A Feast for Hungry Eyes: An Interview with Sam Phillips, Part 2

Continued from yesterday.

Chad Thomas Johnston: The website for The Long Play shut down on May 1st. Did you achieve what you hoped to with this project?

Sam Phillips: I did. It was so much fun, and there was instant gratification in knowing that, in a few weeks, I was going to make my work available to people without having to jump through certain hoops usually associated with the release of a record. There was a lot of freedom in that.

I was also so happy that I had as many takers as I did. The site stayed open longer than I thought it would, and it found more friends than I thought it would, too.

I loved making myself write that much music. At the same time, I think doing The Long Play made me long to do something a little bit more involved, and with production that was a little bit more filled out.

With Push Any Button, I got to work on the arrangements, write at my own pace, and take a little more time with things. Now I feel like I want to go back the other way. That back ‘n’ forth is what makes it fun for me. I don’t want to do the same things over and over again. [Read more…]

A Feast for Hungry Eyes: An Interview with Sam Phillips, Part 1

Many songsmiths have struggled to navigate the commercial wilderness that arose in the aftermath of the music industry’s collapse. Singer-songwriter Sam Phillips, however, has played the part of intrepid explorer, forging brave paths across this foreign landscape.

In October of 2009, she created a subscription service for her fans called The Long Play. For fifty-two dollars, her devotees could feast at her musical banquet table and partake of the sonic equivalent of a seven-course meal over the following year. In the end, she supplied subscribers with five EPs, an LP, and other delectable audio hors d’oeuvres.

When I subscribed, Phillips’s business model struck me as a contrarian response to the “pay what you want” price pioneered by Radiohead with the release of 2007’s In Rainbows. With The Long Play, in addition to eschewing traditional format and release conventions, Phillips made a convincing argument for music’s monetary value.

Phillips and I recently connected via phone to discuss her forthcoming independent album, Push Any Button, which is another chapter in her life after record labels. We also talked about the music she composes for ABC’s dramedy, Bunheads, and the dissolution of The Long Play, among other things. [Read more…]