In this week's print edition, we talked to Thymme Jones, the founding member of Chicago prog-rock outfit Cheer-Accident. The initial interview covered more ground than we could print. While we spoke about the upcoming show this Saturday at the Schlafly Tap Room, Jones mentioned the band's latest endeavor -- a monthly subscription-based music service.
Instead of merely gaining access to a cache of downloadable records, subscribers receive one new song a month along with other "wild card" content. The service differs from a typical download site as Cheer-Accident writes and records on a monthly basis, then delivers that content to the fans exclusively. And the "wild card" content? That can be anything from video to unreleased audio and other oddities.
Admission ranges from $2-$10 a month -- a flexible payment plan. We talked to Jones about the idea behind this new format and how it's worked out for him so far. Read on for more on Cheer-Accident's "Members" site.
RFT Music: What inspired Cheer-Accident to offer a subscription-based service?
Thymme Jones: Rabbit Rabbit Radio. Our friends from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Carla and Matthias, starting doing this a year ago. Instantaneous revelation! We thought that this would be a great way to make a play at earning an actual living, while connecting with people worldwide in a new way.
After signing up for your monthly subscription program, what does the consumer actually receive? Is the exchange of content done over e-mail or another log-in service?
TJ: Everyone who joins receives access to a brand new song (previously heard by no one) every month. This monthly song is well recorded and highly downloadable. Other features include live video footage from our extensive,largely pre-YouTube, archive "Past Lives," a "Wild Card" segment, which can be anything, and there's always a little something (be it a phone conversation or past emceeing work) from a fella named "Phrogclock."
All of this material is exclusive to those who join our tree fort. It is a log-in service with a link at cheer-accident.com. Automatic payments via Paypal (although we have other options available when people ask). And we do send out a monthly reminder e-mail to all members.
The last Cheer-Accident album, No Ifs, Ands Or Dogs, was released in 2011. Is this service meant as a stand in for a full length release, or is the content featured in the subscription program fair game for future albums?
TJ: At the moment, it's meant to be merely a "different avenue," a different way of doing things at a different pace. We like the challenge of coming up with something new/old every month to lay on people.
There are many out-of-print and hard to find Cheer-Accident albums. Are there plans to integrate past recordings into the program?
TJ: Hmm...don't think so. Most of our albums are still available physically on the "free" part of our site: cheer-accident.com/merch. We are sold out of Trading Balloons and Enduring The American Dream, but we have designs on re-releasing those (and others) in newly mastered form. Or mastered, period form... Honestly, our first properly mastered album was Introducing Lemon, which came out in 2003. Anyway, I think it's a good idea to keep this whole subscription idea "its own thing."
What are the advantages of a digital subscription service over a physical album for the band? For its fans?
TJ: I think the advantage for both is the immediacy. There's much less "to-do" involved - it's simply a pledge that we honor in a monthly way. Of course, I sometimes reminisce about the days of "the big release date," but this is... something differrent! We have seventeen full-length releases (and will have more in the future), so it's exciting to try a new approach.
You mentioned "wild card" content in the subscription's description. Can you give us a sneak peak on what that entails or possibly a run-down of past "wild card" content?
TJ: Here's the story so far: An actual television commercial for Enduring The American Dream which aired during a White Sox game in 1997, a word from a baby, Tony Fortunate Smith, a never-before-seen video for an old song by our beloved and deceased Phil Bonnet, and a rather lengthy montage from our TV show, Cool Clown Ground.
Here's an elementary school challenge: Make a sales pitch for your service. Use 17 words. Use as much alliteration as possible.
TJ: Music/Much More Made Monthly Makes Months Mirthful/Melancholy/Maniacally Mesmerizing/Mystifying. Meticulously Masterful! Minimal Money! Mandatory!
Cheer Accident with Yowie and The Conformists Saturday, January 11 Schlafly Tap Room 9 PM | free
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