The Craft Economy
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The Craft Economy

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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JASON SCHNEIDER
(Jul 31, 2008)

It seems that every week a major artist comes up with a novel approach to getting their music directly to their fans, bypassing the ever-increasing limitations of the marketplace. Toronto-via-Guelph pop-rockers The Craft Economy may not be on the same level as Radiohead, but they are just as conscious of using the new realities of the music business to their full advantage.

The six-piece group released its debut EP, All On C, last summer in conjunction with Creative Commons, an organization that gives artists full control of their product while encouraging unlimited downloading and sharing on the condition that it's not done for profit. Although the band only pressed 200 handmade copies of All On C, to date over 3,500 copies have been downloaded on top of nearly twice as many downloads of the single The Crash, The Wagons, The Dying Horses.

Guitarist Andrew Bray says it's a concept that perfectly suits all members of The Craft Economy, both as a reflection of their previous experiences in the business, as well as the band's quirky sound and image. They're hoping to build on that momentum with their next EP due out in the fall.

"We're all firmly committed to doing everything ourselves," Bray says. "We're also a band that doesn't believe in filler. That's why the only recording we've done so far has been in four or five song bursts. Everything we do is about energy and making the songs as catchy as possible. The challenge has been to capture that in the studio, and that's our main goal now with this next release."

The story of The Craft Economy's formation is nearly as unlikely as their genuine love of '80s fashions. While attending a 2005 show by British indie rockers Art Brut, Bray and his compatriots obeyed an order from the stage by singer Eddie Argos that everyone in attendance should form a band by the time Art Brut returned to Toronto. The following week, The Craft Economy had its first rehearsal.

"There was really no reason not to do it," Bray says. "Obviously, none of us were sure at first where it would go, but after sticking with it we eventually hit on a sound that we all felt was working. The biggest problem was that none of us wanted to sing. Through auditions we met Konstantine (Kurelias) and Linda (McKenny), and we liked them both, so we just told them to figure out a way that both of them could sing. It's definitely grown from rehearsing every Sunday to all of us being really serious about what we're doing."

The success of the Creative Commons experiment has only ratcheted up their work ethic, since Bray says it gave them exposure in the U.S. and England they weren't prepared for. Still, coming back to play shows in Guelph, Bray's hometown, is always a special occasion.

"The only time we played Guelph prior to this show we're about to do was at Jimmy Jazz, which isn't really the ideal size for a six-piece band," he says. "We give it our all to make every show we do a great party, so getting to play in front of our old friends just makes us want to sweat that much more."

LIVE THE CRAFT ECONOMY WITH KAZOO AND BURN PLANETARIUM THURSDAY, JULY 31 EBAR, 41 QUEBEC ST., GUELPH TICKETS: $5 (ALL AGES) 10 P.M. INFO: 519-821-3311

Permalink:
http://news.guelphmercury.com/arts/article/362089

- Nightlife, Kitchener-Waterloo Record and Guelph Mercury


By Adam Grant

The argument as to whether or not downloading helps or hinders a band has been a thriving one ever since Metallica took on Napster some years ago. While Metallica already had a fan base and millions of album sales already behind them, they didn’t like their music being shared by people for free. In the independent music circuit however, the name of the game has always been to
target as much exposure as possible through a grassroots means of self-promotion.

The Craft Economy is aware of this, and have gone against Metallica’s wishes by giving their own music away for free. In 2007, the band -- Konstantine Kurelias (vocals), Linda McKenny (vocals, synthesizer), Christina Pilz (bass), Scott Birke (guitar, synthesizer), Andrew Bray (guitar, synthesizer), and John Britton (drums) -- created their quirky, punk/new wave influenced debut EP, All on C, and quickly ran out of the 200 or so self–constructed copies they’d made, and had to find a way to further push their music toward more listeners. What The Craft Economy did, was find a way to get their music online and available to those on the web, without doing it in such a way that would leave them feeling bastardized.

“Things have gone really well for us in that sense, I think
mainly because we give our stuff away, or license it under Creative Commons, which allows people to download (the music) for free, distribute it with their friends for free, and use it in non-commercial ways,” explains Bray when discussing his group’s online downloading successes. “The Creative Commons thing really helped us get our music out there and it still continues to do so. Our downloads are surprisingly right now still going up.

