Show Preview: November 10 at Martyrs'

It's been way too long since we've had a club show, and there's not many places we like to play more than Martyrs'. It's a great room and a legendary music venue in Chicago. We'll be on the stage next Thursday, November 10 with old friend Aryk Crowder (celebrating his EP release) and soon-to-be-friends Well Known Strangers. Here's a nice video from Aryk:

And the cello driven rock of Well Known Strangers:

So come on out on next week!

Martyrs' 3855 N. Lincoln Chicago Music at 8 p.m. $10 Tickets available here.

trn-martyrs

OTIS CLAY TRIBUTE SHOW!

We've been working our tails off for the past three months and a HUGE show and it's just around the corner. It's happening Saturday June 11 at the legendary Fitzgerald's in Berwyn. After hearing the news in January that one of our idols, Otis Clay, passed away, the band decided to put on a tribute concert to honor Otis' life and music. He was a gentle soul, a generous man, and a hell of a singer, so devoting a concert to his varied catalogue (something the band has never done before) seemed like a no-brainer.

Otis' career encompassed so much American music: gospel, blues, deep soul, and R&B. We'll touch on all of the phases of his career, but the focus of the evening will be his seminal 1972 album Trying To Live My Life Without You. The LP was released on Willie Mitchell's Hi Records (heard of Al Green? Ann Peebles? Syl Johnson? All Hi artists). It's a magical recording that encapsulates everything great about soul music: blazing horn lines, deep grooves, touching ballads, and more. It's been an absolute joy to transcribe these tunes and learn from the masters of soul music.

TRN is getting a little help from our friends on this one. We put out the word to our pals JC Brooks, Ava Fain (Bumpus), Danny Fernandez (Kings Go Forth), Gina Bloom (The Congregation), and Bashiri Asad, and they all agreed to help out on vocal duties. We had a Sunday afternoon rehearsal a few weeks back and it was pretty damn fulfilling. Singer after singer walked through the door and just nailed it. This show is going to be something special, for sure.

Closing out the night will be the inimitable Sonny Knight & The Lakers from Minneapolis. We opened for The Lakers a few years ago and really enjoyed their show. It's a non stop dance party. Check it:

Tickets are available here. Don't miss out on an amazing evening of music!

A few words to remember Otis Clay

IMG_4161 We lost a true soul legend yesterday when Otis Clay passed. Otis wasn't born in Chicago, but he made this city his home. Like the great Sam Cooke he grew up singing in the church, found success with a gospel group, and eventually crossed over to secular soul music. His records for One-derful! and Hi Records (home to legends like Al Green, Ann Peebles, and Syl Johnson) captured some of the deepest, most soulful music ever made. These weren't throwaway lyrics with good grooves. Otis' music had meaning.

TRN opened for Otis a few times, and it was like going to school in so, so many ways. It all started with the soundcheck. As most audience members know, vocal soundchecks are rife with "1...2...check...check," occasional feedback, and lots of hurry up and wait. But not with Otis. He strolled right up to the mic, cued the band, closed his eyes, and sang his heart out. It was so pure and soulful, intense and immediate. It didn't seem to matter that it was mid-afternoon in an empty club. Otis was performing anytime he was onstage. That first show (8/6/10 at Southpaw in Brooklyn, NY) was something else. The Revelations backed him up effortlessly, and Otis brought the intensity. But it wasn't about up-tempo tunes. Otis captivated the audience with his slow jams, his mid-song sermons, and his control of the band. A quick movement brought everything down. A wave of the arm made a simmering groove take off. Otis owned that stage and everything around him. Here's a clip from that show:

He was kind and generous. I was no one to him, but he made me feel like a member of the soul music community. He complimented one of our tunes. He took the time to chat and remembered me over the years. What a gentle and sweet man.

The academic in me often thought about interviewing Otis for the TRN blog, or even writing a biography of sorts. I regret that I never did that while he was with us. I'm sure that Otis would have been into the idea and generous with his time. Rest easy, Mr. Clay. You will be missed.

- Brendan

Here we go

I love this feeling--the excitement and trepidation before recording a new album. It's hard to believe that this is my fourth time down this road in the last 10 years. That should be some sort of measuring stick for success, right? Some artists wait twenty years before making their own record after all. This feeling might be the best part next to sending the album to the pressing plant. It's like standing at the edge of a bottomless, dark canyon. Your album--its sound, aesthetic, vibe, and intricate details that most listeners won't ever notice--is down there somewhere but you can't see or hear it just yet. It's been trial by fire, this whole album making thing. In 2007 I went into Caleb Willitz' Rattlesnake Studios with a few guys and absolutely no clue--and no budget. Two years later, The Right Now had taken shape. We scrimped, sacrificed and saved, pooling our resources and hoping for the best with Steve Gillis and Vijay Tellis-Nayak at Transient Studios. In hindsight most of us feel pretty bad for those guys. Sure we had some decent songs, but we had no clue how records got made. Steve and Vijay help us compose parts and arrange our tunes. I consider it a great education in songwriting, engineering, and mixing. The result--2010's Carry Me Home--launched this band and really put us in a nice spot. Songs got placed in commercials and TV, more folks came out to shows, and the industry seemed to take us a bit more seriously now that we had a real album.

