Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We'd Like To Apologize To Dave Mustaine

Apparently, the Neo-Nazis music critics over at Stormfront have read this post of ours and will be deleting your music/videos because they don't support Jews.

One anti-Semite music critic writes:
Having not previously know that, say bye to the Megadeth videos, and my Ipod will say goodbye to their songs. I don't promote or support jews. As a matter of fact, I get in trouble at work a lot because of my anti-jewish beliefs. Like I told my boss, I was looking for a job when I got here, and I'll be looking for one when I leave.
Dave, although you might consider yourself a Christian, the racists Jew-lovers at Stormfront now know the truth. We apologize for the inconvenience. Shana tova!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Teruah Teshuvah

Teruah is doing teshuva!

I too have been feeling guilty about the number of CD reviews I have not yet gotten to. I have been working on the stack lately in fits and starts, and am hoping to have it done soon. I have listened to all of these and pretty much know what I want to say, just need to make the time to write it all down.

Here's my current review stack:

Prodezra - Beats L'shem Shomayim
Kol Noar Boys Choir
Later Prophets - Ha'Orot
Klezmerfest - Life of the Party
Susan McKeown & Lorin Sklamberg - Saints & Tzadiks
Gershon Veroba - Second Impressions
Yiddishe Cup - Klezmer Guy
Ben Epstien - Shirei HaLevi'im

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Pitom Download

The Village Voice NY Music Blog has posted a short interview with Pitom bandleader Yoshie Fruchter. You can also download a free track off of their debut record.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Autumn Night in New York

Walking down a NYC street near midnight...

A panhandler calls out from the steps of Bnai Jeshurun: "Brother, can you spare some change?"

We stop and start feeling for some change.

"Melody Maker in Bb", he says. "A lady gave me a Melody Maker in Bb. Would you like to hear it?"

"Sure," we say, handing him a dollar.

He improvises a sad bluesy melody and then takes the dollar.

"Thank you!"

No, thank you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

From the mailbag...

E. comments on the previous post:
If the new people aren't mechadeish anything, then why does MBD need to have Aaron Razel involved in the production of his "new" album?

BTW, It is ironic that a site like Matzav which infringes on people's copyrights daily is preaching about copyrights...

J. Gondek writes:
Dear Hasidic Musician,

In your blog I read the following:

"Given the interest in exotic instruments, I suppose this was inevitable. Note: According to Jewish tradition, a synthetic shofar is not acceptable for religious use."

I'm not arguing the validity or accuracy of your statement but am curious if you can point me to a Talmud citation that discusses prohibition of synthetic shofar in religious ceremonies.
The Mishna in Rosh Hashana specifies the criterion for a shofar. One of them is that it needs to be natural, and from a ram or goat, but not from a cow. The Talmud in Rosh Hashana (27a) addresses the case of a gold-plated shofar and concludes that if the part where the mouth rests is also covered, so that the mouth doesn’t touch the horn itself, then one has not fulfilled the mitzvah.

It’s clear from these texts that the shofar has to be a natural horn and that a synthetic reproduction would not be acceptable.

More CD Rental Embarrassment

CD rentals are back!

I've commented on this in the past. In my opinion, this approach is a chilul Hashem.

I'll also point out that according to the Rabbi who "conceived" this idea, the pictured CD liner interior would not suffice.

This is not legally or halachically binding. The proposal just makes religious Jews look bad.

It's time to accept intellectual property laws, as Rav Elyashiv and Rav Ovadya Yosef have.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, someone needs to send MBD some CD's. He's clearly not up to date on Jewish music.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

9/5/09 Link Dump

Here's a great Wedding Entrance! And here's the divorce.

"The Minutes Go Like Hours When You Sing."

This ain't bluegrass. Despite the misleading title, it's fun. I want these guys in the studio for my next project.

Here's a Jewschool discussion on wedding Shtick.

Violinist Jake Shulman-Ment's new CD, A Redele, is out! Check it out!

Andy Derrick writes about Professionals and Charity Work. What's your take?

The KlezKanada 2009 blog is here. I wish it had been frequently updated. Blogging these events is a great concept and I hope future KlezKamp and KlezKanada blogs will have more content. It's a great marketing opportunity to attract future attendees. And I know some bloggers who could/would be happy to help out. Hey, how about having a J-music bloggers panel at one of these?