“It’s a really cool thing. Because a lot of bands don’t really put their albums out there under a Creative Commons license like we did, they don’t really get the same exposure. For us, it’s a huge amount of exposure around the world. When we licensed
our CD there, we also -- to promote our CD release show -- gave 100 CDs of our MP3 songs away by just postering them all 
around Toronto, attaching them to poles and leaving them in shops,” he continues when describing TCE’s further marketing practices. “That got picked up on a couple newswires at the time, and that fostered a lot of the downloads as well.”

What Creative Commons allows the band to do, is put their tracks online and available for download, but restricts those
interested in the music from doing anything illegal with it. To date, TCE have had more than 21,000 downloads through their official website (www.thecrafteconomy.com), with the one song
“The Crash, The Wagons, The Dying Horses” being downloaded over 6,700 times alone. While Bray notes that not everyone in the band is 100 per cent on the same page about this downloading approach they’ve taken on, one thing is for certain -- it has
worked. The numbers above indicate that.
To further capitalize on their growing exposure, TCE are in
the midst of getting a new EP put together, which they hope will
lead the band toward being able to finally do a full-out tour. So far the group appears to be pretty stoked as to where things are headed, and simply can’t wait to get everything done and ready for the world.

“We’re in a debate now as to how many songs we want to put on the EP, because we could release it a lot quicker if we wanted 
to go with less songs. There are a couple of songs we’re still working on and the studio has made us realize that there’s more
that we can do with them,” says Bray. “We try not to be that band that goes into the studio and never leaves -- but (the songs are) shaping up well. When we played our first show since March two or three weeks ago, it was a huge success. People were really into some of the new songs; especially the ones we hadn’t recorded yet. I’m really excited about this new EP.

“We all think that this next EP that we’re going to be 
releasing is a much better, more mature product,” he adds. “It’s more who we are; we’ve been together as a band longer this time,
and all of these songs were written with this incarnation of the band. I would say there’s no pressure, but definitely a lot of excitement.”

Permalink:
<http://echoweekly.com/viewstory.php?storyid=7281>
- Echo Weekly (Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge)


The Craft Economy
Is On Your Side
Independent
John Papamarko (CHARTattack)
12/23/2008 2:59pm

Stars: 3.5/5

The Craft Economy formed as a result of an Art Brut concert in 2005, but are a bit too late for the '80s dance rock revival. That's not to say the Toronto group's record doesn't deserve a spin at your next house party, though. Their five-song EP contains upbeat, danceable ditties packed with converging call and response vocals from Kostantine Kurelias and Linda McKenny. On jangly, bilingual toe-tapper "The Tonic" the band incorporate the lyrical poetry of forgotten francophone sexpot Mitsou ("Bye bye mon cowboy/Bye bye mon gigolo"). The synth lines and repeatable "eeny meeny miny moe" vocals on "Colpoy's Bay" are criminally catchy. This is a record that will surely secretly impress the skinny-jeaned, keffiyah-wearing hipster in your life, but considering it's almost 2009, they'll never admit it.

Link:
<http://www.chartattack.com/reviews/64469/the-craft-economy>
- Chart


Saturday, September 22, 2007

As any economist can tell you, sometimes a good idea is all it takes to elevate a winner above its competitors in a market.

In the market of Kensington, competition among bands' gig posters is at its toughest. Last Saturday, The Craft Economy, a local dance-rock sextet, tried to attract a crowd to an upcoming show by stapling 100 free CDs along with their posters on the area's hydro poles. One member took a cellphone picture of their unique, but simple, marketing method. The photo bounced from the band's blog to quirky portal boingboing.net and thenceforth to torontoist.com, assuring it would be seen by hipsters of Toronto--and beyond.

"We thought we'd take a twist on the postering idea," said guitarist and keyboardist "Sensual" Andrew Bray. That twist was giving out copies of six-track EP All On C and encouraging people to copy the catchy songs for friends. "When we first recorded the album, we figured we didn't have any momentum and we didn't have any fans yet. We thought, 'What's the easiest way to get our music heard?' "

From the supply of CDs grew an unexpected demand: The number of hits at thecrafteconomy.com jumped from around 10 on a typical day to more than 2,000. "All we were trying to do was promote a show," Bray said. Suddenly, a group that had attracted little attention in its backyard was receiving e-mails from Italy. "We're trying to figure out this connection."