Recording our third record was probably the most cathartic and rewarding artistic experience I've ever had. We spent 8 months, from January until August of 2011, in intense pre-production (recording songs ourselves and critiquing/fine tuning every aspect of the songs). We flew out to LA in late August that year to record in the sweaty confines of Killion Sound with Sergio Rios of Orgone. For six days straight days the band spent 12-14 hours in that tiny room. The last night we didn't sleep at all. The results were amazing (to me at least). I remember the night before the rhythm section was scheduled to fly out to LA. I was a bundle of nerves, in spite of the knowledge that we'd prepared as much as possible. It would be a colossal waste of money if things didn't work out. But they did, and we had ourselves Gets Over You.

So where do things stand for album #3 for TRN (and #4 for me)? It's been a bumpy and exciting road, these past 4 years. There have been a lot of moving parts in our personal lives (babies, marriages and breakups, mortgages), and we have a few new band members. I've been writing new songs throughout all the changes, but I wasn't sure about how to go about recording them. Rather than putting the band through months of rehearsal, I had thoughts about going into the studio and taking more of a "let's see what happens" approach. Turns out that doesn't work so well with this group of folks. I don't think it's a reflection of our level of musicianship, but rather a testament to the kind of involvement everyone wants to have. It's something I love most about this group of people--they love to work hard on music and want to feel more personally invested in the creation of the songs and arrangements. We went back to the drawing board and did intense pre-production all summer long. And we decided to work with Vijay at Transient again.

So here we go, again. I'm so proud of all of the work that everyone has put in on this record so far and so excited about what is to come. I can't wait to share it with all of you. I swear it will be worth the wait.

- Brendan

 

TRN with Orgone & The O'My's- 5/20 Show Preview

Tomorrow night is going to be one for the books. We're incredibly excited to share the stage with two amazing bands at a really cool new venue (there's a butcher shop there for crying out loud) in Chicago. Here's the preview: ORGONE

We've known these dudes and gal since they first rolled through Chicago in 2010. It's hard to describe the amazing vibe that this band brings to every live performance. It's a mix of 70s disco, afrobeat, soul, and funk (the good kind). The new record they just released, Beyond The Sun, is their strongest effort yet. Orgone enlisted the help of writer/producer Mocky (of Jamie Lidell Jim fame) as well as some other excellent songwriters (Kelly Finnigan from Monophonics and Danny Chaimson, who wrote "Who Knows Who"). The record delivers the expected heavy grooves and killer production, but the songs and hooks really shine. Here's the title track.

Orgone puts on one of the best shows around, so expect a packed and sweaty dance floor all night long.

THE O'MY'S

I caught the The O'My's opening for Lee Fields back in 2012, just a few nights before we released our 2nd album. They were a bit rough around the edges, but the unique lead vocals of Maceo Haymes captivated me. They've been blowing up in Chicago for the past year or so, headlining the Metro and playing some great fests in the area. These guys aren't to be missed. Check this video with Chance The Rapper (!).

Excited? So are we. Details and tickets are here:

1st Ward/Chop Shop 2033 W North Ave Chicago, IL 60647

Orgone/The O'My's/The Right Now/ Mr. Gac (DJ)

Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9 p.m.

Tickets are here.

TRN returns to the Stage!

TRN_CIMMFest_Poster copy It's been a long time coming. It's time to dust off the mics, throw some new strings on the guitars, oil up the trumpets (uh, right?) and get on stage. TRN has been in woodshedding mode since Stef gave birth to her beautiful son Ryan in November. We've written a bunch of new material, solidified our new lineup with Lucas Gillan on drums and Caleb Mitchell on trumpet, and rehearsed our butts off.

It's been so good to spend time with this new crew. The past few years have been a bit tumultuous for us with lots of last minute gigs and sub musicians. Having two new members who are as dedicated and talented as Caleb and Lucas makes us feel pretty damn fortunate. The chemistry in the rehearsal room seeps into the new material we've been writing. It motivates all of us to play our best and rededicate ourselves to the band.

I'm very excited about the new songs. "Up All Night" is a disco anthem that will have people on the dance floor from the first bar. I wanted to write a tune with a bass line worthy of Bernard Edwards, a hook that you can't forget, and a guitar part that would make Nile Rodgers smile. I think we got there. "Too Late" is a 6/8 burner that features the best (in my humble opinion) horn chart Jim Schram has ever written. And the backup vocals on the bridge? Chris and I got 'em! We've gone straight for the pop jugular on "Postcard." It has one of those choruses that Stef was born to sing. It's an anthem and she knocks it out of the park. "Starlight" holds special meaning for me. I wrote it when a loved one was going through some intense issues in his life. I wanted him to know that I'd be there for him in the darkest times, no matter what. It's a different lyrical topic for us (for whatever reason, we've been attached to betrayal and no-good cheats for a few years) and Stef does a superb job of making the story come alive.

