in which we explain how Figment is out to save Music… or not.

We also talk about how great our new Figment Concert Poster Contest is and why you should enter it.

Larry’s Media Picks

Eric’s Media Picks

  • Fool’s Gold –  A world music collective out of Los Angeles, CA inspired by a shared love of Congolese, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Malian music and American dance-pop.  Oh yeah, and did I mention the lead singer sings in Hebrew?  Cuz he does!
  • Dave Rawlings Machine –  This incredible sideman for Gillian Welch finally steps into the spotlight and delivers a fantastic debut solo record.  If you like Americana, folk and bluegrass you’ll love this album.  Sorry, no MySpace tunes, but you can listen to snippets on Amazon.

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7 Responses to “Podcast #5 – The Figment Manifesto”

  1. theHoseman Says:

    Once again, thanks for the recommendations. Listened to bit of each and liked them all. I gotta say…David Bazan’s song “Hard To Be”…Beautiful!

    A thought I had about what Figment means: It’s essentially a common man’s creative outlet. People who don’t make art for a living, but still have a need to create…well, Figment is a vehicle for that creation.

    Here’s a listening recommendation. The MPR station 89.3 the Current. If you’re not in the Twin Cities, you can stream it live at:
    A good mix of music, with an emphasis on local bands. It’s all cool, but i recommend afternoons w/ Mary Lucia (Paul Westerberg’s sister) and evenings w/ Mark Wheat.

  2. Javdoc Says:

    I don’t know….I don’t think I particularly cared for that whole bit in the middle there…. This whole thing seemed focused on creating a community of folks who love music but maybe aren’t fortunate enough to have the opportunity or talent to express their interest otherwise. Hearing that we’re being kept “off the street” as it were, kinda kills the buzz….

  3. Eric Says:

    Javdoc – I guess I can see how you might see what we were talking about in that light, but it truly wasn’t meant that way. I thought we made a point of saying that wasn’t what we were saying, and in fact, I said exactly what you wrote in your comment – that I don’t have the talent to start a band, and Figment allows me an outlet to express myself as if I was. Now, maybe we were too flippant, if that’s the case I apologize for it, but we’re really just trying to distill what our users think Figment is since the question of “why would people do this” is often posed to us and in some cases not in a nice way. I guess we should have been clearer about that in the preamble to what we were discussing.

    Ultimately what we’re trying to do is see how our users would answer the question if it was posed to them. The whole “we’re saving the music industry” argument is meant to be self-deprecating, but only to diffuse the negativity behind the question itself. It’s also a logical argument, in that Figment allows people (musicians and non-musicians alike) to think through what is a very important part of the music industry these days and that’s marketing. Again, we didn’t mean to offend, we merely meant to see what your impression of that argument would be.

    Thanks for your comment.


  4. Eric Says:

    hoseman – thanks for the recommendation. When I kicked off their live stream they opened w/ The Ramones “Glad To See You Go” and it brought an instant smile to my face. So thanks! The Current reminds me a lot of our local public radio station WFUV – http://www.wfuv.org/. Love public radio!

  5. Larry Says:

    Thanks for the great comments everyone!

    Javdoc, yeah I see that point on the manifesto bit.

    What I was serious about: The artwork and concepts behind a record are an art form unto themselves that’s every bit as important, if not in many cases more important than the music itself.

    The bit about music would be better if more “bad” bands just did the artwork and concept work instead of bothering with the playing instruments bit, doesn’t help me make that point. It really isn’t worth including.

    Thanks for helping me think that through.


  6. frizbee Says:

    I, personally, wasn’t offended at all by the whole discussion about saving music from would-be crappy bands, but I can certainly see why other people would take that to heart. I love Figment for the exact reason it exists: because I can live out my rockstar fantasies without being in a real band. I’ve always wanted to be in a band, but it’s just something that’s never really been in the cards for me.

