chickfactor poll: music-related apps

do you use any music-related apps? which ones?

stephin the magnetic fields: just voice memos. it’s simple and convenient.

james dump/yo la tengo: funkbox, filtatron, and animoog. all are useful, and fun.

hannah grass widow: garageband.

stephen the real tuesday weld: tune in radio. fire field recorder.

corin tucker: not really…

kim baxter: I have the bandcamp app on my facebook page. on my phone I have a guitar tuner and a metronome.

matt lorelei: songkick to keep track of shows coming to town. starting to play around with introducing some elements from an ios device. I quite like playing around with tonepad to generate ideas.

fran cannane: oh lots—instruments and the like.

andrew eggs/talk it: I like spotify, amplitube and rebirth.

erin a girl called eddy: I use a great app on my laptop called tapedeck for songwriting. It has the look and feel of an old cassette recorder, but without the vulnerability of tape. there is no romance in trying to scotch tape together old cassettes anymore.

pete paphides: I have an app which tells me where the nearest record store is.

bridget st john: no.

joe pines / foxgloves: I don’t really know what ‘apps’ are.

allen clapp: I use an iPad app for mellotron sounds live. it beats carrying a 200 lb. instrument to shows, but it’s still not as cool as a real mellotron!

ian musical chairs: I use spotify at work and iTunes.

jennifer o’connor: I use spotify.

gordon the fan modine: I write and demo on the iphone using voice memo and fourtrack. I also use the guitar toolkit—which is great; and a protools remote.


chickfactor poll: reunions, part two

what bands pulled off a successful reunion? which ones did not?

janice cf: successful: the aislers set! black tambourine! the softies! unsuccessful: pavement at matador 21.

ed shelflife: good: aislers set, black tambourine, pipas, small factory, devo. bad: peter hook / joy division, omd, gang of four.

james dump/yo la tengo: mission of burma; no one else.

michael white: the stone roses were successful because they had nothing to live up to: they were awful then and are awful now. alternately, prefab sprout’s reunion was unsuccessful because it never happened.

daniel handler: the soft boys did it really well, but nobody noticed, nextdoorland is one of my favorite pop records of the last decade. the go-betweens made their best albums post-breakup, there, I said it, rachel worth and oceans apart are even better than before hollywood.

gaylord cf/wfmu: I was not only pleasantly surprised but also genuinely pleased with the recent beach boys reunion and album. the primitives’ reunion show and album were also pleasurable. I’m holding out hope for the upcoming mike-present/davy-free monkees concert.

gordon the fan modine: really enjoyed the feelies at ATP. any reunion is successful. good on those who can muster and make it happen, I say.

stephen the real tuesday weld: did: blur. did not: paul mccartney.

corin tucker: I saw the go-gos, which was great. pavement was fantastic, the portland show was great.

the legendary jim ruiz: I finally got to see honeybunch in brooklyn, loved it!

hannah grass widow: I’ve seen the raincoats and the vaselines in the past few years and they were amazing! we played a show with zounds and I was really excited but those guys were kinda weird. they got our name wrong when they thanked us for playing and it was an overall disappointing experience especially because “demystification” is one of my favorite songs. oh well.

stephin the magnetic fields: throbbing gristle. the spice girls.

dawn cf: successful: black tambourine, lois, small factory, codeine. not successful: pavement @ matador 21.

shaun brilldream: the only band I’ve seen pull it off are the pixies.

matt lorelei: I was skeptical of going to see gang of four years ago at the warfield but it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. they delivered. also, the aislers at bell house were as tight as a band could hope to be at any time. ridiculous.

clarissa cf: successful: mission of burma: great because they never claimed to be kids, & got better at listening to each other; unrest: great because all they have to do is show up and do what they do, and time freezes. not successful: any band that once prided itself on having new material all the time and no longer bothers to come up with any.

fran cannane: the buzzcocks were pretty good. I am looking forward to even as we speak playing in november in sydney.

joe pines / foxgloves: the commotions 2004 and black tambourine 2012 both seemed to know when to leave people wanting more. I would like to note for posterity that archie moore introduced “dream baby dream” by telling a brooklyn crowd: “hey, new jersey, here’s a bruce springsteen song for y’all!”

tim dagger: good: mission of burma, scratch acid, dino jr.

bridget st john: successful: the aislers set.

pete paphides: pentangle. that was pretty unbelievable. their london lyceum show was one of the best shows I’ve seen by anyone.

