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6/10/2008

independent



Today is definitely an espresso kind of day. We set the alarm too early, but it was for a great cause. A construction guy dropped by the house to meet with Johnny regarding our garage/soon-to-be drum studio. We purchased our house for many reasons.... One is that I could vividly picture little Simmonses running around, up and down the stairs, hanging their heads over the banister, then J. and I issuing reprimands with hidden smirks on our faces. We also felt like our family and other guests would be very comfortable here. And we loved the house in general - "we just knew," as they say. But when we walked into the 3-car garage, the look on Johnny's face said it all: we were standing in his future drum studio.

Our friend/realtor agreed with the space's potential and I did, too. Johnny decided he only needed two cars' worth of space, leaving an actual place to park my car, if I so desired. Ever since we moved into the house, Johnny's been dreaming, waiting, and planning, and I've been eager to get started as well. This morning was really fun - the actual beginning of Johnny's new studio, paperwork, and pinning down dates (looking like July). Our neighbors will barely hear anything from the outside, and all will be tranquil from inside our house, too. As much as I admire my husband's talent, I don't want to hear his drum kit while I read & write indoors, you know? Johnny is already pondering paint colors, sound equipment, etc.. I love to peruse paint samples and such, but I'm only giving minimal input. I want people to walk into his drum studio and think, "This is very Johnny." And no, the walls will not be black.

Our excitement continues.... Johnny's new drum set is en route and his patience is wearing thin. What I mean by that is, they're new drums! New drums to Johnny are like a blank journal, a fresh uni-ball Vision micro pen (in black), a new book, or a vintage typewriter (a hint) to me. With a radiant face, he tells me these drums involve black glitter and chrome. Now I'm all geeked up, too, though I know nothing about a drum kit. Maybe a little bit by osmosis, but I'm just excited because Johnny is. That, and soon we won't pay monthly rent on his current drum studio. My husband will not be 20 minutes away (on a good traffic day), but just across the short walkway from our back door. I can take him glasses of hibiscus mint iced tea. We can do lunch on a regular basis. And while we can't predict every detail of the future, we do plan to homeschool one of these days (or private school), so it will be lovely to have him nearby.

Plus, Johnny's brain is very attractive. He has so many innovative ideas about teaching drums and recording. With his online setup, he'll be able to do things like e-mail his students their weekly lesson if they forgot something he said in person. Johnny can invite his local musician friends to record in the garage, or he can knock out session work and e-mail the audio files to other states. We are extremely grateful for God's provision and these opportunities. Long ago, one of Johnny's heroes and mentors recognized his talent and told him to leave college after two years - go be a full-time drummer. That advice would send any parent into a frenzy, but over the years, God has blessed Johnny's decision and career.

As Johnny and his construction friend (also a musician) went over paperwork in the breakfast nook, they inevitably talked about the state of the music industry today, independent music, the sound quality of mp3 files, and so on. Since I'm curious about everything, I minded my own business over on the couch, sipped espresso, read the newspaper, and well, eavesdropped.

But I truly was reading - this article about Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), in fact. Two of my ex-boyfriends were NIN fans, so I wasn't shocked to discover that Johnny was into NIN, too. I don't listen to their albums as often as my husband, but I do like some NIN music myself. Pretty Hate Machine is perfect workout music; I dig it. And there are other songs - from The Fragile, for instance - that while possibly controversial, are amazingly artistic. And one of Trent Reznor's most recent projects - the instrumental album, Ghosts I-IV - is really beautiful. Last year, I went to a NIN concert with Johnny and my brother and honestly, it was a great, live show. I loved the big-screen images, too. Of course, Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" taught me to respect Reznor's songwriting a great deal.

The New York Times article is very interesting; partially about Trent Reznor's decision to go independent after his contract with Interscope Records expired. He became successful enough that he didn't need the aid of a record company anymore. He had room to breathe and freedom to make music how and when he wished. This was timely reading because just yesterday, I received the 15th anniversary edition of Performing Songwriter magazine - "The Indie 100" issue. Just so you know, I subscribed to that magazine several years ago because they passionately supported independent musicians. I've always been inspired by those who do music on their own terms, do it well, and I'm very happy when they succeed.

