Friday, May 30, 2008

Buy vs. Steal

I was once told by a friend of mine that "we don't make the kind of music people BUY, but the kind that people STEAL." I remember disagreeing, only to be reminded of the many websites out there like Soulseek, Bit Torrent, etc.. As an artist, sites like this never scared me. In fact, I embraced the idea of "throwing" a track out there to get it traded. My assumption, if people like the track they heard, they'd spend money to buy the CD.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about these corporate so-called "album leaks." I'm talking about a legitimate campaign here -- "Listen to this new AC song... If you like it, the album comes out soon... Buy it!" It seems fair enough, eh?

This morning (yes, I know I'm late), I read an article about Radiohead. They offered a "pay what you want" type of deal with their last album. My immediate thought was "what the hell are they doing?" Don't they know how many people would simply download their album for FREE? I could just hear the many excuses today -- I'm a college student; Fuck the RIAA; The economy's tight; There's too much garbage out there... All of these are valid, of course! But AGAIN, as an artist who does this for a living, do I really WANT someone else telling ME what MY hard work is worth?

I have mixed emotions about this... I understand that times are changing. I understand that "everyone" with a computer + software is all of a sudden a producer, or DJ, or whatever. I ALSO understand that even before downloading became an issue, the market was flooded with garbage.

I AGREE that the RIAA (or whomever) shouldn't be able to force-feed me some highly-marketed bullshit, and tell me it's the hottest track I've ever heard.

But in MY situation, I'm confused... I run my own record label I'm NOT a bullshit artist. And from a label standpoint, I KNOW how much it costs to produce an album -- studio time, label designers, etc... I'm not greedy. While I do this for a living, I disagree that a CD should break the bank -- especially nowadays, when there's maybe only one or two songs you'd even like.

Long story short, I've considered following Radiohead's plan. Let the customer pay what they will, for the CD. While I'm confident that I have enough quality songs to justify paying for, I CRINGE at the thought of someone downloading my album for free -- especially after all the hard work and soul I put into this project!

Digitally, the album is being distributed through an aggregator. Physically, I'm selling the albums directly through my website. I don't like dealing with distributors too much, only because then you have to play the game... "How much do I think YOU can sell?" Again, thank God, I don't really have this issue. I've consistently sold decent amounts of records over the years, but I DO NOT LIKE the corporate GREED!!! Some of these record prices are ridiculously overpriced!

So my question is... How much IS my new album worth? If I wouldn't mind paying the "average" price of $12.99, is that too much? Not enough? (In my opinion, it's just right.)

During the festival, I sold copies for $10. (Thank you, those who bought it!) I ALSO noticed that some people weren't happy unless they got the CD for free. (I gave away a couple, yes..)

And as a side note, please remember that regardless of ANYTHING ELSE, I do my music because I LOVE it. just happens to also be what I do for a living! Y'all know how I feel about that! So don't say "oh he's just in it for the money..." I'm not -- but one cannot live on compliments alone...

So I hope this sparks conversation. I'm curious to know your thought, so don't be shy...


PS: And by the way... for those who are asking me where they can sample and buy the album from, it's here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Case u Didn't Know...

The new album, "Bittersoulfulsweet" is now available...
Click here to sample and buy the "Bittersoulfulsweet!"CD.

Oh I'm optomistic!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lost & Found: My DEMF Experience

Alas! DEMF Weekend is finally over and I've had a chance to recover. I must tell you about my festival experience – from the performance to the afterparty. Let me first say that God has a way of putting things into prospective! Before this hectic weekend, I prayed for just that. "God, please just open my eyes and let me SEE what's going on around me…" What I saw, oh man, was unbelievable…

A BIG hello goes to all of the fans who approached me during the festival. People kept saying things like "I hate to interrupt you, but…" Trust me; it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'm just as excited as YOU are. Feeling so much love from random people, knowing I touched their lives in a certain way, means the world to me. And with this clearer vision, I was able to understand, acknowledge that accept WOW… This IS who I am. WOW, my music IS reaching people. I was humbled and thoroughly appreciative.

Onto the performance – I'm sure you'll soon see the video footage. For me, it was nothing short of magical. Mind you, I was very surprised when I wasn't asked to play on the MAIN stage, like I did in 2005. I was told that I would be on the Real Detroit stage, which was underground. I couldn't have dancers because there wasn't any room, so I was told. My time slot was also cut from 2 hours to 1 hour. But I took it all in stride. Instead of being bitter, I decided that I'd take "what I had" and work with it – and work the HELL out of it. That's how I've handled my song recording situations as well. I didn't have the best equipment – sometimes I had barely anything to work with at all… But I used whatever I DID have, and worked it like no other! That's one of the things that impressed Mike Banks about me so much – but that's a different story.