ian musical chairs: did: soft boys, go-betweens. did not (sadly): VU, television.

andrew eggs/talk it: in the last couple years I’ve seen the vaselines, the dismemberment plan, and pavement. all shows were pretty good!

gail cf: did: black tambourine! small factory! did not: the pavement boys got me down. if you really hate each other, don’t do it.

chickfactor poll: reunions

are there any bands you would pay top dollar to see reunite?

john the magnetic fields: talking heads.

pete paphides: mellow candle; the astronauts line-up of the lilac time; abba, even though I admire them for not doing so.

stephen the real tuesday weld: walker brothers.

gaylord cf/wfmu: I’ll limit my answer to bands in which all or most original members are alive and available, so I’ll say dolly mixture. I’d also break the bank for a kinks reunion as well as one with the diana-mary-cindy supremes.

michael white: everything but the girl—but only if they played eden in its entirety and in the venue of my choosing, such as my living room.

corin tucker: it’s not really about money, but bikini kill would make me happy.

daniel handler: I’m not good at these reunite questions. I just keep picturing the reanimated corpse of shostakovich or mary hansen or something.

erin a girl called eddy: the smiths.

fran cannane: the particles. smokey robinson and the miracles.

stephin the magnetic fields: felt.

hannah grass widow: the raincoats. and I feel so lucky to have seen them play several times!

matt lorelei: I doubt it is possible but, josef k and/or snapper. oh and loop, the sheer mention of which will no doubt send my lovely wife into spasms of laughter as she has seen loop and I have not.

sam the magnetic fields: the magnetic fields.

james dump/yo la tengo: yura yura teikoku.

dawn cf: not sure I would pay top dollar to see anyone reunite. the question is would I go? it’s mostly bands I loved that I never got  a chance to see: replacements?

ian musical chairs: sneaky feelings, orange juice.

bridget st john: no!

mark teenbeat/unrest: queen (with freddie mercury). the smiths (of course, like probably everyone else here).

tim dagger: no…ok, maybe the smiths.

janice cf: velocity girl.

gordon the fan modine: yep. gotta be the smiths. never say never.

ed shelflife: the housemartins.

jennifer o’connor: maybe the sundays, never got to see them, really loved them back in the day.

darren hanlon: jake thackray.

clarissa cf: if masada got back together 20 years from now, I’d probably fly across the country to see them.

andrew eggs/talk it: no.

the legendary jim ruiz: heavenly, the jazz butcher, the housemartins, the style council, any old mersey beat bands like the merseybeats, the searchers or the escorts, to name a few.

gail cf: dolly mixture. marine girls. tiger trap.

shaun brilldream: I would give my right arm for the smiths not to reform.

joe pines / foxgloves: honeymoon diary. the world could use a little more jennifer robbins. I would also pay my favorite just to come over and play ‘homeless club kids’ with me.


chickfactor international travelog: berlin!

berlin, germany

by yoshi nakamoto, drummer for the aislers set, eux autres and still flyin’. his hometown is san francisco. in 2009, while on tour with eux autres he met laura in berlin and fell in love. in 2011, he moved to germany to live with her. they have two cats, felt and billie holiday. yoshi works as a video producer for a language learning publisher.

best venues there are lots and lots of venues throughout this city and lots and lots of touring bands that come visit. we’re blessed here. two of the best shows (electrelane and black dice) that I’ve seen in berlin were at festsaal-kreuzberg. I loved the venue marie antoinette the night that je suis animal played, je suis animal is absolute magic, I love them. I always look forward to seeing shows at rotor salon, o tannenbaum and schokoladen. ¶ earlier this year I saw the magnetic fields and amor de días play in a beautiful church, passionskirche. If you have the chance to catch a band there, make sure you do, there’s a beautiful mood inside. ¶ if you’re around on a wednesday night, spend an evening checking out the free jazz nights at b-flat and zosch, in the mitte district. from 8 – 10, la foot creole play new orleans style jazz in the very nostalgic-like cellar of zosch. after you’re done with that gig, walk a short few blocks to b-flat for their weekly jam session, which is great for fans of be-bop and on till late.

best record stores try bis aufs messer for new hits and platten pedro for old hits. there are a ton of record dealers at the massive sunday flea market at mauerpark.

