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The Jazz Label: Marc Free of Posi-Tone Records

The Jazz Label: Marc Free of Posi-Tone Records
B.D. Lenz By

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Part of the problem with recorded music is the level of engagement and geeking is being overwhelmed by too much information and too much content. There's too much supply and not enough demand. And that's why, for people, they need to go out and work hard to build engagement. —Marc Free
In this edition of Chats with Cats I interviewed someone from a jazz record label. It's no secret that selling music has become much more difficult in recent times so I was wondering what the outlook is for someone who's been doing it for 25 years. It was a nice surprise to hear the optimism that Marc Free holds about the music and the business. He echoed a sentiment I've been hearing throughout all of these interviews that the music is fine. The music is in good hands and is stronger than ever. What isn't fine is the glut of information out there which requires more sifting on everyone's part. Since most anyone can make and promote their own records, now what's needed are the skills to navigate the business and the knowledge to make the music resonate with people. Mr. Free shared his insights in this interview full of wisdom and practical advice.

About Marc Free

Marc Free is a musician, poet, record producer, entrepreneur and label impresario of all things Posi-Tone, a part-time philosopher, rhetorician and sartorial enthusiast, and a full-time jazz geek, Beatlemaniac and hardcore NBA fanatic.

All About Jazz: How did Posi-Tone Records come to be?

Marc Free: Well like everything else it's great when a plan comes together. It's too bad there wasn't a plan. I was a working musician in Los Angeles. My mother had a house she was renting in Venice and another building behind it. We thought it would be a cool place to play and record so my friends and I converted the building into a recording studio where we would practice and record. That was really just for my own stuff and had nothing to do with a label. I had been into jazz for a long time. I got into jazz earlier than most people. It was in my house growing up. In high school, with pop music, MTV was coming and I was getting into progressive rock and some other things. Music teachers I had steered me toward stuff. My first great jazz mentor was Victor Feldman who was a friend of mine's father. He really saw something in me and invested a lot of time in me. That's a whole other part of who I am.

In the early 1990's, I had this idea that I wanted to make a documentary about Rudy Van Gelder so I got all this information together and wrote a treatment on the whole thing. Long story short, after numerous conversations with Rudy on the phone for a few hours he said to me, "you know I'm still working I'm not sure I want to do a movie until I'm retired. Maybe I'll write a book but maybe later." History be told, he never did either.

I'm sorry that we didn't get to make that documentary but he said to me, "I can't believe how much more you know about music and the record business than the people I have to work with all the time. You should be running a jazz record label." I was like, wow, that's kind of a command performance from the person I most respect, who's worked with everybody. He proceeded to explain to me why he thought that, which was really nice. He was telling me that I really understood Alfred Lion more than other people did and that I really understood what made Prestige different from Savoy, different from Riverside different from... I love the music. I love the history. I love the whole art form and this is what it comes down to.

But at the time I was a working musician and I was very, very busy. So I had a friend who was a drummer in my band and he was an engineer as well. I had another friend who was a photographer and was interested in this new emerging technology called Photoshop. So myself, Jamie, and Ray looked at each other and said "well, we can make some records." I was going to make one for this rock band I had with these other guys. So the DIY thing is what gave rise to the label. The possibility of me being able to start a DIY label on some level.

I can't believe it's 25 years now, from the first inklings in '94 to when the label had its first release in '95, starting in the studio we built behind my mom's house which was torn down and actually no longer even exists. We were an underground label for the first ten years. I released like fifteen, sixteen records in the first ten years. We'd put out a couple a year and then one year we didn't put anything out. Everything was very underground. We weren't even dealing with distribution. We weren't even dealing with any of these other things at all. We were just making records for people, like my guitar teacher. We made a record for him and it was awesome.

Things changed after 9/11. The music business started to change. People didn't want to hire bands they wanted to hire DJs. My musical career was changing as a player and I was getting older.When you're working in a city like Los Angeles, and you're over thirty five people look at you and say, "isn't he a little long in the tooth to be on this gig?" So I started moving away from playing all these gigs and changed focus. I started producing some shows in Santa Monica. That's where a friend of mine introduced me to Nick O'Toole who remains my partner to this day.

