The Man, the Myth... the goofy clothing...



Welcome Aboard The Flying Dragon

posted Oct 27, 2016, 10:59 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Nov 2, 2016, 2:02 PM ]


Christopher Condent, the pirate, forced the surrender of a Dutch privateer ship, and renamed her The Flying Dragon. Yep, I couldn't get an actual ticket to that, so I am attempting to bring The Flying Dragon to me.

And so, with the aid of a green screen, CamTwist software, and a youtube video, I sat down and performed for this video with me inside the ship...

.That is how I spent some time in the captain's cabin on Halloween.


M-M-Mages

posted May 2, 2016, 12:08 PM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated May 5, 2016, 1:25 PM ]

I've been doing tributes at the Medieval Fair of Norman for a while. Last year I sang the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, and this year it was a combination tribute to David Bowie (1947-2016) and Gary Gygax (1938-2008). I couldn't help but put together Ziggy Stardust, Jareth, the Goblin King, and the E. G. G., the grandmaster who helped us truly personalize all modern fantasy by creating an entirely new literary genre in  Fantasy Role Playing Games.
 I wrote these lyrics specifically for the performance you see recorded here, and for the group who are in this audience.

M-M-Mages
Still don’t know what I was questing for,

my game was running wild... a million NPCs.
It started out in search of the unknown,
and that boarderlandic keep.
As the giants came to face me,
we descended to the depths.
Still our clerics thieves and fighters
would not survive the quest... without

M-M-Mages... magic missile range
M-M-Mages... never want to be much of a fighting man
M-M-Mages... I made my level gain
M-M-Mages... never was too much of a ranger fan
Oh, that D and D, Gygax designed

To Blackmoor and Greyhawk, we said good-bye,
and even the Forgotten Realms became impermanent.
Then Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis
proved Dragonlance could be the same.
And these players that you prey on,
with your ever-changing rules,
grow immune to your revisions.
They’re quite aware of what you’re trying to do.... to

M-M-Mages... spells keep changing names
M-M-Mages... oh, cast your Bigby’s Hands and be proud of it
M-M-Mages... spells or magic staves
M-M-Mages... can you make your saving throw to get you out of it?
Oh, that D and D, Gygax designed

Constant new editions, Oh, market to me
Oh, these changes continue to replace the game I knew.

M-M-Mages... Fireball engage
M-M-Mages... and watching out for all those new beholders
M-M-Mages... expect another change
M-M-Mages... as your target market’s growing older
Oh, that D and D, Gygax designed
I said, that D and D, Gygax designed
[Melody: "Changes" by David Bowie. Lyrics by Fugli]

This tribute began to David Bowie, who was a cultural icon who made it cool to be alternative. We lost him in January of 2016. His influence was incredible, though often overlooked because by the time everyone else was copying him, he was already reinvented himself. I liked hie early work the best, but there are differing opinions across the board.


I revere him most because he did it all: musician, actor, painter, designer...



Love him or hate him, you can't deny his indelible imprint on modern culture.


And, of all his songs, I like Changes the best.


Bowie noted that Changes began as a parody of a nightclub song. When I was learning the chord structure, the openly noncommittal sounds of the major 7ths and 6ths attest to this. But, like some of my own experiences, the song took a turn from its original path. Instead of remaining a musical joke, it became what seems a more introspective treatise of his ever evolving personal reinvention. Finding one's muse is one thing. Following one's muse is the seed of genius.

Of all his acting career, I appreciated his role of Jareth, the Goblin King the most.



The movie, Labyrinth, was a quirky convoluted fairy tale of a production that you really had to invest yourself in to enjoy. It had so many problems, but Bowie as Jareth was not one of them. He's evil, and we forgive him for it because he's just so oddly cool.

Which brings me to a good transition point. Bowie started this tribute, but along the way, it took a turn to the fantastic. Who do you consider to be the ultimate icon of modern fantasy? J. R. R. Tolkein? George R. R. Martin? Anne McCaffrey? Roger Zelazny? For me it's E. Gary Gygax.


