Friday, April 27, 2007

Radio Show

The Razor and Die show was a ton of fun. This was our first time on a radio show, and especially playing live.

We spent about an hour getting the sound straight, and practicing the songs. It's strange when you play for radio, because you can't see your audience. Although we're used to recording, normally, when you record, it's not live. You can go back if you make a mistake. Instead, we had two mics in the middle of the room that we were singing towards.

The saxophones, especially the Bari sax, were so loud compared to the rest that they had to be played from another room. Normally, when they're played with the band, are drowned out.

After we finished the sound check, we literally wrote two more songs for Song of the Day while we were in the band room. Next time we make it to the studio, we'll record full versions of them.

The interview was quick, and over before we knew it. We'll be posting the show soon. We want to thank Razor and Die for inviting us!

Now, don't forget to come to tomorrow's show at the Abbey Pub to see us live if you are in Chicago

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

BT Live on the Radio

We're just going into the studio tonight to do some final rehearsing for the live radio show that we'll be doing tomorrow, Thursday, April 26th at 11:15 CST.

This is the first time that we have ever played live on the radio, and we're excited for the experience. We can't wait. We'll get some photos, and we'll also write a blog about our experience afterwards.

If you are alive and on the internet tomorrow at 11:15 CST, tune in. You can stream it from

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Death and Rebirth of Web Radio

Web Radio, often called webcasting, is likely going to die. This isn't necessarily news for indie musicians at this point, as we lost out on it years ago due to overregulation. There's a reason why you don't hear indies talking about webcasting much. Most webcasters nowadays are terrestrial radio stations that are simulcasting their feed on the internet. The other ones are usually affiliated with larger organizations like which handles the paperwork, some of the cost, and the requirements that the original agreement imposed on webcasters. This first agreement took what was a groundswell of excitement and technological innovation and basically quashed it.

The current news is that webcasting is being burdened with costs so high it will make it infeasible for stations to exist profitably. There was a recent hearing appealing these rate hikes, and the appeal was rejected. See here and here for some good articles on the topic. The rate hikes are as much as 300 to 3000 percent.

We aren't writing this little editorial entirely unsympathetic to the copyright holders. From their point of view--which we find understandable, actually--is that it is their music and creative work that is giving these internet radio stations listeners. They are used to having an income stream related to playing their music. And if there's a new way to basically broadcast it without people needing to pay for it, it will reduce their income to nearly zero quickly. We've heard some people say things like: "Why don't you do some REAL work like playing live." We know that they are not musicians. Call us any day, and if we're available, we could play a live show that night, no problem. Now, call us and ask us to write and record an album. We can't get it done in a night, that's for sure. And the equipment for recording is more expensive than what it costs us to put together a live show. In short, it's hard to write and record music. Some people seem to believe that just because it's easy to copy means that it's easy to create. It's not, and musicians deserve to be rewarded for their hard work.

But what the music industry has never done well is taking advantage of new technologies quickly. They even had a lot of trouble when piano rolls were first created. And radio, for that matter. But the internet is probably going to be the death blow. It will be impossible for the industry to make money off of recorded music any more in the future. Still, more than a few people believe that they made the costs of the webcasting licenses so prohibitively high because they feared this new technology. If they really wanted to, they could have left the rates reasonable to let this technology emerge.

What has saved web radio and given it a rebirth is podcasting. The energy and desire of the thousands of people who wanted their own radio show (remember them? The ones driving this technology revolution?) just turned to podcasting instead, which also can infringe music rights, but is in essence unregulatable because of the simplicity of the technology.

Naturally, the major players also work hard to keep their music off of podcasts too. They want to make money off of that medium as well. Again, we can't blame them for trying to protect their income streams. They have been quite aggressive about going after any of their music being shared, and are unafraid to litigate, as we have seen by their legal campaign against file sharers. Most podcasters don't want to use major label music because of this, and are looking for non-infringing alternatives.

This is where indie bands come in. It's such a perfect marriage: Podcasters need music to play, and indie bands need places to get played that the major players can't shut them out of. What indies got was even better than that: the major players are actively keeping the entire medium of podcasting pristine of their music.

We never thought we'd say this, but thank you RIAA.

