Pomplamoose: Making A Living Without A CD Or A Label

from the diy-awesomeness dept

A month or so ago, a friend started sending me the Pomplamoose videos on YouTube, and now I keep seeing them. It's basically two people -- Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte -- covering famous songs by playing and singing all the parts themselves, and them cutting them together into very well done videos that, in some cases, have millions of views. Quentin Hartman writes in to let us know of a WSJ blog post about the band, noting that despite having been contacted by a bunch of major labels, they're leaning towards staying independent, noting that "We're making a living off our album sales and we don't even have a physical CD." And, yes, this is even though you can watch all the band's music for free, such as their covers of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" or Michael Jackson's "Beat It:


Now, of course, there will be some who will insist that there is nothing creative in covering someone else's songs, and those folks will never be convinced that this is incredibly creative, but for the rest of us, why not enjoy some incredibly creative song making -- and the artists who are making a living even without going down the path of having to deal with fictional royalty statements from a major label.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Lobo Santo's Ugly Dog, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Two questions:

    1) How are the actually making a living if they are not selling music and not performing live?

    2) How much are they paying in royalties to cover these songs, and how does being profitable jive with the concept of greedy record labels and collection agencies?

     

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  2.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Re:

    Nothing said they aren't selling music; they just said that they don't have any _physical_ CDs, and their music is available online for free. They likely have mp3s or something like that of their music on a website, aside from their YouTube videos, which are obviously free.

    Don't know about royalties -- I don't know the laws of such things. But I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't paying any royalties.

     

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  3.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

    Re:

    In response to #1, I assume they are selling digital downloads. I am rather curious about #2 myself.

     

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  4.  
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    Brian (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    They are selling music via something called the internet. Its that other sales medium the record labels don't want to acknowledge about 98% of the time unless its to attack it and say how much harm its causing.
    As far as royalties go I would imagine the way the are making the songs would probably be considered fair use of some sort.

    And being profitable doesn't jive with the labels that's why they want to try and get them to sign a contract :P

     

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  5.  
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    thublihnk (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    They are selling music, just not a physical CD, and they are performing live. :B

     

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  6.  
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    ., Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Live shows

    I think I saw some add about live shows but who knows really.

    Maybe is a mix of MP3, live performances, lots of T-Shirts(LoL) and other things except for the CD part that nobody really needs anymore.

     

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  7.  
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    Kaden (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:13pm

    They also do very cool product demos for the rightfully revered Electro Harmonix company.

    http://www.ehx.com/blog/voice-box-demo-by-jack-conte-and-nataly-dawn

     

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  8.  
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    rjk (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    Re:

    You'll notice they make their covers available for free... I assume that's how they avoid having to pay.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:44pm

    They are awesome!

    And, I wish them much success.

    And, I hope other artists wise up and do the same as Pomplamoose!

    I think I'll go buy some of their music.

    And, F U RIAA!

     

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  10.  
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    Alias (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    @#8

    Agree.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re:

    free or not free, copyright is still attached.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 6:17pm

    Re:

    Yup, let's encourage even more cover bands to come out and play covers of other people's music. They can spend all that time doing it rather than making their own. Yeah, that would be cool, and certainly would provide great "paint color" innovation in the music world.

     

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  13.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re:

    They aren't playing live very much. They just did their second live show last month. I know someone who played on the bill with them.

     

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  14.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re:

    "Yup, let's encourage even more cover bands to come out and play covers of other people's music."

    Yes, let's. It's called 'culture' you idiot.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re:

    Too bad your shilling isn't creative.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Automatically.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, and what about those damn world class pianists?! All they do is make a living off of playing someone else's music.

    Classical music? Sounds more like thieving piracy to me!

     

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  18.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Classical music? Sounds more like thieving piracy to me!"

    Dammit! We're not going to encourage Mozart to write any more music this way!

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nope, just not very creative. Playing someone's elses music often requires incredible talent and skill, but it isn't the most creative concept. You guys always make the mistake of confusing SKILL with CREATIVITY.

    If you guys can't get the basics, it's not surprising that you pretty much can't get the rest either.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Why are you so obsessed with originality? If some can make a variation on another's creativity than how is this a bad thing?

    Does every artist have to be 100% original or else they're just not artists?

    What if they're only original 50% of the time? How about 20%? What if, when they're stealing, sorry, copying another's creativity that they find inspiration for their own original creations?

    Art is very malleable. And it takes no skill to make or create art. It helps but you don't really need it.

     

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  21.  
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    bob, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 9:09pm

    Cool

    Mike you got a cool friend, thanks for turning us on to this.

     

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  22.  
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    xian, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 10:06pm

    In all fairness, pomplamoose also has their own music. The article makes them sound like a cover band and while I think these covers are fantastic, I prefer their original stuff.

