Morrissey Signs With Harvest/Capitol For New LP

morrisseyLooks like Morrissey did not take the advice of former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer, whose open letter to the ex-Smiths frontman implored him to crowd-fund his next album. (I like to imagine him fulfilling the “Have dinner with Moz” level reward, or playing a suburban house party, or perhaps having backers in the studio to sing harmony on his record.)

No, Morrissey took the traditional route and got a label to pay for his record. In this case, it’s Harvest Records, distributed by Capitol. Joe Chiccarelli (the White Stripes, Beck, The Strokes) will be at the controls when the record is recorded this month in France. Tour dates will follow, and then probably be cancelled, but then rescheduled.

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Why Miley Cyrus' 'Bangerz' Tour Might Be The Most Important Tour Of The New Year

When will the public finally take Miley Cyrus seriously? And no, I am not asking that facetiously. I will admit that she certainly doesn’t make it easy, especially considering her slew of press-baiting stunts over the last few months that sent every media outlet into a seemingly permanent salivary frenzy. Still, whether or not she is in control of her public image “ the ultimate point of contention anchoring a furious celebrity blog-off several months ago “ her (or her management’s) decision to bring Sky Ferreira and Icona Pop on her upcoming Bangerz tour is a totally brilliant move: one that crystallizes and enlarges the cultural impact of what each artist has, up until this point, been doing separately in order to make pop music a safer place for women to rightfully do whatever the hell they want.

The album cover for Ferreira’s new record Night Time, My Time features the melancholy singer staring somewhat crazily and vulnerably out at the audience, nude and framed by dripping shower tiles in Van-Gogh green. It’s more disturbing than it is sexy. But of course, that hasn’t stopped scores of critics from accusing her of employing nudity simply to boost album sales. The story, as she’s told it, is that Capitol, her record label, didn’t want her to be nude in the first place, and even suggested using other photos from past years for the album cover. But Ferreira was adamant. “It’s hard enough to be a woman making music at all,” she told Pitchfork. “But I’m not going to start covering myself up just to seem more credible”I’m going to embrace my sexuality because I have every right to.”

If there’s any statement that makes Cyrus’ recent salacious stunts more understandable in light of the challenges facing female pop artists, it’s that one. While the double standard of female sexuality is (hopefully) not news to anybody, it’s even more pronounced in pop music, where any display of female sexuality is commonly demonized as a PR stunt or a money grab: essentially anything that constitutes the opposite of “authentic” music, which is supposedly focused on pure form and creation. This is, of course, total bullshit. To solely attribute financial motives to a female artist’s decision to pose nude is to subscribe to the same type of thinking that circumscribes female nudity to the porn set or the bedroom. It is to place rules around where and when it is correct for women in pop to make certain choices about their bodies, and strips them (pun intended) of the ability to even have that choice in the first place.

Flaming Lips Reveal New Album, Upcoming Super Bowl Spot

There’s never a dull moment for The Flaming Lips. Whether they’re filming NSFW videos with Amanda Palmer, beating Jay-Z’s record for most live concerts played in 24 hours, releasing music inside of gummy skulls, or rolling around in giant plastic balls at their live shows, Wayne Coyne and company are always on the lookout for their next thrill. So of course, the announcement of the April 2 release of their album The Terror wasn’t complete without an additional surprise out of left field; this Super Bowl Sunday, they will be performing a new song, “Sun Blows Up Today,” in a Hyundai commercial during the big game. The 60-second spot, an advertisement for the Hyundai Santa Fe, will feature the band hanging out on a suburban rooftop playing the new tune, which will be available for 100,000 free downloads from the Hyundai website and as a bonus track on the digital album.

According to Coyne, the “great, very strange, beautiful, emotional record” was written between sessions for the band’s previous 2012 release The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. You can find the official track list for The Terror, as well as a still from the upcoming commercial, below the jump.


Is There A Limit To What Can Be Crowdfunded?

Welcome to the new music economy, where distribution channels are paved with fiberoptic cable and shipments are packed into .zip files. The greatest aspect of the music industry in its current form is that there’s a lot of money to be grabbed. It’s just that the methods of securing said cash may require a bit of attention and diligence outside of the realm of music creation.

