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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
Measuring "Appropriate Success" with SALLY TAYLOR

In the middle of last year, I was asked to do an interview with one Sally Taylor for Newsday as a preview for a show she was playing on Long Island. Never heard of her, I said. Not surprised, replied my editor, but you'll know her parents: Carly Simon and James Taylor.

The media loves stories about celebrity offspring; they love it even more when both parents are famous - especially for the same reason - and the child decides to follow in career footsteps. Obviously, the news of young Sally Taylor aspiring to be a "successful" singer-songwriter folk-rocker suggested immediate good copy.

Presumably the paper got what it wanted. What made the story interesting for me, however, was not Sally's childhood - unusual though it must have been - and not her music: I've never been one for the coffee bar singer-songwriter folk rock scene. No, what makes 26-year old Sally fascinating is her decision, from watching her parents, her brother and the world around her, to carve an entirely independent, autonomous route through the music business.

Obviously, this means that Sally Taylor puts out her own records, tours incessantly, and maintains her own web site. But then so do most unsigned artists. What makes Taylor's route unusual is, primarily, that she doesn't have to do it this way. As the photogenic and talented offspring of two of America's most famous 1970s singer-songwriters, she has her choice of record deals - to which she has declared herself uninterested. Having studied the modern marketplace with all the intensity of a business student, Taylor has concluded that, in the 21st Century, there are new methods for "making it" which don't require signing one's life away to a multi-national corporation. Unlike most young "unsigned" acts, she is independent out of choice rather than necessity, preferring to see record labels, publicists and agents as potential sub-contractors rather than employers.

One can certainly level the charge that Sally Taylor had money to fund her business plan to begin with, a luxury your average starving musician from the ghetto doesn't have. Perhaps: poverty never stopped the likes of N.W.A., Notorious B.I.G, or Happy Mondays from raising funds by any means of necessary. Besides, in some ways it must be harder to keep turning down record deals than never being offered them to begin with. It is, after all, much easier not to sell your soul when no one's offering to buy it.

I'm not so naive that I don't believe Sally Taylor won't eventually sign with a bigger label, but note that I use the word 'with' rather than 'to.' My favorite comment from what follows is Sally's assertion that it's arrogant for labels to assume they can sign an artist, that it should be the other way around. Precisely. I hope Sally's Modus Operandi sets an example for aspiring musicians out there. In the meantime, her web site, not surprisingly is . You'll find everything you need to know about her music there - except that you won't find any music. She's enough of a traditionalist that she still wants you to buy an album, and that's fair enough, but Sally....these days people want to hear an act's music on the web before they buy it on the web.

"Success for me means happiness. For me it's not really a question of being glamorous or famous."

(There's some preliminary talk about her first CD, Tomboy Bride, and travelling to LA for her first "showcases." I know that being booked by CAA makes it look like she started out with a silver spoon, but I think what's interesting is the changes she went through after this auspicious start. . . )

The first dates that we got CAA booked for us in LA, and I thought 'Do I rent a van, or do I make a huge investment and buy a van?' and I decided to buy a van, and that may have been the day of the rest of this. I didn't really know what buying a van meant philosophically. Now that I had the wheels I started booking my own torus round Colorado, just really grass roots. And I made my mind up early on that success for me would mean happiness. For me it's not really a question of being glamorous or famous. I really want to make a career out of this. So when the majors would come with offers, I would look at it and run it past whether it would make me happy in 5 years and successful in my definition, and I decided that it would not and just said thanks very much. But doing this on my own definitely has its costs too. I'm constantly working doing the computer inputting. I'm constantly talking to my booking agent, to my publicist.

-You're self-managed?

Yes. . .We have these great drives between gigs which is a blessing and a curse. I can do a lot of work on these drives, I can input the mailing list, do some e mails, write some tour diaries, but at the same time it's an eight hour drive. It's a 15 seat van with the two seats in the back cut out and made into a cage, so we can protect the gear. It's a Ford V10 Club Wagon; in 14 months, it's done 65,000 miles.

-Are you able to pay the band a living wage? I mean, as the 'act,' you have a different motivation from them.

Most of them have families. When I started out with the first album, I started out with a budget of how much I was prepared to lose in the first two years - which I've gone way above. But the guys have families so it's really important to me that they should be able to make enough money to support their families and at the same time have enough time to spend at home with their families. It's a toss up for me, losing a couple more bucks or spending it on musicians, but if I'm going to lose money anywhere, I want to lose it on musicians.

