Friday, May 15, 2009

What's in a Rename album?

Real Music for Real People

Rename is doing a sort of subscription album. They’re not the first, not by a long shot, but they are the first in the synthpop scene to do this.

Some positive observations –
1. Most synthpop releases sell less than 500 copies. With this they sell to about 115 die hard fans, the ones who would have picked up the CD anyway, but get a premium for it. Instead of about $5 a sale they get about $55 a CD sold. Not bad.
2. And they get to make the album, press it, all at not cost to them. And key is there is no upfront cost, no credit card interest to pay etc.
3. It certainly has generated some buzz (i.e. – uhm, this blog!)

Some not so positive observations –
1. My impression is, and tell me if I am wrong, is that they are going to get $250 from Joe Smith and then record a song called “Joe Smith.” Not a song dedicated to Joe Smith (like others doing this scheme have done), but the actual song will be about Joe Smith. Pretty cool if you are Joe Smith, everyone else? Not so much.
2. In my mind music is about art, in the broadest way possible. Especially at this level where you don’t make real money. Art means different things to different people, but having someone pay you money and then say – write a song about this one thing – that’s uh, not art, it’s commerce, it’s Britney Spears territory. Now I know that patronage is an age old way to get art made, and often the patron would direct the artist to paint or sculpt something directly, but this feels different.
3. Ok, but, you can say, the band is still making music their way, it’s not like they are going to do a country song if Joe Smith likes country. True, but this leads me to my third point – by catering soooo much to fans are they going to Trekkie themselves (yes I just made that up, © 2009 me)? That is, will they appeal only to the people who already like them and not try to expand at all? Where is the incentive to chase new fans (however hopeless that is these days)? They made their money up front – Frankly they will come out of this (if it sells) just slightly ahead- why bother pimping the album when there is no reason (beyond fame, etc.!)

In short. I think it’s a trap. This particular idea. I will say that I have been watching these ideas (particularly the Jill Souble one) and have an idea to try it with Spray. Say $30 gets you the 3 Cd limited set, a T shirt and all of the digital singles that will come off the album…

I like something like this better because it does not tie the artist down at all yet it still gives the fans the feel of being on the inside.

Still, when all is said and done I wish Rename the bets of luck.

Children of a Laser GodSpray
"Queen Of Summer" (mp3)
from "Children of a Laser God"
(Ninthwave Media)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
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Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at Amazon MP3
Buy at appliedSB / Groupietunes
Buy at mTraks
More On This Album


Arron said...

I have to admit : i was very skeptical about committing to write songs about subject matter supplied by someone else: but having had time to ponder it a bit, i don't think its such a bad idea.

After all, you can take an idea anywhere.

Often, in the stuff we do, some stuff is written by one member about something and their lives, and is finished by someone else in the band. SO the second person is doing exactly what rename intend.

Then of course, pop musical is supposed to be universal. Why would some relate less to a song about XYZ person, than ABC person who happens to be in a band ? Im not even sure that songwriters' have the most interesting lives anyway. Sitting in front their computer, or holed up with their friends the synths and drum machines :)

Im pretty sure it will be a good record !

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家出 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Todd Durrant said...

Well, as one of the people working on that Rename project, I can promise you, it is very artistically satisfying to be presented with an idea from Song Sponsors and then turn it into a fun song. I've had a lot of fun with the two songs written so far: "What's Wrong With You?" (observations from a farmer who gets flack for wearing a kilt), and "Mimo and Joe" (a song purchased as a gift to two friends getting married).

Is it a rip-off to pay $250 for a custom song? Well, if you don't have $250 and aren't interested, then sure. If you're a fan and love the idea of a song you helped to thematically create, then it's a huge bargain. Heck, you're paying MUCH less then minimum wage for a couple of guys to make you a song, if you figure in the time involved.

As for the sales figures...the conclusion that any synthpop band is catering to about 115 die hard fans is based on an assumption that...well, I don't know where it comes from. Rename sold out of 500 copies of the limited edition of the first album "Culture" in a couple of months. "Energize" has only a few of the 2CD editions left, and that didn't sell out as quickly because the 1-CD was sold at the same time. The band has also sold out of both previously released CD singles (500 units each) and singles are definitely a fan-only item. Despite the downturn in CD sales in general, it is pretty safe to say that there are more than 115 Rename fans out there.

One more quick note... 8 of 11 "Song Sponsor" spots have been filled, with many other "Fan Followers" who subscribed to receive all demos and the finished album. With that in mind, we feel the album is already a success and the project is in motion. We're excited to share the music with those who have been kind enough to support this unique effort :-)


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