We did this live album at the Jazz Bakery here in Los Angeles. We did a Sam Rivers record because I was friends with him. We did a live recording on his 80th birthday and we put that album out as "Celebration" in 2004. People got legitimately excited about it and I thought let's put a little more energy in this direction. Nick and I sat down and said, well, you know we love these guys in L.A. and they're super talented but they're not really ready to have careers as jazz musicians. They're doing other things. So we decided we would go to New York City to record and then we would finish stuff out here. That was fifteen years ago in 2005. Then we shifted gears and tried to run the label the last fifteen years and have almost two hundred releases. The company celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and we're super excited about that. We've got a lot of interesting things coming up related to that.

AAJ: What do you look for in an artist to want to get involved with them?

MF: That's related to why we started going to New York City instead of being in Los Angeles. It's not simply about talent. I was once asked to do a speech before a bunch of young students. This thing I call the "Trivial Pursuit analogy for being a successful musician" [laughs]. It's not just one category that wins the game. You could get every answer correct in that one category and not win the game. You can have all this talent but talent is only one part of what's going to make someone a success. So if you're asking me, when I'm choosing someone to record on the label there's all these hurdles involved like what kind of music they're going to do, what their personality is, what the business arrangement is going to be, and the scheduling. These are all hurdles to getting a record out. But you're asking me how do I take an estimation on a musician's chances of success?

AAJ: Well for you to invest in somebody, again, there has to be more than just musical talent. So what are the other pieces of this puzzle?

MF: So really there's a two-step test here. The first part is, do I actually believe this person has the capacity to be a successful musician? Because you don't just want to record somebody and they are not going to do anything. So in that analogy there were six categories: talent; drive; vision; ambition (which may not mean exactly what people think it means); acumen, business acumen; and then this complicated thing that I call presentation, but it's probably not what you think of when someone talks about a musician's presentation.

So, talent, there are plenty of people who are successful who don't have A plus talent. Frankly, maybe they only have high-quality B level talent but they are really good at all these other categories so they keep winning the game. And so drive is that the person knows they're driven to pursue a path to mastery. They're working to get better on their instruments. They're looking at where their game isn't strong like, maybe, they're a great player but not a great composer. So they're working on composing. It's the drive they have to improve and to continue developing. It's really an important thing.

At this point, vision is like someone who can see their relationship to their audience, who has an idea about art, and has something to communicate more than just, "check me out, I'm amazing." Maybe their vision is that they're an interpreter of classic songs from the great American songbook. That could be a real and valid vision. That's only one kind of vision. But they need to have some sort of a vision.

When I say ambition, I don't mean that you want to be successful or that you want to be famous, it's more like you're self-starting. You recognize that you're going to have to get up and make phone calls. You're going to get up and get organized. You're not going to just be coasting along from crisis to crisis dealing with one... We all know people like this, who have this ambition. It's not like, "oh I want to be big." It's like, no, every day they want to be getting things done.

Acumen is literally like, it's a business. I know it's art and all that other stuff but unless we want it to be something else that we really don't want it to be we need to acknowledge the fact that people who do well, often, it's because they do well at business. They have some bit of business acumen that's very helpful. And if they don't, they have enough smarts to know that they need to find somebody to work with them who has it. But that's okay.

And then the last one is presentation. It's not about how you are on stage. Like look at that amazing guy wearing that gold lamé suit and that shiny saxophone. That's not the presentation I'm talking about. I'm talking about this thing I like to call the five "P's:" polite; prompt; prepared; patient; and personable. Those are qualities of character. When you're dealing with somebody over and over again, human personalities are kind of like ketchup packets, you don't know which way they're going to spray when you step on them. People who are real solid with the five P's are going to handle some adversity better than other people. There is always going to be some adversity and challenges, so to go back to the other point about when you're trying to make a record, there are plenty of talented people out there that I know personally who passed the test of all these things and they are successful but they may not be somebody who I'm going to be working with.

I believe jazz works best when it works like a business. So when we do these projects it's probably better to think of two small businesses that are engaging in some kind of limited partnership or a joint venture. That's a lot of business talk about making a record of music but they're a small business, we're a small business, and we've agreed to work together in some capacity on this project, this joint venture. I'm talking about it like it's a business because this is how things get organized and get going.

So there's the music itself. I have to like the music. I have to like the person's personality because you're going to be dealing with them. You have to have a suitable business arrangement. And, of course, the scheduling has to come together.

AAJ: Current technologies have leveled the playing field quite a bit and more artists are recording independently. Are record companies still necessary?

