November 27, 2013

A Different Drum Sale - 25% OFF

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 3:52 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum.  The holidays approach, and it’s time for a synthpop sale!  Order now and you’ll have a 25% discount taken off the total price when you checkout. This excludes the newest releases.   You can see the details (though I’ve just stated them) right here:

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/sale.php

This sale will last for the next week, so pick up the CD’s you’ve been wanting from the catalog at a great, discounted price, while you can.

Thanks for your support!
-Todd

November 15, 2013

A Different Drum Update - Nov. 15th, 2013 - History Part 9

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 3:32 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It is time for another update, and I’ll kick it off with a new arrival in the store, and a pre-order announcement.

PRE-ORDER NOW:

Isaac Junkie featuring Andy Bell “Breathing Love” (CDEP) $13 — You can now pre-order the upcoming CD release with Isaac Junkie featuring vocals by Erasure’s Andy Bell.  There are several remixes included, plus an Isaac Junkie rework of “A Little Respect”.  So, if the new Erasure “Snow Globe” album isn’t enough for you, then pre-order the upcoming, December release of “Breathing Love”.  You can pre-order here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/IJ2014-2/Isaac-Junkie-featuring-Andy-Bell-Breathing-Love

NEW ARRIVAL:

One Vista “Changing Places” $15 — This new import CD from Russia features a classic synthpop sound with female vocal leads.  Packed with 14 fun tracks, it is a nice introduction to this new synthpop duo.  Check out the sampler video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/SA023/One-Vista-Changing-Places

Remember, we also have in stock these recent arrivals worth checking out:

Brand New Day “Mind Games” $12 — Watch a video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/88450199066-0/Brand-New-Day-Mind-Games

Matt Springfield “Erase All Data” $15 — Watch a video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/AKA2012005/Matt-Springfield-Erase-All-Data

And now, it’s time for another installment of A Different Drum’s history, as promised…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 9 - CONVENTION INTENTIONS

I’ve mentioned some of the fun festivals in which I participated while building A Different Drum as a source for synthpop in the USA, but even with those fun, festival atmosphere’s, I felt like there could be something more interractive and rewarding for both the bands and the fans at such events. I started to look at the possibility of having some kind of synthpop convention put together, rather than a mere festival.  What is the difference?   Well…at a festival, you typically have a line-up of bands that are scheduled to perform, and though there are usually vending tables for band merchandise, there is really nothing more than the concert atmosphere.  That’s not to say that the concert atmosphere is lacking, but at a convention, there is more.

Look, for example, at the anime convention scene, which is something A Different Drum even dabbled in as an attempt to branch out and spread synthpop music to a new audience.  At the anime conventions (I attended several), you have a group of people who all love a similar genre, and they gather together for a weekend to share their love of anime.  They don’t just pile into a room and watch movies for hours and hours (though there are screenings available).   But they also have interactive panel discussions on topics relating to anime, and they have cosplay events featuring fans.  They have special, celebrity guests, they have a vending room loaded with vending tables for related products, and they have tons of parties, dances, and more.  It’s not just a show, but an interactive dreamland for fans.  Not only do the artists take the stage, but the fans as well, dressing up in costume and often receiving as much attention as any star would.  Whether you like the genre or not, it’s a party!

So, I thought that a synthpop convention could offer something similar — non-concert interaction between band members and fans, as well as panel discussions, a proper vendor room, and general social gatherings.  That kind of approach would seem more enticing for out-of-state, or even out-of-country visitors.  One small group of synthpop fans in Los Angeles, California felt the same way and we willing to take it upon themselves to start a convention.  They put their own money and efforts into the event, and I showed support by signing up as a vendor and helping to get some of my label bands involved.  I promoted it to A Different Drum’s fan base, and we saw the birth of SynthCon.  As the organizers found out, putting together a convention is more work than the average show.  There are many levels of planning, including putting together a deal with a hotel that will offer room discounts to attendees (which comes with some risky guarantees), and with a ballroom large enough to host the event, etc.  Scheduling is a lot of work, and taking care of all of the attending bands and special guests takes some manpower as well.  But it came together in a hotel in historic Hollywood, and when the weekend arrived, the small but well-organized convention took flight.

SynthCon featured bands from around the world, and there were even a couple of bands from A Different Drum’s label roster that I had never met in person until that event.  There was not a huge crowd in attendance, but it was an enthusiastic crowd, and I was very pleased with the support shown to the bands, as well as to the vendors like myself.  I still laugh when thinking back to a particular German synthpop duo who had shown up to play a show.  They did not bring any t-shirts or band merchandise to sell, but one of them was wearing a t-shirt that he had custom made with the band name on the front.  A fan walked up and offered to buy the shirt off of his back, just so they could have a t-shirt from every band there.  The band member agreed and took his shirt off, selling it for something like $20 to the enthusiastic fan.  I remember that there were representatives from several small electronic pop labels there, and we participated together in a panel discussion, or round-table, about how to promote and build the synthpop scene.  OK, I admit, I don’t remember too much from that meeting, except that one person mentioned a small company called CDBaby that was selling independent music with a completely new financial approach.  I remember thinking, “Well, I’m doing that, but with a focus on synthpop instead of every genre in the world.  They’re trying to do too much.”   That wasn’t the first time I’ve been wrong.  CDBaby quickly became the biggest name in independent music online distribution and eventually the owner sold the company for more than a million dollars and retired.  Sheesh…maybe I should have thought bigger!

I have many fond memories from that first SynthCon, including many of the friends I met for the first time.  I remember some awkward encounters between both bands and fans, simply because of the wide array of personalities present– like Midihead from the band Monolithic yelling in his strong voice, which echoed through the hotel lobby, “You don’t have permission to touch me!” I also remember the elaborate setup which Mark of Faith Assembly put together for his show so that it could be filmed for his “Windmills” DVD release and how stressed he was about getting everything to work out as he envisioned. I remember an award presentation during the convention where I got to go up on stage to receive a plaque for best synthpop compilation, or something like that.  It was fun, and I remember pumping my first and screaming or something, providing a silly photo-op which would haunt me online for a while.   I remember a long, and somewhat strange, speech by Kurt of Information Society, where he basically talked about not trusting anybody in the music business, including your band members, when it comes to business (which was particularly awkward considering there were several bands there and small labels, all feeling a great deal of unity and affection for one another).   Oh, there are plenty of memories with that convention, and they are overwhelmingly positive and worthy of big smiles.

I also remember not getting much sleep at all.  As usual, my buddy, Gary, had traveled with me, since he hated missing any opportunity to go to such events, and even after the long days and evenings of shows were over, we’d sit up talking and laughing.  I was so exhausted after three days of SynthCon that as I was sitting in the airport having a chat with Gary, I remember bursting into tears while telling about some story from my childhood.  You know how it is when you haven’t slept properly for days, that everything suddenly seems extremely emotional.

In the end, the organizers lost money, as usual.  I don’t know how much, but it was enough that the key people involved didn’t stick around to do it again the next year.  Somebody else took up the reigns for the next SynthCon, and that one didn’t turn out quite as well.  It started OK, in a different hotel, near the Los Angeles airport, with the vending tables and shows in small rooms in the basement.  But the next morning we found out that the hotel had not actually been paid for the facilities, so the remaining shows were booted out and thrown together for one more night at a small, local club where the attendees could barely squeeze in.  I remember that Freezepop, who was quite popular with the youth at the time, was attending as a band, and when they had to play in the club, some of their fans were suddenly too young to get into the club.  I felt bad for them, so Joey of The Echoing Green and I decided to call them groupies and have them help carry the band’s equipment into the club to set up for sound check.  Then they just stayed there so when the club actually opened and ID’s were being checked, those young fans were already sitting inside.  Pretty sneaky…but you don’t ask these teens to travel the country and then more to a venue where they can’t get in, right?

I remember spending some time talking with Claude from Anything Box at a small table in the club, looking back at some of the business that had gone down with his music over the last few years.  Again, I was able to meet and talk to several new people, and loved hanging out with some of the repeat attendees who I would see all over the country from that point forward. But the SynthCon convention itself looked to be doomed as it financially crumbled to the dust.  But hey, at least they tried!

I did attend some anime conventions, including a huge one in Santa Clara, California, and then a smaller one for a few years in Boise, Idaho.  And at those conventions, the organizers thought it was a great idea to have an electronic pop band show up and play a show.  In Boise, they even made it a tradition for a little while to have a dance, where A Different Drum would provide a live band.  B! Machine played a show at one of those conventions where the audience did not want to stop dancing, and Nate only existed the stage because he simply had to go to the restroom…otherwise it might have gone on all night.  Voice Industrie played a great show at one of those conventions as well.  A Different Drum’s vending booth always good enough support to make the trip worthwhile, as a completely new audience would hear the music and begin their synthpop CD collections.

