What are all of the ways you can make a living as a musician these days? How can fans best support their favorite artists? Why does there seem to be so much tension between artists and record labels?
Late last year, Holodeck Records CEO Adam Jones joined our podcast to discuss these questions and much more. Jones, a member of electronic bands S U R V I V E and Troller, also shared what it was like when music from S U R V I V E appeared on the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things.
Subscribers can check out the full transcript of our conversation below. For past “Cover Charge” episodes, click here.
Photo credit: Alexandra Kacha
Cover Charge: Episode 10 Transcript
Nick Schenck: [00:00:00] What’s up everyone? This is Nick Schenck, the host of 3rd & Lamar’s Cover Charge podcast. This episode, our guest is Adam Jones. He is the co-founder and CEO of Holodeck Records, which is an independent record label based here in Austin. Adam – thanks so much for joining. [restrict]
Adam Jones: [00:00:19] Yeah. Thanks for having me. I appreciate, you know, having something to do.
Nick Schenck: [00:00:25] Yeah. Right. In a nutshell, what’s 2020 been like for you?
Adam Jones: [00:00:32] well am I allowed to cuss?
Nick Schenck: [00:00:35] Yeah, let it fly.
Adam Jones: [00:00:37] It’s been shitty. That’s the best way I have to describe it, but, you know, I guess I try to keep everything in perspective and that, you know, a lot of things for a lot of people are worse, but yeah, I guess for, for me, this year totally went backwards for me as far as what I had expected to do . My two main bands S U R V I V E and Troller, we were planning on releasing albums this year. And I guess a lot of that promotional campaign would be heavily dependent on touring. So we all decided that we would just wait till next year to release them. So, that kind of meant that I like.
You know, just with staying at home, instead of doing all of this, like touring and album campaign promotion and stuff like that. That was probably the biggest setback of the year. But I like for most of my friends and bandmates, everybody’s had something like, you know, they’ve lost their job or there’s been a few deaths kind of close this year, to me and…
Nick Schenck: [00:01:46] COVID related?
Adam Jones: [00:01:47] No, nothing COVID related , although I did have some of my more like MAGA-tended relatives out in West Texas get COVID, a whole crew of them, but they all made it through fine. So happy about that. But you know, it feels really dense, you know, I think when people look back at this year, historically, it’s going to be like way more dense than the years before it, it feels like that at least.
Nick Schenck: [00:02:15] Yeah, for sure. Longest year of my life, there’s some highlights for sure. Just really low lows and some really high highs for us. But I wanted to bring you on this podcast and I reached out to you specifically because A) I’m a huge fan of electronic music and synth music, which, I know Holodeck represents a lot of bands in that genre, which we’ll get into, but also we’re somewhat involved with music in the sense that we produce a few different live streaming music series.
But there’s a lot of aspects of the music industry in terms of the business side of the music industry that are still a mystery to me. And I kind of want to demystify some of that. We cover Austin business subculture and music. So I feel like talking to you about music and business together is right in our wheelhouse.
Tell me, and you launched Holodeck Records in 2012. Explain the impetus for launching the record label and we can go off on tangents. We can take this anywhere we want. So let’s just start there.
Adam Jones: [00:03:18] Okay. I started the label mostly because I was playing in a lot of bands and I wanted to have a way to control when and how I release them. Back then, in 2012, and even before 2012, I was playing in a ton of different projects. A lot of them are now defunct, but I guess most of my friends at the time were doing something similar where we’re playing in multiple projects.
S U R V I V E had been going pretty strong by this point, but it wasn’t like anybody really knew who we are or was willing to spend money on a vinyl. I guess it’s, it sounds kind of silly to say now, but, you know, back then, especially like the late aughts and, and early tens, there was still, I feel like a lot of aversion from general music going audiences in Austin toward electronic music in general. You know, people, often times would kind of find it weird that there wasn’t maybe a bunch of guitars and drums on stage and stuff like that.
And I think things have changed a lot now. But back then, people thought S U R V I V E was kind of this weird thing that, it was basically a novelty act, you know?
Nick Schenck: [00:04:44] For people who haven’t heard of the music for S U R V I V E. Just describe it.
Adam Jones: [00:04:49] We are a four-person instrumental band and we pretty much just play hardware, synthesizers, hardware, drum machines, and samplers and stuff like that. We do as much as we can live. We do have some backing tracks, but for the most part we try to play as much as we can between four people live in front of people and bring more of a live band experience toward electronic music. To be honest, it’s not dance music or something like that. That’s another thing that often happens when I talk to somebody who doesn’t know anything about music whatsoever. If I tell them, I play electronic music, they say, Oh, are you a DJ? Or do you make EDM or something like that?
