The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet


As Karnak The Magnificent might say, “On this one page is everything you could ever want to know about…!” But “You are wrong!…“ Actually, it’s around ninety percent of the queries I get. So why re-invent the wheel?

$9.95 Seems Like An Odd Amount To Charge?

This is actually a huge issue. The short answer? It’s the fair amount for me.

Background: You’re probably referring to the fact that most commercial CDs list for 16.95 or something like that. However, when you come right down to it, by the time that Warner Bros., the trucking company, the warehouses and the Wal-mart size record store get paid, the artist is typically left with something like $1.65 per CD. Really. That’s the reason you hear so many anecdotal horror stories about musicians going broke after selling 2 million copies. Part of it is the nature of the beast: if you’re, say a rap star, the first thing you might do is get some bling and an ‘entourage’ going. And sure that wastes a ton of cash keeping up the ‘image’. But the fact is, it’s easy to not see how little the typical artist gets from record sales. And tours get so extravagant that these are often losing propositions (ever wonder how some of those guys can afford all those ‘dancers’ on stage?) So the truth is that most ‘signed’ artists actually make the big money (yeah, the Big, Big Money, Dim) from either merchandising or licensing. In other words, T-shirts and a five second placement in ‘Law And Order’. Really. That’s the deal.

Or rather, that’s their deal. My economics are a bit different. I keep the entire cost of production, including postage and fulfillment, under $2 per unit. So do the math. I ain’t gotta sell squillions to make a living.

Oh, oh. I smell a rant coming…

And another thing: $16.95 was always a crap deal. It was a crap deal back when CDs first came on the scene in the 1980’s and it’s pretty much stayed a crap deal to this day, despite some recent price drops. It’s like the major drug companies who charge $200 a month for a drug, simply because they can, and there are no ‘market forces’ to keep things in line. If ‘the market’ had been at work, we would have seen prices come down after a few years, as they do in other areas. It made sense to charge more back in the day because they did have substantial costs in setting up new manufacturing equipment and systems. Fair enough. But after that? It turned into pure gravy. They had zero cost of development in much of their sales–after all they were simply re-packaging all of their back catalogues and selling us the same thing over again that we already had in vinyl. But still charging $16.95. OK. Wanna know the cost to manufacture a CD? When I order them in units of 2,500 it’s about $1. Now imagine what it must be for a big run for a Madonna or Jay-Z record.

So let’s add this up: You pay $16.95. But the cost of manufacture is under a dollar. And the artist is often getting less than $2. So where’s the remaining $13.95 going? Things that make ya go ‘Hmmm’.

I mention all this because there’s so much talk about the sad state of the music biz. Well, all I can say is, ‘good riddance’ to the old model. It really was a complete rip-off for both artists and consumers. Maybe some share-holders made out well and, as an ardent capitalist I say, ‘Well done to you!’. However, even without the Internet, the party couldn’t last forever. One can only wish that whatever replaces the current system will be more equitable for the artists (that would be me) and the consumers (that would be you.)

And What About The Little Wheelie Logo?

Hey dude, I’m trying to preserve thelegacy of the brand here. As if.

The little ‘suntower’ logo was created twenty something years ago during another life I had as a software guy. It was supposed to represent “Tir Na Gréine” a real place in the west of Ireland, literally ‘the tower of the sun’. It always had a magical sound to me. Back when the record company was ‘suntower music’ it made sense. But then again, no one associated ‘suntower music’ with ‘JC Harris’ so we changed the business to JCHMusic to make it easier for people to find us. The ‘sun’ is a bit of harmless nostalgia.

Yeah, but what about Siberian Khatru?

D’Oh! I knew you were gonna ask. I had no idea it had anything to do with the rock band ‘Yes’ and that fabulous song, until after I started selling my own CDs and people started pointing it out. Really truly. Could you understand any of the lyrics to that song when you heard it? Me either. Just one of those synchronicities of life, I suppose. But, unlike Jon Anderson, I actually had some meaning in mind when I chose the word.

Original suntower logo

Can I Get Your Records In Local Record Stores?

positive cover

UPC: 659057830520

superpower cover

UPC: 837101437059

compartments cover

UPC: 796873013970

balance cover

UPC: 796873020220

Home cover

UPC: 837101443852

Beautiful Sounds cover

UPC: 884501171373

Nice Cuts cover

UPC: 884501434973

positive cover

UPC: 884501434966

Sure you can. If they aren’t in stock (and they often won’t be unless I happen to be passing through town), just give your friendly independent record store proprietor the title and UPC bar code and he or she can happily order it for you. (That’s why we put ‘em next to the little shopping cart icon.)

How Come You Don’t Hang Out On Social Media Like All The Hip, With It Musicians?

Perhaps the answer lies inside the question!
Actually, I do have MySpace and Facebook pages which may be found, respectively, here and here.

