How would an ambitious young band garner the attention of your keen, highly-trained ears?
Ok, we're going to be perfectly honest here and ask you, the submitter of demos, to PAY ATTENTION to the following caveats and suggestions. Some of what's written below may be hard to take. Probably, just like your demo. Zing! Hey now, we'll be here all week.
I mean, we go to a LOT of shows, and sometimes our favorite words are "this is our last song."
Before sending us anything, look around the web site, listen to tracks, and get familiar with whom we work. Do your research!! Our love of death metal, hardcore, emo, folk, and techno varies from person to person in the office, but IT IS NOTHING THAT FITS INTO OUR ROSTER. You are wasting your time (and likely money) by sending it and trying to convince us that "but I can be the exception." We've even received a demo CD from a ventriloquist. A CD! Ventriloquist! Think about it!!!!
We absolutely DO NOT accept demos from third party lawyers or promotion companies shopping stuff for clients. They are bad people and we would rather not have to deal with them. They waste your money and they waste our time.
We never "request" anything. There's no quicker way to get your package recycled than to write "requested material" on the package. Just because we were polite and told you our address so you could send something doesn't mean we "requested" it.
Also, if you are a band or artist who has a dream day job and no vacation time we probably can't work with you. These days in the cruel world of the music business if you don't have time to commit yourself to working your ass off, neither do we. If you're looking for a bit of tough-love advice on the realities of clawing yourself up in the music industry, take a look at this essay by our fearless leader, Rob.
While we don't require a polished album and fancy press kit, someone sending us a "developing project" with just a guitar recorded on a four track should head back to the drawing board. We cannot/ will not help finish your band for you. Here's a nifty example of go-getter we're not much inclined to invest our time and passion in: "I don't have a studio to record in and I suck at mixing. Attached are (sic) some stuff I recorded on my phone and some songs that still need work." Let's start planning the signing ceremony, shall we?!!!
And don't tell us that you've got 300 good songs ready to go. Well, we've got 300 naughty haikus and limericks ready to go. You know who else had 300 good songs? NO ONE. EVER.
Also, here's a helpful hint: Respect yourselves! We don't claim to be perfect, but a lot of English majors have served their time here and we get SUPER annoyed by sloppily written demo pitches. While unintentionally hilarious, they also make us think "jeez, if they or their team can't spend the time to spellcheck..."
Here are some of our favorites. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
"I want to get singed quickly"
"Music has been a hugh influence on my life"
"Joe Lunchpail is a genuis"
"We didn't want to right a long bio..."
And don't even get us started on misuse of the possessive...
We do not shop songs to our artists, ergo we do not accept songwriter submissions. If you are convinced that a song of yours is absolutely perfect for somebody, we suggest tracking down the artist at a show and giving them the song.
To our European friends, there are certain practical realities that a label our size has to face. One of them is this: there really isn't any way we can work with bands that are based overseas. It just isn't practical.
If you feel that you meet all the above criteria, then send us something you are proud of. Direct us to a website where we can learn more if we're interested.
If you MUST send MP3s, send them to demo [at] bloodshotrecords.com ONLY.
Finally, we are inundated with demos and, while we eventually listen to them all, do not expect a timely response-or possibly any response. If we think your music is something that would fit well with our idiosyncratic and whimsical taste, we will contact you.
We keep a "wall of shame" in our bathroom. Do you really want to be on it?
P.S. If your promo photo contains more than ZERO dudes wearing sandals, re-shoot it. Or join a different band. No man-feet please.
P.P.S. While we're rather fastidious recyclers around here, we HATE it when people send us loads of lyrics, press clippings, and other such landfiller, and we REALLY hate vellum folders that make your package look "more professional." Don't send us a list of who you've "shared the stage with." Shared the stage with? We all know what that means: you opened for them. There was no sharing...Follow the time-honored adage of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
What do you think of MP3s and file sharing?
Well, when this whole digital download thing started to show up, we, being a small label with limited means, had no strong objections to it. If people were curious about an artist of ours, it seemed quite good that people could download a song and listen to it. If they liked it, they could then go out and buy the album---a simple and free way to get our music publicized, so what if U2 or the Eagles lose a few thousand sales, right?
Sadly, as the number of people availing themselves to this technology has grown, the number of people who have no connection or loyalty to the independent music they are downloading has also grown---they are just looking for some free music, they feel entitled to every song by every artist at any time for free.
No harm, right? WRONG. Each time someone does this, they are depriving the artist of income for their creative efforts. We're not talking about Katy Perry, Justin Bieber or Jay-Z here. We're talking about struggling musicians who drive around in crappy vans, who keep crappy day jobs, and spend long periods of time away from their families and friends, all to bring you interesting, fun, and un-crappy music. A couple of hundred lost sales to these bands represents a significant dent in their ability to tour. Recording studios aren't free, you know. Neither are vans, hotels, gear, gas, etc.
