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Saturday 31 December 2011

2011, an interupted year

Well, here we are at the end of 2011, and firstly I'm going to look back at my predictions from January and point out that I got 3 out of 4 right (shame Northampton couldn't do the business or I'd have had a full set).
Having had this kind of success rate I'm not going to make any predictions again and refer to my previous good results forever more. Forevermore? For evermore? fuck it, you know what I mean.
It's been an up and down year, starting on a low with the closure of the record label which, in retrospect, definitely had a bit of a downer on the music side of things. This wasn't helped by the decision to move house and the effect of a falling market dragging this out for three months. Still, we've been moved in for 3 months now and things are going swimmingly so, work aside, things have picked up at the end of year.
Having had a bit of a haitus on the creativity side I'm hoping to start writing and recording again in the new year, so keep an eye on the site for updates and occasional splodges of music. Hopefully we can get back into some regular gigging too.
2012 is going to be an interesting year away from the music as well. In the UK we have a barrel of financial regulation coming that's going to have quite an impact at work (with a potential knock-on impact on my free-time). In Europe we have a bunch of bureaucrats driving an agenda that's sole purpose is to prolong their pet project rather than benefit the citizens they're supposed to be serving (how long will people put up with that?). In the states we have an election year and, as soon as the holidays are over, we're going to have SOPA and PIPA to deal with (if these bills get passed the internet could look very different by the end of the year).
So I've come up with a cunning plan to deal with it all. I'm going to hide in my house, rugby club and local pubs with a selection of instruments, booze and friends and ignore the whole bloody lot.
Beer, music, sport. Repeat.
Happy new year!

Thursday 1 December 2011

Name your price!

All our music is now available to download on a Pay What You Think It’s Worth* basis.

Over on my YAMDAC blog I’ve been harping on for a while about alternative business models for musicians and how the biggest challenge for an amateur musician is not piracy but publicity, so I’ve now decided to put my money where my mouth is and try one of these alternative models for myself.
For a long time the gatekeepers of content have tried to force the prices of digital content to match that of physical copies but it just doesn’t make sense. So what is the correct price for a download? Well, I guess it’s what the market decides is the right price. You’re the market, this is a chance to help decide.
So as of today all our music downloads are available on a Pay What You Think It’s Worth* basis (including “Free”) from our Bandcamp site**.
Personally I’d rather that more people heard and enjoyed our music than that we extract every penny from anyone who might like it. So please feel free to pass this on to anyone who you think might enjoy it (in fact, please please do that!) or anyone who writes / talks about music and the music business and might be interested in the experiment.
I put “Free” in inverted commas because if you go for Free then I’m going to ask you for an e-mail address and add you to my distribution list. You can opt out at any time and I don’t e-mail much stuff out anyway, I reckon that’s a fair trade.

N.B. the physical cds remain at fixed prices I’m afraid, because they cost a fixed amount to produce and I have costs to recover. If you download the stuff and then decide that you’d like one of the CDs (plenty of EPs left, a couple of handfuls of the Album) then I will happily knock off anything you decided to pay for the download.
Similarly if you’ve previously paid the full rate for the download and are now feeling ripped off (I really, really hope there aren’t many people in this category!) then drop me a line and we’ll see what we can sort out. I mean this, I’d hate for someone to be sitting there thinking that I’ve pulled a fast one on them.

* there is no good acronym for this.
** I’m working on setting up the same mechanism on other platforms.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

More gigs

Just a quick note to say that Hils and I have a couple more gigs lined up, Waggon and Horses in York on Nov 12th then Verve in Leeds on Dec 4th.
More details in the gigs bit on the right.
Also things are beginning to come together a bit having moved house and I hope to have my computer and recording stuff properly set up soon, at which point I will start getting some of the new material recorded. Hopefully before I forget it.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

'nother gig

Just a quick note to say that I'll be playing The Stone Trough at Kirkham Abbey on Sunday. Should be very nice indeed, come down if you're in the area.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

What's this? A gig you say?

Yep, just a quick update to say that I'll be supporting the awesome Bosscaine and Johanna at the Fulford Arms on saturday 24th september. Music from 8ish and it's free to get in. Job is very much a good 'un.

Thursday 30 June 2011

Some days are better than others...

... as U2 famously sang.
As you may have noticed from the lack of updates and gigs recently, I've not been doing much on the music front. Load of stuff going on at work and home and basically just devoid of inspiration.
So last night when I had some time I just sat in front of the machine and did this:

Tonight however I sat down and did this:

Sorry it's side on, didn't think of that when I took it and don't know how to change it. There's not really much to watch anyway....
Hell, I know it's not much, but considering I came up with the first verse and chorus in one run through and the next two verses on the fly I reckon it's a positive sign.

I've got some stuff going round my head but, somewhat ridiculously given the amount of music stuff i have around the house, I'm currently devoid of a decent way of recording it.
I'll sort it out when the house move happens, in the meantime I'll try and do some more stuff like this.

Saturday 26 March 2011

This too shall pass

Many good things have happened for me in the last few years (You might not guess this from the lyrical content of my songs, but it's true), one of the main ones being my being picked up by Soup Records.