The reason I never paid it much mind is because the
current prevailing wisdom is that one can build a following on MySpace which
a highly popular band can use to leverage a record deal with a label. That
sounds great, but after doing this now for seven years, that just ain’t a
strategy that’s gonna work for an artist such as meself.

There are two kinds of stores in the world: supermarkets
and shops. The supermarket has a broad appeal. It needs to attract as many
people as possible. If you’re a young band and want to get signed, you best
be a bloody SAFEWAY… not that your content has to be watered down, but you
have to have pretensions of broad appeal.

If you’re a shop, you have no such pretensions. You
recognise that what you do is a niche market, whether it be replacement
parts for Alfa Romeos, Vintage Sauterne Wines, or ‘Progressive Rock’.

To me, MySpace often has the feel of a giant Wal-Mart.
Sure you get a lot of ‘traffic’, but is it the right kind of traffic? Let’s
say the Alfa Romeo shop rents space right next to the Wal-Mart. Is that a
great location? Is that a great location for that type of business–in spite
of the great number of people who will pass by?

I currently focus my efforts on making as
useful as possible for the people who make the effort to come here. I’m
assuming that you’ll come here because this kind of stuff matters more to
you than the typical MySpace surfer.

Or I could be wrong. Better hedge my bets and post
something over there. Quick. big grin

MP3 Or iTunes (Which Is Right For Me)?

You can purchase songs and entire albums both from iTunes, and from Both are great, but you should recognise that there are differences between these formats:

The Amazon Store allows you to purchase physical CDsas well as downloadable files. The downloads are in MP3 form and and some think are of a higher quality audio than those from iTunes. As many of you know, iTunes files are highly compressed, which is perfectly adequate for listening on teeny, tiny earbuds, but not exactly pristine when heard over higher quality speakers. The MP3 versions are more like (but not quite) CD quality so they’ll sound better on your fancy home theatre system.

Most of you know that iTunes files are not portable—they must be purchased using the iTunes application and contain copy protection that makes it difficult to (legitimately) move songs onto devices besides iPod®. Purchasing Amazon MP3s avoids this hassle as these files are unencrypted, so you can use them in any audio device.

So, which is right for you?

Well, if you have an iPod or iPhone®, iTunes is still the ultimate in convenience. If you are looking for higher quality audio, or have another type of playback device, choose Amazon. They both represent great value for money, so convenience is probably the biggest deciding factor. Whichever you choose? Either way is the only way, baby!

Click here to purchase from iTunes! Purchase jcHMusic From!

No Comment

You’ll notice few if any comments on this site. Occasionally, it’s because, well… nobody comments! But usually it’s because I don’t ‘approve’ them. And the reason is simple: as a rule, I don’t like how they usually work out.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the concept is fantastic. And I love it when there is a real discussion of most any topic. But the Comments section never seems to work out like that; not on this site and rarely on other sites I frequent regardless of the sites popularity or imprimature. (Wanna see some real food fights? Just check out the New York Times blogs! If they can’t have a civil engagement, I sure ain’t got a snowball’s chance in heck.)

And even when the comments aren’t spam, they are rather like the Facebook ‘wall’—just random ‘shout-outs’. But the only purpose of that for most sites is simple ‘SEO’—increasing ‘page-ranking’.

So please do use the comments to send me a note. I read and respond promptly to anyone who takes the time to comment! Or, just go to the Forum to start a real discussion.

So How Do All The Links From Various Internet Radio Stations Work?

When you click on Live365 or Pandora (please do!) you’re really clicking on good old fashioned radio…

Sites like these have two models: they either come with advertising (visual with sites like Pandora, or in terms of traditional commercials in the ‘free’ version of Live365). They often come with a ‘no commercials’ version which is supported by user-subscriptions. I neither model does the artist ‘pay to play’. I establish relationships with the DJs and they make the decisions as to what to play. If they dig what I’m doing, I get rotation on their stations. This is how it should be.

A Quick Political Announcement To Help Save Internet Radio!

Last year, there was a ruling last March 5th by the Copyright Ruling Board (CRB) that would have forced Internet radio station royalty payments to triple.Their reasoning was to bring internet royalty payment ‘in line with terrestrial radio.’ If put into effect, this decision would have put pretty much all internet radio stations immediately out of business. Thankfully, a coalition of broadcasters, listeners and legislators have been able to put this ruling on hold. But it’s only a stop gap. No one in the recording community will breathe easy until a permanent fix is provided and fortunately there is one in the hopper. House Resolution 2060, sponsored by Congressman Jay Inslee of Seattle, WA. The Internet Radio Equality Act is now working it’s slow way through Congress. You can read more at the above link, or by checking out the SaveNetRadio.Org. Please check ‘em out because time is running out.

