Update from Portland

First let me say the Kennedy School is far and away the most unique and interesting hotel I’ve ever stayed at. A converted Elementary school that still looks and feels like… an elementary school. Complete with art projects on the walls and chalkboards. Great fun.
Pampelmoose2.jpgStarted my day with great conversation with Dave Allen, bassist for the Gang of Four, and serial entrepreneur who’s most recent company, Pampelmoose is filling the new role of modern label/manager/producer in the digital age. I was joined by his business partner Ned Failing, drummer for the up and coming Dirty Martini in Portland, and former drummer for Pacific Northwest favorites, the Strangers. Also there was Ezra Holbrook, very talented local producer and musician (I listened to his latest effort Michael Jodell in the car after our meeting – really good sounding record, nice stuff Ezra – can’t wait to hear the mastered version). Ezra also books bands for the Imbibe in town.
Spent most of the lunch talking about the changing relationship between record labels and artists… and things ARE changing. Portland is a microcosm of the change. It has a great grassroots indie scene, full of musicians that are chasing alternative career paths. Forgoing traditional label deals to release records as joint ventures with small labels or artist management companies. It’s a very fundamental shift that shows signs of accelerating. The essential arrangement is a 50/50 split on expenses/revenues. The partners grow the business organically, never getting ahead of themselves, and there’s a living to be made there for all parties.
Ezra hit the nail on the head when he pinpointed cheap home recording software as a pivotal factor in this change. And as a former Capitol and Geffen artist, he speaks from experience. Artists can now produce high quality records without needing big up-front investment to finance them – it’s the need for the big advance that has long dictated label deals. These deals are rational but tough on the artist – the label puts up all the money (often over $500K for a first record/tour) and gets the lion’s share of the profits. Labels lose money on most of their records, and hope for a couple big successes to carry the business – just like the venture capital business. Now, with artists often coming to the table with a completed record, the dynamics have really shifted. Lots of what you now hear on the radio was recorded in someone’s basement studio on ProTools (ProTools is one of numerous software programs that turn a standard computer into a professional quality music recording system… all you need is a good mic and a good pair of ears).
After swinging by Pampelmoose to load up on their latest projects, I jetted out to Clackamas Community college for a chat with Jadon Triplet – budding journalist and punk rock guitarist.
Jim-Brunberg.jpgDropped in on Jim Brunberg the owner/operator of Mississippi Studios – a beautiful listening room that books mostly acoustic shows. The room, decorated in old wood, deep red fabric and warm glowing lamps, is entirely focused on the stage which makes it a very attractive venue for visiting players. These venues are really a dying breed, which is a terrible shame because they’re such great places for musicians. Jim filled my arms with local talent – all soon to be in the Music Genome Project. He particularly recommended Raina Rose and Mira Flores. Death Cab for Cutie, Ricki Lee Jones, John Wesley Harding, Fastball, are among the better know artists that have come through.
I’ve known Jim for many years, back to when his band Box Set and my former band gigged together in San Francisco. Box Set was a great band that worked it’s way up from coffee houses to headlining the Fillmore, then got signed to Capricorn after a showcase at South by Southwest (see the upcoming Texas leg of the trip). The record didn’t pan out and they’ve since gone their separate ways. Really interesting to talk to someone who has truly been through the whole arc. Even though the label went under, the leftover advance allowed him to start the studio – happy ending. Jim has really found his niche up in Portland where he thinks of his role at band ‘coach’. Does everything from producing, and engineering (they have a full blown digital studio upstairs) to helping bands plan their touring strategy.
Prescott-Trumbos.jpgTopped the night off with an evening at Goodfoot Pub’s open mic. I was blown away by the talent. First band I walked in on called themselves the Prescott Trumbo’s – terrific songwriting. They’re just getting started, so it was raw, but let’s hope this trio makes a CD some day – would love to have them in the genome. Two Vandals Lawncare ripped through a Phish-esque guitar rock set. Some fancy arranging and good melodies (rare bedfellows).
Two-Vandals.jpg
And the cover charge… wait for it… $1.
Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

7 thoughts on “Update from Portland

  1. ahhh, so nice to be able to follow your exciting adventures via your descriptive blog entry and great pics. glad it’s going so well and i look forward to hearing all the new bits of awesome you put into the genome database. oooh i have an idea! (yes, another one.) i’ll email you…

  2. i could not register because i do not have a ‘us zip code’. Since i am in great britain i will never have one. What do I do?

  3. HI Carolyn,
    Sadly, we can only legally offer Pandora services to residents of the United States at this time. Audio content streaming regulations differ from country to country, and we are still working on acquiring the proper licenses to outside of the United States.
    Its frustrating for us too. Unfortunately, we don’t have a set date as to when this will be finalized. However, expect it to be big news when it happens. Keep checking this blog for updates.
    Tom
    CTO @ Pandora

  4. Hey Tim!
    This is Mike from Denton’s Snarky Puppy. I wanted to tell you thanks for checking out the show and for adding us to the Genome Project. It means a lot. Please let me know the next time you roll through Denton and you’ll have a place to stay (or nine) and some free beers. You have a wonderful thing going, man. I love the site.
    Take care,
    Mike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s