When in doubt, DIY

OK, so it’s no secret the music business has kinda gone to hell. That major-label deal that looked like a sure-fire leap to international celebrity a few short years ago suddenly looks like a one-way ticket to parking cars.

But people are still making music, right? Yes, and an explosion of do-it-yourself (or DIY) records, films and books has occurred as a result of a collapse of access to the international corporate media.

With all those artists busy creating, there should be a corresponding expansion of consultants setting up shop, either to help these aspiring DIY visionaries navigate the treacherous waters of the business world or to separate them from their money. As always, the operating rule is caveat emptor.

In Los Angeles this weekend, there’s something called the DIY Festival, which encompasses music, film and book publishing. And here in Sacramento, an organization calling itself the Independent Label Coalition, led by producer and entrepreneur Jay King, will host a mini-confab titled the “Renegotiating the Record Business Music Seminar” on Saturday, February 8, at the Colonial Theatre, 3522 Stockton Boulevard.

In 1986, King released a single titled “Rumors,” by Timex Social Club, on his independent label, Jay Records; it went to No. 1 and sold 3.5 million copies. He parlayed that hit into a deal with Warner Bros. Records with Club Nouveau, which featured King and producers Thomas McElroy and Denzil Foster (who later produced En Vogue and Tony! Toni! Toné!). King’s bio credits him with inventing the now-ubiquitous “street team” method of promoting records.

King’s new company Del Paso Entertainment is presenting the seminar in conjunction with Showcase magazine. Panelists include King; Kevin Black, vice president of street marketing and promotion at Interscope Records; and Alvin Williams, a vice president at Music World Gospel, an offshoot of the Columbia custom label that releases Destiny’s Child records. The confab runs from noon to 7 p.m., with registration starting at 10 a.m. The cost is $99 in advance, $150 at the door or $79 if you’re a member of the ILC. For more info, visit the ILC’s Web site at www.indielabelco.org.

On another note, Harley White, noted Sacramento bassist (Papa’s Culture, Blackalicious), educator and all-around good guy, is teaching a course called “Songwriting for Teens” at the Hemispheres Art Academy from February 10 through May 29. The class will meet Monday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the academy at 1619 N Street, and it’s open to high-school-age students (those in ninth through 12th grades). The cost is $10 for materials. This looks like a really good opportunity for aspiring young songwriters to learn some fundamentals—harmony, theory and composition—for an unbeatable price. For more info, call (916) 444-0101.