So What’s The Deal With ‘The Little Black Dog’?

Cue the tiny little violins. When I was married&#8212and while I was out of town, my wife got a cutey-wooty little $1,000 black fluffball of puppy love. This creature turned into the most miserable piece of yappy vermin to ever have the unmitigated gall to be described as ‘dog’.

When I got divorced, my dear, departed informed me that she was also getting rid of the dog. For some reason, I snapped and, instead of doing the rational thing and replying, ‘What took ya so long?’ I replied, ‘He’s coming with me.’

Some inner voice spoke to me and said that if I could get this poor excuse for a life form whipped into shape, why then, I’d be able to handle just about anything this divorce was throwing my way. It took a year, but in the end, Ruaráigh truly became ‘man’s best friend.’ So much so that, over the years I’ve taken in six on behalf of various rescue programs. It seems that dogs like this get frequently bought, then tossed away when owners figure out that they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.

Anyhoo. The little black dogs have been the one consistent thing with me since I began this journey. They’ve followed me on planes, trains, through sailing boat adventures and five different places to live in six years. They are loyal, sure-footed on boats and a total blast, if properly trained. There’s a lesson in all this someplace.

The Music Player Doesn’t Work!

Well we can’t have that!

But easy now. There could be many causes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. First of all, you do have speakers, right? You can hear other sounds emanating from your PC, right? Right? :D

Is Your Web Browser Up To Date?

You should be able to play songs on most common browsers over Windows (IE8 forward, Apple, Google, Firefox and Android type products. If you have a really old computer, you should still be able to play sounds in a clunky way via MP3.

Do You Have An Audio Player That Supports MP3?

Have you listened to other MP3 songs on the Internet? If not, Good Gravy! Get into the twenty first century! Maybe your PC was never set up with a program to properly play MP3 files (the standard file format for downloadable tuneage these days.) If that is indeed the case. If you just emerged from hiding in a cave to find that the Japs lost the war, I recommend the very nice VLC Media Player. It’s not only the best media player I’ve found, it’s also free, Free, FREE!

You See A Big Empty Rectangle On The Screen Where Sounds or Videos Are Supposed To Be?

You may not have the Adobe Flash Player properly installed.You need this to play videos. This is the same software that runs YouTube so most people will have this unless your PC is ancient… ie. more than five years old. :D

Still Having Problems?

If none of these help, then you probably have a problem with your anti-virus software or firewall or some other darned ‘techie’ problem that requires that’s so simple a child could do it. So our suggestion? Find a child. They seem to know these things. Or try this: here

OK, just kidding. Really… We’ve all been frustrated by computers so it’s important to maintain a sense of humour.

Now, click here (really) to contact us for help.

The Origin Of The Mood Ring

There’s a pretty good book title in there, right?

In the immortal words of Woody Allen, this is a joke; that’s not a joke; but it is a joke. I have been told over and over and over and over that much of my work can be easily divided into a few categories; rather like a cheap Chinese Restaurant Menu. I would often be asked to program concerts and create compilation albums based on a particular ‘mood’ because most listeners are doing so for a purpose.

When I put together the compilation album Nice Cuts, the original idea was, in fact, to release several discs; each focusing on one of these categories. But I decided against it in favour of letting fans vote for their choices. The dirty little secret is that I altered the results of this poll slightly to make certain I included a spectrum of choices from each of these categories. In other words, despite all my railing about the purity of the album as artform, internally, I had drunk the kool-aid.

In short, the halcyon days of yore when one sat down to listen to Dark Side Of The Moon as an activity per seé are as gone as the venerable mood ring itself. So I cobbled this together one afternoon as a response. ‘One from Column A’… You get won-ton with that.

But then it dawned on me that some way to ‘sample’ is not a totally bad idea. Certainly one can’t get an idea of the contents of my albums from the titles. So all kidding aside, it seems reasonable to provide a way to sample according to even imperfect categories.

The categories, however are a joke. At least, I hope they are. But since they have been identified by many people over the course of many years, it’s hard to know for sure. If you have a better taxonomy in mind? I’m all ears.

What About The Gear/Equipment You Play?

A catalog of rants on the gear I use and make, including the studio are here.

Specific Instruments Used On Albums

Studio Details

Where The Heck Are You?

We regularly receive questions about why we tour where we tour, and why not here? Whether it is Detroit or Dublin, the answer is pretty much the same:

  • Any confirmed touring plans will always be posted to this website and via Twitter (so following is always a good idea.
  • We are always actively trying to find ways to tour as many places as possible. We enjoy touring, we love to travel to new places, and we want to play to you.

The Challenges

The Band Thing

However, many countries/regions/cities are simply not always financially viable to reach. This is a complex balance of issues. First of all, there the whole ‘band’ issue. Which gigs do we bring the whole show vs. going solo? JC will happily rock the house for fifty devotees. But to bring the entire band and all the requisite gear requires not only at least 200 tickets, but obviously a larger venue.

