From farewell to welfare

Having just returned from the Canadian ‘mini tour’, we (being the various people that depend on Severed Heads for pin money) have fallen into discussion about our future. Usually our decisions are made without much care for business, but we have reached a point where some business must take hold.

Like it or not we are reborn. Having accepted death in 2008 we have been dragged back into life – although it’s a weird recapitulation of the previous one. On tour, we meet people that act like we’ve been stored in a cryogenic chamber since 1986, returning simply to remind them of their more handsome years. That was never the point.


Best before 1986

But we admit that perception has been reinforced by our antique set list, which was designed for world-wide farewells. The farewells are now over. We plan new material but have been reluctant to risk upsetting our audience, losing their support. This problem impacts on all the rest of the thinking, as you will see.

We need to present new material. But I’ve always opposed an excess of albums which frightens off new people, so you end up living off dwindling completists. We must find a way to distribute new material without multiplying albums.

We have given away free material for a long time. This is partly generous, partly calculated – art is only worth what people will pay, and if people will pay nothing then it must be revalued some other way. But it takes time to produce music, and we have no time to waste, we must find a way to pay for this time. Of course, it will be stolen* by people who have no care – we know that. There are always snakes.


We need to think about subscriptions. Musicians are being encouraged to try subscriptions just as newspapers are unable to sustain them. It works for software, which has an upgrade schedule. The problem of albums and new music might be solved this way – a constant flow of new material, paid by a constant flow of support. But I am concerned that unless we have an audience that is forward looking we’re not going to make that work.

We need to restore a coherent presence. This was a SEVCOM web page long before Google, but we have now become fragments on commercial services: Facebook for events, Bandcamp for downloads etc. The brand recognition must be pulled into shape. In any case, online presence seems worthless in real life. We keep meeting people who have heard nothing of us since the Internet was born. A Facebook event is not a real campaign.

So then, TL/DR, farewells are over, new things must come, a new model for distribution, a better effort at putting it in front of new people.

You are welcome to comment.

* people that say music isn’t stolen when it’s duplicated have no understanding of time, which is a non-replaceable resource.

9 thoughts on “From farewell to welfare

  1. All in for a subscription service. Was very happy to see you in Montreal, would love if you came back playing newer material. Also I found a way onto the dazzle ship in snowglobe and it didn’t seem quite ready for me.

    • Updates, sure, but I am not sure you can get away with a software model. That is, people wouldn’t stand for an Adobe style incremental update. Have to be something really new at least every month.

  2. Hi, this is Matthew from Ottawa. I am sorry if I totally bothered you by taping your show with my mini camcorder in Montreal. I have gone over it several times, and am glad I can check out details I probably missed at the time. It was very well done! The most impressive parts I think was the enhanced bassline in First Steps, and the up instrumentation of Dollarex near the end.

  3. Incredibly happy you’re back as “Severed Heads” or whatever keeps the splendid oddities coming. I feel like every release or two, ever since the 80s, something significant has changed in your approach to making new music, and yet something alchemical in the way you make songs has remained familiar—always marvelously weird mind you, but there nonetheless. That’s the ineffable “Severed Heads” to me; I’ve always been excited to hear the experiments, knowing your sensibility as the musician will come through also. I’m eager to continue my support by attending shows (NYC is currently nearest to my location), buying albums (physical or digital), or if need be, paying subscriptions… or receiving shipments on camel back, really ANYthing. Just don’t stop making the music that moves you, please. I have a lot of faith by this point it will also move me.

    • Problem might be coming up with a constant flow of that stuff. I am concerned about quality, others think it must be done for financial reasons :-/

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