So, if you love independent music and want to support it, you are harming that which you profess to love by swiping music for free and passing it around to all your friends. Sure, if you're a moral person and do it to evangelize the cause and continue to buy their albums or legally download their music, we have no problem with that. We even offer lots of MP3s on this site for you to sample, but only in the hope you'll download the song, enjoy it, tell your friends and come back to hear more from that band. But if you think that full scale swiping does not have ramifications for the independent artists you want to support, you are quite wrong.
Besides, vinyl sounds better. No question.
What's Bloodshot's position on Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality establishes rules that keep the Internet a level playing field, providing users with equal access to all websites and content. Newly appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai is strongly urging the overturning of Net Neutrality, putting the safeguards for fair play in peril. Overturning Net Neutrality will benefit only a few special interests at the expense of everyone else. It WILL make the Internet less free and independent. It WILL stifle innovation, choice, creativity, and competition.
Here’s the short version of what Net Neutrality means:
Right now, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc. are required by law to treat all websites and content as equal. Net Neutrality ensures that they cannot show a bias (for example, through faster and more reliable service) toward one company or organization or sole proprietor over another. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to dole out access on their terms (i.e. money, or more sinisterly, censorship). They can slow down your Internet connection, (or those of small businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, churches) while allowing or encouraging corporations, political organizations, and wealthy individuals to pay to make their websites and content (or websites and content they support) run faster and more efficiently. Perhaps, at some point, the little guys will need to pay an exorbitant amount of money to even have a website or access to less popular products and ideas.
Ok, this sounds too tech-wonky to be that serious. How could it possibly affect me?
I’m going to dummy this down, as others have done for me (those who know me will tell you I’ll never be mistaken for a tech-savvy guy.)
Imagine the Internet as a smooth super highway. With Net Neutrality, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (sticker price: $2.2 million) and my crappy 2003 Dodge Neon (if it’s still running somewhere) have the same access to the roadway, services, rest stops and scenic overlooks and the same rules of operation and speed limits.
What happen if the FCC overturns Net Neutrality? My Neon might not be able to afford to get on the highway for long stretches, or at all. It might be shunted off to an access road full of potholes, delays, random lane closures, even random road closures. There will be traffic jams, lower speed limits, and inconsistent services along the way. Perhaps, if the “Internet Highway Patrol” doesn’t like the looks of the car (how can one hate the sleek lines of a Neon?), they will insist I pay to upgrade the car before being allowed to continue. Perhaps, if they don’t like the looks of me, they might not let it back on the road at all. Meanwhile, that snazzy sports car whizzes past us unimpeded. It is a simple matter of fairness.
Who will be impacted directly and immediately by the overturning of Net Neutrality?
A LOT of people and businesses you know and care about. The mom-and-pop place with amazing pie competing with the faceless chain restaurant, the start-up manufacturing company in your town with a niche idea, the specialty bakery down the street, the small farmer at the weekly market, the clothing store a friend started, your kid’s school advocacy newsletters, your buddy who fabricates custom cycle parts and sells them on the web, the family-run hardware store, the record store with snarky clerks, nearby health and wellness options, park district events, message boards of all stripes, and community action organizations that affect you. In short, people who live and work in your neighborhood or town and have a vested interest in keeping them vibrant and responsive to local needs.
And, yes, full disclosure, independent music labels and the artists they support will be hit hard as well. This biz is hard enough already, but the end of Net Neutrality could very well mean that we can’t tell you about our artists, sell you their music, or, with discriminatorily slow site speeds, even stream music to you. Oh, and you think it’s hard now to find out when your favorite bands (or bands you don’t even know are your favorites yet) are coming to town amidst the bought-and-paid-for white noise? Imagine when only enormous media conglomerates can afford to promote their products/popstars (same thing, really) in an efficient manner. Welcome to an exclusive world of high ticket arena shows, festivals, and boring music; the small venues and artists we exist alongside won’t be able to afford to connect with you.
In short, anyone who turns to the Internet for information, entertainment, products, services and a sense of community will see the web change before their eyes.
Who does it benefit?
Corporations and organizations with the deepest pockets are licking their chops at the prospect of overturning Net Neutrality. They will ensure their ideas, goods, and services are the most easily accessed, and operate with no loyalty or concern for anything other than the shareholders’ bottom line. If your name is Bob GiantBank, Susie Hedgefund, Steve MegaPharm, or Alice SuperEntertainments, you’re gonna love Net Neutrality going away.
