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Three Days Without The Internet...


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THREE DAYS WITH NO INTERNET… That’s what Embarq-nee-Sprint-the-phone-company said when I told them their DSL modem gave up the ghost. (Giving up the ghost is probably an appropriate Hallowe’en activity.) That’s how long it’ll take Embarq to get a new modem here from wherever it is they come from. The speed and equanimity with which they accepted the idea their equipment had broken down suggests it’s a rather frequent occurrence.

(Obviously, this was written while the Internet was gone, and posted after I got it back.)

I have in fact plenty to do, none of it requiring Internet, and almost no tasks pending that do require Internet. I have one more part to record for Rose’s Halllowe’en radio play (a Canadian mountie), and I can’t even read the part to record it until I have Internet back; it will just have to wait. The newspaper reporter I’d e-mailed about the Harvest Festival gig I can call on the phone.

Otherwise, I’ve got clothes and belongings to unpack, and furniture to move around and find a place for; I’ve been living away from my fambly for my last two jobs—the past three years--just visiting whenever the price of gas permitted. I’ll finally get my glasses fixed, and help the next-door neighbor replace a section of fence on the one day it’s not supposed to rain. I’ve got one more job to apply for (it’s out of town), and Saturday’s gig to get ready for.

MORE PUBLISHING THOUGHTS: The publisher’s biggest function, I think, is marketing. The publisher has a song, to which he’s acquired the publishing rights, and wants to license that song to somebody who will make a whole bunch of records with that song on it. It needs to be a whole bunch of records, because the copyright royalties will only amount to pennies per record. The author will get half free and clear, and the publisher will get half—and hopefully make a profit after recouping all his expenses. There are additional—smaller—revenues from radio airplay (provided the artist is big enough to get noticed by the statistics machines) and Internet downloads from outfits like iTunes and Rhapsody.

Now, I’m creating my publishing company primarily to take care of a couple of legal hassles; I want to ensure my songs can be played on the radio, and I have to make sure the co-authors of a couple of songs on the upcoming CD get paid their rightful shares, because those records, like the last ones, are going to be sold. It of course won’t amount to a lot of money.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to use the existence of a publishing company to market some of my stuff to somebody who could produce more records than I can. Having identified a “target market”—the regionally famous artists and bands—and having determined that there is a need among those folks for good original material to perform and record, how do I meet that need? Or can I?

A realistic assessment of the material, first. There are probably a lot of my songs nobody’s likely to want to touch, either because they’re just too strange or because they don’t fit the image the artist or band is trying to project of themselves. That may be a shortsighted view on their part—people want to hear my songs, but not because it’s me that’s performing them—but that attitude exists, and I have to deal with it. That said, my more serious-sounding songs are probably fair game. So are the ones—“Bluebird on My Windshield,” “Hank’s Song,” and “I’m Giving Mom a Dead Dog for Christmas,” for instance—that already are being performed Out There by other people.

How to find those people? Deliberate Random Chance, I think—which is a fancy way of saying “I don’t know.” Catching a record review of southern Oregon’s American Idol escapee was pure chance—but it’s something to follow up on. One can attend performances by regionally important bands and artists, and just ask them (they’re more approachable than famous people), “You guys ever do anything by somebody who isn’t already famous? I might have something that’d work for you, if you’re interested.” And I expect it works like the real estate business, in that over 90% of the time the answer will be “No.”

It’s important, too, to stay in touch with the recording studios—the ones that do professional work, anyway—to find out who’s recording, and where they’re getting their material, and what’s it like, and how do you talk to them. A lot of hunting and not many contacts, probably, because I’m dealing with a very small inventory (just my songs) and a small market, too (those who do country music).

And then what happens when I run into a situation where I know my stuff isn’t going to work, but that of somebody else I know probably will? This is where publishers end up “handling” other authors besides themselves, even if they didn’t intend to. What do I do with those? I don’t know.

Joe

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