Stephen Bower, the A&R and marketing director of Vanguard Records, writes in regarding our earlier post on Vanguard artist Greg Laswell, the "indie" (according to the WSJ) musician who has a slew of corporate promotional deals. "As for Greg's indie cred, I've never been entirely sure what that means exactly, but for what its worth he made the entire new record in a garage, in 3 weeks, on a shoestring budget, and with a collection of pawnshop guitars, banjos, and noisemakers that would probably set you back $500 combined," says Bower. Noted! His full rumination on Laswell, indie-ness, and how all your favorite bands are forced to do corporate shit these days, after the jump.
Saw your piece on Gawker. Thanks for the coverage. I wanted to reach out to you to clarify some things that may have not been clear in the WSJ piece. First, I think the term corporate control is a misnomer, given that in no case have any of these marketing partners had any influence whatsoever on the songs Greg is creating and releasing. These marketing partners, in whatever sense they're involved, are promoting existing songs, not tracks in anyway created with them in mind. Also, it is worth noting that neither Greg nor the label were paid to participate in any of these promotions, excepting the obvious case of Whole Foods purchasing CDs to sell in their locations.
As for Greg's indie cred, I've never been entirely sure what that means exactly, but for what its worth he made the entire new record in a garage, in 3 weeks, on a shoestring budget, and with a collection of pawnshop guitars, banjos, and noisemakers that would probably set you back $500 combined. What's more, Greg has been a huge supporter of independent record stores, and indie retail of Greg. He's performed instore events at indie stores across the country (Easy Street in Seattle, Fingerprints in Long Beach, Plan 9 in Richmond, CD World in Eugene to name a few), and we pressed a free bonus EP exclusively available at indie stores for the last record.
And finally, PJ Harvey was featured on the same AMC in-theatre program. Sonic Youth made a complilation for Starbucks. CSS and Feist were in Apple ads. She and Him were featured in an ad on the Urban Outfitters website. Wilco and Spoon are ubiquitous in commercial spots The Mars Volta played a "Nissan Live Set." Of course I'm not speaking for any of those artists or labels, but I will say that in today's climate, the folks at our label are simply trying to make music accessible to people, to get it heard. In short, what good is it if you don't know its there?
Stephen T. Brower