Eventually, I hired a young woman name Rachael Haring, who lived on the east coast and had the perfect combination of enthusiastic support for synthpop as well as a love of anime conventions.  I hired her as a sales representative for A Different Drum and booked a booth at as many as a dozen anime conventions through the course of a couple of years.  She had a special knack for promoting the music and sold a good number of CD’s.  Because of her efforts, I even put together a couple of label compilations with anime-style artwork just to cater to the new audience.  Plus we put together the “Listen to the Future” CD+Book combination which was the most expensive release on A Different Drum’s label, just to bring some different art forms together and promote at the conventions.  Cosmicity got to play a show at a convention on the east coast, thanks to the efforts of Rachael and the support of the anime audience.  Rachael eventually met her would-be husband and stepped down, leaving A Different Drum’s anime period behind.  There was nobody else that I could find who could do as much as she did.  It was one of the high points of A Different Drum’s history, in my opinion.  Maybe it didn’t make a lot of money, but Rachael got to attend her conventions for free, plus she made enough money on CD commissions to have a great weekend, plus I’d get a check in the mail a few days later with the remaining sales, allowing the label to put out more music.

When I put together the final festivals for A Different Drum’s labels in Salt Lake City, I originally hoped to bring back a convention feel, booking the events in a hotel with room blocks available for attendees, and informal gatherings to discuss the music business, etc.  But, the support didn’t come in the numbers necessary, and eventually it became clear that each time would attract basically the same, small group of people, so I gave it up and haven’t gone back.  Maybe some day there will be a convention for synthpop again.  At least we can dream.

In the years between SynthCon and the later A Different Drum festivals, there were other fun events, including one of the largest and most impressive multi-band events I’ve attended in my days working with synthpop– Synthpop Goes the World!   I’ll discuss some more memories of my trips to different events in the next historical piece.

Thanks for reading!
-Todd

October 28, 2013

A Different Drum Update - October 28th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 11:28 am

Hello friend!  This is a quick update from Todd at A Different Drum.  Happy Halloween this week!  I have a couple of new releases I wanted to mention this week.

NEW ARRIVALS:

Brand New Day “Mind Games” $12 — This new album from the US synthpop act is now available, featuring 13 new songs and a couple of bonus mixes as well.  You can check out a music video for one of the songs and order the new CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/88450199066-0/Brand-New-Day-Mind-Games

Matt Springfield “Erase All Data” $15 — This is a strong debut synthpop release from Matt Springfield, with very catchy tunes and a classic, melodic sound.  You can watch one of the videos and order the European import CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/AKA2012005/Matt-Springfield-Erase-All-Data

I don’t have time right now to write another historical piece, but I hope to soon.  If ever you’d like to order from A Different Drum, but don’t want to use the website, just email me your list of CD’s and I can invoice you through email.  I’ve tried to keep things small and simple the last couple of years, but I’m still happy to worth through direct email if you prefer that way.  The invoices I send are through Paypal and include a simple link to pay with your credit card or Paypal account.

Thanks for your support!
-Todd

October 9, 2013

A Different Drum Update - October 9th, 2013 - History Part 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 5:52 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum, sending out an update with a few new items in the store this week!  First and foremost, the website is fixed!  Yippee!  You can once again order with ease at www.adifferentdrum.com

As usual, you’ll be forwarded to Paypal for secure checkout and all things should work smoothly for you.

Here are three new CD titles that you can now order:

Interface “The Perfect World” $15 — This is an electronic band that has sold consistently through A Different Drum’s store through the years, playing a nice blend of dark synthpop and electronic dance music with an edge.  This is their new album, just released and available for order here:

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/NR065/Interface-The-Perfect-World

Daniel Hall “Deep Down” $16 — An import from Australia, this one-man synthpop act has essentially put together a double-album of 19 tracks which will introduce you to his music in a thorough and fun way.  He has a knack for catchy songs and classic synthpop sounds and is a great addition to A Different Drum’s store, bringing some fun synthpop discoveries from around the world.  You can order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/DH2013/Daniel-Hall-Deep-Down

Sir Joe “Universal Laws” $15 — Speaking of fun synthpop imports from around the world, here is a new offering from Russia’s ScentAir Records.  Sir Joe creates a solid synthpop sound with clever lyrics on this debut album.  Check out the sample and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/SA021/Sir-Joe-Universal-Laws

Just as a reminder, if you’re ever trying to remember the latest arrivals in A Different Drum’s store, you can always go to the new arrivals page, which can be found here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/catalog/new/

Now, for the next little installment in A Different Drum’s history…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 8 - HITTING THE ROAD

I’ve written previously about a few small shows and a festival that were organized within an hour’s drive from where I lived in Provo, Utah during A Different Drum’s earlier years.  After those shows, I had to back away a bit from directly sponsoring and funding events, but I couldn’t stay away for long.  I often used online forums to discuss hopes and dreams for synthpop events with other fans, some of whom later began sponsoring shows of their own.  One of the next big events that I directly organized, at my own financial risk, was a traveling, 2-day festival.  I thought that it would be a new and exciting approach to take the festival mentality, with multiple bands, but send it on the road to the fans instead of asking fans to travel to a single event.

Touring has always been a challenge in the USA for small bands like are found in the synthpop scene. Bands in Europe seemed to have an advantage because they could travel around in relatively short distances to hit their receptive audiences in established clubs.  But in the USA, the geographical distances between major cities with receptive clubs are much larger.  For example, if you were to tour in Germany, you could hit a dozen major cities and play those shows in a geographical area about as large as the state of New Mexico.  But in the USA, you would be lucky to find one show in the state of New Mexico, and the next closest would probably be in Texas, many hundreds of miles away (just an example for geographical perspective).  So, to hit a dozen shows in the USA, you are probably looking at thousands of miles of travel to get from places like Miami, to Dallas, to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc.  See the challenge?  Once you’re talking about those distances, then you’re looking at either a lot of time spent driving around vast stretches of ground, or you’re looking at the much higher expense of flying from show to show.  That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but it means that if you are a band that might make a couple hundred dollars selling CD’s and t-shirts, then you’re going to spend a lot more than you’re going to earn, merely in travel expenses.  That is why many smaller synthpop bands never (or rarely) toured the USA.

I mention this because it factored into my planning for A Different Drum’s “Summer Synthpop Festival 2000″ tour. I contacted the label bands, many of whom had never been to the USA for a show before, and told them, “if you can get yourselves here, then let’s work together to make sure you get a few shows packed into a couple of weeks.”  I chose to stage those shows on the eastern side of the USA because the cities are closer together, but figured that we could pool together those bands and save on expenses as well.  Perhaps the larger number of bands would draw larger audiences and result in better ticket sales so that the bands could take such a trip without losing too much money.  Several bands from the USA were interested, including B! Machine, Faith Assembly, The Echoing Green, Count to Infinity, and Cosmicity.  Plus a couple overseas bands joined the effort, including Neuropa and Neuroactive.  The band Iris also opted to play only the first two shows.  Everybody was excited about the prospects and I began contacting promoters in a few major cities to see what I could pull together.

I tried to use a flexible business approach when booking the shows, keeping it affordable, but also trying to make sure we weren’t going to make all the effort for nothing. Working with promoters is known to be a bit shady.  Sure, there are some very dedicated promoters working in great clubs that always come through with their side of the bargain, but bad deals have been known to go down in this business.  I asked for a simple fee– half paid in advance, and half paid at the event.  I asked for two nights so that they could have 4 acts play one night, and then 3 or 4 the next night, giving each location the feeling of a multi-band, multi-day festival.  In the end, I was able to book only five stops, keeping the bands on the road for about two weeks with the performance days and the driving days. However, two of the three promoters had waffled on the advance payment, still promising that they’d come through…they just needed the ticket sales first so that they could hand over the cash.  You want to know how much?  Of course you do!  We were asking for $2,000 for seven bands.  We thought that was a great deal, considering two of them were from overseas and the promoters didn’t have to worry about anything else, like hotels, airfares, van rentals, etc.  They just pay the fee and we would take care of the rest.  Five shows would ideally bring in $10,000 which would cover all the travel and expenses for the road trip, all the hotel rooms for two weeks, plus possibly pitch in some for the airline tickets if anything was left.  It seemed a solid plan.

The bands started in New York City, and it was a very strong start to the tour, leaving all the bands in great spirits and excited to move onward.  I remember showing up early at the venue for sound checks to find that there was already a line outside the doors with hours before opening. I talked to some of the fans who were waiting in line, and they seemed genuinely excited to be there.  I had a great time hanging out with my friends from the bands, meeting some for the first time.  I also met David Lin of Synthphony Records who invited me to lunch while I was in town, among other people I’d only known online until that event.  I went with the band members to pick up two full-sized rental vans which would be used to haul the bodies, the equipment, and the merchandise during the entire trip, though I wasn’t planning to make the road trip myself.  I was only there to help kick things off in New York City.

Speaking of merchandise, I made sure the bands had plenty.  I brought boxes of their individual CD’s, letting them know that any CD’s they sold on the road would contribute to their own expenses.  Plus, I had made a special, limited edition compilation with a track from each band (catalog number ADDCD1058).  We had t-shirts made as well, hoping that the merchandise could bring in whatever funds were lacking.

The two-night show in New York City was great– fun music and fun fans!  I remember working at the merchandise table in the back of the club and having somebody come to me and ask for an autograph for the first time (and I think the only time).  It took me by surprise that somebody actually wanted a boring, business guy to autograph the festival compilation CD.

“You don’t really want me to write on your CD cover, right?”

“Yes, I’m serious.  Please autograph it.”

