Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bandcamp Bonanza – The Coveted Preorder

The coveted “pre-order” is a phenomenon that has undergone sort of a negative connotation in the bandcamp fan world as of late, yet if conducted correctly can be rewarding to both artist and fan. Let’s stop to discuss this concept in today’s age, and specifically the pre-order on bandcamp for the articles’ sake. You may have noticed from time to time, a band or label will feature an upcoming album for sale with the projected release date sometime in the near or distant future. This classifies as a pre-order by definition, and often times the albums have 1 or 2 tracks available to listen to with the remaining tracks greyed out acting somewhat as a tease. This is all fine and dandy, however the gripe comes with the concept of the tracks being completed and presented, the artwork on display, and the album is slated for a “digital only” release. Why not just make it available now? Especially after the fan has kicked down the money to support? This is mostly a concern with bands that are not offering physical merchandise with the album and I understand copy rights and label contracts with distribution agreements with an agreed upon schedule of release. If it’s a pre-order for a vinyl record or CD and the release date is clearly communicated, I have no qualm pre-ordering and only getting access to the single or teaser tracks until the release, especially if it’s in limited supply and there’s a chance of selling out and missing the opportunity to get the record. This makes sense. A common work around for the digital only guys could be to offer special pre-order pricing on the album as to incentivize the customer into an early purchase, which could stimulate a bank for the band to put towards merchandise, and at the same time draw up free promotion from the social aspect of bandcamp by letting other fans know that a fan bought the album and allow for a short review to be posted on the page. I myself take the pre-order bait quite often as I am relatively impatient, but do understand a gripe for the digital pre-orders knowing that the files are just sitting there waiting to be played yet often times it is months before you actually get access to the full download as a pre-ordering, paying customer. It’s an interesting topic and one that may not really register as valid so I thought this would be a great forum to discuss. With that said, I mentioned I do the pre-order thing all the time, and here are some I feel are worthy of the admission price.

DSW – Tales From The Cosmonaut
DSW or earlier known as Dust Storm Warning from their debut self-titled offered up the pre-order deal on their upcoming album Tales from the Cosmonaut. Like any pre-order it’s important to investigate who the band is, what is the potential, and when is the release date. Other factors include price point, expectation and anticipation and whether or not the album is available on vinyl (limited quantity?), CD, cassette or whatever you may fancy. DSW or Dust Storm Warning’s debut album released in 2012 was strong enough for me to warrant a potential pre-order and after listening to the teaser tracks available I was sold and made the purchase for the vinyl. Fast forward to mid-November and the label sends over the promo for the new album in full for review and boy oh boy was I delighted. Not only were my high expectations met, they were shattered with a top notch, heavy ass bluesy affair of riffs dusted with gargantuan vocals veering between Graveyard at their meanest and Brain Police at their stoniest.  The vinyl pre-order states only 50 available on bandcamp, so I suggest you unpack that wallet and prepare to get stomped by the dusted out heavy psychedelic blues comprising the Tales from the Cosmonaut.

Dreamtime – Strange Pleasures
Australian psychsters, Dreamtime are releasing a brand new album which is up on pre-order during the time of this article composition. I first found out about these guys earlier this year over at the Captcha Records page, where they were featuring reissues of their back catalogue, that were apparently in short supply and one of those cult following sort of bands and hard to find on vinyl.
Here’s what I said then, “This is highly intoxicating stuff. Drowned with reverberated melodies, enchanting atmosphere and smoldering riffs, SUN will scorch your mind and desert your dreams.”
This was the incentive for me to jump on the new album pre-order, which is slated for a December 2nd , 2016 release. So far it hasn’t sold out, but if you want to be in the cool kids club you should probably get on it sooner rather than later. Truly strange and pleasurable heavy, trippy psych rock blending elements of dreamy desert psych with experimental mind altering soundscapes to the table.

