at Just Plain Folks sent
me a great newsletter that included an interview from a band that has
label interest, largely because of TAXI and the band's internet promotion. JPF is a free
organization. You can subscribe to their newsletter by emailing email@example.com with the word Subscribe in the subject field. Check
this interview out!
Brian: One of the best discoveries
we made during the recent trip to Los Angeles was at the TAXI Road
Rally Seminar. They had representatives attending from some of the
largest Internet music companies (such as IUMA, MP3, Amazon, etc.) talking about the future of the
business on the net.
Though there were some great people involved, the best info came from
Ron Wasserman and Kathy Fisher, the prime components of one of the
hottest bands in the world, "Fisher." Because they
were still unsigned, but were getting very close, due largely to their
talent and relentless business tenacity, I felt they had the most
relevant and useful advice to offer.
Kathy Fisher and Ron Wasserman - Email: Fisher@digitalsound.net
Q1. Brian: For those who still haven't had
the pleasure of hearing your work, briefly tell us about your band
'Fisher,' the personnel and the music you have released to date and how
you got from out East to LA, and all this success?
Fisher: I moved here to Los Angeles from West Virginia with $300
and a paper suitcase with my worldly belongings. (This really is the
truth.) I stayed at the YMCA in Downtown LA initially. Three years
later I was introduced to Ron Wasserman through a mutual friend we had.
We instantly hit it off and started writing at a rather slow, unfocused
pace. It really wasn't until early '97 that we put together the first
batch of demos and sent out a few tapes. This was really the official
"launch date" of Fisher.
we've released one full length CD entitled "One" which has now
created 3 solid offers from labels. We've been extremely picky and anal
about contractual issues while trying to establish rock solid
relationships with the people who would make or break the project.
We're pushing the envelope in regard to commitment from these
individuals simply because we really want to succeed.
Q2. Brian: You had a cut on the "Great
Expectations" Soundtrack, something that seems like the best and most
used launching pad for new artists of late. How did that come about,
and what was the impact on your career?
One of those demo tapes we made in '97 ended up on Darren
Higman's desk at Atlantic Records. He was desperately seeking a final
song to round out the Great Expectations CD. Our songs had been sitting
on his desk for 2 months so, he finally decided to take a listen. He
heard "Breakable," called us, and the deal was done 3 weeks later.
was released in Feb '98 and we were on cloud 9. Here at last,
was our big break. We received 10 copies in the mail and quickly went
to read the liner notes which said "Fisher appears courtesy of Atlantic
Records." Fisher an I look at each other and simultaneously said "Ahhh
moment everyone thought we were signed to Atlantic. Even some
Atlantic personal thought we were signed to Atlantic. We had done a one
song deal for the soundtrack. So, although we obtained a substantial
fan base from that record, incredible press reviews and were asked to
play Lilith Fair shows, not one single other record company ever called
us. To this day we have to explain there was no normal recording
contract with Atlantic.
side, it gave us the incentive to write, record and release
our own CD on the Internet.
Q3. Brian: What has being a member of TAXI
done for you? Have you gained anything through your involvement from
them? And though we are big supporters of the work that TAXI does,
please answer the age old question from your experience... is TAXI for
Taxi has been helping push Fisher for about 6 months now. One
of the labels we've been in negotiations with, (for four months), Taxi
is solely responsible for setting up. The 2nd label they were partially
responsible for the introduction to. So, are they for real? Damn right
Q4. Brian You have quite a reputation for
success on the Internet. At one point you were featured on most of the
largest sites. Please tell us which sites you were featured on, and
what the impact was. And of course, please share with us how this came
about and how you took advantage of the attention to build and nurture
your fan base?
Michael Laskow actually set up the front page features at Music Choice,
which to date has been one of our most valuable connections on the net,
and a couple of others. All of these sites have helped tremendously.
It's very hard to clearly define what the impact is from these sites
individually for there is no way to track our website traffic back to
it's point of origin. However, our "hits" did increase substantially
during the time all those features were running and sales did increase.
Q5. Brian You post songs for free download.
Many people in are an uproar about "giving" their music away. But you
have a different view on that. Please share your approach to the
promotional value and fan building you were able to accomplish through
Every single new technology developed in the 20th Century in
regards to music has been met with severe opposition from some artists
and most labels from Radio to home tape recorders and guess what????
