- CC: I'd like to talk a bit about the music business. What's the difference between releasing an album yourself as an independent and collaborating, like you did on Mad Heaven, with a studio like Palmetto?
PE: I would say, unfortunately, there's less and less different than there used to be, because I think everyone is just scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make this work – you know, what the new bottom line is going to be. Is music going to be something you pay for? Or is it going to be free? Is it something you're going to download? Our whole way of living is changing so much, so quickly, that the business side of music is trying to catch up.
The benefit is, you can make a really good sounding album for not a lot of money. So, it's sort of the artist's world now. Or the musician's world in a certain respect.
I think the difference with Palmetto is that I'm getting far more press than I've ever gotten. I scrambled and got nothing for Fool No More. That was a sweet friend's label, but really just an opportunity to record songs. Almost like a production deal or something. Everyone's intentions were good, but ultimately, there was really no PR (public relations). It was just a means for me to make my own record outside of anything the New York Voices does.
Palmetto is a respected label, it has a lot of great artists, and it’s able to reach people I would not be able to reach on my own. It's just a way of getting out there that I couldn't do by myself. Specifically for press.
With Decorum I did pretty well, just through gigs, internet sales, and iTunes. I basically made back the money that I spent on the record, which I was thrilled about. And it allowed me to make the next one. It's not like I'm going to become a zillionaire making this album. If I don't lose money doing this album I'll feel great, and it will function as calling card. It is something new, and people like when you do something new, something new to say. That's what it about.
Does that answer the question?
- CC: Well, speaking of breaking even. In my experience doing gigs, I found myself becoming satisfied just paying my band. Is that the reality of playing live?
PE: I would be thrilled if I made as much money as I paid my band. Or if I didn't lose money. As I told a friend the other day: “I did my record release at Rockwood (Music Hall) and I used pretty much everyone that was on the album. There were nine people on stage, and it was a financial bloodbath.” I was not going to not pay people and I wanted to have a fun, splashy, record release. And it was, pound for pound, kind of ridiculous because it was a big financial burden.
Did I know that going in? Yeah, I knew that. Was it a successful night? Yeah. Palmetto had never seen me perform live, and it got them very excited about my music. So I guess that made it worth it.
Do I do that all the time? Absolutely not.
- CC: Before the business model was to put out an album so you have stuff to sell at your gigs and the gigs are where you make the money. But now it seems like both are some sort of publicity for something else which has yet to be determined. We're making the albums and playing the gigs to get our names out there for something else.
PE: Yeah, I don't know what that something else is. I still do kind of think you're making the album to get work, to perform live. Whether you're playing clubs, festivals, or house concerts, there’s an opportunity to make a living. You're not going to make a lot of money from a record, but if it helps you get gigs, those are financially valuable. There are some people who do very well with live gigs. It just depends on who you are and what kind of music you play.
It seems now the game in town is licensing. There's not really radio anymore. With all the satellite radio, they're so corporate and so based on playlists that have been manufactured that now it's getting your song licensed in a movie or a tv show. That seems like the way people get out there now. Perhaps one of the few ways.
- CC: So we all have to become film composers?
PE: Kind of, yeah, we all have to get a tune of Grey's Anatomy.
- CC: Something on the WB. That's what I'm going for.
PE: Or a movie. You're in Hangover 3. [Laughter]
There's an instrumental version of "Difficult" that was just licensed for a "live comedy taping" that Zach Galifianakis did. And, unfortunately, there's no mention of the title of the song or who wrote the song, which is really a bummer. But I guess it was licensed through a separate company and it just came from a catalog of non-identifiable music, and that was that. Am I thrilled that it's on that DVD? Yeah. Do I wish that it or I was mentioned? Of course.
That's kind of how it works now.