Wednesday, May 16, 2007

my mission statement...

before you read this blog, you might want to go to:
that URL should take you to a six-page article in the New York Times. "it is an exceedingly interesting snapshot of today's online music industry, and how it is being access, utilized, and manipulated, by the fan base" according to wendy, the fan who sent it. in other words it's about the current status of the music business for artists like yours truly. it was sent to me by belewbloggfan (thanks wendy) who asked for my perspective so here it is:

there are monumental glaring differences in the article between the main characters and myself. especially in terms of their internet success stories. jonathan coulter for example cites his last year's download sales at 500,000 and his hits per day at 3,000. those are phenomenal numbers. to give you an example: this week's AB download kiss it goodbye has been downloaded 59 times so far. our biggest download ever was less than 100 (for the song dust). according to our "site meter" 482 people visit per day on the average. so in pure volume the article is not so relevant to my situation.
but in other ways it's very relevant. what I am trying to do here on elephantblog is to draw in more and more interested people who might then become "patrons" of my work by downloading, buying CD's from our site, coming to our shows, and hopefully turning as many new fans on as possible. I'm doing it by telling the story of my life, which has not been uneventful. I'm not a new artist, but being in the "B-list" category places me right along side the energetic 20-something new artists who spend their whole days promoting themselves via the internet. this is the way the business works today. radio? forget it. MTV? hopeless.
fortunately, I don't mind one bit answering questions put forth by people who enjoy my work. I have always been a "fan-friendly" artist. but then I don't get a hundred questions a day.
I do wonder how to make time for the internet requirements, a family, and a creative music-making career. used to be I spent most days in the studio. now I'm clacking away at an iMac keyboard instead. the long term effect of this is yet to be measured. but there's no need to worry about the "negative effects" just yet, wendy.
I realize my true hope to grow a thriving future is to get to a point like a jonathan coulter. which is why it is all important for you guys to spread the word. and I greatly appreciate that.
I'll blog on as long as there's someone out there. I'll perform shows until nobody shows up.
and if that day ever arrives:
well, I'll have to get a real job.


  1. I for one was recently turned on to your blog via my friends blog and have since tuned in every day, and also ordered your side 3 because of that. I also plan on buying sides 1, 2, and 4.
    All because of the internet.

  2. I think that the internet is definitely a double-edged sword in terms of promotion. It can help, but I know way too many bands that promote just via their myspace (I've been guilty of this) and don't do any grunt work with elbow grease. It makes things a whole lot easier, but you are almost never going to get to be the most popular band of the moment by just sitting on your butt all day and befriending people on your myspace. (Not that that's what our goals are as musicians, but I hope you see the point I'm making)

    A nice thing the article mentioned was Jonathan auditioning people laying down guitar licks. I'm involved with some forums where we trade ideas back and forth, and remix each other's songs. It's great that I heard a song I recorded originally in a shoegaze, My-Bloody-Valentine wash of distortion and reverb suddenly transform into a funky trip-hop beat. I never even would have considered that a song could transform into that. (Actually, I didn't even recognize it until there was the bass line.) I've had on numerous occasions people on the other coast of the country do guest spots on some songs I was working on.

    I guess it really all depends on your perspective, and in the right hands (as you said) it'll help us grow as artists.

    (That was a mouthful... sorry for my blabbering)

  3. Based upon what you say about downloads on this site, I suspect the rule which applies in the mainstream applies here as well. Extreme mass appeal would tend to be elusive, though I'm sure you haven't peaked by any means. Forgive my saying so, it's just that you're so much better than the crap that floats to the surface.

    On the other hand, whether being perched at the top of the Internet, or commanding the Billboard 100, the pitfalls vis a vis the stardom situation seem similar. I suppose being a member of the tribe has good and bad sides.

    I saw what I think might've been a serious push on your part to take personal responsibility for expanding your fan base at the end of the last century, ie. describing the various projects you had going on, taking requests, playing Belewps etc. The spirit you brought to your work that night was all that a concert goer/music lover could--and I dare say should--ask for.

    I was also witness outside another venue to a fan asking you to pose for a photo with him, and you graciously obliged. You joked that that was what you were there for; indeed, you had arrived at a Krim show early for a photo shoot. Interestingly, Fripp had someone running interference for him so that he could enter the theater unnoticed. And towards the end of that evening's performance, a guy was practically crawling onto the stage to get RF to sign some memorabilia. While I truly admire your attitude towards your fans, I also understand the stance of your band mate/fellow guitarist. Fan behavior can get downright creepy, as some can never get enough.

    I guess my point is that while I do understand the desire of some to meet--or get to be friends with--their personal heroes, I think one should not forget that the artist is here to survive and thrive the same as anyone working in any field or business. The value of the artist may be reflected in a starry-eyed public, but the true value lies in what made enamored them with the artist to begin with.

    I wouldn't make too much of the amount of attention via this site, however. When you think about how much time you've been making music, your exposure through this medium is in its infancy.