It's really hard to be in a band and keep it all together and moving forward. A few years back I was down about the way things were going or not getting this or that gig. My friend who plays in a fairly popular band told me that Stanton Moore of Galactic gave him some good advice: "Just keep going. Just keep the band together. Don't stop." I think about that a lot. Keep writing. Keep playing. Keep rehearsing. Don't stop. Despite rough times over the past few years we've kept it together and made it out of the woods. I'm so excited for the next phase of TRN. I hope you'll join us on Thursday at the Double Door to be a part of our relaunch.

The Right Now joins with Shotwell Booking!

We're proud and excited to announce that we've signed on with Shotwell Booking agency for our live shows. As we gear up for 2015 tour dates, Brandon Shotwell is going to be a big part of TRN's team, and we look forward to working with him. Shotwell Booking has a stable of great artists, many from Chicago (and many with female members...rock it, ladies!!), and we're proud to be a part of the roster. That roster includes Mucca Pazza, Bailiff, My Gold Mask, Sidewalk Chalk, and a lot of others.  We've been laying relatively low in the past year or so - having babies will do that sometimes - but in that time we've been in the studio and are working on the next record. With that record will come a bunch of tour dates, and Brandon's gonna be helping us make the most of the new songs on the road.

Cheers to the life!!

2014 was a crazy-ass year.

The Right Now has a few traditions around this time of year: Brendan hosts a Christmas party, divided into the family/kid early portion, and the degenerate-musician portion, which usually gets going right when Brendan and his wife are ready to clean up and go to bed. Then the band sends our sax player Jim some tepid emails to acknowledge his birthday (the 30th. Happy birthday, Schrammy!!). And sometime between Christmas and New Year's, Chris curls up with a glass of beer and writes the year-end wrap-up, a little look at the past 365 days in this band. And that's what you're reading now. 2014 was a strange year, both in and out of The Right Now. Big stuff first: Stefanie gave birth to her second child, Ryan, in November. Ryan had a bumpy landing, but he's fine and beautiful and we're so glad to have him in the family! Stef and her husband are cruising along, doing well.

And the band got a nice break when our song "He Used To Be" was included in the PS4 video game Watch Dogs. That game sold a ton of copies and kicked our youtube and iTunes numbers up quite a bit and introduced a lot of folks around the world to The Right Now. Thanks, Watch Dogs, and thanks to everyone that found us and supported us!

Touring-wise, it was a scaled-down year for the band. We played fewer gigs, but chose the really good ones. I mean the ones that are good on paper: your House Of Blues, your opening slot for Bettye LaVette, and a few non-presitgious but well-paying gigs throughout. We also got to play a few weddings this year, which is always an honor. Sometimes they want our original music, and sometimes it's time to dust off the covers, but either way it's nice to be part of the celebration.

Here's a clip from one of our Cincinnati shows early in the year. Fair warning: the audio kicks in loudly. This is the tail-end of "Hooked" one of the songs we're working on in the studio:

 

Part of the scaled-back schedule had to do with Stef's pregnancy and due date, but some of you know that Stef is a major trooper. Two days after she gave birth, I visited her and saw her busting dance moves in the hospital hallway as I approached. The rare moment of Stefanie Berecz downtime is what led us to playing a gig at The House Of Blues with the wonderful Kallie Palm filling in for Stef - except that Kallie sang that night with strep throat and we bounced the setlist around to make sure the show went off. That was an intense night! Our pal Ava Fain (Bumpus) showed up to lead us through a few songs too.

What else did we do? We got to play with Caroline Smith in St Louis and Milwaukee, Bettye LaVette in Milwaukee, Greyhounds (w/ members of Greyboy Allstars) in Chicago, and Lee Fields & The Expressions in Chicago, and we hit the Taste Of Chicago for the first time, along with outdoor shows at Navy Pier and the Hancock Tower.

And in the middle of it all, we've been chipping away at album #3. We're still not sure what form it's going to take - EP vs. LP, digital vs traditional, etc. But we've been in a few different studios working on the new songs. You might've heard a few of them (Hooked, That's Enough, Everything Is Broken) at our shows this year, and there are a few more (Postcard, Starlight, and others) that no one's heard yet, but they're gonna knock your socks off. We expect to get this stuff into your ears in 2015...

And among all of that, 2014 was the year that gave us D'Angelo's Black Messiah! Hey now!!

Recollections from the Songs in the Key of Life Concert

I'm just sharing a few memories about Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life concert in Chicago on November 14, 2014. Not to torture any of you that weren't there, but rather to help bring you into the experience more deeply. It was a moment in history - probably the only chance we'll have to hear some of these songs live, presented in this way. But anyway, here are a few random things that made me laugh, cry, and clutch at my chest. If you're interested, try to really imagine these moments. They're somethin' else.