And you know, it’s more just like a medium. Electronic music can be anything. And for us, it’s kinda like slow and cinematic. You can dance to some of our stuff, but a lot of it is kind of very mood-based. So,
Nick Schenck: [00:05:51] Yeah, I would describe it as slightly dark.
Adam Jones: [00:05:54] Yeah, I would, too. I mean, it ain’t happy that’s for sure. So we, I guess we’ve always sort of tended to like that kind of stuff, you know? I guess for S U R V I V E, we started in 2009, but we had been, you know, friends for a couple of years before that just sort of, well, three of us lived in the same house together for a while, but we just started getting into synthesizers, like, I remember, my band mate, Kyle, when we lived together the first, like real analog synth that he bought was a, a Korg Mono/Poly. And it was from the seventies and it had, an arpeggiator, and it can sync up to a few other pieces of hardware, especially ones from that era. But for the most part, you know, it’s sort of a weird, was a weird ancient, instrument and, and we just sorta sat around and figured out how to make some really basic tracks with it where we could get it to sync up with one or two other things. And, and, that was sort of the basis of, of our starting the band. Actually, it was like buying old gear and wanting to see what it could do as far as, you know, syncopation and, and sequencing and stuff like that.
Nick Schenck: [00:07:19] Sorry to interrupt you. But you said the gear is from like, you know, the seventies, eighties, my first introduction to that to sort of synthesizers and that type of music was Risky Business and this band called Tangerine Dream did the soundtrack.
Adam Jones: [00:07:32] Yeah. Yeah.
Nick Schenck: [00:07:34] And I got super into that type of music and that was kind of like my introduction and, from there, you know, kind of branched out, but it’s funny how that, you know, there’s such a resurgence around that sound.
Adam Jones: [00:07:46] Yeah, totally. I mean, we love a Tangerine Dream. The definitely all four of us in the band are a huge fans and, their soundtrack work, especially, is awesome. So yeah, that, that kind of stuff was a big influence on us, too. And, yeah, I think that, well, at least for us, that was some of the original, like synth music that we were getting into at the time, like 15 years ago now. And I guess for us, you know, we all came out of college around that time, you know?
And it was, it was an interesting time in music because there wasn’t a lot like fresh, fresh, new, exciting, cutting edge genres on the, on the up and coming right then, You know, I guess that era was like dominated by, you know, stuff like Animal Collective and, you know, I guess, you know, there was some innovation going on, but you know, it’s not like there were some, a lot of new well-established genres going on.
Everything just seemed to be kind of a mishmash of stuff that had happened and, you know, people, all of the like, sort of, I don’t know, stuff like Kid A and, and stuff that was happening around the turn of the century to sort of get people on board with experimental music. It felt kind of lost at the time to us, at least.
So we started diving into the past more and that’s when we started listening to stuff like Tangerine Dream and other types of kraut rock bands or like German experimental bands from the time and, Italo disco, that kind of, those kinds of genres from the seventies and eighties where we’re sort of how we landed on them – at least what we listened to at home.
Nick Schenck: [00:09:37] S U R V I V E had been around for a few years. You launched Holodeck in 2012. You want to have more control – I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I think you said you wanted more control over how your music was released. Talk about like for the person who doesn’t understand how record labels work. I imagine they’re in charge of distributing music for bands, and then they get a percentage of the revenue generated from the distribution of that music. Is that correct? And what role did Holodeck play when you launched and signed bands?
Adam Jones: [00:10:07] Well, yeah, I guess it’s, I guess getting signed or releasing music can really mean anything you want it to, and it’s definitely evolved and changed over the years and it, and it doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
I think the heyday, or the last heyday of, of that being sort of like this big life changing event for a lot of up and coming bands was maybe like the nineties, when there really was still a lot of investment on, on developing a new artist, from, I guess the, the garage level up to, you know, Nirvana or something like that.
But now, I guess it just depends on the, the label size. For me, I guess at the time when I say I wanted more control over the way our music was released, is that S U R V I V E, we didn’t even really have a lot of people interested in helping us at the time. And I guess we were just hoping somebody would be willing to print it on vinyl. That was, you know, that was like a big dream for us to do. I guess for Holodeck, what we do is we, we do a revenue sharing type of agreement with our artists. So when I sign an artist, basically what we’re agreeing to is that I have the exclusive license to reproduce that music, whether that be digital distribution or tape or CD or vinyl or any other format – that I get the exclusive, right to do that for a set period of time.
And then all of the money that we collect from revenue sources of, of any kind, we’ll share in those profits once we’ve sort of made the money back from initially, like pressing a vinyl or making a music video or something like that. Then after that we split everything 50-50 with the artist.