Another thing that caught my eye in the NY Times article - Trent Reznor is offering his latest album, The Slip, for free. Before that, he produced and funded an album for hip-hop artist Saul Williams. Reznor gave the first 100,000 downloaders the option of paying $5.00 or taking it for free. Fewer than 20% actually paid which at first seemed like a failure, but Reznor said he's changed his mind:

“'The numbers of the people that paid for that record, versus the people that paid for his last record, were greater,' he said. 'He made infinitely more money from that record than he did from his other one. It increased his name value probably tenfold. At the end of the day, counting free downloads, it was probably five or six or seven times higher than the amount sold on his last record. I don’t know how you could look at that as a failure.'”

Radiohead used similar, nontraditional online pricing & distribution with their latest album - In Rainbows - and from what I understand, they made boo-koos of money while gaining tons of publicity. But the first musician I ever heard of who offered his album for free was another of my favorite songwriters, Derek Webb. Performing Songwriter mentioned that record company moguls scratched their heads at Webb's decision to offer Mockingbird for free, yet the album was downloaded 80,000 times within three months, and he doubled his audience in several markets. I think he made a gutsy, genius decision that inspired many musicians. Webb showed them an example of how to survive as the music industry changes into something we've never seen before. And, he has lots of other great ideas - check out his upcoming music distribution project, NoiseTrade.

So, it's been one of those "music days" for us here, as so many are. Creative ideas are knocking around our skulls as to how Johnny's career can grow and change, and we're excited about potential new drum students in our neck of the woods. Johnny loves all of his current gigs and lessons, but he hopes to start a band more along the lines of his natural musical leanings, too. I can't wait to see what happens.

P.S. ~ This article about Coldplay was another fascinating read. I'm very intrigued by their forthcoming album, Viva La Vida. And HELLO - Emmylou Harris' new album, All I Intended to Be, is available today! What a great music month.

8 comments:

robyn a. jones said...

woohoo! great post. i'll admit i scratched my head a bit when derek decided to do the free download. i have the utmost respect for him, his songwriting abilities and his ingeniuative (sp?) mind. i'm one of those people who downloaded and bought the actual cd. i'm a sucker for the cd artwork. i like to hold it in my hands, read the lyrics if they are available and even the thank you(s). i want the new coldplay and emmylou cd. congrats to johnny... that's really really exciting! i'm so grateful that God has blessed both of you with a life that you can create beautiful work, but you do it for a living and you are passionate about your work. oh how i wish i was able to do that... one day.

Laura Leigh Dobson said...

that is so exciting!!! great post. :)

kate o. said...

oh yes, the new coldplay single has been played many a time in this household. we're excited for it, too. having johnny nearby will be great, though i think i'd be horrible at not bothering omar if he worked at home...no, make that i know i would be bad at it.

Christine said...

Aww, I love that you and Johnny will be together more all day. I'm so excited for him to have his very own drum studio. You are a very supportive wife :)

Kimberly said...

Exciting things are in store for you guys and your future! How awesome that Johnny's dream home-studio is coming into reality. Awesome!

I love uniball pens too. They are wonderful on the moleskins ;~)

Heather said...

Random question for this particular entry... but I've seen on your blog your turkey sausage. Can you share what brand? Do you get them at Whole Foods (basically my favorite place EVER!)? I'm looking for a good natural turkey sausage that I can have on a yeast-free diet.

Sarah Marie said...

I adore those perfectly musical days. I simply must get that Emmylou Harris album!

Do you do stove-top espresso, or machine?

jenni said...

Thanks, y'all!

Robyn - I hear you on the artwork, but I'm also a fan of digital booklets. I love to read the lyrics. And pray for your dreams! Don't give up.

Kate - I'll probably have to learn to not bug Johnny, too. Maybe he should lock the garage door.

Heather - I'm SO sorry I haven't e-mailed you yet. Will soon, I promise. I eat Shelton's turkey sausage/patties, found at Whole Foods. They're extra good scrambled with eggs, bell pepper, and onions.

Sarah - Yes, you must get the Emmylou CD. And it's funny you should ask.... We have a sinfully-easy Nespresso machine, but I'm now window-shopping for a stovetop espresso percolator. I found one on Amazon for $20, but if you have any recommendations, I'll take 'em.