Nobody is selling records. But there are still tours to plot, t-shirts to sell, and music to put out. In the vacuum created by a lack of revenue from music sales, crowdfunding has taken hold as an appealing, if not the only, viable alternative. And as crowdfunding becomes bigger and moves more into the mainstream, the innovation in the use of the medium is growing as well.

What I’m saying is, what you can crowdfund is limited only by the scope of one’s imagination.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Exclusive Q and A: Ben Folds Talks Crowd Funding, Amanda Palmer and A New Kind of Fan Community

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsWith record labels in a precarious spot, many up-and-coming bands have been turning to crowd funding as a way to raise money for touring, recording, merch production and more. Major artists have taken note, with acts like Secondhand Serenade and The Voice‘s Nakia using the “rewards for pledges” model through sites like Kickstarter, ArtistShare and more.

Shortly after their long-awaited reunion, Ben Folds Five decided to test out this innovative new platform to help fund their first record in thirteen years. In exchange for donations, the band is not only offering prizes like signed vinyls and t-shirts, but they’re also helping to promote the music, art, videos of their fans. They’ve even offered to call each fan who downloads their new song “Do It Anyway” or makes a pledge a Vice President of Promotions for their de facto record label, encouraging them to add “#ImaDamVP” on the end of their promotional tweets. We caught up with Ben to discuss the progress of the campaign, Kickstarter goddess Amanda Palmer and why we should help fight for continued arts funding.

OS: How is the record progressing? Can you estimate a release date at this point?

BF: I think we should be doing this in early September. Sometimes we’re late, but I think that should do it!

OS: Why did you choose to use a pledge model for funding this record?

BF: Looking at all our options, we had spoken to PledgeMusic a couple months ago. We thought that no matter how we do it, we may include that route, somehow. Last weekend, we started realizing, “Well, we’re going out on tour and it would be fun to put out something we recorded,” because we’re excited about what we’ve recorded, but we’re not on any kind of label or anything. We put it out free on a couple fan sites, which crashed pretty immediately. The next day, there were about 100,000 downloads out there. We thought, “Oh shit, we gotta put the record on sale.” You can’t be promoting it and then not pre-selling it too. The industry’s already screwed up enough as it is without shooting yourself in your own foot. We scrambled the next day to get it up and Pledge had been someone we’d been talking to, and we just did it.

OS: What made you choose PledgeMusic over other services, like Kickstarter or ArtistShare?

BF: I don’t know much about all of them, so I’m not good about shopping around. But what was compelling to me was that, in our position, I didn’t think it was really necessary to flash the sales number. That’s the way Kickstarter does it, Amanda [Palmer] did it that way and it’s been really great.But I play these things by feel, and that didn’t feel right to me. I likened it to sitting in a restaurant where, next to the food, the tally is turning over while you’re eating to see how much money is going to the restaurant…it’s not necessary to know that. But I think it’s really interesting, especially with Amanda Palmer’s campaign…it gives people an insight.


Download July Editor Picks For Free On Facebook

Despite what Florence and The Machine may say, the dog days aren’t over just yet.  In fact, they’re just beginning.  With the summer heat coming on in full force, it’s the perfect time for a new selection of July Editor Picks.  Roll down the windows and turn up this summery mix of indie pop, hard rock, hip hop and country.  Or, if you’re hiding inside and blasting the AC, put on some of the more chill, contemplative tracks.  Get over to the OurStage Facebook page to snag the mix for free download, or listen to it on 8tracks along with the past Editor Picks playlists.

Weapons of Audio “If You Want Me” – Big crunchy guitars and high falsetto vocals.  Imagine Bon Iver fronting Motley Crüe with a hell of a lot more sex appeal.

Sidney York “Dick & Jane” – Is it possible to create a perfect indie pop song without whistling, ukelele and lyrics about bicycling around town?  Not likely.

Chuck Elmore “Saying I Love You” – Elmore’s smooth vocals and slide guitar mix together the best parts of country, folk and pop.

David Costa “To Die For” – Building to a killer hook in the chorus (pun intended), this hip hop cut balances melody with angry, lovesick rhymes.

Jesse Thomas “You I Want” – Clear some nice, comfortable space in your head, because the chorus of “You I Want” is going to spend a lot of time in there.

Clarensau “I Would Trade (Grandpa’s Song)” – Tight male-female harmonies and a haunting cello line combine on this solemnly beautiful track.

