Our guest this week on the Art of the Song Coffee Break is Colorado singer/songwriter Rob Roper.
Want to listen to the full interview with music? Listen on our podcast here while you read. Rob Roper Podcast
Katie: I’m sitting here with Rob Roper who joins us from Denver, Colorado and has been a Standing ‘O’ artist for quite a while now. Rob, welcome. It’s really great to have you on the podcast today.
Rob: I’m glad to be here.
Katie: Let’s just dive right in and start with the simple question of where you started in music and how this songwriting journey started for you.
Rob: Well, I learned to play guitar when I was 12 and played off and on, although I would go back and forth, but I would get involved with other things or interest in other things. I wasn’t that serious about it when I was young. I kind of was the opposite of everybody else. Other people they get really into music and join bands and stuff when they’re young and then they get married and have kids and then they give it up or it just becomes a hobby then. I went the opposite direction.
Katie: So you started as a hobby and made it more serious as the years went by?
Rob: Yeah, exactly, I did it backwards. It was in my thirties that I started getting serious about it. Took some more guitar lessons, got a little better at guitar and then mid-late thirties started getting in bands and whatnot. It was the same old thing. Bands that wouldn’t go anywhere. They’d break up for whatever reasons and then I hooked up with a guy name Kurt Lokan, this was in Tucson, Arizona, I was living there and we formed a band called Fated Innocence. We did two little home cassette recordings that I did. I bought a four-track cassette recorder. Kurt wrote most of the lyrics and I did most of the musical arrangements for his lyrical ideas and so forth. I wrote a couple songs but they weren’t that good. Then Kurt moved away and I played with another songwriter at the time. I tried to write songs, but I would get frustrated because they weren’t very good and nobody ever told me that, “Hey, of course, they’re not good, you’re a beginner”.
Katie: Yeah, it’s really hard when you’re starting out. I think a lot of people get discouraged for that reason too, was that the first time that you had actually started writing songs was in your late thirties?
Rob: Yeah, pretty much. I started then and I’d start a song and I didn’t really have any kind of knowledge of the craft of it all and I’d have ideas but I couldn’t figure out how to finish the song or they wouldn’t be very good. Then I had this sort of prejudice really that songwriters are born. They’re just made. That it’s not hard for them. That the songs just flow into their head and they just grab a pen and write it down and that’s that. No problem. It’s not hard. So it wasn’t till later that I was like, “Oh that’s not how it is at all.” It’s like learning an instrument or any kind of craft or sculpting or any craft you have to work at it and you have to be bad before you can be good. Once I figured that out then I was able to make some progress.
Katie: I think that’s a really great point because we have a lot of people who listen to this who are aspiring songwriters or aspiring creatives in a lot of different ways and so many people have this misconception that you’re just born with this natural ability and if you aren’t good at it from the start then you shouldn’t be doing that and I think it’s really encouraging to hear someone that’s like, “No, you got to work at it and once you accept that, then you can make progress.”
Rob: Yeah, and once I slapped myself upside the head with that revelation then I realized, “Oh, this takes work”. It’s like if I were to learn the clarinet or something, I would have to take lessons and practice and it was the same thing with songwriting. I had to just work at it, put time into it. The more time I put into it, the better I got.
Katie: But you’ve still worked really quickly. You have five solo CDs under your belt and you’ve traversed in an amazing amount of musical styles as well, so it’s still impressive how much progress you’ve made in such a short amount of time.
Rob: Well, thanks. To me, I have the opposite impression. I feel like I’m slow and I should have made more progress.
Katie: I guess to each their own. It’s still really impressive to me. I want to delve into that though about how you’ve switched your styles. You started out with this acoustic singer/songwriter style and then you’ve gone into this psychedelic rock instrumentals and this spoken word. Talk about it was going between those different styles.
Rob: That’s because I was always mostly into rock music when I was young, actually all my life, but I always loved the acoustic music, the singer/songwriter music, the storytelling songs. There was always that side of me too. There was always both. I was joining rock bands, playing electric guitar before I got into songwriting. That band I mentioned, Fated Innocence, I played mostly electric guitar with that. But it was around 2003/2004 that I decided to get serious about songwriting and it was mostly because joining bands, they wouldn’t work, they’d break up, I kind of figured out the guy that writes the songs is in charge.