Nick Schenck: [00:12:15] Okay. Is that typical that, you know, once a record label recoups its costs, they split 50-50 with an artist? Or is it, you know, the bigger the artist, the more leverage they have and they can negotiate better revenue shares?
Adam Jones: [00:12:32] Yeah. I would say the bigger the artist, the more negotiating power for sure.
But for a lot of other label contracts, you might have a, sorry, I’m blanking on the term for it. But, in a different scenario, you might have it so that you’re not revenue sharing in that same way, but that the artist makes a certain percentage of every dollar of revenue, if that makes sense.
So instead of just saying, okay, we’re going to share all the profits 50-50 after expenses are recouped, another scenario could be, I’m just going to make, you know, 20% off of every dollar from the beginning and I’m going to make money immediately and you’re going to make money after you recoup.
Nick Schenck: [00:13:20] Yeah.
Adam Jones: [00:13:21] You know?
Nick Schenck: [00:13:21] Okay. And what about like tour revenue, merch revenue? Is that stuff that you guys don’t like to touch?
Adam Jones: [00:13:30] I guess for Holodeck, we’re a pretty small label, so I guess for us mostly we’re just, our contracts mostly just deal with the rights to reproduce the music.
A lot of labels, they do have merchandise contracts as well built in, but those are usually different percentage rates. And then there’s also publishing that a lot of labels do. We don’t really do the publishing either. You know, for me, I, I keep my, my scope pretty narrow because there’s a lot of room in those other areas to expand, and I don’t want to sort of claim ownership of those revenue potentials without being able to really go in there and do a great job at it, you know?
Nick Schenck: [00:14:14] Okay. What’s the difference between publishing and reproduction?
Adam Jones: [00:14:20] Well, publishing is its own kind of industry that is, can be a little bit hard to get a grasp on, but essentially any time your music is played anywhere, whether that be at a bar or, when you even play it live in front of people, anytime that music gets sort of broadcast in a public area – on the radio, what have you – it, it generates some income and, half of that income is owned by the writer or composer. And then the other half of it is owned by the publisher. Now a band or a musician in their natural state is both their own writer and their own publisher. But, in certain circumstances you can maybe sell your rights, your publishing rights to a company who will go out and promote your music on your behalf so that they can collect that publishing revenue. It’s all a lot of backend music industry stuff that is, you know, often pretty confusing to me. However, it exists and it’s good for people to know about it, you know?
Nick Schenck: [00:15:37] Yeah. I think it’s really important to shine a light on it because I think the average person’s like, Oh yeah, I support my favorite artists. I just like listened to them on Spotify. And I know they’re getting money for every time I play a song, but, you know, I asked DOSSEY and Urban Heat, two bands that played – local bands that played – in our Rooftop Live series.
And I asked them like, have they figured out the math behind how many, how much money they make every time somebody listens to them on Spotify, and they, they both laughed out loud and said, it’s like nothing. You know, it’s basically meaningless. And so understanding all the mechanics of how artists get paid and who has their hand in the pot, I think will help people understand where they can support their artists the most, like where that value i s so that they can, you know, put money in their favorite artists’ pockets, you know?
Adam Jones: [00:16:35] Yeah. Well, I would say that if you are a, just a, a normal person who is starting to make music and, whether or not you’re on a label or not, it would be good to get an account with either BMI or ASCAP.
And those are the two, PROs or performing rights organizations that are pretty dominant in the U.S. and what you do is you sign up for an account and you make two accounts. One is your composer account, and the other one is your publishing account. And then, it’s connected to your bank account and you might only get, you know, a few cents each month, to start out with, but those are going to be connected to you permanently. So whatever you put out from then on, you just keep on registering these new songs and, you know, over time, it’s just good to have that stuff there because it may not be that much money, but it’ll continue to trickle in. And then if you see any kind of success at all, like if one of your songs breaks out and becomes a hit, or if you get a spot in a commercial or a movie or something like that, then those kind of, backend revenue sources do become pretty substantial.
Nick Schenck: [00:17:57] And when, when you upload your music to BMI or ASCAP, you create your account that music’s like basically fingerprinted, right? So if somebody uploaded a song that matched that fingerprint on YouTube and that video gets monetized on YouTube. That would go back into your pocket, right? As the artist?
Adam Jones: [00:18:16] Yeah, totally. There’s a lot of different ways that, I guess revenue streams work now. The whole idea is that, is that once you register it with your performance rights organizations, that’s part of their job is to make sure that those royalties that are accrued from payments get funneled to the right person.