“Well…OK.”  I scribbled my autograph and proudly told my band buddies that I’d just been asked for an autograph.  They congratulated me with smiles.  Of course, the band members were autographing CD’s the entire night.  The promoter paid the fees and I’m pretty sure made a little profit on the show, and everybody was ready for the next one.

Next up on the tour was Washington DC.  I said goodbye to the guys, leaving Joey Belville of The Echoing Green in charge as the road manager.  Joey is one of the super-stars of America’s synthpop scene.  I can’t say enough about the guy.  He had spent many, many weeks on the road with his band in the past and by far had the most experience gigging.  I felt I could trust him 100% and I always have.  He’s one of the friendliest, most courteous, and most professional guys I’ve worked with, and he is always quick to show gratitude and help other people along.  Not to get too side-tracked here, but when you’re working in a tight scene, like I have, you find that many of the bands are friendly with one another and work together, but at the same time those individuals may harbor a competitive spirit, unable to completely avoid comparing their own successes (or lack or success) to others.  It’s hard to avoid that when you have people pursuing the same dreams and wondering if they’ll ever be “as popular as so-and-so” or if they’re selling as much as “the other guy”.  This wasn’t something that came out in the open very often, but you can sense it sometimes when you get down to the business side of things and certain band members start wondering why things don’t seem as good as what they’ve perceived elsewhere.  One thing I can say about Joey is that I never, ever got that feeling with him.  He was always quick to thank me for any effort that I made, always first to volunteer for any venture, and always lifted the spirits and hopes of those around him.  He’s a quality guy.  Anyway, I sent Joey and the other bands on the road with my fingers crossed, then flew back home where I could man the phone and try to work out the kinks with a couple of the other shows and promoters.

I was happy to get word that the DC show went off without a hitch.  The club set up the two nights perfectly and the band members all seemed to have the time of their lives, saying that it was even more energetic and successful than New York City had been.  They reported that the fans in DC were even more enthusiastic and the merchandise sales had done very well.  They left the 2nd city on the tour, once again in very high spirits and with very high hopes, heading next to Philadelphia.

If I remember right, it was only a couple days before the scheduled event in Philadelphia that I got word from the promoter that the gig had been cut down to one night. For some reason, they were not able or willing to get the club venue for two full nights. Iris had finished playing their first two nights, so it was down to seven bands at this point, but those seven bands were not happy to discover that they had to figure out who to cut from the show, because all seven could not possibly play in one night.  The promoter had some of the say in who would take the stage, and who would not.  I don’t remember much about the financial side of that particular stop, but remember that not everybody was happy with the unexpected change.  Needless to say, there were still fans there, and the bands who played put on a good show, and though they lost a night which they had to spend in a hotel without having anything to do, they moved onward, again with high hopes.

The next scheduled stop turned out to be a total bust.  This was a promoter that had said the advance wasn’t going to make it in time because tickets could only be sold at the door…or something like that.  The two vans made a long drive to Rochester, in upstate New York, and the guys piled out at the club address, ready to set up.  What they found was a promoter who looked embarrassed, apologizing because apparently he hadn’t worked out the gig with the club…at all.  So, here were a dozen guys, tired from the trip, ready to play, only to find out that there was no show.  The promoter took a couple hundred bucks from his pocket, handed it to Joey and basically said, “Sorry guys, it didn’t work out, but hopefully this can buy you dinner.”  It was thoughtful to give up his own money to help, but was definitely a huge disappointment and financial crunch to our tour. After all, this group still had to eat, still had to pay for the hotel rooms, even without the gig.  The gang went to the hotel and checked in, then took the night off, getting some much needed rest.  I think it was somewhere here that Mark of Faith Assembly managed to get his hair colored and the band members were able to become closer friends, just killing a little a time, watching movies in the hotel, etc.  They left a day early to go to the final city on the tour, Chicago.

Luckily, when the bands arrived in Chicago, things were set up as they were supposed to be, with a good venue, good fans, and the payment as promised.  The bands were happily able to sell some merchandise (which obviously hadn’t happened at the previous stop).  After two nights in Chicago, everybody piled back in the vans and made the drive back to New York.  Nate Nicolle of B! Machine and Joey stayed behind the wheels for most of the travel hours, which were many, leaving them completely exhausted by the time everybody was back in New York and catching their planes back home.

To this day, some of those guys who went on the Summer Synthpop Festival 2000 tour still say that it was the most fun they’ve had as bands, despite the kinks.  Financially, it worked out about like everything else I’d done to that point– losing money on the expenses, but building great memories and a foundation for the future.  It gave some guys a chance to meet the fans and the fans a chance to meet the bands.  I remember asking bands to assemble for future events, and I’d almost always hear something like this:  “If this is going to be another crazy road show, then yes, count us in!”

However, the traveling festival days were over and I never tried to set up such a thing again.  Sure, I set up festivals in other cities, but they were single stops, rather than multiple-city tours.  Don’t get me wrong– if I had the money and the time, I’d send out the call again, asking bands from around the world to come together for a tour across the entire USA.  That would be a dream come true, and this time, I’d stay with them for the entire trip.  But even the short, two weeks, with hundreds of miles behind the wheel, proved that the obstacles to such endeavors were very real.  It was expensive, time-consuming, and logistically hard to put together such a thing in our small scene.  No regrets though.  I still have my festival CD sampler on my shelf, and I know that everybody who went could tell many stories about the trip– many of which I know I haven’t heard.  Those were good times.

There was another trip I took a few years later that was multi-city, hitting a few east coast cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Richmond VA, etc. But I was traveling with only one band (Cosmicity) and my old buddy, Gary (the one who had co-sponsored my first two shows).  So, it was not large scale, and there was no big expense for the clubs.  We simply volunteered to bring one live band for a quick show, and set up a merchandise table from A Different Drum in the club, and basically meet people.  In a way, we were bringing A Different Drum off the web and out to the streets.  Gary and I had some good times driving to those small gigs and it was fun to visit the different clubs that were playing synthpop music at the time. It gave a personal face to the scene.

Gary and I also made a very memorable trip to New York City where we set up a merchandise table at The Bat Cave, one of the most well-known clubs in the city for synthpop, industrial, gothic, etc.  There were no bands involved, but we wanted to get out and sell some stuff and meet some people once again.  The night was fun, and the club was something to be experienced, for sure. I’ll never forget Gary’s visit to the small restroom on the upper floor of the club, not knowing that it was unisex, and feeling trapped in the stall in horror, thinking he must have accidently gone into the ladies’ room.

This was a trip that happened only a month after the infamous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Though weeks had gone by, a plume of smoke was still slithering into the air from the scar on Manhattan’s business district, and travel was down to a bare minimum.  When we were in JFK airport for our flight home, it was like a ghost town.  Most of the restaurants and vendors in the airport were closed, and what had been an extremely busy international travel hub had only a few people silently wandering the vast terminals.  We were lucky to make that trip.  I felt like, despite the horrible events that had hit New York City, it was important to move forward, to meet people, and to show that we could still enjoy music and dancing. Plus, I simply wanted to be there– I wanted to go support a city that was hurting, even if my support was miniscule and only meaningful to myself.  It was wonderful to return on future trips to find the city full of crowds and tourists once again.

Thanks to all of you who have visited me on these trips, and who have supported the bands by going to the shows, even if those appearances were rare.  It has meant a lot to me, and I know it has meant a lot to those bands.

NEXT….PART 9 - CONVENTION INTENTIONS

-Todd

September 30, 2013

A Different Drum - Website Ordering Options

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 10:56 pm

Hello, this is Todd at A Different Drum.

For the last week I’ve been trying to get a problem fixed that has made it impossible to place orders on A Different Drum’s website.  There has been a “bot” program or something trying to mess with the forms.  Fortunately, there is no sensitive information stored on the site, so there isn’t any danger to any customers, but it makes it so that the server had to block the attacks, resulting in customers not being able to complete checkout.  It’s one of the complicated and irritating technology things… Argh!

Anyway, for those of you who want to order some CD’’s, which I’d appreciate since I don’t have any order for the last week, here are some alternatives.

First, you can check out the current catalog and order through GEMM, where I’ve uploaded my inventory list.  Shop here:

http://www.add.gemm.com/

Also, I’m listing specific new releases on EBay for you to click to buy.  They are not auctions, but simply “buy it now” offers so that you can pick up the hottest new CD’s quickly and easily.  I like this option, since checkout through EBay is very easy:

Here is a link to buy BLUME “Autumn Ruins” CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229676107

Here is a link to buy GLASNOST “Mirror” CD. Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229677545

Here is a link to buy “What We’ve Done Lately” compilation CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229678178

Here is a link to buy NEUTRAL LIES “Cryptex” CD.  Click here:
www.ebay.com/itm/181229678926

That’s all I’ve got time to list on EBay tonight (have to get to bed so I can work in the morning).  I’ll try to put some more up there this, so you can keep checking back.  There are a couple other sales I’ve got going on EBay right now.

Hopefully this website issue can be worked out soon.  It’s been running for many years, so it is a shame to suddenly have it ruined by what is probably some hacker kids running bot programs for kicks.  Such is the world we live in.

Have a wonderful week!  ALSO, if you have ANYTHING you’d like to buy from the online catalog, you can still browse all the CD’s here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/catalog/all/

And then email me at todd@adifferentdrum.com and I can simply send you a Paypal invoice for your entire order…if that’s what you prefer.  I’ll do whatever I can to make it easy for you.

