Jetplane Landings's Independent Ethics - Kissing Just for Practice Review
With BMG, EMI and Sony now accounting for 75% of the world's record sales it's basically down to survival of the fittest for everyone else. These days it can be very tough for rock and alternative bands to make a name for themselves. If music isn't handed to you on a plate via mainstream radio stations and television shows then most people just aren't interested. When record labels aren't satisfied with the amount of record sales a certain band or artist attains they drop them. Some bands can't cope with this and end up splitting. Others are passionate about their music and are intent on getting it heard, so either sign to an independent label or do it themselves.
Right from the very beginning Jetplane Landing have always released their own records. Two members of the band, Andrew Ferris and Jamie Burchell, created their own record label entitled 'Smalltown America' a few years ago. Recently they have helped to release various records by promising British bands and also help people to discover some of the best new music around. Having just released 'Public Service Broadcast #6', a twenty four track compilation CD packed with examples of bands who should have and need your support, for the bargain price of £5 (with all proceeds going directly into making the next edition of the CD), these are people who couldn't care less about how many millions of records are sold. It's all about the music and the bottom line is good music needs to be heard.
Jetplane Landing were formed from the ashes of a band Andrew and Jamie were originally in, called Cuckoo, who were signed to Geffen records at the time. Andrew first met Jamie years ago at an audition for Cuckoo in London. The band needed a bass player and Jamie won. Andrew and Jamie played together for about a year until Cuckoo sadly split up. Soon afterwards Andrew moved to London where he and Jamie started writing material and decided to record their songs. Jamie's brother, Raife, conveniently plays the drums so they asked him to play on their songs and these very songs later became their debut album, 'Zero for Conduct'. When you're in a band one of the most important aspects is playing live and so they asked Raife to play some gigs with them, booked a tour and off they went. After playing three tours as a three piece and having always wanted to be a four piece, they asked a good friend, Cahir (from a band called Clearshot) to help them out. Things went well, with Andrew having less guitar work to do, enabling him to concentrate more on singing and playing, and Cahir has been with them ever since.
Past experiences with record companies caused a feeling of mistrust and the band didn't want to place their music in the unsafe hands of any greedy record executives. This, combined with a mild arrogance and incentive that they could, made them decide to do everything themselves. To deal with all the work Andrew and Jamie split tasks up a bit. Andrew basically runs the record side of things while Jamie manages gigs and bookings, both running their ideas by each other so everything is agreed on. As well as Andrew and Jamie, they have a few well-trusted people who help them out. These people have been encountered over the past couple of years as things have gone along and it's safe to say that it really couldn't be done without them.
Despite all the hard work the rewards are more than satisfying. Jetplane Landing are able to control the records they put out. There's none of the heavy label pressure, so often put upon artists these days, to make mainstream music for the soul objective to sell records and make the executives rich. No, the band are able to choose the tracks, production, appearance and everything else. After all, music isn't meant to be fake, it's there to have meaning, expression and is a form of communication. Bands who are signed to major labels may think they have a large say in what goes, but when it comes down to it if the record label doesn't like a certain aspect of their record then they either have to make the changes or it won't be released.
Things can get pretty heated when something doesn't go your way and this is why a lot of bands don't tend to last very long. On the other hand, like on Jetplane Landing's level, if things go well for your band you can take all the credit and receive a great sense of personal pride. Similarly with touring; if your ethics as a band or artist are DIY based it gives you a real sense of connection with your audience and fans. There's no thought in the back of your mind telling you that something isn't true or just isn't you and there's no record company rubbish forming a barrier between you and your audience.
If you are a fellow musician and are keen on getting out there and doing it yourself then take heed. Creating a record doesn't have to cost much these days. Jetplane Landing's first album was recorded on an eight-track in Jamie and Raife's parents' garage. All you need to do is record your own record and commit yourself - don't wait for anyone to commit to you. You can invest in pressing a small run of your record and then play it to distributors, press agents, radio stations and as many people as you can. It is also advisable to book a tour. Live music is a great way to spread the word and gain support from members of the public. To book a tour all you need to do is send CDs to venues and then follow them up with phonecalls. You may only get ten gigs for every fifty CDs you send off but those ten gigs will definitely be worth it. Try to get on the bill wherever you can. At first you may not make any money, but to limit your losses you can always try selling your record at the gigs. The bottom line is commit to your record. Put in the time and effort to perfect a collection of your best songs and be sure that you're happy with them. Never give up trying either. It takes determination and hard work to make it as an independent band or artist, but in the end it will all be worth the effort.
- Kirsty, Kissing Just For Practise
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- Roe Valley Sentinel Features Smalltown America Nero Tour April 23, 2014
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