Katie: So you like control is what you’re saying.
Rob: Yeah, that guy is in charge of the band because he has the songs, usually is the singer too. I thought, you know, if I learn how to write songs then I can form a band and I’ll be in charge. So if the band breaks up it’s my fault now because I’ll be in charge. I didn’t like the idea of bands breaking up and I had no control over it. Also, I did want to write my own songs and I felt like I had things to say and wanted to say them. But the idea was always from the start to learn how to write songs so I could form a rock band and sing them in, but, at the time, I thought well, I need to learn this just by acoustic guitar. Just a song on an acoustic guitar, that’s how I need to learn how to write songs. So, right or wrong, that was what I thought at the time. So the first songs were acoustic songs and then, of course in that environment, that kind of singer/songwriter/acoustic/folk, whatever you want to call it environment, I started going to the Folks festival up in Lyons, Colorado. I started in 1999 and then it was at the 2002 folks festival I ran into a song circle where people were doing their own songs there one night and I was just really impressed, “Wow, look at these people doing their own songs!” It’d be my turn come around the song circle and I would say, “Well, I can’t write songs, I’m just going to do a John Prine song or whatever”. Then one guy said, “Well, you should go to the song school, it happens right before the folks festival.” So, long story short, 2004 I went to that first song school and that got me going on it. I learned a bit of the craft of it all. Then it was still hard, but that’s when that revelation that you just have to work at this. So I started working at it and I was just committed at that point. I was just like, “I am going to learn how to do this.” So I did.
Katie: Did you just jump in being a full-time singer/songwriter at that point?
Rob: No, I was working a day job and stuff, but this was becoming a very serious hobby at the time and I was very focused on it. For about 3 years, I worked at it and in 2007, I thought, “Well, I’ve written a few songs and I can play these songs as well as some covers and start go playing out.” I said, “I guess I need to make a demo CD”, so I made just a home demo. I just called it “Some Songs I Wrote”….
Katie: Very accurate description.
Rob: Yeah, so I started working to get gigs at the time in Denver, just playing solo, but to get back to what you’d asked before, I did the acoustic singer/songwriter thing, plus I was going to the song school and the folks festival, I was in the milieu with other singer/songwriters so, in some ways, my original goal of writing songs for a rock band kind of was forgotten about. I got pulled into that whole singer/songwriter milieu and atmosphere and was doing that and it was only a few years ago…. every now and then it would come back to me, “Well, what about your rock music?” And I go, “Yeah, I need to do that.” Then I finally, a few years ago, said, “Yeah, I need to start doing some rock music, that was kind of the whole point of this.” So that’s when I got back into that.
Katie: And how was that transition? Did you find that people were really accepting of that transition going from the acoustic to the rock music? Was is the same fan base?
Rob: Well, that’s still a transition right now. It’s still going on. I’ve been playing really up until just last month still doing acoustic gigs but I decided I really needed to get serious about forming a band, a rock band, so now that’s a priority for me. I just last week starting meeting with some folks.
Katie: Oh that’s exciting. Because you are in an acoustic singer/songwriter band right now, right? The Scupanon?
Rob: Yeah, Scupanon. Well, I had formed a band-band in 2010, you know, drums, bass, and then this fellow Paul Ermisch on violin and then I played guitar. I played both electric and acoustic initially. But then I was going to record Misfit and then that took all my time so the band went on hold and then that ended up taking like a year, that whole process. By the time Misfit was released in May 2011, the bass player had to drop out, she had some family problems going on and then long story short I just decided I would play as a duo with the violinist, a kind of acoustic thing. So Paul and I just started playing as a duo and then we picked up one guy on percussion who actually I met at my neighborhood bar, Sam Castin. A very good percussionist. Played congas and djembe and that sort of stuff and he was from Mississippi, like I am. He was from Northeast Mississippi whereas I’m from Jackson. We were talking about a band name and I was like, “Well, let’s have a band name now instead of just going by Rob Roper. These other guys should get some recognition.” So he suggested Scupanon, which is the name of a wild grape that grows in Mississippi and in the South and people make jelly and cheap wine out of it. So I had some ideas for bands names and Paul had some but in the end, Scupanon won out. Then Sam ended up moving up to Fort Collins and he couldn’t stay in the band, but we decided to keep the name anyways.