Thanks,
Todd

September 27, 2013

A Different Drum Update - Sept. 26th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 9:48 am

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  I have a little update for you.  Sorry…no history installment this week, since I haven’t had a chance to write the next one yet.  I’ll get to it soon, for those of you who have enjoyed reading them.

Instead, I have a new release, and some bulk-lot deals that might interest you.

If you are interested in trying out a bunch of CD’s at a low price, I put together a box of 35 CD’s for you, all in new condition, with an average price of less than $3 each, including some imports and limited editions!  Maybe you have some of them, but not others…it might still be worth picking them up just for the ones you don’t have.  Or maybe you want to buy them and give them away as gifts for the upcoming holiday…or maybe use them as decorations.  Whatever your intent, you can pick up one of them here.  That is…if you act fast and get one of the three boxes available.  Yes, I only have three of them available, because of limited quantities of certain included items.

Here is the link:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/181226896275

That is not an auction, but a “buy it now” link on EBay with three boxes of the same CD’s offered.

If you’re more into the auction spirit, then here is a mixed box lot you can bid on:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/181226801354

And here is a new arrival in A Different Drum’s store:

Glasnost “Mirror” $16 — This is a fun, collaborative project with one band member from Argentina, and the other from Greece, working across the globe to make their music.  You can check out a youtube video and order the CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/TW1-110/Glasnost-Mirror

Well, that’s all for today.  Thanks for your support!
-Todd

September 14, 2013

A Different Drum Update - September 14th, 2013 - History Part 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 11:41 am

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It’s time for another little update and the next installment in my series of Historical pieces.  I hope these bits of A Different Drum’s history are interesting to you.  If they are, remember that you can read them all by going to adifferentdrum.com and clicking on the blog link.

http://www.adifferentdrum.com/blog/

I haven’t received anything new in the store for a couple of weeks.  There are a couple of new things coming soon, one of which you are welcome to pre-order immediately.  I will be receiving the CD’s soon and will ship to the pre-orders as soon as they arrive:

BLUME “Autumn Ruins” $15 — The impressive, 2nd album from Blume is now available for pre-order!   Their first album made quite a splash in the scene with their powerful sound.  Pre-order their new album here and it will be shipped very soon:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/WTII_Blume/Blume-Autumn-Ruins

Also, as most of you know, A Different Drum’s label focuses entirely on limited edition releases of 300 CD’s each, released one per month through the VIP Subscriber program.  Those CD’s do not become available in A Different Drum’s online store because they are essentially sold-out upon release, with only a handful of copies making it out to other, online outlets.  The easiest way to get them is of course to subscribe.

I happen to have a few extra copies of two recent compilation releases, so I’m going to make a limited time offer to those of you who would like to order them on A Different Drum’s website.  These are available only in limited quantities, so order quickly if you want one…or two…or whatever.

Various Artists “What We’ve Done Lately” $12 — This compilation features new songs and remixes from bands who have been a part of A Different Drum’s label through the years, including Faith Assembly, Provision, Neuroactive, Wave In Head, B! Machine, and more!  Definitely worth collecting!   Order it here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/ADDCD1307/Various-Artists-What-We-ve-Done-Lately

Various Artists “A Different Mix Volume 8″ $12 — This is a collection of remixes produced by Syrian for other bands.  There are Syrian remixes for tracks by Real Life, TOY, Intuition, Cosmicity, and more!  Order this limited edition CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/ADDCD1327/Various-Artists-A-Different-Mix-Volume-8

Now, for the next installment in A Different Drum’s history…

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 7 – LET’S HAVE A PARTY

I still have not scanned the old photos that my wife found, so those will still come at a future time. For now, I thought I’d focus for a moment a couple attempts I made with A Different Drum to create more of a festival or convention atmosphere for our little scene.

My first venture into an event of a larger scale was with a show I called Synthstock. As I’ve already mentioned in a previous installment, I’d worked with my friend, Gary, to put on a couple of small, club shows. Those had gone relatively well, and though not profitable, had proven to be a great way to create good relationships within the scene and to win the attention of new fans and customers. The more active A Different Drum was in building an audience, the better. The concept behind Synthstock was to create a bigger, multi-band event (playfully named after Woodstock, but for synth bands), with the intention of appealing not only to local fans, but also tempting people from outside of the area to travel to the event. Looking back, there are things I would have done differently, and which could have helped with the success of the event, but at the time, I had only done a couple of small shows and thus had very limited experience. So, I approached the idea from a concert standpoint. Basically, I’d book a couple of cool, headliner bands (I went with Anything Box and Seven Red Seven, since I’d worked with them before), then I’d invite a bunch of newer acts to join in. I’d pay for most of the expenses so that the bands didn’t feel like it was too costly to participate. The headliners had all expenses covered, while the lesser known bands would have meals and hotel rooms, etc. covered, but would have to get to Salt Lake City on their own.

In putting together the concept for the show, I was approached by a couple of members of a new band that was based in Utah, and they decided to help to organize and finance the event. We’d put up the money for the venue (a building on the Utah State Fairgrounds which was large, yet affordable), plus we’d pay for a bunch of hotel rooms for bands, plus a larger, commons room where we could all meet up for meals and hang out, etc. Plus we had to pay for a sound system and other related expenses. The costs added up quickly. Excitement started to mount, and I heard from several fans who planned to drive or fly to Salt Lake City for the event, including Jeri Beck of the Control-Alt-Delete network. Jeri was considered a sort of mother figure of synthpop at the time, so her presence would only add to the atmosphere. My hopes were high, but once we reached the big day, it was apparent that we were not going to get much more than about three-hundred attendees. Yes, we were going to lose a lot of money. This wasn’t going to be one of those $750 losses like before, but would instead reach into the thousands. I kept a smile on my face and enjoyed the moment, feeling excited to once again hang out with people who shared my interests and interact with bands that had come from around the country. I had to think of it as a large, promotional cost that would help to build the credibility of A Different Drum for the long term. The bands put on great performances and sold quite a few CD’s and t-shirts to the people who were supportive enough to come, and I didn’t get the feeling that anybody considered it a waste of time.

I remember hanging out in the commons room at the Little America hotel where we’d booked rooms for everybody. There were a lot of people moving in and out of the room before and after the festival–many laughing, many sharing thoughts on the music scene, and everybody generally having a wonderful time. There was a representative from another start-up label hanging out, talking business and getting a foot in the door with a couple of the bands that were there, which was fine, though I didn’t really know why this guy was suddenly everywhere, talking about huge contracts and sending out strange vibes. Maybe I was supposed to be a little bit threatened by the presence of somebody else on the scene—somebody who apparently had plenty of money to lose? Oh well…I just reminded myself that these kinds of things didn’t happen often, so might as well make the most of it and not let the odd hubbub in the background deter too much from the overall picture.

There was a guy who came up to me after the end of the show, while still at the venue on the fairgrounds, speaking in Spanish and explaining that he had come all the way from Peru for the festival. I was impressed! He cradled an armful of treasures—band t-shirts and autographed CD’s. Anything Box was his favorite band in the world, so he’d crossed international borders to see them at Synthstock. He’d spend all of his money on the airline tickets and on the merchandise he now possessed, but hadn’t considered where he was going to stay for the next night and day, or how he was going to get to the airport to catch his flight home. He was apparently stranded in a foreign country, unable to speak much English, and out of money. I told him that he could hang out after the show in the commons room for a little while, which I think he loved because he was basically “backstage” watching a bunch of bands talking and laughing, though I’m sure he didn’t understand what anybody was saying. He sat there with a smile plastered on his face, and whenever somebody asked who he was, I simply told them that he’d come from Peru for the show and was going to hang out for a while. Eventually, as the wee hours of the night faded into the morning, people had filed back to their own rooms to rest before catching flights home, and only our Peruvian friend was left. I had to drive back to Provo, and the rooms had to be vacated before 11AM, so I told him I could drop him off somewhere—maybe at the airport—and he’d have to kill time until his flight several hours later. I hadn’t slept for a long time, so I was very tired, and I felt sorry for leaving the guy, but I couldn’t exactly take him home for the day, only to drive him back to the airport later. I dropped him off in the city and waved goodbye. That man showed a kind of dedication that I later discovered was every bit as strong in many synthpop fans from around the world. It was hard for me to believe that my little, financially disastrous attempt at a festival would give a guy from thousands of miles away a chance to meet his favorite band in person. Later, as I participated in other events, I found other people like him—not always from as far away, but just as driven in their passion for the music.

