Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thoughts from within the long tail

From Andrew Drubber's essential ebook:

the more things you make available, the more things people will consume overall. sells more books than any other bookstore because it sells a greater range of books than any other bookstore.

Sometimes I describe my life (to myself, anyway) as a quest to make the perfect album. And it's always the same story when I get down to the final weeks of a given release: "Durkin, remember your quest! Are you gonna give that up, just to get this fucker finished now?"

Maybe I'm too impatient, but every time, despite my strongly-held ideal, I answer that question affirmatively. In a way, it's fortunate that, even though I have moved a good portion of the IJG CD production process to my basement, I still have to pay someone else to use their gear to produce the "official" version of each release. Without that ticking clock and steadily increasing bill, who knows if I'd ever get done with anything.

And in the end, it doesn't really matter. With a few weeks' distance (not to mention the inevitability with which each release takes on its own life once it goes out "into the world"), I always come back to find that the last few little things I would have done to a record if I had unlimited resources are actually pretty damned insignificant. Non-issues, even.

The point? I suspect that, in this new music world, prolific high-quality output trumps painstakingly-crafted sporadic output. Personally, that means the manic workaholic and the snail's-pace perfectionist in me have to find a place to meet and have lunch.

* * * * *


Regina Spektor. "Carbon Monoxide." Soviet Kitsch.

Note to self: wow.


Steve Lawson said...

Andrew - it's a constant wrestle for musicians, the perfection vs product - are you trying to create your masterwork, or are you getting your ongoing musical journey documented for the people who love what you do to enjoy? I think there's a balance, where you release the best examples of what you're up to, but don't hold to it in quite the precious way that Anton Webern did (his entire life's work fits on 6 CDs!) - so you're not releasing shit, but also not doing a Boston/Def Leppard/Blue Nile/Michael Manring and leaving 7 years between each release...

One idea would be to do a web-only series of downloads - live stuff, works in progress, collaborations etc. Just get the buzz happening.. :o)

Anonymous said...

"I suspect that, in this new music world, prolific high-quality output trumps painstakingly-crafted sporadic output."

At least in the world of illustration stuff, I can pretty much guarantee it. I know that the two worlds aren't inherently the same, but I suspect that you're right and that they are parallel (at least).

Andrew Durkin... said...

Thanks, guys!

Partly what I was saying too was that it's a matter of perspective -- i.e., where you are in the process informs how you view the work. Sometimes, in that last phase before finishing, you can psych yourself into needless postponement -- the aesthetic "fixes" that you have yet to complete might have more to do with fear about getting the thing out into the world, instead of anything that would actually improve it.

Or so I suspect.

Also: a lot of this has to do with how we view the idea of a "definitive" work. Personally, I never feel like any of my stuff is really finished (which is why there are 3 or 4 versions of some IJG tunes). That actually seems to fit better with the vibe of the 2.0 world -- as you are both suggesting.