Katie: So you’re looking to also form a band with the Total Flower Chaos too, which you did an instrumental rock release last year too. By the way, I have to say because I listened to Misfit too and I was thinking, “Oh, he’s definitely inching toward the rock.” It’s no surprise to me that you ended up with this psychedelic rock. You could see that you were going that direction, which I really enjoyed about it.
Rob: Like I said, the first band, there was drums, bass, and I played half of it sounds electric. Like Misfit I played electric with a fuzz pedal to play that riff. So, like I said, there’s the two sides of me. It’s kind of like Neil Young would play electric with “Crazy Horse”, like grungy electric stuff, and then he’ll do an acoustic album. He’ll tour with an acoustic band. Kind of like me. I have one foot in each.
Katie: And you’ve also got a foot in spoken word now too. I just wonder, is that a different creative process for you? Do you have different sources of inspiration? Do you have a different writing process when it comes to doing the rock music versus the acoustic music versus the spoken world?
Rob: Well the spoken word stuff, like the first one I did, it was called “Wave the Flag and Give ’em God” and I found it as an outlet for my political thoughts. A lot of those were just written as a gag. That one was definitely written just as a gag. I literally had a little hand-held recorder that I’d walk around the neighborhood with or whatever and just drive around to capture ideas so I don’t forget them. So, one day for lunch I was walking to this Chinese restaurant, which was four blocks down the street, and I had this idea of a cynical election campaign manager advising a candidate who is not the sharpest knife in the door. So, obviously, at the time that was based on George Bush and Karl Rove. So I was just imagining these conversations between Karl Rove and George Bush and Karl Rove getting frustrated at times because George wasn’t always catching onto the concept. So I wrote it kind of from that point of view but then I also brought in Clinton there. I made a composite candidate. When Clinton was impeached, then all the sudden he started going to church and saying “God Bless America” and everything, so that was the Clinton part of the character.
Katie: I thought that was very interesting, and you released it in 2016, so you released it at a pretty apt time in our political realm.
Rob: Yeah, that was written in 2006, ten years earlier, and I just did that on a home demo….
Katie: But you released it 10 years later during this very controversial election.
Rob: Yeah, the timing worked out for that. So it was fun and I have a few more ideas I just have to get them finished up for the spoken word things. The fun thing about those is you don’t have to worry about traditional song structure and rhyme and all that making things fit into a form. You just ramble on and you have some music in the background.
Katie: Absolutely. You just transmit the message that you want to transmit and I think that’s deeply satisfying. Are you planning on keeping with the political commentary in your spoken word?
Rob: Yeah, now the other one called “Accept, Embrace, Surrender”, that was different. That one does have some structure to it and it’s not really truly spoken word. It’s kind of rap and a sung chorus, but I put it on the album anyway. It’s different. It seemed to fit. That one, should I tell you the story behind that one?
Katie: Absolutely, tell me the story, I’m fascinated.
Rob: For that one, again, it started at the Song School in Lyons and I had just arrived on Sunday afternoon and set up camp and I met this woman in a camp nearby named Nancy Farmer and she was telling me about in the previous year she was in this class where you exchange stories with people and they tell you their story and you tell them yours and you write a song about the other person’s story. She was partnered with this guy named Joe Stevens, Coyote Joe, who was in an acoustic group called Coyote Grace where Joe is a transgender man. He was born a girl but he always felt like a male and he eventually did the transformation thing and became a man. I knew him from a previous year there. So he told her that story and she did write a song but she wasn’t happy with it at the time. She’s happy with it now. At any rate, she said she feels like she hasn’t really written a song so she’s telling me the story and I went “Oh well, that’s interesting” and I made a few suggestions and I went off for a walk and walked around I kept thinking about it and I decided I’d help her co-write if she wants it because I thought it was a good songwriting challenge. So I went back and told her and she goes “Yeah, I’ll take all the help I can get”. So we started working on it there and then we worked on it for like 6 months until one night I stayed up till like 5 in the morning, this was a work night, it was like a week night, and I had to go to work at 8 in the morning, but the inspiration came and I worked it out, I had a first draft, and it was sung, it was a traditional song and showed it to her and it was pretty good, but we both thought, “It needs something else, it’s not done.” One of the things I like to do to generate ideas is I do freestyle rap. I just walk around the neighborhood with a recorder and I just freestyle rhymes to try to generate ideas.