Finally, here's a nice version of "Every Breath You Take."

Making the Job Harder

I recently sat through a prep meeting for a wedding for which I'd been hired by the band owner who booked the job as a sub-leader. The participants at the meeting were the band owner/musician, myself (as the sub-leader) and the bride and groom. Throughout the meeting, I sat there in silent horror as I watched the band-owner say one thing after another all with the end result of a) making the job much harder and b) making themselves look incompetent.

First a little about the job...

This was a standard frum MO wedding. The client booked a five piece simcha/pop band consisting of Keys/drums/guitar/woodwinds/violin. The specific requests prior to this meeting, other than the usual simcha repertoire were:
some light classical music during dinner (hence the violin), some Israeli folk songs at some point, and a few American and Israeli pop/rock songs at the end of the event. All in all, a pretty straightforward affair.

Then we had the prep meeting.

Here's what the band owner did wrong, in my opinion...

1) The band leader kept pushing the client to make decisions about music for parts of the wedding at which they had no preference, i.e. the background music at the cocktails, opening the ballroom after the chupa, etc. We talked through the entire affair at the beginning of the meeting. The client had no specific programming requests for these times, and left it to our discretion, as to what to play.

Towards the end of the meeting, the band owner revisited each of those times, and essentially made the client feel they had to choose specific music/musical genres. So, the client made requests. My impression was that these were not specifically what they wanted to hear, just one of several possibilities that would have worked for them. Since they were being pressured to choose, they did. These "requests" will make the job more complicated, for no good reason. For example, they talked the client into having only classical music during the cocktail hour. That's fine, if that's what the client had wanted. But, they really didn't care if we played light Israeli, some Bossa Novas and standards, etc. A five-piece pop band with drums and electric guitar is not exactly the best choice of ensemble for an hour plus of classical music. We can do it, but we'll be a pop band playing classical music, which I'm certain is not the sound in the bride's head when she imagines classical music at her wedding.

Plus, now someone has to bring the sheet music for this. Guess whose job that is!

2) Kept bringing up the suggestion that we could/should include some contemporary Israeli pop in the first dance set. Since the client didn't want it there, and we'd already, in talking through the program, placed it in the 2nd dance, it was a pointless suggestion. Repeating it many times showed that they a) don't understand the dance needs at a contemporary simcha, and b) weren't listening to the client.

3) During the meeting, the client inquired about the possibility of adding a harpist to play in the lobby as guests were entering, and wanted a quote. So, this musician helpfully told the client that they'd once gotten a harpist to play a cocktail hour/ceremony for $200. Not cool. Also, no chance that was happening again. But, it served to make a fair price quote for said harpist seem excessively high.

I could go on...


Musician's definition: Overtime.
Chareidi definition: A likely career choice for women.

Musician's definition: ProTools.
Chareidi definition: The other likely career choice for BY graduates who have not gone into chinuch or OT

Musician's definition: Cheesy '70's dance music.
Chareidi definition: The latest dance hit by Shwekey.

Jewish Music Print Advertising

Over the years, I've had quite a few conversations with various band owners about print advertising for the Jewish market. I've also experimented with some myself.

In my opinion, and this has been confirmed to me by many I've spoken to who have tried it, print advertising in various local Jewish media doesn't pay. The media are overpriced relative to the benefits, and don't result in increased work, unless you're willing to charge the lowest price.

Note: I'm not talking about a short specific campaign involving articles, free CD's, etc, just a paid listing/ad in the music services section of a newspaper/magazine.

In my own experience, an ad I ran years ago in one paper brought in two types of inquiries...

1) Calls from the paper's competitors trying to sell me ads in their papers.

2) Calls from people who were calling everyone listed in the section and making their decision based solely on price. Since there are other bands advertising in these sections, who have no problem booking a job at below scale, and then sending kids or unqualified musicians out to play it, there is simply no way I could/would compete on price. My expenses are higher because I insist on hiring good musicians, which costs more.

An ad in another publication got me a junk mail subscription. I'm still receiving mail from those folks.

The only benefit some advertisers I spoke to have found, is that in some cases, if people were looking for them specifically, they might find their phone number in one of these papers. That said, if these people were looking for their number and couldn't find it in the paper, they'd still be able to find it, so they didn't see too much benefit in that either.