E. Gary Gygax created Dungeons and Dragons, the first fantasy role playing game. Dave Arneson showed him how some rules that Gygax had previously written for miniature battles might be further adapted into a social game on a more personal level, and the two of them collaborated on the first incarnation of the game.


If you are not familiar with the role playing game genre, or the specifics... here's a breakdown of the lyrical references.

NPC's stands for Non Player Characters - those are the stock characters and creatures of any fantasy game world world. There is one person, the Dungeon Master, who plays them all.

The verse continues by listing off a bunch of early Dungeons and Dragons modules (adventures) with which most players in the late 1970's would be familiar.




Clerics, Thieves and Fighters are literary character archetypes of the game itself. Players of the game select a character "class" around which to pattern their own story. Mages are not actually an original class within the game, but M-M-Magic-Users just doesn't fit the song.

Magic Missiles are one of the staple spells of a budding young Magic-User. They don't do a lot of damage, but in the original rules, as long as the target is in range and visible, they never miss. Newer rules editions have changed the incredible accuracy aspect of the spell.

Fighting Man is the character class name from the original game, affectionately called 0e, that later became known as Fighter.


As any Dungeons and Dragons game progresses, characters are awarded experience points by the Dungeon Master. These points translate directly into character levels, allowing characters to grow in power with experience. To gain a level then means to earn enough experience to train and become more powerful.

Rangers are another class name, and a subset of fighter. The class idea is likely taken from Tolkien's character of Aragorn, son of Arathorn. There's also the Texas Rangers, and this song was originally written to be performed in Oklahoma.

(Please note the name Gygax on many of the products listed here.)

Blackmoor, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance are all settings published for use as mythological background for the game.





Settings come and go in popularity. Greyhawk has always been my favorite. There are people who still use all of these, but most today won't remember them.

The ever changing rules refers to all the editions that have been published over the years, each incarnation making changes to the original game design. Most "old school" players stopped updating their rules at some point. Personally, I liked 2e (second edition), but I see many merits in 3e. 5e is just asking too much. Hasbro now owns the game, and they do not need any more of my money. Each time they release a new edition, they re-market updated versions of the supplementary materials, effectively selling people what they already have.

Many magical spells used by characters within the fantasy framework of the game once had names attached to them of some of the founding characters used to test the playability of the rules. Bigby, Leomund, Tenser, and Mordenkainen all lent their names to spells, which have since been removed in favor of a more generic spell name listing. Bigby is famous for an entire suite of spells mostly based around hands.
  • Bigby's Clenched Fist
  • Bigby's Crushing Hand
  • Bigby's Forceful Hand
  • Bigby's Grasping Hand
  • Bigby's Interposing Hand
  • Bigby's Disrupting Hand
  • Bigby's Helpful Hand
  • Bigby's Striking Fist
  • Bigby's Tripping Hand
  • Bigby's Warding Hand
  • Bigby's Battering Gauntlet
  • Bigby's Besieging Bolt
  • Bigby's Bookworm Bane
  • Bigby's Construction Crew
  • Bigby's Dextrous Digits
  • Bigby's Fantastic Fencers
  • Bigby's Feeling Fingers
  • Bigby's Force Sculpture
  • Bigby's Most Excellent Force Sculpture
  • Bigby's Pugnacious Pugilist
  • Bigby's Silencing Hand
  • Bigby's Slapping Hand
  • Bigby's Strangling Grip
  • Bigby's Superior Force Sculpture
The concept of a saving throw, or a saving roll, is that there is some chance that an undesirable outcome may be avoided. Perhaps a character can resist the effects of a spell, or poison will not be strong enough. Spells or Magic Staves is a specific saving throw category from the Basic D&D set.


Dungeons and Dragons is now in the 5th edition rules, or 5e. They want to sell, but I'm not buying.

Fireball is a classic spell that most Magic-Users eventually aspire to cast. Think of it as a flaming grenade. Although, a fireball might not effect a Beholder.

