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About endsongs

Endsongs2 is improvised music. It's the jazz philosophy which doesn't mean it necessarily sounds like traditional jazz. There are a few incarnations of endsongs2. One is with an electric guitar, with many electrical devices, a MacBook with Ableton Live and with acoustic and electronic percussion. Another is with a guitar (with less devices and sometimes with none) and acoustic percussion. Sometimes a bass guitar is in there too.

Endsongs2 has moments where there is subtlety and, nearly, silence and other moments that make you wonder where the other four members are playing and if they are standing infront of or behind the percussion ensemble and, also, where the orchestra pit is situated.

Endsongs2 music is a mixture of free-jazz, experimental, avant-garde, ambient, Indian classical and, perhaps, musak styles that, due to its improvised nature, is different with each performance.

Mr Bashford and Mr Macpherson, together, bring to endsongs2 the experience of over fifty-five years of playing live music.

Our music is very exciting for the performers and it can be for a listening audience. Some times it doesn't work and at other times I don't know where such sublime music comes from. I have no ownership over this music (other than legal and copyright, of course) and when I listen to recordings of performances I am hearing them as if for the first time.

Sometimes, during a performance of Endsongs2, myself and/or Mr Bashford may be not playing but are listening to the music, thus far created, unfold in unexpected ways. It is a new experience to be, simultaneously, performer and audience member.

It all started in the mid-1970's, well, really twenty years before that... Read more

Why endsongs?

Statement 1: I'm trying to be different.
Trying is not the correct word. The sense given above is that I am not different but I am making a concerted effort to change and not be the same as some average. This is not true. We are all different but it is how far some of our tastes, likes, dislikes differ from some cultural and temporal average. Perhaps statement 1 should be, I will remain different. People, mostly, hide their differences when they are perceived as a hindrance to acceptance. This is no general and average society-wide average but the behaviour of the group of people we wish to associate with. This may be simply things like musical tastes or hobbies or it may be extreme views or behaviour.

My statement is only about the general likes and dislikes of the music listening and buying public. I mean I will produce music that I like and not be (too) concerned how many other people like or dislike it. I remember reading an interview with David Bowie (many years ago) and he was asked why he continued with his distinctive music in his early days and he replied (I paraphrase), 'Well, I liked it so I assumed some other people would as well.'
Music written with a market in mind, while it may make money, is always unsatisfactory.

Statement 2: I'm trying to be logical.
This is self explanatory. It is obvious too. However, very few people adhere to Statement 2.

Statement 3: I'm trying to be realistic.
I have to make music. I would like to earn an income from music. There is a difference. My initial premise is the necessity of making music. That will happen anyway and I can in no way expect a direct link to income production. Presenting music to an audience hopes for two things to happen: 1. There will be an appreciation by some (small number of) people, and 2. Following on from 1, some small number of the small number of people will be willing to pay for something music related.

None of these items necessarily follow (this is a consequence of statement 2). Also, in the real world, almost no one makes money from music. I should restate that as, almost no musician makes money from music. When I say "make money" from music I mean being able to support yourself and your family in a way like, say, a junior accountant in a small firm might be able to do so. (Ahh, we hanker for such heady success as that!). There are exceptions, of course, but for any individual aspiring musician the chances of financial success (this is nothing to do with how good a musician you are) are slim.

There is an even smaller subset, of the miniscule number of musicians who have financial success, who achieve success by producing original music.

The numbers are getting pretty small by now. Time to give up? No, it's time to think differently.

I'm still amazed by the number of muscians who still dream of "being signed". Like that's a positive thing and the final step before stardom, jet travel and jewel-studded swimming pools. In this day and age, with all the publicity about the duplicitious nature of the record industry and its executives, it is still a common dream. (I shake my head in amazement until I remember statement 2 and how few people adhere to statement 2. And not just things musical.) These people who are blinded by this ambition are not necessarily young. I know of people in their thirties (yes, I know, that is still young!), who talk of the possibility of being sighted and then signed by a recording company executive. When they talk like that my mind wanders and conjures up the image of Russell Crowe in the movie, Gladiator. I think of the slavery and the bonded servitude to perform someone else's bidding and to make them money.

Another mini-statement. People will completely stop paying for music. Music will be free. People will only be charged for the delivery of music and that is all they will expect to pay for. If unrealistic charges are applied to music then people will source music elsewhere. Illegally. It is too easy to obtain music illegally. As soon as copyright infringing technology is invented it is circumvented. There are too many smart people in the world for preventions to be maintained. And music is one of the few basic human necessities (I put it close behind safety, food and shelter) so people will obtain it by whatever means at their disposal if they think it is too expensive. But they will pay what is fair.