best vintage/thriftstores KDW, housed in an old GDR supermarket that still looks like it’s straight out of the 1970s, complete with counters and deli signage intact. this place is crammed with furniture, books, records and relics. ¶ there are fantastic flea markets spread out in the city every sunday like; mauer park, arkonaplatz, hallentrödelmarkt treptow and boxhagner.

cheap eats the picadillo burrito, homemade chips and guacamole at ta’ cabron. the daily special at hamy. the ramen and gyoza at cocolo. the pizza at zia maria or il casolare. the pho and spring rolls at monsieur vuong. currywurst at curry 36. the gemüse kebap at mustafas (icons of berlin street food, mustafa and curry 36 are on the same block of mehringdamm, you can’t miss them because there are lines all day long. I’d recommend hitting up both and sharing). the falafel or schwarma plates at babel or maroush. gözleme at knofi. the jiaozi (vegetarian or pork) at wok show.

not so cheap eats when you come visit me, I’ll take you to schwarzwaldstuben on the first night and you’ll likely want to return on your last night in the city. this is my favorite place to eat in berlin, the food never fails and the mood is rather relaxed. I usually always ordert the schnitzel and the rothaus beer on tap. there are great vegetarian options here—the spätzle or the maultaschen. the place isn’t too expensive and you can easily get out of here having spent a little under 20 euros. ¶ the food hall on the sixth floor of the department store kadawe is food porn. a mesmerizing medley of food and drinks from all over the world. there are over 30 gourmet counters spread out on the floor where you can have a seat and treat yourself to whatever your heart desires. the fish bar is first-rate.

vegetarian-friendly eats viasko, straight up vegan and straight up delicious in a british pub-like atmosphere. yellow sunshine has a tasty vegan currywurst in addition to veggie/vegan burgers. I’ve never been to cookies cream but I’d like to—it’s on my date-night list.

best ice cream sicilian pistachio at vanille-marille.

best neighborhood prenzlauer berg. I live on the street schönhauser allee and I love that I can walk out my front door and be in one of the hearts of the city. it’s the best neighborhood for walks. the kids these days gravitate toward kreuzberg and neukölln, which is where many of the bars and venues are.

cheap haircut hoshi mitte. it’s not necessarily cheap, but if you happen to have difficult hair (i.e japanese hair), the all-japanese staff know how to navigate it and fashion it into something chic.

best drinking holes das gift in neukoln. co-owned by barry burns of mogwai and featuring a great selection of scottish whiskies and ale. I’d definitely recommend ordering a few pints of the zirndorfer landbier, a franconian beer that’s near impossible to find on tap in berlin. das gift has the best jukebox in germany—you can select from playlists curated by david cross, mike joyce/smiths, bob nastanovich/pavement, deerhoof and many of your other favorite artists. ¶ when it’s not winter, I go to prater garden in prenzlauer berg as much as I can. my local drinking hole is the oldest biergarten in berlin. a lovely place to drink especially when the sun is out or at night under the strings of lightbulbs. they serve sausages, pretzels, roasted almonds and many other biergarten-y food. perfect for birthday parties (unless your birthday is in the winter!). ¶ drinking on the street, in parks, in the subways, while walking your cat on a leash is totally OK. even the cops are drinking beers on their beat. you don’t ever have to be without a beer in your hand.

best coffee or tea houses bonanza.

best radio station we’re lucky to have NPR berlin on the dial. I heard both tally ho! and tender trap on radio eins late last monday night. flux FM is a very good friend of the indie.

cool cinemas hackesche höfe kino. you can see your woody allen and your lars von trier here. if you want your hollywood blockbuster, hit the cinestar sony center. if you happen to be in berlin in february, don’t miss the berlinale film festival when the city becomes the film capital of the world for ten snowy days. I make sure to catch a film at the beautiful friedrichstadt-palast, which usually is home to musicals but opens it’s curtains for film during the festival. the berlinale jury president for 2013 is wong kar wai! that man is magnificent!

best used bookstores another country. a secondhand bookstore where you can borrow any of their books for 1,50 euros.

best place to see art my first choice is always the martin-gropius bau, I’ve seen really, really wonderful exhibits by ai weiwei and olafur eliasson. there is usually a great photo exhibit up at the C/O berlin. you can have a very hands-on experience at the DDR museum. it’s small but smart at the bauhaus museum.

best local bands stereo total, of course. I found out about an awesome berlin band, make out!, on my friend chantal’s excellent berlin gig guide the craze. sadly, I found out about make out! just as they were playing their last show. I saw hamburg’s the honeyheads here back in may and I fell for them hard. and since I’m bringing up hamburg, I must give a shout out to trip the light fantastic and to andreas dorau, who is the könig of german pop!