Of all the monsters in the D&D worlds, the most unique to the game of D&D itself is probably the Beholder, or Eye Tyrant.


The original monster has seen many variations and "Beholder Kin" over the years.


Elder Orb

Hive Mother

Spectator


Lensman


Eye of the Deep

Mindwitness

You probably get the idea by now. The list goes on and on.

Over time, what we have all learned is that the game keeps changing, the marketing goes on to an ever changing market demographic... and the modern incarnation of D&D is not the same as the one that Gary Gygax designed. (Because, if it was, Hasbro would have to pay royalties to his family.) As an older gamer, Hasbro left me along the way.

Release Party

posted Mar 30, 2016, 9:43 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Mar 30, 2016, 9:43 AM ]


This coming weekend is the release party for my newest CD, Mythtakes. Some people call this event the Medieval Fair of Norman, but we know better. Remember there are two versions of each of my CDs. The ones with fancy packaging are about $15 online, and the clamshell CDs are $10 at faire.

Why the difference? For one, the clamshells are more compact and lighter to carry... Plus, they are special in that I put a lot more content on them specifically to be read by your computer. My CD service won't do that. Also, without all the packaging and handling, I can afford to sell them to you cheaper. But, if want to pick up a pretty copy online  you can go to Createspace.com to order yours today.

Coming to the release party? That will be from April 1st through the 3rd in Reeves Park, Norman, Oklahoma. I'll be there and I've invited about 300,000 of my closest friends to celebrate the whole weekend.

I've got you on the guest list, no need to check in with the front desk.


Oh, and with the release of Mythtakes, my previous stopgap "Bootleg" CD is now obsolete. Fear not, you know those computer files that I mentioned above? The Bootleg mp3's are among them.

Heraldry?

posted Jan 22, 2016, 10:34 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder

Azure, on a chevron or,
between three lions passant gardent or,
three crosses pattee sable.


The above is a depiction of one of the arm associated with the name Fowler (with a lot of liberties that I've taken with everything except the field).

This is not my family crest... because we know there is no such thing as a family crest, and what we call a coat of arms is actually known as an armorial achievement, and a "coat of arms" is an actual coat. Still, it can be entertaining to pretend and reimagine ancient times, so I use the rule of tinctures to teach concepts of value, contrast and color regarding visibility and recognizability. Most people just don't know how to make a good sign.

I use various resources to facilitate teaching the concepts, and I thought I might post my basic handouts here below. the one marked Heraldry is a 4 page 11" x 17" double sided fold out folder for their work to be placed in when they are not working on it. The escutcheons sheet is a double sided page of shield shapes.

I recently put together a keynote (powerpoint) presentation to help make sure I made my key points. Because I embedded youtube videos in it, It's too large to upload here, but I can post a link to it in drop box.

The Stone Troll, The Chilly Fox, and the Squirrely Troubadour

posted Oct 26, 2015, 7:15 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Oct 27, 2015, 7:37 AM ]


The Stone Troll is from Tolkien, the fox is the traditional melody, and the Troubadour is me. Oh, the nuisance of copyright. Here is one small adventure of making a new CD.

It has been a while since I created a new Faire CD. (I'm not counting my "Bootleg" Edition since it is just cobbled together from stuff I wasn't using, and it doesn't sell through any official sources anyway.) I have been producing Christian work for a goodly number of years as recording conventions have changed... at least for me, they have.

Now I can record lyrics and music on multiple separate tracks and mix them together at the end. Once upon a time it was more like, here's an open mike performance... let's add another track or two and mix them down, repeat, etc. It's still like voodoo, but more refined because I can go back and edit more stuff later.

That's all great for the mechanics of it but it does not cover musical content. I have three choices when recording any marketable material:

First, I can use public domain materials. Shakespeare, Folk songs, old broadside lyrics, and other old stuff offers quite an array to select from. I can even make derivative works from such stuff, like setting the lyrics of Amazing Grace to the melody of House of the Rising sun. The first is a poem that has had at least 20 melodies associated with it over the centuries, and the second is one of those old folk songs. (No, The Animals did not write the song.) If it is over ninety-five years old, it is fair game.

