This one time, at bandcamp.com…

Record companies were a great idea for a different time.  One artist couldn’t get more than maybe 1000 fans without radio, tour support, and recording.  Record companies could take risks on really out there stuff, and make up for twenty strikeouts with one hit record.

That system is folding in on itself like a dying star, and after the last 15 years it deserves it.  Music out of the big labels gets increasingly boring, predictable, and safe every year out of the panic of becoming irrelevant.  So who seems to have stolen the bigwigs’ cool?  Bandcamp. That’s right, children. That place formerly reserved for nerdy clarinet players is now opening its doors to all music types.

Bandcamp is rapidly gaining legitimacy to the point that even artists like Sufjan Stevens and Amanda Palmer are using it as their main distribution platform.

Besides your usual ::yawn:: digital downloads, there are all sorts of cool packages you can pick up.  I picked up “Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under” along with this wonderful little fanclub-style goodie package for just $10.

This is what the accountants and lawyers running the big recording firms have forgotten.  The people who still spend money on music aren’t into what everyone else is listening to, they want to feel a connection to the artists they enjoy.  They want to feel like there is something special about their relationship to the music, and in turn to the artist.  At least that’s what I want to feel.

Don’t have a lot of scratch to buy a goodie package?  Your soul, and by soul I mean e-mail address, can get you a great little gem from The Wools. For joining their mailing list you get a 3 song E.P. that I can’t stop listening to.
I download dozens of new tunes every week and end up deleting most of them.  The only flaw in this E.P. is that it’s like three potato chips.  I loved them all, but I’m annoyed that there aren’t more.  This is a great group to start your bandcamp experience with. I just told you about good free music. What are you still reading this for? I would’ve clicked that link sentences ago.

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Filed under From the Web, Music

Tramps like us, baby we were born to run!

We all have things we need to recover from–usually situations we created for ourselves based on decisions we made. We mess up, and a circle of people help us learn how to get over it. Take a moment; right now, remember what that felt like – to have people who care let you know you’re valued, that you can get over anything, and that you can do anything–even after you feel like you made a terrible mistake. That feeling is priceless. There’s lots of ways to pay that forward.

Back On My Feet is a non-profit organization whose main mission is to operate running groups for homeless men and women in cities across the nation.

I edited a video about the Washington D.C. chapter, and I’ll let the men who experience the benefits of the group do the talking:

Learn more about volunteering in Washington D.C. here. Getting a work out in while being a part of a community who really needs you: talk about a rush of endorphins. Go get it!

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Filed under District of Coolumbia, Do Good.

Space-age wallets for the green age.

My mighty wallet a la Plastic Man.

Empty the average guy’s pockets.  Keys, phone, and a plain brown or black cowskin wallet worn out and bloated like George Costanza’s famous filing cabinet that you sit on.

People carry wallets out of necessity, but they don’t have to be the same wallet your grandpa carried around for 40 years.  A mighty wallet is a super thin, lightweight alternative to your Dockers brand animal carcass.

There are dozens of mighty wallet designs to help you customize your back pocket thanks to the team they’ve got at Dynomighty.  They’re made out of Tyvek (feels like an air mail envelope) which is made out of recycled milk jugs and plastic bottles, waterproof, tear resistant, and expands or contracts based on how long it’s been since payday.  Check out this video to see it in action!

Seriously, these things live up to their “mighty” name. Check out this full-grown man hanging from one!

You’d think such a mighty strong, mighty creative product would be expensive, but it’s actually cheaper than most of your boring old department store wallets at only $15.

Your wallet is lame. You should make it MIGHTY!

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Filed under Do Good., Going green.

Oh, yeah. Kickstart your heart.

Is there something awesome that you have always wanted to do? Maybe you want to make an album.  Maybe you want to breathe life back into the baseball scorecard.  Maybe you want to finally give Detroit a Robocop Memorial Statue. The point is, people would love it, but you just don’t have the money.

Not anymore.  With the help of the new website Kickstarter you can fund whatever creative dreams you desire, so long as you can find backers. Kickstarter uses a microloan system similar to the Kiva loans we blogged about before.  The Kiva loans are cool because you help people out and ideally, you get your money back to help out even more people.  Kickstarters project creators don’t give your money back, but they do give you all sorts of amazing packages in return for your donations.

If you watch my friend Ginger’s video you can see the huge variety of prizes involved with being a backer.  It ranges from a high five to a digital download of the project all the way to spending time with the artist.  These are one of a kind people offering you a chance to be a part of their dreams.  Who wouldn’t love the chance to be on your favorite singer’s album, or better yet go busking with them like a pair of troubadours?  I’m sorry I missed out on that one.

Get to it!  You’re probably missing out RIGHT NOW!

Comment if you back a project.  It would make our day.  And an artist’s day.  And your day.   Go make three days in one!