MF: The technology that people claim has leveled the field... I don't know that it's really leveled the field. The thing has become about something else now. If it's about actually releasing your record and making it so someone could find it and someone could do whatever then, sure, everybody can make a recording in their house with Pro Tools. They can put it together in some in some form and they can upload it onto CD Baby or Bandcamp. They can do all those things. But I don't venture that it's going to be great situation for them. Now that being said, no one is ever going to make more money off their music then they are by doing it all themselves. It's never going to happen. But the problem is that you have to do it all yourself. The down side of doing it all yourself means making all those mistakes that you have to make in learning how to do things. Learning how to prioritize things. Learning how to turn things in. You're doing a lot of things that may not be the strongest part of the people's personal game.

One of the things about science, and this is a joke from comedian Patton Oswalt, is that it's all about "coulda" and not much about "shoulda." Everybody could make a record if they want but I don't know whether they really spend enough time asking themselves whether they should. Tastemaking is great but what's missing greatly in the world right now is gatekeeping. Twenty-five years ago when I started this label I would go to the record store every week and there'd be fifteen new releases, maybe. Now, there's like two hundred. Out of those fifteen releases back then, maybe eight of them were pretty good, three of them were insanely great, and four of them sucked.

Now, out of the two hundred, there's probably twenty that are great, probably five that are amazing, and there's a hundred seventy-five that suck. So the unfortunate overall impression to consumers is that the vast majority of everything new is sh***y. There's actually more good stuff than there was before that the technology is facilitating but, because there's no gatekeeping, we get this giant mountain of dross that you have to sort through. To use a gold mining analogy, it's not like walking along the river, putting your pan in, shaking, and finding a nugget. Now you're having to take a whole hillside of dirt to find a couple more nuggets than you used to find with your pan by the side of the stream.

I'm not here to stump for record labels. I'm a tremendous fan of the business but I don't really like the way a lot of people are running record labels these days. I appreciate a lot of the frustration that a lot of people are sharing about their dealings with these kind of things. But, candidly, if people would decide before they go in to make their record what they're going to do when it's done, instead of just charging ahead and just getting it done and then saying, "now I have it done, what I'm going to do with it?" It would be better to be organized before you started all the way through to the end and have a clear vision.

AAJ: So you're saying you help in mapping out the vision...

MF: I get emails from people all the time saying, "I just recorded an amazing new record with these amazing players. Would you check it out and think about releasing it?" I always check things out. I'm happy to give feedback, I'm very accessible. But they say to me "I have all these friends what are on the label," and I'm thinking, "well did you talk to these friends about working with Posi-Tone?" If so, they probably told you that we're very hands on. We like to be involved in a project from the beginning. I produce the record, my partner is the engineer, we like to go into the studio and make the whole thing from start to end with people because it makes it a much more satisfying experience for us.

But people continue to blow through the stop signs. "I have this record. Would you be interested in picking it up?" I say "no" like ninety-eight times out of one hundred. Only like two times out of hundred I'll be like, well, maybe we should think about releasing this and only if it's going to be an overture to some ongoing relationship after that. I'm not looking to do a one-off. I'm looking for a cooperative business relationship, a partnership.

AAJ: Well you actually alluded to my next question because you were speaking about how involved you are with the process. How involved do you get with the recording and the arranging?

MF: Well the thing with that is I generally have a dialogue with artists about what they think the project is about. Is there a story that they want to tell that is larger than just the songs themselves? Is there some angle they want to connect with and put out there to people? So we talk on the phone about that. We talk about the players, who they might want to have on the record. You know, maybe they got people, maybe they don't have people. I make some suggestions if they need some. Maybe they don't need any. Maybe they have a band together. There's all kinds of different situations. When I ask them to get the music together I'll ask if they have demos and to send them over. I'll listen to them and we'll talk about them. I'll make suggestions like, "oh, we need another ballad," or, "we need another burner." We try to get more material than they need for the record because it's always better to come in with a little more to the studio so we have the luxury of saying, "well that one didn't come out as well."

Then we'll have a rehearsal. I always have a rehearsal before the session, something I take away from the tradition of Alfred Lion. We don't just go into the studio and try to figure it out. And so after the rehearsal, sometimes, I don't have to say anything. Sometimes the person is a really refined artist who has all the little "i's" dotted and the "t's" crossed. But, sometimes, songs need introductions. Sometimes songs need endings. Sometimes songs need interludes. Sometimes we change an arrangement. Sometimes I suggest we not do something, or not play the head in twice, or only play it once. There's various things that happen with the arrangements and such but nothing heavy.