Second, I can write my own material. I do that too. I pop a few chords together and I have a new melody for something old. Writing lyrics is actually a bit more difficult, but if I have a theme, and a literary direction, it becomes easier. I find that writing comedy is more difficulty than sentiment in this respect. This process takes longer, requiring much more time.

Third, I can acquire the rights for something already out there. This is a copyright work around allowing people to record that song that they may have heard on the radio or television. Theoretically anyone can gain what is called mechanical rights to record a song in the United States. There are several stipulations, but the compulsory price is not very high, and there are collection agencies on the internet willing to do it for about $15 a song plus the 9.1 cents per copy stipulated by law.

Here is what I wanted. Tolkien wrote several songs, and I wanted to include a version of the Stone Troll (or Sam's Rhyme of the Troll) on my new CD. As a part of his Lord of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I figured it would be a nice literary balance to go along with two songs that I had written, one about Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and another inspired by Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. Tolkien had published it in multiple sources and had mentioned that it went to the melody of an old folk song. From the meter, that song seems to have been The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night.

So, how to acquire the rights? I found a couple of online agents and searched their database. No joy there, so I filled out the online forms and contacted them. Then, I did get a false hit on the Stone Troll from the Lord of the Rings movie, but I had to inform them that it was Tolkien's work that I was interested in, not the movie background music. Really, it should not be this difficult. So, I went online again and did some digging. I have found at least four different recordings of this song made under the proper copyrights, but two of them were made outside the U. S. and so compulsory mechanical rights laws do not apply. One of the remaining two is part of a larger literary performance, and therefore compulsory mechanical rights laws again do not apply. And, none of them use the melody of The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night, which makes the last one useless as well, because compulsory mechanical rights laws do not include derivative works. Here, using the intended melody is considered changing the melody.


i could go with the Ace books defense whereby the Lord of the Rings was considered to be public domain in the United States for a brief while back in the 60s. But, as much as I would like to claim ignorance of the details, and that I have a copy of said printing, it would ultimately be self serving and, i feel, unethical.


Meanwhile, I had recorded music to go along with the eight verses of Tolkien's song, but after doing all of these agent's research for them, I determined that we will have to all wait until the year 2043.

And so I changed my research to the possibility of other lyrics to go with the music that I had already recorded. Interestingly enough, as folk songs go, the meter is rather unique, which means if I was going to use the music for a folk song, it would need to be
The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night. Not my favorite song, but I already had the music ready to go. I trimmed the recording down to seven verses and recorded away. Not bad but...

After balancing it out and listening to it a few times, I decided that these lyrics just do not do it for me. I've got songs about mermaids and wizards and unicorns, and I already have a Fox song with a more El Zoro theme. This song may have history, but it has never made my hit parade.

And so, I have this music... and a pencil... new lyrics it is... the working title for the new six verse song is The Folk Song. Until the next CD, here's The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night (below).... because I already have it recorded.

So... no troll, no fox... instead I have a new song about an old song.

How to Medieval Inexpensively

posted Oct 13, 2015, 1:05 PM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder

Bryan Nash posted a link to this video on facebook.

I watched it all the while thinking, "hey, I did a diagram something like this some years back when I was thinking about multiple character garb for cheap." Well, I found the diagram in a pile of sketches, and here it is:



After finding it, I thought, why not add more to it?... Last week I doodled a booklet... I hope y'all find it useful in some way.

You can download the booklet below.

Renaissance in Texarkana

posted Oct 5, 2015, 10:59 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Oct 5, 2015, 11:04 AM ]


This past week I experienced the privilege of working with the Texarkana Renaissance Faire. While many smaller faires struggle to survive the rigors of a world that has multiple entertainment opportunities, I feel that this faire has a great shot at the long haul. It seems large enough to sustain momentum, but now past its fourth year, it will need to keep growing, bit by bit.  Spirit are high, and the main struggle that I foresee will be getting the word out to their local community.