The Craft Economy was founded two years ago when friends Bray, Christina Pilz and Scott Birke caught a show by British band Art Brut. "Halfway through the set, the lead singer of the band said, 'Next time we come back to Toronto we want every one of you to have formed a band.' We looked at each other and said, 'What the hell, why not?' "

Bray promises a "workout" of a show when the band takes the stage at Neutralnext Saturday. In themeantime, be on the lookout this weekend in Kensington, Trinity-Bellwoods and Leslieville for another batch of CDs.

© National Post 2007

Original link:
<http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=989bafb2-5610-42a7-829c-917e4e00fdc7> - Adam McDowell, National Post


Monday, September 17, 2007

Following on a bit from Saturday's bitch about Fopp closing. As I hate the big chains with a passion, I'm now starting to use the web more as a source of cool stuff, and word of mouth and recommends from mags like The Word are becoming increasingly important.

With traditional music retail and distribution going the way of the dinosaur, it's blatantly obvious that small bands are much better off doing things in their own way. Myspace is the obvious example, but frankly you're more likely to catch me in a dress than surfing that junkhole. Unless I get a very direct headsup to a specific band, I won't be there.

Kudos, then, to The Craft Economy, who are using all the tricks of the new digital trade to get the word out. Posters to their local shows in Toronto have CDRs stuck to them with MP3s of their first EP, plus links to the website with tour dates, blogs and so on. If you like you can buy the album, complete with home-made covers. It's a neat, cottage industry way of doing things, and I hope it works out for them. Plus the music's good, which helps. Check out The Kissing Song.

Not sure if anyone's doing anything similar on this side of the pond. The Horrors are good at throwing freebies around at their shows, including quite cool compilations, but nothing with quite this homebrew vibe.

Original link:
<http://theuglytruth.blogspot.com/2007/09/craft-economy.html> - The Ugly Truth (UK Blog)


Posted by Cory Doctorow, September 16, 2007 9:17 PM

Kim sez, "I was shopping in Toronto's Kensington Market on Saturday afternoon, when I ran across a CD stapled to a hydro pole, promoting a band's upcoming show. I ripped it off, listened to the tracks, and checked out the band's link on the CD. Anyways, I thought this is pretty cool - they're giving the album away for free (downloads on the website), selling a physical CD (with handmade covers), licensing it under a Creative Commons license, and using free CDs stapled to poles as a promotion gimmick. And the music is pretty good too." Link (Thanks, Kim!)

Original link:
<http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/16/craft-economy-toront.html> - Boingboing.net


BY ALEX NINO GHECIU
December 03, 2008 21:12

Toronto sextet The Craft Economy have spawned a media brouhaha with their public opposition to Bill C-61, releasing their output under a license which allows listeners to download, share and remix their songs for noncommercial purposes. But is the band’s music as incendiary as its marketing? Not unless you can start a fire rubbing The Go-Go’s and Devo discs together. Is On Your Side, the band’s second EP, consists of effervescent ’80s new-wave with a post-punk drive. Backed by glossy guitar and synth arrangements, Kostas Kurelias and Linda McKenney trade vocal melodies evoking sweaty-palmed summer love. But venom seeps through the candy coating; on “Menergy!” they shriek, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy… and now we’re paying for it!”

THE CRAFT ECONOMY PLAY SNEAKY DEE’S (431 COLLEGE) DEC 11.

Link:<http://www.eyeweekly.com/music/ondisc/article/46878>

- Eye Weekly (Toronto alt-weekly)


Review Date: 2008-12-03

I contend that when people say music is “fun” what they are usually actually saying is that the music isn’t groundbreaking or that talented, but that you can dance and smile to it so they like it anyway.

I’m not sure when this became the norm and when “fun” stopped meaning “really good”, but take a look at bands you would call “fun” and see if the above statement holds true for you. I bet that it does.

