Jesse Cannon Talks Music Business On PropertyOfZack

tumblr_lcte8lKCg81qzxlbn.jpgThe blog PropertyOfZack just did an interview with Musformation’s own editor Jesse Cannon. If you thought he was honest and opinionated here, you’ll really love it as he lets loose on the future of the music business, leaks, Bandcamp and many more ideas regarding what goes into managing a band today. 


(Full Interview taken from PropertyOfZack)

PropertyOfZack is extremely happy to bring you our interview with the
one and only Jesse Cannon. Jesse, if you’re not aware, is both a
producer and manager and works with bands like Man Overboard, Transit,
and Sensual Harassment. He also runs his studio, Cannon Found
Soundation, and a music business information website called Musformation.com.
Jesse was kind enough to go above and beyond in his answers regarding
his role in the pop-punk resurgence of 2010, Musformation, his ideas on
the future of the industry, and more. Give it a good read, because it’s
one of our best to date!

Jesse, for those who don’t know
what exactly you do and just who you’ve done it with, could you go ahead
and talk about and introduce yourself?

I guess I am
most know for two things, for over a decade I have been a full time
record producer and engineer and have run a studio called Cannon Found Soundation.
I have gotten to be a part of a lot of awesome records by some of my
favorite bands, which I am really grateful for. I also run Musformation.com,
which is the most read, music industry focused blog. We write up tips 5
days a week for bands to read and learn from, so that they can learn
how to make better songs, promote themselves better and finally topple
the bullshit music business that we unfortunately have to exist in. I
also run MusforMGMT, which is home to Man Overboard, Transit and Sensual Harassment
as well as some producer friends. I also do lots of other really fun
jobs in the music industry like help run some record labels and do
marketing and promotional plans for bands and albums

You’ve had a long history in the music industry and
have dabbled around in a little bit of everything at this point and
Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios is your current home. You and
your staff have worked on quite an impressive list of records from The
Cure to Senses Fail to more currently, Man Overboard. What have been
some of your favorite records to work on in your years of producing and
mixing?

I have been very lucky and this is really hard to do since I have loved so many records that I have done so much.
 
Man Overboard Real Talk & Transit Keep This To Yourself -
This year I got to do great stuff with both of these bands. I had been
working with Man Overboard so closely for the last year so this was
important and I was thinking about this record for almost 9 months
before we did it. I loved the record so much that I left the studio for
less than 30 hours in 30 days since I was addicted to working on it.
Transit came in right after them and I got just as addicted and had the
best time working with them and made two of the records that I am most
proud of and I listen to constantly. I was already a huge Transit fan
and had played Stay Home a thousand times so I really knew what I wanted to get out of them and could not be happier with the result.
 
Lifetime 2 song 7 inch
- Lifetime were my favorite band when I was 19 years old. They broke up
then and for years all I could think was how much I would have loved to
record them. When they got back together I got the chance to produce
them and I was so happy I cried tears of joy on my way home each night.
It was amazing and one of the most unbelievable gifts I have ever gotten
in life.
 
Say Anything 2 songs… Is A Real Boy
is one of my favorite records of all time and when I got to work with
them I was listening to it twice a day at least. I got the chance to
work under Steve Evetts on two songs with them and it was amazing. Max
and Cody are two of the most amazing people I have ever seen work and
both are amazing, hard working people who operate on a much higher level
than most musicians I have witnessed
 
The Cure S/T – I
got a call to do a Cure record in 2004 when I was working under producer
Ross Robinson. It was a dream come true and it was very emotionally
overpowering. Robert Smith would bring the whole room to tears on a
nightly basis just with the power of his emotion as a person and it
changed my life forever. It made me start to only care about recordings
as an emotional experience, not about a technical numbers and gear
things.
 
I also had some of the best times of my life making records with bands like Race The Sun, Madison, The Escape Engine, Chase Pagan, The Menzingers and Jett Brando.
 
Most
people know you as a producer, but you manage bands as well like Man
Overboard and Transit. What interests you about management compared to
producing?

Management can be very similar to
producing. The thing I most enjoy about it is coming up creative ways to
promote the groups and while working on very limited resources, which
is very similar to producing. These days much of management is about
embracing new ideas, technology and finding creative things that work
within the context of what a group is about. That is very similar to
what you do when you produce records. Both MOB and Transit are groups I
understand and am a fan of, so it is very easy to come up with ideas and
guide them.
Truth be told, I had no interest in management for years. In the past, I managed a band called The Escape Engine,
as well as any other band I was a member of and it wasn’t very
fulfilling for me compared to producing, so I stopped doing it. I then
met the guys in Man Overboard and I loved them so much as people and as
musicians since they were making music I really believed in. I told them
if they worked hard I would help them and they did, so I kept helping
more and more until we decided it made sense to start calling me their
manager. I didn’t want to ever manage a band again but they really
inspire me and now I love it. The idea
 
A similar thing happened
with Transit where I offered to help them out in any way I could.
Eventually they asked me to manage them and I didn’t think I had the
time to do it, but I found out after like 3 days I would rather work for
them than do most things in life and made the time. I believe so much
in those bands and love them so much as people it makes me want to stay
up late and work on them. They remind me of the punk groups I grew up on
and most bands these days are the total opposite of them. There is far
too many male model wannabe’s making music in hopes of getting with
cheerleaders. I find it to be total bullshit and there is nothing punk
about it outside of a chord structure their guitars play.
 