A few baseline stats:  This was a 23-piece band, plus Stevie, guest star India Arie, and a full string section (it was hard to count from where I was sitting - 10 pieces? 12?). The 23-piece band...here we go: two drummers, two percussionists, Nathan Watts on bass (who's been in Stevie's band since at least SITKOL), three keyboardists including Greg Philliganes (more on him later) as Musical Director, two guitarists, six backup vocalists including Stevie's daughter Aisha Morris for whom "Isn't She Lovely" was written (unless they needed a bigger sound for a few songs, in which case they brought out six MORE vocalists), and six horns (tenor sax, 2 alto saxes, 2 trumpet, trombone), one guest harmonica player who sometimes joined the horn section.

Yes, it was a large presentation. And here come the recollections in no particular order:

Having seen him a few times now, I'm getting used to Stevie's habit of starting his concerts by coming out and talking to the audience for a while first. I tell you though, when the band and singers hit the intro of "Love's In Need Of Love Today," it was sudden and gorgeous and carried a huge impact.

I think we were all moved by seeing Stevie sing the intense outro adlibs of "Joy Inside My Tears," full string section going behind him, and tears streaming down his face - singing his absolute heart out the whole time. There was a standing ovation when it was done, and Stevie just sat there and looked sad for a good long minute. It looked like he was letting his emotions calm down. Someone handed him a towel, and he wiped his eyes, then threw it up in the air and smiled. Man oh man.

"Tell me would you be happy - still in 2014 - in village ghetto land?"

He conducted an audience poll ("If you agree, stand up, and if you disagree, sit down, and someone will tell me how many people agree.") about whether this country has a gun problem, and whether we need to control our guns better. "If you don't like hearing about this, I don't care. I love each of you enough that I want to see you all live," at which point the band kicked into "Saturn," a duet with India Arie. Oh muh gawd. A goosebumps moment.

At the end of "Black Man," they had a tape playing of the Q&A with the kids yelling the answers, and they let the tape play out longer than it does on the album, and the kids all shout and cheer at the end...after which Stevie shouted, "And who is the 44th President of the United States?" It was so damn satisfying to hear the whole place yell "Barack Obama, a black man!" 

When he finished the SITKOL album, he kept playing like I hoped he would. He announced that they'd be doing something new, a hip-hop thing. He was going to stop being Stevie Wonder for a little while, and become DJ Tick Tick Boom. He'd call out a band member's name, and that guy would start a song from Stevie's catalog of hits. When they'd got most of the way through a chorus, he'd wave the band down, stop the song, and think of a new song to play. I thought that was great -- that he wouldn't even let the chorus finish. It created a sense of urgency, like "we're really blowing through these tunes." They played (this order isn't accurate except for the first and last songs):  "Do I Do," "My Cherie Amour," "Master Blaster," "Signed Sealed Delivered" (he said "In the key of F" and I called it), "For Once In My Life," and "Superstition," the no-brainer closer of the night. 

Greg Philliganes was the Musical Director for the band, and one of three keyboardists besides Stevie. You know who he is, right? Oh, he only played all the keyboards on Off The WallThriller, some of SITKOL, and tons of other stuff. He was MJ's live musical director for a few tours. I feel the same way I did when I saw D'Angelo and Pino Paladino and Chris "Daddy" Dave were onstage, or when I saw Prince and Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer were in his band. 

...which only makes it funnier that I caught Greg Philliganes running - seriously, in a panic,running - across the stage to make the hit on "Superstition." For some reason he was on the other side of the stage when the drummer started, and it caught him by surprise. He sprinted, and did a Daffy Duck-style hopping skid-turn to throw his hands on the keyboard at the very last second. It was hilarious. I've been thinking that he ran so desperately because he knew there wasn't a way for Stevie to see that he wasn't in position, so Stevie was gonna hit beat one no matter what. Dude played on "Billie Jean" and now he's sprinting like his life depends on it because his bandleader is blind. Now that is comedy.

Stevie talked a bit about Chicago as his second home, where he got his start at the Regal Theatre, and how it was a Chicago DJ that flipped the 45 of "Fingertips" over, and broke the song "My Cherie Amour." Damn.

The songs didn't hit one after another; there was always a significant pause. Once or twice, Stevie was almost ready to start a song and had to find the right harmonica. He's hit a piano note, grab a harmonica and blow into it, say, "Wrong one!" do it again, say "Wrong one," then do it again and say "Yee-yuh."  :)  I'd imagine being in Stevie's band requires a unique amount of patience for things like that - but then the rewards are so rich!

Um, Aisha Morris is a babe.