  4. I'm a part of your commuity now thanks to your blog (which is great). I bought Lone Rhino back in 1982 but sort of forgot about you, besides checking "Discipline" out of the library a couple of times during the ensuing 25 years. When I heard about the blog, I checked it out and was impressed with the writing; I like your sensibility, and now I feel like part of the community (along with my friend Jim Dandy). You can bet that if you ever hit Asheville, NC I'll be there, and that I'll continue to link to you and mention you on my own blog. But I also think that a respectful distance is appropriate. Fans shouldn't be too "high maintenance." I appreciate you aswering our queries, and the way you are available. I've downloaded a couple of songs, and will continue. I feel like it's a positive way to spend my money. I think it is great that good artists like you can make it without the heavy hype of cheesy marketing; talented musicians are not one hit wonders. I think that your fans are right though i that one day the blogs should be a book, and an audio book too! Good luck Adrian!

  5. Adrian, when you started doing the eBay auctions and the blog, I figured it was because time was available to you now that Ken is gone and you're not spending each workday recording with him (hope this doesn't sound insensitive; I know what a huge loss that was). Are you thinking of hiring another engineer so that you can record more often? I love the blog, and I'm sure it's serving to expand your audience... but I can't help hoping that it's not stealing too much time away from creating new music we'll eventually get to hear.

  6. Adrian as long as there is a Monday Download available and I am Near a Computer with Internet available... I will buy the Particle. I have and will continue to direct friends and family to your Blog and hopefully to your store.

    I, and I am certian I am not alone in this, would love to do more to help. Can we do anything more? You probablly would never ask but you are so fan friendly that you ought to be able to call on those that you have accomidated with your kindness. This world can be a cold place expecally the entertainment industry at large, and the Music end in particular. You give your fans the oppertunity to speak, be heard and to be interact via the blog (for Free I Might Add).

    Thank you for not adding to the coldness of the Music Biz or the world at large.

  7. I have a "real job". Don't ever get one...

  8. Hi Adrian,
    WOW! Thank you for your detailed response to my inquiry - so very much more than I expected! Truly enlightening, and most appreciated. :-)
    I am so glad that you have not experienced any 'negative effects' to this point, and would dearly hope that we 'the best fans anywhere', can continue to allow you to open up to us, in the way you have done.
    The article brought up some very interesting points: especially thought provoking to me personally, as I have been recently reading about some very disturbing 'fan based' incidents, concerning our dear dear friend Ian Wallace (I did not know Ian personally, but gained some insight into this extraordinary man through his diary, and I was deeply saddened by his passing - and incredibly shocked to read recently about the disgusting goings-on taking place during his last few weeks on this earth), and other earlier incidents concering you Adrian, and Elephant Talk (I don't know much about this, as I did not know you then, suffice to say from what I have read, it must have been a shattering experience, at the hands of your supposed 'fans'.)
    Fortunately for me, I was not witness to these incidents, but you were.... and yet you can still continue here, and have faith in us !
    Mmmm...maybe thats what those deleted comments are, that you see from time to time.... Thankfully you have a little more control within this blog medium - unlike general forum pages, where certain fans with a grudge or a perceived grievance, are free to unleash their nasty diatribes for all to see.

    I certainly would not like to revisit any of these situations here, nor have their detrimental implications affect you in any way. I hope that we, as fans of your music, will take your advice and 'THINK' before opening that comment window.
    Sorry for this long-winded 'diatribe'... :-) I will get off my soap box now, to allow room for the next participant....
    Oh! And I just put up a new poll over at the Adrian Belew Tribe:
    Do yourselves a favour and check it out!
    Hope you have a great day Ade!

  9. I will always support honest brilliance, which I find here and respectively at DGM Live.

    Even though life will get busier during the summer months - spending time with my kids and hubby, I will still pop in to read, purchase and feel gratitude for places such as this.

    And I will happily pre-order your book when that time comes.


  10. Wow. Quite a mission and quite a statement. I have been a fan of yours since reading a year old review of Lone Rhino in an old Rolling Stone lying around in my teenage room. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have missed you when you were in Pittsburgh. I turned my late brother in law on to the Bears and it was in 85-86 and the show that "yinz" played was possibly the best show I've ever seen in my life. That was also my first time seeing you live. I just saw you again (W/ THE BEARS) a few weeks ago and am as amazed as ever with your playing/singing etc. Thank you for giving me and so many others music that we all enjoy. In a world full of pre-packaged crap that passes for music you are a joy to hear again and again. Thanks again and don't stop.

    Yours in rock,

  11. well, I have a real job, the only time I've managed to live (badly) from music was playing covers in the subway some years ago... I compose and play guitar because I need to, but there's no money coming to my pocket so I can live as a musician.

    I remember giving one of my cd's to Bill Bruford some years ago, he said "I promess I'll listen to it, but I can't promess I'll reply to you" and that was enough for me, I was happy being able to show my music to one of my "heroes", being alive is a great thing, fame and fortune must be amazing, but hey, I still enjoy playing and recording my crazy stuff!!

    According to Zappa there's a lot of people like me, making music in the underground, people that never will be "discovered", you got that God sent call from Frank when you were in a bad situation, some guys never get a call and must manage to keep up... luck has a lot to do with "success".

    Internet at least gives you the oportunity of showing what you do, the world is big enough to find a handful of people who might feel your sounds ;D

  12. I gave Adrian some love in my most recent article:

    Just trying to spread the word about one of my favorite musicians...