Boys “Gossip” – A rollicking sonic romp complete with crunching guitars, vocal acrobatics and a spot-on use of snapping percussion.

Joanna Erdos & The Midnight Show “Sexy Secrets” – If Regina Spektor and Amanda Palmer had a kid (I’ll leave the “how” out of this) it would undoubtedly be Joanna Erdos.

Behind the Mic: Talking to the Twitterverse

Although Twitter has only been around since 2006, it’s becoming hard to think of a celebrity, store or brand that isn’t tweeting. For bands, Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool for promotion, networking and keeping in touch with fans.

Let’s take a look at some artists who are experts in the “Twitterverse.”

Boston’s self-proclaimed “piano slayer” and singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer is a prime example of a musician using Twitter in all the right ways”and she has more than 400,000 followers to prove it! In addition to being able to get hundreds of fans to secret shows and last-minute meet-and-greets, Palmer also discovered how to make money on Twitter.

At 9:15 p.m. on May 15th, 2010, Palmer tweeted a call to arms for “the losers of Friday night on their computers.” Thousands of fans responded to her and sent Tweets ending with “#LOFNOTC.” Within minutes, the phrase became the number one trending topic in the world.

One of the tweets that started it all.

Taking a slogan suggestion from a fan, Palmer took out a marker and designed a T-shirt for her legions of fellow “losers” that read: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG. Her web designer created a simple PayPal site to order the shirts, and more than 400 were ordered in merely two hours. In the same week, she made over $7,000 by hosting a Webcast auction and a “twitter donation-only” gig.

OurStage artist Andrew Belle is also a tweet fiend. Belle keeps his Twitter page filled with continuous updates on where he’s playing next, links to his videos and photo updates from his tour. A few weeks ago, Belle was selected as MTV’s Needle in the Haystack. He joined OurStage via Twitter for a “Tweet & A” interview, which was broadcast to his thousands of followers.

Andrew Belle gives advice to new artists during his OurStage "Tweet & A"

Andrew tweeted about his plans for the future and his touring schedule and he even tweeted a picture of himself bumping into Dave Matthews while having lunch. The “Tweet & A” not only gave Andrew’s fans an update on his musical career, but also allowed them to get to know him better as a person.

Having a Twitter account can be one of the best free marketing tools for your band. Make sure to keep your page updated and use your tweets not only to promote, but to reach out to your fans. Follow Amanda Palmer’s lead and create an engaged fan community around your music.

Happy Tweeting!


“Change isn’t made by asking permission,” Godin says. “Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.”



If you’re between the ages of 30 and 40 and claim to have never attempted to Moonwalk, you’re lying. For those of you too old or too young to have not spent hours learning the end all, be all of all dance moves, you’ll never know true satisfaction on the dance floor. While the passing of Michael Jackson is indeed a cultural loss in many ways, the fact that five days later people are still dancing to his music outside the Apollo Theater is a testament not only to the connection between artist and fan, but of the connection between the fans themselves.

In the current media paradigm we are constantly bombarded with content from every artistic medium.  This decimation of old barriers between artist and fanswhile somewhat leveling the playing field for unknown artistshas also made it more difficult to hear the music through the noise.  This is why, as a musician, it’s more vital now than ever before to serve not only your fan base but to let them serve you by conscientiously building a tribe.

A tribe by most definitions is a mutual care system formed by a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to a shared belief.  The importance of the tribe is really the chance of survival beyond which couldn’t be attained alone.  Yes this means feeding seemingly insatiable social networking sites, creating newsletters, servicing fan clubs, etc. , but it also means something more; it means creating an environment where fans have a say in the overall agenda.

I could spell out the importance of tribe building in terms of  having a fulfilling career in the music industry, or I could point you to three newer artists.

Corey Smith

Joe Pug

Amanda Palmer

Maybe you’ve heard of them or maybe you haven’t, but all three are changing the rules on how to make it in the music business by ignoring the old ones. Some of their methods are truly unique and seemingly taboo, yet you’ll wish you had engaged them from the onset.

So, if you are truly serious about having a career, do some legworkyou’ll never learn how to Moonwalk without it.

Jay Sweet, Editor-at-Large

In addition to his role at OurStage, Jay Sweet is the Editor At Large for Paste Magazine as well as the Producer of the Newport Folk Festival.