And if you think you aren’t paying ENOUGH to your Internet Service Providers now, you’re in luck!! Prices will go up and service will go down.
I believe that each of us is connected to someone who will be affected by this issue, and all of us need to let our voices be heard NOW. If Net Neutrality is overturned, it will be damn near impossible to undo.
The rise or rebirth of communities with their small and local manufacturers, restaurants, breweries, bookshops, and hundreds of other businesses and organizations has been one of the great successes in the age of the worldwide web. It was facilitated by a neutral Internet. New ideas and products flourished or failed on their own merit, not by outside forces dictating winners and losers. Isn’t that what the free market is all about?
This is a non-partisan issue.
So much of the recent rancorous election cycle boiled down to people feeling like they aren’t part of the system anymore, that Wall Street is winning out over Main Street, that the little guy is getting marginalized and feeling powerless. The Net Neutrality issue speaks directly to this. It cuts across party, ideological, and socio-economic lines. I don’t think any of us want to be told what we can see, hear, or experience on the Internet. I don’t think any of us want to be told by a few powerful interests who we can connect with or what content we will have access to.
Keep the ISP’s and the people paying them from playing favorites and punishing non-favorites, or the web will look like a drab Megamall instead of the organic hotbed of creativity and sharing it is now.
This isn’t about us. It’s ok to hate our artists (though we wish you didn’t) or not listen to their music (though we wish you did). It’s about nurturing the kind of communities, both online and brick-and-mortar, that we want to live in, and fear we will lose if Net Neutrality is overturned.
It’s about open access, plain and simple.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE ISSUE:
LET YOUR FEELINGS BE KNOWN!
Chairman Ajit Pai: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 (888) 225-5322
Do NOT assume they understand this issue fully. Let them know how this will directly affect YOU, a voter in their district.
IT IS ESSENTIAL WE LET OUR FEELINGS BE KNOWN IN A STRONG, ONGOING WAY.
STAY ENGAGED! There are lots of distractions these days and Net Neutrality is not as sexy as Russian spies or whatever the hell other skullduggery is sucking up the news cycle oxygen on any given day, but THIS ISSUE WILL IMPACT YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR NEIGHBORS IN A VERY REAL WAY.
The Internet will be a distinctly different place if Net Neutrality disappears. The interests of a few will have won out over the freedom of choice for the rest of us.
What do we think of streaming services like Spotify?
It's super convenient. You can have 70 billion songs at your disposal (a pointed word choice, by the way) anytime, anywhere. Like almost everything else in the internets, if people use these tools to experience more music, or discover music they might not have ever come across, then it's a win/win. You find something new to listen to, the artist gets a new fan and some revenue when you carry your streaming love into the world of an actual purchase. But people must do that. As much as we use and support the streaming services (our Bloodshot Radio feature on our website is powered by Spotify, and we have a whole lot of great playlists on there for your aural ingestion and musical discovery), we encourage you to bring it full circle. The use of streaming services needs to be coupled with direct music purchases of vinyl, CDs, MP3s (or FLAC, WAV, and other nerdy file types via Bandcamp), for you to cherish and keep in your collection, in order for all this to keep working. Nothing gold can stay. If the streaming services disappear suddenly...you'll be stuck with what's in your physical library. As Galaxie 500's Damon Krukowski states in his Pitchfork op-ed How to Be a Responsible Music Fan in the Age of Streaming: "Share your money deliberately when you spend it on music, and it will be a real gesture with a real effect."
The reality is that streaming audio royalties generate micro-pennies per play, which requires exponentially more plays per listener, per song to equate to even a digital MP3 purchase. Streaming on its own is not sustainable for independent artists and independent labels (hey that's us!).
Here's a well-put-together graph by market researchers Statista, depicting the various streaming music services and how much they pay per play per song. (Keep in mind some of this goes to the artist, some goes to the little indies like us who are working to get it to your earholes—we try to tip it more in the artists' favor around here.)
There's been a lot written about this; I suggest essays by David Lowery (of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker) on the economics and fairness on the matter, but it all comes down to: Do ALL OF US, as a society, value music?
Besides, we like artwork, photos, liner notes and shit. And the whole "cloud" thing seems a little suspicious to us. It has a chilling Orwellian innocuousness to it. Essentially, we like to have our cake and eat it too...that is, a physical cake to eat, and a digitally streamed cake to carry with us and admire wherever we go. Or something.
I want to use Bloodshot music in my Podcast. What's your policy?
We love the fact that you are interested in using Bloodshot bands in your podcast (you obviously have impeccable taste in music), however, this is a very tricky subject, so stay tuned for further developments on our podcast policies.
