Avant-folk ensemble Akron/Family—they of the live show known to last until sunrise, spill over into neighboring blocks, inspire otherwise introverted spectators to hoot 'n' holler, and accelerate the growth of facial hair beyond the laws of science—have uprooted from the East Coast and moved to Portland (or two out of three of them have, anyway). What's more, as a bold declaration of arrival and intent, they want to play as many free, all-ages shows as possible. But what would inspire such fiscally dangerous, albeit ethically inspiring behavior? Band member (assigning these guys specific instrumental duties is senseless) Seth Olinsky explains:
"I think that now that recorded music has lost its value, a lot of the weight of the industry has fallen on touring and the live show to make up for it. In some ways, this is wonderful, as music has been a 'live' event shared between people for thousands of years, and the monetizing of recorded music was kind of a blip in time over the last century. But this weight on the value of the live show does seem to put an unnecessary pressure on it, at least for us. And so it got to the point that the idea of going out and playing for free, just sharing our music and finding and connecting to the people that are interested in it and believe in it, seemed fun and almost subversive."
Akron/Family begin their march to the poorhouse, the Credibility Hall of Fame, or perhaps both with a not-to-be-missed free, all-ages, 6:30 pm show at Holocene with Au and Wow & Flutter on Saturday, January 23.
Musicians, of course, have more market-driven ways of adapting to the new music economy, as evidenced by the birth of local co-op label Infinite Front, which provides a common imprint and online sales infrastructure for artists willing to be the sole financiers (and, ideally, profiteers) of their own albums. Ryne Warner of Ohioan—who, along with Eric Crespo of fellow shape-shifting out-folk troupe Ghost to Falco, dreamed up the self-governing label—believes that Infinite Front could facilitate the release of niche music that would otherwise go unheard, simply by virtue of creating a motivating sense of community and audience. To illustrate, he cites the tantalizing prospective release of live recordings of thus-far sadly undocumented local improv noise-funk ensemble Cexfucx, as well as the appeal of a web interface "not affiliated with dating or Rupert Murdoch."
Infinite Front celebrates the release of its inaugural recordings—an album from Ghost to Falco, one from Ohioan, and a suitably idiosyncratic four-way-split 7-inch comprising tracks by the aforementioned as well as cohorts Dragging an Ox through Water and Castanets—with an all-ages show at the Artistery on Saturday, January 23, featuring the full, fearsome foursome of 7-inch contributors.
In other economic news, Portland-based radio promotion, licensing, and marketing company SPECTRE Entertainment Group has shut its doors because, according to founder and CEO Dave Sanford, "It had some clients who went out of business and left some pretty big bills behind, and some others that pulled large projects due to budget cuts."
However the closure has provided Sanford and many of his former colleagues at SPECTRE the opportunity to launch a new, leaner, and more adaptable business this month. The new modular enterprise, dubbed the Sanford Company, will provide the same types of services as SPECTRE, with radio campaigns handled by genre-specific sub-brands Distiller Promo and Different Soundz. Sanford plans for his company to be as supportive of local music as SPECTRE was, continuing to sponsor events like the popular free Sunday show series at Rontoms, and focusing on serving more independent rock and electronic artists within their limited budgets. Meanwhile, larger SPECTRE clients like labels Barsuk, VICE, and Secretly Canadian have signed on with the Sanford Company.