And if you don’t do it, like say you’re just like, well, you know, nobody really listens to my stuff, so it’s not worth me doing. Well then, you know, you will never really be able to make any money doing that. So, eh, I would say it’s, it’s totally worth just doing it. And then if you are serious about music and you continue to release new music for a while, then it will pay off eventually, you know? So I think there’s a sign up fee. And I think you have to apply for ASCAP, whereas BMI, you just have to register, but, yeah, I think that everybody who is pursuing music as a serious passion should do that.
Nick Schenck: [00:19:22] Okay. When people go to Spotify and they see X artist has, you know, 2 million monthly listeners, can they assume that that equates to X number of dollars? Have you figured out what that equation is? Like I’m looking at Spotify now. I created a Bruce Springsteen playlist recently and he’s got 14.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
I’m curious. I wonder how much, how much money that’s putting in his pocket?
Adam Jones: [00:19:51] It’s hard to say. And I guess for me, I have a, I have a digital distributor who handles getting my music out to the world on all of these platforms. And then, there’s a separate company that they work in tandem with to collect all the money on the back end.
So my, my distributor would actually be the person that like, if somebody did want to take a S U R V I V E song and just put it on their YouTube channel without permission, something like that though, the digital distributor, sorry, that’s hard to say the digi distro is sort of, the police that would kind of go up there to, to whoever has that up and say, you know, no, you got to take this down.
I would say that for anybody trying to support music that they really like, like there’s a cool local band that you think is cool and you want to help them out as much as possible, go buy their music, download their music from their Bandcamp. That is the most direct way to support the artists that you like. Streams and all that stuff, I don’t know the way that it pays the person on a dollar amount, but it’s really small. So even if you love somebody’s new track and keep it on repeat all da y, that’s not going to help them nearly as much as if you go to their Bandcamp and pay 99 cents to download the track.
Nick Schenck: [00:21:26] That’s a good heads up. Do you follow Kanye West on Twitter?
Adam Jones: [00:21:31] No, I don’t. Should I?
Nick Schenck: [00:21:35] No comment on that. He, he, he can go a lot of different places, but he did go on a Twitter rampage not that long ago where he’s talking about the relationship between artists and music labels and, you know, I think that there is another issue that came up recently where Taylor Swift, her entire past album catalog was owned by a record label, which sold it without her knowledge to this private equity firm that now owns the rights. And there’s, there’s a lot of legal entanglements tied to, you know, the relationship between musicians, artists, and labels. Why do you think that there’s so much like contentiousness around that?
Adam Jones: [00:22:19] Well, I think that there, the music industry has a lot, a lot of, outdated infrastructure that is, you know, takes a long time to get phased out and die.
So that’s basically what it is. It used to be that you didn’t even get a record contract, like in the sixties and seventies, you wouldn’t even get a record contract or an, or the chance to play your stuff on the radio unless you were already like the kind of band that could go sell out mid-size venues all over the country.
As like the bar for getting in the sphere of everybody’s attention is lowered, like anybody can just upload stuff. The need for all of this other stuff, like, like publishing companies and performance rights organizations , and record labels and all this kind of stuff, it becomes less necessary.
You know? I mean, we’ve seen this with a lot of people in the modern age, just like people like Justin Bieber that sort of just be, you know, become famous somewhat on their own, just putting stuff out on the Internet. Wasn’t Billie Eilish like that, too? I don’t know that much about her, but
Nick Schenck: [00:23:35] I think so.
Adam Jones: [00:23:35] I think, yeah, I think that was kind of the vibe. It was like a homemade project. And then, you know, that, that is going to become more and more the case these days. Because I think, you know, the the cost is, is pretty high for putting some, for putting money and backing behind pot projects now, to, to really like, you know, put the full weight of like Sony Music or Capital or something like that. They don’t take a lot of risks anymore. So you know, that just leads to sort of bland music overall. And everybody kind of feels that. So whenever there is something new and, and, and genuinely capable of, ofm you know, hype, oftentimes people can just circumnavigate all of that stuff that has been the normal way people get famous, you know?
Nick Schenck: [00:24:33] Yeah. The gatekeepers no longer are like the only source of music discovery.
Adam Jones: [00:24:38] But at the same time, all that infrastructure is not going to go away lightly, you know, everybody wants a piece of the pie, so whenever they can, there’s still going to be people that want to make as much money and are going to prevent all of that kind of new development from happening. I mean, I don’t know what the future of music looks like monetarily. I know for a fact that everybody is going to keep on making music no matter what, cause that’s just what people do. But how, what is it going to mean to be famous or, you know, a pop star or a rock star in the future? I don’t really know. Or how, how that is going to look, you know, as a career option and stuff – I can say for myself, I’ve been doing music professionally for the past five years and most of my income that I’ve used to live on comes from touring, not from selling records or publishing or stuff like that.