Katie: That’s so interesting, I don’t think I’ve heard one person that I’ve interviewed describe their creative writing process that way so that’s pretty cool.
Rob: I saw this documentary called “Freestyle”, I think it’s only 45 minute long or something, but it’s about the hip hop community and they have these things called cyphers, these little circles where they get together and you freestyle, you just make up the rhyme on the go. It’s totally improvised and I just remember thinking, “Wow, that’s got to be really hard, but it’s so cool.” So I started doing that as a way to generate ideas for lyrics, not in a group, but just on my own, and after I did that I came home and I was transcribing these freestyle rap ideas to paper and it just struck me that the hip hop attitude kind of fits the story. There’s a sort of defiance there that comes across.
Katie: A counterculture sort of thing as well.
Rob: So I thought I am definitely not a hip-hop artist or rapper, but the song wants to be that. I told Nancy and Nancy is even less so than me. She doesn’t listen to hip hop at all, she’s much more of a folkie than I am, and I’m like, “I kind of feel like this is what the song wants to be” and ended up going up to her house and we walked around her neighborhood and she got into it anyway because she said, “Well, that’s kind of how I write anyway. I called it following the rhyme.” So we did it and came up with a bunch more lyrics and then it was a matter of editing things down and giving them some structure. Then the chorus, I wrote that chorus, or Nancy and I wrote it, and we took a while to get it finalized, but we did that and then I just recorded at home, but that was one that I then took to studio and had Brian Hunter at Swallow Hill remix it and mix it better.
Katie: Wow. That’s pretty cool. I like that you have these different writing styles and that you seem to really play off of the people that are around you in your life at that time too, which is pretty neat. You know, I was just looking at a quote here you have written on your Standing ‘O’ Profile, and I thought it was really interesting. The best advice you received, you said one of them was from Terri Delaney, she said that it’s not enough to be good, you have to be unique and it got you thinking about your mission and I wanted to touch on this, with all these different styles that you’re doing and with all these different inspirations that you take from your life, what do you think your mission is with songwriting?
Rob: That’s a good question. Terri mentors songwriters and also does a class with her partner Ellis Delaney, a very good touring singer/songwriter and Terri’s thing is you have to have a mission and the first time I heard that, having worked in corporate America as an electronics technician and then computer technician for big corporations and they have these mission statements and they’re all bullshit so I’m very cynical about it. They’re all like, “Our mission is to deliver the highest quality products with the best customer service”. Bullshit. Your mission is to make as much money as possible for your stockholders. So I was not very receptive to the idea of a mission statement for musicians or songwriters but I came around to it that I see the point now. So my mission is kind of in development, but it happened back at the time I did Misfit, that’s kind of a whole other story that’s related to it. But I basically said, “I think that my job is to serve the misfits of the world”. It is to write songs and perform music for the misfits of the world.
Katie: So you’re going off of the Misfit song and I also like that in your Standing ‘O’ profile you classify yourself as a troubadour of the misfit too.
Rob: Yeah, Kurt Lokan called me that and I kind of liked it. I said, “I’ll take that.”
Katie: Yeah, man, I dig it too. I had written it down and I was like, “Yeah, I can get behind this.” So you want to be a troubadour of the misfit. Where does that come from, this identification with the misfit?
