kaPOW! Dirtbag Endorsed Artists Create a Comic Book

dirtbag clothing interviews suburban vermin comics

 

We can all agree that 2017 is a strange time to be alive. A time wrought with scandal and tragedy on what seems to be a daily basis. While we all carry different perspectives and ideas about the past, present and future, Dirtbag Endorsed Artists, SUBURBAN VERMIN have given an artistic take on our modern day of weird. “TV HEAD NATION” is the name of their first ever comic book series, and it is being released alongside some new music from the band, as well as some other goodies and add-ins.

I had a chat with the band about the series.

So, you’ve created your own comic book series, and that automatically makes you cooler than 80% of all bands. Well done! Was any one of you responsible for the idea to create a comic series, or was it a whole-band concept?
The basic concept stems from a poster we had commissioned from artist Nathan Blu a number of years ago with the band depicted as super heroes. For our last record ‘Headless Over Heels’, we did a horror anthology comic with different artists for each song. For ‘TV Head Nation’ we we wanted to serialize the comic story as well as the music to match how music is consumed currently. There have been many contributions to the basic concept by the entire band and management, but the concept and stories were conceived and written by bassist/vocalist Jason Vermin. There also was some additional writing by Dan Rafter who has worked on the Gearz series.
What is the series all about?
Before the election last year when we started planning the comic series, there was a lot of fear about what the world would look like if the unthinkable happened. ‘TV Head Nation’ in a lot of ways is a reflection of a worst case scenario. There are some parallels that can be drawn to current events, but through a science fiction filter.
The series itself follows our hero Ramona trying to find her wife who has been abducted by an alien warlord and his empire. There are the band characters who help her out, but for the most part, it’s Ramona who is the driving force behind the comic. You get the sense the more you read how evil can spread and how that effects the different characters and the world they live in.
How many books will be in the series, and what does the release schedule look like?
There are technically three comics in this series, with Issue #1 being double length. The first half of issue one was initially released for free comic book day as Issue #0, but they ran out so quickly, we didn’t want anyone to pick up Issue # 1 and not have the full story as well as miss out on the songs that were included with that release. Issue # 2 will be released October 20th 2017. Issue # 3, we’re hoping December, but at the latest January.
In addition to “TV Head Nation,” we are releasing “Zombie Bloody Zombie,” a Suburban Vermin short story that takes place before the events of “TV Head Nation.” That’ll be out October 28th 2017 for Halloween ComicFest.
dirtbag_suburbanvermin
Who is the mastermind behind these awesome illustrations?
The illustrations are by Amy Fay, an artist out of the UK. She’s been amazing to work with and instrumental to the success that we’ve experienced with “TV Head Nation.” She will be working with us on the next set of comics.
Have you considered shopping it around, or maybe bringing it out to Comic-Con next year?
There are pros and cons to having an imprint or company try and help or take over the Suburban Vermin comics. It’s a lot like trying to find a record deal. You want to maintain creative control and not to have art decided by committee. The comics already have been a big boost to the music and we’ve gotten such a warm reaction. We’re still relatively inexperienced in the comic world, but already we’re getting some modest success doing things unconventionally.
As for comic conventions, we actually are stating to get into that scene. We’re making our con debut October 21-22nd at the Central City Comic Con in Yakima, WA. They already have some great guests and are really enthusiastic with working with us.
Next year, we’re going to be doing more conventions and balancing that schedule with our regular show schedule and with releases that we’re planning for potentially this time next year. We’re actively planning to expand our comic universe so right now we feel that conventions will become a big pillar in how we do things as a band.
And where can we buy this thing?!
If you’re in the Northwest you can buy the first issue from Comic Hut in Renton, WA. You can buy digital copies of the comics for your tablets along with mp3s from our website. We’re trying to workout a web solution for selling the physical copies online, but due to the nature of the project, we’d like to ensure that they reach people in good condition which can drive up the price for shipping with comics.
Another thing that all you Dirtbags can do out there is let your local conventions know that you want us there. We’re really keen on getting on the road, playing for all of you and getting you our comics as our comic universe expands. We’re really into contributing to the comic/geek culture instead of just using the comics as a gimmick for promoting the music. We also have trading cards that contain music, paper craft figures, board games, etc.
We’re all nerds, for me this is combining pretty much everything I’m nerdy for into the band. It’s all different ways to compliment the music.
Thanks for all the support!!
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Bob Lefsetz Explains Spotify

From: Bob Lefsetz <bob@lefsetz.com>
Subject: Spotify Payments
Date: January 11, 2017 at 11:07:35 AM PST

My inbox fills up with both the famous and infamous, the known and the irrelevant, bitching about Spotify payments, they think the Swedish company is the devil. They believe Daniel Ek got rich off the backs of musicians and this wrong must be righted, that there will be no harmony until he is dethroned and the service pays them a higher rate.

But Spotify is already paying out 69%+ of its revenues.

What’s the truth?

You’re being screwed by the label. And Spotify can’t say this, because the labels are their partners.