AAJ: So you actually do get involved with arranging as well?

MF: Yeah, to some extent although I try not to. I try to take whatever it is that someone is bringing to me and help them refine it. My general policy is that I'll ask that we try out an idea that I have just to see what it might sound like. Maybe it doesn't sound good, maybe it sounds great, maybe it's fantastic. We're just trying to work together and improve the arrangements because people play at a gig is totally different than a recording and I don't want to have to do a fade every time. When you're a producer, every time I hear a fade, my thought is why didn't they come up with an ending for this one? I try to limit it to, at most, one fade per record. When the time falls apart and the drummer just plays a little button, that's not really happening either.

So it's just looking at the getting in, the getting out, is there some break, what the solo order would be, getting this planned out. Maybe not everyone solos in every tune. This is the right tune for this, this is the right tune for that. Trying to pick moments and to get a feel for which tunes people are feeling more mostly emotionally connected to.

Occasionally, I do have a bullpen of songs that I might have if we feel like we're missing something or we need another tune. It happens. It's not often but it happens. I'm pretty involved with the recording, there's no question about that. And afterwards... Imagine a gauge with a needle that starts on the left on "a" and as the process moves along it moves from "a" to the other side where there's an "l." At the beginning the artist's thing is so much bigger. It's their vision, their cats, their music. But as things go along, when you get to the recording, the needle is pretty much straight up in the middle. After we pass the recording date and head towards post production the thing starts going to the "l" side, the label side. Then there are a lot of decisions that need to be made that are ultimately more of a marketing decision and less of an artistic decision. I have to make those as well but that's still being involved with the recording.

Nobody is in the business of putting out something the other person doesn't like. It's not great if someone hands me something I don't like. What am I going to do with that? And I don't want to put out a product that the other artist doesn't really like because they're not going to want to promote that. So I go back to this thing about the personality of the relationship and being involved in the limited partnership, and joint venture with all these different people.

I do give the artists a lot of freedom to pursue their own vision. I'm trying to help them refine and present what they're bringing to me. I'm not going to say, "you're going to make a tribute to Billy Strayhorn." I've never done that. I've never said, "you have to play this song it's going to be a hit."

AAJ: So you're saying you try to help them refine their own vision?

MF: Yeah, or try to help encourage their development as an artist, as a player, as a presenter, as an entertainer, all those things. I have to give Nick O'Toole my business partner credit for saying this when some people don't understand why I'm trying to help them, that it is my job to "advocate for the listeners." And in reality I actually am the listener's advocate because the big secret behind Posi-Tone Records is that Nick and I make the records that we would want to listen to as fans. This record is not some million-dollar money-making idea. No, this is a record that we really wanted to make because we like this music. This is the reason why we're involved with things from front to back in this way. The other part of this is that records don't always make money. So if we liked working with that artist, and we liked the record, and we liked the process, and we think back fondly on it, and we still like listening to the record, well that's its own kind of payment that might be something else besides just nickels and quarters in a bag. A certain level of emotional satisfaction of our work that we love. It's not just a job that makes money.

AAJ: Selling music is getting more and more difficult. What kind of strategies have helped you survive?

MF: Well the easy answer is good business acumen, not wasting money. Going backwards a little on this topic, we're unfortunately living in a place where things are not what they seem obviously to be. You would imagine that the difference between surviving and succeeding is getting on an Apple music or Spotify playlist. And you'd like to think that there's some person there whose job it is to be a tastemaker and curator like they would have done in the old days at a radio station, reviewing all these records and picking out just the best tracks for their audience to check out.

But, the truth is, most of the stuff that's on those playlists is a reflection of business relationships, and money, and not anything to do with curation of the art form, and that's a real drag. On some level you'll notice that certain imprints are always getting on those playlists. Certain people who are represented by certain distributors or hire high-profile publicists that cost a lot of money, are always getting those things.

But even a broken clock is right twice a day so once in a while we get lucky and we get stuff. I don't want to bash it all together, I just think the amount of influence these corporate tastemakers have is limited compared to what we would like to imagine that it is. If there's a hundred tracks that they could put in, maybe eighty of them are business and twenty of them are what this person would really want to include.