parks and green spaces berlin is green. parks are everywhere and are the most popular destination when the weather is nice. germans love parks … ice cream, hand-clapping to songs and barbeques. my favorites parks to visit are treptower park in treptow, viktoriapark in kreuzberg, schoßpark in pankow, tiergarten, humboldthain park in wedding. the little park that surrounds the wasserturm prenzlauer berg is a nice spot to read a book.

unmissable highlights berlin is a big city and a very bike-friendly city; and cycling through the city is the best and funnest way to see it. renting a bike is easy and cheap. I’d suggest heading over to templehof—the former international airport that has been turned into a public park—and speeding down the runway. bike through tiergarten, stop at the schleusenkrug biergarten and have a glass of my favorite german beer, andechser. head over to treptower park and visit the grand soviet war memorial, prepared to be impressed. cycle out to my favorite swimming hole, krumme lanke in the grunewald forest. In any direction thay you pedal, you’ll run into (not literally, I hope!) something pretty cool to see. berlin is a special place, I feel so fortunate to live here, I hope you visit soon.

photograph: gail o’hara

chickfactor poll: technology and recording

how has technology changed your recording process?

matt lorelei: I did most of the grappa record on the caltrain while commuting. guy fixsen mixed the latest lorelei record at home and we shared the files over dropbox. sure is a lot easier to get things done now. not that we move any faster because of it.

daniel handler: ask stephin, he records me.

stephin the magnetic fields: I like autotune, because it lets us use the take with the best feeling, and fix a few iffy parts. it works great on cello.

james dump/yo la tengo: everything is possible, pretty quickly.

hannah grass widow: we use garageband a lot to record our practices. it’s a pretty clear recording and it really lets us ruminate on songs throughout our process. we used to record on a walkman and I have tons of thrift store tapes full of early grass widow recordings.

the legendary jim ruiz: les paul was right after all. it’s out of the studio and into the house.

fran cannane: technology has been the cause of many years of grief leading to a dearth of recordings. we are just starting to recover and deal with this. a golden age for the cannanes coming up…

kim baxter: I’m able to spend a lot more time writing, recording, and mixing at home. I can try out ideas without worrying about how much time I’m spending. I can record 20 different guitar solos and 15 vocal harmonies on one song and not worry about being on the clock. it’s a bit of a nightmare when it comes to mixing, but totally worth it!

stephen the real tuesday weld: it made it possible.

corin tucker: I do like the immediacy of some of the current technology, being able to record something in garage band and immediate add a guitar line to it or a background vocal is quite useful. computers have really made making a record much easier, because more people have access to the recording tools.

stuart moxham: I’m currently working between the analogue stage and the full-on pro tools thing, with digital hard drives which are “musician friendly”, i.e. they operate like tape machines. the editing facilities with digital technology are such a creative tool but I’d love to have a reel to reel again for the pitch control and the 3 speeds.

andrew eggs/talk it: it’s much cheaper now.

rachel blumberg: technology has made the recording process so much more accessible. I’ve recorded in a moving van with just my laptop and a midi keyboard controller and the tiny pinhole mic.

ed shelflife: we can record a pretty great sounding record easily at home — even on an iPad. pretty happy to see the days of throwing tons of money to shady studio engineers, who end up just ruining our songs anyway, are over!

bridget st john: it’s made it daunting for me to know where I should begin to record my next album!

joe pines / foxgloves: all our records have been recorded digitally. it has made a change from recording a guitar on to a tape, then recording along with the tape in a twin cassette player, with intriguingly pathetic results.

jennifer o’connor: it hasn’t too much. I still go into the studio and record the same way I always have (whether it’s to tape or computer) I’m learning more about recording my own stuff though on my computer at home and so it might change somewhat in the future. but I think I will always want some help in that department.

ian musical chairs: I use adobe audition now which actually sounds very good. I love the sound of nice thick analog tape, but editing capabilities alone make digital recording preferable for me, and a whole lot easier on my sanity than using tape. also I can record at home and take 12 years plus to finish an album…so maybe technology’s not such a great thing after all…

gordon the fan modine: the advent of digital recording technology has made getting lost and going overboard a lot easier for me personally. not always bad. and, it has also made certain things seem to sound good when they really don’t — for a lot of people.

