m getting on CJAM continues to boggle my mind, and I think it’s worth repeating: thank you for playing my stuff. Seriously. I really appreciate it. There’s nothing quite like turning on the radio and hearing yourself, and then hearing more of yourself over the next hour-and-change.