So the first thing is to be good at business and not waste so much money. To that end, we do all these things in-house. My partner is the engineer. We mix at his own studio in Portland. We don't have to hire another studio to mix. We don't have to hire someone else to master it. All these things that cost money and time that we're investing in the project we can make back. It's not stuff that we have to outlay to make it happen. I would love to hire a publicist and a radio person and a whole bunch of other people to do all my stuff for me but we'd be broke and out of business if we did that. So even though it still costs a couple thousand dollars to promote each records it doesn't cost five thousand dollars.

AAJ: ...so really you're just being as efficient as possible...

MF: Well there's a phrase in business that's called "vertical integration." From conception to where the product is finished, that's the vertical aspect. So we've become as vertically integrated as possible. And horizontally, in terms of getting it out to people, I'm not saying we don't have a distributor, but I have a distributor who doesn't take my Amazon. He only handles the stores. Now I give him a bigger piece of what he does do because he doesn't take my Amazon. We do our own Amazon directly. I've horizontally integrated Amazon. We have our own direct deal with Apple so I don't have some distributor who is between me and Apple to take a cut out of that. But we do have a distribution deal with another person who handles Spotify, Deezer, and all these other things from which they make their money.

So you have to choose good partners to work with. You have to structure a deal smartly. Like I said, the fact that we have direct deals with Amazon and Apple who are the two biggest streams of income for us, is saving ten to twenty percent which is probably the difference between surviving and not surviving over the last ten years.

The other part of it is, it's great when the artist sells a CD, but I don't expect them to reinvent the wheel. People encounter a lot of resistance towards selling a CD if you live in New York City or if you live in Los Angeles. To a lot of people living in big cities, if it's not inside of their smartphone it doesn't exist. But that's not most of the country and definitely not most of the world. We sell things to foreign distributors all the time because people in Europe want to buy a CD with their money. They don't want to buy information; they want to buy a CD. The people in Japan, where as they may want it to be available that way, when they buy it they want it to be a CD that they have at home in case their hard drive crashes or their computer gets... whatever.

AAJ: So how can an artist best help to promote their record?

MF: Well, look, the largest factor affecting the success of a record, obviously, is the profile of the artist. Well, really, it's the profile of the brand. So there's our brand, which has its own thing. Posi-Tone has a group of people around the world who, after all this time, know about the label. They're looking for the label, they're following the label, they're going to our website every time we release a new record or whenever we send out a newsletter. We get a certain amount of immediate activity. We have certain people, I might call it a dedicated niche market but you might call a "superfan," who every month or so buy the last four records through us, or from Amazon, or maybe they go to whatever outlet it is that they really like. That's our brand. So the profile of our brand does that.

But if the artist is playing a lot of gigs as a leader, or super high-profile sideman gigs, of course that is going to help elevate their branding. People who are constantly working to move their brand along are the ones who are going to be more successful. That's why on an artist's first album it's probably important to have a picture of them with their instrument. This is just branding 101. You have an opportunity, when someone sees an album cover, to get a person's name and instrument to go from "awareness" to "recognition." And at some point you try to push for "preference" with some type of genre and sub-genre description or some level of angularity.

So gigs, and then it's pretty much a straight toss-up between radio and social media but with an asterisk. Because above even both of those is this thing I call "direct engagement." Basically it's gigs, with this radio and social media dead heat. And then behind that is press. Funny thing about press is that it generally won't help you sell CDs, at least not early in your career but press will help you get better gigs. That's what press is good for. Radio is good to get people actually hearing the music that you're asking them to buy. Social media is good because they're probably directly engaged with this person who they want to support by buying the product. Lo and behold, look at live, it's a combination of both. There's a social experience going on, they're playing their instruments and they're hearing the music. So of course that's going to be most successful thing for creating a preference.

Let me tell you about the asterisk and direct engagement. So you can be at a gig and be super cool, and you can just show up with your dudes, and hang out on the side of the stage, or talk to your buddies, or go past the crowd, or go down the hall to go backstage to have whatever you're going to have in private after the stress of having to put on that entertaining performance. Or, you can stand outside and shake people's hands and say, "thanks for coming," and not even be trying to sell them anything, just be connecting with them as people. I can't tell you how many times Branford Marsalis, who is way too big to need to do this, would stand outside the dressing room door and just say, "hey, thank you so much for coming tonight. Did you have a good time? Good to see you again." This guy is making insistence fans out of these people. They already preferred him enough to come but he's trying to get them to insistence by connecting with them. That's direct engagement.

