We started Eschatone Records officially in 2006 – LB, Crazee Joe and me. My cousin declared himself our lawyer, drew up the papers and filed them all wrong, then we filed them again on our own. We signed some bands to a record contract that was one page long and then blew all the money we had on them. Most of those bands broke up; then the music business collapsed; then the economy collapsed. And here we are!
I still wouldn’t trade the experience. We learned a lot and along the way helped midwife some great albums into the world. It was worth doing… and I think it still is.
I resigned my position at Eschatone in 2009. Wasn’t thrilled about it, but we felt my presence on “the board” was a conflict of interest since I was aiming to release a ton of music through the label – everything I had spent years pushing back so we could put out stuff by other people. Eschatone released I AM JED DAVIS! that year, followed by “Yuppie Exodus From Dumbo”, Celebration Party! and The Cutting Room Floor in fairly rapid succession. Then I decided to draw down a bit music-wise, concentrate on Sevendys and my monthly independent singles, and circumstances were such that I was able to return to the company.
But what could I do there in 2011? Nobody wants physical manifestations of music anymore. And anyone can distribute music digitally. Even stuff we developed for our website, like the ability to package digital downloads with multi-option physical products like t-shirts (unfathomable when we implemented it in 2007 – there was not a single shopping cart system that could handle it!), is now being done better by awesome sites like Bandcamp.
And the whole nature of interaction and information gathering on the Web has changed. Interested persons – of which there are fewer than you think – now learn about your project from third-party gatekeepers and then get the latest info about it from Facebook and Twitter feeds, which in turn help you aggregate fans and keep in touch with them. Loading up a remote homepage in the wilderness with features and minutia is kind of pointless. I’m not sure what the Eschatone website really needs besides the online store with streaming music, and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter links.
So many websites are now just CSS-treated WordPress blogs (for example, this one). I’m trying to reconcile that with necessity… most of the shit on the rhetorical you’s website is just not that important. Content is – if you’re a musician, you should have music; if you’re a writer, you should have writing; if you’re a visual artist, you should have artwork; if you have a piece of pertinent information that just can’t be found anyplace else, key word pertinent, then make it available. But – and I fall victim to this as much as anybody – the potential for self-deception is so high when you’re trying to imagine what people might be looking for when they visit your website.
I spent the weekend fucking around with the Eschatone Web situation… thinking about utility, but also design and color as I relocated the online store to the superior Bandcamp platform. I ran with bright colors on an almost-black blue background; extremely simple, with boundaries defined by text and the weight and color of that text – no lines, no boxes. The old site was all lines and boxes and dullish colors. It was sophisticated, very “grown-up”. I’d like something more whimsical this time around. The colorful little Eschatone omegas in the upper left corner remind me of those floating glowy* eyes you would see in old cartoons.
But no amount of design can redeem a pointless endeavor. So what can Eschatone do? And what can I do to help?
I have some ideas. Stay tuned!
*Dang, I love getting an opportunity to use the word “glowy” in a sentence.