Through these attempts to build the scene, I met friends who became regular attendees at festivals and shows all over the country, coming from all over to participate. There was a wonderful woman named Barbara Bowen who came to an event in Los Angeles called Synthcon, and there met Jan-Erik from Sweden. This wonderful couple entered into a long relationship that stretched across the ocean, bringing them together whenever there was a big synthpop or electronic music event. They showed up everywhere, and we had wonderful times together as friends. We ate a dinner of Chinese take-out at three in the morning, in a park in Toronto after the Synthpop Goes the World Festival. We argued politics at a Dunkin Donuts in Connecticut at another festival. We met up several times in Salt Lake City during A Different Drum’s final festivals, spending time at the Red Lion Hotel talking about music until very late every night. There is a man named Steve Ramage who showed up regularly at shows, and one year in Salt Lake City went with me to help load up some cheap rental lights into my van. While at the lighting company, he felt like he wanted to pitch in some cash for a couple extra effects, so he spent his own money to add a strobe and a spinning light fixture for the small stage. This same wonderful man sent my fourth child an incredible baby gift including some money that she still has in a savings account nine years later, just because he felt like he was supporting his own little family. There is Ken DeWit from Canada who drove down with his wife, Sanda, to attend an event in Salt Lake City where Alphaville played their first show in the USA. We’d known each other for a long time through the phone and the internet, but here he was, in person at a show, hanging out with Myra and I and staying in the same, cheap Econolodge. He even brought us an entire bucket of real honey from his father’s honey bee farm! There’s Sal Amato (I’ve mentioned him before) who let me stay at his house a couple of times when I went to New York for different events. He’d drive me into the city to show me around, including taking me to a cool Japanese music store where he had discovered some great, import CD’s. There was this Russian gentleman named Vladimir who lives in Canada, and he seemed to show up pretty much anywhere A Different Drum travelled, always spending more money on CD’s than anybody else. I remember one late night in Stamford, Connecticut when Vladimir asked me to put his name on a few CD’s that he would pick up the next night of the festival. It was late, and I had spent many hours interacting with a lot of people, so I tried to remember his name, and for a few seconds, I couldn’t.

I embarrassingly mumbled, “OK, what’s your name?”

“You know my name,” he said, shaking his head in wonder.

“Um, I do…but I don’t…right now.”

He didn’t say his name, but simply chuckled and faded into the crowded club. “Vladimir!” I remembered, wrote it on a piece of paper, and stuck it in his box of CD’s. I swear, that guy’s purchases probably paid for my hotel room every time I travelled to a festival. Thanks Vladimir!

I’ll share more stories and details about these individual events later, but I just wanted to say that each of these parties, festivals, conventions, etc. became an opportunity to meet more people and feel like I was part of a much larger mesh of real-life individuals with their own personalities and stories to weave into the fabric of the scene. It was no longer just about meeting bands and watching them play concerts on small stages, but was much more about who else I would see while I was there. I remember during one of those final festivals that A Different Drum sponsored in Salt Lake City, I was talking with Barbara, Jan-Erik, Marcus of Rename, Gary, and others who have all become close friends through the years. We were wondering when we’d see each other again and came to realize that it probably would not be at another synthpop festival, because they were becoming increasingly difficult to organize. I was no longer in a position to write off any losses as I had my family’s best interests in mind. All of us agreed that it didn’t matter if there was even a show. If we were to just pick a location where we could all come together for a few days, we would be content just to talk, listen to music, and laugh about the good old days. The festival would be one of friendship more than one of music, and that would be just fine. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened, and it has been years since I’ve seen many of these people. Maybe one day we’ll have our little friendship festival in some hotel, kicking back in the hot tub with And One pounding on stereo system, and a pizza box sitting on a nearby table. Then I’ll remember what was really wonderful about my job, and why A Different Drum has always been so hard to give up.

Synthstock was the first larger event I tried, and after that I had to forego promoting such events for a while, though my heart would pull me back into such attempts a few years later. There was a second Synthstock event in Salt Lake City a year or two after the first, but I wasn’t really involved. It was promoted by one of the co-sponsors of the first show, apparently eager to give it another try, out of his own love for the music. I sold tickets through my website at first, but stopped selling those tickets once the original band lineup, event date, and venue was changed, causing quite a bit of confusion and complaints from those who had purchased tickets through my website and who had made travel plans. Though I supported the idea of the show, I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of the ensuing confusion about the event and the requests for ticket refunds, since all ticket money had been delivered to the promoter. So, I backed away. My attempt to disconnect my business from the event resulted in some bad feelings on the part of the promoter, which was regrettable and ended up being one of the very few times that I felt like there was negativity coming into our very small scene. I never meant to hurt anybody by withdrawing my online support, only acting in the interest of my customers. I hoped that the promoter would succeed in putting together the new lineup, but I continued to receive anonymous hate mails for a while claiming that I was trying to destroy synthpop…or something like that. Yikes! As it turned out, I didn’t attend that second Synthstock. Another band I was working with came to Salt Lake City (I think it was Faith Assembly) and played a show in a small club, so I was there instead. In the end, everything was fine, though the tension involved meant that Synthstock was over. Other events would follow—some organized by A Different Drum, and some organized by other dedicated people. There was the traveling Summer Synthpop Festival 2000, there was Synthcon (numbers one and two), there was the amazing Synthpop Goes the World, and other shows in places like Detroit, San Antonio, Minneapolis, New York, etc. finally ending with A Different Drum’s label festivals back in Salt Lake City. Basically, these parties went full-circle for me, starting at home in Utah, then taking me on the road to places I’d never been before, and eventually leading right back home again before giving them up entirely. The next few (not sure how many) historical pieces will focus on the road trips, as A Different Drum spread its wings.

Next up…

PART 8 – HITTING THE ROAD

August 22, 2013

A Different Drum Update - August 22nd, 2013 - History Part 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 5:15 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  I have had a few busy weeks with life, but the kids went back to school today and that means I finally have a few minutes to put together a little update, and the next installment of A Different Drum’s history.

As a reminder, if you’ve missed past “history” posts, you can find them all posted on A Different Drum’s blog page here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/blog/

First of all, some good friends of mine have released a new album that you should check out.  The band is NULL DEVICE, and I’ve always been a fan of their unique synthpop style that blends ethnic influences into the instrumentation…

NULL DEVICE “Perihelion” $14 — This is a limited run of CD’s for the fans and collectors, and the inside of the booklet has been autographed.  It’s too bad that these quality bands can’t sell more than a couple hundred CD’s in today’s rough market, especially when they have such musical talent. I’m sure there are many thousands who will have the music in the end (either legally or otherwise), but at least the band continues to make music…something that is hard for a true artist to give up.  Order the new CD here:
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/8036762772-2/Null-Device-Perihelion

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 6 - THE MANY MYSTERIES OF PROMOTION

It is one thing to decide to start a label.  It is another thing to actually keep it alive for any length of time, and much of that longevity depends on promotion. I’ve sometimes joked with people about releasing albums, or starting labels, or going out on any such venture when they have no idea what they’re going to do next. Even in my current job working as a manager in a media store, I have local bands come in and ask if they can sell their CD’s on consignment.

“Sure, we can put your CD on the shelves on consignment.  But are you promoting it?”

“Well, we’re really good.”

“Are you playing shows?”

“Yeah, we’ve played at a couple of local parties.”

“That’s good, and you’ll have to keep doing that, a lot.  Because putting the CD on the shelf isn’t going to do you any good unless you’re promoting it.”

“Sure.  But we’re really good…”

The thing is, you can be the best band in the world, but if nobody hears you, then how do they know to pick up your album?  It is what I call the “Field of Dreams” mentality.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Field of Dreams”, a man is basically inspired to rip out some of his corn fields to build a baseball field.  He is told, “if you build it, they will come.”  Without going into details about the movie, I’ll just say that the philosophy doesn’t usually work in real life.  “If you release it, they will buy it.”  That doesn’t work…at all.

It felt a little bit like I was living the Field of Dreams when I put out my first compilation CD, since customers seemed to pop out of the woodwork to buy it.  But in reality, the groundwork had been laid quite a while before the CD was released.  That groundwork was promotion– maybe unintentional promotion– but promotion nonetheless.  I’d been hanging out on internet newsgroups and email lists, etc. talking about the music, selling the bands, etc. So, when the “Rise!” CD came out, I already had a little network of people who heard about it, talked about it, and supported it. But that wasn’t going to happen for every band, and for every release unless I could build the fan base larger.  The trick was this– what could I do?

I can’t tell you how many times I received emails from well meaning fans who wanted the music that they loved to become mainstream.  They wanted A Different Drum to succeed, and they wanted to see these bands hitting the same kinds of sales as the old-timers like Depeche Mode or Pet Shop Boys.  So, they’d send me emails saying things like, “Hey Todd. You know, you could sell a bazillion of these CD’s if you just played it on the radio.”

Let’s look at that suggestion.  “Just play it on the radio.”  There are basically two kinds of radio stations out there (at least in the USA).  There are the commercial radio stations, which are by far the largest and most influential stations in the market.  Then there are the non-commercial stations which are run non-profit by places like schools, universities, etc.  They do not sell commercial airtime for a profit, and the DJ’s are all unpaid volunteers.  The commercial stations are in the business of selling advertising so that they can pay their employees, cover their costs, and hopefully make a profit.  The little, non-profit guys are more in the business of giving people experience with radio (educational purposes) or for simply sharing alternative information and programing with the public.  Since the smaller, non-commercial stations don’t sell ads, they have to do fund-raising to pay the operational costs.

