General E-mail Newsletter Dec 1 1999
This is a personal hello and mini-e-newsletter from acoustic musician Harvey Reid.
Hello out there. (Listens for an echo...) Harvey Reid here,
sending out my first e-mail to all of you at once in a year. I guess it's not
spam if you only do it now and then, and most of you are on my list because
you requested to be there. If not, please reply, and I promise you will be removed.
I know what some of you are thinking-- I am afraid to reply to e-mail spam to
be removed because that signals then that you are a "live one" and
you probably get on more lists than ever if you reply.
I am not a spammer. I am folk musician Harvey Reid sitting in my home office in Maine, taking a break from practicing Christmas tunes. I am just trying to survive in the new millennium and the new world order and the new global economy, and e-mail is a Great Thing for people like me. I have had e-mail for 14 years, and I am thrilled that a lot of you have it now. It's nice and simple and fast. I get so tired of doing interviews with journalists and trying to talk slowly and hope they don't misquote me or chop out 50% of what I said before it goes to print. On the internet, you can get the whole story, from me to you, and no pass interference in-between. So I'll hurry up and get to whatever it is I can think of to tell you before you run out of patience and delete this message. I feel like a guy with a car who just drove on his first paved road, and who can't help noticing the smooth ride. Eventually we will all take this for granted, but I can't help commenting, having done it the hard way for so long. You young musicians who never had to hand-mail a newsletter or manage your mailing list with just a typewriter and a copy machine don't even know what you missed. I am not that old, but I got a lot of use out of a manual typewriter in my early years as a musician. Maybe in the future I'll just send you telepathic newsletters.
ABOUT THE WOODPECKER.COM WEB SITE
The site at http://www.woodpecker.com just got re-worked quite a bit to make it faster and more efficient. (Some of your bookmarks may not work now-- sorry.) There still is none of the fancy programming, huge graphics, long waits, cookies, flashing junk, ad banners, secret tracking or any of that crap everyone else is doing. I believe in a simple, informational web site, and it's always the best place to get information on my schedule, recordings, and anything else I can find lying around the computers here that might be of interest to the public. There are reviews, interviews, gear, tunings, lyrics, CD's I like, articles, essays, rare old pictures (some new ones just went up) , and lots more.
We finally have on-line order forms, so you can spell your own name and zip code, and we don't have to make mistakes listening to your phone messages or reading your handwriting, and you can order at 1AM if you like. The good news is that e-mail orders for CD's are going up steadily (42% of our mail orders are by internet now), and this is great for all of us, since it is simpler, faster, and more accurate. We do not abuse your customer information, and you will not end up on any weird mailing lists as a result of ordering from Woodpcker Records. I promise. It helps me a lot when you folks mail-order my recordings, and they are getting harder then ever to find in stores, due to the way the music retailing business works. They make extra nice gifts (hint hint) because people won't be able to find them at their local malls.
The web site also now has some downloadable photos (mostly for journalists and promoters who need them instantly), plus some MP3 music files, and some other documents and even some sheet music from my upcoming book of guitar arrangements. Look on the What's New Page for a more complete list of what is new there.
SOME FOLK MUSIC MATH
I spent $6257.52 last year in postage. $5476.02 the year before, and $5629.73, $6338.09, and $7348.93 in previous years. See a pattern? My newsletter cost (in 1998) about $1000 to print, and $2400 to mail out, which is why you haven't gotten one recently. (I generally make one when there is a new CD out, to promote it and inform you all at once.) It costs me $0 to write you this e-mail, and $0 to mail it to you, a net gain of $3400, which would buy a drivable used car, or a very nice guitar. My e-mail list is almost twice the size it was last year, and is close to 25% of the mailing list now. I wish all of you had e-mail, so I could stop printing and mailing paper to you, and one day this will be the case, and it is not soon enough for me. I have better things to do, the world does not need more paper wasted, and if only you people would keep a stable e-mail address. Enough already. You get the point. And you who are reading this have e-mail, so I am preaching to the converted again.
SO WHAT'S NEW WITH HR?
I have been traveling, playing music, and generally thriving, making a living, painting the house & pulling weeds in-between tours. It was a very busy travel year, with trips to about 25 states, and a few foreign countries. I am very happy that I feel no impulses to re-invent myself like rock stars have to or want to do, and I am not careening off on tangents, doing electronic music, or chasing new markets. I still love my acoustic guitars and autoharp, and mandolins, and I am still working in the same veins of music I have always been in. I bought a mando-cello this year, which has only made it onto stage a couple times, but that may appear more and more often in the future. (I keep getting larger and larger mandolins. At this pace, I will have a mando-bass in 5-6 years. Yikes!)