Enter the Craft Economy and their EP Is On Your Side, a recording that you cannot possibly describe without using the word “fun” and many other superlatives that mean essentially the same thing. For the purpose of this review, I aim to take “fun” back.

The 5 songs on Is On Your Side run by in a 17-minute flash. I’ve probably listened to this EP about 20 times since I got my hands on it, and the songs are still causing me spasms as I bounce my head around and attempt to sing with Konstantine (failing miserably).

To me, this is Toronto’s 2008 answer to what have made the B52s so legendary and time-tested, in a more current context. It sounds like the latest Architecture in Helsinki record if that record had been done properly – yes I am still bitter about it.

Maybe the difference in why you can totally call this album “fun” is because The Craft Economy sound fun because they ARE having fun, rather than being a band trying to sound fun so that they can sell some copies of their latest record, you dig?

The album opens with the frenetic energy of “Menergy!” which has an exclamation point at the end but probably needs a couple more to accurately depict what you are getting into. The band shouts out “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” while Konstantine rapidly fires out the verses backed by some seriously epic synths. The band wants to make songs that they can dance to on stage and you are inevitably going to find yourself doing the same thing when you hear “Menergy!”.

If you ever catch me singing “Colpoy’s Bay” it will be one of my more embarrassing moments. The vocals say “Ini-mini-mini-mo-oh-oh-oh” and then Konstantine screams out that he won’t go. The alternating backing vocals are sensational. It ends with a memorable cannon. The whole band is viciously tight. You can’t make synth pop this addictive without being viciously tight.

Maybe the key to success for the Craft Economy is to continue to put out only Eps like Is On Your Side rather than being tempted to go the route of a full-length. This style of music is quite likely better consumed in frentic 20-minutes-or-less doses as to avoid getting stale. So next time you are about to call the new Kaiser Chiefs or some other catchy-sounding but otherwise rather uninspiring band “fun”, throw on your copy of Is On Your Side and come up with another adjective.

Score: 8.3
- Owen Gayle

Link: <http://www.twowaymonologues.com/reviews/the-craft-economy/is-on-your-side/> - twowaymonologues.com


Local big-brained post-punks The Craft Economy are doing what they do again, and getting creative with their distro. If you happened to be bopping around the Hillside Festival in Guelph this past weekend, you might have spotted—or manned up and grabbed—one of the 150 discs seen above (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 license) out of a tree or off of a pole once your curiosity got the best of you. Good thing, because that's what they're there for.

The disc, containing a demo of "Menergy," a track off of the band's upcoming record (due late August) isn't simply Creative Commons licensed music like their previous hydro pole-only release, this time it's a Bill C-61 protest too (see that little piece of paper sticking out of the back of the disc? Yeah, that's the protest part). It reads, in part:

"This is far and beyond and more bizarre than the heavily criticized DMCA in the USA. Copyright should protect the rights of artists and producers of creative content, but it should not suppress creative and artistic expression. The Craft Economy has licensed our music, including this CD, using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 license. This license gives you the freedom to share our music with your friends and enemies, and remix and use it in new and creative ways, provided you attribute the work back to us, and you don’t make money off our work. It’s fair for you and us. This is the way art should work."

Anyhow, if you're not one of the few who managed to snag one of these freebies in Guelph (or wherever the remaining CDs were stationed in Toronto, we never stumbled on any), you can check out a text file of their anti Bill C-61 statement and other relevant links included with the disc on their blog.

Or you could ask just them about it in person when you high five them at their show tomorrow. At the Horseshoe! No cover! You win.

Photo courtesy of The Craft Economy.

Original link: <http://torontoist.com/2008/07/the_craft_economy_kill_bill_c61.php> - Torontoist.com


The Craft Economy
by Kay Vandertramp

As all of you know probably know, Canadian Music Festival (CMF) is approaching and we at Pink Mafia are all EXTREMELY excited for it. For those of you who don’t know what CMF is, it is a music festival, conference, and exhibition with thousands of music industry participants from around the world. 350 bands in 35 clubs over three nights.

