Pomplamoose's DIY Revolution

It's late afternoon at Pomplamoose headquarters and the sun is falling slowly toward the hills in the west, casting spindly shadows over the two new Hyundais—a silver sedan and a black SUV—sitting in the driveway. These weren't part of the original deal. Hyundai simply let Conte and Dawn pick out the cars they wanted after the ads were finished, effectively giving them a bonus worth at least $50,000.

Inside the shed, Dawn is laying down vocal tracks for Pomplamoose's upcoming album. For the first time, she and Conte are planning to release a project the traditional way: posting it online on a certain date later this spring, then releasing a new video for a song off the album about every two weeks. They're also planning their first tour.

However those efforts turn out, the simple fact that Pomplamoose have gotten where they have, the way they have, holds important lessons for the music business, experts say. "In this world of standing alone on ability to grab attention and create enjoyment, [Conte and Dawn] are clearly stars," says Brian Zisk, an Internet music entrepreneur and social media strategist. "Yes, [labels] know how to do expensive production. Yes, they know how to do expensive promotion—but these are all things that are no longer a real advantage. Artists can do more interesting things when they're not being managed by folks like the labels."

Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn handle virtually every aspect of Pomplamoose themselves, including recording, mixing, editing video and marketing to fans.
Jeff Marini
Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn handle virtually every aspect of Pomplamoose themselves, including recording, mixing, editing video and marketing to fans.
The first time Conte and Dawn tried to record music together, it was a disaster- they dated for a year before trying again.
Jamie Soja
The first time Conte and Dawn tried to record music together, it was a disaster- they dated for a year before trying again.

Whether this band's path will work for others is unclear. Certainly, the combination of musical skill, technical savvy and personal chemistry in Pomplamoose is rare. Conte sees a future, however, in which there will always be companies loaning artists money to make music.

"In truth, a label is nothing more than a corporation, and it funds artists," he says. "Why couldn't another corporation fund an artist? And instead of having Capitol Records at the bottom of your CD, it says Hyundai. Why not?" He says creative artists would still be free to choose which brands to work with, just as Pomplamoose have turned down licensing offers from McDonald's and Walmart. And independent musicians have less to fear from car makers and tech companies than from traditional labels: "HP doesn't know shit about music, and they don't pretend to know shit about music. Record companies don't know shit about music, but they pretend to know shit about music."

It's nearly dark inside the studio, apart from the photographic lights pointing at Dawn. Her face fills the viewfinder of the video camera and she's fussing with her blond curls. Alone in this room, with only the pastoral afternoon outside, it's easy to forget that what gets recorded here will eventually be heard and seen by thousands, and perhaps millions, of people—or that it could one day be used to promote some large company.

Conte plays back the vocal track Dawn has just recorded, along with the rest of the song. Midway through one section, a sarcastic "you're funny"—a stray little tease from Dawn to Conte—is heard over an instrumental break. It sends a few giggles through the room. "Let's keep that in," she says with a grin, and they both nod. In the Pomplamoose revolution, some things may never change.

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I was going to buy a Hyundai, then I remembered they are total garbage. Kind of like the moronic twee shit this band calls music. Total DIY sellouts. Keep sucking that corporate teat PumpLameAss......


they have attained this level of success because those stupid Hyundai commercials were running nonstop a couple months ago.

Not to mention their music totally unoriginal hipster horses*&t. This woman totally ripped her vocal style from Jolie Holland....a true musical talent.


It's a revolution! A real, honest-to-God revolution!


This article, while interesting, is lazy bullshit when it comes to the reality of the music business - you see, we professionals who lament the death of the Online Guitar Archive (OLGA) understand there's this little thing called copyright. Yeah, they may have sold a shit-ton of downloads on iTunes but they made their name with material still owned by "the major labels." Just because they're popular darlings of the internet they don't have to pay mechanical royalties? The Harry Fox agency and the RIAA haven't sued them into oblivion? What the fuck? Maybe I'm just ignorant as to the new normal of "how to make it" but I'm pretty fucking sure I can't go selling covers of me playing Lady Gaga tracks without some industry goon jabbing me for cash...tell me how they can make money without getting fucked by the system and you've got my vote for a Pulitzer...


Speaking of total garbage.... your comment just makes you sound bitter.


Yeah? Did it occur to you that Pomplamoose legally obtains copyright permissions, pays royalty fees, etc? Its really not that difficult, you know.

Apparently, this possibility never crossed your mind. Wow. Really. Just wow.

You're probably one of those people who might listen to a song by one artist and when you hear a similarity with a song from another artist, you immediately "Plagiarism!" and "Rip Off!" without realizing the original artist was properly credited in the derivative version of the song by the artist you claim is stealing.

In fact, this is something that's very common. Any idea about why that may be? Check out the documentary "Everything is a Remix" for insight into the creative process.


Creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Artists "steal" in the sense that the creative process entails taking bits and pieces of different experiences and inspiration and mixing it up into something new and making it their own.

There is a difference between transformation and imitation; between remix and rip-off; between credit and plagiarism. Its one thing to blatantly copy something with no ideas of your own to add and without giving credit to your sources. Its another thing to use bits and pieces of ideas or concepts from different sources of inspiration as seedlings to develop something new by adding your own ideas and experiences. You can't grow new flowers without the seeds from old flowers. Oysters can't make pearls without putting a grain of sand into it. Freezing water can not form into beautiful snowflakes around nothing i.e. it needs a dust particle from the air.

Most artists are actually flattered to be an influence on other artists. In fact, a really good artist use those tributes from other artists as motivation to take it up another notch. Because that's what winners do.

Haters see someone doing well and it bothers them. If you're a hater, you think that there is only so much pie in the world and if someone else is doing something great then they're taking up all the pie and there is no room left you. That is a terrible way to look at the world. There is plenty of room for everybody. Winners see others doing something great and it INSPIRES. Winners don't get jealous. Winners have a special kind of attitude that allows them to bypass the ego and use other people's accomplishments as motivation to take it up a notch i.e. step up their own game.

If you don't have to filter everything through your ego, you will find that a whole new world is opened up from this vantage point. You should try it sometime.


They have managed the copyright permissions through a proper attorney. Nat is a friend and she and Jack explain the process candidly in a video on Youtube. It is all legit, and as it turns out, remarkably seamless. The legal process is surprisingly accessible to artists.

It is not an original observation that you are making. Journalists have asked and investigated. Legal analysts have been consulted. It is refreshingly legit, and that is why it is getting so much press.

It is called freedom of artistic expression and the legal world has gone to great lengths to both simplify the legal procedure and encourage its proper use.

They'll take that Pulitzer, with our without your vote, thank you!


Just FYI, Pomplamoose has paid for the rights to every song they have ever covered -- they did all of this legitimately, and are doing an awesome job of it.

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