allen clapp: well, I’ve gone from a battery powered cassette 4-track to having limitless tracks on a computer, which is not necessarily that great of a thing. the thing that’s important is to remember that making choices in a recording is still important even though the medium no longer forces you to make those choices. having only 4 tracks meant you had to think about the priorities of your arrangements. you just have to be more intentional about those choices in a random-access digital world.


chickfactor technology poll: consent and approval

don’t you think that the artist should have to consent or approve of his-her material being uploaded to youtube, spotify, soundcloud etc? why isn’t this the case?

bridget st john: YES. why isn’t this the case? I don’t think we were paying attention when – for example – youtube started up. or we didn’t even know until someone told us that our work was uploaded – and at that point what do you do? it’s hard to find phone numbers for websites. and then there is the ego which is flattered to see how many people have viewed a particular video – and in the end you rationalize it by saying it’s like having a visual business card and it might help live gigs, cd sales etc…

erin a girl called eddy: yes I do. and again, I truly believe that no one is getting paid through these outlets (certainly no one that I know) and stupifyingly, no one seems to care. all I hear is “it’s just the way the business is now” etc. independent artists are taking an incredibly passive attitude about this and I’m not quite sure why.

fran cannane: I don’t know how it works as regards money but I am constantly surprised anyone is interested so good luck to them…and it cannot do any harm that people have a chance to hear the music. I am more appalled by live concert footage. we had it good in the past! but I do not watch it for my own mental health.

hannah grass widow: I actually have no idea but recently someone told me they listened to us on spotify, so that was news to me that we were on there.

stephen the real tuesday weld: yes. youtube is owned by a company that sells advertising.

corin tucker: yes. most of us don’t have the money to pursue a legal case against youtube, but it is illegal. no, I don’t think anyone makes royalties from these.

andrew eggs/talk it: spotify is a matter between you and your record company, if you have one, or you and spotify. the other things…how can you possibly police that?

matt lorelei: the royalties from streaming services like spotify are percentages of pennies. for textilesounds I used IODA (mike slumberland does/did as well; IODA is now a part of the orchard) to have them handle the licensing and manage the collection of royalties. they handle spotify, rdio,, et. al. but amounts to very little. certainly not enough to cover the pressing of any of the records being streamed.

pete paphides: spotify is the biggest rip-off ever. 99% of artists – and I’m talking about the ones who actually sell reasonable amounts of records – couldn’t afford to buy a cheese sandwich on a week’s spotify royalties.

stephin the magnetic fields: that is beginning to happen, and will get more professionalized as the industry solidifies.

james dump/yo la tengo: we can’t all hire prince to straighten out that shit for us (although I wish we could). also, I heard dick cheney gets $100 from every youtube view and spotify play, and $150 from every internet comment.

gordon the fan modine: copyright holders do have to consent to all three of those services. the stuff that slips through on youtube and soundcloud can be stopped with a heads up to those companies. youtube and spotify pay royalties. soundcloud is a royalty-free service intended to give copyright holders an easy way to share their audio on their own behalf. some people use it differently and probably shouldn’t.

tim dagger: artists/musicians should get paid for their work.

allen clapp: you get like .007 cents per play or something like that…I get these royalty statements that say “X” song has been played XX,000 times, and you look over at the right column and there’s like 16 cents over there. I don’t really get it. I mean, every little bit helps, but when you think about these businesses building their futures on the availability of a product that costs them almost nothing, it makes you wonder who’s benefiting. I have no idea.

kim baxter: I just made 1 cent for selling a song on spotify. I took that penny straight to the candy store and bought 1/8th of a mini tootsie roll.

gail cf: it’s absolutely appalling that any old chump can upload video of a band without the band’s permission. appalling. terrible. the worst thing about the internet is that it needs to be policed and intellectual property protected. I know I sound like an old fogey but I don’t care. using other people’s content without their knowledge and consent is rude and should be illegal. as a photographer I abhor pinterest and tumblr for this reason, but youtube has hundreds of my photos up without my permission or credit too.

shaun brilldream: I have no idea, but of course they should give consent. I’m sure most would.

clarissa cf: when your work is in the world, it’s in the world. what people pay for is no longer access to the work, it’s (the suggestion of) your personal approval of their having access to the work.

jennifer o’connor: technically you do have to consent. you could spend a lot of time getting them all taken down, but I don’t really see the point. spotify pays minuscule royalties.

