Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Setting the Record Straight
AAJ: As label proprietors, what are your thoughts on the state of the recording industry at large, especially in regards to archival hard copies versus ephemeral downloads?
ME: I really like the idea of music contained in an object. The idea of "collecting" appeals to me and others, and even as files replace CDs in the marketplace, vinyl is making a comeback, and I think there will always be certain people who want to collect music as an object. That duality (object/vibration in air) has been around since notation began, and I think that objects will be around for the foreseeable future, just not as the primary drivers of the music economy. As archival devices, everything but vinyl is pretty temporary, and even that has a couple of centuries, max, so as technology changes, so does the archival strategy.
In a certain sense, MP3 files are just as archival as LPs or CDs; they are storage mechanisms for a thing that exists really only as vibrations in air. The challenge for the recording industry and for us is to continue to find ways to make money making music. If the sales of recordings are no longer enough to sustain a career, other revenue streams need to be explored, and the live performance is still the most consistent for us... it's really only The Beatles that can get away with never performing, and they were already retired road warriors when they stepped off stage...
JI: I think one of the advantages to running a smaller label is that you aren't dealing with the sheer numbers that a huge label deals with. You can be (and have to be) smarter about the budget, etc. because it's most likely your money that's going into the product, not some company's. There will always be people out there that want to have a physical copy of a record, and you can cater to them by having just a few hundred or a thousand or so copies of your record to sell at shows or over the internet. I think that the duality of having both physical and digital music available is a good thing as different people like receiving and listening to their music in different ways. So far, I've sold just as many physical copies of my new records as downloads, so I wouldn't be too quick to pull the plug on a physical product as of yet.
PE: I've only put out one thing and it sold out, although there were only 1000 copies. We're on a very small scale. I have two things coming out soon so it will be interesting to compare. I really like listening to recorded music and I still buy and listen to a lot of it, so I'm making records partly to generate work but also just because I really like making and listening to records. Commercially available recorded music has been around for only 100 years but people act like it's a naturally occurring phenomenon and can't believe it's going away. It was nice while it lasted, but obviously things are changing. Unfortunately the systems surrounding the recording/music industry (studios, recording equipment, booking agencies, music magazines) still exist and seems fairly intactwhich makes it hard to figure out how to work if you don't put out records!
KS: I don't have a record label, but I want to chime in. Record labels should stop releasing the CD/LP formats, and instead offer objects that people can actually use in real life with download codes. In my opinion, there is no reason why there shouldn't be a MOPDtK line of socks or totebags or t-shirts with download codes sewn in them. For the people who want to pay more, they could get a rake with a download code. If I ever start a label, my idea is to have one copy of my release available... it will be a download code tattooed on a pig somewhere on a farm in eastern Slovakia. The person who wants to hear the record will have to go on a quest to find this pig in order to hear my label's release. Labels need to be more creative with their merch, and by doing so they will inspire consumers to think differently about the nature of their hollow desires. I'd rather inspire a person to be a consumer and a member of society, rather than just a consumer isolated with a record in their den. Put a download code on some sunglasses, encourage a person to go outside...
AAJ: And finally, beyond jazz, are there any contemporary non-jazz based artists you find inspiration in?
ME: El-P, Mastodon, R. Kelly, Punch Brothers, The Neptunes, MF Doom, Ludacris, Meshuggah, Janelle Monae.
PE: Right now: Gene Rodenberry, Anton Webern, David Foster Wallace.
KS: Composer Jonathan Harvey died recently... I've been having a hilarious time listening to his piece "Wagner Dream" (Cypress). Also I've been enjoying the piece "Dienstag Aus Licht" by Stockhausen (CD number two from Karlheinz Stockhausen's album, Dienstag Aus Licht Vol. 40). It looks like it was a totally nuts production/staging as outlined in the extensive liner notes.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup, 2013)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed, 2011)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Forty Fort (Hot Cup, 2010)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, This Is Our Moosic (Hot Cup, 2008)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Shamokin!!! (Hot Cup, 2007)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Mostly Other People Do the Killing (Hot Cup, 2005)