In the meantime, we want to give a message to podcasters: If you need music, we're happy to provide it. You are creating the new spirit of radio on the web, and we will support you in any ways that you need.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another Busy Weekend

This weekend saw Beatnik Turtle working on website updates, new pages to make it easier for podcasters, some music, a finalization of the All In A Day's Work album so that we could send it to, and a big rehearsal for the International Pop Overthrow and the Razor and Die Show. We also started planning the albums January, February, and...what's the third again? We always forget. Oh yeah, "March." Unfortunately, lots of work to do on them, but we're trying to get radio demo versions done of those albums so that Razor and Die can have them for their radio shows.

Tonight and tomorrow, we'll be doing more work on the new podcaster section of our websites, and we hope to release it shortly. We promise there'll be a big post about podcasting and Beatnik Turtle soon. In short: We want to make it as easy as possible for podcasters to get music, because they can't really use RIAA music. So we've licensed ours as podsafe, and we'll happily send a high-quality version to podcasters if they ask. We're trying to simplify it for them.

And lots of other things. You have only to look at our earlier post to see what we're up to.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our Current Projects

For those that are interested in just knowing the projects that we have going on, from a backstage standpoint, I wanted to do a quick entry to talk about all of the things that we have going on now. It seems that every day, there's some progress on some front or another, because of the number of band members that we have working on different aspects of these projects.

IPO Show: We're spending time rehearsing and developing a setlist for the International Pop Overthrow. Most of the music is new and much of it is based off of our new album, All In A Day's Work. We're also getting the rust out of playing live, as we haven't played on stage since the last IPO, one year ago.

Razor and Die Show: We are truly excited about our first live in-studio radio performance, and are continuing to rehearse unplugged versions. There will be just four of us in the studio for the show, which is much less than the 8 that we usually have on stage!

Indie Band Survival Guide: We've long wanted to have a method of publishing interviews, and articles related to the IBSG. There's an entire new website coming that will allow us to do this. As of now, it's installed, but we need to brand it, and work out some of the details.

Google Gadget: We're trying to make a Google gadget for Song of the Day. We will hopefully have one out soon.

Song of the Day: We are constantly writing new songs, but since we're busy rehearsing, they are only stub songs, for the most part. We'll work on them later. We actually will be glad when the IPO is done, because we want to get back to the studio to do more songwriting. We've got quite a few more songs to do if we're going to meet our goal.

Beatnik Turtle website: We have longer term plans for the Beatnik Turtle website that will eventually require a redesign. As it is, we've been modifying the front page to be easier to post multimedia, such as Videos and more audio. We also updated it to have radio players for our recent two albums in addition to the mix of songs we used to have. We also added our twitter feed. We may modify the design further as we go. Eventually, we'll be redoing the entire site again

Publicity: We're working on getting someone to help with publicity. We have exhausted all of our own resources, and want to get the word out further. Let's face it, we only have 8 months left! We need to get the word out while we're in the middle of this, and we're literally too busy writing music to do a good job of getting the good word out there.

Blog: We've added this blog to the Song of the Day website. We'll also make it a little more prominent in the BT website soon. Right now, it's really buried.

Twitter: If you like, and want to know what Beatnik Turtle is doing at absolutely every moment of the day, go here, and feel free to follow us. We try to update it when we work on band stuff, when we rehearse, and when we record.

RPM Album: The album art, liner notes, final mastering, and UPC code for the new All In A Day's Work album is now done. We will be submitting this to the music stores very shortly. It unfortunately takes a month or so after that for the album to actually be available. More news on this when we get it, but our work is largely done, and the rest goes out of our hands.

Song of the Day Albums: We are preparing albums for each month of Song of the Day. It takes time, because, as we mentioned for the above album, we need to mix the albums, master them, create the art, get UPC codes, and all of the other stuff that you put into an album. It's a lot of work, and in particular, it's a lot of work on top of everything else. But we'll try to get those out soon, because we know that people would like those songs.

The Song of the Day Website: More than a few people have asked us to provide a radio stream of all songs on Song of the Day. For a number of reasons, that's a time-consuming process. Because this is the backstage blog, I'll let you in on why:

  1. All of the songs have our podcast bumper on them. We need entirely different MP3's for this without the bumper, and they are not prepared yet. This takes time.

  2. We need to create a player, and make a playlist for it that makes sense. We have this technology, but it would probably take about four or five hours of work to get this straight.

  3. We'd like to provide some voice over work to connect the songs, and provide breaks from the music.

So we'd like to do this, but for now, it's a little lower priority than some of the other projects above.

