Cory Weeds talks about the record label biz.

Welcome to another edition of the Reigning Parade blog!

Here to talk about the future of the indie jazz record label business is club-owner/record-label-owner/promoter/saxophonist Cory Weeds.

Interview begins… NOW

RP: Welcome Weeds! First question is multiple choice. How do you feel about the arrival of Reigning Parade on the scene? a.) threatened or b.) extremely threatened?

CW: Oh come on man! Neither. Option c.) excited!

RP: Is the CD going to die?

CW: Yes.

RP: When? Tell us when!

CW: As soon as the generation of people age 50 and above stop buying them. Our generation can at least grasp the MP3 concept, my Dad’s generation can’t really. As far as mass consumption goes, the CD was done a long time ago.

RP: What do you mean by “grasping the MP3 concept.”

CW: Consuming music digitally rather than physically. Part of it is wanting the space more than the CD.

RP: So the MP3 concept is basically just accepting that you’re paying for the listening experience and nothing more, not pictures or liner notes.

CW: Yeah. But I call jazz “small market music,” and as long as there are people, festivals, or clubs presenting this music, the CD will continue to be valid.

RP: But really, in 10 years… don’t you think the format will change?

CW: Well, it won’t change from digital. But once people stop buying CDs I think it’ll be digital downloads for sale. But the CD and the record is also a souvenir. Records used to BE something that you’d show people, and a collection of albums was something people were kinda proud of. If the souvenir isn’t a CD, I don’t know, I could see a download card that was combined with a some sort of poster maybe, but I don’t know.

RP: Do you think performances are the only place you can sell music these days?

CW: No, I don’t think it’s the only way. As an unknown artist it’s one of the better ways. You can have great music and a great website, etc., but if you don’t get out there and tour/perform, who’s going to visit your site?

RP: Download cards haven’t really caught on, have they? They seem to function more like a business cards than a souvenirs. Even though lots of people buy music on iTunes, it’s just not the same somehow.

CW: Well, there’s also this, when you’re at a show and you have a CD, there’s a sense of urgency with that CD, you may not be able to find it tomorrow at your non-existent record store. With a card, you get the sense that it’s just out there on the internet, so people might think “what’s the rush to get it now”!? You’re creating an extra step for the buyer. When Vincent Herring was here for two nights, he sold out! 50 CDs at $20! Because it’s a special event. He’s only around for the weekend and then maybe you can’t find his album after that. Also,… he’s Vincent Herring!

RP: What do you see as the direction of your record label, Cellar Live?

CW: Well, this goes along with what we’ve been talking about, the model’s changing. I’ll continue to put out music until the market changes and we’ve already tried a few new directions. At the moment we’ve got 3 types of releases:
1. I’ll put out “vanity” projects, which are my own records.
2. We’ll release projects that are licensed to us, meaning the artist covers the expenses of the release and Cellar Live serves as an established venue through which to sell it.
3. Big name artists like Lewis Nash. In this case the label pays for and owns the recording.

We’ve looked at the ups and downs of printing download cards but when you look at the numbers, the costs are the same to a certain point whether you’re printing CDs or cards: studio costs, artist fees, mixing, mastering, graphics (to some extent), etc. So pressing CDs isn’t that much more than download cards. Besides, radio shows and promoters, that all want CDs still.

Let’s call it what it is too, if I didn’t have the retail outlet that I have, the club, the label wouldn’t have happened. So the question is… why would you create a record label now? I know that for you, it’s a way to get your own recordings out there and have complete control of it. But, if you were going to start recording other people I’d have to sit you down and ask WHY?

RP: Final question. With Cellar Live’s solid reputation, your jazz clout, and the big name NYC guitarist Peter Bernstein on your latest digital download only release,… maybe it’s time you bridge that gap with the radio stations and just insist that they play your MP3s direct from email rather than CDs. What do you say?

CW: Hmmm, yeah… that’s an interesting idea. I’ll have to think about that.

RP: Did I just blow your mind?

CW: Ha! Something like that.

RP: Nice. Just make sure you credit me for giving you the idea.

CW: I don’t know if you should be one to talk about giving credit!

RP: (Part of 1st release was recorded at the Cellar, info which probably should’ve been mentioned in the liner notes! But is mentioned here now.)

Interview by James Danderfer

Thanks to Cory Weeds for joining us and to everyone else for reading!

Young Weeds

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