ONSTAGE… The moment I walked onto the stage, I felt nothing but pure love. I remember walking up the stairs, and E. Dubb asked me, "Are you nervous?" I wasn't nervous at all. I was on a mission, and that ONE mission was to "beat those bitches down... with the BEATS, with the BASS, with the FILTERS…" I vowed to play with such intensity that they'd NOT HESITATE to give me the main stage NEXT year! Man, I beat the shit out of those decks… The crowd felt me, but more importantly, I felt THEM!

Veronique came onstage for her performance, which shocked a LOT of people – in a good way. Her stage presence commanded your attention, and let me say this: Veronique and I put together??? OMG… FIRE! The synergy was felt throughout the entire room. Of course, Veronique sang the hell out of "Use Me." And I mixed in our duet, "Alright." Confession: We had NEVER performed together on stage before. We had NO time to rehearse. We had NO sound check, NO practice, NO NOTHING… But when we sang that song together, it was nothing short of a phenomenon… We WORKED, do you hear me? Amazing…

DJ E. Dubb also deserves props for his very first DEMF performance. There was a slight technical glitch when he first started, so I stayed onstage with him. After all, the show MUST go on… I sang a couple songs from the new album – one of them was the newly re-worked version of "DOWN." (If you haven't gotten this album yet, you BETTER GET IT!) While I was singing, Erick (E. Dubb) mixed into his own set of Jackin' funky House. BABY, those mixes were flawless. He's a Wallshaker for a reason, let me tell you…

All in all, it was a great performance. I thank EVERYONE was in that room at that moment. It wasn't just MY show… It was OUR show. (See y'all NEXT year!)

Later that night, the official W.A.R.M.T.H. party was under way. Mind you, there was MANY parties this same night, so I expected the crowd to go from party to party all night long; not spending much time at either one. After a scare with the equipment setup, we finally got everything situated – just in time for the doors to open. Instead of TWO levels of sound, we only had one level, broken down into two rooms. Thank God for those walls, because it worked out perfectly. In the House room, you heard HOUSE. In the Techno room, you heard TECHNO. Both systems banged, but neither system clashed with the other.

Throwing a party is actually much harder than it looks! Everything rests on your shoulders – from the patrons to the talent… Everyone must be happy. We made sure the DJs had free drinks throughout the night. I know that most of the DJs I hired to play the party, did so as a favor, or to support the organization. I am SO GRATEFUL to those who showcased their talents! Katalist, Ben Wu, T. Linder, Jeff Comer, Trench, E. Dubb & The Deaken, Alton Miller, Gary Martin, DJ SURGEON!!!

Some of the DJs played their sets, and immediately left the party. While I didn't mention money to some of these DJs, I wanted EVERYONE to walk out of there with at least SOMETHING! That's just how I am. Those DJs that I didn't get to pay personally, I'm going to definitely do something nice for. Some got T-shirts. Some got CDs. Believe me, I am so touched by their willingness to help me and W.A.R.M.T.H., I would feel less than HUMAN if I didn't repay them in some way.

Overall, the crowd was sparse. Not many people were in attendance, but those who WERE, had a good time! Because the night was so slow, instead of staying open until 6 am, we decided to only stay open until 4. THIS meant that the DJs I had scheduled from 4 – 6, couldn't play. While it was a disappointing fact, it was nobody's fault! THIS is where God REALLY put things into prospective for me! ONE of the DJs (who wasn't officially on the bill, but I'd promised to give a timeslot) was very upset that he couldn't play. One of HIS guests approached me and expressed her disappointment. Now mind you, I'm excellent with people. I'm professional, etc… BUT when she said "I ONLY came to hear _____ play," I lost it. I lost all sense of professionalism within me… Yes, I let her have it.

By this time, it was 3:30 a.m. Alton Miller and Gary Martin were playing at the time… Since my other 2 DJs were basically whining and holding a grudge against ME, I asked Alton and Gary to stop playing… I told them we were shutting down, paid them for their time and basically apologized for the inconvenience. Inside, I was burning! I'd just kicked my LEGENDS off the turntables for WHO??!! Someone who's NEVER played in front of a crowd before? (That was ONE of them…) And someone else who's a good DJ, but had NO professionalism whatsoever? Oh, I was pissed. As I proceeded to curse one of the DJs (the one with the entourage) out, I threw my hands up and said, basically, "fuck it… Play now." And when I got to the edge of the room, I turned around and shouted "And you BETTER NOT FUCK UP, EITHER!" Yes, I was wrong for saying that, but damnit, I was pushed way over my tolerance level. I could've cared less about embarrassing him at that moment. I was fucking embarrassed. I felt belittled AND betrayed. So I shouted that statement at the top of my lungs, then walked away.

