plate dissipation

Nice of Lori and @tinybuddha to share something I wrote with her readers.

Crowd-Funding The Music

Ben Sisario, in the NYT, quoted me in a story about the long-term prognosis for crowd-funded music projects:

My quote does not accurately convey my point of view on crowd-funding for artists. I am expounding on that here.

My short answer was: yes, crowd-funding is viable and growing; and yes, it will affect the recorded music business model going forward (although I haven’t studied the numbers enough to have a strong point of view around to what degree, by when). 

My longer answer, and the point I tried to make, is: social media enables a new type of audience engagement, and this demands a new and different type of performance. One specific analogy I used was in the same way Mick Jagger can electrify a stadium, Amanda Palmer galvanized an online audience (which isn’t really in question — she raised over a million dollars) … and, understanding the “presentation” (premiums, rapport with fans and friends, aesthetic vibe) holds true online as off, albeit in a completely different way than on a physical stage.

Some artists are great at it, many aren’t, and lots will try hard and wood-shed to learn. Some will succeed and many will fail … just like it’s always been. To me, there are two particularly interesting dynamics to this phenomenon:

1. How this might affect what music gets made and heard, as artists who aren’t good performers in this new sphere will have trouble “drawing”, just like artists who aren’t good performers in the traditional sense might have trouble getting people to a gig – and, just like labels tend not to sign acts who play in front of empty rooms, labels will perhaps be reluctant to sign artists who don’t have a strong social graph and can’t lend that kind of added support to a release. It’s not clear that performing online is as correlated with great music-making as the ability to deliver an electrifying performance on stage; and

2. How, over time, an increase in crowd-funded projects will change the ways the various folks involved in the music making (i.e. writer, performer if that isn’t the same, and producer) come together to create. 

Fascinating questions about culture, its creation, and its propagation.

Spring Giddiness


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.
Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

Absolutely killer guitar - Ken McKay ES-335 l’hommage (my word not his) … modeled in painstaking detail after a blonde 1959, down to the body contours (from which he made plywood laminates himself, using the same glue they used). An total blast to play. Lots of music, lots of sounds in this thing. The sustain!!

I play them and I cherish them.

The Pearl Beyond Price


Yesterday at dawn, my Friend said,

How long will this unconsciousness go on?

You fill yourself with the sharp pain of Love,

rather than its fulfillment.

I said, “But I can’t get to You!

You are the whole dark night,

and I am a single candle.

My life is upside-down

because of You!”

The Friend replied, I am your deepest being.

Quit talking about wanting Me!

I said, “Then what is this restlessness?”

The Friend said, Does a drop

stay still in the Ocean?

Move with the Entirety, and

with the tiniest particular.

Be the moisture in an oyster

that helps to form one pearl.

Haven’t brought (him? her?) home yet … but, finished! The Monteleone Quattroport. Gorgeous.

Listening Party No. 2

A little late to type and scan this, but here is the playlist from the second listening party. To revisit, think but, in the parlance of our times, “IRL”— i.e. getting friends together to listen to music — in our case, specifically, to listen to 78s … although we did warm up with an LP (albeit a rare and cool one). Like #1, haphazard and spontaneous song selection, but there was more serendipity this time ‘round. Of note, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell’s “I Believe I’ll Make A Change” (#13) is the first recorded version of the song that Robert Johnson later recorded as “Dust My Broom”, as did, much later, Elmore James (among others), with his iconic “Dust My Blues” (#14). [As a side note, the other Leroy Carr side (#3) is both a fun set of songs and an incredibly rare Depression-era Vocalion]. Also, various approaches to the guitar as represented in #21-24. Speaking of guitar, we closed strong, with two powerful Hooker sides. February and Party No. 3 await.

Love, Friendship, Art & Life

Ansel is named after my grandpa, Ansel Lewis, but the “other” Ansel (Adams) wrote this letter, and it’s pretty beautiful.

June 19, 1937

Dear Cedric,

A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that related to those who are loved and those who are real friends.

For the first time I know what love is; what friends are; and what art should be.

Love is a seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. Children are not only of flesh and blood — children may be ideas, thoughts, emotions. The person of the one who is loved is a form composed of a myriad mirrors reflecting and illuminating the powers and thoughts and the emotions that are within you, and flashing another kind of light from within. No words or deeds may encompass it.

Friendship is another form of love — more passive perhaps, but full of the transmitting and acceptance of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean granite of reality.

Art is both love and friendship, and understanding; the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of Things, it is more than kindness which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.

I wish the thundercloud had moved up over Tahoe and let loose on you; I could wish you nothing finer.


Guilty pleasures.

Guilty pleasures.

The last lap … finished, ready to be assembled.