    I was in a very VERY short lived band when I was about 16, which completely fell apart about two months after forming. I was a singer for hire and the rest of the band was made up of guys who all knew each other from school, so I was the odd man out. The guitar player had such grandiose delusions that we would blow up and record an album, then start playing all these venues after one practice session. Nobody could play their instruments except for the guitar player, who could only play riffs and nothing else. The bass player was originally the second guitarist, but he apparently got too good and the guitar player made him switch to bass, which he couldn’t play to save his life. And the drummer just didn’t care one way or the other. Most practice sessions ended up being me trying to write songs to what the guitar player was making up on the fly because that’s how he wanted to do it, even though I prefer writing the lyrics and then writing the music. We had ONE really good practice session where everyone was on point, and it wasn’t too long after that the band dissolved. Everybody wanted to kick the guitar player out, but since he was the one who brought everyone together, it wouldn’t really work without him. We never even settled on a name. We went from Four Corners to Nocturnal to Arcane, etc, etc.

    I would still love to be in a band someday, but I’m not sure if it will ever happen. I’ve been writing songs and coming up with band names ever since I was a kid, but it may just be something that remains a fantasy. I remember once in first grade when we were told to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, everyone drew doctors or firemen…I drew a rockstar. In a very douche-y move, the teacher said I failed the assignment. Who knew you could fail a six year old’s dreams?

    I couldn’t agree with Larry more about the lost art form of album artwork. That reason alone is why I’ve never been one to bow down to the itunes generation. Sure, I’ll get things on itunes every now and then, but when it comes to a full album I will purposely go out and buy it. I want to have the complete package. The cover art is what makes up a very large portion of the album for me. I’m always bummed when I hear a great album that has terrible cover art, and vice versa. That is yet another reason why I love Figment because the cover art is really what sells the album. If the cover art doesn’t catch my eye, 9 times out of 10 I won’t listen to it.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with the comment about how bands these days don’t have the time to mature and fine tune their sound. Nowadays, if a band’s first album doesn’t do well, that can be the end of that band. Take Kiss for example; their first few albums weren’t very good and they’re one of the biggest bands in history. I didn’t care for Dressed To Kill or Rock And Roll Over. It wasn’t until Destroyer that they really came into their own. But if a newer band doesn’t blow people’s minds right away, they tend to fade into obscurity.

  7. Javdoc Says:

    Well, now that I have calmed down a bit…. 😉

    From my own perspective, I forget how I actually came across Figment, but as a moderately talented guitarist with time limited by work and a growing family, I thought it would be a fun way to “get my band on” until circumstances allowed me to get into a real band situation. My first month or so, I think I basically put out an album a day, and was just venting a lot of unused creativity. As time wore on, I began identifying with a couple of my bands, Zeroth in particular, and started looking at them as a way to think through what I would want to do if/when I was able to start a real band. [In hindsight, I wish I had not created so many bands out the gate, and focused my effort more on thoroughly developing a few, versus now having so many bands that are largely idle.]

    Now, with respect to the outside world view of Figment, in my case I feel a bit, I don’t want to say embarrassed, but conflicted about using the site. When I first started, I mentioned it to a friend of mine at work who is an excellent guitarist and has one of the top hard rock cover bands up in Rochester. He said, “You should be spending your time looking for a real band”, and I guess that’s been in the back of my mind all along. As I said above, I do feel a large part of my effort on here is helping me think through what I would want to do in reality. Not that I need to justify myself to anyone, but I suppose I do feel somewhat like I am making a choice between real and fake music, and lean on the “it’s helping me think through stuff” angle. So, would I use Figment so intensely if I had no real-world band aspirations at all? Not sure of the answer to that one…..

    As I think about this more though, Figment isn’t that much different than World of Warcraft or EVE or any of those kinds of games, which are hugely popular. We are creating an online community around a shared interest, with its’ own merit and rewards structures. Granted, for WoW and EVE, there is not a real army of dwarves or galactic alliance out there taking issue with being parodied, but you get the point.

    Regarding the concept of a “manifesto”, I think I am a bit leery of that given this is a strictly creative thing here and manifestos or mission statements make me think of corporate endeavors or political parties, and what would the manifesto for the real music industry look like? But, as I am a marketing person in my professional life, I suppose my “elevator pitch” for Figment would be: “Figment is an unrestricted forum for experimentation, and can be whatever you want it to be; whether you want to live out your rockstar dreams and single-handedly shape a virtual music industry without ever playing a note, or forge a band identity for the real world before you ever take the stage, the only limit is your imagination.” That last bit is certainly a bit cliched, but it’s definitely true on Figment.

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