You made quite a splash and impression on people this summer with the handling of Man Overboard’s Real Talk
leak. All these months later does it surprise you just how well the
situation went down and how much positive feedback you received from it?

Not
to sound like a cocky asshole, but it does not surprise me at all. I
knew it was going to leak and I also knew if we handled it well, we
would be rewarded for it. Everyone who handles it poorly always gets the
downside of the situation so it made sense to me that if we handled it
properly and from a music fans perspective we would see the upside of
the situation. On Musformation
I have written over a dozen articles about the stupid handling of leaks
by the music business as a whole. It is confrontational to the fans and
you should never be in a situation where you are at odds with your
fans. I am a huge music fan and I know how much it sucks to stare at a
download from one of your favorite bands and want that record so bad and
the conflict you feel since you want to support that band.
Unfortunately, our love of music usually makes us download the record
and then subsequently not give money to the band. This conflict is
easily erased by giving the fans a way to buy your music the second it
leaks, instead of gracing them with the privilege to buy your music when
you deem it to be the right day to let your fans support you. How that
idea makes sense to anyone is beyond me, never mind that it has been
standard operating procedure for a decade now.
 
The fact is, much
of the music industry is here to party, get laid and is not into
technology, innovation and/or forward thinking. They are lazy, hung-over
people who just want to be cool and are not concerned with changing the
music world we exist in. I am very concerned with how we move things
forward and how to treat music fans as friends, not consumers. Fugazi
were an amazing influence in this respect, since they were always so
respectful of their fans. When I had the talk with MOB and Jeff from Run
for Cover on how to leak the record much of it was from my thinking of
What Would Fugazi Do? I am very glad people still see what we did as a
gracious thing and disappointed more bands still haven’t gotten with the
times. They will though.
 
You guys used Bandcamp
to handle the leak as well as to draw buyers away from iTunes for some
simple monetary reasons. Since then Bandcamp has issued new policies and
are finally taking some profit from media sold. Could you talk about
your opinions on the site and if or if not their new policy is favorable
to you?

The single most important thing to me about
Bandcamp is not a monetary thing. While it is nice that we make a lot
more money per sale on there than iTunes (iTunes takes 37%, Bandcamp
only takes 10% from us), it’s most powerful feature is the ability for
us to bond with our fans. We get all of our fans email addresses and
this allows us to tell them when we do things in the future. When you
have band’s as busy as MOB and Transit this is very important. They are
both always on tour, MOB has released over 40 songs this year and
Transit will be releasing a lot more so it is very important we can keep
reminding people who like our music that there is new things going on.
Not everyone is smart enough to keep up with sites like yours and
AbsolutePunk everyday to see what bands are doing. The people who don’t
keep up on these sites need to be told on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter or
via email. By gaining their email address through Bandcamp we can begin
that process. Through Musformation I have also talked to the people at
Bandcamp and they are smart people who really get the plight of the DIY
musician and I enjoy supporting them much more than I enjoy giving my
money to a company like Apple who is hostile to DIY artists. 
 
You run a site of your own called MusFormation.com. Can you talk a little bit about the website and what goes on there?
I do Musformation
with my friends Todd and Jackie as a way for us to see the music
business and music creation move the way we would like to see it. We
have a book coming out in the coming months called The DIY Guide To The New Music Landscape
that is a guide to all the new ways to promote your band, tools for
songwriting, touring anything you can think of and I can honestly say
that 75 percent of the book you won’t find on any other website or book.
I am really hoping we can give the power back to music fans and bands
and get good, passionate music out there to the masses. It breaks my
heart when a deplorable group like Metro Station gets popular and an
amazing record like The Menzingers Chamberlain Waits isn’t
platinum. I want to level the playing field in music so only the good
bands that people truly appreciate will get out and this Disney band
influenced, boy-band-wanna-be-bullshit can get left behind.
 
You
recently went under a major studio upgrade. What brought on the impulse
to take it up a step? How much are digging the new space compared to
the old?

It wasn’t impulse as much as opportunity.
For years my studio was a partnership with some of my best friends Alap
Momin and Will Brooks who are both great producers and do awesome music
in groups like Dalek, MA5T3RBA55 and MRC Riddims.
They decided they wanted to move out of here and I took the opportunity
to upgrade the studio and move into their old space with Mike
Oettinger (who co-produces most records with me and was co-producer on
both MOB and Transit’s records). We still have a long way to go in
fixing the place up but it is running great now and it sounds amazing in
here already.
 
You had Washington Square Park in the studio not too long ago to record some new material. How did that go?
I
have been a huge fan of theirs since I heard their record. I have
listened to them so much this year it is insane and think they write
some of the best pop songs I have heard from an unknown group. I got to
do two songs them that I think both turned out amazing. They are some of
the best, funniest dudes and most of all write the most amazing POP
punk songs. It’s great to work with great people, who make great music. I
have no doubt this time next year they will be on a lot more people’s
radar and that the world may realize that these dudes do the best
redneck accents north of the Mason/Dixon.
 