Our girl Kay Vandertramp caught up with the Craft Economy who are playing Thursday March 11th at the Gladstone Hotel, to ask them a few questions about uh, music.
Upbeat and DJ friendly, 80’s inspired The Craft Economy are retuning the indie plateau. Layering energy driven dance riffs and multiple vocalists, they’re stealing hearts globally. Guitarist Scott Birke sheds some light on their goods:

What is The Craft Economy and how did you guys come to be?

Back in late 2005, a couple of us went to see Art Brut. We’d been mulling around the idea of starting a band anyway but Eddie Argos challenged everyone in the audience to start a band, so we took it in stride, assembled ourselves and spent the next year writing songs.

Are there plans for a new album this year?

We’ve been in and out of the studio working on our third release for the last few months and most of it’s done. We’re just fine-tuning some of the vocal tracks so it will probably be out sometime in the summer. We’re likely going to be releasing a couple songs as a digital preview of the album, too.

What can we expect from this album?

Some of the songs are a bit more danceable and have more DJ friendly breakdowns. We’re going to play a bunch of the new material at our upcoming CMW show. Some of which we’ve never played live in Toronto before.

What opportunity does CMW present you guys this year?

We’ve haven’t played Toronto in a while. So it will be good to see how the crowd reacts to some of the new stuff we’ve been working on, especially before it’s completely finalized.


Link:
<http://communities.canada.com/DOSE/blogs/pinkmafia/archive/2010/03/06/the-craft-economy.aspx> - Dose.ca / Pink Mafia


Discography

Is On Your Side (2008)
All On C EP (2007)

Available at iTunes, eMusic.com and Amazon.com

Photos

Bio

Toronto’s The Craft Economy—whose members originally hail from Guelph, Montreal, Pennsylvania and PEI—has a sound inspired by ‘70s punk rock and ‘80s new wave, and is guided by a love of fun, well-crafted and danceable pop songs. They’ve brought their energetic live show to stages at NXNE, CMF, Pitter Patter Festival and POP Montreal.

The band is currently working on its debut full-length recording, which follows the success of “Is On Your Side EP” (2008) and “All On C EP” (2007). The as-yet untitled record will be released in early 2011.

“Is On Your Side” was released to great reviews, receiving lots of airplay in 2009 across the country, including daily play on CBC Radio 3 and spending 11 weeks on Radio 3's Top 30 (hitting #4 on March 20th, 2009) with the poppy synth-fueled, “Big Purse, Lil Dawg”. It also made the 2009 Radio 3's Top-103 year-end list and hit #3 on the Canadian Campus Radio charts on Jan. 10, 2009 (Chartattack.com) after getting lots of play at campus radio stations from Victoria, BC to Sackville, NB.

The band released their first EP, All On C (2007), through a Creative Commons Noncommercial-Share Alike license. To date, fans worldwide have downloaded over 32,000 songs (over 5,000 copies of the EP). The attention of the blogosphere caused the handmade lino-pressed physical copies of the EP to quickly sell out to buyers from around the world.

Both Is On Your Side and All On C are available on iTunes, Amazon.com and eMusic.com.

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“The Craft Economy were dared into bandhood by Art Brut singer Eddie Argos after he once told everyone at a show to go home and start a band. Six people took him seriously. Introducing one of the most promising new wave, post-punk boy/girl vocal bands Canada has seen in a while. Their album All On C is a tight little package.” —Pop Montreal

"Is On Your Side, the band’s second EP, consists of effervescent ’80s new-wave with a post-punk drive. Backed by glossy guitar and synth arrangements, Kostas Kurelias and Linda McKenney trade vocal melodies evoking sweaty-palmed summer love.” —Alex Nino Gheciu, Eye Weekly

“The 5 songs on Is On Your Side run by in a 17-minute flash. I’ve probably listened to this EP about 20 times since I got my hands on it, and the songs are still causing me spasms.” — Owen Gayle, Two Way Monologues

“This is a record that will surely secretly impress the skinny-jeaned, keffiyah-wearing hipster in your life…” —John Papamarko, CHARTattack.com

“If Devo and The B-52's joined forces and transported themselves to 2007, they would be The Craft Economy. Catchy, fun and with just a slight hint of the theatrical, it's clear that they are actively campaigning for the title of world's greatest party band.” —ItsnotthebandIhateitstheirfans.blogspot.com