Rob: The song, it’s kind of interesting, I was at an open mic this one time, this was probably in 2009, and there was this guy and he was just playing all crazy. He was just playing this guitar riff, kind of like a blues riff up on the neck of the guitar and just kind of singing and howling and it was just completely crazy. Most people were turned off by it but me I kind of liked it. It was just so loud and crazy and just so off that I liked it.
Katie: It was just weird enough to be entrancing.
Rob: Yeah. But I thought, “I’ve never written a song based on a riff”. All my songs are based on chords. So I thought, alright, just as a songwriting challenge, I should write a song based on a riff. So I went home and I don’t know if it was that night, it was probably the next day, I started noodling around on the guitar and came up with a riff, but I didn’t want it to be just a typical blues riff. I said, “Let’s just make it weird”. So I mixed both major/minor modes together in this weird-sounding riff and I liked it and then the word “misfit” came to me. So I just got out a paper and pen and made a list of all the ways I think I’m a misfit and I was just humorous and sarcastic about a lot of things, like I like to make fun of the fact of people who think that they’re being rebels but all they’re really being is just fitting in. Like punk rockers, you have to have a leather jacket, you have to have tattoos, piercings, all that kind of stuff. Like the tattoos and piercings, that’s not a rebel.
Katie: That’s very true. As you said, it’s just another uniform. You were like, “I don’t have the hoodies and I don’t have the dreadlocks”. I thought it was very interesting.
Rob: Other things even like being gay is kind of cool.
Katie: Or even bisexual.
Rob: In some circles that’s cool. I was like, no I’m not gay, I’m heterosexual which is really boring. In some places, especially in the music world or artistic world if you’re not gay then you’re the misfit. So I was kind of trying to make fun of all of that stuff. So anyway, I just wrote all of this stuff out. I did a little bit of minor editing and then I recorded the riff and I just made a quick drum beat and put down a quick bass line, did a real quick mix and recorded the vocal and I remember I just emailed it to a few friends of mine and said, “Look at this stupid song I wrote. I’ll never record this and never play it out, but it was fun to do as a joke.” Then they wrote me back and said, “What do you mean you’ll never record or play it, it’s great!” And I was like, “No it’s not, it’s stupid.”
Katie: I’m sensing a theme here. You said the same thing about “Wave the Flag and Give ‘Em God”. I feel it’s like these little experiments that you do. It seems like they pan out to be your main songs.
Rob: That’s what Terri Delaney said when I did a little session with her. Sent her a bunch of songs I had written and she liked “Wave the Flag and Give ‘Em God” and “Misfit” the best. And I was like, “Those are stupid songs!” Then she goes, “Yeah, but those are unique, they’re different”. Nobody else does stuff like that. That’s when I kind of starting thinking about her thing of “what’s your mission”. Then she made the point that you got to be unique. There’s a lot of people writing songs and singing songs. What’s going to make you stand out? So you can either be a great, great singer. You can be a great guitarist where you just wow people with your guitar playing and wow people with your singing or whatever or you have to have songs that are a little different. So I figured I’m going to go that route.
Katie: Better telling a story that no one else is telling or they’re telling it from a perspective that people aren’t telling it from. I respect that you go with these whims that you have and pursue them wholeheartedly. It also seems to mirror your songwriting journey in general that you have started as a hobby and then progressively became more and more serious with it and it’s the same way with your songs.
Rob: And I learned something from that experience. With Misfit, that was going on, and then I had that band briefly with the drums, bass, and everything and I showed them a bunch of songs and I hadn’t showed them Misfit yet and then I said, “Well, I do have one more song, but don’t feel obligated to play it because it’s really stupid. It’s not a very good song. If you want to, play it, but don’t feel obligated.” So I was still apologizing. So I played it for them and they were like, “Oh yeah, we got to do that.” And I was like, “My god, does the whole world have bad taste in music?” So then we would play it live and people would come up to us and be all, “I love that song Misfit!” And I was like, “Oh god, everybody likes that song, but I learned from that whole thing. The other thing I thought, well, this song is so about me, people can’t relate to it because it’s very much about me, but I noticed that people related to the concept of being a misfit and a lot of people would say, “I’ve always felt like I was a misfit too”. Then that’s when I started thinking and Terri was on me about “What’s your mission?” and I thought, “Well, maybe that’s my mission.” I write songs for the misfits.