The Popularity Thing

Shocking but true, not everyone thinks this is the greatest act in the history of live entertainment. Overall popularity is an important factor too. Solo or band, we can’t charge you 250 each for a ticket! (this ain’t Cirque Du Soleil, pal.)

And it’s not always about money! Even more frustratingly, sometimes a show in your town might make perfect sense financially, only for us to discover that there is no venue (of a sensible capacity) available on the days we can get there. Grrr…

The Grasping Hand Thing

When you look at the booking schedule you’ll immediately see a precipitous drop over the past few years with gaps of many months between shows. The state of JC’s health has been discussed to death many times. Unfortunately, it looks as though his arthritis and hands are an ongoing issue which makes hard touring difficult at times.

The Grasping Club Owner Thing

This is such a drag, we hate to bring it up, but lately, we’ve noticed that a lot of places we’d like to play have started charging up to 33% for concessions. In other words, they want 1/3rd of all the JCHMusic swag: CDs. T-shirts. The lot. Now all venues (quite reasonably) charge artists no-small-amount to hire the place, provide security for the show, and cover venue staff and running costs. And they get all the revenue from liquid refreshments from thirsty patrons we brought in the door. But to then ask for more? Yeah, it’s a recession, but fer cryin’ out loud! In short, we won’t book gigs at such establishments.

So in a nutshell, it’s complicated!

This doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying to find other ways of coming to you, because we want to—but many of the routes we do try often fall apart under scrutiny. Please remember, that we’re not intentionally not touring. It’s certainly not ‘personal'; it’s simply a matter of timing, economics and geography. Just as there are many fans who cannot find the resources to travel to see JCHMusic, in the same way, We can’t always find the resources to come see you.

What You Can Do!

There are always several solutions to a problem, and we will continue to try to make a gig happen somewhere close to you. If you really want to help?

  • Make yourself available to host a House Concert. This is absolutely the greatest thing you could ever do for JCHMusic, besides buying a CD, a coffee cup or giving us power of attorney over your 401k.
  • If you’d like a show in your area let us know! It’s amazing how many people buy CDs and then never let us know they’d appreciate a visit. When we plan shows we do so based on where we think we can draw. You may live out in Billings, Montana and think ‘no way’ but it often turns out that many small towns can make this happen. For example, if you’re near a college/university (as is Billings) we can often book something for them college kids. If so, we may ask you to do a bit of ‘advance’ work for us—something as simple as find out who to talk to at Campus Events.
That’s All Very Well, But I Just Saw A Completely Unknown Band Play In My Town Last Night, But JC Harris Can’t Make It Work?

Maybe their costs are lower (if it’s a venue where we’d bring the band, we do need a lot of technology to do the show) and maybe they have a record company covering their losses. (We’ve been there too, but the record labels only spend money for a couple of years and, ultimately, you gotta give it back!). And maybe the bass-player’s dad’s a billionaire. Or (more likely), maybe they’ll be broke and have split up in a year’s time. JC’s in this for the long run—and that means never playing gigs that lose money!

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

There are always tours, gigs, and festivals that we are working on every week that you never hear about, because we don’t want to announce plans that may fall through. This is why we only post fully confirmed dates on our website. We would love to come and see all of you – and we’re working on it.

We hope this helps you to understand our situation and we promise we’ll see you soon… Really!

Why SoundScan® Matters

SoundScan;® is the organization used by the recording industry to monitor sales of all records. Every time you purchase one of my albums, either on-line, or in your favourite independent record store, that sale is registered by SoundScan.

The little barcode on every CD means that SoundScan is keeping an audit trail of sales that everyone can trust.

This is important because, frankly, everyone from record companies to club owners look at these figures to figure out who to book or to back. Every SoundScan sale makes it that much easier for me to appear in your town or get my music placed in your favourite record store.

Support SoundScan by only purchasing records with the Soundscan barcode.

To learn more here is a link to the Official SoundScan Web Site

Your Background Seems To Be In R&B And Jazz. So Why All The ’Astral/Prog‘ Crap?

That’s an excellent question.

And the short answer is: When you’re young, you go where the money is. And the slightly longer answer is: Hey I love all the music I’ve ever gotten to play professionally. But we all have to follow our heart. Some of the most difficult conversations I have ever had have occurred over the past few years from totally well-meaning friends and prior associates begging me to wake up and smell the smooth jazz. It’s really hard when your friends look at you like, ‘Hey brother. Stop wasting your time on all that astral/prog crap and get back to making some real music. You know, like you used to.’ They mean well. You know who you are. :D

When In Doubt?

Ask The Little Black Dog!tm

Look, There's Just No Reason To Be Shy!


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