I was very glad to see many of the staples of the faire experience represented, from sca boffing to horse rides and acrobatic juggling performers as well as two royal courts. With all of this were added the fae contingent of fairies, a Minotaur, several mermaids, a magical fox and even a unicorn. Plus pirates, like bacon, they enhance. I was part of the musical contingent. Welcome to Neverland.


At first nonplussed by Saturday's gate opening when the patrons slowly trickled in, I noticed that they kept coming in at a similar rate all day long. Huzzah! And best of all, most stayed for the long haul. The traffic remained steady up until the end. That is great for the merchants, who we must concede are the real backbone of a faire. A steady stream means never being overwhelmed. I hope their sales coincide.



As I often do, I spent much of my time seeking those spots with less faire performance life in order to add some background entertainment. Blessed by passersby who stop to listen or chat, I got a bit of a feel for the diversity of the audience. Of note were a couple who were off to meet with a dragon, the young child who wanted to play my kobza, and who's grandparent snapped us together in a picture with her pretending to play, and a quiet gentleman who had no favorite type of song but just wanted to sit and listen to whatever I might play. The fantasy is in you all, we are just here to help elicit it. We watch you as much as you watch us.


Characteristically, I left home the morning of the faire. Texarkana hit my radar through a listing on Meistersrealm, and I had noticed that it is on the very outskirts of my travel range. But, that meant that I had to leave at about 4am, so I was already a bit travel worn when I arrived in time for the 9am meeting. The talk was to the point, mostly logistics with a little pep, and mercifully, uncharacteristically for some faires, brief. Please keep that up. There was no similar meeting on Sunday, so thank you also for trusting your performers to figure it out. There was always room to move along and perform wherever we wished.


Backstage is where one often hears the best and worst. What I heard was playful. We even exchanged a riddle or two. That says volumes. In a fantasy world, the spirits must remain high. Take it from a former Disney cast member, that is not always so. Plus, thank you Texarkana Faire for the great piles of water bottles. I downed about eight or ten of them when the weather did get a bit warm.


Now, I did pack street clothes, but truthfully, I did not change into them for the whole weekend. Much of the cast went out en mass on Saturday night, but while it was a mass exodus, it was in small groups, so as a solo I was a bit lost sitting alone at the bar. Thank you to the few who came over from their tables to say a quick hello; you made me feel welcome. I did get to talking with some of the locals there about all of the strangely clothed patrons, and found out that none of them knew about the faire. One of the restaurant staff even asked if there was a LARP event going on, and some wanted to know if there was jousting. Sadly, no and no, but I did manage to pique their interests, and tell them that I fully expected to see them on Sunday. I then retired to the hotel for the evening before I managed to turn into a pumpkin. Thank you Texarkana Faire for the nice room and board.


I met more interested folk at breakfast.  Dressing the part first thing in the morning attracts some interesting looks, often followed by questions. All in all, I probably talked with a dozen locals who did not know about the faire and told them to come look me up there. Oh, the difficulty of marketing in a modern world. Word of mouth only works within social circles, and in a crazy world where one can choose their own data stream it becomes difficult to be seen by a public that is used to skipping commercial content. What can one do? The spectacle will sell it, so keep the faith Texarkana. You have arrived, keep the ball in play, and your base will keep growing. I can only hope that my small efforts send some your way.


Crazy like a Bard?

posted Sep 29, 2015, 12:43 PM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Oct 5, 2015, 10:23 AM ]


I just got back from the 4th Annual Texarkana Renaissance Festival last weekend and I’m sore in all the right places. (Yes, that means it was a good faire.) Each faire brings with it lots of experiences, both new and old, and this one proved no different in that respect. A couple of these encounters, however stand out, so I thought I might expand.