ian musical chairs: yes. nobody bothers fighting it unless they think it’s costing them more potential revenue than the lawyer would cost.

joe pines / foxgloves: I expect chickfactor’s views on this subject are correct. I would like to add that ‘digital culture’ is not the level playing field of universal access that is sometimes implied. people’s levels of technological capacity are variable and it is sadly possible to get left behind.

does anyone make royalties from these?

ian musical chairs: supposedly, but not enough to buy a sandwich or anything. the idea that any subscription-type service is the answer to save the failing music industry is hilariously absurd and for people who choose to ignore math.

daniel handler: someone gets paid for those ads, I hope.

stephen the real tuesday weld: hahaha.

bridget st john: yes – in my limited knowledge I know that for instance if you have a publishing company assigned to the harry fox agency and opt in to their agreement with youtube – then you will be paid a (small) amount for your work being on youtube.

order the new issue!


this is chickfactor 17, which you can order here.

inside the new issue is some pretty great content!

  • an interview with hannah and lillian from the mighty grass widow
  • an interview with the awesome joe pernice (pernice brothers, chappaquiddick skyline, new mendicants, scud mountain boys)
  • bushwick pop powerhouse frankie rose grants us an interview
  • dawn sutter madell interviews the lovely, constantly touring sharon van etten
  • gaylord fields (wfmu) chats with the super-influential music fan joe boyd
  • lisa siegel (mad scene) chats with kenny anderson, one of the forces behind fife’s fence records & king creosote
  • black tambourine tells all (even if we’ve already interviewed a few of them in these pages before)
  • liam hayes and plush gives us a brief but illuminating interview — he has recorded two new LPs and is doing the soundtrack for a new roman coppola film
  • gail interviews the talented drummer / artist rachel blumberg (m ward, arch cape, decemberists, michael hurley, etc)
  • a jukebox jury with the amazing corin tucker band
  • gail and connie try to uncover the mysterious bill callahan
  • gail and peter momtchiloff have a lengthy chat about art with the creative powerhouse tae won yu
  • lisa levy talks to uk cultural critic / punk-rock feminist caitlin moran
  • daniel handler conducts an interview with his friend/collaborator maira kalman + travel tips
  • lots of silly polls and tons of reviews! a new chickfactor cocktail recipe by dan searing!

edited by gail o’hara, the issue’s art director is gregg einhorn and our amazing writers and contributors for CF17 are: daniel handler, sukhdev sandhu, gaylord fields, dawn sutter madell, lydia vanderloo, alistair fitchett, bryce edwards, connie lovatt, dan searing, erica braverman, isaac bess, janice headley, jennifer o’connor, kendall meade, kurt reighley, lisa levy, lisa siegel, liz clayton, michael white, peter momtchiloff, pete paphides, rebecca braverman, robert mctaggart, robin davies, tae won yu, tim hopkins and wayne davidson.

chickfactor poll question: making a living

do you believe musicians should be able to make a living from music? are you? do you have health insurance?

rachel blumberg: yes I do. there are lots of different paths to do this, though. I do have health insurance but I pay for it myself. it’s just a choice I’ve made, that it’s something I can’t notafford.

stephen the real tuesday weld: yes, the nhs.

pete paphides: not all musicians are going to make a living from music, but sure, it’s a common courtesy to show someone your appreciation for the things they make by paying them for it. until recently, I made my living from music. I still earn money from it, but I have, as they say, taken “a back seat.” there are children to chauffeur; meals to cook!

james dump/yo la tengo: yes / yes / yes.

erin a girl called eddy: yes. no. no.

stephin the magnetic fields: plenty of people should and do make a living from music, but sales of recorded music have been cut in half. I make a living, but my health insurance is always precarious.

dawn cf: YES.

daniel handler: we should live in an absolute artistic meritocracy. my insurance is from the screenwriters guild. these two sentences contradict each other.

corin tucker: yes. not really. yes our family has health insurance thankfully.

hannah grass widow: I do believe musicians should be making a living. music is so important to everyone — and no one would want to live in a world without it — but people aren’t really willing to pay artists what we deserve. our culture makes us feel like idiots for spending our time making music, as if we should get a real job. grass widow has never made a living being a band. we all have day jobs. I used to think it was so not punk to license your music, but these days I’m thinking that we wouldn’t have had that money in the first place, so if someone offered that maybe we could take that money and donate it to a cause we believe in or open an all-ages venue or something. we’re not above capitalism and we definitely need money to pay rent/eat.