That is a simplified explanation, but it suffices to make my point. The non-commercial stations often have volunteers who play whatever they want, so they are the easier target when trying to introduce people to new, independently released music.  Sometimes there is a super-great DJ who loves synthpop and says, “Yeah, I’ll play whatever you send me!” (Hello Eric O. in Santa Clara).  So, I give up copies of the label CD’s and pay to mail them out for free to these DJ’s who play them on the air.  The downside… the number of stations is huge, so you can’t do a sweeping promotion without mailing hundreds or thousands of copies, and unless you actually know the DJ who is willing to play the music, your promo copy is going to end up in A) a box which the station is going to auction off or give away in trade for donations because they need money during fundraising, or B) part of a DJ’s huge music collection of thousands of free promos they’ve been soaking up for whatever reason.  So, what you really have to do is find those DJ’s who really play the stuff and who aren’t just in it for freebies.  Happily, those guys often seek you out as a label, talking about how they like what you’re doing in specific terms, rather than sending a form letter, begging for promos.

In the end, you have maybe a couple dozen college stations that will actually give your music a spin or two.  The result?  You have a station with a couple dozen regular listeners (impossible to know…maybe a hundred…maybe three people), hearing a song played during a show that lasts two hours on a designated day once per week.  So, the chances of the right people hearing it are, needless to say, pretty slim.  But we take what we can get.

So, why not just send out the CD’s to commercial stations?  That is an entirely different ballgame.  Since commercial stations exist to sell advertising time, they rarely have anything to do with the musical programing.  There are not DJ’s sitting there, selecting their favorite tunes and “promising newcomers” to present to the audience.  They can only sell ads by saying, “we play the biggest hits by the biggest artists in category X.”  If it’s a pop-rock station, they play the hits by the biggest bands, and they have to, because they can only convince Coca-Cola and Budweiser to pay them the big bucks if they capture the largest audience.  So, why couldn’t I get a band like Brave New World, or Cosmicity, or Neuropa played so that they become the biggest bands with the biggest hits?  Well, because I’m a small label with a very small budget. To play that “big boy” game, you have to fly reps to the stations that own all the other stations, schmooze the guys who call the shots, taking them to dinners, taking them skiing, taking them to concerts,etc. until they decide that maybe they can give you a little break.  They all have their own networks already, and they are networks that are controlled by money.  Maybe it sounds like I’m making excuses, but when did you see any label with a couple thousand dollars break into a major market? Usually it is somebody controlled by the likes of Capital EMI, Sony, BMG, etc. If was a little guy that made it big, it was most likely a Cinderella story where the unlikely girl gets the Prince.  But what about the thousand of beautiful girls out there that didn’t get to marry the Prince?

So, if you take away the radio angle, which was not a tool accessible to such a small, boutique label, then what do you have left to get the bands heard?  The internet is a wonderful thing.  It opened the doors for new bands to be heard without having to be filtered through those who control the airwaves.  New internet stations were popping up all over the place.  People were streaming.  It grew fast, and I think that fans were able to narrow their searches and find new music easier than ever before.  It was a revolution of sorts in the late 90’s that opened up the doors for small labels and bands to be discovered.  In that way, it was a blessing.  But in another way, it created a lot of noise.  If anybody can start a station on the internet, then you’ve got thousands upon thousands of internet stations popping up.  That means fewer and fewer listeners per station.  If you thought the college radio stations had a hard time getting a large audience, imagine an internet station among tens of thousands trying to get a few people to listen.  So the impact was again hard to measure.  If I sent out freebies to internet DJ’s, then there was no real way to know if the promotion was doing any good.  I could just end up a couple hundred CD’s short and two extra copies sold.  The real internet DJ’s who loved the music often bought their own music anyway, which meant that they were dedicated and serious, and I think it showed in their programming.  But in the end…what about promotion?

The music was out there with samples, easy to hear if you could channel the searchers to the right places.  That became the challenge.  You had to tell people where to look so that they could discover the samples and the streams and become fans.  That meant more online networking, and more use of certain tools.  Amazon.com had some of the best tools, including ways to share lists and suggestions with other shoppers.  I created a bunch of “Listmania” lists which actually got a lot of hits, comparing old synthpop bands with newer ones.  Amazon became one of my best vendors.  The label was making more on the monthly Amazon payments than it was through A Different Drum’s online store for a couple of years.  After all, people browsing Amazon were there because they were looking for things to buy. They welcomed recommendations.

Another way to reach people was through magazines.  Again, there were the physical, print magazines, and then there were the internet “webzines” which started to pop up everywhere, just as the internet radio stations had.  Originally, I sent dozens of CD’s of each release out to print magazines, mostly in Europe.  There were only a couple in the USA that even covered independent synthpop, but there were several in Europe.  The point of sending out the CD’s was to obtain reviews, thus getting the attention of the readers and hopefully attracting them to the internet to listen to the band. So, the review didn’t need to be entirely positive to help sell CD’s.  Just the awareness of the band name and album was enough to plant a seed attention.  Those European print magazines had reviewers who obviously had specific tastes.  As long a as a band’s release fit that reviewer’s taste, they were going to get a high rating.  If the CD didn’t fit within their tastes, then they struggled to find anything positive to say, and the rating was mediocre.  You don’t send a light, bubbly, catchy synthpop release to a primarily industrial magazine and expect a glowing review.  Usually the album was described as “weak”, or “too retro”, or “lacking intensity.”  In my opinion, the intensity may have been there, but it was more displayed in the melodic structure and lyrical content rather than through pounding drum machines, stabbing synthesizers, and gritty, half-yelled vocals.  I’m not criticizing industrial music, but you can see the difference in the two styles when you put Wumpscut next to Neuropa and expect the reviewer to consider each on their own merits, when they are obviously fans of one style more than another.  I remember one of my favorite lines printed in a UK magazine, reviewing one of my label releases.  By “favorite” I mean that it proves my point exactly.  They first said how boring the release was, and how “weak” (of course) and then said that such-and-such track was better than such-and-such track, but only like stepping in a puddle of piss is better than stepping in a pile of poop.  Classy…

But I sent out those review copies regularly, until the requests for promos from all of the webzines started flowing in.  Once again, any Tom, Dick, or Stanley can make a webzine (the predecessor to blogs) and then start emailing hundreds of labels, asking for promos.  But does it mean anybody is reading their reviews?  I had to focus on the webzines that were created by people like myself who had been working inside the scene for years, and who were recognized by their peers and respected by their readers.  For every twenty or so promo requests, there was maybe one even worth the postage cost to send a promo. The rest were just background noise.  Eventually, nearly all of the print magazines gave up the expensive costs of printing and went online, marking the death of independent music magazines. Only the big magazines were left, and do you think a CD from a band like The Echoing Green was going to get reviewed by Rolling Stone magazine when thousands of CD’s were probably hitting their office every single week?  Well…the odds are few.

Looking back at the struggle of independent magazines, I have considered the tightrope the publishers had to walk to stay alive. It was probably every bit as touchy as the labels. When you consider that A Different Drum wasn’t willing to spend $1000 for a large ad in a magazine, while apparently other labels were, then why would the magazine worry too much about lesser reviews of A Different Drum’s releases? They could say what they want without hurting their income. I’m not saying that reviews are undoubtedly influenced by such business transactions, but it is worth consideration. You know what they say about “biting the hand that feeds”, and I didn’t often see negative reviews about releases by labels that consistently paid for advertising space. Maybe they just put out very good releases, all of the time?

There is another group of DJ’s who I believe had the biggest power to influence listeners. Those are the club DJ’s.  Any DJ with a regular club gig and a steady crowd has great power to create a “hit” within their particular audience.  A club DJ can play what they want, and they rise in the ranks based on their ability to get the dancers moving– not whether they can sell advertising spots to Pepsi.  They have freedom to form their own style and their own approach, and if they choose to put something into rotation, they can do it.  My biggest promo list was to club DJ’s who I knew were active by verifying that they had an audience.  My own customer pool was big enough that I could check on clubs in certain areas and verify what the DJ was playing.  Surprisingly, it was easier to find out about what was happening in the clubs than what was happening on the radio stations.  Club-goers love to talk about where they go, and what they listen to, and they love to keep up on what is fresh.  They were the ones who often ended up buying CD’s.  The club was the best way to reach people that I could find– at least in terms of pulling them into a mindset where they cared about the music enough to seek it online and possibly even buy it.

As a result, much of my promotional efforts turned to the clubs. I traveled to clubs sometimes, even when it wasn’t for a live show.  I encouraged the bands to talk to the clubs and get to know the DJ’s and schedule live shows in their venues.  This was their lifeblood when it came to promotion.  Whenever I showed up in a club and set up a table full of CD’s to sell, I would have a great success.  People would crowd the table in search of new music to buy.  They’d hear it play, walk to the table and ask what they’d just heard, and I’d sell it to them.

Luckily, this kind of promotion didn’t cost a lot of money.  I sometimes got a lot of pressure from bands to pay for magazine ads and “promote them properly”.  They figured that if I announced that a new album was out by a band nobody had heard of, thus printing some expensive, half-page ad in a print magazine, then people would flood to the stores to buy it.  But that’s not how it works, and I knew it.  I’d even read an article once that explained how print advertising only worked if you had already done your branding and you were announcing a product that was already recognized.  So, for music, it made sense to pay for a magazine ad that announced a new release by a band that the readers already knew, because that simply served as information upon which the reader could act– thus seeking the album.  But a print ad about a band that nobody knew (which was the case with most bands I introduced to the market), then it was a quick way to lose money.  Readers understand enough about advertising to recognize that an ad telling them that something is the best thing on planet earth– that it’s just hype.  So, they skip over it.

