Kenny Klein with Stapler

Kenny Klein with Stapler

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Your Musician Questions Answered

I am a professional musician (as you may know), and there are some questions I get asked all the time. Here are a few, with the answers, which may or may not be fact:

Questions About Me Specifically:

I have played every kind of music, in every kind of venue. Here are some points of confusion:

My favorite places to play are small, intimate settings. House concerts and small ren faire stages are the best. Irish bars are sometimes my least favorite, though here in NOLA I play at an Irish bar called The Kerry Irish Pub which I like a lot; I'm playing in a few weeks at the Plaza Pub in Texas. I'll let you know.

Yes, I have played music on cruise ships. No, they do not have Pagan music on cruise ships. I had to play Margueritaville and Sweet Home Alabama sixteen times a night like everyone else who plays on a cruise ship. You have not fully lived until you have seen hundreds of drunk obese redneck women in string bikinis.

I have played Country fiddle in bands all over the U.S. No, I will not play The Devil Went Down To Georgia for you. I learned to play Country music in, of all places, New York City, with a band called the New York Frets. I did play in a Missouri band called Eisel and the Heymakers (you can find them on youtube), who backed Clint Black's brothers Brian Black and Kevin Black. I have also played on CDs by some famous Country acts ( No, none of them played Pagan music.

Which in my odd logic leads us to:

Fiddle Questions:

There is no difference between a fiddle and a violin. They are different names for the same instrument. Fiddle comes from the German 'fythel,' violin from the Italian...well...'violin.' In the Renaissance, (somewhat arrogant) classical musicians distinguished themselves from folk musicians by using the Italian instead of the common Saxon/German name for the instrument. No, the Saxon/German fiddlers will not play The Devil Went Down To Georgia for you.

There are different playing styles used on the violin to get the sounds of a fiddle and the sounds of a violin. Generally, when playing Irish, Gypsy, Old Time Appalachian, Country or Bluegrass, one is playing 'Fiddle." When playing Classical, wedding music or Rock, one is playing 'Violin.' Opinions vary on Goth, Emo and Hungarian Oom-Pah.

No, that is not a machine gun in my fiddle case.

My favorite styles to play on fiddle are Western Swing, New Orleans Jazz/Jugband, and Old Time Appalachian. No, I will not play The Devil Went Down To Georgia for you. For that matter, no, The Devil Went Down To Georgia is, believe it or not, NOT the only song ever written with a fiddle part in it!! There are others! You just haven't heard them.

Renaissance Faire Questions (and you know who you are if you've ever asked me this):

No, Renaissance Faire acts do not all get in a train car together and ride to the next festival. We each have our own separate contracts with each individual renaissance festival; we sometimes turn up at several of the same faires in a given year because those are the faires that have hired us.

Just because I play music at a Renaissance Faire does NOT make me a "wandering minstrel." (For one thing, I play standing still). I'm more pre-minstrel.

Yes, thank you, Renaissance festival acts DO shower.

Yes, those elephants are real.

No, the Belly Dancers are not strippers. There is a strip club just down the road. It's none of your business how I know that.

No, I cannot tell you where the turkey legs are at, and no, I am not Moonie. Moonie is the guy standing right over there with a huge sign that says Moonie.

Yes, I'll be happy to sell you my CDs...which brings us to:

A Brief History of Musician Merchandising:

Do I get more money from the purchase of a physical CD or from a download? This is the question I really posted this to answer... I really get the same amount in the long run, depending on which site you download from. But I am happy with whatever I get. I just like people buying and listening to my music. It wasn't always this easy! Listen:

I began playing music professionally in the very late '70s (the dinosaur was extinct, but the mastodon was in its heyday). Then, if you wanted to have recordings or merchandise (merch) you had to be signed to a label. In the eighties I was signed to Kicking Mule Records, a small label run by the guy who had managed the band Country Joe and the Fish (they did the "Gimme An F" song in the Woodstock movie). But by the mid eighties there was a revolution in the music industry: cassette tapes!!! With this technology, any band or musician could record their music at a music studio (which then generally charged $25-$50/hr) and release it on cassette tape, which the act could sell at shows.

This meant that acts could manage their own finances. With the label system, you had to trust your label and your management. The Beatles and the Grateful Dead are both examples of bands whose label or management stole huge amounts of money from what individuals in the band were supposed to receive. (Kicking Mule never reported its European sales to its U.S. artists, and we lost a good deal of royalties). Now bands could handle their own sales, though without distribution of their product (cassettes), bands could not always reach a huge audience.

In the '90s this changed again. Enter the Compact Disc (CD). Now production became much simpler, and the sound quality better. They were also handier to cart around. And they were easier for radio stations to play than finding a song on a cassette tape! Most CD production services had a minimum order, usually 1,000, so the artist did have to shell out some bucks for both the recording and the initial order. It was not always a profitable situation, but it was a way to get your music out there.

The greatest advance in musicians controlling their own product came with the computer. By the early 2000s, you could record your own music using user-friendly recording software; you could create product on your own computer and printer; and you could market yourself on the Internet. This has become easier and easier, as services can now reproduce CDs with no minimum order, and websites offer download and sales packages.

The only problem is, getting people to listen to you in a sea of indie acts vying for attention on the Internet! This takes touring, promotion and mad marketing skills (which I sometimes don't feel I have).

So in a nutshell, I don't care where you download my music from, as long as you do! If you care about me getting the most $ from a download, get my stuff from . But really, iTunes or Napster or CD Baby are fine as well.

From NOLA, this is Kenny Klein explaining it all.

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