This week on the Mid-Week Beat we look at the art of DIY, something that is very close to our hearts here at Brown Paper Tickets. Of course, we do not mean that new bathroom you put in or those shelves you put on the wall (well done, all the same). We’re talking about the DIY approach to making music, booking gigs and releasing albums; an approach that allows artists to take full control of their artistic output.
In the digital age, it has never been easier to get your music online and heard by the entire planet with just a few clicks. But, what about those who want to have something tangible in our hands? People are not buying anywhere near the amount of physical Top 40 CD’s that they used to. The recent demise of HMV in the UK has made this very apparent.
However, the fact remains that music fans are still buying music. Bands and labels are still creating music and getting it out to their fans, through the internet, through social media and good old fashion word-of-mouth. In fact, you could say there has never been a better time to go DIY. This week we focus on a label based in Edinburgh, Scotland that truly takes the DIY ethic to heart.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Song, By Toad Records!
In Edinburgh one of the key players in the DIY scene has to be Song, by Toad Records. They have a clear idea of who they are and what they want to do. Unlike large record labels who are chasing down the next big thing and are all too keen to ditch a band after disappointing sales, Songs, by Toad are there to support the less commercial acts. It would be fair to say they are about the music not the unit sales.
Song, By Toad create short runs of 300-500 handmade albums, all made in house. Each release is designed to break even so that smaller acts are able to release their music without losing money. Doing everything means that Songs, by Toad are not just a record label but also a blog with album reviews, gig listings, podcasts and video sessions. There is a clear sense of community here and the blog covers news, reviews and supports other local labels and bands who also appear at the live shows they promote.
Using their contacts and experience Song By, Toad have been able to help other people put out releases. Such is the beauty of the internet! They are able to support DIY labels regardless of their geographic proximity and have worked with labels from Portland, Oregon as well as nearby Fife. Their “Rough Guide to Self Releasing and Album” is very useful and shows, again, that the music is the focal point, whether it is theirs or another label’s.
The next few live shows that Song By, Toad are organising are in Edinburgh and Glasgow and the details are as follows;
Friday, March 08 BAD FUN: Jonnie Common, River of Slime & Shift-Static Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh Enigmatic electronic pop magician Jonnie Common returns to Edinburgh after an extended exile in the very far North, supported by beep-ninja River of Slime, and the Edinburgh debut of awesome Newcastle dream pop band Shift-Static.
Wednesday, May 08 Sparrow and the Workshop & Strike the Colours Mono, Glasgow In May Sparrow and the Workshop will be releasing their third full length album on Edinburgh independent label Song, by Toad Records. This album launch will be your first chance to get hold of the album before the official release date. Support on the night comes from friends Strike the Colours, with one more special guest to be announced.
Thursday, May 09 Sparrow and the Workshop & Magic Arm Caves, Edinburgh For those on the East Coast or those who are not free on Wednesday night you have another chance to catch the band and the new album. Support on this night comes from Manchester’s brilliant Magic Arm, who will coincidentally be launching his own next album at the gig as well. One more special guest is yet to be announced.
If you live too far away to attend you can always check out their musical releases on their website and you can keep up to date with the podcast and in-studio sessions at Songbytoad.com as well as follow them on Twitter at @SongbyToad.