MARC HANNAFORD LIKES IT DIRTY

Marc Hannaford

Marc Hannaford plays piano at Uptown Jazz Cafe during the recent launch of Ordinary Madness

Marc Hannaford on Ordinary Madness, recorded in one chart-free session in St Kilda with American saxophonist Tim Berne, and Melbourne musicians Scott Tinkler on trumpet, Philip Rex on bass and Simon Barker on drums:

“I’m recording with some of my favourite musicians in Australia and one of my favourite musicians from America … The buzz for me was fantastic. I think there’s some really great music on there. I love this in music, it’s not all polished and nice and neat. It’s dirty and jagged and rough and human.

“One of my least favourite sounds in music is this pristine, polished, perfect sound. I just don’t understand it a lot of the time. I like the dirt. I think both recordings really [Ordinary Madness and Sarcophile, with bassist Sam Pankhurst and drummer James McLean] have a lot of dirt in there. You can hear people nutting things out as they go and that’s exciting.”

In the following “podcast”, Hannaford tells Ausjazz blog about the two new albums and why he has decided to release them digitally rather than on CD:

(If this audio file does not load — it is reasonably large — you may have listen to the interview online via a computer with a broadband connection.)

John McBeath has reviewed the albums in The Australian:

Miriam Zolin has interviewed Marc Hannaford for her Jazz Planet website

Reviews by Roger Mitchell will be posted on Ausjazz.net soon.

The Marc Hannaford Trio will launch Sarcophile at Bennetts Lane, Melbourne on Sunday, March 18, starting at 9pm.

ROGER MITCHELL

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6 responses to “MARC HANNAFORD LIKES IT DIRTY

  1. Wow. Way to unsuccessfully turn opinion and conjecture into fact Mr Hannaford. Rather than saying that the CD is dead, maybe say that it just doesn’t work for you. CD sales are shrinking against a digital/iTunes/soundcloud world, but it’s still a $250 Million per/year industry for the humble CD.

    As for your take on making money from distribution / CDs at 13:35, you seem to have sacrificed the full-service approach in favor of the immediate benefit. Selling through a record label has it’s pros and cons, and a good label will support the artist beyond the whole “selling a CD and recouping costs”. Ever considered the benefits of long-term servicing? Synchronization and multi-platform publishing? In-stream income from YouTube or Vimeo? You state that CD-Baby provides you with digital distribution through iTunes and Amazon, but how good is their placement? Is your album up there near ‘album of the week’? Is it a featured release? This kind of stuff makes a *huge* difference in sales and is always well-facilitated by a good label/distributor.

    I have nothing against CD-Baby or Bandcamp, but they both aim for lowest common denominator and will provide exactly what they state, never more. Why not aim for the best?

    I also laugh a little every time an artist shuns the CD/Vinyl release in preference for digital-only release and they talk about their enthusiasm for 1-bit recording tech, but forget that 99% of their buyers are going to opt for mp3 downloads. Even at 320kbps, heavily compressed mp3’s aren’t going to do the music justice to your discerning listener base.

    Marc is, by all accounts, an amazing musician and a real asset to the music scene, but he should start looking at ways to make his music as commercially viable as he is artistically.

  2. Hi CC,

    I supposed that, being basically an opinion piece, the reader might discern that I’m not stating these as facts. I’m not against the ongoing efforts of independent record labels to continue printing physical CDs, “I wish I had all the answers.” I have nothing against jazz labels, as I state in the interview, but am simply pointing out some financial facts; artists see practically nothing from album sales on labels. I’m not saying labels are profiteering, I’m pretty sure they’re not given the current climate, but if artists want money when they’re album is purchased, CDBaby and Bandcamp make a lot of sense.

    I agree that, utilised effectively, a label can push releases into more prominent spaces on major distribution platforms, but a quick survey of the best-selling and album-of-the-week charts on both iTunes and Amazon demonstrates what we’re up against; major labels pushing nostalgia, most of the time. Interestingly, in my initial search on Amazon, Australian pianist Sean Wayland featured prominently, and he releases his music himself. It seems that whatever it takes to get the releases to such a point of prominence can be done with or without a label.

    It seems to me that jazz albums continue to sell after their initial release if the artist maintains a prominent performance schedule, something the artist, rather than the record label is largely responsible for.

    I’m continuing to explore multi-platform servicing, I generate a small revenue stream from YouTube, and yes, generally labels are ahead of the curve in regards to putting together a multi-faceted plan. I’m interested this aspect of selling music as well and have much to learn.

    Vinyl is actually on a resurgence, it seems. In the interview I state that some combination of vinyl and digital makes perfect sense from a few different perspectives.

    As far as 1-bit is concerned, Bandcamp offers FLAC and other loss-less qualities, but perhaps in the future I will look at high-quality music hosting sites such as http://www.hdtracks.com to host files. I’m imagining that the “discerning listener base,” if they are that concerned with audio-quality, will follow links to the relevant sites and download the HD tracks, or purchase vinyl, while everyone else will follow the MP3 route. Horses for courses.

    Thanks for your taking the time to listen, think, and comment. I certainly appreciate this discussion.

    Marc

  3. Thanks for your reply Marc as I also enjoy the discussion.

    The point I was making with the label and it’s support stems from both personal experience of being signed to a major label, and many moons ago owning and managing a label. It’s not just there for CD pressings and recouping costs. A colleague of mine recently had his music used for a series of commercials in France for a tourist advertisement. Is that “selling out?” I don’t think it is, it’s smart commercial use of the music as a resource. More people hear his music, more people catch onto his sound, his gigs sell faster at bigger venues, and he makes a cool $85k from the sync. He wouldn’t of been able to do all that himself, that’s what his label and/or publisher tee up for him.

    The argument of ‘selling out’ or engaging a wider/different audience is null and void in my opinion. There’s a great recent radio interview of the Black Keys talking about this. As much as I find their brand of indie pop to be dull and uninteresting, they are smart guys.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear either about the difference between a good label and a good manager. It’s the responsibility of the manager to keep the gigs flowing in. Leave the musician/s to the creative side of things if you will. A discussion for another time maybe.

    The real money has never been in album sales, regardless of the medium, but in publishing and multi-servicing an artist, then of course live gigs.

    CC

  4. PS. I would love to meet you one day Marc, you do come across as a very smart and switched-on musician – something that doesn’t happen all too often these days.

    • Can’t resist the opportunity to lightheartedly lower the tone of this serious, but important discussion, CC, by placing a tick beside Marc Hannaford on my list of “very smart and switched-on musicians”, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is quite short “these days”. But if I do come across any I’m happy to pass them on. (Actually a few do spring to mind, but maybe they’re not quite smart or suitably switched on.) Roger Mitchell

  5. Hi again CC,

    Your divide between label and manager is pertinent, I think, and something I also agree with, as I associate the label with CD printing, design and distribution and the manager more with the sorts of things you mentioned; mutli-platform use, etc.

    I have thought about approach a manager to assist me with these sorts of larger projects; that would be money well-spent, in my opinion.

    My point is that the artist should gear the former so that, given it’s minority role in an artist’s income, it becomes as financially viable as possible.

    Thanks again,

    Marc

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