I did pay for a handful of print ads, but they were usually advertising A Different Drum more than any single band, because telling people that there is a store where they can buy a whole bunch of different CD’s was more financially rewarding than convincing readers that they had to shop for one particular item.  Generally, I found that advertising A Different Drum in any way ended up doing more good than advertising each band independently.  Maybe that means that certain bands didn’t get as much attention as they “deserved”, or that others got more than they should have?  But it created a single entity that fans generally trusted.  If A Different Drum was putting out a new CD by somebody, it was often given the benefit of the doubt by those who had come to respect and enjoy the music released by the label in the past.  “See what is new at A Different Drum” was more effective than “See what is new by Band X.”

I remember once promotional campaign that was more expensive, yet more rewarding that many others I’d tried. If getting people to hear the music was the best promotion, I found a way to introduce a lot of people who had a particular taste to a lot of new music, all at once. I printed a couple thousand copies of a sampler CD with inexpensive packaging. Then I got permission from a concert promoter to give away CD’s to all the attendees of an Erasure concert in Salt Lake City. I stood in the lobby of the venue and handed CD’s to everybody who wanted once, thus distributing more than a thousand CD’s in a single night. True…some of those CD’s were swept off the floor of the venue when the night was done. But many of them made it to homes. I was told by individuals months and even years later that they turned to Amazon.com or to ADifferentDrum.com initially because they’d liked some music on a sampler CD that was given to them at an Erasure concert. Was it worth the cost of manufacturing a couple thousand CD’s just to give away? Maybe. That’s still hard to tell, but if those customers kept coming back for years, then it must have been a good idea. I also printed other sampler CD’s (sometimes in partnership with other labels) which were given away as freebies to customers who ordered through A Different Drum’s website. Since those were people who already ordered music, then they were a prime target for introducing new material. Some of the best promotion efforts any retail business can make is directly to the customers that they already have. Those are your most valuable customers in the long-term, so you have to treat them right.

With all of this said, I still have to look back and figure that I must have missed some big opportunities.  I must not have understood everything clearly, because eventually, all of the attempts to promote didn’t stop the label from suffering losses.  The CD’s stopped selling as downloads became cheap and easy (not to mention free to most would-be customers in the world).  No matter how much I pushed to introduce new music, the sales stopped coming as they had.  The good reputation and branding may have been there, but the financials failed to add up.  The emergence of downloads didn’t kill all labels, but it took down a lot of us, including A Different Drum to a large degree. The very things that had changed the promotion game for the small guys also took everything away from those same small guys in the end. So it goes– if you don’t adapt and change as fast as the market, you lose.

I could promote all I wanted, but if it was only introducing new material to steal, then it wasn’t helping in the end. I remember receiving a phone call once from a guy who had called and talked to me regularly over the years. He said that he simply wanted to tap me for some suggestions. What was good? What was new? What should he try? He had absolutely no intention of ordering anything, which I discovered after a few long conversations which were probably initiated on my toll-free phone number at my expense. He eventually explained that he only wanted to know what he should download so he didn’t waste so much time trying to find the good stuff. Was he buying the downloads? No. He even admitted that he always downloaded the music for free because he couldn’t afford music at the time. If he really liked it, then someday he would purchase the CD. I avoided any call from him from then on. He had no idea what kind of damage he was doing with his “Disney - Aladdin” attitude—“If I can’t afford it, then it’s OK for me to steal it.” The true problem is that he merely represented what was becoming a huge majority of music listeners around the world. He was simply one person brazen enough to call me and admit that he wasn’t buying anything. I guess everybody else had the tact to keep that information to themselves.

There are other fun stories about promotion that I’ll share later– like a couple of years venturing with some success into the anime market, and going on little club tours (always a big adventure) and setting up festivals.  Those were fun times, and I’ll be sure to share plenty of stories which will ultimately be a lot more fun that this little run-down of the mysteries of promotion.  Talking business is boring. I know you’d rather hear stories.

Next time…I may actually post a gallery of photos that my wife pulled out.  It turns out I do have about a half-dozen photos from the earliest shows I promoted.  Nice! I’d forgotten about them!  But I have to scan them and put them online somewhere.  Then, I’ll move onto…

PART 7 – LET’S HAVE A PARTY

-Todd

August 1, 2013

A Different Drum Update - August 1st, 2013 - History Part 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 7:02 pm

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It’s time to touch bases with you once again.  Though I don’t have any new releases to talk about this time, I do have a few other small news items, and then the next installment of A Different Drum’s history.

–>  First of all, if you’re waiting for the Anything Box re-issue CD’s to be shipped, I just want you to know that I have not yet received them.  Transit time from the label in Argentina is a bit unpredictable, but I’ve been assured that they are on the way.  So, we’ll just wait patiently for them to arrive.

–>  Next, if you’re a member of A Different Drum’s VIP club, then you should have received (or will very soon receive) the latest package which included the Isaac Junkie CD and the new Syrian CD.   If you’re not a VIP member, and you’d like to join so that you can automatically receive limited edition CD’s each month, then simply send me an email and I’ll help you sign up.  There are currently a few open spots.  Only 300 copies are manufactured for each release, just for the CD collectors and synthpop fans.  I do send a couple copies of each release to Amazon.com so that they are listed in the online catalog, so if you’re fast, you can sometimes snag one of their copies to add to your collection, but typically, those releases become rarities very quickly.  Also, as a little hint… Syrian made a few of their band copies available on CDBaby.com if you want to grab their new album before it is sold out.

–>  If you’d like to bid on a small collection of import and collectible CD’s, including some rarities and promos, I’ve just put a small lot on EBay which may interest you.  It’s a rather odd assortment of synthpop and electronic items I had in my office, and I thought I’d give the collectors a shot at them.  Here is a direct link :
http://www.ebay.com/itm/181188605506

A DIFFERENT DRUM HISTORY - PART 5 - MAKING A RECORD LABEL

I’ve mentioned in a previous installment that the first official CD carrying A Different Drum’s logo and name was called “Rise! America’s Synthpop Underground”.  It was put together and released while I was still in my little store on Center Street in Provo, Utah.  My brother Nathan, who is a graphic designer living in San Francisco, made the cover art.  I still have one of those CD’s mounted in a frame on my office wall, thanks to my thoughtful wife who knew that one day it would be a treasure to me.  (See CD cover here : http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Americans-Synthpop-Underground/dp/B002W7PNTC)  When I released that CD, I didn’t really go into it with a plan to start a label.  I thought of it more as a marketing tool for the CD’s that I offered in my store and through mail-order.  But the reception was so positive, and the bands so seemingly happy with the resulting attention, that I decided to go ahead and make another one.  This time I focused on remixes, since I had been a long-time fan of remixes and extended versions.   Many of the bands in the underground scene didn’t have opportunities to put out remix singles because they were on a small budget, so I thought that such a collection could be a nice opportunity to get some remixes into the hands of the fans.

Rather than focusing entirely on the American synthpop scene, I broadened my scope to include tracks from some bands from outside of my own country.  I called my connections and included remixed tracks from De/Vision (Germany), Kiethevez (Sweden), and Tinmen (Canada).   The cover art for this one was perhaps a bit less interesting, using a computer filter effect to make a swirly design (something that would quickly feel dated as computer graphics improved), but the music was top notch.  (See CD cover here : http://www.amazon.com/Mix-Rinse-Spin-Various-Artists/dp/B001UWNF90)   Again, the finished product was received with great excitement, and by that point, I was already contacting a few bands to discuss individual releases because I felt like my dream to run a label was suddenly within reach.

When I talked to the first few artists, they were of course very excited.  Working with a label meant that they could focus more on making their music, and less on trying to manufacture and market it.  Somebody else would help to cover the costs and somebody else would push it to a growing fan base.  From the beginning, I opted to run my label differently than others– there was a general feeling among much of the synthpop scene that major labels were evil, and then there were smaller labels, which sometimes tried too hard to act like majors, which was ridiculous in a such a small scene.  I decided that I would write a very simple contract that would be no longer than one or two pages.  I would keep it in plain English with as little “legalese” as possible.  I would give the band as much freedom as possible by making each contract for only one album, and never claiming ownership of the source material.  I would simple have the right to release it and sell it until I no longer felt there was a demand, at which point the band could go ahead and do whatever they wanted with the album.  They could use each song however they wanted as well, offering themselves to compilations or collaborations if they felt it was useful in their efforts.  If things worked out, we’d do another contract if they still felt my services were useful, or they could go on their merry way.

The only part of my contract which somebody might have felt was restrictive was that I boldly stated that I would not include any profanity, hateful lyrical content, or explicit content on my label releases.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that most bands I worked with never gave a second thought to that particular restriction, since they didn’t write songs of that nature anyway.  If any band complained about the profanity clause upon seeing the contract, we’d simply part ways, since I was obviously not the label for them.  Only once did that particular part of my contract become part of a public debate on an internet forum, where words like “censorship” were thrown around.  I found it absurd to suggest that A Different Drum was involved in censorship since I was not a government entity and I was not gagging anybody from saying or doing what they wanted in their music.  I was simply a businessman offering a product, and as the owner, I could decide what kind of product I wanted to sell.  If I chose to sell synthpop, then that was the kind of music I would sign, and that was what I would release.  Nobody could force me to release heavy metal CD’s, or rap CD’s, or country CD’s.  Likewise, if I wanted to release product that did not require a parental advisory warning, then I would only make contracts that fit that standard.  Of course, other labels could release whatever they wanted.  Bands who wanted to include that kind of content could freely take other routes with other labels.  I only chose what I wanted to release on my own label.  In no way was that censorship, but merely a personal and business choice.  As a family man, I chose to release music that I felt my children (no matter what their age) could also listen to and enjoy, without concerns of hateful or obscene lyrical content.  Maybe I was a prude, but I didn’t really care.

