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Making a move

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Ha ha guys, very funny.

Oh lordy that joke was a groaner…

If you go over to troublefakers.com today you will find a very simple, very dull blurb about where my band can be found online. I posted back in November about what a huge pain in the ass Google sites is to work with (nothing has changed) and set out to find an alternative. I needed something that would be cheap or almost free with plenty of ready-made design options I could customize. Man, there’s a lot to choose from out there.

Today I nabbed “troublefakers” as a username here on WordPress. My guitarist has the option of helping me edit and update content if he wants, and we can link it to the band’s Facebook page to update there automatically. Now all that’s left is getting my domain in order. It will require a Premium account, which I’m okay with paying. For now I’m happy with the basics and will point troublefakers.com to WordPress when I’m ready.

Why today? Why not back in November when I was bitching and moaning about it, getting great feedback in comments and via email? Well, the times are changing over at Facebook. No doubt by now you’ve read about how page owners are being directed to pay for a place in their fans’ newsfeeds or in an ad sidebar. Big businesses like Target or McDonald’s can budget for that, but we don’t generate enough revenue to allocate an ad budget. Hell, we’re lucky if we walk out of a gig with $20 – which goes right back into a fund to promote and get us to the next show.

This year we returned to gigging to promote our new album and found ourselves playing to sparse rooms despite our best Facebook efforts. The venues post live music show schedules on their websites and local nightlife papers/blogs, and if we want to go the extra mile we whip up an 11″x17″ flyer to post a couple of weeks ahead of time. Up until this year we were able to draw a decent crowd. Now it’s embarrassing. We are not a sucky band — our fans have been nothing but supportive, and we’ve even got a bona fide A&R guy working on shopping a single or two to radio — but given the attendance at our shows this year you’d think we were a nose-picking performance art troupe. My ego has been thoroughly bruised and I’m sick of it.

I could go on about why our draw has suffered this time around, but I won’t. Truth is in this day and age content is what brings people to shows. Content and merchandise. Merchandise is the easy part – tshirts, CDs, buttons, magnets – we have designs ready-to-go once we find a printer. Content is the tricky part. We don’t just get on a stage and perform. We are influenced. We are inspired. We imagine. We experiment. We craft. We nuance.

We rock.

Soon we will consolidate our online content from places like R2R Live, MySpace, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and Facebook, and allow the internet to access it from one URL: troublefakers.com. I’ll post a little somethingsomething here once it happens, but until then please support your local live music scene. No matter how old you are, there’s a band out there you’re going to want to see more than once this year. I promise.

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This is not easy.

I used to blog all the damn time.  I had a LiveJournal blog, and I made a lot of friends over there.  Now all my friends are on Facebook, and pretty soon I’m sure that will get old, too.

Thing is, if you want to blog nowadays you have to blog about SOMEthing.  For instance, this blog is about my crafty stuff.  I started it because I wanted to have some kind of “hey, lookit me I’m doin’ stuff and being interesting!” presence online other than the Etsy store or my Facebook band page.  I wanted to be present online (as you do).  Have I done that?  No.  And you know what? It’s from lack of trying.  I’m not really trying here.

So here I am wanting to set up a bona fide web site for my band and looking for someplace other than Google sites to do it.  My band has a Google account setup with domain registration and such that is pretty nice.  We all have email addresses with troublefakers.com in them.  If I wanted to build a website, Google has these tools that would let me build and host it.  This would be really great if it wasn’t such a headache.  Anybody remember GeoCities?  Well, right now troublefakers.com looks like a friggin’ GeoCities page.  It used to have more stuff on it but I took it down.  Unless you are a web developer and/or have the patience of Job, Google sites is just going to frustrate the shit out of you.

I used to be pretty good at web dev and design.  I even used FrontPage and GoLive to construct sites.  I didn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, just text and pictures.  It was blogging before Blogger, Tumblr, and LiveJournal.  Then I started a band.  I needed a website and so I threw something together until MySpace came along.  After using that a while I set up Facebook, and now I also have a presence at ReverbNation.  After many years of having web presences ready-made for me, I’ve forgotten how to create a page of my own.  That, or I just simply don’t want to.

I reached out to fans of my band for suggestions and the first one that popped out was WordPress.  I’m using WordPress now, and I can’t even deal with it as a blog for my crafts.  How the heck am I supposed to figure out all the bells and whistles to create a band website?  Even the templates are clunky — there’s shit on most of them I don’t even recognize — how do I take a blog engine and turn it into a website host?  I don’t know.  I give up.

I’m looking at wix.com right now because they’re much cheaper to deal with than HostBaby.  Both Wix and HostBaby will give me what I want with simpler controls.  That’s all I really want — simple controls.  I want to be able to say “I have a domain,” “I need a host,” and “I’d like to use this layout and these colors” and be done.  I want it to be a website with pages to look at and music to listen to and maybe a calendar.  I don’t need a blog for these things.  I just want a site to go with my domain.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  And here I was thinking FrontPage was horrid to work with.  What a pain.

So.  If you’ve skimmed down this far I’ll tl;dr it for you.  I need to make a decent band website with my registered domain, but the choices are either expensive or complicated.  Something tells me sticking with WordPress isn’t going to get me what I need.  Suggestions welcome.

Yes, I have a band

Consider this one of those “other fine messes” referred to in my blog title.  Is it cliche for a crafter to also have a band?  I keep thinking I should specialize in one creative effort, but I’m enjoying myself too much.  I’ve been in and out of bands since college and see no reason to quit.  Any kid out there who thinks older independent musicians are pathetic or delusional are missing the point – you make music for this long because you love it. If fame comes along this late in the game, then great, but that’s not paramount. I’d be happy with success in another form.

Donnie & Ron

8/17/2011 - "Why are you holding your phone up like that?" Donnie & Ron between songs at rehearsal.

Baz on bass

8/17/2011 - Barry strikes a pose at our rehearsal space near Fall City

My band, The Troublefakers, has been active since 2005 in one form or another. These days they are the backbone of my solo project as well as my extended family. This year has been a challenge for booking shows, though. Between family obligations, my day job, and out-of-state emergencies, we  haven’t been able to pursue bookings as much for the summer. That is about to change.

Our second album is about to go to manufacturing. All the songs are mastered and ready, leaving only the artwork to complete. We hope that “Good to Drive” will be ready for sale at shows no later than September, so if you come to see us at O. O. Denny Park or The Skylark in the coming weeks you’ll be able to pick up a copy on disk or with a CDbaby download card.

For now we are getting ready to end our dry spell with a show at The High Dive in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood this Saturday, August 20, at 6pm. We’ll be playing with our friends The Baker Street Irregulars, whose lineup includes a guitarist we invited to join the Troublefakers a while back. I can’t wait to see what he’s working on now!

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