He had a guest harmonica player for songs that had harmonica that overlapped his vocals, and check it out:  Stevie on harmonica, the other harmonica player, and one of the sax players front and center to do "Easy Going Evening (My Mama's Calling)" as a trio, with the rhythm section behind them. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I probably will never see another song led by harmonica-harmonica-sax in my life.
Two guitar players, one white and one Asian. I tell ya, this whole white-guitar-player-in-an-all-

black-R&B-band phenomenon is the only reason I get out of bed some mornings. I've seen it over and over again: Smokey Robinson, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Stevie, Maxwell, and tons of others. Watch out, America. Someday I'm gonna turn up on some big R&B tour.

There was something really sweet and charming about India Arie and Stevie holding hands up above their heads during "Es Una Historia." And since India was on and off stage all night.....four different stage outfits for her.  :) They didn't change the keys of the songs for her when she dueted with Stevie -- man, she can sing low!

I don't know what to say about "As" except that they played "As," and it ended with a kind of sudden live-fade, sort of strangely. It was just sort of over all of a sudden. But oh my god. Oh, I know what to say:  the backup vocals came in on the fourth verse, and I don't know how to describe the sound or the feeling, except that it was perfect and overwhelming. Ooooohs, then aaaaahs, each one hitting me like a tidal wave. For real, the next time you listen to this song, pay special attention to those Ooohs and Aaaahs (which start at 1:45 in the studio version). They're subtle in the recording, but they were monumental in the live version. Say yes!!

"Knocks Me Off My Feet" ended with a long extended jam, and a vocal "repeat after me" session between Stevie and his male backup singer (one male out of six backups). Stevie got weirder and weirder, until the backup guy said, "Can I quit?" ...then he did the run perfectly, of course. 

I have to say, it was strange seeing such an epic, huge-scale performance with a relatively apathetic crowd. People applauded, and there were real moments of engagement between Stevie and the crowd, but I spent a lot of time thinking, "What's wrong with you people?!" The first set ended, and Stevie - still in the spotlight - was being led offstage, and the audience was already done applauding and was headed for the bathrooms and concession lines. I thought, "Why are we not all on our feet, stamping and cheering? We just saw the first half of SITKOL, and we're about to see the second half! Is this not the best night of the year for all of us??" I had the same feeling when I saw D'Angelo in this same venue last year, who was touring for the first time in 12 years, and the audience seemed like they couldn't care less. I mean, these are legendary performances, Chicago. Don't embarrass me in front of Stevie Wonder and D'Angelo, ok? We want these artists to come back!!

Stevie had an upright (Spinet?) piano specially set up for "Ebony Eyes." He went over and sang the song from stage right...again, one of the details of live production of these songs that we probably won't get to see live again.

There was some song where Stevie led the audience in female and male singalong parts, but I can't remember what song it was. All I know is that he gave the ladies their parts really clearly and repeatedly, and he gave the guys our part only once and kind of vaguely. As a music/singing nerd, I think I repped the guys pretty well, but when Stevie said "Fellas, you're falling behind here!" I could only think, "well, sing our part to us again, dude. Help!" Maybe this was "Knocks Me Off My Feet," maybe not.

Props to James Johnston for reminding me of the presentation on "If It's Magic." They projected a photo of the harpist Dorothy Ashby, who played on the original album. Stevie talked about how Dorothy's sound and approach were essential to bringing the song home, and he sang with the recording of her original performance, as a tribute to her. I totally heard new bass notes (United Center's PA system might be a little more "robust" than my home stereo) which put some of the chords in new contexts for me. Interesting!

Props to Thomas Rammer for pointing out that the "Something's Extra" songs (Saturn, Ebony Eyes, All Day Sucker, Easy Goin' Evening) were wisely added to the end of the first set, not tacked on the end like they often are on CD or streaming versions of the album...which allowed the album part of the show to end with "As" and "Another Star." Boom!

At some point, I forget which song it was, Stevie took a featured solo on a relatively new instrument called a Harpejji. It's a hammer-on-friendly instrument that combines some of the best features of the piano and the electric guitar. If anyone has any lingering doubts about Stevie Wonder being one of the more truly creative, forward-thinking artists of our time, consider this.

That might be all I have. Just tryin' to take you along for the ride, if you're still reading.

- Chris Corsale

One Band's Experience with Streaming and Spotify

I'm feeling compelled to write about streaming and Spotify since it's been in the news so much lately. Ever since Taylor Swift pulled her catalogue from the popular streaming service, musicians, fans, and critics have been trashing Spotify for paying "unfair" royalties and "ripping off" musicians. I categorically disagree with these opinions. TRN's experience with streaming has led me to believe that Spotify is a good thing and will be a welcome source of streaming revenue throughout our career. I still remember the first time I used Napster and P2P. It was 1999 and I was in the basement of my good buddy Ben Wood's house gorging on "free" music. I was typing in every song I could think of and downloading it in seconds over his lightning fast connection. It was a revelation. It was also illegal and incredibly unfair to the artists and rights holders that worked so hard to produce and distribute these works. But there was something so incredibly satisfying about having such a huge amount of music at your fingertips, ready for consumption. Of course it was also incredibly unreliable. Files were usually low quality or not correctly labeled. It took a lot of effort to sift through everything and find what you actually wanted.

