An Apology To Camper And 2 Questions For Readers

image from www.filmwad.com Any one who knows me or reads Hypebot regularly knows that I'm far from being the kind of mean and angry music guy who goes all Lefsetz on people. So it was a bit of a shock when none other than Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven's extremely talented leader David Lowery started calling me a "dumb ass", "drool-cupish" (I'm still not sure what that is, but I'll bet it's not nice.") and worse in the comments section of a post I wrote about his band CVB soliciting fan donations for a showcase at SXSW.  I did give the band "credit for coming up with a novel approach ($100 to sponsor each song in their set) plus a fun payback for the fans"; but I also questioned if it was the best use of the artist / fan relationship.

To be fair, what set Lowery off the most was that I misread some of the band's plea to fans. I thought he was trying to raise $7000 and to be accurate they were only asking for $3500.  But, while I respect that CVB knows their fans better than I do and has every right to ask them for anything they want, somehow going to SXSW to be one of 5000 bands performing didn't seem to me to fit in the same category as, for example, donating to help record an album that you get a copy of to enjoy forever. So, having said all of that, I do want to sincerely apologize to David Lowery and the wonderful Camper Van Beethoven for my mistake.

2 Questions For Hypebot Readers:
  1. What do you think of CVB's request for funds to go to SXSW?
  2. And, with full acknowledgment that we're all just trying to figure out what works and what doesn't in the new music industry landscape, should I continue to call 'em as I see 'em – good or bad; right or wrong? 

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  1. 1. I had the same thoughts as you. I hope that SXSW show pays off for them because any show that leaves you -$3500 better have some other perks.
    2. YES! Don’t stop.

  2. Definitely call ’em as you see ’em. And, your rss feeds seem to be messed up (i.e. not working on macs).

  3. Bruce,
    Don’t have second thoughts about your judgement as your instincts continue to be right on. Call ’em as you see ’em – the good, bad and the ugly!

  4. How relevant is CVB really anymore? How would playing a show at SXSW really help them get better visibility when there are bands that actually have some buzz playing out there?
    Your commentary is top notch, insightful and well done. Don’t be afraid to be a little brash- it’s the music biz, after all.

  5. 2nd question first: I didn’t think your post was overly negative, at least not in proportion to the response. I got the feeling Lowery et al were upset more by the comments (some of which *were* overly negative), and took it out on you. Anyway, I definitely say keep calling it like you see it!
    I think the request for funds was perfectly reasonable — it read more like a sponsorship deal than ‘begging’. I’m sure some CVB fans have businesses etc, and might like the idea of having exposure at SXSW. If I were a fan, I can’t imagine I’d have participated, but I wouldn’t have been offended by the suggestion…

  6. I think you’re job is to call it as you see it – right or wrong. Obviously you want to get all of the facts before spouting off a firm opinion (or at least it seems prudent to do so). However, I don’t think you need to be afraid of controversy. It’s an opinionated world and not everyone is going to agree with you. Shouldn’t encourage silence. I’m NOT advocating controversy for controversy’s sake.. just saying that you don’t need to try to steer clear of it. Let the oil bubble… disagreement often leads to greater discovery.

  7. Check your facts before you post (and check your spelling, too).
    Jon Balls

  8. You should call it as you see it. It’s your responsibility to do so! Someone is bound to be upset by what you say, no matter what. If no one questioned anything we would be still scratching our heads just like the 4 majors are

  9. Bruce, it would help if you explained why you are apologizing. What did you get wrong, other than the amount of the fund-raising goal? And was it so wrong, and your tone so negative, that Lowery needed to flame in the comments section?
    I think the fan-funded Austin trip was a good idea. I’m not sure how it will be executed and received by fans, but I like the idea. Marillion has done it. Autovaghn (a rock band from Nashville) has done it. More bands should do it.

  10. Hey Bruce,
    1. I think the funding is not really the way I would go, or tell our artists to go. Why not have a fire sale of old merch to their mailing list, or create a product/value to the fans that care about the fans. Dedicating a song seems shallow, especially since they have a dedicated fan base.
    2. Keep calling em as you see em. That’s what this whole space is about.

  11. “should I continue to call ’em as I see ’em – good or bad; right or wrong?”
    What works great for this site is that you guys are Johnny on-the-spot for news and events. I visit because it’s a great (the best?) news aggregator for the subject at hand (new music business). I don’t really find much value in adding the opinionated slant (or rant) and most of the time it’s actually a bit of a turn off. (kind of why I refuse to watch FOX or MSNBC news reporters anymore. ie: @FOX/MSNBC: “Who are these guys and why the hell should I care what *they* think?”)
    I think you guys should focus your intentions a bit for 2010 and decide: are you going to be a kick-ass aggregator of all things “new music biz”, or are you going to be a op-ed blog mixed with news reporting. I don’t think you can be truly great at both.

  12. This second, front-paged apology smells like an attempt to ward off a lawsuit. Mr. Lowery and CvB haven’t got a legal leg to stand on — see TIMES VS. SULLIVAN on the standard required to win a libel case if the plaintiff is a public figure, which Mr. Lowery and his band are.
    A math mistake based on some unclear source writing — $7000 asked vs. $3500, based on whether there were two set lists of 35 songs each, or two set lists totalling 35 songs — doesn’t even begin to approach the standards of recklessness and malice required under SULLIVAN.
    (Or, suing because of the commenters? That doesn’t work very often: see “Section 230 Safe Harbor.” And I reread the comments, and Mr. Lowery seems mostly to object to O.R.G. stating his opinion that an SxSW appearance wasn’t a good marketing approach for a 25-year-old band. Damned if I can see anything objectionable about that opinion.)
    However, even a nuisance, groundless lawsuit can be ruinous to a simple blogger, so. And, of course, I Am Not A Lawyer. If, in real life, a suit has been threatened, reach out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU.
    To answer our host’s questions:
    1) Raising money from the fans? I believe eventually we are going to have to move to a patron/tip jar culture, and this is just one aspect of that. It’s not my call whether a trip to SxSW merits tapping the fans.
    2) Of course you should call ’em, why else would we read the blog?