Thanks primarily, I think, to a bit of a funny gig where I ended up being sandwiched between two nu-metal bands, I got invited down to sleepsafe to play some demos.

I've not exactly been prolific since then, recording one EP and one album, but it can be pretty tricky trying to balance the studio with a full time job that has, at times, been very demanding.
But I am very pleased with what we've wrought; I think we've managed to capture the in the recordings the sounds I had in my head. And that, after all, is what we're trying to achieve.

So it's a great shame that Soup Records will shortly be no more.
I am afraid that I shit you not.

The studio carries on life as a commerical entity, as do the promotion and live sound engineering parts of the massive conglomerate (or Andy as we liked to call him ;¬) ) but the label is no more.

In the end we were just never able to buy the kind of advertising required to make the commercial production of CDs a success. We didn't sell enough CDs, so we couldn't buy the ad-space, so we couldn't buy the reviews, so we couldn't sell enough CDs...

The music business, as I have mentioned before, is changing. There is a future there, but it's not going to work like it did in the past, and a business model based on shifting physical units is no longer viable at the small scale.
For the record, this has fuck-all to do with "piracy". Just thought I should I get that out of the way.

Things move on, I'm still writing music, I'll figure out a way to keep recording music, but it won't be on the scale and quality of the last few years - that's beyond my budget, hopefully you'll keep listening to my music and between us we'll all keep enjoying all kinds of music because that's what human beings do.

So raise a glass to the late, great Soup Records, cheers!

Sunday 13 February 2011

YAMDAC and what this site is for.

I think this site has been a bit confused to date. By which I don't mean that the content of the updates are confused, that's a reflection of my state of mind and I spend most of my time confused.
What I mean is that this site has been serving as both my music site and my blog, and this hasn't made for either a coherent website or been particularly relevant for those visitors who are only interested in the music and couldn't give a monkey's about my other rambling posts.
So from now on this site will solely focus on the music (gigs, new recordings etc) and I have started a new blog that will cover all the other stuff that's previously on here along with a few other things around cycling and design, which are additional areas of personal interest.
The new blog is called YAMDAC, please come and join the conversation.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Credit where it's due

A few posts ago i urged you to write to your MP to persuade them to sign an early day motion opposing potential moves towards a two-speed internet. Obviously I wrote to mine a well and, whilst we may hold very different political leanings, there's a reason he has been re-elected; he communicates with his constituents.
It turns out, this time, that our interests are aligned and i was pleased to receive the below letter from him confirming that he'd signed the motion.
Good stuff Hugh Bailey, thank you.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Equations for the future

So the internet has been around a while now, the major labels are still suing their customers as their first response to free advertising (i call it sharing, the more dramatic amongst the industry call it piracy. Really? Piracy? Read some news articles on Somalian waters or the East China Sea to find out what modern piracy really is) but somehow they're still there and, more depressingly, we're still here.
But these things take time, a lot of time when your opponents (and perversely this includes people like the BPI who are supposed to represent me) have the ears of the government.
But to recap...

I think what we're seeing the beginning of is a mass levelling of the playing field.
Basically we will end up with fewer superstars but more people making a much more modest living from their music.
There are a multitude of alternative business models out there, they're all evolving, the trick is finding one that works for you.
Most of them are based around the following (which you'll see in a number of places on the web but i think it originated at Techdirt):
Connect with Fans (CwF) + Reason to Buy (RtB) = $
This is much the same as the 1000 True Fans theory but expressed differently.

Effectively it comes down to your ability to engage with your fans and persuade them to support you (CwF) and your producing a product that's sufficiently high quality to make it worth buying instead of downloading (RtB).

Personally i think there's a factor missing here, which, for lack of a better term, i shall call Elevation. And this what the current major labels do.
With the rise of free distribution mechanisms and cheaper technology there is more and more really good music being made. The challenge now for any artist is to stand out from the crowd, to raise yourself or your band above the level of everyone else and get noticed.
Sadly it's not enough just to be really talented, you still need some mechanism to elevate yourself above the noise level.
The major labels have massive publicity and marketing budgets, that's how they do it but it doesn't work for an independent act.
Unless you're an independent act with a corporation-sized bank account. No? Let's move on then... 

As always though, there are a number of alternative ways to do this. One way is via working out what your niche is and targetting that, there's a lady who writes songs about sailing (whose name i forget, irritatingly) who sells very well to, funnily enough, the yachting and sailing crowd. That's her thing and it's effective for her.
Another option is to consider your location and work out if you're in the best place for your music, different areas have different scenes, sometimes it helps to be part of that scene, sometimes it's best to be unique in your region. What you don't want to be is stuck in the middle.
Another option is to partner with a publicist / advertiser, there are people trying to make careers there as well and some mutual backscratching might be possible.

One approach that appears to be coming through is to target a really, really small niche, with a very high-end product (hat tip to Confused of Calcutta). The mass market is always going to be the territory of the major labels - don't try and compete, figure out what your Unique Selling Point is and work out how to make the most of it.

So i think the equation should actually be:
e(CwF + RtB) = $

But at the end of 2010 i find myself no nearer establishing what my business model is. So i suspect 2011 will be no more successful for me than this year was. Hopefully others will get further along that particular line.