     

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  23.  
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    incredibly, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 10:22pm

    Think there's a bit of knee-jerk "techdirt perspective" in the refusal by Mike and some commenters to admit that covering music isn't terribly creative, and to downplay the value of originality. I don't think there is anything inherently WRONG with covers, but unless you're Hendrix playing All Along the Watchtower, it usually is inferior. This is not an exception.

    'Sides... how can you assert that playing music written by someone else is "incredibly creative"? I mean ok, maybe somewhat creative in the multi-instrument/filming approach or something... but "incredibly" creative? Really? Setting the bar pretty low there.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 10:39pm

    Re:

    I once seen that Beyoncé sing some Aretha Franklin song, I mean, what an untalented hack!

    Artists who copy other artists are not creative. Certainly not incredibly creative.

    I once seen David Bowie sing some Beatles song. God! How unoriginal it was. David Bowie could do better. We shouldn't sing songs that we didn't write ourselves.

    It's so unoriginal and art isn't anything like that.

     

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  25.  
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    Yogi, Dec 9th, 2009 @ 10:42pm

    Terrible

    That has to be the worst Beat It cover I have ever heard or seen.

    Surely such desecration is illegal. Really, where is the RIAA when you need it?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 10th, 2009 @ 12:20am

    How to sell the same song multiple times.

    Do it in different genres :)

    Love bizarre triangle has multiple covers that attract different people(Frente and Nude)

    Mrs Robinson by pennywise is great.

    Don't be the composer(besides aficionados), nobody remembers you, be the performer :)

     

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  27.  
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    ., Dec 10th, 2009 @ 12:29am

    Compulsory licenses.

     

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  28.  
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    Rabbit80 (profile), Dec 10th, 2009 @ 3:15am

    Covering other peoples music can be incredibly creative.. have you never listened to the covers that happen in the BBC Maida Vale studios?

     

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  29.  
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    ., Dec 10th, 2009 @ 4:16am

    Collection.

    The problem that I see with collection agencies(and all middleman) is that they overrule the right of artists the guys who really do the job.

     

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  30.  
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    Jaw4theRevenge, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Re:

    Wow, a product demo that actually shows off the possibilities that the product allows, with a little bit of indie cool thrown in. Makes a change from those techo-music'd video slideshows you usually get.

    I want one! I'll see if I can download it somewhere... :)

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re:

    Yawn, a very boring argument.

    Beyonce? How many of her own songs has she written? Get back to me on that.

    As for David Bowie, well, he is a VERY creative artist who has a huge body of very creating work. If he wants to spend a little time singing someone else's song from time to time (which is ARTISTIC, but not CREATIVE) he more than welcome to do it. After all, we all know him as a very CREATIVE person when he wants to be.

    The point is that this Grapefruit duo (that's the their name in french) are doing covered that may be artistic, but they aren't very creative. There is a huge difference between the two points.

    Nice attempt though to kill an argument by broad brushing, too bad you are just being a troll.

     

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  32.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 10th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    You guys are so off point ....

     

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  33.  
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    W4RM4N (profile), Dec 10th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    The Way I See it

    To me, it seems obvious that Pomplamoose created video covers to attract attention. Once they achieved that, you were introduced to their own original works.

    This is no different from an up and coming band playing covers, mixed with their original works, to attract a certain fan base. You, as the fan, associate with the cover, and then will most likely pay closer attention to the bands original works. Am I missing something?

     

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  34.  
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    Adam, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 6:38am

    They write their own songs.

    It seems the implication here is that Jack and Nataly are cover artists (unoriginal/etc) - I'd like to point out that they have just as many original songs as they do covers.

    http://www.myspace.com/pomplamoosemusic

    Keep in mind that they release all of their cover songs for FREE. They're only charging for their original works... which are quite good and certainly original.

     

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  35.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 10th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    Re: The Way I See it

    @W4RM4N No, you are not.
    The one AC who loves to frequent here sure is though.
    Acting like just because they have some covers its impossible for them to do anything else. So silly.

     

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  36.  
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    Kaden (profile), Dec 10th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Pomplamoose /= pamplemousse.

    ...And while you're at it, could you also stop inventing definitions for common words like 'artistic' and 'creative'? All you've done so far is illustrate that you can't speak French, and make up English as you go along. This make people laugh at you.

    Ha ha ha.

     

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  37.  
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    MattP, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    Re: Terrible

    LoL @ the 2nd line.

    I do have to agree that this is the worst Beat It cover I've ever heard.

     

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  38.  
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    Ray, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    More of the same?

    This article reminded me of this guy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd1XP2gHoY4

    Wonderfully creative.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What argument am I trying to kill? That you don't understand anything about creativity? Because you aren't actually creative?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re: More of the same?