Katie: Well, and get them that acceptance and that freedom to be their misfit selves and express that in some way. I think that’s really beautiful and useful right now.
Rob: Yep, so there you go! Long answer to your question about my mission.
Katie: No, I like it! I’m a fan of circuitous answers. It fits the way I speak too so I appreciate it. I really wanted to touch on, because you had talked about this in one of our email chains, your commitment to learning about the music industry and the way that streaming has impacted it. Let’s talk a little bit about your journey and how you’ve seen streaming impact the music industry.
Rob: Sure. One of the things in my case, I came along right at the end. I look back on it now and there was this sort of golden age I think where digital technology had become available to where you could record relatively cheaply. It used to be you had to be signed to a record contract to make a record. There was no way just an individual could just make a vinyl record on their own so you had to be signed. But then, when digital technology came along, I mentioned I made these cassette tapes, now that was, of course, analog. Cassette analog four-track. Not very good quality. But then when digital came along, if you had the skill you could make good quality recordings and people were doing that. Then more and more studios popped up because the initial investment wasn’t as great as in the old ones. So you had the advent of the independent bands and independent singer-songwriters who could make CDs independently and then go on tour or sell them at shows or whatnot and make a living at it. People were doing that. But that lasted about, what, ten years I guess. Then downloading came. Downloading you at least get paid for. Well, not illegal downloads obviously. That hurt. But then streaming is what really ended that era because now people were not buying any kind of physical CD or paying for a download, but going to Spotify and then listening to music on their phones and so forth. So that’s hurt CD and download sales. So that golden era, that little window of opportunity between the advent of the digital age but before streaming has closed I think.
Katie: Did you see your sales impacted by the advent of streaming?
Rob: Well, I kind of came into it right at the end. I did these two demo CDs called “Some Songs I Wrote” but then “Misfit” was my first record and that was released in 2011.
Katie: Yeah, so it was kind of right in the mess of things. You came along at a difficult time. It’s a great marker that you perservered in spite of that as well.
Rob: Yeah, so I was late to the party. I’m the guy that shows up at 2 am when everybody’s leaving and I’m like. “Hey, I’m here!”
Katie: “Let’s Party!”
Rob: I’m the guy where everybody’s looking at me like, “Dude, I just want to go to bed, man.” I’m like, “Hey, let’s party”. So that was kind of me.
Katie: Yeah, but you pursued and you did a lot to educate too. You were talking to me about two sites that you really used to educate yourself on the current matters in the music industry: Trichordist and Artist Rights Watch. How did you come across those?
Rob: I forget now, but I ran across the Trichordist somehow, I guess doing searches about streaming or whatever. The Trichordist is a website by David Lowery who is the singer for Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and I was a Cracker fan. I’ve seen them play a few times, I’ve got their CDs and I like their stuff. I like their songs. I guess David Lowery now teaches music business at a college. I think in Georgia if I got that right.
Katie: And is also involved in a lawsuit right now, correct?
Rob: I think so. But he has this website called The Trichordist and I’m on the email list so I get emails. He’s kind of like this watchdog about what Google and Apple and Spotify and what the new music industry is up to.
Katie: Yeah, I think the lawsuit is with regard to getting artists more fair pay from streaming services as well. He’s been very active in that regard so it’s a good resource for people out there.
Rob: Yeah, and he’s the one who made the point that made me think about this. The whole thing about free music. People think well music should be free and they think that if I listen to a song on Spotify or whatever on my phone it’s free. Well, but wait a minute, he made the point (back then he was talking about the illegal download thing), well you had to buy a computer to listen to it. So now, in my blog, I made the point: oh it’s free, huh? That cellphone was free? That smartphone you have? The android? Well, no, that was $650. Oh, and you don’t have to pay a monthly fee? Well, no, I pay $80-$100 a month. Oh, so that music is not free is it? Yeah, but I can do other stuff on the phone. I can text people. Yeah, but you don’t have to pay that much to text. You can text for $20 kind of subscription. But it’s the streaming the song, the music, the video, the high data stuff that you’re paying the extra for. So these people are really paying $80 a month to listen to music.