-How were you able to make a loss to begin with?

I come from a fortunate financial background, and I had $20,000 to spare. It was enough to put a payment down on a van and start paying the musicians a very low salary. We started making out $300 a night. Of course when I started gas prices weren't what they are, and now it's costing 50% more to fill the tank, which is sometimes half a night's wage. So $20,000 is what I started with the first year - and broke even off of that. It was a very tough year in terms of learning. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it took a lot of resourcefulness. Our sound engineer doubles up as tour manager. The guitarist does e-mail. I had to take who I have in my corner and create a team out of that. When I started I had 6 people working for me and now it's 13. As I start to make more money I start to include more people and I've decided it's not who you know, it's how many people you know.

-You're saying you've been offered major deals and turned them down: What is the prime motivation for doing it yourself?

I would say there are three major reasons. The first being the creative side of this. I love being able to create exactly what I want, not being told to create, not having me as an artist or performer or personality created by a major label. Another part is learning. I think that a record label can really afford a lot of people to be ignorant. I think if you sign to a major label you don't often have to know what a publicist does for you, or how hard your booking agent works. When I started I was doing all of that, so I know exactly how much I would pay to not have to do that job anymore. As well as which, I'm very grateful for the job that they do because I realize how difficult it is. Another thing is that I'm not really interested in what they [the major labels] have to offer. My idea of success is doing this on my own, as self-creation, self-taught, and having a relationship with my audience, and growing this as I grow as a musician. It just seems that there are so many reasons not to sign. I think everything has a cost, and it's just where you want to spend. For me I devote a huge amount of time to this and financially I'm creating the risk. And that's where I'm spending. But I wouldn't want to spend with my integrity.

-Is this for you a permanent decision or just where you are right now?

It's where I am right now. The way that I look at the record companies is that a record company is really a service provider. They provide marketing, manufacturing, production, advising, they have this collective group of services that works together to create an artists's "success" meaning fame and visibility. For a record company to assume that they can sign an artist is to me very pretentious and presumptuous. I think a record company should be able to get signed to an artist. That's the way that I see record companies. And I feel that's what is going to be happening with the internet now. I think people are going to be able to hire different services that are integrated by the web, and then they can find somebody who can bring those service providers together as a partnership, or they can partner their service companies to create their own distribution, manufacturing, production, publicity record company for themselves.

-To what extent did your parents encourage you to go their own way. Did they feel burned by the business or that they actually benefitted from the business or do they just feel it's changed?

I've learned a lot from them, mostly from watching without asking. They always encouraged me to find my heart, find my dream. I do want to be doing music, but not the way they went about it. I want to have a little more control over what happens to my art. I want to own my art. I don't someone else to own my art. I don't want to enter into a business with someone else who plans to make money and not give me any of that money. And I watched them pretty closely. Both of them have asked me to manage them! They've asked me to work with them on starting a company. I think what I became immediately aware of from watching them was that I needed to know exactly what goes into this. I needed to have more information than they had. I needed to know what the role of a manager was against the role of a producer. I wanted to learn every aspect of it. It just seemed to me that they didn't always know who was doing what and why.

-Was that just because it was a different time?

There wasn't so much to be worried of. The record industry was growing as rock'n'roll was growing, and the industry was interested in seeing the artist develop. And then when the business guys started coming in and taking over the record industry, and the music got pushed by the wayside and they were more interested in creating the image and making money from that image, it stopped being about art. They cared not at all about whether it was real authentic music or whether it was something out of a squeeze bottle. And then when the '80s turned into the '90s, what happened was the fear of the empire crumbling, Because what happened was they created a formula that started not working. The formula was, throw a lot of money at an artist, have them create the thing and then put them into debt. And anything that sounded like the last artist that made it - let's sign them. And what started happening - this is just my opinion - was that if you have three artists that sound like Pearl Jam then you're going to devalue the actual art of Pearl Jam. They got tangled up in this web that they're still doing that's the same formula that's not really working. So now they have these Britney - style things that are these huge money marketing things, thatÊI think have pros and cons, it's not all negative, it does get children involved in music. But aside from that, no one is making music in the major labels. These are all formulas that have always worked. So my question is, why do the labels keep going under? We're down to four labels.

Continue to Part 2


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