ian musical chairs: In theory, it would be nice but mainstream tastes and buying habits would have to change to make the numbers work for most musicians (especially indie ones). no. yes (through my day job).

shaun brilldream: of course. but too much money = bad art.

kim baxter: yes, definitely! no, I’m not making a living from music. I do have health insurance but it’s a constant source of stress.

andrew eggs/talk it: I don’t make my living as a musician anymore. I do have health insurance.

bridget st john: that would be great – but unless we can have benefactors who want to help support us – no one owes us a living in music – as much effort as you put in determines what benefit you are able to reap, and these days it is more possible with internet and downloads and self-pressed cds and live performance it is possible. I did from 1969 to 1976 – and then found it impossible in new york and found other ways to supplement my musical income. Ironically if I chose to I believe I could work a lot more and make a living through music all these years on! from 1976 to 2011 I never had health insurance — but now at the grand age of 65 I have medicare – as imperfect as that is!

joe pines / foxgloves: making a living from music is not something I could contemplate. in my country, despite endless neoliberal inroads, we still have a universal health system which I believe is the noblest creation in our history. it is the material testament to our solidarity as a society. going to a hospital is naturally burdensome and worrying, but I can also find it inspiring.

gordon the fan modine: why certainly! I make a living from being creative. It has been nice that some years music has been the main thing I was focusing on. I do (have health insurance). I’ve been buying my own for more than a decade. It is one of the toughest things for people who don’t sign on to a mothership. individual (non group) plans are more expensive. it would seem that we should encourage entrepreneurs and micro-business owners such as musicians and artists.

jennifer o’connor: it’s very difficult to make a living playing music and whether musicians should or shouldn’t, I can’t really answer. I am making a living from music for the first time ever starting just this year. I do have health insurance but I pay too much for it and it’s not good and I’m thinking about dropping it because it’s so expensive and I feel it doesn’t even cover anything. It feels like throwing money away.

tim dagger: absolutely, I’m not a musician and I do have health insurance.

allen clapp: there have been a few years I actually made a living from music, but I always keep a foot in the day-job world (I’m a writer) because it’s too darn expensive to live in the san francisco bay area without at least some kind of a back-up plan. I do have health insurance, but I’m definitely pushing it on the dental plan. now I’m scared to go back to the dentist and discover what’s gone wrong. eek!

fran cannane: musicians can make a living from music in many ways such as teaching, playing in cover bands, selling music to be in ads, etc. to be highfalutin about it, this question is not relevant to the artist. I do not think anyone musician or not has a right to make money. it is I suppose a marketplace. if enough people get to hear your music and like it and then buy it or go to shows you may make money. if not you won’t. I note this excerpt from a philip larkin interview in paris review

interviewer: do you think economic security an advantage to the writer?

larkin: the whole of british postwar society is based on the assumption that economic security is an advantage to everyone. certainly I like to be economically secure. but aren’t you, really, asking about work? this whole question of how a writer actually gets his money—especially a poet—is one to which there are probably as many answers as there are writers, and the next man’s answer always seems better than your own. ¶ on the one hand, you can’t live today by being a “man of letters” as easily as a hundred or seventy-five years ago, when there were so many magazines and newspapers all having to be filled. writers’ incomes, as writers, have sunk almost below the subsistence line. on the other hand, you can live by “being a writer,” or “being a poet,” if you’re prepared to join the cultural entertainment industry, and take handouts from the arts council (not that there are as many of them as there used to be) and be a “poet in residence” and all that. I suppose I could have said—it’s a bit late now—I could have had an agent, and said, look, I will do anything for six months of the year as long as I can be free to write for the other six months. some people do this, and I suppose it works for them. but I was brought up to think you had to have a job, and write in your spare time, like trollope. then, when you started earning enough money by writing, you phase the job out. but in fact I was over fifty before I could have “lived by my writing”—and then only because I had edited a big anthology—and by that time you think, well, I might as well get my pension, since I’ve gone so far.

interviewer: any regrets?