A well meaning fellow performer commented to me that my “material was going over the heads of my audience.” He meant it sincerely, and I love him for that, still I have to admit that that is right where I want to be. I can joke about it, mostly because I’m not making a living at it. A couple of years ago another performer commented that they liked the way I paired themes to enhance meaning, like singing about Machiavelli to the melody of the Turtle’s Happy Together. I actually hadn’t entirely made that connection myself, but like the artist I trained as, I take full credit for my unintended little mistakes of genius. Evidently, I want the music to go over my head as well. Like a scene from a Pixar movie, I want people to enjoy it all on their own level. And parents, if your kids get the higher level jokes, it’s not my fault.



These are just a few of my musical influences.

Another interesting new experience was being interviewed for the Renaissance Festival Music podcast. I did it cold, and so did the seemingly genuinely interested interviewer Danny Faught, so I hope I came off as moderately intelligent. I’m sure that he did. Though I fear the worst about my own end of the conversation, I trust the audience to figure something out from my ramblings. See I, like my music, am all over the map.


I was raised in a theater family on a diet of Shakespeare, and Greek and Norse mythology, with a smattering of Monty Python and classic Star Trek thrown in for good measure. I spent my summers with my grandparents in their rather huge music store, surrounded by musical instruments, and classic sci-fi television. I even lived for two years in Lothlorien of Middle Earth where we put together some great haunted houses. (I used to get big question marks on my mail, but it was always delivered.) Eventually,  I found Karen, the best part of my life, and she brought me the gift of the church. (Well, Jesus is the greatest gift, and the church is a mixed blessing that goes along with the package.)

The church is a large part of my chosen family, where I accept certain expectations, but I also realize there needs to be some grace, because I can't meet everyone's different expectations.

I now teach art with a sort of historical mash up approach, and entertain people at Renaissance faires for my own enjoyment with a similar methodology.

So, you see, I don’t do this stuff so much for the patrons. I tell my students the same thing: I cannot please everyone, and when I try to do so, I end up pleasing no one. So, I do what I like, and I invite others along for the ride. At a faire, it’s all theater, so I have stuff that I have written along with material from other sources, some typical material, some classical, and some things that others have written that amuse me. I try to put my stamp on all of it with melody or style. Of my own material, there is a distinction between the stuff I do for faire, and  the stuff I do not, but sometimes that dividing line is thin.


Here is what mashing up ancient Egypt with modern figures might look like.

My non-faire songs are generally christian in nature, and they probably cover more of my musical writings than not. Still, the two are not mutually exclusive, like the Christmas Cantata that I wrote with a general Celtic theme, one discipline informs the other. Pick up my Antiephemeral CD if you want to hear how Celtic music, rock, and christianity can get along. Playing in the Water is our Church CD that I produced and wrote the majority of songs for as well. I do faires to relax.

I do the same sort of stuff in the classroom, dragging students through the process in the process. Yes, they suffer through my history presentations and ramblings, and they do the odd project using all too traditional materials with my invitation to bring the modern into the picture through their own experiences and willy nilly metaphors. Some actually do. I introduce them to the limitation of the media in the hope of driving their creativity. That’s just another process. Yet all along the way, what I do for them I do for me, and I invite them to participate in the experience... much like this rambling that you have just read through.

What I do at Faire

posted Apr 6, 2015, 11:23 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Apr 6, 2015, 11:53 AM ]


People sometimes ask "did you go to (fill in the blank) faire?" without realizing that I was working there. Albeit, I don't have the time to work many events, but only some people get that I have an act.

The logical direction of the conversation then progresses to "what do you do?" to which I tell them that I'm a broadside balladeer. "What is that?" is the usual reply.

So here is what I do... music. Specifically, I sing songs. During the renaissance, the easiest and quickest way to make a profit from a printing press was to print unbound pages. Today we might call them flyers or informational pamphlets. A printer would set up side by side pages like they would bind in a book, and print them on one side of a piece of paper. This is a broadside, a double-wide page.


example copy of a broadside ballad

Among the most popular of these were song lyric sheets. They sold for around a penny. Without recording devices, your tunes came from your own voice. And, if you did not know the melody, never fear, many of these broadside ballads started out with a note of what melody to use. Most of these melodies were widely known or even traditional melodies from aural/oral music traditions. If you were lucky, a balladeer might even sing part of it for you so that you could learn.