Obviously, the chance of booking a job off an ad exists, and that's why some still advertise. (There are also some bands who advertise, but don't pay their bills, so it doesn't cost them to do so. This is unethical, of course.) In my opinion though, the price of Jewish advertising in general, and simcha services ads in particular are significantly overpriced.

A few years ago, one of the popular Jewish websites contacted me to try and sell an ad. Their price was absurd. Moreso were their stats. Being new at this, their salesman gave me information he probably shouldn't have. At the time, this website was claiming 40,000-60,000 hits a day. Yet, when I asked for the number of hits to their simcha directory the number of hits was twelve. That is before subdividing those hits into individual categories like music, flowers, makeup, catering halls etc. Needless to say, I told him their rates were quite unreasonable.

I did make a counter-offer which I've since made to a number of other J-media salespeople. That offer? If they'll run a free ad for a short time period, and I book even one gig off it, I'd buy an ad. They've all turned it down. I think these people know that their ads don't work well enough and that's why they won't do it. It's simple really. If an ad venue was productive, I'd obviously pay to keep it. Their unwillingness to stand behind their product is telling.

There is another issue with much of the J-media advertising as well and that is timeliness.

For example, one New-Jersey based J-ad publication, The Network, mailed their Purim issue out late this year and last. The result, it arrived after Purim. This made the color front page ad for Mishloach Manos baskets as well as the various other Purim-related ads inside irrelevant. I'd be pleasantly surprised to hear that they had contacted these advertisers to offer refunds, but I haven't heard that they have, even to the tzedaka with its full page color ad soliciting Matanos L'evyonim.

If anyone has any J-music advertising stories to share, please send 'em on in.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Breaking Kabbalistic News!

Here's a Madonna update!

It's Giveaway Friday - Free Stuff for Ya'll

Over at Amazon.com, theyr'e giving away free World Music sampler downloads!

There's a JDub sampler and an Israeli music sampler as well as lots more interesting music. And, the price is right.

If you have an iLok or any Line 6 DAW interfaces, you can get a free license for their amp modeling plug-in, POD Farm Once again, the price is right.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Intellectual Property Psak

Here's some good news for people who compose music for the chareidi market. I wonder if ACUM will pro-rate a major percentage of the fees towards those composers.

At any rate, this is big, as both Rav Elyashiv and Rav Ovadya Yosef have endorsed the idea that Dina D'malchusa Dina applies to intellectual property. This is the approach that I have been suggesting for years and it logically extends to other areas of music/intellectual property rights like downloading. It represents a direct rejection of Rabbi Dovid Cohen's allowing people to download/copy songs/sell hard drives full of music without payment to the rights holders.

If the JM industry is smart, they will, as I have been suggesting for years, invest in publicizing this psak and its implications.

More Peeps

The Choirmaster

This peep comes over, flashes his pitch pipe, and says: "Don't comp us under the chupa. It won't work." He also says "There are four of us and only one of us can sing on key." He's not wrong.

The Prissy Caterer

This guy's a real class act. We're playing a six hour affair at which the band was supposed to be getting dinner. Due to some scheduling mishaps, the party is running late, and the caterer decides to make up the time by shortening the time alloted for dinner, and having us start the second dance set after only a short break. Naturally, he refuses to feed the band until after all of the guests are fed. Also, naturally, that's the point at which he already wants us to start the next set.[Brief digression: This situation, where the caterer refuses to feed the band before all the guests are served, comes up frequently. It is inconsiderate, because it ensures that the band will not have time to eat (unless there are speeches.)] At any rate, we don't get meals, despite having been promised them. After this dance set, we take a short break for dessert. We have a bunch of dance requests left to play, and are supposed to start up again in five minutes and play through the end of the gig. The folks in the kitchen again refuse to feed us "until after the guests have all been served dessert." Nice! At this point, the bride asks me if we've eaten. So I tell her we haven't. Long story short, she takes me in to the kitchen and informs the folks there that they need to feed the band now.

Two minutes later, the caterer, who was not in the kitchen when the bride came in, comes over to me and says in a peeved and condescending tone: "Did you really go over to the bride and ask for food?" Um, you don't get to be upset about looking bad in front of the client if it's your own fault. Even if meals hadn't been promised, there's really no reason for the 'tude.