Katie: Well it’s true and that was such a brilliant perspective to come from too because we are ok in paying the corporate people when it’s expected and demanded of us but the artistic people, we don’t place monetary value on it for some reason. It’s a really funny structure that we have in our society right now.
Rob: Yeah, it’s the same person that will pay $100 a month for a cell phone plan, but if you ask them to give you $10 for their CD they’ll say, “Oh, I don’t know man, times are kind of hard right now and money’s kind of tight”. They don’t make the comparison.
Katie: It’s funny that people will rail against “Oh the corporate culture!” but then they’re very happy to pay for their phone and not pay the artist. Why do you think our society has this value structure right now?
Rob: Well, that’s a big question. A lot of it is that things are taken for granted. You take for granted that if you want to live somewhere that you got to pay the rent or you got the buy the house and make the house payment and if you want to have electricity you got to pay the electric company. If you want to have water you got to pay the water company. Then if you want a phone, you got to pay for the phone. If you want to have a cellphone you have to pay. They’re just sort of taken for granted.
Katie: Because it’s a necessity. It’s a requirement. So if we started maybe treating art and culture and these things that enrich our lives as a necessity instead of a luxury, maybe we would put a little more value on it.
Rob: I think it’s fine if people want to listen to music on their phone and I think if you’re paying $100 a month, you should be able to listen to music on your phone. That’s a lot of money. You actually are paying for music. I think the problem is at the backend. It’s the distribution between the corporations that are making the music available and art is not a good distribution. I agree that the people who have the infrastructure to make my music available should get a cut.
Katie: But also the artists who are making the music in the first place should also be paid for their work to allow them to contribute this to society.
Rob: Yeah, it’s just out of whack the idea of only getting 2/10ths of a penny for streaming. It’s not just the fact that I wrote the song, it’s actually the fact that I paid to have it recorded. I paid thousands of dollars for a studio engineer.
Katie: It’s not just that. It’s the years that you trained being a musician and getting all of your equipment and learning how to do your craft. It’s not just the song itself or the time it took to record or the money it took to record, it’s all the years that you logged in before you got to that point as well.
Rob: Yeah, exactly, so there’s all that. To say that, well, I only deserve 2/10ths of a penny for my investment?
Katie: It’s crazy.
Rob: I don’t know what it should be. How about a nickel? Give me a nickel.
Katie: Or what we do at the Standing ‘O’. We do the subscription and it’s transparent and it’s direct to the artist. I think that’s what we feel like it should be in our society right now. It should be transparent and artists should know exactly how much they’re getting each month.
Rob: Yeah and that’s what I love about what you guys are doing at Standing ‘O’ Project. You’re committed to the artist and seeing that the artists are fairly compensated. Which is why I joined and I’ve been trying to promote it as best I can to my fan list and friends and whatnot because it’s a great concept. I appreciate what you’re doing there and I want to help you be successful.
Katie: Well, thanks! And hey, we appreciate what you’re doing and we appreciate where you’re coming from and we appreciate you making the music that you do and pushing the boundaries in the way that you do. So thank you. Hey, we’re actually running out of time here so, before we leave, do you have any words of wisdom to the budding creatives out there listening?
Rob: Words of wisdom? Well, just keep creating, just keep doing it, and keep working at it. Dedicate time to it and if you have something you want to say, you need to say it. Keep doing it. Yeah, there’s some negative trends in the music business right now that are not good, but you can still make music and you should.
Katie: Hey, you came out in the sort of shitstorm of it all in the music industry and you I think are a really good example out there that you can still just do it and make it happen.
Rob: Exactly. You got to.
Katie: Well, Rob Roper, thank you so much for talking with me today on the Standing ‘O’ Project podcast. I really appreciate it.
Rob: Well, thank you so much for having me. I had a good time. It was fun talking to you.
To learn more about Rob and his music check out his Standing ‘O’ page and his website.