Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: David Mead

What’s the value of five e-mail addresses?

No, that’s not some metaphysical hypothetical, it’s a question that is currently being put to practical application by artists in the ever-changing, digitally dominated world of music. With a program called NoiseTrade, artists like Nashville’s David Mead are offering up “free” music in exchange for five e-mail addresses. The theory is a simple one: You please your fan base, while rapidly expanding it. And for independent artists, you avoid the rigmarole of dealing with labels and distributors. davidmeadpr

What’s the value of five e-mail addresses?

No, that’s not some metaphysical hypothetical, it’s a question that is currently being put to practical application by artists in the ever-changing, digitally dominated world of music. With a program called NoiseTrade, artists like Nashville’s David Mead are offering up “free” music in exchange for five e-mail addresses. The theory is a simple one: You please your fan base, while rapidly expanding it. And for independent artists, you avoid the rigmarole of dealing with labels and distributors.

davidmeadpr

David Mead (Photo: Courtesy Christen Thomas)

“You have this record you like and now it’s time to take it to a label and go through all the marketing and the ‘ra-ra’ getting it out. Having been through that process a few times, I wasn’t that particularly excited about it,” says Mead, once signed on with RCA only to watch the label steadily try to change his image to push albums. “So, I was just wondering if there was a way to give this away in a way that it benefits me, where I could get some kind of help from it.”

It was last winter when Mead ran into NoiseTrade founder Derek Webb in Nashville. Upon learning of the program, Mead signed on and has watched his fan base start to blossom.

“This will be third tour I’ve done this year. Since I’ve had those, I’ve seen attendance steadily start going up at shows,” Mead says. “Now that the album [his fifth and newest LP release Almost and Always] is out for sale, it will be interesting to see if the NoiseTrade approach impacts the sale numbers. But I do feel like I have a better relationship with fans of my music now because I know how to get a hold of them.”

The trade is a good one for fans and even those who are unfamiliar with Mead’s work as a songwriter.

Recently endorsed by NPR with its selection of “Last Train Home” as the public station’s “Song of the Day,” Mead continues a career that has engendered comparisons to the great writers and performers of the modern era, including Paul McCartney and Paul Simon.

Co-writing the album with fellow Nashville performer Bill DeMain, Mead says he stepped away from spinning stories of his own life, instead finding appreciation for the tales of other people’s lives and then recasting them from a first-person point of view.

“I wrote my first album, Luxury of Time, when I was about 10 years younger and much more enchanted with my own experiences and my own viewpoints, as we usually are in our 20s,” Mead says. “In the intervening time period I’ve just gotten really bored with myself. I’ve been trying to find extensions of other people’s stories or experiences that I’m attracted to and basically tell those stories in my own way. And I think that kind of songwriting is a lot more interesting to me.”

Ironically, that approach has yielded a collection of deeply personal songs, such as the heart-rending “Last Train Home,” which describes a late-night return from the city and the connection between two of the train’s passengers.

“In my late teens I started working with this guy who pointed out that no song or composition has to have a particular point, it just has to accomplish something. So the question you have to ask yourself is what is that? And am I accomplishing it,” Mead says.

When it comes to Almost and Always, the answer is an unequivocal yes. And now with his use of NoiseTrade, music fans can snag their copy on the cheap while still helping Mead to grow his audience. It’s a win-win a lot of people can get behind.

• David Mead plays at Jammin’ Java Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the door. For more on David Mead, visit www.myspace.com/davidmead.

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