Of course there’s more to the story. Songwriters are getting the shaft, they are getting a lesser percentage than they deserve. And marginal artists are getting a tiny share of the pie. But assuming you’re playing for real, that people are actually listening to your music, that it’s not just posted on Spotify and hanging out in darkness, if you want to get paid cut out the middleman.

It’s kind of like what Amazon did. Getting rid of bricks and mortar (although they do have a couple of bookstores now, but really those are showrooms for Amazon products, flagship stores to display their wares, like the Sony store in New York, or the high-end outlets in Aspen). If you want to survive in the new world you’ve got to look at business differently. So, if you record and release your music independently, paying a one time distribution fee to Tunecore or the like, you’ll get all that revenue, assuming someone is listening.

Oh, Tunecore! What about Jeff Price, its old fired founder, bitching that Spotify is not paying on so many tracks? That’s a registry problem, that’s not Spotify seeking to rip-off rights holders, that’s the result of an archaic system wherein we don’t know who wrote what and who owns what. Does it need to be cleared up? Yes. Is it good Jeff is on the case? Yes, but this is not wholesale exposure of Mafia-like activity, but it’s a better news story than old, cranky musician who used to survive quite well under the old system is starving now, although that story gets a lot of ink too. Kinda like the endless physical book articles in the “New York Times.” You can’t separate the bias from the author, oftentimes writers are out of touch, they believe they can will the result they desire, but one thing we’ve learned in the past twenty years is the customer is ultimately in control, and the customer chose streaming.

But you’ve got an historical deal with a label that pays an incredibly low percentage, you’ve got a very low royalty rate, is this a problem? Absolutely. BUT IT IS NOT SPOTIFY’S FAULT!

Acts have been railing that they’ve gotten screwed by labels since their invention. A bit of progress has been made, but not enough. Having said that, if you’re a new act it’s your prerogative whether to sign with a label or not.

You don’t need the label for physical distribution, that’s a dying business, forget manufacturing and shipping.

You need a label for publicity and radio promotion. You can hire third parties for publicity. As for radio promotion? For all intents and purposes indies are closed out of Top Forty radio. So if you’re playing to win, you need a label, you’ve got to sign a deal. But, the terms vary depending upon the heat you come in with. Used to be heat meant the music, today it means the data. How many fans have you got, what are your social numbers, how much money are you making on the road? The less you need the label the more they need you, and this is reflected in the terms of the deal.

As for the money… The days of big advances are through. If it’s just money you need, you’re better off looking elsewhere. Making it yourself on the road or raising it via friends and family. Then again, the dirty little secret of the new world is that it’s so much cheaper than it was in the days of yore. Everybody can own Pro Tools, you can make the record at home, many famous acts do, and promote it for free online. And don’t be one of those wankers who e-mails me you’ve got to spend a lot of money and work with pros to have a great sound. Generally speaking that is true. But then you’re probably gonna sign a major deal and e-mail me you’re getting screwed by your label. Which way do you want it? Do you want to roll the dice for all the money or hoard it all at a small level? Because believe me, if you sign with a major and you actually hit, there will be plenty of coin. However, the label could end up with the lion’s share, certainly of the recording income.

And I think it’s abhorrent that royalty deals are such that artists pay for their records and labels own them. It’s not this way in the book business.

There are so many problems with label deals. And they need to be changed. But they’ve got nothing to do with Spotify’s payout.

This is akin to Ticketmaster, people bitching about fees, not understanding that the acts themselves are responsible, this is the only way to get income out of the commission stream. And if you saw how little a concert promoter makes after putting up so much dough for a show, risking so much, you’d probably have sympathy for them. But concert promoters woke up and started festivals, where they can make so much more since they own the event. Concert promoters evolved.

And you should too.

But chances are you want to be a star. And right now, in today’s cluttered internet world, the odds of doing that without a label are de minimis.

Then again, today everyone can play, and everyone can bitch. And that includes the never-will-bes and the old artists, akin to the screwed bluesmen, who’ve got deals so heinous they can never make bank.

But, once again, this has nothing to do with Spotify.

P.S. For the umpteenth time, I have no investment in Spotify, I make no money from the company. But Spotify put a huge dent in piracy, the problem everyone talked about last decade, and as a result of streaming services recording revenues are finally going up, our long nightmare is ending. You’ve got to live in the present, with an eye to the future, you can’t keep dreaming about an old love in a world without cameras, the audience loves the present and the audience pays your bills. Think of ways to satiate those who pay.

P.P.S The penny rate. There is no penny rate, it’s a percentage rate Spotify pays. But they came up with an approximate penny rate so oldsters could understand what they were making on streams. As more people subscribe and listen, the payment per stream will actually go down. Meaning you’re gonna have to have more listens to make the same amount of money. But listens are growing exponentially to the point where those artists at the top of the heap are quite well compensated. But if your listens are not in the millions, you’d better think of alternative ways to get paid. Used to be you could sell a few thousand albums and make money. That paradigm, unfortunately, is dying, although you can still sell CDs as souvenirs along with other merch at the show. Then again, is it Spotify’s responsibility to promote new music, especially the new and different, playlist it and bring it to the forefront? That’s a whole ‘nother issue.


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