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Filed under Do Good., Music, Things with Pages

Drool and that New Vinyl Smell: Here comes Record Store Day 2011!

A bit of my stash.

When I was a kid I bought vinyl strictly for the purposes of economy.  Yard sales and record stores held goldmines of classic music.  I bought Pink Floyd’s The Wall for a quarter.  Most record stores have used bins where vinyl is just a few bucks.

As my relationship with vinyl has grown over more than a decade, I’ve realized its real value.  Vinyl is a five senses experience.  You carry the record home and take it out of the sleeve.  The 12×12 record sleeve is more than four times the size of a jewel case, and infinitely larger than an iPod thumbnail so you can actually SEE the artwork.  As the needle physically hits the groove you thumb through the liner notes and any of the extra goodies vinyl often comes with.  There are people who love vinyl because that makes them interesting.  There are also music lovers who love vinyl for the five senses experience.  iTunes is like renting movies from Netflix.  Vinyl is like going to the theatre. 

Sgt. Pepper's with mustache and armpatch insert, Kiss Alive! with poster insert, Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick original newspaper packaging.

Record stores have taken a nasty hit from the .mp3 revolution.  I love that I can have access to essentially all music via the internet, but there was something so special about finally finding that Agent Orange record, or going to the record store on Tuesday (traditional release day) to pick up an album you’ve read about and are dying for.

The record stores are making a comeback though.  Maybe you’re not a vinyl geek, but you should support what’s left of this industry.  These stores aren’t run, they’re curated.  Some stores are really punky.  Some are run by guys that still have a little Woodstock mud stuck in their armpit.  Some have owners that will be playing French jazz one minute and the New York Dolls the next.

Record Store Day this year is April 16th.  Tons of bands are putting out exclusive albums that will be limited runs available for Record Store Day.  This is a great chance to see how incredible these places are.  How cool would it be to buy your first record on Record Store Day and have it be one of only 2500?  You’d be a collector right out of the gate.  Support local music, and get to know your local record store.  See you guys at Holdfast in Asbury Park if you’re in Jersey, or Melody Records if you’re in the District!

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Filed under District of Coolumbia, From the Web, Jersey's Finest., Music

The People’s T-shirt.

Ah, the t-shirt.   It’s comfy.  It’s cheap and easy to take care of.  It covers your nipples in public.  After years of faithful service your dad washes his car with them.  T-shirts are man’s best friend.

T-shirts also have the potential to turn you into a big walking canvas, so why not make the art cool?  “Carson’s Plumbing Emporium” may have been where you worked 2 summers ago, but it’s not exactly going to draw any attention from prospective love interests is it?

Enter our hero, Threadless T-Shirts. Threadless uses the simple but wildly

Image from Threadless on Facebook. Check them out!

 genius tactic of allowing ANYONE to submit t-shirt designs in the hopes of winning a cash prize. You, the future t-shirt wearer, vote on your favorite designs and then get to buy them. Support independent designers. Support user generated content. Cover your nipples. Everybody wins.

The image to the right is one of the hundreds of extremely creative and unique designs from Threadless.  After all, who’s still impressed by faux-vintage soft drink advertisement t-shirts?

If a Joker Regina isn’t your thing then you’ll without doubt find something you love.  They’ve also got reusable water bottles, tote bags, and smartphone cases.

If you don’t check out threadless, you’ll regret it when this lady shows up to feed you krumpets until you burst.

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Filed under From the Web

By the buy…

Update: This just in from the Washington Bureau…

In the District of Coolumbia you have to maximize your cheap opportunities or you just may never find out what might be cool in our nation’s capital. What’s better than getting a Groupon deal sent to your inbox every morning? Getting two.
Living Social operates in the same fashion that Groupon does – with one awesomely discounted deal from a local business. Don’t forget that with both Groupon and Living Social you can even specialize to your region outside of the featured cities. Living Social has just announced a family edition so now you can have some guidance as to what to do with those kiddos or teenagers in tow—and show them a good time on the cheap! There are also escapes, vacation deals in the area at half off. If you share any of these deals on facebook or twitter, and have 3 friends buy the deal – it’s free for you!
Half off a day of clay-pigeon shooting ain’t unique enough for you? Zozi is perfect for those looking to up their adventure game. It utilizes the group buying power to offer discounted deals – but Zozi’s deals are all outdoor activities (or at least atypical ones – more than restaurants and spas). Flipping through the different cities, right now they are offering scuba diving classes, a sip & cycle tour in Napa Valley, and a sailing excursion. Zozi just launched in late August so they are currently expanding to more cities.

The best thing about these three deal sites is that they are national – so you can get cool and cheap adventures out of your next trip by checking out the deals in that neck of the woods!

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Filed under District of Coolumbia, From the Web