new theme

I am test driving a new look for the site. The comment section for this post would be a great place to express any opinion you might have about the change.

I am a Mac guy, and my wife’s Vista laptop drives me nuts when I have to deal with it, so the irony that this is a Vista styled theme is not lost on me. Honestly though, I think Vista looks cool, it is just a pain in the ass to use. Now you can enjoy the look of Vista without any of the hassle, here at Scratch My Brain.

BTW, if you click the little pencil in the lower left, you can select from a few different looks.

server move

I just changed servers. Same company, just a little shuffling around. I think I got everything moved ok, but let me know if you see anything that is wonkier than usual. It has taken a few days to get it all sorted, but I’m not great at following instructions sometimes…

New server

I just changed servers. Same company, just a little shuffling around. I think I got everything moved ok, but let me know if you see anything that is wonkier than usual. It has taken a few days to get it all sorted, but I’m not great at following instructions sometimes…

Promo budgets, blogs, and weird submissions

Either people are actually reading this blog, or someone thinks people are reading this blog. In the last week, I have gotten 7 or 8 unsolicited CDs in the mail, presumably sent to me with the intention that I will write about them. Some of them are very good, and things that I dig, and I will write about them. Others are good, but so far removed from the type of things I usually listen to or write about, that I really doubt that they will get any cyber-ink here.

It makes me wonder who decides where to send promo copies of CDs. As a maker of independent CDs, I have grappled with the costs of promoting releases. I really have trouble justifying sending out hundreds of CDs to writes/magazines/bloggers when 75% of them will not even get listened to, and much fewer than that will yield coverage. I definitely send stuff to people that I think will dig it, or people that ask for it, but the expense of sending a copy to every station on a list of dozens of jazz radio stations, or every blogger listed on AAJ just seems silly, especially since many of the more conservative stations and writers won’t dig the CD anyway.

I figure it costs about $5 to send a CD to a writer, including the actual cost of the materials, postage, and the time of whoever stuffs the envelope. If some of that money were spent having associates read the writer’s writing and parsing his/her taste, it seems that eventually some money would be saved. I think the key to success in the new music industry is to only spend necessary money. If I can make and promote a CD for a reasonable amount of money, I can expect to eventually sell enough of them to make it work. If I spend $7k on promotion, I’ve got to have a huge hit (in jazz terms) to make any money.

When I started writing this blog, it was because I wanted to share the things that I found that move me. That’s how fringe art gets known, through a network of people with similar tastes and trust in each others opinions. Getting CDs from promo people tilts that idea a bit, but I don’t mind people sending me copies of stuff that I’d like to hear (and may or ma not have bought on my own). So, I will try to be as diligent as possible in always letting you know where I got the music I am writing about. If I bought it somewhere, I will say that, and if I got a copy from a PR department, I will say that as well. I will try to at least mention anything that I get that I like. If it stinks, I will probably say nothing at all about it.

One other plus to all the free CDs is that I get to read some of the completely silly stuff that is written on the one sheets that accompany the CDs. The other day I got a copy of an Ella Fitzgerald CD that is to be released in July. It is being co-released by Concord and Starbucks. The following statement is on the one sheet:

Starbucks Coffee Company provides and uplifting experience that enriches people’s lives one moment, one human being, one extraordinary cup of coffee at a time.

I’m not sure what that has to do with Ella, but it did make me laugh out loud, and laughter is a good thing.

Comments working again

The comments seems to have decided to behave again recently, so if you have stopped trying to comment because it was not working and my WordPress/MySQL chops couldn’t sort it out, please resume commenting. The cyber-faeries have fixed things…for now.

Trouble commenting?

Has anyone had trouble commenting on Scratch My Brain? There seems to be some technical issue with comments from some people, and I am wondering how widespread it is. If you have unsucessfully tried to comment recently, please send me an email and let me know. The email link is on the right side of the page.

I am not a critic

Yesterday I received my first unsolicited CD in the mail. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind hearing new music, and having people give it to me is even better, BUT what does it mean if I start accepting, or even asking for,, promo copies of CDs?

The original idea behind Scratch My Brain was to talk about the music and art that moves me. Not so much in the way that media outlets talk about music and art, but in the way friends talk about music and art. I am not a critic, I am an artist and fan. I guess I would be in denial if I claim to not be a writer, since that is what I do on this site. I don’t see myself as a writer in terms of being one of the guys that hungry artists send CDs to in hopes of having something good written about them. I’ve been on the hungry artist side of that for too long to want to change roles. On this site, i write about stuff that moves me, and makes me think. I also often write about the music made by my friends. I try to be clear when I do that. I am often aware of this music because it is made by my friends, but I write about it because it is good.

I never really understood reviews anyway. Sometimes a review will tell me nothing that I couldn’t have read on the back of the CD case. Sometimes when I write about something, all I really want to say is, “this is good, you should check it out.”

So my dilemma is, what to do with unsolicited CDs. I don’t want to write reviews of stuff that I don’t like. That’s not why I started this this site. On the other hand, I don’t want to just ignore things, because I know the feeling and it sucks. To put much work and spirit into a project and have it ignored is very discouraging.

With that in mind, I will mention any unsolicited CDs I happen to get (hopefully there won’t be too many). If it moves me, I will write about it just like any other music that I dig. If I don’t get it musically, I will probably still say something about it, to at least let you know it is out there.

Back from Chicago

The blog posting has been a bit slow lately because I was in Chicago from 2/28 – 3/6. I was having so much fun, and hearing and making so much music, that I didn’t get much chance to write.

I got to hear the Chicago Symphony’s Friday matinée performance of Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Weber, and Brahms’ Second Symphony. It is amazing how tight a group can get when they play together everyday for years.

The week’s performances and recordings with the Lucky 7s were very fulfilling. What a great bunch of guys, and cool music too.

I was enlightened in several ways with regards to my recent delving into the space where art and commerce intersect. I’m sure more of that will come out later, but the main thing I picked up was that the music is always best when dealt with solely on its own terms. Don’t ignore the business, just don’t let the business affect the musical vibe.

More on that later.

It’s good to be back.