All in all, those two never played. They both got pissed and left. Neither of them was willing to understand that I don't make the rules of the club. If the owner says, "shut down at four," then I'm shutting down at four! They would've played to an empty room anyway… But you couldn't explain that to them. YES, I understand their feelings were hurt. I was a little disappointed for them myself! BUT… Being a professional in this business, I understand that sometimes these things happen. Both of them, up until this night, have called my house REPEATEDLY; blowing up my telephones, coming over to practice, etc. I even went WAY above and beyond what any normal person would've done for them… Hell… One of them, I picked out the records for his set. I offered to let him use my Serato, my laptop, MY tracks, everything… The other, I helped produce tracks, giving him more credit than I should've; as well as took him under my wing – against the wishes of nearly everyone I know. Did they appreciate my efforts? NO!

So this is why I called this blog "Lost & Found." Because while I may have LOST money on this party – I lost more money than I care to repeat – I FOUND out who was REALLY in it for the love, and who was really only looking out for themselves. I lost two people who I thought were my friends – but I FOUND that they weren't really my friends in the first place. And I KNOW that sounds cliché, but let me say this… It's the truth. I'm not upset about this. In fact, I'm thankful. I've never felt more successful in Detroit. I've NEVER been shown so much love and appreciation for my talents. …and I've NEVER seen things more clearly than I do right now. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

A final note… To the fan who "didn't want to be THAT GUY…" I appreciated your words and sentiments that night. I told you that YOU are the reason why I continue to do this music, and I meant it. I still mean it! You came to support my party, you bought my album, you bought a T-shirt, but most of all, you took the time to TALK TO ME. You've inspired me. Believe it or not, your words encouraged me… And the reason why I am so thankful that the W.A.R.M.T.H. party continued, despite the small crowd, is because people like YOU were there to show the love – so I believe it exists. Thank you.



Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Album Track Listing

Just because I can't wait... :-)

Just to tease you a little bit -- hey, y'all know me... :-) I'm gonna list the tracks:

Bittersoulfulsweet Intro (feat. Bruno Q.)
I Refuse
As a Threat
Interlude - Bambi
Down Revisited (yes, I re-did it... and it's effing FABULOUS!)
Forbidden (duet with Khan)
Interlude - Jennifer
Lady (That Girl)
Body 2 Sweat
Wash It Revisited (I couldn't help it, y'all...)
Nothing On Me
The Mirror
If There is a Heaven
Alright (Revival Mix) (Duet with Veronique)
Dirtyfilthysexi (Vocal Mix)
BONUS TRACK: If There is a Heaven (Daniel Kyo Remix)

YES, YES, YES!!! SEVENTEEN tracks on this record. And you KNOW how hard I've been working on it. Two more days, y'all... I'm praying that you like it as much as I LOVED making it. It is NOT Detrevolution... It is NOT Uncloseted... It is NOT STORM... And I am gonna STFU now. ...sitting here smiling and screaming to myself...

Those who can't get it from the festival, can order it online -- SATURDAY. I'll be back with the link, blah blah blah...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Almost TIME!

I am SO excited, y'all... This weekend, the album FINALLY drops!!! (have you heard the tunes on my Myspace page?)

Can't wait..


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Murphy's Law Experience

Oh goodness, Murphy's Law was in full effect yesterday. For those who don't know what it is, Murphy's Law simply states "If something can go wrong, it will go wrong." And yesterday was a prime example...

Quickly running through these subjects (which I'm actually OVER, but I still feel the need to blog about it), here's a rundown of yesterday:

1. After yet another e-mail from a "fan" who says, "I love your music... Can you please SEND me the tracks on your player (for free), I caved in and obliged. Why, you ask? Who knows... Maybe I was feeling pretty good at the moment, and thought "what the hell... why not make someone's day?" I do that from time to time. But anyway, I met up with him online, and the caption under his screen name says -- quite boldly -- "WHITE PRIDE FOR LIFE!!!" It took everything I had, not to throw this damn computer out of the window. But I kept my cool... I figured, maybe this was just a test from above... I reasoned with myself, "He's not racist... He's just proud to be white!" In that respect, I understand how some people feel when they see slogans like "Black Pride," etc... But that's still a sore subject for a LOT of people. Minorities can get away with it, but whites can't. Weird. But then again, should whites be able to? Considering the history, and the fact that we STILL haven't gotten past that ignorance... I don't get it. Whatever... MY solution? Everybody should just start fucking EVERYBODY, so we all become mixed. No more "this race" or "that race." We'll all be one multi-racial culture, living in harmony. Ahh, if only it were so... But moving on...

2. I spent hours preparing for a show, which I was leery about attending in the first place. I dodged phone calls and ignored messages, saying "Hey, you're playing for _________... Are you SURE you're gonna get paid?" I figured they were just being ignorant, although I wondered why they would take the time to CALL ME and ASK ME that... Made me wonder. Hmmm... This IS the same person who threw the party I went to a couple years back -- the one that got raided... SHOULD I be afraid? But my need for the money overshadowed my fear of arrest... In fact, I remember when ______ first asked me to play. The first thing they say was, "and don't worry.. I'll pay you!"