    I'm sorry but that guy was singing some old song that he didn't write therefore it's not very creative.

    At least that's what a paid shill on techdirt told me. And they know everything about the arts!

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    Except of course that cover != play the song exactly the same way.

     

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  42.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    great entertainers

    These guys are some of the most original and passionate artists I've seen in a long time. They make you feel excited and connect with you through their videos in a way that most traditional artists have a difficult time doing.

    I'll put it this way, I enjoyed their videos more than the last live concert. I went to. They've hit on a great idea and I hope more up and coming artists follow suit.

    I encourage you to check out all of their covers, they're mostly classic songs that you'll have a difficult time not liking. Their original stuff is pretty good too.

     

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  43.  
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    Polo, Dec 12th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Pomplamoose

    I saw Pomplamoose on youtube. I liked their covers. I downloaded them. I saw they have original music in iTunes. I bought them. Now I have Pomplamoose music, both covers and original. I am happy. That is all that counts for me, music I like to listen to.

     

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  44.  
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    Bridget, Dec 13th, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Not just covers...

    Pomplamoose doesn't just do covers. They have a lot of originals, too, and they're all really good.
    I'm a huge Pomplamoose fan. ^^' I'm ordering a Pomplamoose t-shirt once they're out, and I've bought all their music.

     

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  45.  
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    stanother, Dec 20th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    nice to look at

    They are very creative. I'm no music expert (that's your opening) but if the videos weren't so fun to watch and Nataly so cute, the music is just mediocre. They obviously really enjoy what they do and believe in the music and that's why they so intriguing. But I don't think they'd be so successfull if they only tried to cell a CD with no visual component. JMHO.

     

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  46.  
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    Alice, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 12:57am

    I've been following Pomplamoose since 2008. Their original music is fantastic. Songs like "Hail Mary" and "Expiration Date" are so inventive and so hard to get out of your head! They are not just a cover band. They only started doing covers last summer. Check out their original works. They are amazing.

     

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  47.  
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    music promotion guy, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Harder to make a lioving in music

    It's getting harder and harder for musicians especially indies to make $$ in the music biz without performing live.

     

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  48.  
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    wiley, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You can't knock people doing covers. An Pomplamoose does it superbly with their own, quite creative, touch. All artists had teachers. We learn to do everything and even to talk through imitation and then we give it our own flavor. Even the Beatles did covers. Take a look at this impressive list of their covers by year:

    1961
    My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, When The Saints Go Marching In , Nobody’s Child, Why (Can’t You Love Me Again), (If You Love Me Baby) Take Out Some Insurance On Me , Ain’t She Sweet

    1962
    Money, ‘Till There Was You, The Sheik Of Araby, To Know Her Is To Love Her, Take Good Care Of My Baby, Memphis, Tennessee, Sure To Fall, Three Cool Cats,
    Crying, Waiting, Hopin, September In The Rain, Besame Mucho, Searchin’, A Taste Of Honey, Anna, Boys, Chains, Baby It’s You, Twist And Shout, From Me To You

    1963
    You Really Got A Hold On Me, Money (That’s What I Want), Devil In Her Heart, Till There Was You, Please Mr Postman, Roll Over Beethoven

    1964
    Long Tall Sally, Matchbox, Slow Down, Mr Moonlight, Kansas City, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Rock And Roll Music, Words Of Love, Honey Don’t

    1965
    Dizzy Miss Lizzy
    Bad Boy
    Act Naturally

    1969
    Maggie Mae

     

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  49.  
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    margarita, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    They make cover videosongs but they also make music by their band Pomplamoose and they sell their music as mp3 files. They also have t-shirts which they sell, they are pretty talented.

     

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  50.  
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    margarita, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    They also now have their album in stores and on itunes so yeah that is how they make their money.

     

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  51.  
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    badasschickak, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:49am

    OMFG

    They don't just do covers, asshole! they have a lot of their own music too which is justa s good as if not better than most of the junk that's getting produced and dumped onto or radios today!

     

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  52.  
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    peter morgan, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 9:18pm

    pomplamoose

    they are so cool. one of them best bands ever! they definitely should sign a record label and make lots of albums. i would definitely buy the albums.

     

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  53.  
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    Jim (profile), Aug 31st, 2011 @ 9:47pm

    Pomplamoose

    This is unbelievable that two non selebrities, Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, can make themselves famous singing other peoples songs.
    Lately, I have been following another great artist group, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their new song, The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie is doing real well.
    Keep up the good work Mike.

     

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  54.  
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    Oliver, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    uh... I used to play with a sixteen piece swing band. The history of jazz is full of songs made famous by people who covered them. it's not just how you write a piece but also how you perform it. in fact one of the most venerable jazz traditions is "quoting" other songs when you play a solo

     

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