Also, we're working on a new part of the Song of the Day website for podcasters, as there are a number that have wanted our music. We want to make it easier for them to get our songs. We love podcasters, and we want to help solve their music problems. They can't use RIAA music, and thus, need to get a source of music that is licensed for podcast use. All of Beatnik Turtle songs are, but we need to simplify the process that they get the music from us. More on this later in a blog post soon.

Commissions: We have a number of commissions queued up, and we haven't quite had the time to tackle them. We expect to be able to do so once the IPO is over, as we need to write more Song of the Day music anyway, and these all count as songs for the project, as well as helping someone else.

So, we're busy busy busy as you can see. Just thought you might want to know what we're up to.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Rehearsing for IPO

Last night, the band got together for a second time to rehearse in the studio for the International Pop Overthrow scheduled for April 28th at 4:30 at Abbey Pub. We also put together some "unplugged" versions of our songs on for the Razor and Die radio show where we will be playing live on the air, scheduled for Thursday, April 26th at 11:15 AM.

We have been working in the studio for for so long, it's literally been a year since we all got together in one room to play music. Most of our music is made piecemeal in the studio over the course of months. So it was a challenge as we got together to generate a setlist for the show, because we wanted to play a bunch of the new songs that we released on the RPM Album "All In A Day's Work" and also songs that we had only played on The Song of the Day.

Now, the ironic thing about recording music is that if you wrote it and recorded it close together, you might have only played a melody just once. And when you sang it, you had a lyric sheet in front of you. We literally had to figure out our own songs. The horn players were fumbling to figure out the notes of parts that sounded so confident on the recording. Not to mention, some of the songs had band members doubling, tripling, or more on their own parts, and they could only play one part on one instrument at a time. We had to make "live" versions of our songs.

To our surprise, those songs came together just great, and for those who can come to the show, you'll get a chance to hear a lot of new music, with unique instrumentation and a live twist. We're finding that we can perform more of the Song of the Day songs live than we thought.

I think that the best part of both of the practices have been the times where we were working on the unplugged set. We had to take songs that have full drum parts, electric guitar, and a chorus of voices, and do it with just the four people who are going to the radio studio. We did those in the living room next to our studio, sitting on the floor until late at night last night. Not only are we happy with how they sound, we actually have more songs ready than we can even play in that short set, and may just hijack an open mic night at a cafe so that we can do more of these unplugged versions.

With these live performances looming, our studio recording and writing production is really dropping off. We have found through our history that recording and playing live are both different "gears" and we can't easily do both at once. When the show is over, we will have to dig in to the studio to catch up and write more songs. We have quite a few more to do in order to meet our goal of releasing one for every day of 2007.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A New Video

Last night, our friends at Stone Face Productions graciously allowed us to use their facility in Evanston to film a new video. This one is for a song that will be released in April. Jason, Randy, Tom, and Ted were all there, and helped out with the video, as well as appearing in a few frames.

But the stars of the video aren't people at all - they're all puppets.

It turns out that Ted knows someone who does puppetry, and created Muppet-like characters for the video. We also had a green-screen, so the final result should turn out to be quite interesting. We were laughing most of the time at what they were doing with the characters. It was just filmed last night, so there's a whole lot of post production from here. Ted's got a lot of work ahead of him. He was the main driver for this video, so he deserves a lot of credit for setting this up, and doing all of the pre-work to make this happen. And looking at the puppets, which were custom-made, there was plenty of setup for this one.

We can't wait to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What We Want To Know About the EMI/iTunes Deal...

EMI has decided to be the first major label to release their music DRM free from iTunes. What we want to know is: When can WE as an indie band sell our own music DRM-free on iTunes?

Our feelings about DRM are spelled out nicely here. We only put our music on sites that have DRM as a convenience to people, in case they want to purchase it that way. For those that want to buy our music, we recommend non-DRM sites, such as But iTunes, like it or not, is really the 900-pound gorilla. Most of our online sales comes from them, and their overseas affiliates. And since they did not allow us to choose, our music is burdened with their filthy DRM.

I hope they decide to give us the option to remove it soon.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Joe Murphy

We found out yesterday that Joe Murphy, the person that Mason Rocket was written for, lost his battle with cancer on April 1st. Based on the outpouring of messages on the internet, he was beloved by many many people. We wish that we had gotten to know him. But we are glad that we were able to give him and others some cheer by writing the song.

We had actually scheduled Mason Rocket for today's song at The Song of the Day previous to the news, and only found out afterwards. But this means that we can highlight the memorial fund set up in Joe's name found at We did so in the song notes, and want to mention it again here.