Fast forward to 2011 when Spotify--after years of negotiations with the big labels--finally had its US release. I immediately signed up for a free trial and then started paying $9.99 a month to access it on my phone a few months later. It is an incredible deal and, in my opinion, severely underpriced. I would pay $30 a month for it. Those same feelings of excitement that I got from Napster are there with Spotify, only it's much more reliable. From the consumer's point-of-view it is easily the most useful music consumption product available today.

So what about from the artist's perspective? Does Spotify rip off musicians and labels? I don't think so. Let's dig into The Right Now's data to see why. [TRN is by no means a household name or a mega-selling act. We are modestly selling records, touring as much as we can, and building our career at a slow burn. Keep that in mind.]

Streaming your music for free is a fact-of-life for modern artists. You must make your music easily accessible to fans, talent buyers, and industry folks or risk obscurity. TRN has streamed our records on our website, external websites (Soundcloud, YouTube, and long gone sites like myspace), and paid platforms (Spotify, Beats Music, etc) since 2010. We've gotten a decent number of streams and some revenue. Here's the skinny:

TRN website streams: 15,000 Soundcloud: 19,000 Youtube (studio versions on TRN's page): 52,000 Spotify: 55,000

Total streams: 141,000

For a band of our stature these aren't bad numbers. In fact, I'm pretty damn proud that we've gotten nearly 150,000 spins for our 24 studio songs. Here's the streaming revenue picture (total and royalty rate per stream):

Website streams: $0/$0 Soundcloud: $0/$0 Youtube: $35.08/$.0006 Spotify: $279.01/$.005

Obviously we don't expect to make money from free streaming on our website or Soundcloud. But I think the YouTube vs. Spotify picture is really the big issue here. Adele's manager pointed this out the other day: get 10 million views on YouTube and you've got a viral hit, but get 10 million spins on Spotify and you've lost millions in record sales. That doesn't make sense to me. What is clear is that the royalty rate from YouTube is a pittance compared to the 1/2 cent that we get from every Spotify spin. YouTube is by far the largest streaming platform in the world yet they pay out almost nothing. Plus (much like Napster/P2P) the service is unreliable with poor quality control. Anyone can upload your music to YouTube and you won't see a dime from those spins.

Spotify has undeniably changed the consumption patterns of our fans. This is evident in the iTunes sales of our two full-length records which came before and after Spotify's 2011 U.S. release (Carry Me Home in March 2010 and Gets Over You in April 2012). Despite a larger fanbase and more publicized release for Gets Over You in 2012, Carry Me Home sold nearly twice as much on iTunes (overall digital sales were about even since we sold a ton of Gets Over You through our website). Gets Over You did far better with streaming, both on Spotify and our website. My guess is that Spotify turned a lot of iTunes downloaders into streamers. That certainly affected our bottom line and ability to recoup what we spent on the record. But far more people consumed our music which is the probably more important for long term growth of the band.

Taking a closer look at our song "He Used To Be" is also illuminating. Even though we recorded it with the Gets Over You material, "He Used To Be" wasn't digitally released until this year (it was the A side of our official Record Store Day 7" in 2012 so we kept it "vinyl only"). We got word that it was going to be included in a huge video game called Watch Dogs so I released it on iTunes and Spotify a few days before the game came out in May of this year. That turned out to be a good idea. Here are some numbers since May 2014:

YouTube views: 50,408 Spotify streams: 20,536

Total streams: 70,944

As I pointed out before, the YouTube ad revenue is pretty insignificant. Despite having 2.5 times more YouTube streams we've made over 4 times more money through Spotify on this tune.

We've had about 1% of the "He Used To Be" streams convert into paid downloads on iTunes (and we get about $.78 from each download). I have no idea what most bands see in terms of streaming vs. downloads but 1% doesn't seem very good to me at first glance. However, as a percentage of total revenue on "He Used To Be," streaming accounts for 21% of the revenue as opposed to 81% downloads. I would imagine that this percentage will shift toward streaming over time. iTunes sales are tapering off for "He Used To Be" while streaming is holding steady. Of course it take A LOT of streams to equal the income from a single download: at a $.005 royalty rate from Spotify we would need 156 streams to get $.78. Over the course of 5 or 10 years we will probably get more from streaming on this tune. Big time artists with hits are already seeing more money from streaming as opposed to downloads in some markets.

So what's the overall takeaway from diving into TRN's streaming data? Are we making significant money from streaming? Definitely not. But I do not believe that streaming is taking the place of downloading or that fans are stealing from us by streaming our music. To me, everyone that streams our songs for free (or pays a tiny amount to do so on Spotify/YouTube) would probably just not consume our music if their only choice was to pay for it. By giving them the chance to hear us for next to nothing we are (hopefully) creating a relationship with a fan that will result in financial support down the road. So what if they don't pay for our digital release? Maybe they will buy a ticket to a show, a t-shirt, or fund a Kickstarter.