It comes from being able to sell tickets at the live shows and merch and stuff like that.
Nick Schenck: [00:25:55] Yeah. So you said for the past five years or so, but Holodeck started in 2012. From, from my perspective, I feel like there has been this resurgence in synth music, the type of music that Holodeck specializes in. So like, you know, I mean, my favorite, one of my favorite artists, depending on the week, my favorite artist is Kavinsky and he sort of like blew up around 2012, maybe a little earlier than that.
And then a lot of people started coming out of the woodwork after that, I felt like, so I feel like, looking back, Holodeck probably rode that wave. Right. Is that how it turned out?
Adam Jones: [00:26:31] Yeah, I guess so, yeah, I guess you could say that, like I remember when Kavinsky and Com Truise, and a lot of that kind of sound, which, you know, does at least for a good amount of our catalog, fit the bill with S U R V I V E.
So there’s definitely a lot of crossover going on and comparisons and all that stuff. And especially around that time period, we were absolutely big fans of Kavinsky and, and Com Truise, and definitely taking influence off of them. But, you know, they liked us a lot, too. There was a good amount of mutual respect, I guess, going around.
You know, to be honest with you, even between 2012 and 2016, there was not a lot of excitement around S U R V I V E. I mean, there was, we were getting, you know, more and more steadily popular, but I guess the big thing was when Stranger Things landed and that’s when life definitely changed for us all.
Nick Schenck: [00:27:31] Yeah. Quick, quick aside there. So Stranger Things, hugely popular series on Netflix, for those of you that don’t know, it’s a period drama. Takes place in the eighties and the soundtrack just brings you back to the eighties. A lot of people heard of S U R V I V E at that point. Talk about that whole whirlwind.
Adam Jones: [00:27:50] Yeah, that was, that was kinda crazy. And you know, I do think you’re right, that, that, you know, 2012, probably even earlier, what people would go on to talk about as synthwave or. you know, other types of – there’s other types of names that they had for it, like Outrun, I think, and a few other types of, of, you know, journalists’ genre names came out at the time.
But yeah, I think that in a way, Stranger Things came to typify all that excitement that was building up about eighties aesthetics in general. And I mean, you know, to be fair for the last, you know, couple of decades, people talk about the resurgence of eighties nostalgia and some form or fashion or another, but yeah, Stranger Things came about, as a, as a, just a, a random offer that we were getting at the time.
One thing that we’ve done for a while now is we’ve done commercial work. You know, we’ve done music for ads or, video game, TV, cinema, that kind of stuff. And, and usually what happens is usually you get an offer to submit some music for something, a commercial, what have you, and, people. ,people give you some stuff to work with a video or description or something like that. And so you give them a few tracks and then they want revisions and, you know, stuff like that. And often ultimately, your music doesn’t get used. And sometimes the fees that you get for submissions are kind of a little bit deflating.
I know that’s happened to me a few times where I worked really hard on something and it didn’t end up working out, but this particular time there was, you know, this Netflix pilot offer that came in. I was kind of busy with some other projects at the time, like running the label and playing in some other bands.
And I just didn’t really jump on this, that particular. You know, opportunity that came in, but Kyle and Michael did.
Nick Schenck: [00:30:04] Two of the other members of S U R V I V E.
Adam Jones: [00:30:08] Yeah. Two of the other members in S U R V I V E. And to be fair, they write the majority of the songs for the band. They’re maybe like the John and Paul of our band.
But they jumped all over it. And then the directors just liked them. And, and that’s, that can be kind of rare, honestly. Usually, the directors and the producers are talking to like a dozen people, you know, and there’s not really a clear favorite. But I think that the S U R V I V E sound, aka Kyle and Michael’s songwriting, the directors and the producers were really into it. So they just got on them from the beginning and kind of developed a lot of the show ideas with their aesthetic already in mind. That could have gone nowhere. Often, TV pilots go nowhere. So, the fact that it became this huge hit TV show and not only that, that is also really rare that this TV soundtrack became really, really famous as well, separately from the show, is pretty rare, too. So, after that, that meant everything for S U R V I V E changed, too.
Nick Schenck: [00:31:22] For good, or for bad, or both?
Adam Jones: [00:31:25] Well, for, well, for good, for sure. At the time, that Stranger Things season one came out. At the time, we had S U R V I V E was planning on releasing an album right at the same time. So, it, it just worked hand in hand and, S U R V I V E had just signed to, Relapse, which is mostly known as a metal label, but definitely the biggest label we had worked with so far. And so we just had this new album drop, and then there’s a hit TV show, and people are like, Oh, y’all are that Stranger Things band. And, and it just, it, it, it clarified so much stuff, you know, before, before Stranger Things came out, I used to have to like, describe in some, in so much detail about like what my band sounded like, you know?