I am working on a new CD of solo guitar music, my first in 10 years. I plan to have it out before summer 2000. I am hibernating this winter to write music for it. There are no shortcuts to writing complex guitar music, and with all the travel I have had a very hard time finding the long blocks of time that I need to work on guitar music. I feel like I am playing and singing better than ever in my career, and that is a great feeling to think you have not peaked yet. (I am not looking forward to possibly informing you all that I think I have peaked, and I will be playing worse and worse from that point on. I hope it won't be soon.)
THE SEACOAST GUITAR SOCIETY
The other big news is that after 9 months of planning and trying to think of a reason not to do it, I started a local non-profit arts group called the Seacoast Guitar Society. We have a wonderful web site at http://www.seacoastguitar.org, and things are going better than expected. We are putting on some concerts and workshops, and networking the local music community by offering web pages, classified ads, and easy communication among music fans and musicians here where I live. I also wanted to have more of a role in my local music community, and have mostly just left to go on tour, and played 1 or 2 times a year in this area. Those of you who would like to participate or who have some extra end-of-the-year $ can always make tax-deductible contributions before the Dec 31 deadline. We have a lot of plans, which are detailed on the web site, and we only need people and $ to make them happen. Your help is appreciated. We could use some sponsors and benfactors to underwrite our concerts and help get some of the education programs going.
THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS
Some of you probably think I have fallen off the edge of the Earth, unless I have performed in your area, because I have not sent a newsletter or a mass e-mailing in a while, and unless you go to my web site, you would have a very small chance of knowing I existed. (I am so un-famous, you probably would not even see the obituary if I did fall off the edge of the Earth.) Not a cheery thought. Clear Channel just bought up 835 radio stations, so now there is one guy deciding what gets played on all 835 of them, and you can be sure I am not in the playlists. I bet he doesn't have to buy his own drinks, and gets some nice vacation offers. (Oh, the FCC is supervising, they only let you own 8 radio stations in a single market. Only 8?) Entertainment is Big Humongous Business, and there is no place for independent artists like me in the shiny magazines, although they are full of stories about how independent all the major label artists are. Even Ani DiFranco, the music press's favorite "independent" success story poster girl, has 27 people working full-time in her office, I read in an interview, and her label "Righteous Babe Records" is run by a man and always has been. Maybe "independent" means "let someone else do it for you." I need to try that.
I guess I am glad that it's so cool to be "independent", I just wish all the corporate people would stop pretending to be "independent" so those of us who really are could get some ink and some airplay. I know better than to think this will happen, but I can wish. I have had my own record label since 1982, which means I have been tripping over boxes of records, tapes and CD's for 17 years. In spite of the internet and how easy it is to get information, it seems like I am being crowded out of the media more than ever. Now that the same companies who own the music and the record labels also own the TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines, it's no big surprise. They do such a good job of making it look like it always has, and of keeping you from finding out about people like me that it is easy to forget how rigged it all is.
At the same time, it seems that there is an ever-growing group of fringe artists who are fighting over the small amount of Public Radio, concert venues, non-mainstream and alternative media that exists, and new artists are entering the competition faster than new space is being made to accomodate them. The new "Americana" radio format, for example, (which has no definition, by the way--- if you don't know what it is-- it's just everything that doesn't really belong anywhere else and doesn't have too loud a drumbeat or too many electronic sounds) is the only category where I might belong, but is also the new home of Johnny Cash, for example, and the whole spectrum of blues, folk, and even country musicians. I never thought I would get lumped into the same musical category as Johnny Cash, but it has happened. The Misc. department. I am fine, you just wouldn't know it from watching TV or reading the paper.
I hope all of you are well, and that your Millennium is peaceful and uneventful like I hope mine is. We do have something real and tangible to dread in the new year, though. We can put it off and pretend it is not a problem, but at some point we are all going to have to deal with the food we have stockpiled for the millennium. There may be a lot of kids complaining about having to eat canned food the whole month of January!
You'll get a paper newsletter from me in the Spring to announce the new CD, and a postcard and/or e-mail if I am performing in your general area. Till then, signing off.
May your Y2K be AOK.
Harvey Reid (Dec 1999)
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