Consumption of music is all about comfort and convenience. Case in point: even though our records are far cheaper directly through our website, far more of our customers buy our songs on iTunes. The same holds true for streaming: listeners would rather stream from Spotify than our website. My advice to Taylor Swift and all musicians? Make it as easy as possible for people to consume your music. Forge a lasting relationship with fans by thinking of your digital downloads as loss leaders. Sell them vinyl, merch at shows, concert tickets, house concerts, and all manner of stuff relating to you and your brand. Start raising hell about Google & YouTube's horrible payments. Raise even more hell about getting data on the folks that purchase your music on iTunes and stream your songs on Spotify (an email is worth way more than your royalty rate). And embrace streaming. It killed illegal file sharing and will make you money over the long run. It's the future whether you like it or not.

 

Benefit Concert for Public Education Tonight!

We're very excited to be a part of Nettelpalooza: A Benefit Concert for Public Education. Brendan's kids both attend The Nettelhorst School, an excellent elementary school in Chicago's East Lakeview neighborhood. Chicago schools suffered drastic budget cuts in 2013 and are struggling. This isn't about iPads for every kid or some fancy new facility--it's about keeping class sizes under 35, employing full-time music, art, drama, and dance teachers, and purchasing basic janitorial supplies to clean the school. Things are that bad and they will only get better if everyone pitches in just a little. The Right Now is joining forces with Bumpus, Dave Hamilton, and DJRC to bring you an electric night of music at Lincoln Hall. We'll be selling Nettelpalooza t-shirts and concert posters at the show--all proceeds go to the school. 5 Rabbits Cerveceria is selling pints for $6 and donating every dime to Nettelhorst. So come on out and join us for a great night of music!

Tickets are here or at the door.

Info:

Thursday September 4, 2014 Nettelpalooza: A Benefit Concert for Public Education Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago) w/ The Right Now, Bumpus, Dave Hamilton, and DJRC Doors at 7 p.m. Bands at 8 p.m. $25 advance or $30 at the door

Nettelhorst_Poster_11x17v2

He Used To Be In Watch Dogs

We got some exciting news last week that our song "He Used To Be" was placed in Watch Dogs, an extremely popular video game that was just released. It's the most heavily pre-ordered game of 2014 and Ubisoft (the company that produced it) expects to sell around 6 million copies. It's an honor to be included in the game, and we've got some great company. Check out the screen grab below--we're in there with JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Danny Chaimson (who coincidentally recorded his track with Sergio Rios at Killion Sound as well), and Curtis Mayfield! watch dogs

 

We recorded "He Used To Be" in August 2011 out in LA during the marathon sessions for Gets Over You. It was originally slated to part of the album but plans changed once our 7" He Used To Be b/w Good Man was selected as an official 2012 Record Store Day release (those two tracks became RSD vinyl-only exclusives). All 700 copies of the 45 sold out immediately so not many folks could listen to these two choice cuts...until now! We've just released "He Used To Be" and "Good Man" digitally on iTunes and every other digital outlet imaginable. Snag those here and here.

A huge thanks to Rob Lindquist and Music Dealers for the placement! A bunch of folks have made their way to the video for "He Used To Be" and are leaving some nice comments. Thanks for the love, Watch Dogs fans!

A little magic in the air

How quickly the time flies by. We released our last record in April 2012 - two years ago. The band has played a ton of gigs since then, and we've even set foot in a studio or two, and certainly a lot of songs have been written and demo'd. But recently, we've had some great experiences at Shirk Sound in Chicago, working with producer Neil Strauch. Everyone who works with The Right Now gets a brainless, derogatory nickname, so why'd it take so long for us to start calling him Neil Stroke? Sorry, man. I'm assuming no one reads this blog and that we're not adding any new irritation to your life. There's some new excitement around a handful of songs - six or seven of 'em - and it's a great feeling. We're still a long way off from our next release, but the energy and excitement are there. I'm guessing we'll surprise a few folks that have come to think of us (very reasonably) as a retro-soul band. There's a more modern feel to a lot of the songs that Brendan and Stef have been writing, and a couple songs really feel like singles. I don't say that lightly...we're very lucky to have a writing team with a batting average like Brendan and Stef. They struck gold on a few of these songs.

Our first album, Carry Me Home, was a painstaking process that took 14 months. Our second album, Gets Over You, involved a lot of prep time and only 8 days in the studio. This new project appears to be somewhere in the middle - we've definitely learned a lot since our first trip to a studio, but we're taking our time and rounding out the details. It's really comfortable. Tacos and skylights help.

We have basic tracks laid down for these six or seven songs (read: drums, bass, guitar, and some keys), and it's exciting to think how much more fleshed-out they'll sound as we add horns and other layers. That can be said of basically any band that goes into a studio, but I just wanted to take a minute and put it out there to our fans...new shit is on the rise! "Postcard" and "Starlight" are my favorites. You can also look for "I Can Just Ride," "Vacancy," "That's Enough," and "Hooked." And some others.