There wasn’t a lot of like household genre names for it. Or, or anything like that. And at the same thing for, you know, Holodeck music in general. I would always have to tell people it’s like moody electronic music and, you know, try to describe it to them. But now I can just be like, it’s like the Stranger Things soundtrack and people are like, Oh, okay. I get that. You know? So, I mean, yeah, the Stranger Things, that TV show is, has definitely made, a huge difference in all of the members of S U R V I V E’s lives and, and everybody involved in Holodeck really, you know, just by just by association, people can already know what they’re looking for when they get in to our catalog, you know, they know that there’s going to be probably some, some dark vibes and some electronic sounds.
Nick Schenck: [00:33:14] I learned this a couple of years ago that I was curious, like Red Hot Chili Peppers, for instance, I was like, whatever money they make, they just split it equally among the members? And somebody was like, no, it’s actually the person who writes the music, not even the lead singer, it’s the person who writes it that makes the most typically. And you know, the composers for the Stranger Things soundtrack, two members of the band, they got the money from the Stranger Things soundtrack, right? It’s not like since they were members of survive, everyone from survive got a piece, right?
Adam Jones: [00:33:47] Yeah. They as individual composers are separate from the band S U R V I V E. So, yeah, that’s treated like a totally different project. And the, the, the music that is S U R V I V E music, we do split it up just like most bands do according to maybe who has the biggest conceptual or writing share of it, you know, it gets a little bit nebulous with S U R V I V E.
Sometimes we’ll have to like, sort of talk about it, you know, but a lot of bands, you know, a classic band set up is like maybe the singer slash guitar player writes all the songs and then, you know, they might give like 10% of the writing share to the drummer or something like that. But that’s the way it works.
And it typically is, is that yeah, the, the band will talk about who has most, you know, conceptual ownership of the song. And then like sorta negotiate what percentages everybody is entitled to. But yeah, we didn’t the full band, me and Mark, the other guy, the other non Stranger Things guy. We didn’t have anything to do with writing or composing or recording any of the the soundtrack work for that series. However, there have been S U R V I V E songs featured on the soundtrack. So S U R V I V E has been on the show and we do get paid for that, but they’re treated as different entities. I know it gets really confusing and I usually don’t explain it in full detail to people, unless they really want to know.
Nick Schenck: [00:35:39] Yeah. We’re trying to get into the business details here for musicians, artists who are curious about how all those things work. So I appreciate you getting into detail on it.
Adam Jones: [00:35:51] Yeah. And I guess for the most part, you know, that’s how a lot of, of soundtrack work is treated these days , a composer will sort of take on the project as a creative entity themselves and, you know, a lot of famous composers, famous movie scoring composers, they have a bunch of composers that work underneath them.
So you might hear something that’s composed by John Williams or something like that, but there could be, you know, a bunch of different musicians that collaborated and. Or, and, or composed on his behalf and he just sort of supervised the project and therefore it’s a John Williams composition, but you know, there’s, there’s all different layers of it.
Nick Schenck: [00:36:43] So Kyle and Mike were the main composers out of the band S U R V I V E for specifically for Stranger Things. What are they doing these days? And are you guys still producing music together?
Adam Jones: [00:36:57] Yeah. yeah, so they, so it’s, you know, it’s been, it’s been this way, you know, we, the four of us separately, we all do our own separate, you know, composing careers, I guess you would say.
As a collective, we are S U R V I V E, but we also have individual music careers, I guess, would be the best way to put it. And yeah, we do have a new S U R V I V E album coming. So we, we, we would have had it out this year, but I don’t know. COVID just poured a, a wet blanket on all that. So, we are definitely hoping to push it out next year. And if, if you know, the pandemic lets up, maybe we can start touring again. You know, I would love to do that. That’s that’s one of my favorite things about playing music is, is getting to travel and play shows for big crowds and stuff. But, but, you know, Kyle and Michael, they both do soundtrack work together on other projects besides Stranger Things. And then they also do stuff individually on their own.
Nick Schenck: [00:38:07] Okay.
Adam Jones: [00:38:07] They may or may not have some projects coming. I know that, Stranger Things season five got the production, got postponed. So they were going to be pretty busy with that for this year.
But then, that got pushed off, ’til when? I don’t know, but things have been kind of in lockdown and, and Michael lives in L.A. Now, so it’s harder for us to get together. If we had like a couple of weeks, all four of us dedicated in the studio, we could probably finish out all the loose ends for our new album and a bunch of other stuff that we’ve been working on together.