I'm the person that sells the song lyrics, using melodies familiar to the people.
Medieval Fair of Norman, Last Huzzah! (3/29/2015)

Most fairs have eight hour days, and during that time, I'm among the people playing sets at ground level about half of that time or more. Mostly, I get tips. I have some CDs for those who actually want a recording, and I sell chapbooks, or "cheap books" that would have been made by folding several broadside ballads together. Today, you might call them paperbacks.

Most full time faire acts are stage acts for the simple reason that they are a commodity. You get  x number of units of entertainment per day for y amount of money. Also, when people sit in an area at a crowded fair, they are not clogging the traffic flow elsewhere. I makes sense to book your biggest draws during the busiest times.

Yes, I occasionally perform on stage when a fair needs filler, but I prefer to work without a stage for a couple of reasons. First of all, if the people don't come to me, I take the music to them. Second, I get better tips when I put myself where the action is. And... mobility allows me to see the people and sights of the faire. I would much prefer to play in an open air food court where people are gong to be looking for a place to sit and eat than up on a stage in the corner of nowhere.

No one has thrown their food at me yet.

I Am Not Sure Where the Money Goes

posted Mar 3, 2015, 10:48 AM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 11:28 AM ]

I see various kickstarter campaigns looking for money to produce various audio CDs, and I'm just not sure where the money goes. I mean, with digital audio capabilities being what they are today, who gets paid for producing a CD anymore?

On a lark, I started producing music CDs over 10 years ago through cafepress, one of the fist large print on demand sites. At that time I was just figuring out about a couple of audio formats, and my own recording device was basically just a microphone plugged into the audio input on my computer. I asked other artists for mp3 tracks in support of the King Arthur Faire, and just uploaded them to the site along with some graphics that I threw together, and "Sounds from the Village of Carlisle" was born. We purchased a bunch of the CDs (at about $3.50 each) for any artists on the CD that were interested, and then turned the Cafepress shop that I created over to others at the faire. The initial CD purchase cost money, but otherwise, we produced a CD for no cost to us.

I used Cafepress for a couple more CDs, but my recording studio had graduated to a Zoom hand held four track digital device. That way I could record a live performance and then add a couple of tracks for a bit of harmony.

Eventually, I ended up with a larger Zoom multitrack recorder and mixer with a built in CD burner, but I never ended up using it for two reasons. First, it broke the first time I was going to use it, and it took about six months to get it fixed under warranty. Second, the garage band software that came with my lap top computer was more effective for my purposes. It is very nice to be able to use both live and midi instruments with the ability to record vocals as a separate track.

Cafepress has since stopped Printing CDs on demand. They also developed glitches in their software that kept perfectly sized graphics from fitting correctly on their CD booklets. Too bad, because they also inadvertently did something that other print on demand services do not. They allowed for the production of hybrid CDs. You just had to mail them a master CD that was also a hybrid instead of uploading individual tracks. Hybrid CDs allow you to play them in your CD player, but when you put them in a computer, they also have an extra data track that acts like a CD ROM. I put little web sites on them filled with promos, information, and videos, and more music.

For a brief while, I printed sticker labels and burned music CDs on my own blank stock, effectively cutting down on overhead by eliminating the printer. Sticker labels, however, tend to bog down and get stuck in "toaster" type slots for CDs in automobiles and laptops, so I soon stopped. Now I use lightscribe CDs to burn pictures onto the CD surface.

So when recording and producing an album, I don't yet see where most of the projected monitory overhead comes in. I'm not hiring musicians, and neither would a band trying to do the same. With a computer there is really no more need for studio time., and most discs don't need much in the way of a cover design anyway. That seems to leave buying your own product for resale and maybe gas for a road trip to promote the music.

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