“No Label Needed” Trip – Day 6
This morning, we decided to wake up at 8 and see what this free continental breakfast was all about. It turned out to be pretty much what I expected: a spread of decent-quality bagels, danishes, croissants, a variety of juices, fruit, and some really great muffins. I had a bagel with cream cheese and some OJ. Sure, it’s nothing like the crazy non-free buffet they offer, but as a bunch of broke hungry dudes, we’re really happy to have it! Many thanks to Marc and Kristin for hooking that up.
Still not sure of exactly how we were going to get there, we started out for New York and BigMachineMedia (the PR company working with us). Maps in hand, we made it over to the light rail station a block or so from the hotel. I use the word “station” lightly, as it was really more of a platform with a couple of automated ticket machines. While we were purchasing tickets, a train came into the station, which we immediately jumped on for fear of missing it. It was an unfortunate decision, as it quickly became apparent that we were going the wrong way. We ended up at the last station on the line, waiting for the correct train to come back. At this point, we started to realize just how cold and windy it was. Pete was the only one smart enough to bring and wear a coat: nice work Pete.
We ended up getting on the right train, which took us to the beginning of “The Path”; a little subway that took us right into 33rd street in Manhattan. Very convenient, I’d say. Rather than switching to the NYC subway, we decided to walk the 20 or so blocks over to BigMachine, via Times Square and 30 Rock. On the way, Curt welcomed a busload of tourists by flipping them off. It was pretty funny. I ended up grabbing a street-gyro, which wasn’t that great but made me happy.
Fortunately, it wasn’t too windy for most of the trip, but we were thankful for the chance to warm up for a while inside with Jamie and the incredibly awesome Big Machine Media crew. They were immediately really welcoming and seemed genuinely happy we were there, which is unfortunately rather uncommon when it comes to this band. People on the East Coast just seem different, and in a really refreshing way. I sort of wish we could move out here in some ways.
We ended up talking with Jamie for what seemed like a couple of hours (I wasn’t looking at the clock). I think some of the major take-aways were:
- Being on a record label isn’t as important as we thought.
- By making ourselves “the label”, it keeps everything in our control.
- Pretty much everything labels are looking for these days, are things that once you’ve done them, makes labels significantly less necessary.
- Most people that tell you they won’t help you out because you’re not on a label, are really saying they don’t see enough organization and professionalism when they see your band.
- For the most part, PR agents get paid the same regardless of whether or not you take on the opportunities they give you. They just genuinely want to help and give you every opportunity possible to help give your band some exposure.
- Without a label, a significantly higher proportion of any profits will go straight to the band. You don’t need to sell as much because you get to keep more of the profit.
- Utilizing each member’s interests as marketing tools can be a great way to market the band to niche audiences.
- When it comes to sponsorships, talking up your favorite gear and playing a lot of shows are good ways to start relationships with the companies whose gear you enjoy using, potentially making sponsorships more likely in the future.
- By having all useful members of the band in charge of different areas of band management, you significantly increase how much you can get done and how effective (affective?) the band can be.
- When it comes to booking bigger shows & tours, hiring a great professional manager can be a huge help.
- We probably won’t have to wear Affliction clothes for our photo shoot, as she agreed it wouldn’t portray the type of image one would generally associate with our type of band. Basically, we’re not really “tough guys”.
It was interesting to hear that Jamie’s sense of the necessity of labels was somewhat different than Shadows Fall’s, who thought labels still played a pretty major and necessary part of bands’ careers. I’d bet the reality is somewhere near the middle. On the one hand, these days all of the tools are there for bands to have successful careers without the need of a label. On the other hand, labels can be extremely effective at what they do, and some have quite a lot of cash to push their will on the public. My guess is genre and target audience have a lot to do with it. I think a band like Shadow’s Fall has a pretty wide and established target audience, compared to a band like us whose fans don’t really seem to fit in to specific demographics very easily, and seem harder to reach. I could be completely wrong, of course, but that’s my take on the whole thing so far. My views and opinions could change drastically in the next few weeks, and I’m not sure that the rest of the guys feel the same way, but this is my blog dammit. I do what I want! You don’t know me!
Any way, after a fantastic lunch kindly paid for by Jamie, she let us go with a kind smile and some homework (not dissimilar to my 8th grade social studies teacher, although he was a short hairy dude who rode a Harley to work). We’re working on some bio information that should help make our press kit significantly better than anything we’d ever have come up with. We made our way back to “The Path”, checking out the Apple Store (I was the only one in the store with a blackberry: I think it made them uncomfortable. Which was awesome.), Central Park, a bunch of horses, some duck butts, a sea lion, and the rocks made famous by the smash blockbuster super-hit, “Little Nicky”, some extremely creepy bells, a Sam Ash where Joe Satriani was signing some shit (we didn’t go in), and Times Square again. I got a bottle of water on the way that cost me $2.75. On a related note, I highly recommend bringing a back pack and a bottle of water if you ever plan on a day out in Manhattan. Also, cut your toenails as short as you can, so they don’t end up digging into your toes and making you sad and sore.
We made it back to the hotel by way of The Path and the light rail without incident, although as we were walking back, it occurred to us that there was no reason whatsoever to have purchased tickets for the light rail, as our tickets were never checked or used. Bummer.
We got another sandwich at the deli, along with a fucking insane brownie/cake/smore/heart-attack hybrid super-thick fat-bomb of death, called a “Rocky Road”. Although broke, I decided it was an inexpensive reward for as much walking as I did, plus I just got my meager tax returns back. I took one bite and realized it will take me the rest of the week to finish it, thus extending the usefulness of my purchase. I won’t be needing or wanting any dessert for the rest of the week. Maybe not any sugar whatsoever. This thing is offensively massive, and tastes way too good to not have 10,000+ calories. So much for shedding a few pounds, hah!
Just before going to bed, I got a text from Jamie saying we were off the hook for any Affliction clothes, and that the idea of a food budget wasn’t out of the question! All in all, a tremendously awesome day. A+.
The next couple days will almost certainly be filled with lyrics and solos; I might combine them into one diary a few days from now. We’ll see.