Happy Orchestra Plays Tower of Power

Brought out the crew to play through and document some of my favorite music by Tower of Power. Turned out great!

Happy Orchestra featuring:
Tarik Abouzied – bass
Nate Bogopolsky – vocals
Skyler Floe – trumpet
Jory Tindall – tenor sax
Skerik – bari sax
RL Heyer – guitar
Mack Grout – keys
Brad Boal – drums
Tor Dietrichson – percussion

Nick Molenda – cameras

New Song: YeahYeah

A new song featuring Jory Tindall on saxophone, Michael Van Bebber on trumpet, RL Heyer on guitar, and myself on drums, bass, and keys. Watch the full video above and pick up the mp3 from Bandcamp below!

Join the Musician’s Union

I’ve been a union member off and on the past few years while working the union gigs this town has to offer. After giving thought to the challenges involved with being a musician in 2018 Seattle, I’ve decided to make my membership permanent. Here’s why:

Musicians create one of the most in-demand products on Earth. We’re surrounded by music constantly. It’s in all of our media, playing in all of our public spaces, and enjoyed almost universally. Every single person I know owns and listens to music. It’s as ubiquitous and beloved as coffee and, like any product of value, requires skill and effort to be made. And musicians produce the supply.

In past decades, the costs of production and distribution were so incredibly high that musicians were in genuine need of partners. Record labels provided the capital for production, promotion, and distribution and, in return, demanded ownership of the product and the lion’s share of profits. Short of already having massive sums of money, musicians had no choice but to acquiesce.

Fast forward to today. Production, promotion, and distribution come at a fraction of the cost, within the grasp of the average group of working musicians. But for some reason we still rely on partners who, with mixed intentions, demand unfavorable terms. Employees of Spotify and the like compile massive libraries of our collective work, pay out fractions of pennies for its use, and enjoy six-figure average salaries. Bars and venues that would otherwise be empty book musicians to draw patrons, cover their own costs first, and pay out what’s left. And because we still believe that we need these partners to be successful, we continue to accept terms no sane business person with an in-demand product ever would. We have almost no leverage when we should have almost all of it. Continue reading Join the Musician’s Union

Low-Paying Gigs: Think About Where the Money Goes

I’ll preface this by saying that the majority of club owners I deal with are good people. They love and believe in live music and have handed over their lives to the punishing task of owning and operating a small business. There are definitely snakes out there, but generally they’re hard-working people who took huge risks operating in an industry with a shrinking audience and growing costs. But when a business operates at a loss somebody has to be the loser. Guess who?!

Most venues that offer door deals or low guarantees have no built-in crowd, meaning the only reason people walk through the door is to see a band. But when the end of the night comes and there isn’t enough money to compensate everyone, the bands are last in the bread line. The staff gets paid, the food/alcohol vendors get paid, the utilities get paid, the taxes get paid, the bank gets paid, and the owner of the building gets paid. This is a common refrain and isn’t surprising to anyone, and I’m not arguing that these people don’t deserve to be paid for their work. But the thing that often gets missed is that, when you commit your time to one of these businesses without a reasonable guarantee, the fruits of your creative output are being used to pay other people, including the generally wealthy people who own the building and loaned the business money. But for the music you create and perform, the money to pay all that overhead wouldn’t flow into the business in the first place (The same could be said about Spotify and other streaming/radio platforms by the way). Given that banks and commercial real estate owners are profiting from your work, you should think hard about whether or not you’re getting something meaningful out of the arrangement.  Continue reading Low-Paying Gigs: Think About Where the Money Goes