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Mid-Week Beat: Introducing Song, By Toad Records

SongsbytoadThis 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.

They have built up an impressive list of recording of acts including Jesus H Foxx, Jonnie Common, Sparrow and the Workshop and Meursault and continue to go from strength to strength.

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The Mid-Week Beat: Kurt Vile, Neil Pennycook and Amy Ray

20055613-40654Welcome to Brown Paper Tickets’ newest weekly, music-centric blog feature The Mid-Week Beat.

Every Wednesday, Brown Paper Tickets will be introducing you to bands and musical events from around the globe. In the future we’ll feature interviews with some of our favorite bands, record reviews of upcoming releases, music-related stories, previews of specific genres, suggestions of upcoming music festivals and much more. We hope this will become a weekly stop for all the music lovers in the Brown Paper Tickets universe so be sure to check back each week and discover your new favorite band, song, festival, venue or genre.


This week we are looking at three singer-songwriters who have shows coming up in Northampton, Massachusetts, Edinburgh, Scotland and Asheville, North Carolina in the next couple of weeks.

Kurt Vile was a founding member of indie rock outfit The War on Drugs but is now better known for his solo work. As a musician and producer he draws on indie folk, indie rock, psychedelia and lo-fi to produce songs which are introspective and full of wistfulness and beauty.

Kurt has released three solo ablums to date with “Constant Hitmaker” (2008), “Childish Prodigy” (2009), and “Smoke Ring for My Halo” (2011), his first album for famed independent record label Matador Records.

Our featured track this week is “Baby’s Arms” from Kurt’s 2011 release “Smoke Ring for My Halo”:


Kurt will be appearing at The Elevens in Northampton, Massachusetts on Friday, January 25th. You can pick up tickets right over here.

UPDATE! Advanced tickets for this show have SOLD OUT! Note from the producer: “There’s a slim chance that people can get a ticket at the door. Potential ticket-seekers should get here early (doors will be at 8/8:30).”
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