Man
Overboard will be popping in to record a few songs this week. How would
you describe their sudden and impressively large impact and growth in
the scene?

It doesn’t feel sudden to me since there
are rarely any hours of the day where one of the 5 of us (or all the
cool labels we work with) isn’t working hard on the band. One of my
favorite things we have done is bring back many things in punk I grew up
on and that those guys were into before we became friends. The first
night I ever hung with MOB, before we even recorded Hung Up On Nothing they told me how much they appreciated much of the old school punk stuff. So, doing things like Lost Tape Collective‘s
label, zine, small DIY runs of cassettes etc. is amazing. As someone
who has worked with hundreds of bands I will go as far to say I think
them and Transit work harder than nearly any band I have ever seen and
really have a ton of personality. So much of their fast rise has been
from all of that put together with amazing songs. Many bands are a lot
of talk and not much walk, but these guys have always walked their talk.
That is a big part of it.
 
You’ve been in the thick of the “new pop-punk resurgence” in the last year with Real Talk as well as Transit’s Keep This To Yourself. What are you thoughts about the current state of that genre’s scene?
Truth
be told, I was really saddened by the pop punk music scene for like 3
or 4 years and had gotten much more into dance music since that is where
I saw the punk rock innovation and underground excitement coming from. I
grew really tired of having bimbo “punk” bands in here that cared more
about their haircut and girls jeans than their music and songwriting. I
got a lot more into recording again, once I had bands that inspired me
coming in here again. Groups like Transit, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years, Washington Square Park, Balance and Composure, True Things, and The Menzingers
all have true music lover hearts in their groups. They are people who
care about things more than just partying, getting famous and getting
laid. They care about helping people and promoting other bands they love
cause they really love good music and want to tell people about it.
 
I
love nothing more than when MOB, Transit or Balance roll through NYC
and sleep at the studio and we all stay up late listening and discussing
music, drooling over Manchester Orchestra records and everyone else
that we love. They are all so smart and appreciate music on a very high
level. It reminds me of all the kids I used to hang out with when I was
young in the NJ/New Brunswick basement punk rock scene. It isn’t always
about sound though, it is definitely an attitude to me, I sat down with GDP who makes some amazing hip hop music and is signed to Run for Cover
and he has the exact same attitude towards music as all the bands I
mentioned and also an amazing record that RFC will be putting out later
this year.
 
What about your thoughts more in
general? As already mentioned, you’ve been around for quite some time
and have seen a great deal of changes in the industry. What are your
thoughts on the present and future?

Great question! I
am actually really excited about music today. The fact is, all the
labels that think with dollars instead of their sense are dying every
day. If you want to succeed in music today you are going to not have to
only have great music but also be a nice, good person who is also
innovating things. You have to come up with interesting and creative
ideas and stay ahead on what is changing in the music business or else
everyone is going to pass you by. What is also great is that the lazy
musicians who really don’t have the drive are also going to get lapsed.
If you love playing X-Box more than music, music isn’t going to be your
career. There are so many people doing really cool things in music today
and it is awesome to see bands like The Arcade Fire debuting at Number
One on the Billboard charts after doing something truly unique and
creative with the marketing of their record and the album experience (if you haven’t seen what they did go here).
I have hope for all the really dedicated bands who love music, I see no
future in the bands who are only doing it for fame, partying and to get
groupies to sleep with them. Seeing Phoenix get a gold record after doing so many cool things to bond with their fans warms my heart and gives me hope that we are truly in a great time for music.
 
On
the recording end of things, I am so excited how easy it is for bands
to record themselves and what it does for their composition skills and
what it does for making more interesting records. Many of my producer
colleagues see this as a threat, but I think it is great. We are all
making much better and more interesting music because of it. Any band
that isn’t recording themselves and learning to refine their music with
this technology is going to lose out to those who do. We are in an
amazing time to make music.
 
After this Man Overboard EP is finished up in the studio what are some of the next projects you have lined up to work on?
Unfortunately, I can never talk about this stuff until they get announced or else I get in trouble. Transit will be in here doing an EP on Mightier Than Sword
that I am really excited to record, I think the group is going to defy
expectations yet again with this release. Man Overboard and Transit will
both be doing LP’s in the next year and we will be writing and demoing a
lot before we actually record them. I am mixing a record that Nik from
Man Overboard produced from the band Handguns next week that will see a
release on Pure Noise next year.
 
Thank you so much for your time Jesse, is there anything else you’d like to add?
The
biggest thing I have been saying lately to bands is that if you try to
write music you think people will like, it usually will suck. Every band
I know who makes great music writes the songs they want to hear. When I
make records, I make records the way I would want to hear them. Please,
if you are thinking of writing songs to get famous, please spare us of
the music you are about to make that you think we would like and just
make something you would like. Hopefully, we will agree.
 
Thank you so much for doing this, I am psyched to be on a site I read everyday.