So, so yeah, everything is, is fairly healthy with us. You know, I would say not as healthy as like it could be had COVID not happened, you know, but yeah, I know that there’s both, you know, new S U R V I V E work coming. There will definitely be more Kyle and Michael collaborative soundtrack work. And, I think you can expect everybody doing solo, compositional, soundtrack work. And then, I also have, you know, other projects with a couple of other bands as well.
Nick Schenck: [00:39:16] Okay. What’s the outlook for the bands under the Holodeck label? Like when you’re having conversations with these bands, are a lot of them in the same boat as S U R V I V E where they’ve paused a lot of projects and they’re just kind of waiting things out or some of them still keeping busy? Give me a sense of that.
Adam Jones: [00:39:37] I think it’s a big mixed bag of stuff, you know, definitely COVID has affected everybody’s lives in a lot of, a lot of ways, for Holodeck, we kind of switched gears this year. Which was a bummer for us, but it, it sorta had to be done at least when, when the pandemic hit, we had planned on releasing a few vinyls and some tapes and we didn’t have the entire year’s schedule release worked out, but we had a lot of it worked out.
And then COVID hit and all of a sudden, all of the record stores are closed and our vinyl manufacturer is falling way behind. And so we just made the choice that we were going to say, you know what, we’re not going to take the financial risk to put out physical goods this year. And we switched to doing a bunch of digital singles only.
So we’ve, we’ve released, you know, a couple of dozen individual tracks this year, but we haven’t released any albums or tapes or anything like that, but we are going to get back on it, especially with some of our regular artists who are really active, like, Michael C. Sharp and Future Museums. There’s a lot of music sort of in the back burner now that we’re ready to just, push it, push it all out in 2021.
There will be a lot of, I think that most of the Holodeck bands have been, you know, A) worrying about their day-to-day life, because most of, most of the people in on the label work service industry jobs that were heavily affected when COVID happened. Then after that I know a ton of people have been doing heavy recording this year.
I think there’s going to be next year are going to be a whole lot of beautiful albums that were sort of, started and or finished while quarantine was in place.
Nick Schenck: [00:41:43] Yeah. There’s been a big movement, you know, you hear of journalists leaving big media publications and launching their own Substack newsletters. And just in general, there’s a lot of creators who are going solo and it’s affected music or it’s starting to. I noticed Bronze Whale, a local band, they launched their own Patreon account.
So they’re trying to build their subscriber base that way. Do you think that’s sustainable? Do you see a future in that for musicians?
Adam Jones: [00:42:14] Maybe, you know, I think that people should try, you know, I try not to like over-promise what I’m capable of doing with my artists. I try to be pretty honest with them and, you know, for the most part, I think most people are happy working with me, but I think that, and I see this happen across my roster even, people just trying new ways to promote themselves, trying new ways to see how they can make money doing this or that, and just seeing what works, you know?
Since COVID started, people are doing all kinds of streaming live performances and stuff like that. And, I know that for instance, like, Leaving Records, they’ve been doing that concert series in public parks out in L.A. And those have been getting huge, huge amounts of views on, on YouTube and Twitch and stuff like that. So I’m sure they’re probably making pretty good dough off of those shows. So I think all that kind of stuff is great. Really, everybody’s just going to have to figure out how to work their own hustle.
Nick Schenck: [00:43:19] Yeah, so let’s talk about 2020 for you. Just mentally what’s been keeping you going and keeping you at least trying to be upbeat, amid so much disappointment and what you call a shitty year?
Adam Jones: [00:43:37] I don’t know if I have an answer for that. I think I’m feeling a lot better these days actually. Like my main focus right now is, is finishing this new Troller album that we’ve been working on since like late 2018. But you know, just from when COVID hit, like, I didn’t make music for months when it happened.
And, I just like moped around my house trying to find stuff to do. And that all sucked. I didn’t feel good about that at all. But for me, I guess, trying to get out of my house as much as possible and do active things and then continually telling myself to just like that, you know, whatever this new normal is, you just gotta like move forward and, and continue to be who you are.
I just, I felt like I had to tell myself that a whole lot. And then eventually, I was able to get back in the studio and, and now I feel really creative and, and ready to, to keep pushing out a ton of new music. But I think it’s different for everybody. And, you know, I have friends who like have made a lot of music since COVID started, who were just all like, Oh cool. Now I get, you know, really fat unemployment checks and I can just stay at home all day and record and, and, and that’s great, I was actually super jealous of some of my friends who could do that when COVID started and just sort of ignore the world.
But especially when George Floyd hit, that just felt like super dampening of any kind of, resilience in a lot of people’s creativity will.
