Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I have obsessive tendencies

Yep, I'm starting to realise I have obsessive tendencies. This fact has been been brought to light in an in depth interview I have just done for the Classic Rock Society magazine. When I reviewed my answers there was definitely a pattern.

For example when the internet was much younger I decided to create an online dating website. It still exists . Why did I do this? Well it seemed like a good idea at the time and it gave me a chance to learn web design. Anyway I got fed up with internet fraud and scams so I decided to outsource the workings of it to another company. But I had spent time learning tips and tricks about the web so I decided to apply that knowledge to my profession..., I'm a Chartered Civil Engineer in the real world. So Web + Civil engineering = , a job board for Civil Engineers. But then people asked if I had a job board for other professions... so I set up the 4 Jobs Online network , literally dozens of Job boards for lots of professions. Why do I do this? Because it's a challenge and I like to work things out. I like to see how far I can take things. I guess many of us have those little obsessions.

Now one of the questions in the interview asked why my solo album became, quite literally, a SOLO project? Playing the instruments, the artwork, my record label Q Rock and now the distribution. Well it's not all solo .. I had two great drummers on the album, a great sound engineer and friends helped on the vocals. On the artwork side I had the generous help of several people but I digress..,

I'm now trying to get my head around CD distribution! So as you can possibly gather it means I've been digging around and contacting other companies. Obviously I've got my CDs selling on Q Rock, Amazon and CD baby but when I started looking at Virgin / HMV and various other shops I thought, mmmm, time to pass it on to an established distribution company. I approached (after recommendation from a fellow musician) a company that had feeds into various retailers. They said they were only interested in all "ALL" CD and digital distribution. When I told them I have most of it covered they took their bat home.

Can you believe they wanted exclusive distribution rights? I've done all the work and it's already out there but they wanted to take control. Are they dinosaurs? Do companies actually think they can continue like that? More forward thinking companies know their role is to facilitate and improve the distribution of music. They understand that artists can pretty well do much of the work them selves. But these "Control Exploiters" still exist. Have they not been around during the last decade and noticed the demise of the big record companies? These once gigantic corporations controlled the artist, the copyrights and the supply of music to the masses. They had big money and that meant they could promote the hell out of a "pretzel" and make everyone believe there was no other alternative snack.

But the internet has meant listeners can browse and find niche music themselves. They don't need to wait until Mr Big has told them what to listen to. So by virtue of these alternative music streams seeded by independent artists, there is no need for old school monopolies. So why do some distribution companies need to continue this "exclusivity" ethos?

There are benefits I suppose. You can control where you distribute to. It makes it easier to know you are the only hand that feeds the demand. You can control your prices as you are the gatekeeper to the retail world.

But for every dinosaur, I am also coming across companies who are willing to work with me to help promote / resell my music. Faith is restored.

I welcome the day when the dinosaurs are laid to rest. I think these dinosaurs are preying on the naivety of others so the can monetize on their success. If I have to put all my eggs in one basket, it had better be a basket woven from the finest materials with an endless supply of everything good dripping into it.

You can spare me the "We've got our risks, and our costs to cover". Guess what? We all have risks to cover!

Anyway I blame my obsessive tendencies for trying to understand the distribution process. But I figure it's been my obsessive tendencies that have driven me to write songs, play every instrument, produce my own music and discover new and interesting things throughout my life. But there is a downside. I also discover annoying things.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

What Happens Next? (I thank YOU)

Well things are starting to settle here after the "staggered" launch of my Focal Point. What with sorting out all the posting, updating websites, the distribution of the album and the MP3s across the myriad of websites etc. It's been none stop for what feels months... actually it has been nearly 18 months since I decided to do a solo album. Time flies when you're having fun.

What next? Well I feel like one does when returning from a great holiday. You know that feeling you get..., you want to avoid the mundane and you want the adventure to continue. I'm sure it will. But I think a little break is now in order. My "babies" have flown the nest and I wait impatiently to see what interest they can generate. Will Focal Point be my one and only? Who knows?

I do know I have enough songs for album two ( I even have a working title..., "P-Dice", you heard it here first) but it boils down to time and money, as most things do in this world.

Will "Focal Point" sell enough copies to finance "P-Dice"? Perhaps.., only time will tell. I know I have my fingers crossed.

But I must admit I was a little disheartened to see a "Fan" had posted the MP3 Files of Focal Point on his blog for all to download for free. It's my blood, tears and sweat that went into creating those songs and he thinks he has the right to give them away. Perhaps he would like it if I came to his house and took something of his away without a by or leave?

I guess there will always be those that think it's ok to steal when its done from the privacy of their own home and no-one gets hurt. I'm not a multinational music publishing company with assets and limitless resources, I'm a "working joe" who writes music in his spare time like 99% of the world songwriters. I cleaned out my savings to get this project done to a standard I am happy with. I could go on about piracy but I'll probably leave that for another blog.

No the main reason for this, my first real blog is to say thank you. The feedback and reviews I have read have been unbelievable. The messages I have been sent over the last few months have been encouraging and supportive.

As a solo project I have been locked away in my studio, week in week out, laying down every layer of sound, note by note, beat by beat, emotion upon emotion. But it sometimes gets lonely staring at the same 4 walls but getting feedback along the way has been a crucial part of my journey.

Don't get me wrong I absolutely LOVE doing it. I obsess at the wonder of hearing a song develop from a few words, a riff or even an idea. There is something magical in music that I'm sure we all feel.

Why do we feel it? Well I think its down to:

Q's first law.


If you can capture an emotion with music then your job is done. This is no chicken and egg situation. You need to be able to feel it, then you need to communicate it and Art, whether it's in form of music or dance, is the method used. ( There I go again another subject for another blog)

OK back on track.... press pause.