larkin: sometimes I think, everything I’ve written has been done after a day’s work, in the evening: what would it have been like if I’d written it in the morning, after a night’s sleep? was I wrong? some time ago a writer said to me—and he was a full-time writer, and a good one—“I wish I had your life. dealing with people, having colleagues. being a writer is so lonely.” everyone envies everyone else. ¶ all I can say is, having a job hasn’t been a hard price to pay for economic security. some people, I know, would sooner have the economic insecurity because they have to “feel free” before they can write. but it’s worked for me. the only thing that does strike me as odd, looking back, is that what society has been willing to pay me for is being a librarian. you get medals and prizes and honorary-this-and-thats—and flattering interviews—but if you turned round and said, right, if I’m so good, give me an index-linked permanent income equal to what I can get for being an undistinguished university administrator—well, reason would remount its throne pretty quickly.


today’s 20th-anniversary poll question…

how has your record collection changed in the past 20 years?

stephen pastel: bigger, better. stricter adherence to cataloguing principles. new, old… I feel I can find it and connect it up. in a good place with this.

hannah grass widow: when I was really young, I would sometimes buy records because the album cover looked cool. maybe the band name sounded familiar but in general I took a lot of risks. I didn’t have a cool big sister or the internet. I had the radio and my local record store.

stephen the real tuesday weld: I have one now.

jeffrey honeybunch: gone back to used vinyl, which I originally pared down due to routine changes of address. have become much less preoccupied with objects in general, and am fine with just having the song on a file. totally done with CDs — too much of negative impact on the environment, and simply not that satisfying to hold in your hands.

daniel handler: it’s ballooned out of control. not being broke will do that. but the pop-to-classical ratio remains about the same, I think.

rachel blumberg: it’s gotten more eclectic. I’ve learned about so many more genres of music.

andrew eggs/talk it: I have more records now.

gaylord cf/wfmu: I have more jazz and classical LPs; not so coincidentally, that’s music I can enjoy live in venues with seats.

clarissa cf: the “things I love” section grows, and not as slowly as I’d have guessed it would at this point. the “things I can’t get anybody to take off my hands” section is completely out of control.

gordon the fan modine: I’ve never had more than a small rotating collection and now I listen to a lot of internet radio. you don’t really need much more than WFMU and RDIO these days.

fran cannane: in essence probably not much except for addition of MP3s.

james dump/yo la tengo: it’s a mess.

corin tucker: I try and only buy a few vinyl records a year that I think are classics, due to space. I still have my favorites I’ve collected on tour like x-ray spex, prince 7-inches and weird finds like that.

pete paphides: I don’t much bother with CDs anymore.

stephin the magnetic fields: I’ve given up on following both rock and disco, which I used to think of as the two poles of pop music. I have a lot more folk, and I have everything ever released on numero. their amazing eccentric soul series makes me hear the 70s in ways I couldn’t have at the time.

ian musical chairs: it’s expanded exponentially as I’ve gotten into record-dealing. I listen to a wider range of music now, though I still love a great pop song as much as ever.

dawn cf: I buy fewer 7″s.

joe pines / foxgloves: I now have 3 copies of 69 love songs: one that gail o’hara instructed me to buy in greenwich; one that I bought so the band could sign it; and one that leonard honeymoon diary gave me because he’d realized he didn’t actually like it.

jennifer o’connor: my record collection has always been in flux even when I was more of a collector, but yeah, now I have quite a range of everything from vinyl and cds to mp3s, etc. I have a hard time sometimes knowing which format to purchase a record in.

allen clapp: it became more digital over the past 10 years, but now it’s getting more analog again. I kind of forgot for a while how much fun it is to listen to music on vinyl, reel-to-reel, etc…so now I have records and jackets scattered all over my music room feels wonderful. it’s still as eclectic as ever.

bridget st john: physically it is less cohesive and quite scattered = some of it is digital downloads lurking on my computer, some cds and still have some cassettes and some vinyl – I find there are fewer albums that I have bought that I want to listen and relisten to as a whole.

gene booth: chronologically ordered (almost there!); also, 1969 has grown by like two feet in the last two years. no vinyl yet in 2012.

the legendary jim ruiz: it’s just gotten a lot bigger. I love the “let’s empty the vaults” attitude taken by labels concerning ’50s and ’60s artists. want everything lulu released on decca between 1964 and 1966? no problem! I can’t imagine the lengths you could go or the money you could spend to get even most of those tracks in 1992.

tim dagger: more cds, less vinyl (though I still do buy vinyl) and I still don’t download things.

michael white: much like myself, it’s larger and has too much ballast.

shaun brilldream: just got bigger.

gail cf: it got larger, then smaller: I wish I could have my record collection (vinyl) back, all the stuff I got rid of when I moved.