Sales have increased as promotional tools have become more accessible
to the masses. Considering your odds of really making it in this
business are nearly zero, why not initially give it away with an option
to buy the actual physical CD. Especially when your out of pocket
expenses are next to nothing.
been the greatest thing for us. We're quickly approaching one
million downloads of our material and, if you don't think that record
companies take that seriously, think again. I personally think that the
current artists who are afraid of allowing people to download a few of
their tracks for free are simply afraid of failure by having no one
download their material. Nearly every known/signed act I've spoken with
would love to make available a song or two for free. Sadly though,
their outdated recording contracts don't allow it....yet.
Q6. Brian: On a recent visit to your
website, I noticed the home page counter was over 80,000 hits. Pretty
impressive to say the least. What other things have you done to build
site traffic, and what do you offer on your site that encourages repeat
visits by your fans?
think the site has a lot to offer and we work diligently at
updating the info with pictures, fan of the month etc. We also interact
with fans on our message board. We work very hard at creating a close
relationship with our "Fish-Heads."
Q7. Brian: During a lunch I had with
Michael Laskow a few days after the Road Rally, I told him, in my
opinion, the most valuable panelists were the two of you. One of the
most important points was made by Ron. You said that you personally
answer each and every one of your fan emails. Not with a form letter
sent out by a mail robot or auto responder, but a personally written
email from one of the two of you. Tell us about how this one strategy
has been more than worth the time and effort?
It's the absolute bottom line to us. If anyone actually honors
us by sending a little note saying they enjoyed the music or whatever,
it's our obligation to write back.
how impersonal everything has become in this world and I fear
that before too long we will all be only responding to recorded
messages "If you like this band,,,,,,, push #2 now." This is where
corporate America is failing.
Obviously, (hopefully), a time is going to come where we simply
won't be able to keep up with all the mail. I guess at that time we'll
only stay in close contact with the hard core fans that have stuck with
us and we'll start a chat room thing perhaps 2-3 times a week for all
the new people. Whatever it takes.
Q8. Brian: The buzz around the Internet and
in the music world is that there are a large number of interested
companies in Fisher right now. Is there any current developments that
you can share about your career and the next step for the band?
As I mentioned earlier, we've been raking the labels over the
coals and literally not returning calls to some of them. They have been
both impressed and a bit shocked with our focus and awareness of how
this business really works. We've been very firm about staying indie
until just the right team can be put together.
recent developments, here's something. One HUGE label will
literally be working today, Christmas Eve, (It's now 1:02 am),
attempting to finish a deal with us. What a great Christmas gift this
Q9. Brian: Because you may be the first
real life example of a band breaking big due in part to the Internet
and the benefits and tools it has offered, can you share with the other
5200+ members of Just Plain Folks your list things they can do in their
career to foster their own success?
and Fisher offer these 7 great tips:
you finish the song(s), ask for honest criticism, you'll have
to really make people comfortable and gain their faith before they'll
do it. Don't ask your family, ask your musician friends. Go to 10
people. If 4 of them say the same thing swallow your pride, go back and
perfect the song.
(John Vestman's note: Sometimes we can be
hyper-critical about our product, and even if 9 out of 10 people tell
us we're terrific, we don't believe it. Be sure to really listen to the
good feedback too.)
everything about how this business really works. Remember
these label people will be your partners not your saviors. You do
nothing special, neither will they.
your ground. Show no fear.
(John Vestman's note: If you have fear,
recognize it. We can only let go of that which we hold. If you do in
fact have fears, just feel them and do what you need to do anyway.
Bring your fears right along with you, like a companion. This
"alliance" diffuses the power fear has. In time, your fears will get
tired of being powerless, and they'll just stop showing up.)
must be all that you do. You really think Kurt Cobain spent
time watching TV?
(Brian's note: it is clear that they
practice what I preach, RELENTLESS PERSISTENCE!)
absolutely honest about everything, label interest, statistics.
This business is way smaller that you'd ever believe.
the weak link(s) in the chain. A great band with a crap
manager will go no where, or with a bad drummer etc. Sadly, making a
few enemies can't be avoided.
Presentation is everything. Record companies no longer develop
talent. You must be ready for MTV or Letterman immediately.
Q10. Brian: When and where can fans see you
perform next, and how can they get your current CD ONE? (Which as of
today is officially up for an album nomination in the Just Plain Folks
Music Awards by the way!)
Fisher: Go to: http://www.fishertheband.com and follow the links.
Thanks to Ron, Kathy and
Whitney at Just Plain Folks for permission to reprint this interview.
Created 12/28/99 • Modified