No dates are set yet, no predictions made, but it's nice to be recording again. See you on the road, faithful readers!

Get This Record Now: DeRobert & The Half-Truths "I'm Tryin'"

Damn. I've known the fellas in the Nashville based DeRobert & The Half-Truths for a few years now. Lead singer Dee Adams has one of those "shut the hell up" voices that stops you dead in your tracks, smacks you in the face, and puts a big ole smile on it. The live shows are really something else. With a towel slung over his shoulder, Dee and the Half-Truths work the crowd into a frenzy with dance numbers and break it down with slow jams. I've seen Dee testify to the crowd, preach about the crazy shit he's been going through, and really connect with an audience. It's something to watch--and deeply moving.

But the new record? Damn.

It's something to be heard. The GED Soul Records crew hit this one out of the park. The songwriting and production elevate Dee's amazing vocals in a way I haven't heard before. There are tunes that are in the GED wheelhouse--up-tempo, hard funk cuts with nice unison horn lines. But what I love about this record are the textures and styles that I haven't heard as much from Dee before--the gospel clap and stomp of "I'm Tryin;" the smooth backups on "The Dole Pt. 2;" the bedroom soul of "Get On It." These guys are stretching out and definitely growing as a group.

Enough writing. Listen (and then buy) for yourself:

New Year's Eve 2013 w/ Bernie Worrell!

I'll spare us all the year-end wrap-up blog post that seems to want to come out, and skip to the big deal: not only is The Right Now playing its first-ever New Year's Eve show (that seems crazy!); not only is it a free show in our hometown; but we'll be the opening act for the party that most of us would want to be at anyway: The Bernie Worrell Orchestra at Reggie's on State St. Someone throw your horns up in the air and give us a WOOOO! Ok, some of you don't know who Bernie Worrell is. That's ok - and you probably do know who he is without realizing it. He was founding member, ultra-weird keyboardist, and sometime musical director for Parliament, arguably the best funk band in history. That thrusting synth-bassline from "Flashlight," in all its variations - that's Bernie. All those not-fooling-anyone-into-thinking-it's-a-string-section synths that decorate "Give Up The Funk" (better known to some as "Weeeee want the funk!") - that's SO Bernie. The pew-pew-pew bop gun sound effects in "Bop Gun," - Bernie.  Fans of the Talking Heads might recognize him from the Stop Making Sense movie, and his additions to a few of their albums. (That intro and keyboard solo on "Burning Down The House"....yup!)



 

Since the 80s he's been touring with his own bands. I've seen him a few times and it's a reminder of how wonderful and weird and fun he is, even though he's a slight, soft-spoken guy. He wasn't just the keyboardist in a weird band; he was one of the main ingredients that made them weird! And in the most fun way.

Anyway - it's a huge honor to play a show with him, and we can't wait to bring the funk and get a lot in return. The show is free, so we hope some of you will turn out! 2013 has been a hell of a year - let's give it the killer send-off it deserves, and show 2014 what a party can look like!!

Cover Up #6: "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore" by Prince

Stefanie Berecz. We in the band call her Breezy sometimes, and here's one reason why. She and I knocked out this burning Prince tune in the middle of our set at The Ritz Theatre in Tiffin, OH.  And uh....Tiffin U had some singers in the audience that night! Best spontaneous backups...maybe ever. This song comes from the way-underrated Girl 6 Soundtrack album, which is one of my favorites. Since he's so obsessed with keeping his music off the internet, here's the best (legal) thing I could find. Highly recommended.

-Chris

 

 

 

Warm Up Wednesdays continue in March

We've had so much fun during our February residency at The Back Room that we decided to extend it through March! To celebrate another month at The Back Room we're doing 1/2 off the cover charge the first week. Just reply "yes" to our Facebook invite here. We'd like to thank DJRC for holding it down on the turntables last month as well as all the amazing guests that came out: Brandice Manuel, Danny Fernandez of Kings Go Forth, Nathan Graham from The Lucky Dutch, Aryk Crowder, and Lucas Ellman from The Heard. We've got some AMAZING guests lined up for March so stay tuned!

 

"Call Girl" remixes are downloadable!

The vinyl has been out for a couple weeks, but now Deep & Disco has released the second round of "Call Girl" remixes as mp3s on all the popular music-downloading sites of the day. We're hugely grateful to Jason Kriv, who we've worked with in various projects like Tortured Soul and Escort, for putting this project together. His Deep & Disco label is responsible for some hot stuff, and we're proud to be a part of it. That Hot Toddy mix in particular is a party-starter, and many of you have heard us integrate it into our live show. Grab one of these links to heat up your winter and kick up your dance party. There are even bonus tracks unavailable on the 12" vinyl...

 

"Call Girl" remixes on iTunes

"Call Girl" remixes on Amazon

"Call Girl" remixes on eMusic

"Call Girl" remixes on Juno