In the meantime, while we can't give you permission to use just any song from our catalog, you're more than welcome to use any of the songs that are available as MP3s on our website, which you can find by going to any particular release page.
If you have any other podcast questions, contact Nina Steiner (nina [at] bloodshotrecords.com), and she'll probably tell you "No." Just kidding; she's very nice.
Are you hiring? Should I send a resume?
No. Maybe. The path to a rewarding career at Bloodshot begins in our warehouse (or behind the dumpster at the Hideout). Either way, we like to hire fresh, young, corruptible interns and turn them into shriveled pieces of human wreckage. You got what it takes to flush your life down the toilet? Email mike [at] bloodshotrecords.com to inquire about an internship.
What is Bloodshot's connection to the RIAA?
NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. Any mention of Bloodshot as a member of the RIAA is just plain wrong.
Who should lawyers and licensers seek out?
Nan Warshaw can take care of such unseemly matters. Call her at 773-604-5300 or email nan [at] bloodshotrecords.com
Why is it sometimes so hard to find Bloodshot stuff in stores?
Getting thorough distribution for tiny, well-meaning organizations like us is a painful, demeaning uphill battle with sometimes erratic results. Most stores on the planet have access to our distributors. Trouble is they may not know that.
OR, given these troubled times for music retailers, they may only be stocking "the hits," some sort of re-re-re-release of the Beatles catalog carved out of a block of virgin Indonesian vinyl at $599 a pop, or "It's A Bruno Mars Christmas" or some shit.
What can I, the music fan, do to help?
Where else can I find Bloodshot on the Internet?
Everyone's talking about social networking nowadays--web 3.whatever, we are all Time's "Person of the Year", etc etc. Never to be left behind the curve, we here at Bloodshot headquarters have spread our wares across the internet for you to peruse, download, comment upon and add to your little corner of the web.
You can network up with the BSHQ and become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and see what we've been eating, drinking, and seeing via Instagram. We've got a ton of videos and live footage up on our YouTube page. We have a bloggy thing too (that sounds kind of gross).
Got some great photos of Bloodshot artists? Email them to mike[at]bloodshotrecords.com and perhaps they'll end up on our site and social networks (with credit to you, the photographer, of course).
What were the first pieces of music purchased by Bloodshot staffers with their own lunch money?
Nan: The Jackson 5: Greatest Hits (on LP – the ONLY format at the time)
Mike Smith: Puff Daddy & the Family No Way Out (on cassette)
Josh: LL Cool J “Around the Way Girl” cassingle (cassette single, duh). Regular radio edit on the front side, instrumental on the back. Flip it over, repeat.
Pete: Snow's "Informer" (another cassingle). Had to go all the way to Sam Goody for that shit.
Nina: Nsync* "Celebrity" Hmm. If she'd fessed up to that during the interview process, we probably wouldn't have hired her.
Justin: "Probably Linkin Park or some shit like that. I dunno we were all just burning CDs back then." Thanks for being part of the problem Justin!!
Rob: A two album ELVIS best-of collection ordered from the TV with paper route money. The wispy thin vinyl waved like a sheet of paper. The cover featured fat, Hawaiian Elvis. I still have it and it sounds pretty good, though it favors late-era Elvis and nothing from the Sun years. First 7" single: "The Streak" by Ray Stevens. Jesus, what's wrong with me?
What are the Bloodshot staff's favorite super-charged power ballads?
Rob: Nazareth, "Love Hurts." We all KNOW this version rules over Gram Parsons', right?
Nan: Elton John, "Someone Save My Life Tonight"
Pete: Styx, "Lady"
Josh: Europe, "Final Countdown"
Mike Smith: Queen, "The Show Must Go On"
Justin: REO Speedwagon "Can't Fight This Feeling Any More" (ed. OUCH!)
Nina: Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Why isn’t Bloodshot’s entire catalog on YouTube?
As you may have seen here, we support paid music streaming services, but we realize that independent artists and labels cannot survive on streaming income alone. The issue here is that YouTube pays far less in royalties than all other streaming services (yes, even less than fractions of pennies per play). In fact, YouTube royalties barely ever even make it into the pockets of songwriters - the system is immensely complicated.
We do have several promotional songs for each artist on our YouTube Channel, including some far out music videos; there’s no question of its promotional power. But it doesn’t make sense for us to upload entire albums when there are other ways for fans to listen that better support the artist. If you intend to stream our music, we recommend that you use TIDAL, Spotify, Apple, or another service that has a better track record of paying artists and labels. And even further, we recommend that after you stream the music a few times, buy an LP or a CD or t-shirt or a ticket to a show. That’s what will truly keep our artists in the studio and on the road for your enjoyment.