If the musician is exceptional and can supply music that can not be obtained elsewhere and the price is realistic they may make some pocket money from charging for downloads. I know of a few examples (eg www.dgmlive.com) but I do not know if music downloads are a profitable arm of any small scale music enterprise. I imagine not or just marginally (once all costs are included - including charging for the musicians and the production teams time - people often forget that their time needs to be assigned a dollar value, even if only the hourly rate of our hypothetical junior accountant, when they work out whether their business is profitable or not).

So, we are in the music business but music does not make money for the individual musician. Mmmm. Perhaps we should give up, statement 2 must hold sway.

Let's try thinking differently. Perhaps we can divorce the business side of things from the musical side of things. If there is enough popularity for a musician (I don't mean U2-like popularity) but, say, a few thousand people like what you do and are willing to spend money to see you perform (not all at once! But spread over, say, a year of performing). With modern production techniques, then performances can, very simply, be recorded and then offered for download. Improvised music is different for each performance and could be offered for download with the same piece could be offered many times.

But, the volume is insufficient and the effort involved would not justify the expense. And far fewer people would buy the music than would download it for free. Perhaps we should assign the effort involved in providing music for download to the marketing budget. That would make more sense. The more people who see you live would pass on (through word of mouth, etc) their enthusiasm and you could keep them enthused, after and between performances, by offering distinctive performances for download. For free.

So after much effort, and many years of playing, we might have a small audience. We might, also, be able to keep the audience happy by providing a variety of musical options for them to download and thereby keep (some of them) interested enough to remain as part of the audience. Mmmm. Still no revenue. But, we have interested customers. Should there only be a tenuous link between the performer/composer and the revenue generation? Perhaps we should give up, completely, trying to earn money from music, per se. Perhaps we should attract customers (not for the sake of attracting them simply to generate revenue - the reason is original music and that should not be forgotten - but since we would like some financial reward for our music, if only to allow us to spend more time on music performance and production without secondary and unrelated jobs) and then sell them quality items semi-related to the music performance/performers. Not just T-shirts and beer mugs and drink coasters. But items they would possibly purchase elsewhere anyway. Why not provide quality and also stress that their purchases will support the musicians they enjoy? If it is excellent quality, and they would buy it anyway, why not buy it from the musicians? These items would have to be items that can have a sufficient mark up to justify the effort. (I'm not talking about toasters and microwaves... but fashionable items that go out of fashion and need replacing with new fashionable items, etc, etc.)

Also, with the nature of original music there will be a large customer base that hates it! They will be at performances by mistake (perhaps they like the venue and go irrespective of who is playing or they have been dragged along by friends with different musical tastes, etc), so why can't we sell something to them to remind them of how awful the music is? If it is a quality product but, say, in an amusing way it states how pretentious the musicians are (for example), then why not? Revenue doesn't have to come from fans of the music. If it is ethical and allows for further music production and performance then, I think, it is all OK. It beats having to work as a labourer (for example) during the day to gain revenue for the musician to play at night.

Naive? Probably. The music business is only business, it is not the music. The music is simply the commodity to attract consumers. That sounds horrible, doesn't it? But if creative musicians want to continue creating music then they need to be (financially) rewarded for their effort. Why shouldn't the small and independent music performers tap into the the same marketing method as the horrible record executives? Just don't be mean, don't be arseholes, be ethical and don't even try to sell the music. It won't work. Not at the moment. Instead, sell something else.

Of course, this won't work for everyone. This is not the response to the current problems of copyright infringement and, well, stealing. I am lucky that I have no back catalogue. I have no arguments or legal wrangling with record company executives. I have no baggage or possessions that need to be protected. This is merely one musicians way of responding without spending a lifetime with lawyers (my wife is one and her advice is always, "stay away from lawyers". They are the only ones who profit - she loves people who come into her office who must fight a case as a "point of principle") and much aggravation. This way I can get on with my way of the business of music. When smarter people than me, or people who want to spend their time that way, figure out a simple way forward for music copyright then I will embrace that method. Until then, I will follow the way of least resistance.

Statement 4: I will fail, mostly.
But that is no reason to stop. (Damn! I forgot about statement 2.)

November 2, 2006


PO Box 454, Somers, Victoria 3927, Australia
Copyright © 2006 Endsongs