So anyway, I wasn't scheduled to play until 2 a.m.. I arrived at the party nearly an hour before. Mind you, I don't go out "just for the sake of going out..." So it was nice to see and be seen again. I took lots of pictures, had a few good conversations (Hello SECURITY!!!), and even ran into "Chris" (I swore his name was David) -- the guy who'd lost his mother, but came to the club the same night to hear me spin. I'll NEVER forget him.

2 a.m., I walk onto the stage. Immediately, I notice that one of the CDJs weren't working! (Great, right?) I kid you not, it was so hard to keep my cool on stage, while guy after guy fiddled with the equipment, trying to get things to work. Granted, I had ANOTHER CD playing... (It wasn't mixed, but I transitioned between the tracks as fast as I could!) The crowd was dancing, but I was still embarrassed. Finally, they got BOTH decks working. By this time, I was promised that I'd still get my full hour to play. The next DJ (who I shall not name, damn him), comes up to me -- after I successfully mixed TWO tracks, and says "you've got ONE MORE SONG, then it's MY turn!" Now, again... It took all I had, not to bitch slap his selfish ass... After all, the crowd was dancing. I know he was itching to DJ, but damn... Did he have to stand on stage right next to me, with his headphones in hand, waiting to intercept the next record?! YES, the hell he did... Because I'd had enough of watching him check his cell phone, make weird faces and TELL ME how many more tracks I have left to play before he takes over...

Fuck it. I'd spun for maybe a total of 20 minutes, but I was done. I couldn't take it anymore. So I gave the baby his place on stage, and I gracefully bowed out. I figured I'd just get my pay, go home, and forget about his antics...

...until I discovered that I was NOT getting paid. They were under the impression that I agreed to play as a "favor..." ...uh, yes, it WAS a favor, considering that the only reason why __________ asked me to play in the first place, was because their "MAIN HEADLINER" was double-booked that night...

Now, I'll say this. One VERY GOOD thing happened last night. I'd finally met up with someone I'd been speaking with on MySpace for a long time... He'd come down to see me, and he actually helped me keep my cool during all of this madness. Not to mention, he gave me one of the biggest, most sincere hugs I'd received in YEARS...

That was last night. Or should I say, early this morning... Right now, as I write this blog, I laugh at myself. One, because I know that I ALLOW these things to happen to me sometimes... If I DJ or perform with NO contract or deposit, this is how I get treated. (Never again!) But I won't turn this into a huge rant... Y'all know me. I just have to tell it like it is...

Today will definitely be better -- there, I said it. I'm putting it out in the universe... TODAY will be a BETTER DAY... I will have the clarity to keep people and things in perspective. Those who aren't healthy for me, have no damn place in my life. Murphy's Law was yesterday. AC's Law is TODAY.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Here I Am...

I know, sometimes I get a little crazy in my posts. One minute, I'm writing a song. The next minute, I'm bitching about the day... Or excited about what's to come... Or whatever. Tonight is a mixture of everything, I suppose... It's just how I feel.

1. Bittersoulfulsweet... Life has thrown me some serious curve balls lately! I promised the world that I'd have this album released May 24th, and damnit, I AM. The finished CDs should be here just in time for DEMF. Which is wonderful for me, since I'm performing there on Sunday the 25th. But in addition, I will have an "official" CD release party in Las Vegas! I SO wanna move to Vegas, and the more I stay in Detroit, the better Vegas looks to me. But then again, the kids like our current house. And I'm feeling "rooted." Hell... I'll be 35 years old this August. I'd like to plant some roots SOMEWHERE! (Maybe I'll rent a timeshare in Vegas or something...)

2. W.A.R.M.T.H... The organization that I started. I didn't realize how much work would be involved! Not that I'm afraid to work, it's just hard to tackle everything alone. As you know, I'm compiling a CD for distribution at DEMF, that features everyone on the W.A.R.M.T.H. party lineup. DJ Bone, Gary Martin, Myself, Alton Miller... this CD is gonna be wonderful!!! I probably won't keep it exclusively to the organization after DEMF, but I will definitely use the proceeds to help the organization -- it's going to be a non-profit organization. I'll explain more about that later...

3. Life in general just seems to be strange... My circle of "friends" seem to be changing, and things seem to be happening beyond my control. Instead of complaining, I'll just acknowledge it and leave it alone...

I guess today is just one of those days when I need a big hug and lots of love. I know it's been a while since I've written last, but I promise to write more soon...


Friday, May 02, 2008

The NEW Aaron-Carl Experience

Same time, Fridays @ 7PM EST... This time, it's uncensored, and unrestricted. ...and boy, do I have some shit to say tonight!!!

See u there.. AC