We're going to get practical here. The best thing that people can do is get emails. Facebook is great right now, sort of, this week, but so was MySpace back in its time. So was Snapchat two years ago. All these things come up in popularity but young people have already left Facebook and are already on to something else now. What will remain the same is somebody's email and their cell phone number. Those things will remain the same. Those are they access you really want to get from your fans to continue to market to them without having to go through Mark Zuckerberg and his friends and without having to deal with a million other people in their Twitter feed today. Having direct engagement with your fans by having emails and then actually doing something with it. Creating direct engagement by using email. Some people like to do these massive group texts but that email is really valuable. Getting twenty-five emails at a show might, in the long run, be more valuable to your career than selling two CDs.

Telling people, "take my picture and post it to social media and tag me" then you can go back and engage with them and try to go back and get their email address out of them. Back in the old days if you were doing direct marketing, that would be like hanging flyers in someone's door or on their car. If you had a one percent return, people who responded, then that was a success. But I can tell you the conversion rate with direct engagement is a lot higher than one percent. If you can get a list of five thousand names and know that, every time they do something you're going to fifty people, then you're not going to have a problem getting people to your gigs. You're not going to have a problem getting people to buy that CD when you finally have it and need to sell it.

AAJ: There's been a trend back to vinyl. I'm curious if you're participating in that.

MF: There were a lot of things that were right about vinyl. The fact of the matter is that most people are busy and only have so much listening endurance, and it's only getting shorter. That's why a lot of times people will say, "why is that song only five and a half to six minutes long? That tune could have easily been eight and a half to nine minutes long." I'm like, "sure, live you can play it for eleven minutes." I'm advocating for the listeners whose listening endurance is just a lot less. We have to do this. It is what it is.

When you listen to a vinyl record you put it on and it'll be eighteen to twenty-something minutes on each side. You'll listen to side one and put the record away. Next time you take it out and you'll listen to side two. Most people's listening endurance is about eighteen to twenty-two minutes and that's the great thing about vinyl is that it does play to that. I can name a whole bunch of things that are great about vinyl.

But vinyl wears out. Vinyl gets damaged. Vinyl is extremely heavy and extremely bulky. It's difficult to ship, it's expensive, and difficult for artists to take with him on gigs. Most of these bands that have vinyl have made it some roadie's job to haul this heavy box around full of vinyl. So at the micro level, where we're at, it doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense. Plus, most people who are into vinyl have about twenty to twenty-five pieces. I'm not saying there aren't some people with a serious fetish. I have one. I have a collection upstairs with about three thousand to five thousand pieces of vinyl.

Look, if I knew I could sell three or four hundred copies of vinyl right off the bat, I would consider making them. We've talked about doing a pre-sale kind of thing where, if there were enough people willing to buy it, then we would go ahead and press it. I'm not against the idea but this is why we went away from jewel case. You have a cardboard box with thirty CDs in it. So if you want to bring a hundred CDs to your gig you have to bring three or four of these boxes. And those boxes that hold a hundred jewel cases holds thirty pieces of vinyl and it's much heavier. It's like asking you to become an anvil salesman. Whereas we went to these eco-wallets and a hundred of those fit in a box that used to hold thirty jewel cases.

So when you look at all these things, clearly the answer is to go with eco-wallet and the CD. I mean the vinyl is a great luxury product. I would love to do it but it also means making shorter records that are only forty-two minutes long and the distribution is really horrible. I'd have to make thousands of copies, sell a couple hundred, and then give like nine hundred of them back. That's why if it was direct sales at a certain level then I would do that. When I started doing this business in 1995 it wasn't hard to sell a few thousand CDs, now it's hard to sell six hundred for a lot of people.

There are other reasons to make a record that could be good for the artist besides just making a bunch of money. Just like it's important, unfortunately, to put a couple of recognizable tunes on your first album because people don't know who you are and don't know who you are influenced by. But the money in the music business has always been in publishing so you need to write your own stuff.

There's one thing about Posi-Tone records I'd like to make perfectly clear. We have never taken anybody's publishing ever. We own the masters. I've gotten a lot of grief over the years from people who I've wanted to come in and be business partners and help us out with some capital. They'd say, "you're going to have to start taking some of the publishing" and I'm like, "no." We'd be much better off if we owned some of the publishing but we don't. But we own the master, that's the deal. The money that comes from the master is ours and the money that comes from the publishing is theirs, that's their work product and this is ours.

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All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

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