The first bands to join A Different Drum’s roster were gleaned mostly from my early compilations and were bands that had mostly released their own CD’s before working with me.  I felt that those bands had already showed that they were serious and motivated.  There was Faith Assembly, Brave New World, Cosmicity, and Paradigm, all from the USA.  Others shortly followed and after the first few releases, the bands on the label from outside the USA quickly outnumbered the Americans.  Paradigm was the only band that was considered “local” since I met the two members, Adam and Mike, within my store.  They had released a cassette under the band name “X Effect” before changing their name to Paradigm.  When I heard about their first band name, I remembered that I had played a show on the BYU campus one afternoon when they were also playing.  I had been in a band called “That’s What She Said” and “X Effect” was across the quad from us.  Adam and Mike were easy to work with and had some simple, catchy tunes.  Though they didn’t catch on as quickly as other bands on the label and never managed to make a follow-up release, I was proud of their contribution to the early days of A Different Drum.  You can see their album here :  http://www.amazon.com/Lifeline-Paradigm/dp/B00000HYWN

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again– I was a huge fan of 12-inch singles and remixes, dating back to my youth.  Thus, it was natural that I wanted to include CD maxi-singles among my releases.  I wanted the bands to have actual singles with various versions and to feel like they were able to do the same things the well known bands from the early synthpop days had done.  Why not create a large pool of albums and singles?  This particular determination eventually got the best of me in terms of business success.  Singles lost money pretty much every time I released them, but I was so darn stubborn that I stayed with them for many years, dropping a lot of money on remixes and additional manufacturing.  A few fans enjoyed the singles, but they often ended up being the boxes I stored for the longest period, until I eventually would hand them out as promotional tools and freebies at clubs and special events.  I wanted them to go out of print quickly, becoming the collectors items that I felt should be their destiny, but usually they didn’t and usually I took a loss.  Take the “Winter Song” single by Brave New World as an example.  I wanted that super-catchy song to have some great remixes, and it was suggested that I should pay a “big name” producer to make the perfect remix.  That resulted in me paying $1,500 to the man behind the electronic band Psykosonik for a remix that ended up being my least favorite, though I suppose I should have expected the result.  It was a well-produced slice of electronic music that had pretty much nothing to do with the original song, which was a trend in major label remixes during the 90’s.  I’d always hated when singles by my old heroes (like Depeche Mode or Erasure) came out with remixes that had completely new instrumentation and only vague references to vocal snippets from the original song.  I missed the old, extended versions.  New music was even fine, as long as the song was still intact.  So, I told myself I’d never do that again, and from that point on, I think the most I paid for remixes was about $500, and almost always to somebody I already knew and worked with.

When running a label and putting all the pieces together for each release, and doing it on a small scale without any real staff, mistakes were bound to pop up, and during those early years, there were some really fun ones.  The mistakes usually showed up on the artwork where a typo slipped past our notice.  One of the most memorable “oops” moments was again on a CD single.  For those of you who know Mark of Faith Assembly very well, you’ll know that he is meticulous in his craft and extremely focused on making every detail of each release perfect.  He spends years recording new material, and he used to spend a lot of his own money on additional production that I couldn’t afford, and on artwork layout.  He was the only guy I worked with that would actually buy or rent fancy dresses for his models, or rent stages, etc. for photographs and videos so that everything would look exactly as he’d imagined.  He has always been intense in that way, and so it was with much dismay that a huge error slipped past both of us during the proofing of the artwork for his “Red Ambition” single.  The front cover boldly presented the title as “Red Ambiton” (missing the second letter “i”).  It wasn’t until a fan who had purchased the single called me to point out the mistake that Mark or I caught it.

“So, is this single really supposed to be called Red Ambiton?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, that’s what it says on the cover.”

“Yeah, right!  haha!”

“No Todd, really, it does.”

(Todd walks to one box out of many, housing a thousand copies of the single and pulls it out.)

“No, I have one right here in my hand, and it clearly says…um…Red Ambiton!”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m telling you.”

(A few minutes later.)

“Um…Mark, I have some very bad news.”

“Really?  What?”

“Did you get your copies of the single?”

“Yes.  Thanks.”

“Did you see the front cover.”

“What about it?”

“The title is misspelled.”

(pause)

“Nooooooooo!!!!!”

Well, in an effort to appease a great artist, many hundreds of dollars were spent to make a new printing of the cover art and I had to un-shrinkwrap the existing copies and hand-insert the new sleeves.  Wow…another big money loser, but it was a sweet single.  Those of you who have it know what I mean.  Maybe you even have the ultra-limited edition with the misspelled title?  If so, hold onto it!

It actually become something of a game to look for the misspelled names, typos, and other goofy errors on nearly every release.  It seemed like something would slip past us every time, but usually the fans didn’t notice, and rarely did we actually reprint anything.  That become part of the business– dealing with the imperfections that seemed inherent to running a small label.

The first international bands to sign to A Different Drum’s label were from the UK.  The Nine and Blue October were early contributors to the roster, plus I decided to enter into my first licensing agreement with my Swedish counterpart, October Productions, by putting out American editions of CD’s by Kiethevez.  We usually put out one or two supporting CD singles for each of those early releases.

Here is a list of the first 21 releases which created the foundation for A Different Drum’s label (most of which are long out-of-print):

ADDCD1001 Various Artists “Rise! America’s Synthpop Underground”

ADDCD1002 Faith Assembly “The Diary of Winter” limited EP

ADDCD1003 Various Artists “Mix Rinse and Spin”

ADDCD1004 Paradigm “Lifeline”

ADDCD1005 Brave New World “Understand”

ADDCD1006 Faith Assembly “Her Deepest Sleep” MCD

ADDCD1007 Paradigm “Soul Flight” MCD

ADDCD1008 Brave New World “Regret” MCD

ADDCD1009 Faith Assembly “My Mortal Beloved”

ADDCD1010 KieTheVez “Three Empty Words” limited US edition

ADDCD1011 Various Artists “Rising! Synthpop vs. the World”

ADDCD1012 KieTheVez “Can’t See This” MCD

ADDCD1013 Brave New World “Winter Song” MCD

ADDCD1014 Cosmicity “Isabella”

ADDCD1015 KieTheVez “Opium”

ADDCD1016 The Nine “Our Tomorrow” MCD

ADDCD1017 Cosmicity “Visionary” MCD

ADDCD1018 The Nine “Native Anger”

ADDCD1019 Blue October “Incoming” MCD

ADDCD1020 Blue October “Incoming”

ADDCD1021 Faith Assembly “Red Ambition” MCD

Most of those can be searched and found on Amazon.com if you’re curious, though most are only offered as used product, if at all.  I’m proud of those early releases and can still listen to them with quite a bit of nostalgic pleasure.

Next time:

PART 6 - THE MANY MYSTERIES OF PROMOTION

Thanks!
-Todd

July 25, 2013

A Different Drum Update - July 25th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Todd @ 11:22 am

Hello friends of A Different Drum!  It is time for a brief update, though I must apologize, since I haven’t had a chance to write the next installment of A Different Drum’s history yet.  Still, I wanted to let you know of a couple interesting new releases that came during the last couple of days.

NEW ARRIVALS:

IAMX “The Unified Field” $18 — IAMX has become of the scene’s most interesting and dynamic performers, and now we have the new album in stock.  You can order the CD here :
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/4046661293524/IAMX-The-Unified-Field

De/Vision “Strange Days” (Box Set) $30 — I only got a couple of these boxes, since I wasn’t sure how many fans needed to pick one up.  As a big De/Vision fan, I found the release interesting as it represents a collection of works from De/Vision’s early days which are perhaps my favorites.  But if you’re like me, you already have these tracks– consisting of the first three albums and some of the remixes from singles and bonus discs.   You can see the complete track list and order the box here :
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/POP022-2/De-Vision-Strange-Days

Christopher Anton “In Silence - Rename Mixes” (limited promo CDR) $12 — This limited edition promo CD features four versions of “In Silence” as remixed by Rename.  There are only 50 numbered copies worldwide, and I’ve got only a few here.  You can see the track list and order here :
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/RENPRO/Christopher-Anton-In-Silence-Rename-Mixes-Promo

Mechanical Apfelsine “RED” $16 — After a great debut album which sold well in A Different Drum’s store, we now have the cool, 2nd album by Russian synthpop band, Mechanical Apfelsine.   You can check out one of their songs and order the new album here :
http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/MechAP2/Mechanical-Apfelsine-RED

That is all I have for you this week.  I’ll try to get another installment of A Different Drum’s history written next time.  Thanks for your support!
-Todd

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