Zebuel Early optimistic about music industry: ‘It’s a transitional period’

Zeb Early

Zebuel Early had double duty on April 30 , playing with Mama’s Cookin’ in the CBC Crown Room and with Peter Joseph Burtt & the King Tide in the Red Room.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

The metronome’s pendulum could be moving back toward recording artists who are trying to make a buck. That’s the opinion of Zebuel Early, who spends a lot of time in studios.

“I think we’re in the transition of the era of nobody paying for music to everybody paying for music,” Early said. “It might not be the cash cow that was the CD era, but there is something interesting about the (Spotify) model of streaming.”

Early said the self-titled album “Zebuel” will be released this summer and he and Peter Joseph Burtt spent last week mixing a Peter Joseph Burtt & the King Tide record, which ideally would be finished by July’s Guitarfish Festival near Truckee but is more likely to come out in the fall.

“It’s important for me to make records because it’s what I do,” Early said. “It’s my Dharma, if you will, to make music and share it with people. … I have friends in the business who work for Spotify and Pandora and I think it’s a transitional period for the music industry.”

Early moved more than two years ago from North Shore to the East Bay, but he continues to often perform at Lake Tahoe with his bands Zebuel and Mama’s Cookin’, which played April 30 in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room. He played with Peter Joesph Burtt & the King Tide in the Red Room after-party.

A quartet, Mama’s Cookin’ has two players from the Bay Area — guitarist Early and bassist Steve LaBella – and two who still live at North Shore, drummer Mike Adamo and keyboardist Todd Holway.

“We are going to play all original music, songs from our two albums and songs that we haven’t released, so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of stuff people have never heard,” Early said before the show.

Early said he continues to be enthusiastic about Mama’s Cookin’ because – you guessed it – he’d like to make another album.

“The industry has to figure out the best way to compensate artists,” he said. “I think that if everyone paid $10 a month, $120 a year, and they could listen to anything and everything. That’s directly trackable … (and) everyone could afford that. I think that model could possibly work in favor of artists. Spotify is actually paying royalties to artists. It’s not a whole lot of money but I like to be optimistic about it.”

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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