2011 was a crazy and amazing year for the Infamous Stringdusters. But it’s over, and the door to 2012 is flying open right in front of our eyes. Incredible things are happening. Here’s a bit about what’s up next, and why.
We are a five piece band now. It has been unexpectedly liberating. Changes of any sort bring fresh ideas and perspectives. New music and new sounds are finding their way in faster than ever, as we devote more time to learning/rehearsing, both on and off the road. And our show has an amazing revived energy, more inventive all the time. We’ve found that less guys does not mean fewer decibels or energy, but it does mean more space and more options. Working on new material with my bandmates is such a highlight, and we have more incentive than ever before to create, record and perform our music.
Last fall marked the end of our deal with Sugar Hill Records, allowing us to really develop more of our own ideas about how the Stringdusters business should work. That involves releasing quite a bit more music (one release every two years is simply not enough for our band!). We have a new studio album coming in the spring, and a great new relationship with producer/engineer Billy Hume. He is the man. This was the first step in a beefed up, more regular/fluid studio routine, with much more sonic creativity. We also have amazing new live recording capabilities, thanks to our genius sound engineer, Drew Becker. We now travel with a 48 channel pro tools console, multi-tracking every show, preparing to release high quality mixed versions of our best shows. We’ve wanted to do this forever. Now is the time.
How do we ‘release’ all this music? That’s our new independent record label, High Country Recordings. Right now it’s pretty simple: you can buy it from us at a show or direct from our website (serviced by Artifact Concepts), and we have all our digital distribution done by Tunecore, a great service that gets you everywhere for very cheap. We’re out there on Spotify, iTunes, etc (where fans discover music, NOT where musicians earn much money), but not putting a disproportionate amount of energy into promoting ‘recordings’ at the moment. That said, we have hired a great new marketing partner who will cover our bases for radio (still important) and placement. Promotion of recorded music will change depending on the industry, and our numbers. Right now, HC Recordings is focused on making great recordings with very little overhead (it can be done if you have good musicians and a great engineer on the team!), getting lots of music out to the world, and making sure the recordings support our touring business. If fans hear you on the radio, or youtube, and know the words, the show energy multiplies by powers of ten, and everyone in the room will be back with ten friends the next time. Our shows are our main source of revenue, so that’s where we focus the most energy.
Shows you say? We are playing many of them. Our booking agent and our manager work like crazy to get us the right gigs. Over time this process is refined, by the band, and then the team, and this coming year is going to be huge. We are really focused on a bigger/better production, hence the cases of lights, backdrops, etc. Soon we’ll be raising money through Pledge Music to take the show/touring atmosphere over the top (more on this soon). Please allow us to throw a humongous party for you. I’ll be the guy with the banjo.
By the way, our new home town is Charlottesville, VA, and it really feels like home. We celebrated NYE here with 900 friends and it was magical. I remember hearing people talk about the period where your management team ‘gets to know you’ early on. But that process should never end. Since moving to VA, afternoon ‘philosophicals’ with our team are a staple. The more we learn about eachother, the better off we are. We love it here.
There will be many big moments along the way this year, including more shows with Yonder and the Festy Experience, Part 3. And there will be video of it all. But I think the biggest thing about the year ahead is that in some way it’s not that big at all. Now it feels more like a small step on a much longer journey, and what an important feeling that is. Typical music industry dreams can be pretty grandiose, pretty fleeting, if all you see is the distant future. But if you dream of the journey and the journey is real, suddenly you’ve arrived. Our manager, Michael Allenby, has worked hard to change some fundamental things about our business in this past year, to help us reinvest and build (including a voluntary paycut–unheard of!). After six years we have a plan to grow that involves much less mystery than when we started out. What better time to make these changes? The goal is to hone our expression as a band, and to bring a bigger, more quality experience to more people–recordings, videos, shows, festivals, tours, creativity, inspiration, happiness, etc. It’s work, that’s fun, especially when it’s working. Huge thanks to everyone who is a part of it! This is going to be the best year yet…