Nick Schenck: [00:45:26] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s so many layers to 2020. It’s not just COVID. I agree. Yeah, go ahead.
Adam Jones: [00:45:34] Yeah. I mean, I feel like I’m, I’m already in 2021 mentally, but it took me, you know, a good six months to get there and just decide that, that I needed to, you know, move on, I guess, you know?
I still have a lot of friends who are not in a good creative place. Everybody’s gotta sort of figure it out for themselves. .
I definitely think, Biden winning at, you know, at this time of the year is, is such a relief for so many people.
Even, even if it’s not exciting news, it’s at least a big relief to everybody and, and maybe that’s played a part in me feeling a little bit better, but I was feeling a little bit better before that, too, but it definitely didn’t hurt that, that we’re not going to be living with Trump every day. At least hopefully, you know, I mean, who knows what could happen?
Like nothing could surprise me at this point, but that is at least a sigh of relief for, for most people.
Nick Schenck: [00:46:41] There’s been a sense that, I feel since the election, I feel like there has been a tidal wave of like positivity. It just feels like a huge contrast. So hopefully we can finish 2020 strong.
I do, I do have one final question for you. I want to talk about just Austin for artists.
So in a previous Cover Charge podcast, we had a filmmaker David Blue Garcia on, and he directed a film called Tejano, which is streaming on HBO, and he said that he does not think that Austin is a good place for artists anymore. He thinks this is too expensive and it’s too…You have to be business focused first and then creative second.
What’s your opinion on that?
Adam Jones: [00:47:26] Yeah, I would tend to agree. It’s it’s a lot harder than when I first moved to Austin. For sure. Definitely you could at one point in time very much live the like Portlandia dream of just working like 20 hours at a coffee shop and having a band. And then that was life.
That was life for a lot of people when I moved to Austin and, and definitely that’s not really a thing anymore. I think service industry jobs are competitive and people aren’t going to be able to really make ends meet by working part time, you know, so whereas before people would come to Austin to start a band and work some kind of shitty job just to get by and play music.
Now that isn’t a thing. People have to be focused on, on having some job security and, and working 40 hours a week. And if you’re not doing that, then, and you are doing service industry jobs stuff, then, you know, you’re working a lot more hours than, than part-time these days. It’s hard because Austin’s, Austin’s not going to be able to go back to that anytime soon because it’s too big, but people. Are, especially other places in Texas going to look for Austin to be sort of that music, cultural hub still.
Nick Schenck: [00:49:00] Yeah. That’s the expectation when a lot of people move here.
Adam Jones: [00:49:05] Yeah, it is. And you know, I don’t know if the, I guess definitely the, the, the. Well, it could help if there was a big influx of, of public funding toward that kind of thing.
I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Anytime Austin tries to do something cool for the city, the, the governor slaps it down. And, as far as long as I’ve lived here, you know, there are some great local organizations that help out musicians a lot, like HAAM. I’m a big HAAM believer, and, and TALA is great, too.
Both of those are great organizations for, for people to get some much-needed financial help as a musician, but, but overall, I think it’ll. I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t have a positive outlook for that.
I guess one thing, I mean, I’m kind of looking forward to, is to see what the next wave of venues are going to look like.
Because you know, As much as I hate, hate to see it, say it, you know, like Red River is definitely like a sinking ship. And whereas before that would be where I’d go see music every single weekend. You know, there’s a couple of really great places still hanging on, but the, the general move for parties and shows is going to have to shift to different parts of the city and different, different types of venues.
So I’m excited to see what happens with that, you know, and I, and I hope that’s a good chance for people to, to make some new and exciting, you know, places and experiences to see music.
Nick Schenck: [00:50:48] Yeah. I’m really excited for that, too. I hope I hope new places emerge and, I’ll definitely frequent them. Well, I want to thank you for joining the podcast.
We’re going to wrap up, but before we go, where can people go to learn more about Holodeck and then S U R V I V E and then Troller, any other bands you want to plug?
Adam Jones: [00:51:09] Yeah. well, we have we’re on all the social media stuff, but, definitely check out the, the Holodeck Records band camp page, where you can find a ton of music to stream and download.
Other than that, we’ve got, you know, Instagram, Facebook, all of that kind of stuff. And, definitely look for new stuff from all three of my bands, we’ll have a new S U R V I V E album in 2021. We’ll have a new Troller album in 2021, and there will be at least one, maybe more Thousand Foot Whale Claw EPs.
So, I’ll be, you know, you can just definitely just find those wherever you look for music. So.
Nick Schenck: [00:51:56] Thanks a lot, Adam. I really appreciate you joining.
Adam Jones: [00:52:00] Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s been fun and you know, hope you stay safe and all that good stuff. [/restrict]