  13. 1. Greg Rollett’s answer is especially apt for a band of their age, fanbase and depth of content.
    2. PLEASE keep calling them as you see them!!! Your opinion and information is FAR more interesting and infinately more helpful than some aging rock douche name dropping and reminding me of their year end poll results of 2004.

  14. Bruce you are 100% correct, please continue to call ’em as you see ’em.
    If CVB are really that desperate to go to SXSW and perform it truly shows how out of touch they are.
    SXSW is no longer a breaking ground for acts, it’s a cash cow for the organizers and Austin, TX (power to ’em).
    Fans are the only reason acts survive or die by the wayside – pay more attention and take care of loyal fans year round NOT when just you need them to do something for you…hello CVB.

  15. this has been blown out of proportion, but there is plenty of negativity in the world, so stick to the facts and your readers are smart enough to draw their own conclusions.

  16. Thanks for your comments and support. FYI – The apology is not because I’m afraid of a lawsuit – its because I made a mistake on the amount that the band is asking for.

  17. Any band has the right, ( like you stated) to ask for anything they wish from their fanbase. And the fans have the right to give.
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.
    What DOES amaze me is what some will do for their minute of fame. Some even going as far as sponsoring their favorite tune.
    ALWAYS call ’em like YOU see them. Never back down from your viewpoint just to please others. Yeah, some may call you “dumb ass”, “drool-cupish” ( what??) and maybe even worsse, but at least you are being true to your beliefs.

  18. Why the hell does everything think Lefsetz is such a music biz genious? AFAICT, he is very good at playing the (loud and obnoxious) Monday morning quarterback (“The fuKKing labels are fukking stoopid!!!”), but has never had any real substantive, forward moving advice for anyone. I followed him for a while and the best he could come up with was that bands need to essentially become roving t-shirt salesmen. Okaayyy.
    Again: Are you a news site or are you a P.R. agency who happens to dabble in news reporting as well? I don’t get it. And if it’s the latter… please list some (hopefully impressive) credentials someplace so your readers know just how much value to place in your opinion.

  19. Last time I checked SXSW was where all the bands go that are not good enough to play in the real world. F’em.

  20. Well coming from an indie record label at SXSW gives you cred and a whole lot of salesmen pushing their products upon you. If you want to go to SXSW, by all mean go. And ask your fans, but don’t pitch it as the thing that will help you “make it big”. I love the relationships we built, but like most things in the music industry they are built on nothing more than illusion. Will I attend SXSW? Yes. Do I encourage bands to as well? Yes. Is it worth spending $3500 for at the expense of other things? Heck no! For me it is a great way to enjoy music and meet people. So sorry guys you are not getting a $1 from me for your vacation fund.
    Call it like you see it. I like my hypebot feed because it is balanced. I feel like we are figuring things out together so I trust the discussion to always at some point, now or in the future, to end positively.

  21. I, in turn, apologize for suggesting that your apology was anything more than a sincere desire to correct an error.

  22. Just because an idea is coming from the indie side does not make it good and everything should be worthy of examination. The manner in which folks behave in such interactions is very telling. Always question.
    as far as sxsw, a band that cannot afford to go will need more than just the entry fee to follow up on any opportunities that might present themselves there. There is so much more to making anything viable than just getting up on stage.

  23. David is an american treasure. You digital folks carry on as if you invented the internet. But you have no experience with the heart, soul and cash that goes into music creation. Content Hustling has nothing to do with rock and roll. Go make a record, market it, attempt to get people to buy it. play it, spin it – and then report back.

  24. I think it’s great what they’ve done. You’re right that if they’d thought it out, they could have chosen a “better” cause, but the fact is, it’s a learning phase: the whole industry is learning. And while the rest of us are bleeding money, they took the initiative, ENGAGED THEIR FANS, and took home a small victory. And next time, they’ll do it a little better.
    By which point, they’re 2 steps ahead of many of us.
    Ah, if the press hung me out to dry for every small mistake… 😉
    gotta start somewhere…

  25. I really lost all respect I had for David Lowery because of his petty, prissy responses to your post. He never really said what his motivation for this “promotion” was, because really, it was just a way to save a few bucks. It’s one of the worst examples of fan-funded engagement, and you called it 100%: – don’t regret that and don’t change.
    If David Lowery truly had the balls and brains he claims to in his posts, he would have changed the negativity to a positive, and started a productive dialogue with the Hypebot community about engagement. Instead he flamed like a 15 year old boy, and got his friends to beat you up. Wussbag move.
    But hey, when you take a shot at an artist, whether or not you’re wrong or right, chances are their fans are going to flame you.

  26. Well I have to say that when I first saw 7000 to go to sxsw I thought that was a bit high… but I definitely agree that it would be better to spend that money on a cd!!!
    About the mistake (7000-3500) everybody makes one… just keep doing what you do, you’re terrific!!!

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