It’s time to write an actual blog post and start letting everyone know about how some things will get tweaked in the next year or two. This morning I sat down and spoke with my father about my plans, and he was very confused so this is partly to clear that up for him. This website has been a tool as a “temporary” place to hang my hat for my podcast, but now it will become a permanent home for the podcast and I am going to take all my personal music related stuff (performances, etc) and migrate all of that over to shannongunn.net. (Currently that’s just a splash page with links to everything else I do.) In the meantime, Jazz to the Bone is going to become more of an entity upon itself. I hate to use the word record label, but that’s the best term to describe it at the moment. But this “label” isn’t going to be like any other out there – artists will retain 100% royalties/earnings, in fact artists will still distribute under their own label name, and the entity will be a vehicle for their success, and not concerned with the end product. How is that possible? Read on.
This site will become the home of Jazz To The Bone (a.k.a. JTTB), a non-profit record label focused on recording and producing music that would not necessarily sell. In other words, a sustainable record label that will not depend on the sales of music to pay its bills. How, you might say? By focusing on high profit margin products. First in line will be education. Think about it, once you create a course online, all you have to do is drive traffic and then all income is passive income (income you earn without having to actually work). There is a huge demand for people wanting to learn to play instruments, record, and manage their finances and invest. (I threw finance in there because when I talk about this to other musicians, it seems to pique their interest more than anything else.) Other high profit margin items might include coffee, among other things. Once the entity gets established, and is running for a couple of years, we can go into development and raise funds through grants or corporate sponsorships and get proper 501(C3) status. Until then, though, the label will focus on giving high quality recordings utilizing the equipment I already own and use. At this point I am just a few mics and plugins short of having a pretty good little portable studio.
In return for sales on education, money will go toward producing concerts, festivals, recordings, promoting, and generally helping musicians. The podcast will be part of that, as well as this blog and education programs. All education programs will be offered online, with easy and quick access to an instructor for any questions that may come up. How will you do that, you ask? Working on that right now as a graduate student in Instructional Design and Technology at George Mason University. Each course will be offered online, videos will be on YouTube, and students will be able to download their lessons onto a Kindle. Eventually an online magazine will develop with updated links and articles about the topics of interest. All of this can be done for free now, with technology. I will be piloting a course called “Chords 101” to move in this direction in the next month. I created this course to teach my music technology students chords without having to read music, so they can play along with popular music and come up with their own chord progressions. Be watching for the Kindle version to arrive second week of January.
There are some people doing this already – with robust education programs in the DC metro area. But nobody can offer that plus the recording side as well. One thing I’ve found is that when you distribute sheet music, you should also distribute a video to show people how to play it. I would love to see this “Jazz to the Bone” not only record and promote music, but to be offered as a publishing arm for musicians, but with a twist – each published song would have tutorials, videos, and links to people performing it as it should sound. Once again 100% of income goes back to the artist.
There is really no overhead for any of this – except for the server costs, which I already have to pay anyway. Everything can be developed for free using technology. Artists can use this to their own discretion – and it will be merely a platform for their product. Traffic is cheap. Dowloading/uploading from a site is not. There are ways to do that, though, that will be free – Amazon S3, dropbox, archive.org, it can all be done for free.
This is just the tip of the ice burg for what I have planned for 2015 – as an artist, I’m also starting a new trombone quintet with two bones playing JJ and Kai and other straight-ahead goodness, and I’m working on a groove ensemble that will play more free as well. Bullettes will keep on working, as a septet or a big band as is needed, but that ensemble will remain straight ahead while I personally venture into free and groove oriented music. The JJ and Kai tribute band will be for literature and because I just love playing with other trombone players. I may also start a trombone quartet (four bones), but that will be a side project compared to the other things going on.
Right now, musically, I’m focusing on my Jazz and Freedom Festival which will be co-produced with CapitalBop during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend of 2015. I’m putting together a Jazz and Freedom Octet to perform Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite as well as other similarly themed songs. It’s going to be AWESOME.
This biggest need I see in the music industry right now is money. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH MONEY. Never enough money to pay personal bills, to put on projects, to record, to transcribe or arrange music. There are other ways to make money other than performance and sales. A label doesn’t need to make money, just be solvent, if the goal is to distribute music.