Leafy – Leafy
Leafy being released on the up and coming More Fuzz Records brings us another situation of a pre-order in which everything is done right. At least in my mind. The pre-order phase has two teaser tracks, a release date published in the near future and a discount code for a 30% off incentive for buying the album early. Now its unclear whether or not the album will see a physical release or not, the digital album pre-order is justified by giving the early bird the discount worm which makes the listener feel like they are getting something out of pre-ordering, rather than paying early for something that you can pay after release and get the full album for no cost. I strongly urge other bands and labels to allow for some kind of incentive if you put material up for pre-order, especially for digital only. Otherwise give the entire album out to buyers when they pre-order and leave only the teaser tracks up for those who wish to wait it out. And in the end, the most important thing is this music rocks. I’ve only heard two tracks, but took my 30% discount, promoted via a review blurb on bandcamp, and in turn hopefully paid the band back with sales from my followers on bandcamp. It’s really that simple.
Don't be a fool. Read the pre-order instructions. Enter the code. Take the discount. Then enjoy the Danzig-crusted heavy stoner rock as it fuzzes over your speakers from the comfort of your own home. They're from Norway but sort of have a bit of the Greek heavy party rock sound. Not a bad thing.”

Roast – Roast EP
I’m adding this one to the article for the plain and simple reason that it kicks some major fucking ass. Roast are a group of young lads from Southern California doing what young lads from Southern California do best, being kicking ass and jamming riffs. The incentive on this pre-order is that at a minimum you can get a copy of the first pressing of the Tri-fold CD and ensure the digital files are in your library the day it releases not having to remember to log back in and make the purchase then. There are some albums that demand pre-order even if it doesn’t get you that much more in advance. Here we have a single track available upon purchase, but the price tag is under the $7 mark at $5, which for me is a magic no risk price for any and all albums on bandcamp. I will buy the album at $5 9 times out of 10, where if it went to $7 it’s more like a 1 out of 10 purchase. Weird phenomena but the truth exists. Anyway, the 4 tracks comprise over 20 minutes of non-stop retro rock and roll straight out of the 70’s
Roast burns us with 4 tracks of unadulterated heavy blues, caramelized with brain melting solos sautéed in proto-doom. The Zeppelin esque' squelch seers with Pentagram harmony on the debut EP steeping in Sabbath worship and smoldering with heavy psychedelic aroma. The young dudes from CA manage to concoct a flaming set of irresistible tunes. Mesmerizing artwork to boot! Wow! Big future ahead!”

All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War
Last but not least, in fact, its probably the most mandatory pre-order on this list is the brand new album by All Them Witches. These guys just keep getting weirder and weirder. Meant in the best possible of ways. They are a band that once you own one of their records on wax, you desperately need to have them all. What better way than to get them as they are released in the Pre-order stage. Not only can you snobbishly tell your friends you bought the album before it even came out, but you ensure a place in line and an album in hand on an album that has potential to sell out and be wiped from circulation. I don’t want to have to rely on discogs or ebay to buy the album when I could have scored it from the band early in the game.
If you're here now, months before the release, you are likely a fan already and for good reason. If you are just finding out about these guys keep in mind that they represent one of the most original and compelling sounds in the new wave of the heavy psychedelic blues rock realm. Go watch them play live while you're at it. A real gem in the scene. Get your vinyl now, as it may not be unavailable by the time the album is released.”

Now that you’ve had a chance to check out some of the recent pre-orders that have shaken hands with my paypal account, do you get the drift I am trying to make. First off, pre-order based off of your own personal expectation (or addiction), funding capability, and love of music. Secondly, don’t bitch when you see the release date in advance that you don’t get your files right away knowing there’s a good chance it has to actually be released first. Third, tell your friends. When there is an opportunity, especially on limited supplies of killer bands, order your copy first, then tell your friends who you feel would want to be included in the conversation. The bands do appreciate it, likely, and you are supporting a scene in need of fans like us to thrive. Next, and this was not mentioned until now, if you are going to be hosting a kickstarter as a pre-order platform, please give your backers an incentive to back that they cannot get once the product is achieved and realized. Absolutely the most annoying thing ever from a fan who backs a kickstarter project is to put your money in the pot early becoming part of the project, only coming to find out that once its funded your ‘prize’ or product is inferior to the supplementary options available post-kickstarter. What that means is you pay more up front for a limited edition product and later down the road, the product multiplies in size and the general public can buy a better package for the same or cheaper price retail. In general, I feel there must be some sort of incentive to a pre-order. Price cut, swag, a virtual high-five (legitimately) or along those lines. But in the meantime, I concede and profess once again, its all about the music and not a competition to see who pre-orders the most records or who sells the most pre-orders the fastest. As long as it rocks the scene is benefitted.

-The Huntsman

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